I was thrilled to get a place in the Scottish Half Marathon this year. Last year it clashed with our holiday dates and I felt a bit jealous seeing all the uploads as I lay by the pool with a cocktail in hand. I am aware that sentence makes me sound a bit mad. What numpty would prefer to be running 13.1 miles over chilling out in the blazing sunshine with an ice cold cocktail or shandy buzz?
This thing called running gets under our skin. It is not only great for our bodies but we can learn so much from running and taking part in top events. I have been a runner for almost 2 years now and yesterday was my 5th official event. Going from the marathon in May to the half in September would almost seem like a nice break. Think again. We have to respect the distance – 13.1 miles will always be a challenge.
It was a special day for me as it was the first event my brother and I ran together and I had lots of friends there running too. We were buzzing for it despite being a bit apprehensive due to the fact we were both a good few weeks behind our training. Iain was recovering from a hamstring injury and was unsure if he could beat his last personal best of 1 hour 37 minutes. His target was 1 hour and 35 minutes. I was a few weeks behind after a nasty chest infection which meant my longest run was the week before the big day. Sometimes there is no time to taper. They say you get out what you put in – I was relying on adrenaline to push me through to beat the time of my last half marathon – 2 hours 20 minutes. My rough target was 2 hours and 10 minutes.
We got off to a great start as the weather was bang on. Nice and calm with lots of white clouds. As we got into our pens and tried to control the nerves the countdown started. I always find the first half mile pretty intense. It’s important to remain focused and stay positive. Thoughts of ‘wow this is a big deal, check out all those crowds’ and ‘I have a long way to run – can I do this?’ need to be quickly ignored and replaced with ‘wow check out all these amazing people running with me’ and ‘I am strong, I am able to do this and I will enjoy it’. Running to me is (mostly) no longer a chore and a grueling one at that. It is a celebration of what my body can achieve and the miles I can run.
I finished the first mile in 8 minutes and 44 seconds. I focused on my breathing and staying calm. I focused on how beautiful the route was and the great job the crowds were doing and all of the marshals. So much time and effort goes into these events and it can be easy to take it for granted.
Once it got to the 6 mile mark I was buzzing to see I had hit a new PB -I tried not to think about the fact I would need to keep up the pace to smash my half marathon target. Running out along the coast was fantastic – the wind was against us a little bit but I found it quite refreshing.
As I got to around 9 miles things started to change – running is a mental battle. The negative thoughts started creeping in ‘I am getting a bit tired now, I can feel blisters already – why not slow down – walk even?’ and ‘I should have done more training – how on earth did I run a marathon in May – maybe I should go back to 10k after this’. I tried to stay focused and I continued to run. I pictured the cocktails I will be enjoying on holiday. I pictured seeing my family at the finish line – and hearing my little girl shout ‘Mummmmy’. Looking back at my GARMIN stats, miles 9 to 11 were my slowest. I continued to run but a mixture of tiredness and negative thinking slowed me down.
As I got to 12 miles a really good tune came on my playlist and I started to get into the zone again. I could feel the end in my midst and I picked up the pace.
My husband captured a great shot of the focus on my face as I spied the much sought after finish line. A second later I heard them shout and got sight of my little girl. I sprinted the last 20 seconds.
Getting to the finish line made it all worthwhile. The negative thoughts were gone and replaced with feelings of achievement.
We celebrated finishing a great race. We were thankful that the sun was now shining bright which is always a blessing after the finish line (not so much when running). Although I had a new PB, I was 5 minutes off my target time. Would I let it bother me? No way. I spoke to my bro who was a little off his target also. I asked if he cared and his response was what I was hoping for ‘no, I am actually good with it because today was the best I could do and I enjoyed it’. I felt the same. The run was my pb for that day. I tried my best. I had missed some training but I blocked out the negative thoughts and I kept running. I ran the entire 13.1 miles. I got to the end. I did it. I did it in 2 hours and 15 minutes and I am thrilled. I am proud and I deserve to celebrate.
Running is tough. I can give an rpm or a HIT class my absolute best and not feel a twinge the following day. Running outdoors for a significant period of time is a whole different ball game – physically and mentally.
It was great having a laugh with family and friends after the hard work had been done. My bro shared a great new mantra he came up with whilst smashing those miles – ‘Iron will’, which kept popping into his head when his leg was hurting and he felt like giving up. This kept him going – I love it. I might even use it next time.
Focusing on the negatives is wasted energy. Life is always happier when we look for the good. We can’t always get everything the way we want it – that is life. Let’s not cry over late medals and focus on the finishers tops and the great gifts in the goodie bags – a full tub of sun cream as the sun was beating down was fantastic. Let’s not focus on roadworks – let’s be grateful that we were able to run such a beautiful route. Let’s be thankful that those gorgeous roads were closed for us to run on. Let’s be grateful for favorable weather conditions, for everyone who worked so hard to put the event on. Let’s be thankful for our health and for legs that allow us to run. Let’s be thankful for the determination that got us to that finish line.
I am also thankful for I J Mellis – there is nothing quite like guilt free cheese although I confess to being too tired to pour a gin and tonic. I will save that for tonight. Well done to everyone who was part of an amazing day. I am already excited about EMF 2017 – which event to pick? #keeponrunning