I am on my way to recovery after the Prague half-marathon on Saturday. It took me 2hr 38m to run just over 21km, around the city of Prague. The pain I felt during the last 6km was excruciating, I didn’t know whether to walk, run, collapse or cry. I was hoping to clock a time around 2 hours, but I was naive in thinking I could keep up the same pace for the whole 21km.
This was the third time I had taken part in the Prague half/full marathons, although I was only part of a relay team before. Running 5km last year, then 10km in the full marathon. So, this year I thought I would attempt the half marathon 21km by myself. My training was much better this time, compared to my nonexistent training the previous year. I ran the 5km last year in dodgy Adidas canvas trainers, bad idea. I followed that up by running the 10km with no training at all, the impact from the road on my knees left me walking like a pirate for a couple of weeks afterwards.
With this in mind, I made sure I had plenty of road running under my belt before Saturday, the only problem was I never actually ran the full 21km in training. The furthest I had run in training was probably 10km, I had justified in my mind that I could handle the whole distance, I just needed to make sure my knees could handle the surface.
In the few weeks before the race I had been reading “What I talk about, when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami. And one particular part of this book made me break out into a cold sweat. Haruki had a particularly bad time during one marathon, which caused him severe pain. He said he could name 3 reasons as to why he was in so much pain “Not enough training, not enough training and not enough training. “ Eeeeeek.
Race day was finally here, and I was in decent shape. The first 5k was great, nice and easy, lots of people around cheering and I was overtaking plenty of people, I even gave a few colleagues from work a wave as I sauntered past them. My Ipod was blaring and my legs were striding. A quick drink of water and the next 5k was pretty easy, still keeping up a good pace. The 11k-15k point I was beginning to hit my limit, legs were tight and the sun was killing me, I had to turn my ipod off as my legs refused to go the same speed as the Radio 1 Essential Mix.
The final 6km was a bit of a blur, you know you’re in trouble when you are being passed by people in fancy dress and over 60’s. Still, I struggled through, walking, running and pressed up against lampposts trying to stretch out the cramp which was taking over. I began to wonder what I was actually doing and I vowed never to run again. Like vowing never to touch another drop of alcohol when you have a killer hangover. That’s what I felt like.
As the final stretch approached I tried to pick up the pace, and smile. I think I managed neither, but the relief when I saw the finish line was immense. So glad it was over, and I had made it in one piece. All in all, it was a great experience but those words from Haruki are still ringing in my ears. “Not enough training… “