My first marathon…..was almost my last.  I was not nervous but rather could not wait to get it behind me, now I wish I had run it differently, but that seems to be what every runner says about every race.

It all started 18 months ago when my daughters and I joined Run for Life where we were taught to do “The TALK test” – if you could talk while running you were ok. At this point 10km was about as far as I wanted to go.   We then joined FFA and a whole new world opened up to us.  This was serious stuff!  And before I knew what had hit me I was training for 2 Oceans, and my first marathon!  Who’s idea was it anyway?  I still don’t know.

The Pick ‘n Pay marathon started quite slowly as the field seemed quite big.  I started running with Leigh and Shirley.  Shirley was nursing an injury so we left her after a few kays.  Leigh and I enjoyed our 21kms together, always using the “Talk test” to check our fitness levels.  At about 18km I started nagging Leigh to run the whole way with me.  The girl was strong and said ‘no ways Marcel will kill me’.

As I ran under the bridge for the second time I knew I was in deep trouble.  There was not a soul in sight.  No talking partner!    I seemed to run the second 21km on my own, no talking!  I almost gave up running completely.

I kept telling myself I knew I could do 32, when I got to 32km I told myself ‘Marcel says I can do this’.  I found that from about 35km I had a very spiritual run.  I was praying I would finish, praying for the cramps in my legs to go and praying that my mind would not leave my body.  I am sure runners are more spiritually tuned in than any other athletes; everyone seems to starts praying from about 30km onwards!

Shirley drove past at one point, which was a real lift to my spirits, even though we almost started a traffic jam with her checking how my “Talk test” was doing.  My family whizzed past at some point when the race became a blur.  This support was wonderful and kept me going.

I broke my last 21km up into 5km stretches.  I knew I could run 5km very easily and so kept setting myself a 5km goal.  Towards the end it became 1km goals and then my final goal was one step at a time!

Coming in at the end with family and friends cheering was quite something.  The poor guys handing out pamphlets all rushed to give me race info until I yelled at them that I was never running again. They all jumped back in what looked like a perfectly synchronised routine, this obviously happens often!

That Sunday I vowed never to run again – never that is until Monday when Marcel said those few magic words….”run to the 1km mark and back VERY slowly” I was in heaven.

Yes I will run another marathon, a little wiser and a little fitter and I will run 2 Oceans but ONLY with a running partner – after all what is running if one cannot talk?

Hetty Johnson (Marathon runner)