About six months ago, I signed up to participate in the London Royal Parks Half Marathon, which took place last Sunday. Due to my spontaneous personality, I usually jump at every opportunity that pops up in life (such as skydiving at the age of 14!) So of course, when I found out about the upcoming half-marathon in my hometown and the chance to do something as crazy as running 21km (13.1 miles), I decided to rise to the challenge!
The thing about a half-marathon is that it is not only physical fitness and stamina that is required to finish, but also a strong mind and lots of self-discipline. All the hours that I had put into training in the lead-up to the big day were worth it to feel the indescribably rewarding sense of achievement, pride and joy when I crossed the finish line. My initial goal had been just to finish the half marathon – run, walk, hop, dance or crawl! But I ended up running for the entire duration of the race, without slowing down to walk at all!
When I arrived at Hyde Park on the big day I stretched my legs, walked to the start-line, jogged on the spot to warm up, and then the race officially started!
I was in awe at the unique ambience and sense of empowerment that laced the air, as I admired all the vibrant colours scattered throughout the streets and the countless cheers! I was moved and inspired by the positive vibes surrounding me within this stampede of runners.
The first mile was done and dusted faster than seemed possible, so completing another 12 miles definitely appeared attainable! The next mile felt slightly longer than the first, and from then on, my mind began conceiving a series of strange and entertaining thoughts to keep me occupied, such as:
Three miles done – only ten more to go!
The sooner I finish, the sooner I can eat some well-deserved left-over Oreo birthday cake sitting in my fridge at home…
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!
More free water!
Keep shuffling up the hill
Running downhill never felt so good – thanks gravity!
Free Jelly Tots – I’ll take two thanks!
I can probably run another marathon after that sugar rush!
My legs are crumbling, this was a bad idea
6 miles only? It must be marked wrong
8 miles – I feel invincible!
I’ve never sweat this much, not even in Bikram Yoga or Barry’s Bootcamp!
10 miles already? Nearly there!
12 miles – I think I’m having a heart attack but pick up the pace – the faster I sprint the last mile the sooner I can eat something
600 metres to go!
My knees will give out at any moment
Just keep swimming! (from Finding Nemo)
200 metres left!
I can see the finish line!
Just a few more steps
Soooo close now
I made it!!
It goes without saying that my favourite part was experiencing that relief and elation at completing something so incredibly huge and challenging. There are so many reasons that I believe everyone should attempt such an endeavour at some point in their life – even if it is just a 5km fun-run! Do it to raise money for a worthy cause, do it for the challenge, do it to feel accomplished, do it to prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you thought, or do it just because you enjoy running for fun! Personally, I wanted to fundraise for charity, whilst seeing if I could complete something that had previously seemed so unattainable, having been a regular runner for a few years.
Congratulations to anyone else who participated – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!