After running competitively since the age of 9, I finally lost my marathon virginity on September 16 2012. I was 33. This is the story of how I did it, why I did it and, like all good virginity stories, how it felt (spoiler alert: It hurt but it was a good hurt!). Enjoy.
The genesis of my marathon adventure goes back to when I was a just a young kid running cross country races with my local athletics club (Nowra Athletics Club). I would see great runners like Steve Moneghetti and Robert De Castella doing there thing on T.V and I always thought it would be cool to do something 'BIG' like that. But I was young and 42kms was about 32kms further than I dreamed physically possible and after being told by numerous adults that running that far was 'dangerous' and would 'probably kill me' I put the idea out of my mind entirely... well almost.
Fast forward to the age of 19 and on a whim (and basically no training) I entered the Sydney Morning herald half marathon (21.1kms). I was more ass than class and thought I was invincible (like most 19 year olds). So on a frosty morning I set out on the biggest run of my life... completely unprepared.
When the gun went off I bolted. I foolishly took off way too fast. I blame my inexperience, lack of training and the collective adrenaline rush of the thousands of runners around me. I ran the first 10kms in the blistering time (blistering for me anyway) of 41 minutes! I had no idea that the second 10-11kms in a half marathon can hurt you in the same way a school bully beats you up, steals your lunch money and destroys your confidence. And that is what happened to me. At kilometre 15 I rounded a corner and approached a small hill and had my lunch money stolen. Getting my ass handed to me came in the form of total exhaustion, a chafed and bleeding crotch, cramped legs, mental exhaustion and the realisation that I was NOT the world's most gifted, amazing runner. I was a human that had to train for things like everybody else. I proceeded to stumble, walk, jog and hang my head in disappointment for the last 6kms. I finished in a somewhat respectable time of 1 hour 42 minutes. I was bummed though. Having been such a competitive runner for so many years I expected to do so much better. Running a FULL Marathon seemed so much more unlikely now. So again, I put the very idea of running a marathon out of my mind again... for a while.
What did I learn from my first half - marathon?
- Do some actual running training you idiot! Even if you are fit in other areas you need to run if you want to get good at running
- A half marathon is not an 800 metre race so slow down at the start. 21kms is pretty damn far, pace yourself fool!
- Get some decent running gear if you don't want to get blisters/crotch chafe etc.
- Get used to having your ass handed to you, just get over it and keep going! Distance running is hard so get used to it.
Part 2 of 'Losing my marathon virginity' is coming very soon