So just over 6 months after having baby Pip, the time had arrived to put my trainers on and tackle the half marathon course; a series of events had led me to this day, without me really thinking it would ever come to actuality.
The one and only previous half marathon nearly finished me off (pre-2nd baby) and I trained for that for months; so why did I think I could go from zero fitness and a “natural delivery pelvic floor state!” to half marathon, in 16 weeks? N.B baby not 16 weeks, training for 16 weeks – baby 26 weeks old.
…… Well it’s a question I can’t really answer! However the training went well, so whenever I thought about pulling out, I didn’t really have an excuse.
Prior to the day I had run two 10 mile sunday runs; one of which was part of the course of the race, these had taken 2 hours, so I knew I was in for a 2:40 (ish) kind of time; I was feeling good about it, I was secretly hoping to beat my previous half time of 2:43 but publicly announced I would be happy with anything under 3 hours; knowing I would be very near the back of the field I was mentally prepared for running on my own.
The day before I decided to launch a just giving page, for cancer research, I currently have two relatives suffering from cancer and felt this would give me the perfect incentive to keep moving and give all the hours training some benefit to charity. £100.00 was pledged – the pressure was building to finish!
The day came – Sunday 7th September, Bridgwater Half Marathon (advertised as a flat, ideal for PB’s course); it was hot, hot, hot and the race didn’t start till 11:00 – which meant running right through the midday sun; even the high hedges offered little shade with the sun being directly above.
I was soooo nervous, for days before and on the morning I was a wreck. Not helped by the fact my husband was also running, so mother had to come over and bring the girls – getting 2 anxious (does it ever get better) runners and 2 kids to the start line deserved a medal in itself. Baby Pip had caught her first cold so had been awake multiple times in the night, tiredness and adrenaline were giving me a slightly delirious feeling and I was burning off energy as fast as I could SIS energy drink it in!
For two days, I had followed by husbands carb loading plan, that he has used for events; this in hindsight was a very bad idea, although my body had the energy stored it also felt sluggish, full and sick (who knows how I would have been if no carb loading, but it was a bad idea to test it out before the actual event!).
Lots of folks from my club were at our local event, my mum, kids, my aunt with my Grandma and a friend who had travelled two hours to run it as well – the pressure was on, to at least finish.
I started slow; sticking to my plan 7:00 minute km’s at the quickest – I realised I was near the back, but also knew I was not at the back, it felt ok! For the first 2 miles I was among other runners, who were also taking it easy – it all felt good. at just over 3 miles I knew the course began to incline – nothing hideous but a slow steady continuous incline, I overtook someone, it felt good. But at 4.5 miles, we ventured into roads I had not practised, the hill got steeper and the people in front of me were walking – my feet, all of their own accord, started to walk – my head said run, my legs wanted to run, but the feet – well they were walking; I rationalised, it was over 20 degrees, I wanted to finish; yes I had promised myself to run till 10 miles and then walk if needed, but instead I would walk the hills and run the flat. So for the next 2 miles this is what I did; I was feeling disappointed but still ok; those walkers in front of me pulled up soon, the lady was injured her friend was pulling out with her – I was now running with no-one in sight – very demoralising.
I managed to pop into someones house for a wee! I had asked if I could use the portaloo in their garden, as I spotted it and them cheering people on; it turned out to be unplumbed, but the lovely people said I could use their bathroom; only problem was getting back down the stairs, my legs were like jelly; I really hope my big sweaty paw did not mark their lovely cream walls as I hung onto them to prevent going arse over tit down the stairs.
The rest of the run can be considered both a success and a disaster in equal measure; I could not get in my running zone at all; it was completely flat going (but still blooming hot), but my feet just would not cooperate; bad, bad feet. I used all my usual tricks to target set, but I kept finding myself walking. Luckily my family were at mile 10, which forced me to keep going and I managed to run/walk it to the end. My husband rescued me (he did 1:37 ish a PB for him) with about 500m to go and I hauled myself to the finish. My time was 2:49:58 the final push to get under 2:50 was worth it and I was under my public ambition of 3 hours; but oh my – it was far from my desired time.
Forcing a run to complete a very tough race
My feet were in tatters, blister on the sole of my left foot; I think the walking in the trainers had altered my gait causing my foot to slide in my trainers; the walking was BAD! My head felt like it might explode, heat and emotion had left it spinning.
It was great to see friends at the finish, I felt a sense of achievement for completing the course and found some comfort in the fact the everyone had found the event tough; with two of my ‘serious’ runner friends walking (unheard of for them) in parts of the last two miles. I scoffed a post race carvery, glugged some wine, read heat magazine in the bath and enjoyed my 4 year old telling her tales of “jelly baby duty”; but inside I was feeling low and that I had let myself down; I felt that mentally I had been weak, a very frustrating feeling.
4 days later, I think:
- Don’t use a carb loading plan for the first time, on your first event without expecting some differences in how you feel.
- I could barely move for 2 days, so although I felt I could have done more on the day, I obviously pushed my body hard – maybe as hard as it could have gone.
- A completed race is better than a DNF, even if time was not as desired.
- Family comes first, if i’m awake throughout the night tending to a poorly baba, then my performance might suffer.
- I should stick to 10km races for the time being, until i am stronger.
- Entering big races might be better for me, as running on my own without another person in sight is very, very, very tough.
- I raised £100 for cancer research
- I had a baby 6 months ago and then I completed a half marathon – i’ve got the medal to prove it!
Roll on sept 28th, when I can try again, this time at a 10km distance.
Here are comments from Facebook – people were very kind about my achievement: