Last weekend was my first real test, my first proper race after starting this journey 7 weeks ago.
Why Bristol? Its my cousins home town, his local race and he’s been extremely instrumental on my road to recovery. He had no idea I was coming and it was a great feeling surprising him when I knocked at his door early Saturday morning.
We had a bite to eat, then he talked me through the course, what to expect etc. I had no real expectations, i was just going to set out to enjoy it and try sub 2 hours, which I felt was realistic.
I stayed with one of my good friends the eve before, he is also a keen runner (when he wants to be) and gave me some great tips and advice and a comfy bed for the night close to Bristol city centre.
It had been a tough week in the build up. I’d had an awful chest infection, felt very run down and my OCD (intrusive thoughts) were rocketing, making me extremely anxious. This is quite common with me, especially when something good or new is happening.
I woke up at 7.30 on race day had a large bowl of granola, a litre of water, 2 paracetamol, a decongestant tablet and got myself kitted up. I parked about a 20 mins walk from the race village, which was great to stretch my legs. I followed the crowds down past the river, handed in my bag and made my way to the start.
I felt strangely good, at ease and the paracetamols seemed to have kicked in just in time. I was at the very back of the white wave which went out second. I got into a rhythm straight away running 5.07 splits which is much quicker than I run when i’m out on my own. I thought in time this would drop and my pace would reduce but I surprised myself and retained the pace.
I’ve never experienced the feeling I felt out there before. I was totally overwhelmed by the support of the locals and the general buzz about the place. I felt strong, almost “normal” for once. A feeling I’ve not felt for over 10 years. I also knew my Mum & Dad were at the finish line and I was counting down the km’s before i’d get to see them. My emotions were running high knowing this and I couldn’t help but well up. They’ve seen me struggle for so long & I knew how much this would mean to them.
My pace didn’t slow, that sub 2 hours was looking more like a sub 1:50 at 5 km’s out. My adrenaline carried me the last 5, I felt awesome and was still travelling like a train. I didn’t push myself, mainly because of how I’d been feeling and I just wanted to enjoy it. The applause & cheers approaching the final stretch was unbelievable. I spotted my Mum, Dad, my cousin, his wife, my cousins little boys and our family friends 20 metres from the finish line. What a feeling! I’d done it, nearly 13 minutes faster than I ever thought I could.
My first half marathon – 1 hour 47 minutes and 1 second! Such a special day. Thanks for having me Bristol.