It’s been two weeks since I ran the HBF half-marathon, and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I ran a half-marathon. As I said in my last post, a major part of running long distances is mental endurance. This was certainly true for my first half marathon. I’ve come away from it having learned quite a few lessons that I am going to use to change and improve my running.
I need to train more hills, and bigger ones at that. Less than a kilometre into the run, was the steepest and longest hill I have run. Ever. I wanted to walk it, I seriously considered it. I also knew that if I did, I would regret it later. I told myself that none of the other half-marathon runners (there were almost 3000 of us) would be walking less than a kilometre in, that the rest of the course would be flat (it wasn’t), and that it wasn’t as steep or as long as it seemed. And I did it, I ran the whole way up the hill, but the lack of significant hills during training meant that all other (minor) hills during the rest of the course were a struggle, and that my legs were much more tired by the end of the course than they had been during any of my long training runs.
I had to make a toilet stop just before the 10km mark. I went to the toilet just before the run started, I didn’t drink any water between pre-run toilet and about the 11km mark. I’ve never made a toilet stop during any run before, so it was pretty frustrating to have to stop running, line up and wait for a toilet, and then get going again. I discovered that just because all my babies were born via c-section doesn’t mean I should ignore my pelvic floor.
I found running with a large group of people challenging. I’m used to running on my own, so running with a few thousand people was definitely not what I’m used to. Navigating my way around people, and also being aware of runners coming up behind me wanting to pass me are things I hadn’t given much thought to previously. I ran with my hydration pack, so I didn’t have to stop at the water stations which was good for me mentally, but I did have to navigate my way around people who were stopping for water, and all the paper cups chucked on the road. I must say the volunteers are awesome. Handing out thousands of cups of water during the event (and there was about 34,000 participants including the half, the 12km and the 4km events), cleaning up the rubbish, plus all the finish line volunteers was greatly appreciated.
With about 6kms to go, the 12km course front-runners started to pass. They seemed like cheetahs sprinting passed me, and I was almost taken out by one of them. It was a knock to my confidence at first to see them go flying by, but I reminded myself they only had 6kms in their legs compared to my 15kms. In the last kilometre, the 4km event sprinters came flying through, but by that stage I didn’t care. I just wanted to get across the finish line.
The last kilometre was the hardest. I just wanted it to be over. My legs were tired, my body was tired, and my head was tired. I think this was mainly due to the hill at the start. When I reached the 1km to go sign, it felt like such a long distance away. I could see the finish line with about 500 meters left to run, and I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I could tell my form was off, leaning forward and heel-striking, but my focus was purely on crossing the finish line. I told myself if I could run the previous 20.6kms, I could run another 500m. In the last kilometre, there was a man in front of me from the 12km event who would sprint, then stop, sprint again, stop, have a lie down, get back up and sprint again. The first time I saw him do it, I planned on stopping to see if he was okay, but he was off again before I reached him. He was running the last time I saw him, so I don’t know what happened to him. I know that if I had stopped then, I wouldn’t have been able to start running again.
I crossed the finish line and stocked up on all the drinks and food being handed out. I sculled a bottle of Gatorade Zero pretty quickly, I’ve never drunk it before, but I wasn’t saying no. An apple and banana had never tasted so good. I collected my medal, then headed for a stretching session and free leg massage. I think the massage made a huge difference to my muscle recovery. I asked the massage therapist to concentrate on my calves because they were the most sore, but in the coming days, they were fine, and it was my quads giving me the most grief. Next time I’ll book a post run sports massage.
My official time was 2:12:12, but that doesn’t account for toilet time. I was hoping for a sub-2 hour time, but considering it was my first half, and I wasn’t prepared for the hills, I think I did alright. I was 1893rd finisher out of 2945 half-marathon participants, and 669th female. I’m hoping to do better next time.
The mental fatigue set in pretty quickly. I borrowed my father-in-law’s car to get to the train station in the morning, and when I got back to it to drive home, I couldn’t figure out how to start it (it’s one of those keyless cars). About 20 minutes, a few phone calls, a few swear words, and I was on my way. I got home and had a long hot shower before climbing into bed. I didn’t sleep because running gets the digestive system moving, but I rested for a few hours while the little boys napped, the big kids watched a movie, and my husband went out for a 4 hour run (he’s training for an ultra-marathon). I also ate just about everything in sight. LCHF went out the window that afternoon.
I took a few days off running to recover, but discovered on my first run back that I had an injury that wasn’t apparent previously. My physiotherapist has diagnosed fibula stress reaction, so in order to prevent it developing into a stress fracture, I’m not allowed to run at the moment. I’ve been tempted to sneak in a few runs, but I’m planning another half-marathon in August, and a full marathon in September. I’d rather a few weeks off running now, with the ability to still do non-weight baring cross-training, rather than risk a few months off down the track and jeopardising my future events.
So, in the mean time, I’m processing the fact that I actually ran a half-marathon, I’m dreaming about running, and planning future training so next time I am better prepared.