Although I took part in a half marathon 5 years ago for a charitable cause, fitness wise I’ve only recently begun to battle the early 30s bulge.
During the working week, I walk about 25 miles so walking Stoke -on-Trent’s “Potters’ Arf” (half) marathon seemed a great fit for me.
Having lost a family member, bought and moved into a house in the last 2 months, I haven’t had much time to train. I didn’t know how fit I was or whether I would match the 3 hours and 50 minutes I did 5 years ago. Until the starting klaxon, butterflies were salsa dancing in my stomach.
While my “man in black” attire seemed at odds with the fluorescent offerings by the groups around me, the air was filled with focus and fun. On a grey and increasingly wet Sunday morning in June, I was certainly in the focus camp.
Today I would be a soloist surrounded by small orchestras while others hoped to raise money, my job was simply to get over the finish line in one piece.
Though I started in the front 15, I didn’t expect to stay there. The banter with a small group who would alternate between running and walking through sections of the course made for an entertaining first half.
I would pass them, then 5 minutes later I would hear buckets jangling as they passed me in a blur of pink.
I played pick the pacemaker with various people in front of me until they were too far ahead or behind. As my pace steadied, a 52-year-old guy called “Brian” and I begun a conversation. I’d say he made my decision to do this worthwhile.
Hearing about the cause he was doing this for would have had me in tears had it not been for the rain filling my eyes. Getting to know “Brian” throughout the middle of the race helped this overthinker relax and find my rhythm.
If I’d had my phone I would have focused on it and probably slowed down to check every mile. Instead, through our conversation and the rhythm we found, we managed to reel in and surpass those doing the run/ walk combo.
As the crowds started to thicken at around the 9-mile mark, I was starting to lose him and by the 10th mile when elite runners had passed me, he was out of sight.
From then on the energy from the crowd became my battery. I thanked or gave two thumbs up to everyone that applauded or told me to keep going.I officially crossed the line at 2 hours 58 minutes and 45 seconds.
“Brian” was right, we had hit a quick pace and somehow I’d managed to maintain it.As I scoured the official results, he was nowhere to be found, “Brian” must have been an Angel sent to encourage me, for that I am thankful.
I learned several things about myself today, simple as they may be, my 3 takeaways are:
- Focus doesn’t mean intense self-talk. Tune into your journey and the people or things that help you with it.
- Walk your walk. Your Brian will come and go, you still have to cross the line.
- Find the fun(ny) – a smile is a groove that may help you find yours.