We walked to the Start line and I said goodbye to my family as I headed to the race pens. There was only actually one race pen and each wave was supposed to wait their turn but people were just doing what they liked. I got carried along with the crowd and inadvertently ended up in wave 2 instead of 3 but what the heck, I figured I’d be a little faster than my PB of 1:57 which I ran last year at the hilly Broadland Half Marathon.

It took a while to shuffle to the Start line and as the start of the route was so narrow, I couldn’t manage any sort of pace or overtake anyone so just relaxed. As we turned the corner to Trafalgar Square, the crowd blew me away as there were so many people cheering like crazy! The London Landmarks Half Marathon is predominantly a charity event and the cheer squads and entertainment organised by each charity was incredible! I was very close to tears for the first 3k as everything was so overwhelming.

At 5k I took a bottle from the water station and shortly after that saw Mr H and the Mini-H’s who cheered and gave me high-5s.

This gave me such a lift and then I ran through more cheer stations and music. At one point all I could hear was church bells, a huge steel and drum band, whistles and cheers and it was fantastic, overwhelming and emotional all at the same time. There was also a police helicopter hovering closely overhead all through the race which was unnerving but also reassuring.

I had a gel at 9.5k, then grabbed a bottle of Lucozade Sport and saw Mr H and the kids a few more times as they’d found a spot that I’d pass closely about 4 times

I did pass a lot of Landmarks and I tried to take them in but any runner will tell you that it’s hard to look side to side when you’re running! I saw the London Eye, Kings College, Fleet Street, Nelson’s Column, the Thames, MI6, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie, the Tower of London, Big Ben and ran over Waterloo bridge. Somehow I missed St Paul’s Cathedral and realised why when I saw this photo.

There were chip timing mats and cameras at various points around the route and they posted updates and photos to my Facebook page.

My GPS signal was all over the place, probably due to 10000 runners all trying to connect to the same signal! I decided I was going to have to self-pace and that it would be good practice for the marathon in case I could not get a decent pace signal again. I found that the course was pretty much flat and that I sped up with crowd support and music and settled comfortably during the quieter parts.

At about 7 miles I passed the Alzheimer’s Research cheer stations, the reception I got was incredible, the supporters were all screaming my name, whooping, shaking pom-poms and clapping bang-sticks, I loved it!

As I neared the last two km, I saw a 2 hour pacer in front of me and as I overtook him, I checked my watch convinced I had gone faster. My watch confirmed that the pacer was from the wave in front of mine and that I was doing great!

At 20.2k I dumped my drink and started to sprint. I passed the 13 mile marker, turned left into Whitehall and ran ecstatic to the Finish line.

As I stopped my watch, I was amazed to see 1:48 flash up on the screen. The last time I had run an official half marathon was March 2017 when I had completed the Broadland Half in 1:57 so I had set myself a target of sub-1.55. A thought of sub-1:50 had briefly crossed my mind due to the Marathon training and this being a flatter course but I’d dismissed that as silly. “You can’t knock over 7 minutes off in a year.” This morning when I was feeling sorry for myself, I’d never have believed that I’d knock 9 minutes off my PB.

I wasn’t happy with the GPS issues though! It messed up my distance so I didn’t get a half marathon Strava PB. Looking at my splits it went wrong at 3k. I’m bloody impressed with the rest of my splits though – wow!

Vikki Harper1.48.28YESNEW SILVER