I’m gonna start this post with an apology, because I predict there might be a fair amount of swearing going on….so if you’re of a nervous disposition I’d stop reading now if I were you.
Because Sunday saw me take on the challenge of running my first half marathon and to give you a real insight into my race day experience I’m afraid my writing may end up being a little blue, because you see I pretty much hated every damn second of it. Yet two days later as I sit here writing this, having sworn I would never, EVER put myself through that again, I keep eyeing up my medal and thinking ‘hmmmm maybe it wasn’t quite so bad after all”.
Welcome to the mind set of a runner!
So how did I get myself in this state in the first place?
Well, let’s go back a few weeks to a lovely little 10k Sunday run with my local running group in Petersfield and a conversation that started, “So Bex I think you need to push yourself, how about signing up to the New Forest Half?”. Yep there I am quietly minding my own business and that gets thrown at me…bloody brilliant. Because I’m a bit crap at saying no you see, and when someone plants an idea in my head, challenges me a bit, I’m a bit of a sucker for not seeing it through.
You might remember that this time last year saw me take on my first 10k race, also at the New Forest event, so it seemed kind of fitting that this should be the one where I tackle the half, I guess that’s probably what swayed me in the end…along with all the pestering.
I did the training, I bought the gels, I felt as ready as I was ever probably going to, but something didn’t feel quite right.
Yep the hairy bastard was out in full force that day, ready to crush my can do attitude and whispering negative insults at me the whole way round. And that ruined the whole damn thing for me!
It was such a shame, because the New Forest team really do put on a fantastically well organised and friendly event and there absolutely shouldn’t have been any reason why I didn’t enjoy at least parts of the run. I mean come on, it’s set in the New Forest for Christ’s sake, there’s ponies, woodland and chocolate box cottages, what more could a runner ask for!?!
One thing’s for sure, and that is that there’s no way José I would’ve made it to the end without the support of the other runnyhoneys and in particular without run leader Lizzie Mant, who let me tell you put up with an awful amount of moaning from me that day. I’m talking toddler-esque melt downs, death stares and a whole heap of swearing, but when she pulled the whole “come on Staffers what would you say to your kids if they wanted to stop” I knew she’d had enough!
I’ll be honest, there were times I wanted to quit, there were times I thought “sod it, so what if I don’t make it”, there were times I considered ducking off to join the 10K route, hell there were times when I tried to hang back in the hope I wouldn’t be spotted and then eventually the others would be so far ahead I’d be able to walk the last 3K. My head space was well and truly buggered and all I could think of was how far I had left, why was I the only one moaning, why was I so crap and how come I’m the only one struggling? Which of course I wasn’t, I was just the only annoying person making a dirty great big deal of it.
As I crossed the finish line, racked with guilt at having delayed others from having finished sooner and with a massive frown across my face, I swore that I would never do it again. Everyone else was pumped with adrenaline and super proud of what they’d achieved and then there was me…mardy bum Stafferton, effing and blinding like Catherine Tate’s Nan character.
I was in a right old grump for the rest of the day and still adamant that that was it, I was done with anything over 10K. But do you know what…two days on, with legs still aching and toenails like ragged pork scratchings ask me again…
Would I do it again?
Arghhhhhhhhhh I think I probably would, ‘cos well it wasn’t that bad….was it? And that right there is the attitude that got me in this mess in the first place.
I haven’t written this post to put people off running a half marathon. Honestly? I think I just had a bad day. I spent way too much time in advance over thinking it, I expected too little of myself and I stupidly compared myself to others. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and as I look back now I realise that I was bloody brilliant – I ran 13.1 miles (the furthest I’ve ever run) in 2 hours 25 minutes – I did it! And for someone that swore blind she wasn’t a runner, that’s pretty impressive stuff.
Moving on, I’m marking this race up as experience, because if I can take away just one teensy tiny positive thing from it, it’s that next time at least I’ll know what I’ve let myself in for.
Oh bugger….I said next time!