My first Half Marathon experience

Mrs Duck

The 2014 Gran Canaria Marathon on 26th January, was going to be my first ever half marathon, as well as my first visit to Las Palmas, so it was all rather exciting.

I had to go and renew my passport at the consulate in Las Palmas before mid February, so I thought, why not make the most of my trip and take part in the Half Marathon as well as visit a friend. My friend had offered to accommodate me. Her family, who had also come to Las Palmas to participate in the marathon, all bunked at her residence. It is amazing how with little organization, all 5 of us had a space to sleep in. Not that any of us slept that well, the night before the race.

Training wise, I made the decision to participate in the run rather late and had no time to prepare for the distance. My training prior to the event had been more towards 5 and 10 km. Okay, I had done 2-3 longer runs (18-20km) in October/November 2013. Despite the lack of distance under the belt, I was aiming or should I say, hoping to run the half in around 1:30 plus, but definitely under 1:40. In truth, I did not really know what to expect from the race and how I would cope with the distance. Secretly, I was also hoping to finish within the top 10 women, as there was a money prize to be won. By looking at the results from the previous years, this did look possible with a time under 1:40.

After a night of bad sleep, I had decided to join my friend in the front of the start line, as she was going out at around 4:15 per k pace for the full marathon. This was going to be slightly faster pace than I had originally planned, however I don’t own one of those high-tech-gadgets, that have something called GPS to monitor distance and pace, and thought hanging onto my friend would give me an indicator how fast I’d be running.

We started fast, which I am used to from running shorter distances. We were running just over 4 mins per km pace. It was fast, but felt SO comfortable! But how would I last at this pace? My friend, Heini, showed no signs of slowing it down to the 4:30, which had been planned for me. I ran with Heini, for the first 30 minutes, before my doubts got the better of me. I let Heini go and slotted into my own rhythm, watching runners go past, while I still passed a few as well. I was happy to notice that not a single woman ran past me and looking at the clock, I thought I could position quite nicely (definitely top 10) among the women, especially as I had not seen that many women in front of me during the running of the event.

I ran the first 5 km in 20:27 and 10 km in 42:36. I could not believe how comfortable I felt practically all the way. I kept waiting for the discomfort and pain to start but it never came the same way it has in the 5km and 10 km races I have done. However, I could feel a blister forming under the ball of my foot, something I haven’t experienced during my running years before. Well yes, that was pretty uncomfortable.

It was only during the last kilometer that I realised I had given it my best, as I tried to pick up the pace without succeeding (at least that is how it felt) and I crossed the finish line in a time 92:15. I could not believe that I had managed my first half marathon in 1:32. I was over the moon, chuffed! Secretly I was hoping this would give me even a better position than 10th.

I had plenty of time to have a shower and get my body replenished in the marathon area, while waiting for Heini and her family to return from their marathon. The sun was shining and I regretted not having packed my shorts and flip-flops with me. My legs were pleasantly stiff and aching now and the blister kept reminding me of its existence, but I was happy.

After the flock being reunited, by then most of the runners and spectators had already gone. With much confidence, I went to the office to ‘collect my pay cheque’. I had not seen a final list of finishers but was confident I had won at least 50 euros for the 10th position, if not more. I had run 92 minutes after all. I took out my id to prove my identity and asked the official what position I finished in the race. Much to my disappointment, fourteen women had been quicker than me on the day and I only finished 15th. How had I missed all these women? The winner of the women’s race had clocked an amazing 78 minutes. I cannot believe there are so many quick runners out there. All my respect goes to these speedy ladies.

I had such a wonderful time in Las Palmas. I got everything I needed to do done and had such a great experience at the event, that I hope to be back next year for the Gran Canaria Maratón 2015.

image used for editorial purposes only: credit – hobbyathletes.com

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