For me, it was definitely a day to remember, as I am one step closer to my dream.
My dream is to run marathon in 2 years time; and aim to do triathlon in 5 years since my first 5k run in year 2008. Today, I am one more step closer to the dream.
I didn't think that I had prepared myself well for this run, shift working schedule obviously doesn’t really help. I didn't really know how to shape myself to be a half-marathon runner, apart form trying to run a long run (at least 7-8miles) once a week. But even so, it was a struggle to me. Until a week ago, I decided to push out all the worries of study, work, and whatever preoccupying on my mind, and just went for a run. After for a while, I then realised I had run almost 15km in 1 hour and 30 mins. That' s an encouragement and assurance that I properly could do half-marathon.
When we watched people doing marathon or other endurance races non-professionally. They always said that they would never dream themselves to do this (marathon or others), but now they were there to prove the possibility, dream came true. Honestly, I thought about that to at one point, but after that 15km run, I realised that it wasn't only about my physical ability; but also the mental capacity to keep telling and convincing myself that it's possible to do this half-marathon. It was all the game in the mind, and now, I can see how powerful they are. Without that mental muscle doing their job properly, I truly didn't think that I could manage to finish the course. But during my last 15km run, I have suddenly realised, it's all about the mind. My physical body is properly ready for the run, but the mind, to be cleansed from all the noises of work and study, and then to be still to do the run, and concentrated to run… and then I realised I enjoyed it and it was possible.
With the confidence, I prepared myself and got ready to go for the it. Thanks for TFL… Jubilee line was 2 days in the row having difficulties and problems from Stratford to North Greenwich. Panic sniffed in… what if I miss the game?? The run was supposed to race at 0945, 0910, I still found myself standing in West Silvertown DLR station with one other runner and calling cabs to get there on time. Until 0915, the runner's friend called and stated the game was delayed to 1030 due to transportation (Jubilee line, the major route to get to O2 stadium) problem. It was the good news for both of us.. I dun need to rush. Panic is gone… I guess, tip one for racing, never let panic got a place in your mind and heart. Praise God.. I was free from it at least!
Games started at 1030. It was apparently over 17000 people in the race. The atmosphere was good and uplifting. Live music definitely was helpful, especially on that day was slight windy and chilly… Gun went… race begun. I kept telling myself on the way, 'don't be dictated by other steps and pace… go with my own pace, you know it… go with my own very pace.' I had to admit that it's quite difficult, especially you were seeing different people running over you. And even when I was listening to my own Ipod, my usual running music, I was slightly nervous to check out whether I was slower than my usual pace (as you keep running with the same music in every practise, you can figure out how far you have run by listening to what number of track in that album). So, it wasn't easy.. Constant reminding myself…. 'Own pace! Own pace! Own pace! '
Along the way, then I found a Paddington bear was running with me (in fact, it pumped onto me); and then a rhino, and then angels, brides (?! Hen's party?), and bananas (yes, with 's' at the end cos there were 2 running bananas). Spectators were found actually in most of the course… they cheered you up and some kids just put their hand out for high 5! Cute :) There are different music spots along the course, either live or recorded. Some places were no music covered, some neighbour put their player out by the main door and window playing some upbeat music for us! So coool!!! Thank You! I have to say, music and running have to go together to me… when a music is doing the same beat with your pace, oh! The power was great! And I felt much more energised as well.
Run and run…. Seeing the signs from 2 miles, 3 miles, 4, 5, 6… it's good to know that I was moving forward. From the information pack, we all were told that there was a uphill around 6-7 miles… and that's what I have reserved my energy for. As I was approaching the hill, I was able to see the others running up the hills… it could look slightly daunting! And then the question of 'are you sure you can finish the course' begun to make its way again. Solution?? Nothing but just keep thinking 'my own pace and think, the little hill isn't that long'… downhill would be great! Downhill did come, but not until another 1 miler later….
Another thing excited me as well about running this race is that there were so many places that I haven't been before. Checking back to the route from the information pack.. The route basically was like this…
Started at O2 -> New Charlton -> Woolwich -> Royal Arsenal Woolwich pier -> Royal Artillery Barracks ->
Charlton -> Greenwich Park -> National Maritime Museum -> back to the Oz. And I have to say, most of part of the route, I had totally no ideas where I would be; even though there are normal public transport signs along the route; but they didn't give me any hints where I was (as I totally had not been those areas before). This little sense of adventure definitely added some spices in my run here, although it could take off a little of security of being a familiar place; but I was just excited to be explore some unknown (to me) places of London.
After 9 miles, my body started complaining, especially my injured thigh, pain (another unwelcomed guest) came again. At that time, from 'Own pace! Own pace! Own pace!' as my motto, changed to 'Push! Push!Push!' I begun to feel my muscle start to stiff up. I have been sipping water in every water station; however, I do find that my body took longer time to recover after even just a small amount of cold water along the course. Body was getting tired; and I noticed that it wasn't only me, my fellow runners too… paces had slowed down for most of us. And my body and legs were getting stiff and wanting to stop; but then thinking about everyone good wishes and even expectation on me; somehow it got me to keep running.
10 miles, 11 miles (I was thinking 'actually, how far was the half-marathon? 15 miles?), 12 miles, 750 m to go ('Oh! We are getting there!'), 500 m to go, 250m to go… I saw the finishing banner, and don't ask me how; but I found little amount of oil in the tank and found myself running towards the finishing line. There are always 2 ways to finish anything, 'finishing strong' or 'finishing so so'… 'Finishing strong' is always my way, so I splinted…. Clock check… finished at 1 hour 52 mins 58 sec on my watch. What?? I was aiming 2 hours…. But I finished the run much under my target! But at that time, I just didn’t have any sense (back) with the time… all I want was just stretch; not until later, on my journey back home; then I realised that I had done it! Not just done it but finished it strong! I'm very pleased actually.
Official time: 1 hour 53 mins 30 sec!
The time was the encouragement to me already. What I'm more pleased to know is that I do love running! And I want to train more properly now for next year to come. But for now…. I choose to rest for 1 week… and just remember this moment : )