Let us start with:
You do not want a post-op cat recovering in your bed the night before race time. Lesson learned. 🙂
I’d been busy eating more carbs the past two days than I usually, so instead of my weekend breakfast of protein pancake I started my race day with a late breakfast of oatmeal and banana.
Thanks to my nerves I’d gone to sleep after midnight yesterday and thanks to my little Miss Grouchy-Cat I was up at seven thirty.
The good news here is thanks to being on summer break from school for a week already, I’d had plenty of sleep for several days and I don’t think the ~6 hours hit me too hard. (What did were the asphalt, heat and a lingering cold, but we’ll get to that.)
We took a bus from Tallinn to Pärnu where the race was held. It was a two hour bus ride and I managed to steal a couple of winks in ten minute chunks on the bus.
Now, when we were on the bus, it was actually overcast and even rained a bit despite the heat. We crossed our fingers for the weather to keep.
Once in the finishing area I ate a banana and a what is essentially a small toffee bar. (Sugar up!) And then we caught another bus (from the organisers) to the starting area.
The starting point was basically just the 21st kilometre of the full length marathon, so before our time we saw the first people of the full marathon run by and got to cheer for them. 🙂
At around three o’clock the sky cleared and the sun came out full force. It was around 30 degrees and blue skies.
The race started at 15.15, which I’m quite certain is the hottest time of the day.
I felt good in the starting corridor. 🙂 More excited than nervous and ready to run!
Just over 200 people had registered for the half marathon, so it was a smallish race. Kinda ideal for a first half marathon in that sense. 🙂
And we’re off!
In the end, I decided to carry my own bottle belt and two gels. I don’t regret that at all. Even if I saw only one (!) more person with a bottle belt. 😮
But. There were plenty of people who had friends with bikes carrying their bottles for the route and just handing them to the runner whenever asked. (Mental note, recruit people for next race, because that looked comfy!)
The first seven kilometres felt really easy. They were so familiar. Forest roads with sand, pine needles and tree roots. Exactly the kind of terrain I normally run. As a side bonus, the trees offered shade from the unrelenting sun. 🙂
And then we hit asphalt. Bicycle roads mostly. And asphalt it was for the final 2/3 of the race.
I do not run on asphalt. I don’t. But I knew this going in to the race so it wasn’t a surprise at least.
The 8th kilometre, I could feel the blisters on my toes pop. Ouch.
By the tenth, I was out of liquid (the heat had me drinking way more than I normally would) and I started relying on the stations.
Luckily there were a lot. Eight for the 21k in fact. They served water, sports drink and flat coke plus salty pickles, banana slices and something else I could see.
I only accepted the water. And poured plenty of it on myself. 🙂
(Do people actually eat the food offered at stations? I didn’t see anyone take anything and there were mountains left.)
By the 18th kilometre I was seeing the road shimmer with heat, I felt like my toes were on fire and I was thinking, “Why on earth did I sign up for this?”
At the 19th kilometre I made the decision to walk for thirty seconds in order to finish the race running. (This is the first time I’ve walked in a race. But 30 seconds isn’t too bad, I guess.) I checked the time on my watch, and coincidentally, mere seconds after I’d started running again, I ran over a patch of street where some kids had written in chalk:
It put a smile on my face. 😀
I even managed a 200 metre sprint at the end. And then I just kept on going. :p Walking, that is. Having run through the finish line, I just slowed to a walk with my medal clanking on my neck and kept on walking for another 9-10 minutes around the city.
(I’m used to my cool down walk!)
I returned to the finish area with fire in my toes. Took off the shoes and voilà!
Battle wounds. 😉
Had my friend snap a photo of me (for proof).
(Not my best look.)
And then we walked off to the shower area (with the five other outoftowners :p) at a nearby school.
This is where the blood which had also seeped through the toe area of my shoe came in useful. 😉 (Really.) As luck would have it, once we got out and went to pick up our shoes mine had multiplied.
Seriously. There were just six pairs of shoes there, and right next to mine there was another pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires in the same colour and size. (I checked.) I identified mine by the blood stains. 😀
All clean, we took the bus back to Tallinn and now I’m in bed with a bottle of apple cider. (I’ve earned it!)
Endorphins are still high and when’s the next HM? 😀 It really is the ideal distance and I can’t wait to run another one. (Maybe autumn though. I bit cooler would be nice. ;))
And surprisingly, the only things aching now are my knees. Which is kinda weird as my knees don’t ache usually. It just isn’t one of my typical running issues. Probably the asphalt?
The things I was worried about were my forefeet (my most recurring injury) and heels as they’ve been an issue lately. But they feel completely fine right now. I’m doing cold foot baths just in case though.
Finally. Official time of my first half marathon?
I think I can be pleased. 😀
I also think I’m gonna sleep tonight. And possibly have a super short and easy run tomorrow… Or a walk. 😉