The first half marathon….so much more than PBs! (Yes, really!)

I joined my fellow first timer (Darpan) as his lovely wife drove us to Llanelli, the pre nerves were postponed with distractions of toilet talk, funny sounding sat navs and non stop giggling! Even getting out of the car and seeing the startline, the reality of what was about to take place was eased by the beautiful views and being joined by our fellow (and more experienced) PRRs. There were some with several ‘gels’ on standby for a speedy one to those of us that just wanted to make it to the finish line in one piece. But none of that mattered, we were all in this together regardless of pace or personal goals. Photos, race numbers and catching up soon turned into a call for runners to take their place on the startline. You could feel everyone’s nerves, I did actually wonder if the nerves on the more experienced faces revealed something I was about to learn? But not to worry, ‘Facebook Sophie’ was there, the legend that conquered Brighton Marathon on limited water rations!

The buzzer went..and we were off. Mile by mile myself and Darpan wombled at a comfortable pace (a plan we had agreed on the week before) commenting on the scenary, the marshals (shouting ‘nearly there!’ after only 2 miles ha!) and the entertainment that comes with not being able to run whilst drinking water #newbiechallenges. The game was on to spot the PRR running past us…a game I personally love playing 🙂 it didn’t take them long! One by one they flew across the course showing the PRR colours at their finest! As we came down the hill (yes, a hill!) Darpan spotted Mike standing in the distance, with his camera. Usually I try my best to avoid any lens, but we were so happy to see him, I couldn’t help myself to smile and actually break out some shapes (badly!) to show our appreciation that he’d made it to support us. This route was largely a quiet one with miles of emptiness (making running with Darpan even more special for companionship and camaraderie). I decided to pick up a ‘gel’ from one of the stations and put it in my pocket…this was nearly as satisfying as the first time I threw a water bottle lol.

The one place that had supporters was at the start/finish line (runners had to pass back through before conquering the next section of the course). We were so excited about being able to see everyone that we were looking for them as soon as the supporters section came into sight, and we were not disappointed. There they were cheering, shouting and putting an extra bounce in our step! Then we were back out of sight, little did we know we’d have another ‘Mike support experience’ a few miles down…with his camera of course 🙂  Before I knew it the finish line was in touching distance, I’d never known how quickly over 2 hours could go! It wasn’t a struggle, it had been like spending a few hours laughing with friends. The fun didn’t stop there…Jo had chocolate muffins!! And much enjoyed they were too! The next hour or so was the most enjoyable, sharing the sweat and stories with all the supporters that had got us all through to the end. The girls cooing over a certain Matt Rees crossing the line, Neil melting our hearts taking his girls with him over the finish line (before gracing us with his feet!!) and Gethin smashing the finish line to show us newbies how it’s done in style!

After the usual post run banter, it came to our attention that Tim had uploaded his run on strava..whilst still being out on the course. This wasn’t good, that’s one hell of a wall to hit if you’ve got to the breaking point of stopping strava. Had he quit? Had he been pulled off the course? Was he sat on a bench somewhere needing support??? Mike to the rescue…he hadn’t been reported as being pulled off the course, so we all waited with bated breath knowing he’d still have several miles to cover after he’d next pass us. The man responsible for getting me up those first ever hills was battling a wall that only he could fight and we all were wanting him to make it out the other side, run, walk, crawl it didn’t matter! Then there he was passing through!! Mike ran up to him to check in and we could see the struggle was real! I’m not sure what he did, or where he found it from, but he went on to complete the full marathon (and lived to tell the tale!).

Sometimes just completing a run becomes so much more! From fellow PRRs taking time out of their Saturday to send messages of support through to sharing my first half with those PRRs that had supported me from day one, inspired me to be able to push for more and who I’ve looked up to as incredible individuals (as well as phenomenal runners) was truly special. Just knowing they were there, somewhere on the course (running or supporting) I knew both myself and Darpan would make it…and we did!

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