Urban Wildlands Half Marathon
I made a last-minute decision to enter a race last Saturday. There were clearly reasons why I thought that wasn’t a good idea, otherwise I wouldn’t have waited until 10 minutes before registration closed. Where were those crucial reasons ‘against’ when I clicked the ‘submit registration’ button? They were most definitely there when I was on the course! Reasons ‘for’ included “it’s a nice, small race”….it’s a half-marathon in early August – nice? Really? What was I thinking? Humidity was 90% at the start of the race. Believe me, it was not pretty! I struggled but found little pockets of strength around me to keep me going. A regular boost came from some guys standing at the roadside (who reappeared at several spots) holding my name up in bright colours, cheering for me (well they were cheering for an ‘Anna’ they knew initially but, after I told them it was my name at mile 4, they smiled and cheered every time I approached. A good thing the real Anna was a little behind me….wait…..I am the real Anna). My final and most painful mile I endured with the help of some cheerful guy who took it upon himself to encourage me along. “Looking strong” he shouted, “let’s go!”. Hmmm…..I’m not convinced he really “saw” me….strong I was not! He picked up my accent and started to chat about his travels to The Cotswolds and the like….oh dear, as much as I appreciated the encouragement, I had already run 12 miles. I was not my most chatty. Without him though, my last mile would have been a walking one. He left me after about 5 minutes to head for the finish line – I clearly wasn’t sociable enough. I crossed the line running, albeit slowly, about 5 minutes behind my previous half-marathon time.
The race was a learning experience. I started out too fast and I thought I could rise above the humid conditions (I don’t know why I thought that – the humidity beats me every time I train in it!). Most importantly I learned how important it is to have cheers and positive guidance as I run or for any avenue I pursue in life. Without those people on the sidelines I can’t finish the race and without those people around me I can’t pursue those avenues.