Last Sunday I ran my first half-marathon. It was the hardest physical thing I have done thus far in my life.
The week prior to the half, I was fighting a cold and an achy knee. I was pretty sore from the previous Sunday’s 10 miler, so I took Tuesday off. Wednesday, I went to Pilates, which while relaxing, made my knee ache even worse. Thursday, I ran a quick mile, but I didn’t want to push it with my knee. I spent the rest of the week stretching, icing and applying heat, resting, and eating all the carbs.
Sunday, I woke relatively well rested. I was still hesitant about running, but I had more than 12 weeks of training under my belt, and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go out and do it. So I got up and got dressed. I ate a bagel and drank some orange juice and headed into George Square. I stopped and grabbed a flat white; I knew I needed the caffeine.
When I got into George Square itself, the elite men were warming up and people were walking around, getting water and stretching. As I went off to find some safety pins, they announced people should get to their wave areas, so I headed over to the pink wave where I proceeded to stand in the queue for the porta-loos for 40 minutes or so. I listened to the chatter around me and was amused by this:
When it was finally time to start, I was nervous and excited, and as usual I started off way to fast up the hill. I noticed my pace and breathing were too much at this juncture, so I backed off on my pace. I kept up my previous plan of fuelling with a clif shot block every mile and drinking water when I needed. I know that this might seem a bit much to some people with the shot blocks, but I know that from previous experience without proper fuel, I get pretty lightheaded and woozy easily. So it worked for me in my longer runs, so I kept to it for the half.
As the miles passed, I knew that I wasn’t going to make my A time, but I felt pretty good about hitting my B target. I also wished that I had done some more hill runs instead of focusing on time/distance. Something to remember if I plan to do this run again; the hills. Something I also noticed? How much running on the motorway/roads hurts. I’m used to running the Clyde River path, or through Kelvingrove Park, where the paths are smooth. The roads themselves had a different texture and my toes ached from it.
Once I got to the 10k point in Bellahouston Park, I was tired, but ok. I was glad for the Lucozade station as well! The sugar boost helped me along the next few miles, and I was able to keep a steadyish pace, despite my wonky knee. Yes, my knee pretty much hated me by mile 5, but I kept on.
I was so overwhelmed with all of the cheering and encouragement by those spectating and those who were cheering for charities. I now knew why our names were printed on our bibs; it was so overwhelming to have people call out my name and wish me luck. I was moved to tears more than once by the kind words of people.
Once I hit Pollock Park, I knew that I was more than halfway done, and despite my knee, I was still overall feeling ok. I continued my fuelling strategy and walked to stretch out my knee when I needed to; making sure to not keep the walking breaks more than 2 minutes.
Now back in the Southside, I was starting to recognise my surroundings and once I saw the Finneston Crane, I knew I was close. I was also approaching the area where I did my training runs and felt confident about finishing strong. I had a second Lucozade and the additional sugar gave me a boost. Once I could see Glasgow Green ahead, I picked up my speed as much as I could, and when I could finally see the timer, I saw I was very close to my B time. I somehow managed to come up with a spurt of energy and ran as fast as I could across that finish line!
I was very emotional when I finally crossed. I hugged a woman who I had befriended on the way, who had also crossed right behind me. We were both soon to turn 40 and it was really great to have someone else there who was experiencing the same thing I was.
I got my “goodie” bag and walked around a few minutes trying to organise my thoughts. And take a selfie.
I made it home and collapsed into the bath.
My legs were pretty sore until Tuesday night. I’m not sure walking around London is the best post half recovery, but it worked for me.