I did it!!! I ran my first half marathon yesterday in 2 hours and 47 minutes!
The whole experience from arriving at Victoria Park in Leicester where the race started, to crossing the finish line was incredible. I have to say that I felt a little overwhelmed by the end of the half marathon. I even cried a little when I went to give my sister a sweaty hug after crossing the finish line.
I arrived in plenty of time for a 9:15am start (I had to go to the toilet three times due to nervousness!). It was amazing to see so many people wearing different t-shirts showing the cause that they were running for, including Macmillan, Cancer Research, LOROS and Marie Curie. I saw a few people wearing local air ambulance t-shirts as well. I could’ve worn one, but I’m raising money for the Association of Air Ambulances so it’s for all air ambulance charities across the UK. In the end I borrowed one of my dad’s t-shirts, as I only have t-shirts from previous runs, including Race for Life, The Colour Run and The Resolution Run.
It was when I lined up at the start along with thousands of runners that reality hit me. Waiting for the runners ahead to start moving made me think about how I had never imagined in my life that I would be running 13 miles. Being placed in low ability classes for physical education while I was at school purely based on my physique and experiencing bullying for being fat meant that I never thought I could participate in something physically challenging.
The start of the Leicester Marathon saw runners making their way downhill on a road called London Road, where cars and buses normally drive. It felt incredible seeing a sea of runners making their way on the route. I found it strange running along an A road north of Leicester, where one lane was closed off for runners. It felt quite nice when you felt the breeze from a car or lorry as they drove past the runners.
I made sure to keep to my own pace for the entire route. I sped up when I felt comfortable and made sure to take steeper inclines steadily. I hadn’t practiced any parts of the route so I didn’t know when to expect slopes and steeper gradients.
I enjoyed the route, which took runners through the city centre, up the ‘Golden Mile’ (aka Melton Road), through Thurmaston, then around the lovely Watermead Park, through Birstall, then through Abbey Park, past the National Space Centre and Abbey Pumping Station, then back through the city centre and back up the New Walk to the finish line back at Victoria Park.
What made the route even more enjoyable was the amount of spectators and supporters who cheered all of the runners on. It really helped to keep my momentum going; it was adorable when young children gave runners high fives as they ran past. Some people even offered sweets and small snacks as runners went by. I felt a great sense of community spirit during the route, which made me feel proud to be running my first half marathon at the Leicester marathon, my hometown.
I ran for the entire 13 miles except for towards the end, probably the last 1/2 mile up the New Walk, when it was a gradual slope all the way back up. I had to walk up but a spectator urged me to run as I reached the top of the hill, and so I sprinted the final bit towards the finish line. I heard my name being called out and I jumped across the finish line in victory!
It felt great to receive a medal at the end, as well as a t-shirt, a banana, a bottle of water, a flapjack, a small bag of sweets and a bag of crisps. I had to catch my breath as I felt a bit breathless, which was probably due to sprinting across the finish line when I felt tired already. I also felt a bit funny and sick, so I found a bench to sit down with my sister. I felt much better after drinking a lot of water and eating my flapjack and sweets.
I couldn’t help but cry when I saw my sister. I think it was due to the fact that I couldn’t believe that I had just ran my first half marathon. I felt like that I had overcome some of the challenges that I’ve faced in my life so far, such as bullying, body image, self-belief and self-confidence. I was shattered for the rest of the day, so I had a lovely Radox bath as soon as I got back home, my sister and brother in law cooked a lamb roast dinner and then I had nearly 12 hours of sleep!
I’m a little achy today but I feel very accomplished, which is a fantastic feeling. At this stage I don’t think that I could run a full marathon just yet. I would need a lot more training, but I am tempted to run another half marathon to try and beat my current time.
Happy reading and blogging!
Clare Bear 🙂