Mind over body once again prevails. I have always believed that running was all about that. Introduced into running by my father at a tender age, it has somehow become an integrated part of my life. There are many whom I know of – they became addicted to running only after they started work. 10km, half marathon and marathons became their passion. Or perhaps a social event to know more people, something to talk about.
Having done a 10km run, a half marathon and a cross terrain of 15km – I was excited about my race pack which contained interesting goodies and of course doing a good time. The latter was sometimes quite impossible as there were folks who prefer to stand in a straight line and walk – obviously forgetting about their manners(and chat!?) and the other runners who treated it quite seriously.
Having been in London for about two years now, I was keen to explore the differences about the race set up and upon invitation from my friend, I set myself up for a half marathon – Down Tow Up Flow. Initially planned to be a scenic run, the route was (rudely) changed at the last moment as the Olympics took its precedence. Hence we ended up starting from Slough instead.
It was hot. Armed with a SPF50 sunblock, I prepped myself for the harsh sunshine and dry weather. Quite a couple of differences – first there was no goodie bag!! Just your chip and your number tag plus water provided. That wax it. However, we had good planning – limited number of participants to prevent overcrowding, people were able to register easily on the day, signage was relatively clear for the participants and signages were even put up for the public to keep a lookout for the runners! Relatively impressed, I even hi-fived kids on the way and there were supporters en-route who clapped and cheered!
I started on the last wave with my friend and praying hard for my knee. I strided ahead before the third mile mark and started my overtaking journey. Unknownst to everyone, I have had problems with my knee for the past three weeks. Since the last simulated 13mile run at the beginning of the month, I have basically stopped training for three weeks. My knee hurts even when walking at times, questions over my physical capability plagued me. Aside from the two mile which I completed on Tuesday which resulted in a sore knee , I was glad that I had a good break and patted myself on the back on my diligence on have been diligently consuming my glucosamine consumption of twice a day.
It paid off handsomely. A target of 10minute every mile, I told myself I could do it. And I completed with flying colours. Although the official timing has not been announced but I covered the half marathon just a couple of minutes over 2 hours. Considering the quantity of training in the last couple of weeks, I would say it has been an excellent run. Comfortably overtaking the runners in the first five to six miles, I was relatively surprised that there were nobody who passsed me at all. Perhaps the faster runners were way in front, but along the way, I did run past some who started off earlier than me. Gulping down two mouthfuls of water at each water station, I believed the source of energy expended came from the barbeque dinner the night before(plus Becks!) and the poppy seed cake plus coffee earlier in the day.
The sun was relatively strong, muddy areas, flight of stairs and minimal shelter. Keeping a good pace and keeping the Samsung Hope Relay target of 100 pounds in mind, I pushed on. The toughest leg presumably started at the 10 mile mark. The vast green fields looked never-ending and I feared that my knee would give way. Interestingly, while keeping the rhythm of my breath constant, I realised I was extremely focused on the run(in case I fall) and I had only minimal enjoyment of the scenery along the way as I strove to better my time.
As we went down to the last mile, I could feel myself tiring. I widened my steps and counted to 100 for ten times. The strategy worked. Not only was I able to press on with speed but I could feel the finishing line in the vicinity. Nearing the last 400m, runner A who was apparently following me for the last two miles overtook me. The first person in the race so far. I did try to put up a fight but the muscle in my left calf threatened to paralyse me. Hanging on to the last bit, I stepped on the finishing mat and completed my first ever UK race proper. Injury-free.
A finisher – a runner. An excellent piece of work concluded. The wonders of the human determination should not be underestimated.
A cliche but true statement which I hope to share – if I can do it, so can you.