No one ever said running a Half Marathon was easy, and no one, I mean NO ONE told me just how emotional this journey would be. I’m #SavageMum, I’m tough! I’m hard! I’m savage … and I’ve never cried so much either through a run or at the end of a run as I did on Sunday when, after months and months of DNS’s (and my coveted DQ for the Dirt Half #StillProud!) I finally took my nerves, anxiety, dodgy calves and wobbly ass to the start line of the MK Winter Half Marathon, which was cancelled last year due to winter!
It was all sh1t’s ‘n’ giggles in the beginning. My amazing mentor took me out for a 5k warm up and it felt good. No issues with the calf, no pins and needles in my foot, hip was holding out quite nicely, everything was functioning as it should be and it was a fab opportunity to get my breathing under control in the cold weather and my body warmed up in time for the start.
Waiting for the horn to go off everyone seemed relaxed, selfies were taken, club photo’s were taken, Z2H group photos were taken, there were shouts of “Good luck fella”, slaps on the back a-plenty and a queue for the portaloo’s which appeared to extend around pretty much most of the 13.1 mile route, but eventually, after the DJ made a desperate plea of “Ladies! please use the men’s urinal’s” we were off with only a few minutes delay.
I’ll be honest… I’ve tried to recall every single moment of the run but some parts are still a bit hazy. What I can remember though, is some joker saying that Milton Keynes was flat, so you can image mine and my calves surprise at just how many hills we had the ‘pleasure’ of sweating, swearing and heaving ourselves up. I made it to mile 8 before my head reminded my legs that in real life, they had just plodded 11 miles so they really wanted a little rest. With the argument between my head and my legs at fever pitch, the legs won simply by just refusing to take another step. Everyone tells me that running long distances is a mind game… I think I’ve just proved to myself that if the legs are weak, they’re going to win the argument with the head – Every. Single. Time. Before the head could rationalise this piece of news, my legs stopped and the tears came. Tears of pure frustration …. so leaning on someone’s garden wall, leg out-stretched, my head screaming “what the hell have you done legs?” I blubbed like a baby (My apologies to the person who lives in that house but thank you for the loan of your wall and hey! …nice front garden, and a beautiful house! be proud!).
After a few minutes, sheer anger and frustration with myself got me from mile 8 to mile 9, where I took on some desperately needed water. Mile 9 was quite a “sizeable lump” to climb but as I run that route some lunchtime’s, I knew i could get over it with relative ease. With my mentor’s words of encouragement, on and on we plodded and when I eventually dared look out from under my sweaty, dripping cap I saw yet another “sizeable lump” that needed to be beaten…. so determination set it and I ….. er …. well I walked it … apparently this is an acceptable means of getting to the finish line in one piece but by this time I’d lost my head. Discouraged, disappointed in myself, desperate to get to the end, I could no longer run, jog or plod for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Finally at the top of this long, low but brutal hill, I realised I had just a ‘mere’ 5k left before I could kiss my bling hello and collapse in a heap behind the burger van, with a double bacon and cheese burger hanging out my mouth.
For the next mile it was pretty much down hill … breathing back under control but, with a bit of light headed dizziness and no sense of feeling left in my legs, the desperate plod to get to the end continued.
Three things happened to me on that last mile. First, it was the realisation that I was actually on mile 16 … the furthest I’d run… ever! <cue cheesy grin> and for a bird the wrong side of 40, this felt like a massive achievement. Next my mentor reminded me that a year ago I couldn’t even run the stretch we were on for more than 5 minutes and here I was on the last mile home. And finally, there! on the horizon, I saw my very own chief cheerleader and hero, grinning like a Cheshire cat, a hint of pride in his eyes, wearing his hard-earned medal round his neck and waving his new red finishers t-shirt in the air like a lasso. He’d done it! having been out of action himself for a few weeks he had only gone and smashed his previous half marathon time and I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He’d got to the end and had run (well walked, given that he had 20 minutes to kill!) half a mile back up to see me in. I could’ve cried. Right there and then I could’ve stopped and cried but quite frankly he would’ve whipped my ass and told me to stop being a big Jessy. Pulling my big girl pants up and my sweaty cap down, and to shouts of “Even Mother Nature can’t stop you now” he goaded me for half a mile to the finish line while my amazing mentor gently told me I was almost there and I had this in the bag!
Finally, with that elusive 0.1 sign in sight and seeing the clock at the finish line, I turned to my mentor and shouted “Oh my God Steve, we can still do this. Run!” and we did, we had flying feet, we ran to the sound of people calling our names and it was at that point I realised just how bloody far 0.1 miles actually is!
Every long run is a learning curve I’ve been told, and oh boy! did I learn a lot on that run. Everyone kept telling me “be proud”… of what I thought!! I’d dragged my sorry ass around that course and it hurt like hell, I stopped, I walked and I stretched so don’t feel as though I have the bragging rights to say “I’ve RUN a half marathon” because I didn’t. Oh! and I cried … in front of what felt like an audience of thousands, I bloody well cried!! Reputation in ruins. But you know what?! The next day, I WAS proud. I had just run the LONGEST distance of my entire life, the day before I had cycled 13.2 miles and run a 10k so was already running on tired legs, I’d run a 5k warm up before the half, I’d made it round the course without any calf explosions and the added bonus of not picking up any new injuries, I still picked up a new PB by 2 minutes AND, I finally had a real live picture of me with “flying feet”.
Some people would tell me off for offering other people the credit and starting a sentence with “I couldn’t have done it without……” they would tell me that no one did it but me and my legs, but you know what?! I genuinely couldn’t have done it without the 2 most amazing people a girl could have with her on this journey. My mentor, who was with me every single painful step of those 16.2 miles and my chief cheerleader and hero, who through blood, sweat and tears, got me to the start line, saw me down the home straight, let me use his shoulder as a handkerchief and helped me limp pathetically back to the car.
What a buzz!. What an achievement – I took on the Half Marathon, with the hills, the heat, the nerves, the injuries and I beat them all! Time to believe I can achieve.
Until Next Time