From the moment we arrived, it was chaos!
The car park was packed, and as predicted, the queue for only three toilets was already never-ending. All this was really not helping with my pre-first-half-marathon nerves.
I found some company
Minutes before the start, my mum’s friends from her running club, Chris and Claire, offered to run with me when they found out it was my first half. I thought it was lovely that two complete strangers were willing to help me, but I was worried about being too slow and holding them back.
I needn’t have worried. Both Chris and Claire were great. The conversation flowed (as much as possible considering running, breathing and talking simultaneously, doesn’t exactly come naturally to me). It honestly made such a difference, having them by my side. I really felt a sense of team effort.
I’m used to running alone, but long distances become such a mental battle for me. When you have company, there’s no opportunity for thoughts of self-doubt to creep in.
Mud? What mud?
The course conditions were actually even worse than we had expected. The mud was immense, which really made for a tough race.
Now I quite like mud, but...
Then there were the hills.
The largest hill, “the lump”, was actually right before the finish line, which I felt was rather sadistic. Even worse, the half marathoners had to tackle it four times!
Remember I was worried whether I would get lost? Well...
The route involved so many strange loops through the forest, with several laps of certain parts. It was very confusing and I don’t think having the 10k race at the same time helped.
One marshal sent us and many others, the wrong way at one point. Luckily we realised before it was too late.
Talking of marshals, I was so happy to see one particular cheery lady, with a big box of jelly babies, that I could’ve kissed her (I don’t even like jelly babies). We joked about “the lump” behind her, which in my opinion, was more like a mountain, went on our way, and felt so much better with her support.
But quite frankly, by the fourth lap, I had to fight the urge to throw the jelly babies at her cheery face, and drag her up the “lump” behind her, to see if she was still as cheery then!
Finished! Well nearly...
Approaching the finish line, the route had actually only 12 miles!
A whole mile short of a half marathon!
Well, I’d trained 12 long weeks for my first half marathon, so I couldn’t stop there. Claire understood and joined me through the finish, grabbing our medals, and running off out of the car park and down the road, despite lots of funny looks. We carried on going until we reached that magical 13.1 miles.
The medal is beautiful, and I definitely feel as though I’ve earned it, although it would have been nice if there had been some sort of recognition for the distance, as there was only one medal for all (5km, 10km and half marathon).
Despite cursing my choice of race at many points, I honestly did enjoy myself. For my next half marathon (it can’t have been that bad if I’m already planning the next one!) I’d like to do a flat road race. I do enjoy trail running but perhaps not the best idea for a first half marathon.And I know you’re all dying to know... I’m pleased to say there were no bear impersonations or mental scarring of any unsuspecting dog walkers, and the only pooh, was the Pooh bear on my medal!
Till my next one ;-)
You can follow my running adventures on Instagram @buggy_running_katy