5 Things I learned from completing my first half marathon


July 23rd 2021, I received my birthday gift from my partner, ‘Congratulations you are entered for the Bristol Half Marathon!’

I had the total of seven weeks to train and although I’m relatively fit, the most I’d ever run was 10k – twice. I wasn’t happy, it was supposed to be ‘a fun challenge’ but it was instantly stressing me out. How would I fit in all the training? What if I got injured? I’m not really that keen on running.

Long story short, I did the training (more or less), with every longer run I felt a little more confident. I cross-trained doing weekly HIIT sessions this gave me the endurance and cardio to run the long distance. I did Pilates (of course) some mat lots with the band for resistance and Reformer. I was worried about the impact of running on concrete on my knees and hips, so I wanted my muscles to be strong and long around them.

We travelled down to Bristol the night before and stayed in a fancy hotel (that certainly helped). We ate pizza and had an early night.  The race day had arrived and I was excited, nervous, and dreading it all at the same time. The atmosphere was great, four thousand people had entered, there was music pumping out of speakers and lots of cheers. It had a been a while since I’d been around so many people.

I was running with my partner and a friend, and we decided to stick together to make it more fun. Around the course there was live music; a samba, bhangra and ceilidh bands multicultural or what? The cheers and handmade signs  from strangers made me tingle with joy.

The first 7 miles were OK, a bit boring. I was holding back on speed to save energy for later. I also found myself thinking that the ‘boys’ were going slower for me to keep up. They were not.

At mile 8 I thought, I’m more than halfway now so I CAN do this. A quick loo stop and I felt a surge of power and energy. I could probably do this in under 2 hours, I was clapping the clappers, cheering at the cheerers, laughing at support signs, high fiving children’s cardboard “POWER UP BUTTONS”,

LET’S GO! As we ran into Bristol and joined the 10k race, the energy from the melee of people gave me another boost.

Then, suddenly everyone annoyed me, including my partner and I wished all the people would go away. I was low on energy, tired and moody.

I doubted I could finish at one point, legs heavier than concrete and feeling like throwing a toddler style tantrum in the middle of Bristol. Where’s the ****ing finish line? Then, is that a hill I see before me? FFS! I can’t do it, I can’t run anymore!

As we came up to the final KM, our friends cheered us on, and I nearly burst into tears. The crowds got bigger, and the finish line flashed ahead. I tried my hardest to sprint to the finish line, it felt like running through thick mud. My friend sprinted ahead and for that second, I hated him.

We passed the finish line at 2hours 10minutes. We collected our medals and t-shirts and we were off for a stretch and onwards to pick up Luna and meet our friends for a beer.

It was a great day; the weather was perfect, and we had all the support we needed.

I did enjoy it, in parts. Running around a city centre with no cars is a great way to see the sights.

The lessons learned from this event have been many.

  1. Do follow a training plan but don’t worry too much if you miss a couple of the runs.
  2. Crosstrain your body is meant to move in all directions.
  3. Enjoy the moment and believe in yourself.
  4. Keep on going you are stronger than you think.
  5. Always stretch!

I was tired for a couple of days afterwards but didn’t suffer any aches or pains. My feet were sore but all the preparation, warm ups and stretching really did pay off. It has got me wondering if I could have gone a bit faster?

Maybe a marathon next…..