I did it!
I completed the Silverstone Adidas Half Marathon in a time of 2 hours and 31 minutes. But most importantly ticked another item off my list. Although, it nearly didn’t happen!
The Sunday before the marathon I started to experience a sore throat. By Tuesday it had turned into a full blown head cold. By Thursday I was coughing and spluttering and not feeling 100%. As I was seeing the doctor that day I asked him to check me over and, as expected, my lungs were clear, blood pressure and my heart rate was good and all I had was a head cold. He did say that should I start to feel unwell I should stop. That’s fair I thought.
On race day myself and my family arrived at Silverstone an hour and half before the race was to begin. I checked in, got my timing chip and race number and headed out onto the track. It was at this point that I felt very overwhelmed. All I could see were torsos. Nothing else. I was surrounded by runners all standing waiting for the race to begin. My immediate thought was, if I can’t see beyond the person in front of me can the people behind see me? Are they going to be running in the back of me? I asked a runner standing close by if she’d done a marathon before as she looked like a bit of a pro. Her advice was when everyone starts running just go with the flow. And that’s exactly what I did.
We were quite away back so when the race started we had to travel at least a good quarter of a mile before we got to the start line. Once I crossed that I was able to steer into some clear space. I was then on a charge. I wasn’t going nuts and trying to go as fast as I could I was going at a pace that suited me which was quite a relaxed pace. I started to pass people and got into a rhythm. When the 1st mile marker come up I was feeling really good, considering I was still coughing and spluttering. Mile 2 and I was loving the atmosphere, I was going strong and enjoying the cool breeze, which was helpful as the weather turned out to be surprisingly hot. By mile 4 I was feeling hot and was drinking water at every opportunity. At every water stop I grabbed a bottle and was getting into rationing it so that as the next water stop I past I finished one and could start on a fresh bottle. I had planned to take 13 jelly babies around with me so that I could treat myself every mile but they were too sugary and made me cough even more.
At mile 6 I managed to almost wreck my marathon. I managed to get the little finger of my left hand caught in between the rim and the wheel of my wheelchair and almost pulled it out of it’s socket. The pain was intense and I got so angry with myself. I carried on and thought that if I could find a medic they might have some tape that I could use to bind my little finger and the ring finger together. I stopped at the first medic I come across and he rummaged around in his bag and he said “Sorry, I forgot to put some tape in!”. I couldn’t believe it. I got going and after 10 minutes or so the pain subsided and I was able to carry on at the same pace.
As I approached mile 8 I could start to feel some tiredness in my shoulder muscles and my arms were aching quite a bit but nothing I hadn’t experienced in any of the training runs I did. I trained around Wellingborough which is a really good test of stamina as the gradients on the hills on the outskirts of town are as much as 1 in 5. I also trained with little pressure in my tyres and with little tread.
Between mile 10/11 it had felt like I had hit a wall, my muscles were tired and sore. I once again caught my little finger in the wheel and it bought tears to my eyes it was so painful. I carried on but making a concious effort to keep my hand firmly on the wheel so that I didn’t do it again.
At mile 12 we turned on to the last stretch which was up hill all the way, not that steep but enough that you could feel it. I pushed hard to try and keep the same pace I’d managed through out the race and I could see the finish line up ahead. By this time I was having to work hard and my breathing was heavy which didn’t help as that bought on another coughing fit. I crossed the line and I was exhausted. Drained of strength and I just rolled to a stop. I couldn’t move any more and I must admit I broke down in tears. The most I’d pushed in my wheelchair was about 4/5 miles in training. What I’d just completed was something that at one time I thought I could never do. But I until I tried I would never know.
I’m already talking about doing it again next year, but I’ll be better prepared and possibly in a racing wheelchair. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?