two time frames
I didn’t know if this would be a bit confusing but it was a pretty wacky idea so I wanted to give it a go. Basically, I’ve decided to write the first half of this post the day before the half-marathon. Right now, in “me” time, it’s midday Saturday. I’ve just made some millionaire’s shortbread for post-race snacking, and have realised that in less than 24 hours I’ll be toeing the start-line. Pretty scary stuff if you ask me. I guess I thought it would be interesting for you guys to hear about my pre-race anxieties, and then see if any of them actually come true. Obviously at the moment I’m completely in the dark. I have no idea what to expect as I’m a complete HM newbie. My nerves have also sky-rocketed, and just thinking about tomorrow morning makes me feel a bit sick.
my biggest fear
Probably one of the most common ones out there and a runner’s worst night-mare: needing to go to the loo mid-race. Normally, my cross-country races only last 20-30minutes since they average 5-6.5km. The mid-race toilet-urge can still be an issue, however it’s much easier to power through. Nevertheless, tomorrow, I’ll be out there for anywhere between 1hr 45mins – 2 hours. Whilst it wouldn’t be the end of the world stopping at a portaloo halfway through, I know that I’ll lose my mojo. It would also mean any chances of a decent time go out the window. So I’m really hoping that my digestive system can help me out tomorrow and not let me down…
Over the course of my 4 month training plan, I’ve had my fair share of bad weather for my long runs. 45km/h wind speeds, torrential rain, constant drizzles… it’s been tough. I’ve learnt that the weather can be a) totally unpredictable, b) a complete game-changer and c) a huge source of frustration. The course may be virtually flat, but the coastal winds make a massive difference to times. The forecast for tomorrow predicts low temperatures, sun and moderate wind (15km/h). Fingers crossed the wind doesn’t go much above this, as we’ll be running into it for the first 5km and the last 5km…
Hitting a wall
Technically, this has never happened to me in a training run (hopefully I won’t jinx it now). However, during the gruelling 13.1 miles in a race situation, it could quite possibly happen. I’m not planning on taking any gels or chews mid-race, as I haven’t practised it enough. The one time I did I felt awful and thought I might be sick so I’d rather stick to what I know. Despite this, I’ve read horror-stories about huge performance drops due to inadequate mid-race fuelling. I also don’t tend to drink anything, and am worried that I’ll be overwhelmed by the race environment to take any at the water stations. I guess we’ll have to see what happens!
Although unlikely given the fact that I’ve had no niggles recently, it’s still a definite possibility. The whole of the race is on tarmac, meaning my joints/ shins/ feet will get a huge pounding. I’m just hoping they can cope with this level of impact, since all my long runs have been mostly on grass or trail. Even if I don’t get injured during the race, I’ve read that an unsuitable warm-down routine can lead to pulling a muscle. Plenty of room for error here!
it’s not all bad
So reading the above you’re probably thinking “why on earth are you doing it then?” Good question. Well, aside from the fact that a lot could go wrong, I am still (unsurprisingly) very excited. That feeling when crossing the finishing line. The ambience at the start. My friends and family cheering me on. These are the things that are and will keep me going. Being able to call myself a half-marathoner will also be quite satisfying. Either way, if I get a target time or not, I want to go out there, try my best and enjoy it. Because at the end of the day that’s all I can do – and after months of hard work all I can do now is have fun.
so what happened?
It’s now exactly 24hrs after I wrote the first half of this post. I’m currently experiencing one of the biggest “runner’s highs” ever. Would you believe me if I said I wanted to do it all over again? I’m completely over the moon with how I ran and how I felt whilst running. The atmosphere of having 12,000 other people running with the same end-point was incredible. And I’m not even exaggerating when I say it was one of the best runs of my life (however clichéd that might sound).
Luckily, everything went as smoothly as possible. No toilet troubles. No weather disasters (although it was pretty windy, I managed to shelter behind people or just push on). No injuries (as of yet). No hitting a wall. To be honest, it would’ve been pretty hard to set off too quickly due to the sheer scale of runners and the resultant runner traffic. Looking at my watch after the first km, I was shocked to see that I was 10s quicker than my target time. However, I maintained this pace throughout the whole race. In fact, the first km was one of my slowest, and my final few were my quickest. It’s a pretty good feeling overtaking in the second half of the race. The only thing I didn’t appreciate was being called “polly pocket” by a random middle-aged (male) spectator.
So I never actually stated what my target time was pre-race. Plan A was sub-1:40, plan B was sub-1:45 and plan C was sub-2 hours. I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that I’d get sub-1:35. My official time is 1:33:43, which I am so so happy with. Obviously I don’t want to sound arrogant/ boastful etc however I find it hard to be self-satisfied, so this is a big thing for me. 4 months of hard training has finally paid off, and now it’s definitely time to celebrate (with aaallll the food).
Well done to everyone else who raced, and I just want to shoutout my friends and family for supporting me. Especially Annie, who made a poster with my name on it (as seen below).
I hope you enjoyed reading this post,