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)