It’s been a while since the last time I ran a half marathon as I put more focus on marathon training. Vitality Reading Half Marathon was a fantastic reminder of what a great running event it is. Enjoying a lovely stroll through the city of Reading, being cheered by thousands of spectators made it a memorable experience.
I met my running friend Nicole at the train station to go to Reading on a sunny but rather chilly Sunday morning on March 22 2015. We were not alone going to the half marathon. Already in Clapham Junction Station where we departed from the majority of passengers were wearing running gear and their race bib. Some changed on the train as more Vitality Reading Half Marathoners were boarding on.
It seemed that everything was thought through. Once we got of at Reading Station, we could take a special shuttle bus to the race village. We checked in our bags and were ready just in time before the start. There were up to 18 000 runners taking part so multiple corrals had slightly different starting times based on their predicted finish time. I went wearing a red bib aiming to finish in no more than 1 hour and 45 min – my previous personal best.
I took off, with the only regret of wearing too many layers. It was getting warmer with each kilometre as the sun kept shining. It was amazing to run on a flat and windy course. There were some small hills, but those were compensated by even bigger downhills afterwards letting me pick up the pace. There were multiple bands playing along the road, there was even a beer station at 17th kilometre. For me the biggest pleasant surprise was adults and kids giving away gummy bears and jelly beans along the way. I took a few myself to get some sugar as I sped along the course at a good pace of slightly under 5 min per kilometre.
It was only the last 3 kilometres before entering the Madejski Stadium that seemed to take forever. Straight road led to the stadium which was not that far, but felt far enough and took around 15 minutes of running. Once entered the stadium full of spectators, I knew I could finish strong. I went for a sprint and crossed the line with a new personal best for a half marathon distance – 1:43:41.