Usually, Sunday mornings are spent lounging around in bed and enjoying the freedom of the day ahead of not having to be anywhere or do anything. Well not last Sunday. Instead of enjoying a lie in, I was up at 5am ready to take on the first ever Bournemouth half marathon, part of the marathon festival that took place over the weekend.
How did I get to this point though? For someone who hadn’t run since they were 14, it did seem a bit of an odd decision but like most things that happen for me, it was done on the momentum of a whim. Earlier in the year I started running to get rid of the excess energy I had built up during one of my hypomanic episodes and thought why not try and keep this up because as a habit to develop, it’s not a bad one. After a couple of weeks of running and enjoying it, I came across the races being held and though that would be good incentive to keep myself running. I really need to learn to talk my head out of such grand ideas.
Roll on 7 months later and the weekend finally rolls around. It would be fair to say I wasn’t exactly prepared. The best run I had managed beforehand was just 3 miles and the couple of months before, I had only run once due to illness and moving to Bournemouth and all sorts.
So 5am I am up and I spend the time bumbling around my room trying not to get too nervous and also trying to be quiet so I don’t wake my flatmates up.
I only ate that banana as I was so desperate to try and make myself a bit more prepared for running even though I really hate them.
The start of the half marathon was in Boscombe, at King’s Park which is next to AFC Bournemouth’s ground. Being in a park at 7am is quite lovely but it was very cold. I couldn’t really feel my hands as I was waiting around to get to the starting point and seeing everyone else who was running didn’t really do much for my nerves because these people looked prepared and ready. The only solace I managed to find was another runner who looked equally worried with “find a happy place” written on his hand as his motivation. Not sure how well that helped.
Anyway, here’s a bit of me taking in the bit before the start;
When we were lining up at the start, I remember just worrying about how far I’d manage to get. I also had the fear of the sweeper bus that was to collect anyone who was running slower than the 3 hour 15 minute limit too. I aimed for the back of the crowd as I knew others would be sprinting off straight away and I was just wanting to start off slow and steady so I had a chance to conserve some energy. Well the whole race not just the start was slow but I was pretty happy as I managed to get to about 8 and a half miles before I had to start walking and I am going to put more of the blame on a huge hill that suddenly confronted me rather than me giving up.
So the first two thirds of the race were pretty good. I was way behind everyone else so I only had a couple of people around me who were running but it made it easier for me to just concentrate on keeping going. The crowds that came out to support were a bit of a lifesaver. It definitely gives you a massive boost just to have even one person giving you encouragement. I think I was the politest runner in the whole thing as I kept saying thank you to everyone who cheered me on. You don’t see Paula Radcliffe saying thanks.
I think about 6 or 7 miles, I came across a family of cyclists who were really friendly and offered up some Jelly Babies. Never has confectionery children been welcomed so much. I of course repaid them by running into their daughter’s bike. I think I was a bit wobbly legged at this point so I’m hoping they forgave me.
Everything seemed lovely up to that awful hill. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day and I was lost in my own little world. Then someone decided to put a massive upward slope in the middle of my lovely run and it all went wrong from there. Soon as I stopped running, it was very hard to get going again. Near impossible really. Soon as I was as the top, I tried but that’s when it got painful. I felt a pretty big twinge in my ankle and at one point I’m sure my left foot exploded from a blister but I couldn’t stop. So I had to do a terrible combination of walking and running when I could manage. The last 4 or so miles were horrible.
A lot of the morning is a blur, probably because I was just running and running and there wasn’t much to differentiate between the miles. I do remember running off Bournemouth pier and using every last bit of energy to sprint to the finish line and nearly take off on the race helper’s arms off when he put it up for a high five.
Finally finished at didn’t see the sweeper bus once! Overall I did it in 3 hours 4 minutes which although slow, I’m not too unhappy over because I did finish in time and that was the biggest worry for me.
Afterwards I sat in the RNLI tent who I had raised money for and in return gave me water and mars bars and other delights to give me some energy back. Best of all, they had chairs! I could sit at last!
In the days since, I have really struggled to move. I only had two blisters on my feet which doesn’t seem too bad but they are huge. It took me 4 days until I could go down stairs without wincing in pain and the amount of cold showers I have had to ease the pain in my legs in unreal.
Would I do it again? Quite possibly!