Sunday, 15 February 2009

Dartford – My First Half Marathon

26th July 2008, Dartford, England – my first half-marathon!

I can understand why they run these first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t make it any easier to do! It’s quite difficult to get yourself out of bed early, knowing that you’re getting up to put yourself through a couple of hours of torture. But up I got, had some toast and water for brekky, and off we went to Dartford, picking up Chris on the way. We met Chris’ colleague, Clint, at the ground. It was such a nice day – blue skies, sun shining, not too warm, a perfect day really to be outside – but possibly in a beer garden with a pint rather than running 13.1 miles…

Anyway, off I started at 9am for my first half-marathon. The first thing I learned in this race is that a lot of people think they are a lot faster than they are! It was quite congested doing a lap of the track and heading out, and without pushing myself at all I must have overtaken a few hundred people in the first mile alone – at which point many had already stopped to catch their breath! Things were going good for the first 3 miles and I was running way ahead of my target time – this happens when you use someone as your pace-setter that is faster than you… Ooops! At the 3 mile mark came the first hill. It’s a short hill, but it’s not too far off vertical and it was a bit of a killer! When I got to the top the road bended around I thought I’d get a reprieve, but then they make you run up another 50 meters before it dips and you get a rest. Tough work!

Miles 3.5 – 9 were pretty OK, with nice scenery, good weather and generally keeping 5 minutes ahead of my target of 2 hours 10 minutes. At the 8 mile mark I took an energy gel that Chris gave me – note to self (and others): NEVER get banana flavoured gel, it makes you want to gag! :o)

At mile 9, things took a turn for the worst as I came to hill number 2! This is the opposite of hill number 1 – it’s not overly steep, but it keeps going up and up for about a mile! I got about half way up and my whole body screamed out for a break. So I stopped and walked for about 100m, then tried to start again, but the legs said a clear and emphatic, “NO CHANCE”. So I walked the rest of the hill… D’oh! This ate into my time and when I got to the top of the hill I was struggling to stay with my goal.

I learned my second lesson at this point – race organisers lie! They said after the second hill it was a gentle downward finish for the last 3 miles, but it wasn’t! It was a nice gentle downward slope for about a mile, then it flattened out so you had to work for the last 2 miles, which was tough when your legs are so sore. At this point all I wanted to do was stop, but I pushed myself to keep going. I wanted to stop even more when I got overtaken by a guy that must have been at least 60 (if not older!) – the lady at The Jog Shop refers to these steady old men as “wombals”!! But I pushed on and came into the final 0.1 miles which was a lap of the racing track. With all previous finishers there to cheer you on, it gave me a real boost and managed to pick up my pace and catch 3 people on the track, which felt good indeed!! I finished in a time of 2:11:42. Slightly over my goal, but I was happy with that time. My online review is here.

Despite the pain I was in, I was quite pleased with my efforts – I had gone from being exhausted from a flight of stairs to a half-marathon in just under 3 months!! I’d also managed to drop about 8kg along the way, wahoo!!

I won’t go into the difficulty I had walking for the next few days…

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, Clayton. That's a great achievement.