I just finished my first half marathon!
Well, two Sundays ago at 8am. But 48 hours previously, I still hadn’t registered for the race.
Instead, I was on the running blogs, trying to find out if my 11km training run the previous week would be enough to see out the Gold Coast ASICS Half marathon.
It was actually the non-runners who answered my call. Apparently, several bloggers have run half-marathons, and even the full 42.195 kilometres, without much distance training*.
I was going in.
So what was it like?
At 6am on June 1st the stars were out over Broadbeach parklands and the start line was like a festival. Pro runners did their strides up and down the waterside footpaths. Colourful running shoes flashed at me everywhere. I wondered if I should have one of those high-tech water-sippy backpack things a woman with marathon legs was wearing.
I lined up with thousands of others on the Gold Coast Highway, awaiting the starting gun and waving at the cameras on cables. The gun went off.
And we walked the first 3 minutes. There were just so many people.
When we actually started running…
I felt like the atmosphere propelled me through the first few kilometres, once we’d spaced out enough to run! A photographer was sprinting from spot to spot along the path next to me. He’d stop, aim his camera somewhere in front of me, and then be off again along the footpath. About when he disappeared, a sunrise glowed pink over the Broadwater to my right.
A 10km mark can seem like a long time coming when you’re expecting to reach it any minute. At around 8km, some superhuman came sprinting back the other way. Two or three men, then a woman, running faster than I could sustain for even 800m! The woman was Sara Hall, and she won her event.
I turned the 10km corner and overheard a white-haired, bethonged spectator saying something like, “I did enough of that in my day”.
My muscles were feeling a little non-existent in the second half of the race, so I let my legs float along and moved them faster when it was comfortable to. So far, I’d been pleasantly surprised. I was finding out what it felt like to run more than a lot of people ever do (though it’s becoming a trend)!
The final stages
“You’re almost there!” is a vague, vague thing for a runner’s ears in the final stages of any race. Then again, “3700m to go!” would have been worse.
Ready to finish, I forgot my tiredness when a kid’s soccer ball presented itself on the road ahead. Oh yes. I got to kick it back! That failed dismally, and was also quite dangerous as people were running behind me.
Maybe that’s even better motivation than cheering – chuck me a ball!
Possibly mental tiredness makes a big difference. I was sure I wouldn’t run another halfer any time soon in those last five kilometres. That strange notion disappeared somewhere between the finish line and the end of the mist tunnel: now it’s all “What’s Sara hall’s training plan??”
I had trained enough!
I finished in 2:00:39, just over my two hour goal! Suddenly, half-marathons are a hobby and a marathon is eminently possible.
One of the things I remember most was that I was running with hundreds of people, and all our footfalls together sounded like running water. There’s something moving (get it) about so many people, all together, doing something out of the ordinary, which will be with them for a lifetime. Especially that guy who broke the Guinness World Record for longest distance run in a Spiderman suit (he finished way ahead of the 2 hour mark, by the way). That will be with him for a lifetime.
That aside, what made it really worthwhile was the mist tunnel at the end.
*In hindsight, train properly – and recover properly! Especially if you haven’t run 21.1km before. Training well prepares your muscles and the rest of your body, and recovery is essential for repairing the micro tears that occur and healing whatever else might have happened.
As I discovered, it’s very important!