When one of my best friends told me that she had signed up to run London’s Royal Parks Half Marathon, I felt a little buzz of excitement. I had wanted to run one for a while, but I had always made excuses; it was now time for me to change my ways.
I’ve been an avid runner for roughly five years and the majority of the time I do enjoy my 30 minute runs. Preparing to run 13.1 miles however, I knew would be a different story.
I signed up in April, with the run being in October. Sometimes I felt optimistic about this- usually before going for a run or when running on a treadmill rather than outside (not the same thing, believe me). On the other hand, there were the days of sleeping in during the holidays and going for an August midday run. These days left me in a huge panic. Sweat, sweat and more sweat. It’s a wonder how I made this mistake more than once.
This was when I decided to up my game a little, and so I began getting up at seven to run; I had become one of those crazy people. Something that made a huge difference was downloading the ‘Map My Run’ app. On the app you can have a look at the runs people have done in your area, which shows you routes that you may never have considered. This led to my first four and a half mile run. It was a struggle and it involved a lot of walking. I decided to run this far at least once a week, with some shorter runs in-between. What I found helped was changing my route, a new environment can be so refreshing!
About two weeks before the half marathon, I ran just over six miles. I didn’t find it too bad and it took just over an hour. I was quite impressed. Saying this, I felt on top of the world and this was only half of what I would need to run.
I knew that on the day the atmosphere would help me out, but on arrival this was still a shock. In fact, even on the journey into London, we were surrounded by fellow runners. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking. As I started the run I was presented with a sea of colours as everyone began to move in their different charity tops. I wouldn’t say it’s essential, but running for a cause close to your heart is a huge motivation.
The route through London’s most famous parks and along the River Thames was really quite beautiful. The many people cheering on the side-lines really spurred us on, with the moments of seeing our friends giving us an extra boost of motivation.
Unfortunately, my friend’s knee gave up on her, forcing us to walk the majority of the last five miles. It was frustrating, but only at the time. She was able to power through the last 200 metres with a jog. We crossed the finish line together, with big smiles on our faces and big hugs from our friends. We had done it.
Despite being unable to walk for the next two days, I would encourage anyone to participate in a sporting event such as a half marathon. It was an incredible experience, providing me with memories that I will hold onto forever, and the fact that I smashed my £350 target, raising £565 for Great Ormond Street Hospital made all the hard work worth it! The 12th October 2014 will stay with me forever.