Have you ever thought something was too far out reach, too high of an aim, you don’t have the ability? That was me and the half marathon.
I want to start by saying I am no running expert by any means. Place me in the weight room at the gym and I am at home. But there always seems to be a fire burning inside of me to push myself and try new things, so what better way to do that then throwing myself in at the deep end and attempt to run 13.1 miles?
You see people of all abilities, shapes and sizes running on the streets everyday so it can be easy to think “I can do it too if they can”. You then start to run yourself and recognise it is so much more than putting on any old trainers and going. I quickly discovered my year old trainers were not up to the cut for the distance I would be doing and I got sore ankles. The way I ran on my toes wasn’t ideal, so I had to train my body not to do that. My hometown is very hilly so shin splints were an issue at the beginning. I began to think “what have I signed myself up for”.
I will admit I didn’t train as well as I could have, but I did do a number of runs increasing my distance as the half marathon came closer. ‘Runner’s Knee’ hit me hard two weeks before the event meaning I had to mainly rest which of course wasn’t ideal but I was concerned to keep pushing my body. I had successful practice runs, I had disastrous practice runs, but throughout each one I always gave my all and I did improve my technique going from no real previous running experience to running 16km reasonably comfortably.
Butterflies – excitement, apprehension and nerves hit me as soon as my alarm went off at 06.45. I ate carbs for breakfast and took a hydration supplement in a pint of water. Those butterflies stayed with me right up to the starting line where over 1,000 others were also waiting eagerly for the starting shot. A bolt of adrenaline hit me as the shot fired and thoughts of self-belief and “you can do this” flooded my mind.
I started slow and steady as I had done in my training runs. I felt myself being left behind by the more experienced runners but I tried to not let that get to me. I kept a pretty average pace for the first 7 miles and then the shooting pains in my feet and ankles started. I had this pain once or twice when training but not for a while, the pain had seemed to be isolated to my knee. But when you are halfway through an event there is not too much you can do, so I tried to stay calm and I slowed my pace right down. More and more people started to overtake me and thoughts about coming last started to make me panic.
The 9th mile is where I started to lose it mentally and I thought I couldn’t go on. My feet were on fire and my hip flexors were seizing up. I contemplated stopping, I wanted one of the passing cars to stop and pick me up, anything to just stop!
Passing the 12th mile mark I seemed to drag energy out of somewhere and I picked up my pace towards the finish line. As I came closer to the large red FINISH banner the world seemed to slow and I felt so fucking proud. My name was called out, a medal was slung around my neck and I was overcome with searing pain, happiness and relief.
I wasn’t quick, but I did it. I got myself over that finish line in one piece and achieved something pretty amazing. I wanted to write about my experience for anyone looking to push themselves or take on a challenge but they are scared of doing so. It may be tough and incredibly hard at the time, but the feeling of accomplishment at the end outweighs anything else.
Things I would do differently:
- Do more training! I didn’t particularly enjoy my time running and this is probably a big factor of why I found it hard to get out there. But my injuries also kept me away as I was worried to harm myself permanently.
- Take some sort of energy supplement. During the race there were energy gel packets littered all over the place. I knew about them but I wanted to avoid taking anything like this, but looking back it could have helped me so much.
- Not to worry so much about what everyone else was doing. Focus on yourself and your goals.