The Big Eighth
I did the London Big Half as part of a relay team, because I hadn’t been certain of the football dates before the race got full, though places did become available later. I wanted the third runner to carry some of my stuff, so I didn’t get too cold waiting for her, but the only answers I was getting to my queries on WhatsApp were that I needed to be at Tower Hill at 7:50 so Lorna could put my baggage in the official drop. So I got there early and met all the relay team along with Abi and Dom, Simon and Suraj. After they went to the start, I didn’t quite know what to do. I wanted to walk along the course, but some of it was blocked. I did see Tracey and another three runners, and shouted to Steve as he ran by. He later told me he did realise I was doing the relay.
As it seemed difficult to cross the road because of the race, I went to Shadwell and got a tube two stops to Rotherhithe where my changeover point was. There were just a few of the fastest wheelchair contestants coming by so I looked up the nearest café – the Brunel museum was shut - and found the Watch-house Café next to a churchyard. I walked past it once, as it didn’t have a sign, just two blackboards. I’d seen people drinking coffee at tables in the churchyard. I had a latte there, but they hadn’t got a toilet.
I saw Will and then Julie run past; she said hello to me but was in a bit of a zone. I didn’t get Latoya’s message saying she’d finished her leg of the race, but by 10:50 I reasoned that they must be on Rita’s leg by now, and after I’d waited for a chance to cross the road between all the runners, I took off two layers, put them in my medium backpack which I had to run with, and left my jacket (the big old blue one which doesn’t do up) under a bush.
Rita soon arrived – I almost missed her. Good thing I didn’t ask her to look after my bag, as I didn’t see her again. My route – the Big Eighth, if you like, was a bit mundane compared to the first three legs, but I overtook a lot of people who were doing the whole distance, including a surprised Jody.
There was no-one from my club at the end, which was a bit disappointing but meant I didn’t have to explain my time, which would have been slow for me, doing a full Half. But I was quite pleased actually, after my recent slowdown. I averaged 5 minutes a kilometre.
Unlike last year, there was about half an hour queue to pick up baggage, so I was glad I had my extra layers, but all I was picking up was a jacket and ordinary shoes, and I probably could have managed without them, gone straight to my changeover point – and got up at 9:30!
At Borough, I got a snack from Pure so I wasn’t tempted to eat at the pub. It had been a good idea of Dom to book a pub quite far away from the race – there was no-one at the bar and plenty of space in the (free) room he’d booked upstairs. Ihad a quick chat with the beautiful Frances C at the bar, who I'd unexpectedly seen at a ParkRun last week.
I was accosted by Paul from Barnet and I talked to his friend from Norwich, but I could see the lovely Katie from Portsmouth So I went and sat with her – she’d been staying in Wimbledon with a couple of others. I spent some time talking to a girl from Hounslow, I could spot she had a slight foreign accent, which turned out to be Brazilian - she thought she’d managed to hide it. She’d lived in Plymouth but hadn’t picked up a West Country accent. Also chatted to Lorna and Latoya when they arrived, and sat with my favourite Julie for a while. Finally I sat with the stragglers, Catherine and her friends.
Surprisingly, Paul B had been there but I managed to avoid him except when I inadvertedly turned round as he was leaving and we had to acknowledge each other. At home I made some beans and lentil curry for our lunches this week, as well as basking in mine and everyone else’s social media postings from today. Lots of people I know did the run, who I didn’t see.