This year, I decided to run a half-marathon, and a friend asked how far I’d ever run?
I didn’t know. I’ve walked 20 miles with back packs and run 5 miles fairly regularly, but my furthest… maybe ten miles? Probably less?
‘If you can run ten miles, you can run a half-marathon,’ said several running mates.
So I figured, I’d run ten miles today. Now.
Off I went, with Dog. This was my first mistake.
The first three miles were all sniffing lamp posts, dragging on the lead, taking Dog right back home again, and forgetting to turn on Strava afterwards, so not even logging the third mile. There’s a point in most projects where it’s clearly not going well and you have to decide: is today the right day?
I hardly ever give up – so I turned Strava on again, abandoned the unrecorded third mile, and decided to run 11 miles total instead.
The next 8km were actually lovely, a gentle lollop-along with Freddie Mercury. It was sunny, I was alone, there was no time pressure, and the landscape was breathtaking. I pottered at 6-7min/km up a little Cornish hill, around a village, and down to the coast path, which is deliciously flat. But by 14-15km, I was done. My body said very clearly that it was time to stop.
Toes. Knees. Sweaty torso. Bad hair. But most of all, I was HUNGRY.
The last 3-4km were an exercise in bloody-mindedness, and involved a sad hobble along the coast path, a couple of grimaces at passing friends, and some selfies that were more about snatching a break than wanting a photo. Finally, remembering the hill that I went down to reach the coast, the last kilometre was a steep, uphill shuffle.
I made it. My foot hurt. My calves hurt. I had cramp in one thigh, I was covered in sweat, I looked like a monster, and my stomach was snarling. But I reached my front door.
I barged into my home like some crazed, windblown bush-creature, dived into the fridge, filled half a loaf of tiger bread with Brie and heated it till it melted into a fat, gooey heaven, then smothered it with pickle and ate it with two hot chocolates and a basket of fruit.
It took two hours for my body to forgive me enough to feel OK again.
‘You’ll feel better, once you get used to it,’ said a friend. And that’s when I realised, I have to do this again.