LESS than three weeks ago, I was dragged into running the IAAF World half marathon for foolishly asking “how hard can it be?”
Turns out running over 21k isn’t as easy as Mo Farah makes it look. Especially with next to no training.
I’d been set the target of running under two hours and not being one to shy away from a challenge, I duly accepted.
First five kilometres
I had no concept of what was a realistic time for me to run, and on the advice of some friends I entered a modest two hours 15 minutes. I was put in the slowest pen and as someone who has a competitive spirit, I was already regretting being with the slowest bunch.
Before the race, I downloaded an app on my phone which let me know how fast I was running each kilometre. I worked out to run sub-two hours I’d need to hold a five minutes and 42 seconds each kilometre and based on the little training I had done, I thought this was manageable.
The first part of the race was a nightmare. Everyone was bunched up and I was weaving in and out of people, trying not to get stuck behind the fun runners while at the same time trying not to waste my energy. I’d never run this far in my life and the last thing I wanted to do was burn out too quickly. My first kilometre was way off pace, six minutes 17 seconds, but I soon found my pace.
This was probably the hardest part of the race. Crossing the barrage at around the eight kilometre mark was a particular low point. There was no-one there cheering us runners on and the weather was atrocious.
By this point the rain had moulded my t-shirt to me and the wind was so strong there was a chance I could have been blown into the water. My trainers were dripping with water and squelching with every footstep. Needless to say I started to question whether this was the smartest choice I’d ever made.
As I made my way round the course, I managed to spot my mum and a few of my friends which definitely helped. I didn’t want to look like a lemon in front of them so I tried to hold it together the best I could whenever I went past them. I made a conscious effort to overtake a few people to make myself look better than I actually am.
As I reached the 15k mark, I was in unchartered territory. Never in my life had I run this far, but I knew I was well under my target time. As I turned onto Roath park, I knew there was only a few kilometres between me and the finish line.
Just as I was running past the cemetery on Cathays terrace, my phone notified me I had run the required 21 kilometres. All the zig-zagging through the crowds of people had played its part and I had to run over another kilometre to the finish line.
It was a good job I was ahead of pace otherwise I wouldn’t have completed the course in under two hours. I ran as fast as my legs would let me after the battering they had endured from the previous 20k, and managed to sneak under the two hour mark with a respectable 1.58:59.
If I was going to give some advice to anyone thinking about running a half marathon, I’d say some training is advisable. Otherwise your legs won’t thank you the next day. Trust me.