I ran in the Brighton half marathon – my first half marathon. In fact, the furthest I have ever run in my life!
I actually signed up way back when I looked something a little like this (see hideous picture below) as a way of making myself get fit and lose weight. I kind of forgot about it for a bit, and then some time over the summer of last year I was reminded of my stupidity when the emails started flooding in from the organisers.
Ironically, one of the friends I met on the day and had lunch with last saw me when I weighed in a stonking 12 and a half stone (175 lbs or 79.4 kgs) – I am tiny at 5’4″ so that was heavy for my frame. She, whilst laughing, pointed out that one of our after work ‘runs’ used to involve me running 1k before collapsing in a heap. It’s true – previously I only used to run if there was a sale on in Next or if they were giving out free chocolate in Sainsbury’s.
So, after a major wake up calI, I embarked on a new life and a completely new regime by changing my attitude towards food and exercise, and the rest is history. Even whilst I was getting fit I always had in the back of my mind: ‘Can I really do this?’, ‘Have I really got 13 miles in my little legs?’. Then eventually, after about 3 months of pretty much solid training I realised that the half marathon was not only doable, but also doable in a good time. I’m never content with just going through the motions and doing things I always have to do the best I possibly can!
There’s something pretty special about taking part in an organised run. The fun, the atmosphere, the camaraderie amongst the participants and the overwhelming feeling or nervous excitement all add to the buzz. I’ve done a couple of 10ks in the past, but once you get into half marathon and marathon territory that’s something else. They both take huge amounts of dedication, self sacrifice and a tenacious will to succeed.
I decided to take the train there as I knew parking would be a nightmare, but that meant I had to get up at 6.30am on a Sunday morning. Off I trundle to the station and as expected the only people on the train were those coming back from Gatwick airport or fellow runners. I headed down to the start line on Madeira drive and took my position in the +2h pen. I didn’t really know how my body was going to respond to doing 13 miles. In the training for a half marathon you usually only train to 10-11 miles, but never 13.1! I wanted to keep to a steady 10 minute/mile pace and try and get 2 h 10 or 2 h 15, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Thanks to my lovely Garmin watch that Tim bought me for Christmas (what a great running gadget!) I could keep an eagle eye on my pace the whole way round.
I always find the first 1-3 miles the hardest – it takes a little bit of a while to find your rhythm, but once I do I really get into it and start to enjoy running. By mile 6, my legs started to feel a bit weird, but I think that’s because I always train on hills and I don’t really know how to run on the flat now! The weirdness subsided by mile 7 and by mile 8 I was absolutely flying and felt really strong. I probably peaked too early though as by mile 11 I was desperately looking at the watch and trying to calculate if I could really make 2.1 miles in 20 minutes? As it happens, there was an error when laying out the course so in total, everyone ran 13.42 miles instead of 13.1 miles (corrected times were then posted on the website)!
By the time the results were out, I couldn’t believe it – I ran the whole thing in dead on 2 hours and 10 minutes! I was so pleased with myself, especially as I’m not built for running and have never really been fit or athletic.
Of course, now I am addicted and I’ve already signed up for the Eastbourne half marathon on 4th March!