On Sunday 7th April I took part in my 1st half marathon at Paddock Wood.
Many of my friends will fall off their chairs when they read that sentence, and wonder what has happened to their lazy friend. Doing a half marathon is not something I saw myself doing a year ago, when I could barely run constantly for over a mile, and my friends had to bribe me to go out and exercise with them, and I mean ANY exercise!
So it was in trepidation that I signed up for the race, but hubby was sure I would be fine with some training, and my brother-in-law signed up too and promised to run with me. He is a relative novice too, and this would be his longest competitive run too – oh boy!
Rich & I did a couple of long distant runs in the build up to the race, and I carried on with my Saturday park runs to try and maintain my fitness. I am sure I should have done more, but April loomed quickly.
Rich had developed a sporadic knee complaint that came and went, but he would just grit his teeth and train through – what a trooper!
I decided to buy myself a new pair of trainers for the occasion. I went to the London Cheapside branch of Sweatshop and let them do their stuff.
I had my gait analysed and they decided that I had a minor inward roll (sorry can’t remember what that is called!) so suggested I should have a show with support.
Now, I am no expert but I could barely see the roll when looking at the video, but they are the experts so I put my trust, and my £100 or so, in them. I didn’t opt for the £40 bespoke inner soles, as I didn’t feel I was that advanced in my running to need them. It did seem odd that they went to the trouble of moulding them even though I was under no obligation to buy them.
He selected 3 brands for me to try Brooks, Asics & Mizuno, based on the support needed and the width of my foot. We went for half a size bigger than my regular shoe size.
The ASICS were too narrow, the Brooks just weren’t as comfortable as the Mizunos, so I ended up with a lovely looking pair of Mizuno Lady Wave Inspire 9’s.
I did a practice 9 mile race in them, and I must say they are super comfortable, and very pleased with the Sweatshop staff’s selection.
I also decided to by a GPS running watch, as my iPhone app was a bit rubbish, and I didn’t want to run around with my earphones in, especially with company! I went for the cheapest entry level Garmin – Forerunner FR10. It had all the functions I could need, and it came in a lovely lime green colour for girls 😉
The day of the race arrived, and typically National Rail announced works on the network, so the organisers advised that people get their early as there were only a limited amount of parking spaces. So we left around 7.30am for the drive over. Hubby was doing a warm up (!?) 5 miles with a member from his running club, so Rich and I warmed up (in the car) while we waited for him to return.
Rich and I had planned to try and complete the race in under 2hrs 10mins, based on a comfortable pace of around 10 min miles.
Paddock Wood course is relatively flat, scenery not too inspiring but great for a first half marathon. The support from the locals along the route was great. People were having BBQs, and there were even a few sweetie stations – fab! The weather was dry, maybe a little too warm, but otherwise perfect.
Rich and I maintained a good early pace, comfortably hitting under our target pace and not wearing ourselves out.
During the early stages of the race we discussed what the tactic was for the end. Every man for himself, so elbows out and a sprint finish to the death? Unity and peace, holding hands across the line?
I was pushing for option 1, feeling all confident that I would still have energy for sneaky tactics and a sprint finish. Rich nervously laughed not sure whether I was serious or not, and whether if it came to it he could indeed take me out!
Just after halfway Rich’s knee began to play up, his sharp intake of breath a big clue! At one point it got so bad we had to walk, and Rich did say I could go on with out him. I’ll admit it, I was SOOOO tempted, my competitive devil was shouting that I should just leave him, but then my good angel reminded me that Rich would NEVER leave me if the same thing happened to me, so I stayed and encouraged him, eventually we got running again.
At around mile 11 I decided I hated running, my back ached, my body weighed a tonne, and I just wanted to stop. I am so glad Rich was with me, he kept me going, reminding me that it wasn’t that far.
I felt worse during the last half a kilometre and there was no way I could pull a sprint out of the bag, but we had a target time, and I didn’t want to miss it.
All thoughts of tripping Rich and taking the glory were gone, as we crossed the line together in 2hrs 8mins – YAY! Plus with alphabetical positioning I beat him anyway – double YAY!
We found hubby and he had completed in a very respectable 1hr 38mins.
His running club (and recently now mine), Dulwich Park Runners, had organised a picnic for those that ran from the club, and their family so it was great to share stories, and some well earned grub!
At the end of the race I could never imagine having to do that distance all over again in order to complete a marathon, I was wrecked. Marathons weren’t for me.
Well, that was until I went to support and spectate at the London Marathon, I loved the atmosphere of the day so much, well…I entered the ballot, I guess fate can decide!