So, just over a week ago, we did it.
Yep, my running buddy Pam and I travelled nervously over to Lake Vrynwy in north Wales and completed our first half marathon.
We had been training for months, walking, running, swimming, cycling and endless hours at the gym for Pam. Early morning training runs to miss the heat of the day through an epic summer, and hours of research on nutrition and pacing.
I’m happy to say it all paid off, with Pam hitting an impressive 2:35:04 and myself 3:13:16.
Rewind a bit, to the start line. 1pm, a massive queue for the loos (as always) and it’s raining. We are both soaked before we even set off. Some runners are wearing bin liners, which we both wish we had thought of. Local sheep are standing at the side of the road wondering what the hell is going on, bleat at us, and then get bored, so move on to where the grass is greener.
Suddenly we are off, the claxon sounds and we cross the start line, hundreds of beeps going off as everyone’s chip kicks in. The elite runners are far in the distance already, and as agreed, Pam and I ran our own individual race. I am by far the slowest runner in the universe, and I wanted her to do a good time, so waiting around for me was not an option. I was fine at the back, with the sweeper vehicle, until I gained pace and momentum and got into my rhythm.
A fairly steep hill to start, and then across the dam where it levels out around the lake. I might add that I had no strategy and no plan for this race. I was running it with an open mind and decided to listen to my body; it would tell me what it wanted at each mile. So, I slowed my pace down, kept refuelling at every opportunity. Jelly beans and brazil nuts were my snacks of choice, plus a couple of gels, and a pint of cordial.
All was going well, and I hit mile 8, 9, then 10. My right knee was starting to bother me, so out came the tiger balm. I was happy though with how things were going. At mile 11 I started to flag, and an old hip flexor injury began to niggle slightly. This is where I had to dig really deep. I told myself that I had just done 10 miles, and there was only a cheeky little 5k to go. Mile 12 was tough, so I started singing to myself, which I always do when I get desperate. The rain had stopped by this time, and the sun graced us with its presence.
We then made our decent towards the finish line, downhill thank goodness. Marshals smiled and shouted that the end was near, just around the corner. Four painful corners later, there it was. Pam, my husband, daughter and my Dad, plus the dog all clapping and cheering me over the finish. The first thing I did was cry. Relief, a sense of achievement, and thoughts to all those people I had run for, people affected by Sepsis. I had managed to raise £350 for one of my favourite charities.
On the way home, Pam and I both said “never again” and headed to the nearest fish and chip shop, where I ate my own body weight in cod and carbs. My Dad gave me a large brandy, and a big hug.
One week on, and I want to do another. I loved it. I learnt two valuable lessons that day, the first is I am capable of so much more than I imagined, and the second is that I am stronger than I think, mentally and physically.
So, if you are anxiously awaiting your first half marathon, don’t be nervous. You will love it, just relax and run the mile you’re in. Enjoy it. Get that well deserved medal and T shirt at the end, and then go celebrate.
But most of all, be proud of yourself, and what you have achieved. Wear your medal and T shirt with pride, you’ve earned it.