After spending most of 2016 running 10km races (and psyching myself out of out of a 21km) I decided that 2017 would be the year to smash a few mental barriers and run my first half marathon i.e. 21.1km. Entries opened for the Dischem half marathon toward the end of 2016 and I was running with the Modern Athlete crew at the time. A mailer went around to all team members offering free entries to the race and I’m not entirely sure what made me say “yes”… but I did, I actually said “YES”!
The race flyer said that walkers were welcome (and by walkers they mean those lightning fast people who fly past me most days on route) so I figured I would give it a bash. My rational was I would enter, even if I walked most of it, I just needed to get to the finish line so that I knew what being on my feet for 21km felt like.
The training for a half isn’t anything like the training required to complete a marathon (42.2km) but given the Dischem half is in mid-January it meant I needed to do some training over December holidays so that I didn’t completely die on the course. I didn’t run much further than 13km over December but I did run as many hills as I could interspersed with a few interval sessions for good measure. Having a race to run in early January is great motivation to keep running during holiday season!
The morning of the race rolled round and the usual stupid-o-clock alarm went off (sometime around 3:55 to be exact)! That voice inside your head that whispers stupid stuff like “what the HECK are you doing, you will never make it to the finish line” was now chattering to me nonstop. Would I be able to do this? Would I be the first person in my immediate family to run a half marathon (and finish)? I decided to ignore the voice and head out the door.
At 6:00 the gun went off signalling the start of the race. I started off slow and decided that if the hills got tough or my shins got sore that I would just walk and get through it. The first 10km were pretty comfortable, I found the 2.5 hour bus and I figured I would try and stick with them to see how it went. I really enjoy running with most busses, the vibe is great and somehow working together as a team helps keep your momentum going when it gets tough.
I’m not sure at what distance the hill past Bedfordview shopping centre starts but it was somewhere up that hill I lost the bus. I was kind of upset to start but I reminded myself that my goal was just to finish in whatever time it took, I would walk when I needed and finish the race. I ran / walked my way through the next few km’s up what seemed like the longest hill in history but eventually I made it to the top!
Most of the race after that hill is a bit of a blur, I do know that at around 16km I was starving and I debated whether I should eat something or not. I landed up having a few squeezes of the macadamia nut butter that I had taken with me but my mouth and the nut butter were so dry that they didn’t make for a great combo, even so the little bit I had seemed to help somewhat making me feel a little better.
I came up to the finishing arena and before I had actually run onto the field my watch registered I was already over my 21.1km goal. To my absolute horror a marshal informed me there was still another 400m sprint to the finish line…. SERIOUSLY! I was ready to fall over and sleep! It took a lot to push through and keep going to the finish line (clocking in at 22.3km) but I did it, I finished my first half marathon!
After downing a chocolate milk (no at all low carb, but it was very yummy) and spending a good 10min sitting on the grass after the race I realized a few things:
- I’m stronger than I give myself credit for
- I know I can push harder on the next one
- I know I will run another half
- I’ve started using abbreviations for half marathons like “half” [see above]
- I really need to let fear stop getting in the way of trying new things
If you are reading this and you’ve run a half (or many halves) then drop me a note and let me know how you got over the fear of running the distance, or if you haven’t run a half and you are considering it share what’s holding you back and perhaps we can figure out how to get over that finish line together.