Love that I was in the gold starting pen. It made me feel like a winner from the off. In reality it meant "you're in the second slowest pen here" but, frankly, I didn't give a damn!
And while I didn't win the half marathon, I still completed it! For real! And I was nowhere near second slowest. I'd put myself down to do it in 2:40 and here's how I actually did:
I knew, from training, that I could beat 2:40 and, in my most optimistic moments, I hoped the 2hr mark might be possible but, as I wilted, it became apparent that wasn't going to happen. That said, I'm still beyond happy with 2:10!
It was, without doubt, one of the physically toughest things I've ever done. The marathon folk are NOT shitting you when they warn that "The Marathon is a serious athletics endurance race which requires a large amount of appropriate training and preparation in order to complete it safely." People, it is HARD.
I started strong - it felt like my pace was good and I was getting into my stride, enjoying watching other runners and soaking up the view (it's a really scenic run). But by about mile 6 my dodgy hip flexor (uh, how old am I again?) started playing up and by mile 10-11, I was fucked. Just fucked. My hip hurt, my feet hurt, my legs were HEAVY, I was hungry, my back was aching and I felt like I might shit myself. Even the amazing people handing runners jelly beans out of the goodness of their hearts (you people are ANGELS) could only lift me slightly.
Then, at about mile 10, the course doubled back. So all you could see was people coming towards you who you knew were faster and better and fitter than you and CLOSER TO THE END. Of course, in reality, they're probably just as fucked as you. They may even be slower than you and have just started in an earlier pen. They may have been aching/ill/despairing too. But, at that point, it felt like utter shite. Plus, the view sucked by then and it felt like the actual road to nowhere. It was at that point that I really got a sense of how an endurance event like this is as much about mind as it is physical ability. Like all the best cliches, that one is true.
But I didn't stop once.
Not to pee, not even to walk a little bit, not to stretch, nothing. And of that, I am very proud. One of my goals was to RUN the half marathon.
And eventually, you reach the end of the double back and you're the guy running towards people who still have the loop to do and you feel like a king. A wee bit. It might all be over soon. You also really feel like shouting "It's not that bad!", "It's not that far" and "You can DO THIS BITCHES" at the poor folk coming towards you. Cause you don't want to think that they feel as crap as you did at that point. But then you realise it's still going to take every fibre of your being to keep you going and get you to the end. So it's chin up and keep moving. By then, I felt a bit unaware of everything other than the weight of my legs. It was only when the crowds thickened near the end that I began to feel a lump in my throat and it kind of started to hit me that I'd almost done it. Then I became aware of what was going on cause they'd laid this shitty plastic flooring that was slippery as fuck and it took all my concentration not to plank it. Not cool marathon peeps! And finally I heard my name. Mr Llara (who already finished) and my pals were shouting! Yay! And waving signs!
I don't think I've ever had signs in my honour! It's unbelievable how much the sight of a friendly face buoys you on.
And then it was over.
And I didn't shit myself.
All that was left to do was to stretch, go home, wash and then get back out for beer, burgers and ice-cream!
|Me, medal, beer|
I guess my next port of call is to share what I learned along the way. That's quite enough for one post though...