**I warn you now this might be a bit of a lengthy post**
I survived my first half marathon! It was brilliant Here’s my recap. I’ve tried not to ramble on too much…
So on Friday I had my last physio appointment. This was really good as she gave my leg muscles a good (albeit painful) massage and also used ultra-sound on my Achilles which was just brilliant. Definitely worth the money I think! And a perfect way to prepare for Sunday.
Saturday I had a busy day of trying to get all the housework done and sorting bits and pieces out as we knew we wouldn’t have Sunday because of the race. I also did a very relaxed and easy 2 mile run to just shake myself out. It was horrific though as it was so wet and windy. This was a bit worrying as I didn’t mind any weather as long as it wasn’t windy. And Saturday was like gail-force winds.
Saturday night Ben and I had a ‘make-your-own’ pizza from Sainsbury’s. I had a thin and crispy vegetable feast without cheese…with added chicken (I’m not a big fan of melted cheese). When the guy behind the counter had made it he said to me “you might need to cook it for a bit longer than the directions say as there are so many toppings”. Haha I should have been embarrassed but I wasn’t.
Before I cooked it I put some BBQ sauce over it. Let me tell you, this was AMAZING. Perfect carb-loading dinner.
I had an early night and surprisingly fell asleep very quickly.
Sunday morning we woke up early (6.30am…on a Sunday), I walked Alfie, had breakfast (my regular oatmeal – what else?) and a black coffee. Ben’s mum and my mum arrived to drive with us and we were on our way. [Unfortunately my dad couldn’t make it as he’d been called into work – this was quite sad as, apart from Ben, he’s one of my biggest supporters]
Because I was so worried I’d lose my head and run like an idiot for the first half of the race and thereby kill myself for the second I wrote down the times I wanted to hit for each mile on my hand to try and focus myself.
This way I could keep looking at what pace I should be aiming for. Basically I aimed at increasing the speed as the race went along, leaving myself a bit of energy for a speedy finish.
We got to Reading and hung about in the race village for a fair amount of time. At this point the rain hadn’t quite kicked in but it was cold.
Then it started really raining. Possibly the worst part of the day was taking off my big coat and handing it to Ben so I could then go and stand in the racing pen to wait for it to begin. I was FREEZING. We all had to stand and wait for around 15 mins before the race began in the tipping rain. Everyone was jumping around like lunatics trying to keep warm.
And then we were off!
It was such an effort to keep my pace at 8.20 for the first mile because the majority of people were starting quite fast so it felt very unnatural to hold myself back. My inner competitiveness was screaming at me. But I didn’t want to start too quickly and poop myself out right at the beginning.
I saw Ben and the mums during the first mile so it was nice to wave to them at the beginning. Miles 1-4 zoomed by. They felt very easy and relaxed. It was just so nice to be running with so many people.
I had my music in and it was great to just look around and watch other people and see the spectators cheering us on. So many people watched us run, it was really lovely. Especially considering the weather! I kept having to check my pace though as I felt myself wanting to zoom off.
At mile 5 I increased my pace as planned. I still felt very good and was quite happy with how things were going.
Saw some interesting costumes!
The course was relatively flat, except for about three hills that were quite substantial. But they were fine, I just found a rhythm, looked down and ploughed on. If I look up when running hills then I lose my motivation because I think “Jeeze am I not there yet?”
There were loads of water stations about which was a bit of a minefield, especially when they were like bags of water that squirted all over the place. I didn’t go for any water but I almost got hit by jets of water several times haha. As if I wasn’t wet enough!
I can’t remember what mile it was (maybe 6?) but we went under a bridge and there were drums playing by a band which was brilliant. Really livened things up and kept us motivated. It was nice as well because people shouted my name as I had it on my vest. At first it felt weird because I was like “I don’t know you!” but it was a great motivator. And little kids wanting high fives – that was cool!
Mile 7 went really quickly because this was where Ben and the mums were aiming to be to wave and hand me a drink (I’d made my own drink from half water, half pure orange juice and a little bit of salt). So I spent a lot of time looking out for them which passed the time. I finally saw them and gave Ben my gloves, he gave me the drink and then we had a quick smooch (ahh the romance) and I ran off.
I thought I’d struggle around 8-9 as it’s a bit of a funny mileage as you’ve ran quite far but you’re still quite far away. But I was fine. I felt very comfortable and happy. Though it started raining again which wasn’t amazing.
Because of how the course twisted, Ben and the mums could get to mile 10 before I did so they hurried there to wave again and Ben got a photo of me.
Yep that’s a manic smile I’m wearing there.
And then from mile 10 I was ready to kick a bit more into a faster pace. When I got to mile 12 that’s when I had to dig a bit deeper to keep going. When I saw the sign for ‘400m to go’ I let rip a bit more and it got painful. We got into the Madejski stadium and BAM it finished. It was over. I couldn’t believe it.
The feelings of absolutely happiness were so overwhelming. I felt like I could fly. I saw someone from work who was also running it and I went over to him to chat and I was just bursting with joy. I just needed someone to talk to and bounce good vibes off of.
And how did I do in terms of timing? My official chip time was 1 hour 41 minutes and 19 seconds. And my Garmin breakdown:
Almost a perfect negative split! I’m so proud of myself for being sensible. Honestly, I don’t know what it was…the crowds, the other runners, the vibes, the adrenaline…but the race just felt good. I only struggled on the last mile – and even that just required a bit more focus and mental motivation. I am so pleased.
On a random point, the funniest thing was seeing the steam rise of the runners at the end. Lovely
I eventually found Ben, my mum and Ben’s mum (at this point I was once again FREEZING).
They were cold and wet as well – I felt so bad that they had to stand in the rain for me, but very grateful for their support. We headed back to the car and then had to wait about 50 mins for the car park to open to let us (and seventy five million other cars) out. We blasted the car with heat and we eventually got a bit warmer and dryer. I managed to get out of my clothes and into my spare dry clothes inside the car without revealing myself to the world or my family (a lot of help from Ben holding up his jumper haha).
Then the cars started moving. This was stressful. There was just no order, cars were everywhere.
They look like parked cars in the photo, but they’re actually creating their own queues. It’s just not British!!! Queue jumping is not socially acceptable, people!!
Anyway, we FINALLY got out and headed for lunch. By the time we arrived it was 2.30 (I finished the race at 11.45). I was ready to eat my arm at this point.
We got parked and got out of the car. My legs were so painful and achy I almost fell over! But we got to Jamie’s Italian and got a table (despite being so late for our reserved time!)
Straight away we ordered hot drinks. You know when you’re warm but you’re not really warm inside? That’s how we felt, if that makes sense. I ordered a peppermint tea which I can tell you tasted pretty darn good at this point.
Can you guess what I had for main? Turkey Milanese, which I’ve now had four times…embarrassing really but nothing sounded better.
I ordered a quinoa and bulgur wheat salad on the side as well.
The turkey went down very well but I couldn’t make a dent on the side; it was HUGE. You know when you go from being really hungry to being very full in a short period of time? Well it didn’t make me feel amazing, but I got it packed up to take home with me.
This smile pretty much never left my face.
Then we walked (I hobbled) back to the car and went home. After having the best shower in the world, there seemed only one outfit appropriate to wear at this point:
A onesie with my medal. Obviously
And needless to say my legs are fairly painful today. I almost fell over getting up this morning.
In a nutshell: I loved the half marathon and I’m definitely doing another.
Have you done a half marathon before?
What’s your favourite race distance?
Are you a proud owner of a onesie?