Last Sunday, I gone and done an 'alf. The Llanelli 'alf to be precise. My second ever half marathon. And seeing as I didn't post much more than "yaaay, shiny medal!" (Picture of shiny medal to follow, though. It is shiny. And BIG!) following the popping of my half marathon cherry in Cardiff last year, I though I'd write up an actual account of the day itself this time. No longer a virgin, quaking in my too-clean-to-have-been-used-enough running trainers, I'm glad I have prior experience to compare this weekend to.
As you know by now, I can only seem to communicate in lists. I would think of so e reasons for this, but that would be another list waiting to happen.
So, behold a list of what the differences were between my first and second half marathons (I can't believe I've come far enough to have done TWO half marathons!! *squee!!!* XD)
In Cardiff, I tagged along with an actual bus load of proper runners from a proper running club. In Llanelli, I ran as a proper runner with a proper running club. This is true - I have a membership card to prove it, honest! I have to be proper if I have a card. Cards make things proper. I might get them to give me a badge too, just incase people don't believe me.
The support Run 4 All mustered up was awesome. They put up flags and some non participating runners clapped and cheered the rest of the pack on from the sidelines. I also heard there was cake at some point too. I was either too slow to get cake, or it was all a just cruel joke to get everyone to Llanelli at 9am on a Sunday morning.
As a runner who likes to sit comfortably at the "jogging like you're crossing the road" end of the speed spectrum, I was doubly blessed because as all the faster Run 4 Allers doubled back round, I had lots of people to wave and grin at. I was so excited that I totally missed the irony in the fact that their "well done"s were being aimed at someone who hadn't even got to where they were some half an hour ago yet.
I've said it before. Probably:
If you run, or want to run, no matter how slow you are,
JOIN A RUNNING CLUB, FOOL! You're missing out on loads of motivation and support if you don't!
As well as the club, I had a James, who, in running his first marathon, displayed every single bout of anger and hopelessness (followed by ecstatic elation) that I'd felt in Cardiff, and on exactly the same mile markers at which I'd felt those ways. Both bizzarre and entertaining. Favourite moments include:
"Three miles already! This is going to be okay!"
"Are we half way yet?"
"Why the FUCK aren't we at mile 10 yet?!"
"I'm NEVER running again."
"That was quite good, wasn't it?"
Running with The Incredible Hulk made time pass quite nicely. Didn't know my friend had so much fury to tap into under that calm and friendly surface. Distance running brings out new sides to everyone. If the event photos are anything to go by, my persona for the day must've been "overjoyed to be on day release". Thumbs and grins everywhere. I don't think I blinked for five miles.
Cardiff: sunshiny sunshine in the city.
Llanelli: pretty coastal path, icy wind and sideways rain. Spent twenty minutes or so (I wish I was exaggerating) trying to slap and drag my jacket zip up my body to close it because my thumbs refused to work in such conditions.
You'll be pleased to know. I did manage to close it.
Just as the rain stopped.
3. Sprint start, Sprint Finish
Anyone who's run a distance in any race is familiar with the weird burst of energy you get when approaching the finish line, even if one of your legs have fallen off and you're dragging your arse along the floor just to keep moving so the Hell can be over with sooner. After thirteen miles of gentle but eventually painful plodding, James and I galloped our way to victory along with everyone else crossing the finish line.
More unusually, we also galloped to the start line. In a world turning upside down kind of event, James ended up in a half hour long men's room queue, while I had enough time to complete two whole panic wees.
I'd already watched several men leg it out of the loos, and helped zip a smurf into a blue morph suit when James was eventually freed, and we managed to sprint to the start line just in time to tag on the the back as it moved forward.
Fully believe I need an extra medal for the extra little bit we ran. I'd be happy with just a small one. I could put it on the cat.
My goal for Cardiff was to just get round, preferably without walking. I got round, but at mile 9, I had to walk. My body wouldn't accept any argument. And then I had to walk intermittently til the end. I'd underestimated how much that distance would grind on my joints and on my mental energy. For five miles, my brain tantrummed, screamed and bawled until it was over. I looked to so tired at about mile 11 that a nice, probably psychic lady made me eat some of her Haribo because "you look like you need it."
I loved the experience, but sweet baby Jeebus, did it take a lot out of me.
Llanelli's goal? Slow down and enjoy. And I did. I knew I'd get around. I knew that if I slowed down to a pace that even a tortoise on ketamine would call leisurely, I could get more comfortable and happy mileage out of my brain and legs. It worked! I did the whole thing in 2hrs35 mins and 18secs.... Not the speed of champions, BUT, I was three whole minutes faster that Cardiff, and didn't need to stop to walk. Not even once! And I did it all with a big, fat smile on my chops!
Running is my hobby. Why kill myself over a race I'm never going to win? Might as well enjoy and just accept that the mile markers will come in their own time. All I had to do was keep moving.
It also helped that for most of the race, I was behind two women dressed as the Mario Brothers. How can you not keep bouncing along with that theme song in your head?
Do. Do. Do.
Do do do do.
do do do DO do do do do do do...