I’m going to confess something. I used to hate running. I remember giving the sport relief mile a go, many years ago and it was horiffic. I barely got round the 3 miles, I had shin splints and I figured never again. Finally, I got on a bike and never looked book. I just thought running was one of those things, that I’d never get. Turns out I was wrong.
So with less than a months real training under my belt, and with 11 miles being the furthest I have ever ran in one stint, I had for reasons best know to my brain, decided that a Half Marathon would be a good thing to undertake. At first I figured I could just “give it a go” and not worry about a time, but that’s not how my brain works. After a few training runs, I’d spoken to a few friends, who were more experienced runners than me, and had a multitude of differing thoughts on what a good time would be and how to pace it. So outwardly I had been saying to people that:
“you know what if I can do it in 2 hours and 20 minutes I’d be bloody chuffed.”
Secretly though I wanted to test myself and resolved that I was going to aim for 2 hours. This would mean running at a pace of 9.09 minutes a mile, faster than I was used to. So nothing like really testing your self.
So nothing would set it up, like a bit of a rough nights sleep. I’ve never been good at the pre-event part of preparation. Mentally I’m riding my bike or running before I’ve even got to the event. And this was new. And new stuff isn’t always easy for me. I get a bit anxious and build it up to be more taxing in my head than it really is. Luckily because of this I get organised and had everything laid out.
So I turned up in good time, grabbed my bag and started walking up to the registration. And this was where the gremlins first started. They like to niggle, “you won’t be fast,” “look at their kit they know what they’re doing, you don’t” Over time I’ve grown used to this and have found ways to zone out and deal with it. It is not something that phases me just an irritant.
So after registering I was on the start line ready to go. Now I had a tonne of strategies I was going to try on this run, but the one I read I like the sound of was to run the first 10 miles sensibly, then go for it on the last bit as if a 5km so that was my idea. My Garmin Fitness watch, brought by my long suffering wife was invaluable in helping me keep a pace. So as the run commenced my objective was simple. Keep it under 9.10 minute miles and just give it my best.
Below is how my brain would operate as I went.
Mile 1: 8.21
This is a good pace, look at your watch, crap this is too fast ease it up, no I feel good, why not keep this up? Because you still have a bloody age to go.
Mile 2: 8.34
Christ we hit that fast, ok lets get settled in now, we’ve had the adrenaline, lets focus on the task at hand and not do anything rash. We have to get round, thats the most important thing here.
Mile 3: 8.53
That was still fast, lets settled down now.
Mile 4: 8.44
Christ still under 9.00, come on Russ, pace it.
Mile 5: 8.28
That was faster, you berk! You know what this pace is ok, right lets settle and just see how it goes. I wonder If I should maybe do a Marathon. Christ I’m overtaking people.
Mile 6: 8.31
Ok if I can hit mile 7 in an hour thats over half way and I have a pretty good chance of getting round.
Mile 7: 8.23
Christ I could do this, you know what 1.45 is doab… no focus lets get a good time
Mile 8 8.41
Ok I’m feeling it now. But the time is still good. Maybe I did go to fast. No don’t over think this, keep it steady. Nearly at mile 10, then we go for it.
Mile 9 8.39
Thats good pace is consistent. This hill is tough, ugh I might not do this. my left knee aches. Shut up its a tiny bit you’ve been through worse. Remember why you are here, to raise money, its not meant to be easy, earn this. Trust your training, trust your plan, you are doing well.
Mile 10 8.24
Ok, my hammys ache a bit now, but its not bad, you’ve cycled over 100 miles you can do this. Whats a bit of pain. Think how good it will feel when you do this.
Now is the time lets up the pace and give it all we have.
Mile 11 8.04
Shit that was to quick and i’m hurting, maybe i’ve miscalculated. This is uncharted territory, i’ve never run this far before. Come on its 2 and a bit miles, its nothing, keep the faith!
Mile 12 8.12
1 and a bit to go, we’ve going to get in under your goal, but thats no excuse to let up, push it, push it lets make it as good a pb so its a challenge the next time. Wait we are going to do another? of course we are!
Mile 13 8.15
This hurts, this hurts, but i’m going to do it, don’t stop, no let up, lets bring it home. you’ve got stronger, you’ve judged this properly.
The home stretch: 1.35
You’ve done it now keep pushing and enjoy it!
That’s the story of how I pushed it through and not only did something I was sure I’d never achieve, but utterly loved. I am very fortunate that on my first half I achieved a goal, which i hope was a challenge for me. Now I want to do at least one more and see how I can do.
But now my focus is on the mud runner. I am lining up the Cheltenham half though possibly, I definitely think I have a faster time in me and isn’t that what all runners say?
And I still have a 100 mile bike ride on the Horizon…