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Big Half 2023 - Fran Griffin

I love the Big Half. I love the vibes and the crowds. I love that it's in London. I love that you feel like a celebrity running over Tower Bridge.

I hate the cobbles and the tunnel but they're minor blips in what I otherwise consider to be a favourite course.

It's also pretty special to me because my current PB is from the 2021 race. When I signed up this year, it was with the very single minded objective of (finally) beating that PB.

I chose a 12 week plan to get me through the summer, having not run properly since a few big races in April/May. The first 6 weeks were epic - I was feeling great and loving training through long summer days.

The next 6 weeks were absolutely terrible. I caught some sort of mega-COVID-flu which wiped me out and wrecked my lungs. Then, as soon as I could run without coughing, I was hit with a wave of arthritis flares which lasted until the week before the race. I also had a month of birthday celebrations which - though very fun - did not prove particularly productive for my recovery.

Needless to say, come race week, I was feeling pretty blue. But when I told a friend that I was going to miss the race because I had no chance of a PB run, she said, if I was going to do a Sunday long run anyway I may as well get the medal for it. So, I did.

And it was amazing! Beautiful sunshine, amazing crowds, all made so much better by not applying the pressures of a race. My goal was to take it easy, enjoy it, and finish strong if I felt up to it.

The first half was all about enjoyment - an easy pace, banging playlist and plenty of water. Canary Wharf in the sun felt very different to the gloomy deadzone of London Marathon a few months ago. Even the cobbles didn't feel so bad.

When I hit Tower Bridge, the inevitable endorphin wave hit and I decided to push a bit. Spurred on by the crowds, I steadily upped the pace through to Lewisham and on to the finish.

I'm still working out how to run halfs, so I usually finish feeling absolutely terrible. Sunday was the first time I've finished feeling strong, energetic and (crucially) having had a good time.

So, not a PB in terms of time... But, with a sunny London backdrop and some tasty progressive splits, it was definitely one of my most enjoyable ever races.


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