I’m not going to lie…I bloody love them.
At the last half I raced in April, I over heard friends rehashing the run (like us runners like to do) and one of them said ‘there’s something about a half marathon…it leaves you feeling nicely ruined but not totally ruined’.
I remember smiling and thinking how right she was. It’s a distance that’s long enough to really challenge your mind and body but it doesn’t quite demand as much as a full marathon can.
My own personal goals over the next 3-6 months are at half marathon distance. After being ‘on the bench’ most of last year with plantar fasci-shite-tus my body is feeling good at around 10-13 miles and I don’t see any need to push it further…for now.
So when did my love affair with half marathons begin?
Well it’s been a bit of a rocky road, but if you go and get yourself a cup of tea and biscuit…get comfy and I’ll tell you all about it.
Not many people know this, but the first half marathon I did was in Windsor back in September 2008. I was a young 20 something living my best life, (code for – eating branflakes for every meal) and enjoying the cheesiest, ‘wish we were still at university’ style clubs, South London had to offer.
To say my ‘training’ was sporadic would be putting it nicely…I think I got up to 8 miles on one occasion…but really didn’t prepare myself at all well for what was to come. It’s safe to say I hated every single minute of it.
Here’s some photographic evidence….smiling on the outside, dying on the inside!!
Fast forward to February 2017…and to update you – I’d got married, pushed out two rather large babies and moved North Yorkshire.
By this point I was well and truly smitten with my new favourite hobby and felt absolutely on top of the world after I’d finished. So proud of myself and what I’d achieved.
I should mention here that it wasn’t all plain sailing. I was in no way ready for the undulating route and the true extent of my running incontinence (which I talk about more in this blog) smacked me hard in the arse. But regardless of my pelvic floor letting me down, I felt like a total and utter bad-ass and wanted more.
Which takes me to one of my favourite races of all time – Leeds Half Marathon.
I love this one because it’s all singing and all dancing – full out PAZAZZ!
Big crowds, a sound system, and a fit looking trainer frolicking around on a stage warming everyone up! Along the route there’s also fantastic support – locals using it as an excuse for a street party, charities supporting their runners and lots of people’s friends and family offering high fives and jelly babies all the way round.
I was still pretty new to running mind you.
My training week consisted of 2 runs and 3 if I was lucky. One or two short ones and then a run at the weekend when I added an extra mile each week. No speedwork, just me building my miles up slowly and with very little knowledge about what I should or shouldn’t be doing.
I ran Leeds in 2:00:58 and pretty gobsmacked at my time. It lit a fire in me and I knew what I wanted to set my sights on next – a sub 2 hour half marathon.
I chose the Vale of York Half Marathon for my grand PB attempt – fast and flat, it had sub 2 hours written all over it. This was also the time I decided working with a Running Coach was well worth the investment. I received my own bespoke plan, and of I went. I really enjoyed the variety and structure of a plan, and I felt reassured that this plan had taken into account my goals and current fitness levels. I always got super nervous before a speed session but I also loved the feeling afterwards. I learnt a lot and had a really productive training block.
The race itself I found pretty tough and a little joy-zapping. Long flat expanses of tarmac can be pretty grueling and I definitely felt an enormous amount of pressure all the way round to smash the goal I had gone there to achieve.
I finished in 1:57:59. Although I had achieved what I set out to, it felt harder than I thought it would and I didn’t feel any of the elation you see in the pictures of people on #medalmonday on social media.
So, as someone who is always in pursuit of the joy I decided to shift my focus to getting off road and enjoying the footpaths and fells on my doorstep.
It took all the pressure off pace and the focus was on effort and the kudos you get from taking on a route with lots of elevation!! One of my favourites has to be Glentress Half Marathon in the Scottish Borders.
It is also perhaps one of my favourites because it was one of my first weekender with friends away from home! The route takes you through beautiful forest trails and up and down and up again, where you can take in some breathtaking views.
As you can see we took it all very seriously. We ran it together as a team and having fun was the name of the game. I’d love to run this race again.
I am currently training for Wharfedale Trail Half Marathon in July. I’ve run it once before and I remember being adamant ‘I’ll never do that again’…and here we are!! Whoopsee – just like childbirth – you kind of forget the pain and before you know it you are signed up for another go all over again.
This year, I want to feel a lot better prepared. I want to be more ready for and stronger on the hills.
I do want to beat my previous time and I am ready for it to hurt.
The half marathon just keeps me coming back for more and more. I love pushing myself to see what I can achieve and I like training hard for a goal. But I will also always make sure I balance that with runs that are solely to feel the joy.
So there you have it, my half marathon story with all the bumps in the road included!
If you have signed up to your first half marathon or are looking for achieve a particular goal then get in touch and we can have a chat to see if I can help.