I've never been much of a runner, in fact I hated running and I reckon the longest distance I had ran was about 5km. This was until my boss, Chris, said he was entering the Melbourne Half Marathon. I thought to myself, "fuck it" Pheidippides, a messenger, could run 26 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, I can run half that distance of 21.3km (13 miles). Okay, I’ll admit, that’s not what I actually thought, but I did think I could set that goal and achieve it.
The time of which this all happened was a mere 5 or 6 weeks until the event. I entered, told my girlfriend, Maeve, and give myself that goal. I then started to train. Which filled me with confidence—actually, what’s the opposite of confidence, it filled me with that.
It was clear I needed to train hard, and so I decided to run to and from work. A 7.5km distance each way. So having gone from 0km per month I went straight up to 15km in one day. I also rode every other day and hit the gym each lunch time; all on the back of coming home from 3 weeks in Europe. The results were devastating—I developed shingles. I wore my body down so much but immune system failed.
This lead to 3 weeks out of action. Not good! So now I had about 2 weeks to train again before having to run 21.3km. I was more worried but stopped going to the gym and focused on 5-7km runs at lunch, to build up. After a few I started to feel fitter. It was then the Tuesday before the big day and I decided I needed to do at least one big run before the day. With that in mind, I planned a 10km run. But after hitting the 10km mark, I felt unusually fit. No pain in my chest or legs, so I carried on and ran in the opposite direction to home. By 15km my feet were getting sore, but I could still run quite well. So ran all the way home.
In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea, because the next day—and the next few after that—my legs and feet were killing! On the day my knees were still sore. But my confidence levels were in the stratosphere!
On the day, I arrived nice and early. A bit too early, but I was there and ready. Stretched off and supple and ready!
Kickoff. Didn’t go as planned, Maeve, Chris and I met quite close the the start time, and made it to the gate just as the half marathon started. Maeve decided she needed one last trip to the girls room—nerves. When we were about to head to the line, the commentator announced “we’ll be closing the start line in 30 seconds”, so we all panicked and sprinted for the line, Maeve more so than Chris and me. Then they must’ve realised that they had caused us to sprint and quickly refuted that comment. Maeve—nor Chris or I—were very happy.
Starting a little out of breath, we set off. I immediately turned off from talking and focused on finding my pace. I found it and made an early lead over Maeve and Chris.
nb. Now, there is something you should know. Maeve, my girlfriend, is a pretty avid runner. Runs about 3 times a week, and is good at it. So I was fully expecting her to kick my arse! Although she was a little sick, so wouldn’t be at optimal strength.
The lead I had was awesome, I thought to myself, “I’m actually going to beat Maeve! What if I do beat her, she can’t say I’m a shit runner after that! I can’t believe it. This is awesome. I knew I was okay at running, this isn’t that hard. I’m on a roll, I’m king of the…..oh who’s that, oh shit, that’s Maeve, oh crap she’s running passed me. What an idiot I was 20 seconds ago when I thought I was going to beat her. We’re only 5 mins in and I thought I was going to beat Maeve. What an idiot!”
After I consoled myself, I settled into a pace and weaved in and out of thousands of people—I quite literally passed thousands of people throughout the race. I kept seeing pink tops in the distance, and often I would think, “there’s Maeve, I’m going to chase her, and catch up with her”, and when I finally did catch these pink shirted females, or got close enough to realise, they were never Maeve. But I used it as a kind of pace making tool. Chase one and then find a new one to chase. Maybe one would be Maeve?
They never were, and when the finish line came into sight, everything hurt. But I wanted to finish strong, and so I sprinted as hard as I could for the finish line! It was such a wave of euphoria that overtook me. I had done it. I just hoped I had managed to come in under 2 hours!! I did. I managed to come in with an official time of 1h59m48s. 12 seconds under my target goal. Scarily close.
Here is my recorded run (the time is moving time, and so is a bit shorter than the official time.)