Following on from my 2nd half marathon, the Sarsen Trail (read about it here), there are a few common things I’ve noticed about half marathons that are totally inspirational and very much worth taking note of..
1) The pre/post run feasts…
You know it’s half marathon time when the whole carbo-loading pre-race preparation begins the day before race day. I ate a whole load of pasta the night before, I had a massive bowl of porridge the morning of the race, a protein bar en route to the race and a bit of pasta after the race. Ofcourse, what it’s all about is the post-race pizza in the evening when your metabolism is still sky high… 16″ of unprecedented guiltless pizza demolition. NO SHAME!
2) You will want to beat the person infront of you, and they will always want to beat you…
I used to be a sprinter, you always used to know who your rival was. In long distance running, you may have three or four people you pinpoint out from the rest. I now use those people as markers to indicate how well or how poorly I’m doing. During the Sarsen trail I just knew I was going at a steady pace and could feel other runners slowing down at Mile 10 / Mile 11 where I was still going steady.
To the lady who approached me (it’s normally me approaching other people post race!) and said how she kept on seeing me and using me as a pacer she actually thanked me for helping her run her race! This is what makes or breaks a race, having that one person that gets you pushing out your leg with a bit more kick, making you run that bit faster.
3) Other runners have always got your back…
With the previous point in mind, if ever you’re struggling or you stop, I guarantee someone will say ‘come on, keep going!’. My favourite Bristol half experience was when a guy in his 50s jogged past me at Mile 10 and just laid out the facts ‘Look, if I can do it… you can definitely do it!’. He got me running from walking and saw me to the finish line, at the finish line I shook his hand and chatted to him about the race – races can form friendships with unlikely people, and it may be that you never see them again but they’ll always remember you when they think of that race and vice versa.
(Read more about my first ever half marathon here)
4) No Vaseline, game over…
For my first half marathon, it was chaffing-central, I had chaffing induced grazes on my arms (of all places) for a good month or two after the race. This could have been easily resolved with a bit of Vas.
5) Just forget technology altogether…
I had my phone on charge for the whole night, by the time it’s race time, I can see I’ve got 30% battery – THAT IS AWFUL. When I finished the race my phone was freaking out with battery low warnings. Great. This is definitely a first world problem and could easily be resolved by not using your phone at all for things like music or recording your run.
Garmin watches seem to get race nerves too, mine packed up on race day for the Bristol half. Luckily I got distracted while holding the reset button down for a very long time and it pulled itself together 3 minutes before starting the race.
6) The final mile shouter!
So ALL you’re thinking is ‘Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet?’, and you’re on Mile 11.. you are soon approaching the finish line when someone somewhere shouts ‘YOU CAN STILL GET 51 MINUTES!’ and something inside you just goes ‘Ok, I’m sprinting this now’.
7) The Dutch masseuse at the end of the race
Had someone of told me that there’d be a delightfully attractive Dutch man at the end of the race waiting to give me a massage I may have ran a few minutes quicker. I genuinely do have trouble with my glutes (i.e. my ass) so when he asked me where I need a massage it had to be thighs and glutes. The complimentary massages that race organisers throw into the mix are well worth the wait, and when you’ve finished the race you’re no good for doing anything else other than standing still in a queue for a while anyway. Unfortunately there’s no photographic evidence of Dutch masseuse man, but here’s me having a massage after the Bristol half.
8) The not-so-goody bags and the medal
Here’s a radioactive pasty that we got given with the Sarsen Trail goody bag. It’s not the light in this picture, the pasty is genuinely glowing.
But the medal was awesome..
9) The way your friends always ask ‘How was the Marathon?’
I’ve had a handful of friends asking me how the marathon was, I thought there was quite a mighty distinction between the half marathon and the full marathon but clearly non-runners are still getting the two muddled up! As much as I would have LOVED to say I’ve done a marathon, I ain’t doing one anytime soon, but it’s nice that they think I’ve just bashed out a full marathon. I haven’t quite reached that level of insanity yet….. yet.
10) The need to stretch inappropriately in public places
You’ve just ran 13.1 miles and you need to stretch it out, this might mean you just fold yourself out on the floor albeit in the middle of a busy city centre or infront of your friends who are just left awkwardly standing next to you wondering what to do while you hold the pigeon stretch. Yes, the pigeon stretch is an actual stretch and yes we got papped by the Sarsen Trail photographer doing it. Photo soon to be uploaded!
11) The post-run glow & volumised hair
When I say post-run glow, I mean red face, slight sunburn and sweaty brows, it ain’t glamorous but it’s a sad fact of the half marathon way. It’s the first time you can be sticky sweaty and yet want to embrace your fellow sticky sweaty friend and not actually give a damn. I have spent great lengths of time on my hair getting ready for nights out, trying to get it all volumised…it seems post-half marathon this just kind of happened.