My first half marathon has been and gone, and yes I say first because I know it won't be my last. Myself and my friends, Emma & Aily, headed down to Galway on Friday evening in the most torrential rain.We left Dublin at 4:30 and didn't make it down to Galway until after 8. We kept the mood high in the car and tried to chat about anything and everything other than the race (which is fairly easy when 3 friends get together for the first time in ages luckily).
Our first stop when we got to Galway was straight to Elvery's to collect our race numbers. Despite the fact that we were so late that there weren't too many people around, the excitement and nerves really kicked in at that point. Seeing the number made it seem so real in a way it hadn't before and the butterflies were getting worse. All that was left was an early night in the B&B to make sure we were fully rested.
The half marathon wasn't kicking off until 11:15am but we were up early for a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs before heading back to bed to relax, let our breakfast digest and do our best to calm the nerves. It was really difficult to stay relaxed but I was so glad to have the girls with me. Aily had done a half before (and is def a bit of an inspiration being honest), but Ems was in the same boat as me.
After the torrential rain the evening before I was so glad to wake up to a glorious sunny morning, and typical for October there was a nice breeze in the air, perfect running conditions. We made our way to the start point and there was a great buzz around the place. The runners from the 10k were still coming in the finish line and those already done were milling around looking pretty happy to be done. We managed to miss the Elvery's warm up queuing for the loo's but made our way to the starting sections with about 10 minutes to go. We let Aily head up to the Under 2 hours section while myself and Ems hung back a bit. We had made the decision to run together until one of us either pushed forward or fell back.
After what felt like forever we were off. My goal in mind for this was to finish in less than 2 hours 30 minutes, but really just finishing would have been enough for me. So when I saw there was a 2hr10min pacer I figured she would have been miles ahead of me. The first 4 miles went pretty quickly, I had a pretty steady pace going and to my surprise myself and Emma were still with the 2:10 pacer. A renewed burst of energy saw us push past and overtake the pacer. I was a bit in disbelief but powered on and kept going.
One thing I have to say is it really is a gorgeous course. I am not a fan of doing 2 laps of the same course usually, but being by the sea was really lovely. Around the 5 and a half mile point I lost Emma, to be honest I am not sure if she sped up or I slowed down but either way I was on my own. I got back around to the start line and was off on the second lap. The wind had picked up and all of a sudden we were running agains it and I was starting to regret my earlier burst of energy. I really started to slow down at the point and just as we were coming up to 8 miles the pacer caught up with me. I kept her pace for a short time but before I knew it she was ahead of me. I took a second to feel a little bit gutted, but then I realised I was still on track for the time I was aiming for and I pressed on.
Just before the mile 10 marker I felt a bit of rain and started to panic a bit. Due to our fabulous summer I really hadn't enough training in the rain and wasn't sure how I'd fare. Luckily enough it was a very brief shower and we were back to clear skies again. I powered on but really started to lose a bit of hope around the 11 and a half mile point and was really dragging my feet. It was right at that point I needed a bit of motivation and pulled up along side someone who clearly could tell. He started chatting to me and gave me just the boost I needed to keep on going. I slowed againat around 12 and a half miles and walked for a couple of hundred meters which I have to say was the worst mistake I made. I realised that my whole lower body felt like it did not belong to me anymore and it took all the power in the world to get running again.
I turned off my head phones when I was coming up to the finish line and I could hear the music and buzz of all those that had finished. I had about 500 meters to go and a wave of emotions swept over me, I started to get a bit teary eyed. I used every last ounce of strength to push myself over the finish to where Ems and Aily were waiting. I can honestly say I have never felt such a mix of emotions and once again I got a bit teary eyed (I really am a bit of a sucker).
Not only have I completed my first half marathon, but I totally smashed by goal. I managed to clock a time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 19 seconds, almost 15 minutes faster than my goal which I was so surprised by. It really is an amazing feeling and now I am fully recovered I am already thinking of my next one. Though I do have to say, I could never do a full marathon. I won't say never, but to be honest at the moment its not something that I want to do! I am just going to focus on improving my time for the next half marathon!
We spent the rest of the afternoon, evening and following morning taking in some well earned celebrations. A post run drink in the pub followed by some prosecco in the B&B and then out for a lovely steak dinner with some more wine. There was not so much as a single propoint on my mind for the next 24 hours. I know I probably ate back twice the calories I burned but I didn't care. We finished off our trip the next morning with tea and cake before heading back to reality.