I didn't hide the fact I didn't feel prepared for the half marathon last Saturday. I didn't feel confident with any of the running I had done and with the way the weather had been going I just new it was going to be tough. However I woke up on Saturday feeling alright. I knew I wasn't going to get a personal best, but I thought 'whats the worst that can happen' and allowed myself to get caught up in the atmosphere.
It was an early start that morning, up at 6:45 for breakfast; a big bowl of porridge with banana, peanut butter, greek yoghurt and a bit of fruit muesli. Its a change from my usual pre race wholemeal bagel with peanut butter and banana, but I don't really think that made any different. My sister was walking the 5 mile and so we hit the road at around 8:40 to have a bit of time before we got there. Parking was in East Point Business Park so it was a good 10/15 minute walk to the start point and it was then I realised just how hot it was. Still I stayed motivated and got myself ready to go.
I have to say organisation was pretty good and we started bang on 10am. There was a great turnout and people were buzzing queueing up behind the relevant pacers. The slowest pacer was for a 2hr time, so I started well behind them knowing I wouldn't be finishing anywhere near 2 hours. I started out pretty well, I was being conservatively slow but I was still feeling ok. The views were gorgeous, the whole run was along the seafront and the sky was so clear, so I tried to focus on that rather than the heat.
I had found out that morning that 4km of the run was on the beach on Bull Island. I had never run on sand before and I was absolutely dreading it. I wish I had looked more closely at the route and maybe tried a run or two on sand before hand so at least I wasn't so intimidated by it, but I was a little relieved that the tide had been in so the sand was a little firmer than I expected. It was still really difficult though, and it took a lot of my energy to keep me going. Then just as I could see the end of the beach I felt pain in my hip. I've had hip pain before in the past, but never when I've run. I stopped to walk for a bit but then tried to just push past the pain and job through it. It didn't work and I had to give in and walk for just under 3km until the pain went.
At this point the wind started picking up which did not help my motivation. During my 3km run I seriously considered giving up and just turning around and walking back to the start but I pressed on. My motivation was pretty low but I just decided to press on and give it my best. Luckily we started to pass the people in the start who were and already over half way there which is always motivating. I pushed on to the turning point, jogging as much as I could and trying to focus on the positive.
I finally made it to the halfway turning point, and as I turned around I was hit full force in the face with the wind. When it had been behind me I hadn't realised just how strong it was. If I had any motivation left at that point, it blew away when I turned back. At that point I had to finish it to get back to my sister so I pressed on. Everything hurt at this point, my feet the most and I was walking as much as I was jogging. The worst was when I hit the beach on the way back. The wind was the strongest there, and you could see everyone in front of you struggling just as much as you were. Hardly anyone seemed to be able to run more than a few feet without walking. The beach broke my spirit. I somehow managed to keep going, still attempting to run whenever I could and after what seemed like a lifetime I got to the last kilometer.
I have never been so relieved to see the finish line. I was just glad for it all to be over. I finished in just under 2 hours and 30 minutes, a full 15 minutes slower than my last half marathon, but I was not one bit surprised. I was just delighted for it to be over. I've decided that this will probably be my last half marathon. I really didn't enjoy the training or the race at all. I miss enjoying my runs and seeing myself actually improving. I want to go back to my short distances and work on my 5k and 10k times. I also feeling the longer distances are putting a lot of pressure on my knees & hips, and I'd like to hang on to them as long as I can.
I'm not saying never, I may do another half in the future, but for the moment I am happy to refocus my efforts on the shorter distances. I would love to hear if other people have gone through something like this with their running?