It’s been a while since I wrote a post about running, so I thought that the recap of my first ever half marathon might be the occasion needed to make this post a little bit more interesting to those of you that are non-runners.
As I mentioned, this was to be my first half marathon, as I usually stick to the 5km distance of a parkrun for my running escapades, though I have completed a 10km whilst dressed as Father Christmas. But still, a half marathon is equal to 21km a full 11km more than I’ve ever run before.
I wish I could tell you the tale of my perfectly crafted and well detailed training plan that I rigorously stuck to from the day that I submitted my entry into Bolt Round the Holt but alas, I’m not one of life’s most sensible crowd! As it was, my training plan consisted of a single ten miler, some 8 mile runs and a 7 mile one, on top of the regular 5km parkruns. Not the best plan to make sure that you can manage a full 13 miles. Luckily, my housemate Tom decided to enter alongside me and his training wasn’t much better so there was some comfort there.
Race day arrived and after the car trip down to Alice Holt Wood near Farnham we were registered, got our race numbers and then decided to wait around, soak up the atmosphere and then, when it was finally close enough to the start to justify removing the warm clothing in this horrifically biting April weather we’ve been lumbered with, we started warming up.
After a half hour delay due to an over crowded registration desk the aerobic group warm up started, although we were shivering the entire way through it, just wishing that the start would hurry up and arrive as we’d already warmed up, before finding out about the delay! Finally though, we were arranged on the line and ready to go: just a single kilometre short lap to begin with for us 21kers before starting the bulk of the race – 4 laps of the 5km loop.
Settling into what I thought was a comfortable pace for this distance, I made it about half a lap before being caught up by some of my fellow Havant parkrunners and decided to stick with them for a while, in order to keep myself motivated. The kilometres were decreasing, we were passing some people, we met yet another Havant parkruner on our second lap whilst she was nearing the end of her 10k run, and we were dealing well with the grotesquely chewy energy gels provided at the water stations. Unfortunately, my time with my fellow parkrunners was nearing it’s end.
Halfway through the first kilometre of lap three, K16-17, I started to flag a bit whilst they managed to keep the pace up. By the end of the first hill I was falling even further behind and my inability to run on flat surfaces (yes, I’m one of those weird people that actually LIKE running on hills as I can get a good pace going) meant that they were getting smaller and smaller as they ran off into the distance. I resolved not to give up and kept forcing myself through the pain in my legs, this being the furthest that I have ever run in one go. Making it round to start the final lap, I was tired, I was in pain and I was cursing whoever it was at the organising committee that recommended that you wear trail shoes on the run, when you needed them for maybe 300m of the lap if that. Oh how I longed for my road shoes!
Te final lap saw me have to slow my pace on the final part of a hill so I was pretty much walking for a hundred metres, in order to remove the K Tape I had on my knees as it was flapping loose, but I kept the running going and all of the people that passed me encouraged me and told me to keep going, as I was doing to the people that I passed. The final hill saw me slow to a walk in order to cough up what felt like a lung when I mis-swallowed some of my final gel but then I was off again, pushing myself harder than I have in a long time, not wanting to give up and wanting to beat the people around me to the finish line as I’d come this far.
Entering the home straight my housemate was on side cheering me on (or shouting abuse at me, which is more likely) as we’re the three Havant parkrunners that I’d been with on the run. I managed to cross the finish line with a horrific expression on my face in a time of 2:13:00. Not too bad for my first half marathon, especially one as hilly as this, and with no training!
Here’s a picture of me from the run, it’s taken quite early on, as you can tell by me still smiling and not grimacing in pain as the later photos show!