Sometimes a last minute decision turns out well too. Since my last run between Slough and Marlow, I decided it was time for a break for my shins. I had some problems walking at times when pain hit my left knee or right. I turned to swimming, sometimes up to thrice in a week to lessen the stress in my lower back and knee. It was a tremendously helpful activity with my entire body stretched thoroughly rather than maxing out my poor legs. Though glucosamine is still my best friend twice a day, but the road to recovery seem slightly long, in my opinion.
Hence although my friend K has been asking me a couple of times about this run, I was hesitant to say yes and did state my reservations. Nonetheless I probably didnt convince her much as one, I was much younger than her, second – I completed the race faster than her, hence she probably thought I would be fine after a while.
Training for a half marathon is never easy, you have to spend up to four hours in a week exercising! And during the run actual, I get bored. Especially between the 8th to 11th mile, you are trying to keep the speed going but in fact, you are wondering how much more to go!
I dont know what came over me but I decided just this morning to go for it! Even having stopped training for a while, the furthest length of training I have done is fifty minutes to date and I have only been doing once a week running(or less). Not even informing my friend, I took a look at the race details and packed half my stuff last night. My alarm was set for 5.30am on a Sunday and I told myself that I will make the final decision in the morning. When the alarm went off, I took a snooze of ten minutes before stepping on the accelerator.
Getting down four pieces of toasts with a hot cocoa, I packed up the rest of my stuff and set off an hour later. The streets were quiet and few cars could be seen. After getting onto the tube, the train set off and everything was going smoothly. Till I reached Paddington station. I was horrified when I did not seem to spot any outgoing train towards Maidenhead leaving within the next half hour. The thought of “trying to be spontaneous and hopping onto the train when I get there” suddenly felt silly when confronted with the obvious conclusion that I would now be late and thus will not be in time to sign up. Planning is important, I concurred.
My second instinct kicked in and I took a closer look at the screens, realising that there was one heading towards Oxford and Maidenhead will be on the way. Relief set in instantly. I did a mental calculation and figured there would be ample time to stroll there. Grins. When I reached the starting point, I quickly registered and went about with my stretching. Not forgetting to text my friend to “see her shortly”, I knew she will be surprised but yet pleased to have her running companion back in action!
We met at the 2hr 15min area as agreed and had a most relaxing run while chatting away. No boredom at all as we chatted and waved to the local supporters who woke up early to cheer us on. Even the kids were excited as they stretched their tiny hands out for a hi-five. Shouted thanks to every marshal(as much as I could muster), we went through four water stations and chewed on gummies distributed by marshals along the way.
Pace for pace, we managed to hit the 11 mile mark before we knew it. Though the knee was showing signs of strain, I was all ready to up the speed as I realised that I would need the restroom very soon and was raring to go in case I had to hit a pit stop. In running a race, the worst thing to do is to stop. When you do that, you will find it hard to pick up the pace again and will struggle to get back. I opened my strides and was soon pounding down to the last 400 metres. In the last stretch, early morning shoppers were lining the streets and everyone was smiling, cheering us on and clapping. And I almost missed the last five kids. And their outstretched hands! I took two steps back and hi-fived the last two kids in line. The lactic acid in my calves did not allow me to reverse any further. Saying sorry to the other three, I continued down the path and hit the finishing mat, relieved that I was still holding onto my bowels. K was not far behind and she completed the race less than a minute later. I was happy to discover that she did hi-fives with every kid(the ones I missed) and hence no kids were disappointed.
2 hours 8 minutes was showing on the clock when I powered towards the end of the Pharmalink Maidenhead Half Marathon. Deducting the staggered start time and the human jam when we were crossing the underground tunnel, I am pretty sure it will probably a minute lesser or maybe two if I am hopeful enough? All in all, it was an excellent race with no expectations for myself and considering the minimal efforts put in the past two months, I have to admit, it was probably the best I could get. Well done to me!