My first…..Half Marathon! I do feel nervous abut writing this. There will be no story of how I got lost and nearly died, there will be no drama (that I can think of) so is it going to be interesting? Anyway I want to share it, simply because it means a lot to me. And hopefully if you read it you will know why.
Some time ago I was very eager to run half marathon, but only so that I can run the full one. But rushing and being impatient was first mistake I made. The injuries followed faster than I could figure out what was happening. I still thought that I just have to suck it in and train more and harder to get stronger….silly, now I know! Eventually my friend, also runner but much, much more experienced told me to stop and slow down. He said it was not about running a half or full marathon as soon as possible but more about getting my body ready for this type of work. Prepare your body, build your milage up and get the foundation right. I didn’t like it but I did listen. And this was by far best advice I ever received. However, damage was done I was injured and taking long time to recover.
It was mid February, my half was in March, my training was slow and I could not conquer any distance longer than 6 miles. It was very hard, I felt dismotivated and my confidence was suffering. Then I finally went to see sport’s massage therapist. I have to say its a love-hate relationship ever since. I left first session shaken to the core with my legs bruised and wobbly. By the time I felt better I had to be back for follow up session. The pain you go through I won’t even try to describe it here. But by third session my therapist was convinced that I was ready to run and my legs would be fine but I still wasn’t so sure. I still could feel pain nearly every day and the thought of 13 miles running non stop was very daunting.
But the day has come. I woke up at 5.30 am, had breakfast and got ready. I was out of the door by half 6 and arrived to Richmond Old Deer Park just after 8am. I had an hour before the race. I got changed and scanned the area. The atmosphere was amazing. People were friendly and very helpful. I could feel the nerves in the air but that was normal, I think 🙂 I wasn’t alone with my own fears and it was a comfort to me.
Then my friend came by to wish me luck. I told him I was scared about my knee but he just smiled and said, “just dont think about it, you will be fine, you are ready and you’ll do great”. I needed that talk, and someone there to tell me it will be all good.
I took couple of gels into my pocket and off I went to join the start line. I stood by 2.10 pacers. There I’ve met couple of girls who were running their first half too. We laughed and motivated each other until the gun went off. I run with nice steady pace of 9 minute/mile and felt good. First couple of miles were my warm up. Then I felt pain on the side of my knee . I nearly cried. I had a choice to focus on pain or just acept it and carry on. So I shook my head and said to myself, that I feel nothing, its all good, just keep going. I increased my pace a little, this changed my posture and pain eased off.
At that point we joined the river, very scenic and new to me route. I loved it. The sun was shining and I was again in good place. I smiled at everything that was in front of me and took energy from it. Watching river -rowers helped me to level my heart beat and it was best part of the race.
By mile 5 I was going strong. The lock and Richmond Bridge were beautiful. More and more people was out and the support from everyone was great. I carried on and was still going strong by mile 8. I was in the zone and don’t really remember much untill mile 10. I feared this point as I never run continuously passed it. My sudden return to reality brought back the pain as well and I was struggling a little. I took my gel and searched for more strength. People cheering helped a lot and kept me going when I thought I no longer could. Marschals and volunteers on numerous water stations were simply my keep going passes. I was doing good again.
Then just as I reached mile 11 I felt sharp pain in my foot. I thought stone fallen into my shoe. I had to stop, but that was actually very challenging. My brain stopped but my legs didn’t. I nearly fell and only tree in front of me stopped me from hitting the floor. I could’t help but laugh at myself. What an embarrasing thing to do. Anyway nothing was in my shoe but the pain increased. I once again had to stop but could feel nothing. After the race I realised it was a a blister on my under foot so not big price to pay (although very painfull indeed). Mile 12 sign was a relief. I was tired and ready to stop. More and more people were slowing down and even more were walking. Oh how I wanted to stop and walk too. I was just about moving my legs. But I promised myself that at this stage I will run, no matter what. I’ve run this far I can do a little more.
400m sign was amazing, but it was further down than I wished…..people were cheering and I’ve picked last of my strength and went as fast as I could. I smiled and enjoyed this moment. I was just about to do it. The finish line was in my sight. This was my dream for so long. And it was no longer my dream, it was my reality and I could not be happier and more proud. I run across the finish line and the feeling was like no other. Someone gave me a medal and goody bag with lots of yummy bits in it from Whole Foods Market! Everyone was congratulating everyone and it felt amazing! It was better than I did ever imagine. And just for that I will race again and again…….