So I did it guys! I finished the Swansea half marathon on Sunday 26th June 2016. My home half marathon! It was as I expected it to be, which if you don’t regularly read this blog was ‘hard’. I was thoroughly unprepared and under-trained for this race and decided (against my better judgement) to do it anyway. Since March (when I ran my first half marathon which you can read about here) my longest run had been 7 miles, and my maintenance runs had been patchy to say the least. So in the interests of full disclosure and perhaps as a word of warning to someone in a similar situation to myself I will first talk you through how the race went, and then I will talk you through my recovery – which wasn’t pretty!
I woke at around 7am, got up and had a pre-race breakfast of jam on toast. I didn’t have much of an appetite actually which is weird for me. I decided to take a banana with me to eat once we got down to where the race was being staged. We left the house just before 8 and it was a quick journey into town (which is to be expected at such an early hour on a Sunday morning). From our direction we avoided the road closures and were able to park easily near the rail station and walk to the start line from there.
The race village was actually a fair way from the starting line (which was bang in the centre of the main high street in town) so we didn’t bother venturing down to it. Gideon (who sadly couldn’t run because he was still recovering from his appendectomy) had all my stuff so there was no need for bag drop or anything like that. We milled around the start for a while, with lots of other runners. I used the porta loos twice with no queue whatsoever! Amazing!
Eventually after a short delay had been announced due to traffic issues I wandered over to my corral (wave 2) and we started shortly after. I had positioned myself in between the 2.20 and 2.30 pacer. An extremely unrealistic goal but it’s somehow just where I ended up in the crowd. On a side note, I really liked that they had a 2.30 pacer. Most of the races I’ve done seem to stop after 1 hr (for 10k) or 2 hrs (for half) so it was nice to have a pacer for the slower group like myself.
We were soon off, you sort of loop through town and then down onto the main seafront road where it’s just a straight out and back, before looping back into town again at the end. The course is mostly flat, with some very small inclines here and there but nothing to be considered a hill of any sort!
I’d decided not to wear my Garmin for this race as I thought it would be better to just go out and enjoy it and not worry about time as I was so under-trained. I do wonder whether had I worn it I would have pushed a bit harder towards the end, but in hindsight (and when you read further down you may realise why) I’m glad I didn’t. I ran the first 3 miles without any stopping. I was a bit disappointed that there was no 5k chip mat, because I thought I had been doing really really well up until then and would have quite liked to have known my time.
From then on everything went downhill. I started walking when I felt tired. At first not too much, but I felt that familiar knee pain start to creep up just after mile 4. It was annoying as I thought it had gone, but I guess that serves you right for running undertrained! My 10k time wasn’t too bad actually by my standards (1 hour 13 minutes 33 seconds) but I was already starting to flag. From then on it was a slow slog back to the finish line, one which involved a lot of walking, a fair bit of self-pity and a considerable amount of pain in the knee from mile 9 onwards.
The field really started to spread out from about mile 10, so that at times, even though there were good couple of hundred people behind me it really felt like you were running alone. It also didn’t help that towards the end people had clearly thought the race was done with and were just walking all over the course and people were picking up trash etc. I understand a clean up has to be done but it’s very demoralising for us at the back when they have already started packing up and your still running.
With just under a mile left, another girl caught up to me and urged me to keep running with her. I was struggling a lot with my knee but she really pulled me through and we ran the whole of that last section together. I didn’t get her name but I really was very grateful to her for the encouragement and made sure to thank her afterwards.
I ended up crossing the line in 2 hrs 45 minutes and 52 seconds, which is only about 6 minutes slower than my first half marathon, and I guess that isn’t that bad considering how under-trained I was and how much walking I did.
So that was the race, now onto my recovery, and I may get a bit TMI here, so please feel free to skip the next paragraph if you really don’t want to know.
I had my poweraid straight after like I always do and I tried to munch a few of the kale chips that were part of the goody bag (but I don’t really care for kale chips to be honest). We drove back home via tesco and I had a shower and then had my homemade nachos which I had been looking forward too all day. Then I promptly threw them back up again. And it continued this way, for about 3 hours. I could not keep anything down, my stomach completely and utterly emptied itself and would not stop until I eventually got so exhausted that I managed to lie in a somewhat un-nauseating position and stayed deadly still for about an hour. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible.
Now I don’t know if what happened after the race was because I was under-trained, or if I had a bad reaction to something (I don’t know what though because everything I ate both pre / during and post race I have eaten many times) but it totally ruined any joy I had about this race. It was a hard race anyway, but I was at least at first glad I finished. By the time that was over, I was wishing I had never done it. If I am ever under-trained that much again, if my mind ever tells me it probably isn’t wise then there is no way I am racing. I have learnt my lesson. No medal is worth that. And annoyingly now when I look at that medal I’m just going to be reminded of what a hideous afternoon I had.
So that’s me done with half marathons for a little bit now. Not just because of my recovery, although that has scared me somewhat, but because I’ve clearly been getting a bit of training fatigue and could just use a break from the big distances for a while. So no more half marathons for at least the rest of this year. I’m sticking to 10ks and 5ks from this point forward. I’m sure something will tempt me back to half marathons at some point (I’m looking at you RunDisney) but I don’t expect it will be any time this year – and if I do end up getting into the London marathon, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
This week, I intend to have a proper rest, so expect a lot of Disney posts rather than running related ones!
How awesome is my finishing photo though??? AWESOMEEEEE