My First Half
3 months later, I’m finally sitting down to write about my half marathon experience. I wish I hadn’t waited so long, the details are very fuzzy, but better to write something, than nothing at all.
When my coach first suggested I’d run a half someday, I laughed, I may have even told him he was insane. I certainly thought that many times as he worked with me. He’d set out a training plan, I’d read it and think “this man is crazy to think I can do that!” and then I would go ahead and do it. Somehow he could always see past the limits I placed on myself. I grew to trust him more than my own judgement. This race was another example of that.
I remember feeling some nerves as I got ready for the race, but mostly excitement. I love the feeling in the air of everyone’s anticipation, of being part of something so big. Looking around and seeing the variety of people, all the different bodies, joining the race together, so inspiring. I found two friends at the start, women who impress me with their dedication to push their personal limits, and we wished each other well.
As the race started, all I felt was joy. for 6 or 8 kilometers I was just so darn excited to be there. I almost cried I was so happy, and proud of myself. I was actually DOING this. I was running a HALF MARATHON. It was a perfect day, there were tons of spectators cheering us on, and I could not stop smiling. It was so much fun.
Around the midpoint I started to feel a bit more tired. I’d run a long way and was starting to feel it. Not pain, just the results of a long effort. Thanks to the great coaching and training I’d had, though, I knew I had a lot more in me. I’d run 22km before, so I knew I could do this, and just kept going. At the 14km mark I saw Simon Witfield on a lawn, cheering runners on. It was inspiring to see someone who is such a strong athlete, an accomplished runner, taking notice of our race and cheering us on. I felt like “somebody” at that moment 🙂
My coach kept popping up at random places on the route, to offer advice and encouragement. That was fantastic, not just for the regular boosts, but knowing he could be anywhere! When I was tempted to walk, I always had the thought “What if Dominic shows up now and sees me” and it kept me moving. Accountability is a powerful motivator for me.
As I approached the final 5km of the race, Dominic shows up and says “ok, now it’s time to speed up, only 5km to go!” You can guess what I thought when I heard that. (“CRAZY!”) but, I trust my coach, with good reason, and somehow, I did. He cycled along for most of the rest of the race, shouting things to keep me moving. He told me to pick off runners one by one and catch up to them. Then he told me they weren’t runners, now they were victims – take them out! Near the very end of the race, when I am simply willing my legs to keep moving, he issued one final challenge: “See that guy in red up there? He passed you. Are you going to let him do that? No, go get him, pass him, take him out!!” I don’t know how I was still upright, let alone running at that point, and yet, somehow those words let me dig deep. I found something left, deep inside, and I passed the guy in red. My last km of the half marathon, was my fastest. That still blows my mind, that after 20km, I still found speed.
I finished that race and felt like a new person. I’d done it! I was a half-marathoner! My goal was to complete it strong, and enjoy the experience. I accomplished that, AND a good time. 2:11:30 (6:09km pace) is a very respectable first half, I’m very proud of what I did.