Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Oxford Half Marathon

Finally getting round to writing about my half marathon experience and what an experience it was!

My training in the lead up to the half was shoddy to say the least, I managed just ONE 12 mile run before hand and that was through the beautiful Blean Woods - not road as I should have been training on. I'm not entirely sure why I was so lax with the training, I always knew I could finish the half and maybe that over confidence got to me a little bit.

So race day came around, I was a bag of nerves, what the hell was I doing? The reason why I was able to complete the 10km was because I had committed to raising the money for charity, the half was a personal challenge, no sponsorship money just my own sheer determination. As I made my way to the starting line my legs were shaking and all sorts of things were going through my head, namely was I really going to be able to keep going for 13.1 miles without giving up.

The race was officially started by Sir Rodger Bannister, what an inspiration man - the race also included a lap of the track where he completed the first sub 4 minute mile. I was so far back that I couldn't hear all of what he was saying but I definitely got caught up in the occasion. The more serious runners stressed me out - they seemed so much more prepared for me, but I also knew that I wouldn't come in last (something that for some reason is very important to me). The race started and as usual I went off too quickly, 2 miles in and I was wondering what the hell I was doing, I slowed down and found my own pace that I was comfortable with.

I was lucky that I had my family spread out around the route ready to cheer me on, I will never underestimate the boost that seeing someone you know can give you.

10km came and went and I was feeling strong, I had got myself into a rhythm and I felt good, my legs were carrying me closer to the finish line, my brain was clear of everything. Then I hit 8 miles. 8 miles in and I hit the proverbial wall. Doubts came into my head, my legs were heavy, my arms could no pump me forward. I slowed down, I stopped running and walked, berating myself for giving in. There was no way I was not going to finish the race but I doubted I could carry on running. Then, like a gift from above, someone ran alongside me and encouraged me to keep going, he slowed down and set me a new pace, he told me to keep going and that I could do it.

Guess who spotted the family!!

9 miles arrived, I was back, I was running. Yes it hurt like hell, the hills were completely unexpected but I conquered them, each time feeling better than the last time. I knew the finish line was fast approaching, thanks to my trusted TomTom watch I knew I was close to completing the race in my desired time. My body took over, it knew it had to keep going. My brain started imagining what it would be like to cross the finish line.

10 miles in and I was crying, tears running down my face. The emotion came from nowhere, the niggling voice that told me I couldn't do it disappeared. I knew I could do it I knew that I was going to cross the finish line, I also knew that I had enough left in the bank to speed up.

13 miles - the end was insight, my legs kept going, a quick glance at my watch and BAM I was on for a sub 2.30 (my aim all along) I crossed the finish line in a time of 2 hours 25 minutes. I was absolutely thrilled, I knew I could have gone quicker but who cares I had completed my first half!!

Thanks have to go to the people who cheered me on and my fellow runners who kept me going, special thanks also have to go to the man at 8 miles who helped me dig deeper to find strength I didn't know existed inside me.

Since completing the half I have since agreed to run the Brighton Marathon in April for Breast Cancer Care - stay tuned for my marathon journey!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, I'm so inspired by you Gemma. I'm being persuaded to do a sprint triathalon next year and I'm not convinced I can do it.