It always feels special doing your home town race. 

Reading plays host to one of the biggest half marathons of the year and the ideal pre marathon tune up. 

I've ran it every year since 2013 and it's one of my favourite races. The locals embrace the event and you get the tour of Reading's greatest and not so great landmarks. Despite it not being flat, with a climb to the dizzying heights of Whitley, it's a fast "PB potential" race. But top on the agenda, is the pretty Lion themed medals, incidentally fitting perfectly with my "Run Brave" marathon mantra. 

Pre London, Reading was a key target to: 

1) To give an indicator on what pace I'm going to aim for at the marathon. 

2) To practice my fuelling strategy.

3) Give the Nike's a spin.

I took my first big taper since I can't even remember, cutting down to one run a day. I was hoping I would feel really fresh and energetic but my legs felt heavy all week. My body was in desperate need of a rest. 

My coach set me a target of 76 something. An ambitious target, which honestly I didn't think I had in me. I became more doubtful as the weather forecast promised a light 17mph breeze with gusts up to 30mph. 

GREAT. 

Elite starts are always intimating when you're new to it. Walking to the start, I cracked a joke to the race winner Andy Vernon (or commonly known by the Twitter parody as "Angry Vernon ") which went down like a lend balloon but generally I like to soak up the atmosphere and chat to athletes around me (if they like it or not).

                       A standard family day out. My mum loves a good selfie!

So, with my "BONIFACE" race bib I went out hard from the start going through 5k in 18.00 and 10k in 35.46. Perhaps a bit too hard, judging by how significantly faster I was than my current 37.34 10K PB. 

Then the wind hit me. Dropping some rather horrendous slow miles at mile 8 & 9, I needed to get my act together. 

                                                 The mile 12 pain train 

After 1 hour, 16 minutes and 35 seconds of battling the wind, I crossed the line in 9th place and with a big PB. 

                                               Progress: 2013 to 2017 

                                         92.57, 95.21, 85.12, 79.57, 76.35                                               

It was not only a good day in the office for me but also for all my lovely running family, my super duper mum, brother and his friend Marcus. There were many PB's, excellent cheering and a lot of money raised for some fantastic charities. 

                                           PB club - all under 90 minutes.

This was my last race until London. I ran so hard I couldn't even manage a Nandos afterwards (I felt that bad). I raced more on feel, hoping that I wouldn't blow up. A risky tactic I will not use over the full marathon distance and my 5K splits reflect why!

                         5K splits: 18.00, 17.46, 19.16 (I blame the wind!), 18.02.

From now it's about recovering, maintaining and tapering for the biggest race of my life. Hopefully I won't do anything stupid (like tripping over med balls and getting another cankle) but be sensible and accept that the work is nearly done. 

5 weeks and counting... 

Please find below some just giving pages to some very worthy causes from Reading Half and the up and coming Virgin Money London Marathon. 

I am fundraising for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Dave Kirk and The Rob Squad fundraising for Hope Against Cancer for squad member Dan. 

Marcus Bull- Fundraising for the Prospect Hospice

Hayleigh Wood fundraising for Mind 

Nicky Cooke fundraising for the Epilepsy Society