Did you know there’s a correlation between one’s skin colour and their responses in a half marathon convo? White people ask about the marathon course or how long you’ve been training; black people be like “is it one of those work bonding things” lol. Truth is I don’t know why I started training if I’m honest, guess I’ve always been intrigued by long distance races but this time I wanted to challenge myself and actually compete in one. Word of advice, the funnest part of it all is buying the new running gear, it all goes downhill from there. My first training session was a humbling experience, I jogged for like ten minutes before I was leaned up against a lamppost re-evaluating my decision. Onlookers must’ve thought I was being chased the way I was panting for dear life. At this point I was struggling to see how people did this for fun, perhaps there was something I was missing.
Things got even worse when I realised a half marathon was actually 13.1 miles as opposed to 13.1 kilometres lol. The heartbreak was real, I was training for a distance virtually half of the distance I was actually supposed to! Then came the injuries… and I’m not talking about you guys who had that ‘knee injury which prevented your football career’, I’m taking about injuries I didn’t have to lie about. From the soles of my feet, to my shins, to my quads; I was having pains in areas I’ve never experienced pain before, manoeuvring all up and down my legs. That certainly hindered my progress but didn’t stop my persistence and it started to tell. Slowly but surely I was able to run longer, faster, with only a few stoppages here and there. 5 miles, 6 miles, 7 miles, 8. I was getting in the groove of things but knew there was still work to be done yet.
Finally I decided I needed to book a race. It’s no good training for the sake of training right, I had to pencil something in and work towards it… and that date was the 14th April; the Putney & Fulham Half Marathon! Nice flat course, not too busy and ideal for beginners; just the requirements I needed for my first race. The run up to the half marathon was an interesting one, I don’t think I’ve researched a topic so much since my university days. “Don’t attempt a half marathon until you’re accustomed to a 5k or 10k”, one website quoted.. oops, I obviously didn’t get the memo. “A new study says running in excess may shorten your overall lifespan”.. wait, that’s not what I signed up for! Regardless, I was doing everything within my power to keep myself in tiptop condition. The night before the race I was even doing my best middle-aged white lady impression and had a warm bubble bath for genuine relaxation. Unfortunately I was far from relaxed on race day at the starting line-up as the race announcer was counting down to the start of the half.
3.. 2.. 1.. I was off! Immediately things got rather congested, was very difficult to build up momentum with streams of people running either side of me. I passed these winding fields onto a straight only to see people absolutely blitz passed me. It was at this point my 8 mins per hour gameplan went out the window and I upped the pace, letting adrenaline do its thing. The course was actually beautiful, I felt humbled racing within the lovely area of Fulham, London knowing I’d never be able to afford to live there. At least that took my mind off of the constant stitches I was having from about mile 5. I managed to subside the pains only to get real leggy by mile 11. Nearly contemplated catching an Uber to the 13th but my pride wouldn’t allow me. I was running out of juice, it was a bit of a mind f*ck ‘cos I knew I just had to run a lil’ bit longer to achieve something special. Finally I passed the final bend and saw the finish line in sight. Sprint finish? No sir, I laboured across the line like my enemies were on the other side. My time, 1:36:47 – one hour, thirty six minutes and forty seven seconds! Oh the feeling… oh the feeling of knowing I completed my first half-marathon in a time I’ll probably never be able to better lol. Absolutely buzzing!