Plodding my way round two half marathons (Part 1)

Running doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not blessed with the longest of limbs: at 4ft9, I’m shorter than most 10 year olds and have short, stumpy legs. Personally, I’m blaming the parents, it’s obviously *nothing* to do with the fact that I started smoking at 14 and did so for 10 years.

tess langley
I’m battling some serious height issues 

This combined with not enough training to improve technique and pace has meant that I’m more of a plodder for the half marathon distance. I surprised myself yesterday with my first parkrun, coming in at an average pace of 9:45min/mi, so I can run faster, but then this is 5k and I was pushing harder than normal to try and keep up and not be the last one in.

My first half marathon

What:   South Coast Run
Where: Seaford seafront
When:  August 2012
Finishing time: 2:27:45

The South Coast Run is a fast lapped course along the promenade of Seaford; the distance you run depends on how many laps you do. I chose to do the half marathon (4 laps), as I was up for a challenge and wanted to see if I could actually do it. I ran with my fiance and his family in memory of someone very special for Cancer Research.

Seaford South Coast Run half marathon tess langley
Team Aggies x

We were in the middle of a heatwave (remember those?) and race day fell on one of the hottest days of the year, (around 27C). A week before the race I drove over to suss out the course and do my last long training run, but only managed four miles before having to bail out and buy a Nobbly Bobbly from the ice cream van, it was that hot. (Note to self: Do NOT attempt to run 11miles in the blazing midday summer sun).

Because of this failure I spent the next few days cacking it that I’d dehydrate and collapse in a heap after mile one, never to run again. I set off nice and slow, maintaining my comfortable training pace and made sure I kept hydrated throughout. The crowds were great at the beginning, but because I was so slow they began to filter off once the runners they were watching came in and it was like just another seafront training run. This is the danger of multiple-distance races – not everyone is in for the long run so the crowds don’t stick around.

Seaford South Coast Run half marathon tess langley
Sharing the course with the public

Once all the 5 and 10k runners had finished it was just us lonely half marathoners plodding along, and I was pretty much on my own as most of them were much faster than me. The crowds disappeared and people kept just walking across the path to get to the beach or to wait in line for an ice cream – meaning the last straggling runners had to duck and dive between members of the public who were oblivious to the fact that the race was still going on.

It was pretty tempting to give up on the ducking and diving and just plough straight on through them whilst barking various profanities, but I was too tired to do that.

The only thing that kept me going was the fact that at the end of each lap I got a cheer from the rest of my team (only three of us were doing the half marathon distance, the rest had finished and were waiting at the finish line). For the last lap I suddenly got a second wind of energy, so sped up massively to come in and finish on a sprint. It surprised me that I had this in me; I wasn’t sure where it had come from, but it definitely felt good and I cannot describe the feeling of anticipation and elation I had when I was on that last home straight, I couldn’t wait to finish.

Seaford South Coast Run half marathon tess langley
My sprint to the finish 

Not having done this before I made the mistake of just stopping dead once I did finish, which meant that my legs buckled beneath me and I spent the next few hours waddling around like an old woman.

My legs didn’t work properly for days afterwards. But I didn’t care, I’d finished. I ran the whole way, didn’t walk a single step, and that’s all that mattered to me (and the post-race celebratory bubbles & pub lunch!)

Part 2 of the Ploddy Half-Marathon Series –> 

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