The dawn of my second Maidenhead Half Marathon and I was up and out of bed before my alarm after being awake on and off for a few hours, a little nervous excitement? Well maybe.
Why am I so jittery? I am not a professional runner with their eye on a gold medal. I run for health and fun. I keep telling myself it’s just another run but with a lots of people around me and nothing to get my knickers in a twist about. A training run to incorporate into my training programme for my first Marathon in the end of October.
I know I can run 13.1 miles pretty easily now so it’s not the distance that I am worried about so why do I have butterflies in my stomach and feeling twitchy? I think it may be that I know what is coming. The previous Maidenhead Half was my first ever half marathon so I was naïve to the experience and however I got around from the start to the finish line would be fine just fine by me – just as long as I got around.
Now today its half marathon No 5 and I know what is coming and I also know that my competitive streak is battling to find its way out and try and to kick in. I like to call it my ‘competitive devil’ and this little devil inside me does not like me to just do an easy run and jog on round having a chat. I sometimes wish it would have a day off but alas I have a feeling it’s not going to happen and the nervous energy is building as I microwave my porridge and have my one cup of extra strong coffee.
My partner Chau, a seasoned Marathon runner is going through a similar thought pattern although he was not admitting it either. ‘so what time do you think you will be running it in today?’ I ask him as I flick through my magazine, not reading a word as my mind is on the 13.1 miles ahead. ‘oh, I’m not really going to bother today’ he replies – ‘yeah, right and is the Pope Catholic?’ I mutter. It appears we were both denying the fact that we apparently were not just going just for fun!
It was a 9.30 start so need to get there for 8.15 so I can get in my pre ritual 5 toilet breaks – yes I know its excessive but I can’t help it. It’s not ideal and I don’t drink much pre-race due this issue and by the time the gun goes off I am probably dehydrated. I know it’s all in the mind as I can’t possibly need to go that much. I did get a little panicky at Maidenhead as it’s the town centre and there are no trees to nip behind if the porter loo queue is excessive!
I love the hour before the race, despite the incessant queuing for the loo. The vibrant colours of running outfits. The babble of pre-race chatter of excitement, excuses, hope and goals. The air smells of a heady combination of deep heat, essence of portaloo and frying bacon – what a combination!
Bladder well and truly drained, pre-race banana peeled but uneaten as feeling a little nauseous and warmed up so it was time to go to the start. Now being ‘just a training run’ it will not matter where I start so I can tag on to the end and gently set off at a moderate pace. Why was I edging my way into the middle of the pack? Bloody ‘competitive devil’ in my head had now taken me prisoner and nothing I could do about it. Admitting defeat, I gave in and pressed start on my Garmin and tried to lower my pulse which was now racing with pre start adrenalin. Might as well set myself a little goal now I’m here. Let’s aim for 1hour 45 mins which would give me a PB of 3 mins. Would be defeatist not to give it a go wouldn’t it?
Cannon goes off and with my ‘competitive devil’ now fully taken over my body I am pounding the pavement with 1,400 other runners. and prepare for the usual first three miles of discomfort as my body adjusts to being pushed rather more than a 45-year-old body would like.
My aim to keep with the 1.45 Pacer, (its great having a pacer an I don’t have the experience of pacing myself) Chau paces me in my training runs but as you can imagine he is running his own competitive battle/race at the front of the field.
At mile 4 I was drew level with the Pacer and having a ‘running high’ where I feel on top of the world and invincible so let’s see how many people I can overtake. This lasted a few miles before I realised I had got carried away have overdone it too soon. The 1.45 Pacer had now caught up with me again. Well that was totally pointless and a waste of energy wasn’t it ?(another learning to write down in my imaginary ‘what not to do while running’ notebook.)
OK just stick with the Pacer and get back into a rhythm again and CALM DOWN, it’s just a run. ‘This is better’ as I get back into rhythm and stalked the Pacer. He was about 6ft 5’’ and he now has this little red faced sweaty person determinedly chasing him. I am sure it looked comical but he was my focus and potential Hero of the Day.
Mile 10 and for some reason he was getting shorter – the reason why he was reducing in height was that he was forging ahead of me. Was I slowing down, bugger, what’s going on? I’m not going to make my goal time now. A wave of negative emotion goes through my mind. I can’t do it, it hurts too much, but what hurts? my legs? No, not really, my feet? no, my breathing, no – all is fine but it just all Hurts!
Stop thinking Lisa and just run. If you don’t come in at 1.45 it’s not the end of the world is it? ‘Yes it bloody is’ says my competitive devil. ‘Sort yourself out and catch up the Pacer’
It’s just a Park Run left – 24 mins if I keep up this pace. Just get on with it! Deep breath, chin up, knees up, eyes up. Think about the motto I have on my running vest to promote British Military Fitness
Legs like Jelly
Lungs on Fire
Heart Like a Lion
I run, the encouragement from the crowds spurs me on and the last 400 metres – I have caught up with my Pacer friend now and bloody hell, I was going to overtake him if it was the last thing I do. Here we go and the finish is getting closer. Done it and remembered to press stop on my Garmin
1 hours 44 mins and 41 seconds – PB and thank you my Competitive Devil – I love you really!!