My first half marathon – by Avril Pounds

Over at Running Mums Australia we come across so many girls who are inspired to run their first half marathon. Not everyone wants to run a half marathon, but for those that have the desire, a lot of planning and time and training go in to make it the best race possible. We love to share stories from our members of inspiration and hope, and if it inspires just one more mum to to lace up and get out there, well our job is done. Please enjoy reading Avril’s story of her first half marathon journey. 

avril

After 2 sucessful 5km runs at the Canberra Times Fun Run, and with increasing support from RMA, my 2015 running plans included the 10km at the Australian Running Festival in April, Sydney City 2 Surf in August and the Canberra Times Fun Run in September. However, in January I discovered the existence of a local half marathon in May that had no time limit. It didn’t cost too much to enter and was on one of my weekends off from work. In short, it seemed as though it was meant to be. I registered as soon as registrations opened and, while I often thought about it and my possible training plan, it always seemed so far in the future.

In April I got a 10km PB at the Australian Running Festival amid tons of support from RMA and now focussed seriously on training for the half. Most of my runs were alone, although a couple of times I did have company for some of them (Jeanette & Jill). My 18km run was long and lonely and I came back pleading fellow RMA members to tell me that actually running the half would be easier than training for it. That reassurance was given and I realised that a number of RMA’s would also be running on the day, a few also doing their first half.

Sunday 24th May dawned clean and freezing cold (-5) after a busy week filled with a swimming graduation, school athletics carnival, district cross country, Jessica’s 10th birthday, volunteering at parkrun, Jessica getting her ears pierced and both kids participating in the YMCA 1.6km kids mini jog.

I had arranged with a friend (Geoff) to drive me to the half so I wouldn’t need to worry about parking or drving home at the end. It was great to be able to get straight into a warm car and relax on the way to the run.

I spotted few fellow RMA’s at the start as many of us had jumpers over our RMA tops. I started near the back of the pack and stayed there for the duration of the race. Although the morning was freezing, it was beautiful. My hands, face, legs and feet were freezing, but I could still appreciate the perfect cold morning Canberra had provided. I joined up with fellow RMA Rochelle in the first few hundred meters and her company was invaluable as we kept up a reasonable pace together until the half way mark near Scrivner Dam.

After a comfortable first 10km, the fatigue in the legs kicked in, at the same time as the hills did. My pace slowed on the hills as I began the hard slog to the finish. Between 12 and 16km I ran with a bloke named Chris. I had never met him before and knew little about him, but he was welcome company through the 3rd quarter of the race. After the final drink station (around 16km) Chris ran ahead and I was on my own. Everything below my waist hurt, although my feet were ok and I was breathing comfortably. I walked a few meters, ran a few painful meters, walked a bit more, ran a bit more. I also got quiet teary around this time. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was a combination of the pain, knowing how far I’d come yet how much further to go and the enormity of what I was attempting.

I knew I was at the back of the race, but after leap frogging another unknown female running, I finally pulled ahead of her for the final time around 20km (still crying on and off). The final ‘hill’ up onto Commonwealth Ave bridge was not fun but by then I could see the finish line and knew I was going to finish in well under 3 hours.

As I came of the bridge, down that final painful hill, I spotted my dad and my 10 year old daughter. My parents have never been thrilled about my running so having them both there was amazing. As I came into the finish chute, both my kids ran with me for a few meters and the support from RMA was full volume. Despite the pain in my legs, I finished the race with a smile in a time of 2 hours 46.

As I stumbled about the finish area, I tried to take in the moment. Tried to fathom what I’d just done. I got photos of me with my finishers medal and with other RMA ladies, some of whom all I could do was cry on their shoulder. As the crowd dispersed, I moved to some trees to attempt a few stretches and to dry retch. The short walk to the car felt a mile long and the simple act of getting into the car was a mammoth effort. As we drove home, I again tried to take in what I’d just done, whilst wondering if I’d ever recover.

When we got home and I survived the huge task of getting out the car, my wonderful husband got a nice hot shower running for me, bought all my running gear in from the car, then tucked me into a nice warm bed and dealt with the kids while my body had a bit of a melt down.

It’s not until I’m writing this, some 4 hours after finishing that I’m starting to feel normal again. And the race analysis begins. My race preparation was ok – I did the runs required, although I could have done one more small one the week before the race. My race day nutrition is I think, what caused the physical melt down at the end. I’d never had a sports drink before and didn’t want to try one today, and even though I had a gel and some dark chocolate on me, I just couldn’t handle eating while I ran. Issues to be dealt with before my next half.

So will there be a next half? Yes. But not til next April. I now have a half marathon time to beat and plan to do that at the Australian Running Festival on April 10. My next big event is the Sydney City to Surf. In the meantime, I’m planning on a quiet June with a focus on getting my parkun PB down a little.

I’m glad I did the half marathon today. I glad I had the courage to sign up, train, show up at the start and complete it. I’m also glad I don’t have to run more than 5km for quiet some time.

One response to “My first half marathon – by Avril Pounds

  1. Really loved this post – it captures all the highs and lows of training and running a big race. It’s just wonderful too that despite all the pain and exhaustion at the end, we’ll still willingly sign up and do it all again!

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