Last Sunday, I took on the challenge of running my first ever half marathon, at The Big Half. It was a bit further than I was used to as I hadn’t ever run a race further than 10k. I had run the half marathon distance in training before, so it wasn’t completely out of my reach. I know that my strength tends to lie in my aerobic system, but having never raced the longer distance, I was slightly nervous. After asking lots of questions to my coach about why it would be a good idea, and what the purpose of it was, I finally came round to the idea of doing one.
I was pretty nervous on the few days between Manchester International and the Big Half, mostly because I was heading into the unknown. Arriving at the hotel, my nerves suddenly intensified, but it was bizarre, as soon as I saw a few people I knew, the nerves vanished. So much so, that on the morning of the race, I didn’t really have any nerves at all! Obviously a little bit of normal pre race nerves, but it was mostly excitement and intrigue.
From the race itself, I remember very little, except running over Tower Bridge and loving every minute of the 13.1 mile distance. The first 10k was an amazing experience. I have never felt so strong and fluid in a race, for that long. Around mile 7, I got struck with a stitch, but managed to fight through it for a couple of k until it disappeared. It was the last 3 miles of the race when the tiredness started to kick in. It was a very different sort of feeling to how you feel in the last kilometre of a 5,000m, but I felt strong. I was enjoying that feeling of your legs feeling heavy but being able to keep them spinning and ticking off the miles. One of the other things I enjoyed the most was running in miles instead of kilometres, because I had no clue what time I was on for or how I was doing. My brain doesn’t seem to get to grips with miles, so it was a refreshing change to have no idea what pace you are running at. I did wear my watch, but apart from the very first K, I didn’t look at it once. This meant I had no idea what time I was on for until I crossed I actually crossed the line.
Reflecting on the half, I have realised a few things. Firstly, that it is important to have faith, in yourself and your coach. This race was an area of unchartered territory for me, but my coach told me two things: that I would love it and I would do better than I thought, and he was right. I did love every single minute, and to be honest, I am still buzzing off it five days later. I also surprised myself. I didn’t set a time goal as I just wanted to give it a go, but in my mind I wanted to run under 75 minutes, and that I did by a significant amount! The faith in myself relates to two things. One, having faith in my mind. Initially I was very unsure on doing the half, but my mind raised hundreds of questions about WHY I was doing the distance. I asked every single question I had to my coach and that allowed me to see so much clearer. So don’t be afraid to question what you are doing and the reasoning behind it. It also showed the importance of having faith in your ability. Sometimes if you don’t think too much about the practicalities and just dive into something, you end up surprising yourself. Have faith in your body and your fitness and you will be rewarded justly.
I also recognised the importance of variety. My goal distances may be 5,000m and 10,000m but it is important to race above and below this. I raced over 3,000m and the half, to work on my speed and my endurance. I now would even go as far as saying I would also like to race some 1500’s to shock these legs into spinning faster.
End of a season.
The half signified the end of my summer season. So it is goodbye to the track for a short while and hello to some muddy fields. I have gained more experience this season than I feel I have in a long time, and learnt lots about myself that I will take forward to become a stronger and more resilient athlete.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!