I feel like I can start this post off best by borrowing a line from one of my all-time favourite video games – The Longest Journey. ‘Prepare to take the first step on the longest journey of your life’. That was the line that filled my mind as I made my way to the starting line for my half marathon last Sunday. Thanks to the magic of cars and trains this wasn’t quite as true for me as it was for Miss Ryan, but we can work together to forget about them for a moment.
Before Sunday I had never took part in a running event of anything near this length (my previous longest being three miles), and the most I had ever walked continuously is about nine miles. Participating in the Coombe Abbey half marathon was about to set new personal records all around, and with that in mind, I had preemptively adopted an approach similar to my favourite character from The Middle – Sue Heck. At no point did I want to resign myself to giving up and, despite the best efforts of the sun on my last two laps, I managed to pull my body across the finish line 3 hours and 20 minutes after I set off. This time will stand proudly forevermore as the day’s longest completion time for the half marathon, but my goal for the day was solely to get to that fabled finish line, and for those last two laps it was this desire that kept me going, long after I knew my time was going to be pretty slow.
After collecting my finishers’ medal I took the opportunity to collapse on the grass in a relieved heap. Shortly after this the presentation of trophies to the 3 fastest male and female marathon runners took place outside the tent to the right of the picture above. These individuals ran twice the distance I had in the same region of time, so I think it’s a safe bet I won’t be troubling anyone for a top 3 position of my own for a while yet. During this presentation my legs had capitalised on the opportunity to seize up, my hamstrings in particular refusing to cooperate. This made the journey back to the car quite amusing. If I had to guess I would say my walk looked similar to one of our zombified friends from Resident Evil.
Overall I had a brilliant day so a big thank you goes out to Go Beyond for hosting the event. A thank you to my fellow participants too, whose words of encouragement and general enthusiasm around the site made everything a little bit easier, especially in those final laps. My body would have probably thanked me for spending more time in preparation, so that’s a painful lesson learnt for next time. I’m now on the hunt for my next half marathon to participate in. I know there’s one in Northampton in September, but I’m unsure if I’d be able to get out there early enough on a Sunday morning.
Now I know most of my body can make it to the end of a half marathon I just need to work on bringing my finishing time down. The Go Beyond team confirmed on Facebook after the race that they can return to Coombe Abbey next year, so I will be looking forward to doing it all again under the sunshine of 2014. Thinking about it, it might be good fun in the rain…
Curious minds that would like to see the full list of finishing times for the 10k, half or full marathons can find those here.
The Go Beyond Challenge Facebook page can be found here.