I ran the Semi de Paris in 2:34 and at the time my aim for this was to beat 2:30 but, dragging myself out of bed at 6.30am on a Sunday my aim was just to get around the course and hopefully not take too much longer than Paris (when I was admittedly much better prepared) and then dash to the Apple Store in Covent Garden to pick up my repaired iPhone and satisfy my Instagram addiction.
The race is a big one and upon arriving at Hyde Park queues for the porta-loos and bag drop were long. I was in the yellow start so knew from the last time I ran that I wouldn't be setting off until around 9.30am anyway so took my time in the race village and headed to my start pen with minimal nervous waiting.
The first four miles felt long and slow as there were so many runners around me but after four miles I found my stride and suddenly it felt easy and natural. The setting for this race is beautiful - the blue skies, changing colours of the leaves and sunlight glinting on the Serpentine made me not miss my lie-in and distracted me from panicking about my pace and the distance. I tried not to think about how I should have done more, how I should, on my fifth half marathon, be "better" and faster and every time I had a negative thought I reminded myself to just breath and be in the moment. "Just breathe" because my race mantra and helped me push all other thoughts out of my head - for me that is the best thing about running, the medal and cake afterwards being close seconds.
After the mile nine marker I realised that actually, I wasn't doing too badly timing wise - I pushed myself to speed up a bit and the last few miles flew by and suddenly there was only 800m to go and all my worries seemed silly and insignificant. I crossed the line in 2:33 - a personal best by a whole minute and another reminder that I really need to just believe in myself a little bit more...
I still find it crazy that I run. I still can't believe that I actually ran a marathon and that this is what I do for fun. Running is intense but it teaches you so much about yourself. It makes you feel tough and strong and then at mile eleven when you run past someone running in memory of their 37 year-old husband who they lost to cancer it makes you feel like your emotions might burst out of you there and then - how can you possibly be worried about a silly race time when the world is so big and scary and who knows what the fuck is even going to happen and how lucky am I to be out in the sunshine, on a beautiful October day, crunching leaves under my trainers?
This race also taught me that being terrified about things is sometimes good. Maybe I secretly miss the yearly emotional trauma of university exams but grown-up life and the routine of work, socialise, Netflix, gym, pay bills, blah blah blah can start to feel like going through the motions and running, for me, reminds me that as much as I like lying in bed watching Food Network (a lot) I do like to push myself and feel the fear. And that cake tastes far, far better after 13.1 miles.
|To add to a good day - after I picked up my iPhone I went to Pret for a coffee and got it for free because the barista said I looked so happy! This made me even happier - some days the universe just works in your favour.|
Anyone want to do this with my next year?!