The final event in my mountains, mud & marathons challenge was not only my first ever half marathon, but the first ever Great Run to take place in Aberdeen. It's also my last!
Training was going great. I was doing at least one long run a week and dare I say it, I was even starting to enjoy it. As much as I ever will enjoy running anyway. Listening to Ben Coomber's podcast on loop, exploring the local countryside at my own pace, the sun beating down on my shoulders. I was even starting to get a bit of a runners tan!
Then race day came. I tossed and turned all night, waking up every hour and throwing up. I was literally sick with nerves. The last time this happened was 2 days before my wedding! My alarm went off at 7am and my guts were still churning. We were supposed to be leaving at 8am.
Eventually I managed to keep down a slice of toast and a cup of tea. Not the carb loading pre race breakfast I had planned. We arrived in town and I just had time to grab a banana & get myself to the start line.
Once the race started my stomach settled. I put on my earphones and plodded along taking it nice and easy. Its hard not to get pulled with the crowd at these events and start off faster than usual. I had to remind myself to pull back so I could last the whole 13 miles.
The good folk of Aberdeen were out to cheer us on throughout, there were singers and pipers and the route was brilliant apart from a couple of parts that doubled back. That was a little boring and the mind games could have set in but I used it as a chance to spot my pals and cheer each other on. I enjoyed passing the landmarks - the beach, Pittodrie stadium and Old Aberdeen - although the cobbles were a killer on the ankles!
It was all going well until the last 3 miles. My podcasts stopped working so I had nothing to distract me. The 20+ degree heat was starting to get to me, I'd drank 2 whole bottles of water and all I could think about was the pain in my legs! Thank god for all the people cheering from Schoolhill onwards. I was starting to walk a lot towards the end and really wanted to give up but I pushed on thanks to them.
I found a little burst of energy the moment I set foot back on Union Street and knew the end was near. My poor little legs somehow managed to carry me, running - if you can even call it that - all the way over the finish line. I've never been so relieved to finish a race or so happy to find my husband there waiting! I think the first words out my mouth were "I need to sit down"!
It took me a while to recover - I could barely feel my legs and my stomach was doing somersaults again! After a few nibbles on various bits out the goodie bag, a handful of peanut M&Ms, little sips of tea, water and Lucozade, I finally started to feel human again. And once I'd wolfed down a Muchacho quesadilla I was right as rain!
While I can't quite say I enjoyed the experience, I didn't hate every minute of it. Some of the 2 hours, 23 minutes and 43 seconds were actually fun. I'm glad I can tick a half marathon off my bucket list but you'll never catch me signing up for a full one! I'll stick to obstacle races. It was all for a good cause but I can safely say my long distance running career is over. The event was well organised and a great day for Aberdeen - ideal for anyone who enjoys a challenge or actually likes to run. Weirdos.