A chronically busy week at work meant that I was unable to dwell on the fact I had a huge race to ‘look’ forward to on the Sunday. The first time I actually gave it some thought was whilst I was setting up my new iPhone Friday night, by then I decided it was too late to be concerned about the training and to only think about what was within my control. It seems like my therapy and PT sessions had paid off with that mindset!
Saturday hubby and I helped at Harrow Lodge parkrun and then decided to go for a pasta meal nearby before going back home, preparing bags for the next day and having an early night as the alarm would be going off at 3am!
Again I was not worried about the half, it felt odd not to be worried but also restful! After all I knew I could do the distance and I had resigned myself to the fact I was not going to break any world records, I just wanted the medal and the kudos at the end.
The alarm went off and calmly I got up, had breakfast and got my final few things together. Our friend who was completing the marathon with hubby collected us at 5am and we set off. I listened to some calming music and sat watching the world pass me by on the M25. No butterflies nothing!
We arrived and the urgent matter of needing the toilet was at hand, we hot footed it up to Starbucks as we were not allowed into Kew Gardens just yet. Whilst in Starbucks we put together the last few bits, for me putting on calf sleeves and trainers. For my friend his race number. Starbucks was filling with race goers all with the same idea.
We made our way to Kew Gardens and at 7am we were allowed in, at this point I could really feel the butterflies but apart from that I was still eerily calm.
The marathon was going to go off first, just as hubby and our friend made their way into the starting pen and I stood to the side I got suddenly very jittery, I started to well up, no panic attack but at that point it could have gone either way. I remembered what I had been told in recent weeks and calmed myself back down. The marathon was off. I was able to finish a few last minute things before the marathoners came back round and I was able to cheer on hubby and my friend before I headed to the start line.
Within seconds of getting to the start pen I was off, there was no time to quiver and worry. I set off and realised very quickly I had started too quick, some panic drifted over me, I looked at my watch and slowed to a fast walk whilst I figured out what I was going to do. I started to jog again and cramp took over my left hamstring, I slowed right down again. Wow I thought, I have not even gone 2 miles and I am walking. I didn’t care, no matter what or how I was going to finish this bloody thing!
Miles passed in a blur, which actually was a good thing. At mile 7 I was on the trails by the Thames, very uneven, I had slipped a half mile beforehand on cobbles so I was already feeling that I needed to be cautious. Just as I made my way through a narrow part my left ankle went over, probably weakened by the earlier cramping I staggered, got myself upright and felt a shot of pain through my foot, enough for me to gasp out loud and for a fellow lady runner to turn and ask if I was ok. I thanked her and said I was, although inside I didn’t think so, my foot throbbed. I carried on, I approached a walking man and decided to walk for a bit to see if the pain would ease, I chatted to this man, who was in a lot of pain and feeling very cheesed off with himself, he was Australian and felt he was letting himself down. I pointed out he was over half way and he can do it just have faith, he agreed and said he was goingto finish no matter what. With those words ringing in my ears I decided to trot on.
Again the miles blurred, I passed Ham House and was struck by the beauty of the old building, lined up for the portaloo decided after 5 minutes of waiting I might as well continue, thanked some marshals, went through a tunnel to discover I had a mile left!
I trotted along and caught up with a lady who was running for the same charity as I was. I said hello and noticed it looked like she had been crying. I asked if she was ok, and she explained why she was running the half, that she had not really trained and was finding it very hard to finish. I stayed with her, giving her encouragement and letting her talk. I felt that was the right thing to do especially as I was raising money for Mind. As we rounded to what I thought was the final straight I saw hubby who informed me that we were not on the final straight that the path curves round, he looked good after his marathon so my mind was at ease. Another lady joined us and the 3 of us silently trotted around the path until the final final home straight, the finish line right ahead.
I stared at the finish line is disbelief. One of the hardest things I have ever done and it was nearing the end. Hang on I thought was it hard? The only hard bit was the pressure I had put on myself and the unknown but now as I could see the finish I knew I was ok and that I had achieved a personal record I had set for myself. I could see hubby to my right cheering me on and I felt tearful for the first time since I set out (and a bit proud of myself too). I crossed the line, stopped my watch, gushed to the person who removed my timing chip about it being my first half marathon and collected my medal.
Once I stopped I realised I had aches and pains everywhere, back, shoulder, foot to name the 3 most annoying. I sat down posted my status as being a half marathoner now and realised I could not get back up. Hubby and I laughed as we struggled to get back up and make our way to cheer on our friend.
Would I do another half marathon? Yes of course, as long as I can remember to be as relaxed as I was with this one. Yes I ached and I was slow but I felt so pleased with myself for not only completing it but to raise £350 for a totally worthwhile cause. I wont go out and run 13.1 miles every week but I would like to do another one just to prove that this was not a figment of my imagination.