11:06AM, Thursday 03 October 2019
So, it is finally done. I managed to get over the line, but how I did it I really don’t know.
Before I began my training, I set myself two goals. I fell just short of the first - to finish ‘roughly’ between 1hr 50mins and 2hrs. I came in at 2hrs 6mins, but honestly, I’m not disappointed with that at all.
The course was tough. I knew it was going to be hilly but it was really on another level to what I had expected or prepared for.
During my training, I had prepared for hills by including two or three huge ones in my routes, but this was completely different to that. There were no noticeably ‘huge’ hills, there were just what felt like dozens upon dozens of small and medium-sized ones.
Every time you reached the top of one you’d see another coming up. It stopped me from getting into a rhythm and sapped my energy in a way that I wasn’t expecting. After five miles I didn’t think I would be able to continue, and I was shocked by that - only two weeks beforehand I’d run a half marathon at home and completed it without too much difficulty.
After six miles I had to stop and walk several times and my dad would have to literally push me in the back to get me going again. After the ten-mile mark, I had to walk up some of the bigger hills because I didn’t have the energy to run up them anymore.
I did the Windsor Half Marathon with my dad Phil.
If you are a runner looking for a challenge, seriously, give this half marathon a try. This is the perfect route for someone who is looking to push themselves. In the end, I was proud of myself for just getting over the finish line. Honestly, with the number of times I was walking, I was surprised I didn’t get a slower time.
The good news is, I achieved the second of my two goals - I didn’t get Croc’d! (That’s getting overtaken by someone wearing Crocs). To be fair, the torrential rain probably helped me there - who would run in their Crocs in the rain?
Despite the rain, and the difficulty of the course, you have to give it to the organisers - they did an amazing job when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
The M4 was closed for the whole weekend, the trains were up the spout and all the services in and out of Windsor and Eton Riverside were rail replacement buses. That, combined with wind and rain will not have made life easy for the organisers - but they still managed to deliver a great event.
The water stations were there exactly when you needed them and were manned by smiling volunteers of all ages. The course marshals were jolly despite having to stand in the rain for a whole morning, and some of them went above and beyond by shouting encouragement and even dancing - putting a wisp of a smile on my pale, gaunt face when all I could think about was giving up.
The crowds were big and all along the Long Walk, the atmosphere was incredible. The final mile was straight along it, and as you got closer to the finish line the volume was cranked up and up, spurring me on when I had nothing left in the tank.
Also, a shout out to the man from Midnight Runners doing the race with a huge boombox strapped to his back, blasting tunes like the Friends theme song and Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon. That helped to get me going at the start of the race and it was an emotional experience hearing the music slowly fade away as he got further and further ahead of me.
Now the race is over, I’m starting to think about how I am going to keep my running up. I’ve decided to take this week off - even while writing this four days later my feet and legs are still a bit sore - but next week I want to try and get back into it.
I took on this challenge because I thought it would help me get fitter, and it has. Now I’ve put the hard work in - I don’t remember the last time I ran six weeks in a row - I want to keep it up. I don’t think I’ll do any big organised runs for a while, but I will definitely keep on running - I’m almost starting to like it.
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