This year is a first in many sport related achievements for us. The latest one being the Surrey Half.
Starting literally on our door step we couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend our first half marathon distance run. After we had already challenged ourselves to a few personal milestones over the past year, we again decided to tackle this challenge as a team of friends.
The run was very well organised with detailed communication and instructions for the day and weeks running up to it. The roads were closed just for us (and of course the other four thousand or so runners) and even the weather brought along a nice tempered March Sunday morning with brief sunny intervals.
But what I was really impressed with the most was the overall atmosphere at the event. I mean surely there was competitors that saw this as purely a race and challenge to cross the line before everyone else… but for the majority of people, including us of course, it was mostly a challenge with ourselves.
Could we push ourselves to run the just over 21km? Was our training sufficient? Did we rest, eat and generally prepare well enough?
All those questions were racing around in my head the morning of the event. But they were quickly rendered less important when we crossed the start line.
Along most of the route local people and visitors had come together to encourage the runners. And not just their friends or loved ones – but everyone they perhaps thought could do with a little encouragement or simply gave it their all.
Reading the first name on my bib some complete strangers even shouted support to me directly! It was a great feeling experiencing this level of support from everyone around.
But that wasn’t all, along the way the organisers had also set up small bands and musical group. Providing the bystanders with entertainment but also creating a lovely – if brief – distraction to passing runners.
It was all in all a great day out for the entire family, runners and spectators alike.
As a personal challenge this run certainly showed me my personal limits. I suppose we started running in about February last year and have since tried to use it as regular exercise and a fun activity in our spare time. We have also by now challenged ourselves to a few 5K and 10K organised runs as well as slightly longer sessions with friends.
But as it turned out a whole half marathon was an entirely different milestone all together. I had set myself the target to try and finish below the 2 hour mark. Which I thought should be within my reach whilst pushing my limits slightly.
Well it certainly pushed me more than I anticipated and although reaching my goal it was a gruelling experience that took support from my friends, the lovely community on the side of the road and the little voice in my head.
Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy the experience and am over the moon proud of what we all managed to get out of ourselves – but in the end I once again had to realise that quite often the main challenge is negotiating your own mind to just keep on going and put one foot in front of the other.
I will be looking forward to the future challenges to come.