Well, I did it. Not very fast, but I did it. And the support was incredible.
I just want to pay tribute to all the people who cheered me on, either in general or by name. Those people shouting, ‘Ánimo, Julia, tú puedes,’ made such a difference to me. Because there were times today when I really wanted to say, ‘No, no puedo.’
If you are ever in a position to cheer runners participating in a half or full marathon, please do it. And don’t just cheer on the ones at the front. Sure, they’re fastest. They might have put the most effort into their training (though possibly not). But it’s the runners at the back you’ll make the greatest difference to, because your cheers might make all the difference between them running and walking, between them keeping on going and giving up.
I know I felt like giving up today when it got tough.
This was the hardest half marathon I have ever done. It shouldn’t have been. The course was pretty flat, the weather pretty good (although still a little on the warm side for me). But my training hadn’t gone entirely to plan and I went out too fast, and although I ran the first 10k in a relatively respectable 59:18, it was all downhill from there.
I don’t know whether the race distance was wrong, my watch wasn’t measuring the distance accurately or I just took the bends really wide (in some places that was certainly the case as the sheer number of people trying to get around the course made it impossible to stick to the shortest route), but each time my watch told me I’d completed a kilometre, the gap to the kilometre marker got bigger. By KM20, it was a full 500 metres ‘late’. You can’t imagine how dispiriting that is, to have your watch tell you there are only 1100 metres to go, only to realise that actually you still have to run more like a mile.
When I was asked on Friday what time I was aiming for I shrugged and said I didn’t know, but if it was less than 2hrs 15, I wouldn’t be disappointed. I finally crossed the finish line in an unofficial time of 2:11:49, having run (according to my watch, at least) 21.75km.
To be honest, considering I’d only really been conscientious about doing my long runs in training, and considering how slowly I’d done them, that was some kind of victory.
And so, I’m trying to be kind to myself. Yes, it would have been great if I could have finished in less than 2 hours, like I did for my first 3 half marathons. Yes, it would have been amazing to have signed off with a bang. But I knew, in truth, that it wasn’t going to happen. And considering the bargains I made with myself at KM15, at KM16, and pretty much every kilometre thereon to the end of the race to just keep running for one more kilometre, I think I can be proud to have run every step, however slowly.
But that’s it now. No more half marathons for me. Certainly no more full marathons. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Of course, I’ve said that before, but this time, I really mean it. At least for now.