In my training I have had good days and bad days. Within 30 seconds of the start I knew this was a good day. Phew.
And as we started I thought it must be quick but when someone said we did the first mile in 6min40 I couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure I’ve ever run a 6min40 mile barefoot. I felt relaxed so didn’t worry too much.
The cheering spectators made a huge difference and then seeing my mum, sister and children in Oaklands park kept a spring in my step until Lavant.
Then came chalk pit lane. This was the 3k I had thought about more than any other.
My pace dropped significantly but the rain made the terrain a little more bearable. But what I hadn’t factored in the runners passing me was the many pats on my back and words of encouragement. Thank you all, it meant so much and kept me going.
And when one runner stopped to do up his laces I could resist a cheeky comment “take your shoes off I said”.
Then after the loop at the top of the trundle I choked again. As I looked down I saw a long line of runners coming up chalk pit lane and ‘the travelator’, (the stony bit from the car park to the top of the trundle).
Seeing people give 100% in pursuit of something is humbling and inspiring. I wanted to cheer on everyone but needed a few deep breaths myself. As I saw my wife reach the top, I shouted to her. I was high, emotionally and literally.
The long run back from West Dean and Centurion way to Lavant was a mix of grit and determination. Then I was 3 miles from home and on my go-to training route. ‘I can do this’ I said to myself. ‘Keep your focus’
3 miles to go: Look at my watch, calculate my average mile time, forecast my finish time, keep the mind busy, forget the pain. Head up, knees up, keep going.
2 miles to go. Same routine. Calculate, forecast. Do it again. And again. Keep the mind busy, forget the pain. Head up, knees up, keep going.
1 mile to go. ‘I can do this’ I thought. My mind starts to wonder, the pain rises, the pace drops. Back on the calculations, again and again. Head up, knees up, keep going. Head up, knees up, keep going.
Then the 13 mile banner greeted me. And for the third time I choked, the tears welled up this time as I sucked in two deep breaths. I heard people cheering. I heard my name, keep going, keep going.
Then the last few strides. I saw my time, crossed the line, I couldn’t believe it.
I slowed to a walk, I knew the pain was on its way, but I didn’t care: I’ve done it I thought. I’ve run a half marathon, a barefoot half marathon, the chichester half marathon, the Children on the Edge half marathon.