What an amazing day today has been!
I have completed my first ever half marathon and while it was painful it was also fantastic in so many ways!
I’ve had a run up to this for the past few weeks and have generally been getting out to train every week. Last week my training slowed down, not least as my hours at work have been heavy but also I was starting to worry about pain I had in my toes of my right foot (tendons I think). Last week I did nothing at all. I had planned to get at least a gentle run in at the beginning of the week, but it just didn’t happen. So the panic and anxiousness set in…was that a good or a bad thing? only time would tell!
So the night before, starting to feel really quite nervous my “OC” fairy came out to play and got everything organised. Sports pack – check, trainers – check, socks – check (and they had to be the right ones), clothes – check, ipod – check, earphones – check, plasters – check, gels, lucozade, pins, race chip, change of clothes etc. check check check. All sorted out ready to go in the morning.
We had our first quiet Saturday night in since the before the summer, which would have been fab if i wasn’t a bag of nerves! But a hearty Spag Bog and a small concessionary red wine (I had been strictly informed i had to give up alcohol to run……hhm), followed by an evening viewing strictly and X-factor was in order. Now should i repeat the TV viewing another Saturday? Strictly maybe (although what is going on with Felicity’s teeth anyone??), not so sure about X-factor……
Nice and early then off to bed at a reasonable hour, spring-fresh new clean sheets, glass of milk…anything for a good nights sleep.
And then wide awake nice an early before 7am Sunday morning. Not a problem, had a good nights sleep,. so plenty of time for a steaming cup of tea and a good breakfast before heading into Peterborough. Had my boys running around me making sure I was ok and got everything and they were very understanding about my unsociable grunts and don’t hug me while I attempted to get my head in the right place!
We made it to the car park, no bad queues, got sorted and headed to the main meet in Cathedral Square, ready for the “group warmup”. Lots of people milling about in dayglo running kit. Some in groups looking very relaxed, an awful lot like me looking rather anxious! A lovely lady chatting to me in the loo queue calmed me down, clearly an experienced half marathoner, chuckled away and encouraged me on! And joined in wondering what was taking some ladies so long on the loo other that maybe they were changing in there… or locking themselves in so they didn’t have to come out and run!
Just before 10am there was a mass move where groups starting heading down to the start at Broadway so we joined them, hoping for some clues as to what to do to start. No where near as organised as the London 10000, a very much more relaxed approach. Sign boards were out depicting where to start given your approximated finish time, so pick a spot and hope for the best. Ah, but then a dilemma, do as some do and hope for a great finish time head further up and have people overtake you…or start at a slower pace and go past others…tricky! I stood by the 2 hour board desperately wanting to feel hopeful, but rather shifty in case someone told me off and to move further back!
The waiting wasn’t too bad at all, and then I realised I recognised the commentators voice; none other than Dick hughes, Deepings ex-PE Teacher and old neighbour! That made me smile. As more and more people pushed up front, the northern guys behind me started chatting, well granddad started fishing out all his marathon war stories, embellishing about the number of crumpled bodies along the side of the road on these kind of events…. not good! So I smiled as sweetly as I could and told him how nervous I was, which unfortunately he took as permission to bring out the fatherly good advice including reminding me it was a fun run! Yeah right!
Thankfully the countdown started to 10:10 on 10/10/10 ….was there really a woman dressed as a boob opening the race? Well off we go, nice little jog, not too much jostling, but fairly packed in so my focus was very much on getting the first couple of miles out the way, not too fast! First mile down, good, second mile good….ok first gel at 3 miles….then we go round a corner and already all the guys are lined up everywhere along bushes trees…in fact any bit of greenery for a wee. While I found that highly amusing (not so simple for us girls is it?), there were some very disgusted ladies!
I found myself running in a group of a couple of guys and girls where as we’d each take a break at a water station one or other would move slightly ahead , but we’d all end up more or less at the same pace. That was good as it gave me someone to try to keep up with. Second gel at six miles! And then a nasty stitch started grumbling 7-8 miles in! I’ve managed really well in training to deal with stitches which had become fewer but this one was a toughie, so i needed to slow my pace, focus on the breathing, steps, massage all tactics came in to play and then focus on getting to 9 miles where i’d allow myself a minute to walk, gel and water! Just before hitting the 9 mile marker, Mr RgR phoned me…and understanding that i wasn’t going to chat informed me he was waiting at the finish – keep going! Love him!
Thanks have to go to Peter, Jacob, Sharon, and various others I may know or not know who shouted my names and encouragement…it really really helped and picked me up I can tell you!
After 10 miles my heart and lungs felt great but my muscles and joints really really hated me, My legs felt like lead. Finally after the 11 mile marker the pace was picking up a little and runners had seriously thinned out. At times I was running on my own which felt extremely odd! And how far apart did those last couple of markers seem to be? finally 3km to go and we were on a spectator lined run up to the finish, I felt that lovely rush…go go nearly done! Mr. RgR was there hollering at me…look at the clock 1:59:12…..b*gger bet move my ass to get over the line under 2 hours, so I pegged it. Was focussing so much , missed Dick’s shout out to me over the speakers!
There I’d done it! I felt elated if a little dazed and to be quite honest; not only has it taken me a few days to find my legs again, it’s taken that long for it to actually sink in. I got my chip time 1:57:57 Get in! I was hoping to get as close to 2 hours as possible and that had seemed a distant thought and here i was under it. Bottle of bubbly to celebrate tonight I think!
MAssive thanks to everyone who supported me including Mr.RgR and ma and pa RgR!
So for all those of you out there who really don’t think they ever could (whether that’s run, or anything else), I believe you can, you just need to take little steps, put the effort in and go for it. Do listen to concern and good avice, but for those neysayers around you (including that evil edna in your head), change their tune or tune them out. I’d rather have tried and known that even if it took me four hours I’d done it …than sat there saying I couldn’t!
I’m running in aid of Kidney Research UK for the London Marathon on 17th April 2010 and need help to raise as much as can.