Yesterday I ran my first half marathon. 21.1km (well technically 21.2km for me, according to my running app ;)) of enjoyment, mixed with pain, mixed with “I can’t do this” mixed with “you can do this; you can do this!”
The cut off for the 21.1km was 3hrs; at the 18km mark I honestly did not think that I was going to make it. I had 25mins do to 3km in; my legs were not going fast enough as I just didn’t have the energy resources, and my feet were killing me. Quite funny actually, as when I got to the 10km mark I was like “man, I could have entered the 42.2km – this is so easy and comfortable!” and then when I got to the 11km mark I was like “oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?!” I wasn’t out of breath once, which shows that my fitness has definitely improved, and my muscles felt 100%, however my knee and ankle joints were not 100%. They weren’t even at 50%. I think at the 18km mark I was doing a sorry attempt at a fast walk – I must have looked utterly ridiculous! The wind was crazy yesterday too; for most of the race we were running with the wind which definitely did help, although as it was a coastal run, the sandblasting of my calves was just a bit sore… As I turned into the finishing 400m, a huge gust of wind hit me, pushing me away from the finish line, and there was less than 1 minute remaining until the 3hr cut off! I took whatever energy I had left, picked up my exhausted legs and ran. I even had the announcer egging me on “go Kearsney Striders lady (my club is Kearsney Striders) 30 seconds left; run lady run!” and I made it. 2hr59min34sec. I remember the tears in my eyes at 20km, thinking that I wasn’t going to make it with just under 10 minutes to go, and then I remember myself scolding myself, telling myself that I WAS going to make, I COULD do this. And I did 🙂
The morning of the race started quite hilariously actually; I got up at 02h00, was out of the house at 02h30, met my friend at 03h00, got to the finish of the race at 03h40 where we parked her car, collected my race tag at 03h45 and then looked at each other and said, well now what?! We took a drive, got some energy juices and jelly babies, went back to the finish and then I walked to the train station at 04h30, as included in our entry fee was a free train ride to the start of the race. We left at 05h05, and about 25mins later, the driver drove past our stop! He then stopped at the station after our stop, and we all hopped out, as we decided that we’d jog the 2.5km to the start. As we’re half way down the road, the other runners on the train whistled and called us back, as the driver had now decided to reverse and drop us all off at the correct station! So a mad dash for the train, and we all made it back on. Then, standing at the start of the 21.1km at the correct station, all of a sudden the train comes BACK to us, with the 42.2km runners still on the train! The driver had stopped short of their stop, and ended up bringing them back to us! So instead of starting at 06h00, we started at 06h25, as we had to wait for the 42.2km runners to get to their start, as both races had to start at the same time. As annoying as the whole debacle was, I must admit that I did find it funny, and it did help to ease my nerves a bit 🙂
As much as you need to be fit, and train and put mileage on your legs, running is also so mental (in both the figurative and literal senses ;)) as I don’t think I wouldn’t have made it if my mindset wasn’t strong enough. Yes, I didn’t do it in the time that I wanted to, but I finished it; I got a positioning number and I crossed that finish line in time. I talked to myself almost constantly in the last 3-4km, encouraging myself. I must admit, when the first 42.2km runner came flying past me at the 14-15km mark, I was seriously disheartened. It demotivated me quite a bit, but then I realised that these guys take this sport so seriously; for a lot of them this is their profession. Yes, running is my passion, but it’s hobby, for now… I also learnt, the very hard way this weekend, that I cannot expect my body to perform at its optimum, if I don’t fuel it. One cannot expect their car to go very far, without any petrol in it. I did not eat nearly enough from Wednesday through to Saturday, and then like an idiot I went spinning on Saturday morning for 2hrs, which completely depleted my energy reserves, and as I didn’t have supper on Friday night, or breakfast on Saturday morning, I was dizzy for the rest of the day, and only starting feeling like myself at about 18h00 on Saturday night. I did not have enough fuel in my body to run an optimum race yesterday. So basically, I screwed myself. Story of my life lol 🙂
I was absolutely dreading taking off my takkies when I got home, as I was convinced that I was going to find blood as I could feel something in my shoes, but instead of finding blood, I found a 1.5cm blister on each insole of my feet, from where the takkie tongue elastic had been rubbing against my skin. I had felt the pain from about the 12km mark, but had just pushed on through it. I discovered that it was down to the lacing of my takkies, and that if I google ‘lacing techniques’ as random as it sounds, you can find different lacing techniques! I also discovered that there are specific running socks which absorbs the sweat etc in your shoes from running; I ran in normal socks, which contributed to my beautiful blisters.
So as much as yesterday was painful, and I didn’t perform at my best, I’m honestly glad that things went the way that they did. Yesterday was a HUGE learning curve for me; I have learnt so much of what to do and what not to do, all from 1 race. I am really looking forward to the next 4 months of solid training as I’m not entering anymore races, until the Pietermaritzburg City Marathon in February 2014, and that will be my Comrades Marathon 2014 qualifying race. Only training for the next 4 months; a couple of 5-8km during the week, and then the weekends is when I’ll really stretch my legs; get up at 5am and just run for 3-4hrs at my own pace, gradually building up the mileage on my legs. I can’t wait for the South Coast Marathon next year, as who knows; maybe I’ll enter the 42.2km race just for the fun of it 😉