So, you’ve entered a half marathon. Perhaps you are a good runner, who enjoys a challenge. Perhaps you ran a 10K once and you’ve now decided you’d like to push yourself.
Perhaps, like me, you ate three takeaways at the weekend and discovered on Sunday night you could hold the fat on your stomach with both hands and make it ‘talk’ grotesquely in a deep voice to your boyfriend. Perhaps it was the look of fear mingled with deep concern in your boyfriend’s eyes that made you decide enough was enough.
I have only completed two half marathons before (impossible to type that without sounding like a bragging bastard).
Cheltenham came first – I stood eagerly next to my whippet-shaped brother at the start line; the gun sounded, and I lumbered forward. When I looked up several steps later, squinting at the sun and rasping heavily, he had vanished. Collapsing eventually over the finish line two hours and 20 minutes later he had already collected his medal, eaten a banana, gone for a coffee, called our mother, enjoyed a complimentary post-race sports massage, and watched two episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix.
The second one, I entered in error. Stroud Half Marathon. Except it wasn’t. It was Stroud Trail Half Marathon.
Thirteen miles of rolling hills, galloping (and possibly deranged) horses, and enough wild garlic to make me nearly heave my guts up on another runner’s trainers.
Whippet brother entered with me again. But even he admitted he found the constant ups and downs, the boggy and lumpy terrain, and the endless miles of silent farm track (jelly babies were rare, if non-existent) rather tough.
This one took me THREE AND A HALF HOURS. I took so long, my father actually ran from the finish line along the route to try and find me. When he did finally discover me, muddy, incoherent, babbling about horses, I was slugging along at crawling-pace.
Whippet brother had, of course, finished and enjoyed a steak dinner with family and friends in a neighbouring town while waiting.
And now my third event, on October 15, is the Great Birmingham Run. Whippet brother is accompanying to show me up (or perhaps he is genuinely worried I will get lost round the course, or attacked by horses again).
So for anyone else taking part, I have a few, very important pointers (as clearly, I am an expert):
- Don’t enter and then forget it’s happening until the evening of October 14, when you’re midway through a Domino’s double pepperoni double cheese pizza (large) and your whippet brother calls to say he’s just gone for his final training jog, but only did 30 minutes as runners should definitely try and ‘rest’ the day before a big race.
- Don’t jog two minutes to the canal by your house and take ‘arty’ selfies of yourself ‘training’ with hashtags like #thisgirlcan and #fitfam and #traininghard. Because you probably will be punched in the face. By yourself. Two months later when you realise what an Insta-tool you are.
- Do actually go jogging.
- Do not eat that extra piece of cake because you went running today and ‘deserve it’, because that extra piece of cake then turns into a bag of pop chips, a tub of houmous, and a Jonny Wong’s Chinese takeaway.
- Do not use entering a half marathon as an excuse to visit Victoria’s Secret and buy all the extremely lovely gym wear they sell there. Because a) you have no money, and b) you can only have that as a reward when you look like Victoria of Victoria’s Secret.
This is a picture I uploaded to Facebook two years ago, on a training session. Complete with sunshine and running woman emojis and a t-shirt that says “win your own game”. My headphones are probably blaring out “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. I disgust myself.
But hey, in all seriousness, want to enter the Great Birmingham Run with me? Jelly babies, cheering crowds, the city’s fabulous landmarks, a bit of jogging… Yes, yes you do.