The day of my first marathon arrived and by this point I had it in my head that I was going to try. I had set my alarm clock early so that I had time to ice my foot again. As it happens I woke earlier than that so iced it even longer (please note I have since discovered not to do this and doing it all wrong – see next week’s post!). I started to shake I was so nervous – and yet disappointed as I knew the distance shouldn’t have really been a problem anymore – it was the pain. My knee kept having the odd pain and that also really concerned me – but it wasn’t quite enough for me to believe it was a real problem. My husband wasn’t quite so convinced – it may be to do with the fact that I was yelling “Jesus!” whilst trying to walk around the house after icing as it ruddy well hurt! He asked how was I going to do over 13 miles, if I couldn’t even walk around the house? The answer was I didn’t know but I was going to try. That if it got too much I could always pull out. As luck would have it the course started off by heading for my house – a good enough distance to determine whether to go home or carry on.
My First Half Marathon Experience
When I arrived at the start there was such a lovely atmosphere. So many people I knew taking part, with everyone being so supportive. There was much talk of poo (apparently coconut water doesn’t have a great effect on everyone) and whether we had had enough wees! Before I knew it the start of the race was on. There were many people I could run with but I decided that on my own at my own (varying) pace was probably best. I know I have a tendency to rely on other people otherwise and I needed to do this by myself. You see throughout my early life I was told I couldn’t do things – lots of things and I began to believe them. Through time with my best friend (that’s my husband btw) I started to see that they weren’t true. With running I really have begun to feel that I can do things if I put my mind to them and try. We are always telling the kids it gets easier and to keep going but I tend to feel I am not capable myself – I need to listen to my own advice.
There were so many runners (just under a thousand I believe) and it was such an experience all just running off together. I didn’t even think I had gone off that fast and tried not to be carried by the crowd but it seems that I was (and ran at least a minute per mile faster than usual without a bad foot for the first couple of miles!). It was such a hot day really – and I don’t do heat at the best of times. I had discussed with my husband about whether to take water out with me and had decided not to. Someone even said that the first water station was a bit too soon – but for me it couldn’t come soon enough and in hindsight I wish I had taken my bottle. As I slowed to try to walk after taking my bottle the people on the stand encouraged us to keep going (people I know) and so I ran again until the bridge. Still over heated and taking little sips from my bottle it was at this point in the race that I decided that I was not going to attempt to run up any inclines and walked up the bridge. As the first of the ladies from running club (Gemma) overtook me she took time to stop and ask me if I was ok. After I got to the top of the bridge (and finished my bottle) I then ran across and down – to see my family waiting for me, waving and cheering me on. I then ran passed someone covered in blood being attended to, and two blind runners before seeing my family again.
When I think about it now the whole race went so quickly. There was so much support from crowds and other runners it would have been hard to quit. I really cannot thank my running club enough – they were spread over so many points of the course – with encouragement, banners and sweets! I had so many comments about how great my leggings were – including from fellow Park Runner Wes who told me he had done this half marathon 7 times and was aiming for 2 and half hours. We were about 6-7 miles in at this point and it made me feel that I could still do it under two and half hours (which was my original goal!) But then he left me behind. The pain was getting worse and I was convinced that the paracetamol was wearing off. I didn’t know the time as I was tracking how far/fast I was going on my Garmin but knew it wasn’t time for more painkillers yet – but decided that taking them a little bit early wasn’t going to kill me – so did.
I slowed right down and walked a lot more, not just for hills. Every now and then running again. People started commenting on how we kept passing each other, and I am sure that in the end it became like a little game for each of us, which helped us to keep on going. Although I think that what they mean by a second wind is when you suddenly run away from everyone else – and let out your farts!
I suddenly got to a point – I think just under 10 miles and I was elated – thinking omg I am running a half marathon – I am DOING IT! That it wasn’t far to go now. By the time we approached 12 miles people were telling us how we were nearly there – which was nice but I just kept on hearing it and the end didn’t seem to be coming into sight. I had to stop at a road for the traffic and suddenly felt really sick! I was pleasantly surprised that the high street was still open, meaning I could just run up the road as crowds of supporters cheered. Okay when I say ran up the road there was still a lot of walking! It is amazing just how far point one of a mile is because even after the 13 mile marker it felt like forever. I thought I would get a burst of energy and sprint to the finish but oh my, did it take everything just to get the energy to keep on going!
Again there were supporters everywhere and it really helped. My old next door neighbour (as in she’s not my neighbour now, not that she’s old) Leeanne was at the end cheering me on and I managed to somehow get to the end. Although I wasn’t sure where the end was so kept running until I got to the people with medals. Then a guy came up and asked me my number. My chip hadn’t recorded as my bumbag had covered it up (they used the time from the next lady behind me). I knew it was less than 2 hours and 22 minutes though as that is what my Garmin said when I eventually paused it.
I ate my banana, chocolate bar from goody bag and drank my water. I took my trainer off and rubbed my foot. This was the first time I had properly run in my Asics (see my previous post) and they had served me well – proper supportive. My teen found me and took me to find the rest of my family and I ate a pasty (if you can call stuffing food into my mouth like a starved woman eating). I didn’t feel great and went home – I tried to sleep but felt so bad. I vomited loads (my husband looked it up apparently it is something that just happens to some people when doing endurance running). He was so amazing and treated me like I am the most brilliant person in the World who has done something special. He bought me flowers, and chocolate, and Jaffa cakes and suggested we go out for a meal.
Thank you to everyone for their support. I ran for the Roses Theatre Tewkesbury who support the community in many ways including those suffering from Domestic Violence. I had a bad start to life, always being told that I wasn’t capable of achieving this or that and by the time I was just 16 years old I was in a domestic violence situation. Even though he had to take me to the hospital I always believed it wasn’t that bad because nothing was actually broken. This training has really helped me to believe in myself – that I can do things it may just take a lot of hard work and patience. If you wish to sponsor me to help other vulnerable people then it is not too late – do it online here.