My First Half

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I think it was back in February when I tweeted Val. It was a screenshot of 13.1 miles and I suggested I wanted to attempt my first half Marathon.


I’m always looking out for the next challenge, something that will motivate me and keep my interest going. This seemed like the perfect next step and with a good couple of months training, I thought it was do-able.


7:55am and Val joined Ross, Stephen and Tony at my house. Val was unsure whether she could make it so I was grateful when I saw the four of them all turn up. Seeing runners in my house started to remind me of Christmas! The plan was simple, my house to Riverside parkrun and back. Two five milers with a 3.1 mile parkrun sandwiched in between. My training has been great and I felt ready but I couldn’t help but think if it was an official, organised race I would have trained harder. My idea was to bluff the last few miles as I’ve never gone beyond 9.5 miles before.


We left my house at 8 on the dot and the run into Chester-le-Street felt like a breeze. We arrived a touch early so we ran a little bit more and then stretched. It was great seeing Juliet and Gareth (they ran the 10k with me at Riverside over Christmas). Also there were Ray (from the Newcastle Stampede), Vicki (Lady Whippet) and the Shaw’s (Gateshead parkrun organisers). Val hadn’t ran Riverside before and it was Tony and Stephen’s first ever parkrun. I think everyone enjoyed it and we all seemed to get respectable times. I really tried to hold back to be honest as I knew I had a harder 5 mile run home.


Once we had all completed parkrun, we set off for home. A slightly inclined 5 miler and I was stating to feel the pace. It was from around the 11 mile mark I realised this was the furthest I’ve ever ran. I then started to suffer with a pain behind my left knee. I’ll probably shoot myself in the foot for saying this but I’m 33 and I’ve never been injured. That’s 33 years of playing competitive football, basketball, tennis, badminton and squash. I’ve had little niggles over the years but I’ve never, ever missed a game because of injury. This pain was new to me and it hurt like hell. We were nearly home though so there was absolutely no chance of me pulling out or walking.


Then I started to ask myself why questions? Was it my age, was it the mileage or was it just because I am bottom half heavy? Yes, I have a fat arse! It’s probably a combination of all three and I don’t think I trained enough for it. I went into this run a little bit arrogantly I think. I’d ran 9.5 miles at Christmas and a couple of 8 milers over the last two weeks but this clearly wasn’t enough.


Yesterday I jumped out of bed forgetting about the run on Saturday and almost crippled myself. I feel much better today and I knew I’d be aching a bit anyway. Am I injured then? I don’t think so. I’m walking around fine now so I guess my next run will determine whether the pain is still there or not. I’ve definitely learnt a valuable lesson though and the next time I attempt something like this, I’ll train that little bit harder.


Overal, the run was fantastic and it was great catching up with the guys and meeting Tony. I said this at Christmas and it’s true, I wouldn’t have completed this run without you guys so thanks. Running and I have a funny kind of relationship. 5-10k and I’m fine running by myself but anything more and I get a bored. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is.


I have a few runs lined up this year which are mainly 10k events. I can’t wait to start and get some real 10k times up on the board and see where I’m at and what I can do to improve. Now there’s a thought, maybe the next event could be a double or even triple parkrun somewhere. What do you think?


About The Author

Following the birth of his son in 2009, Paul was unfit and sluggish. Since then he's been training using a range of exercise techniques and gained some valuable information over the years. Events he has completed to date are Total Warrior, Pier To Pier, Bamburgh 10k, Hamsterley 10k, Blaydon Races, Newcastle Stampede and over 50 parkruns. In 2012 he created his own challenge called the '12 Days of Christmas.' He raised over £1000 for Percy Hedley by running 60 miles to celebrate their 60 years. In 2013 he ran the '12 parkruns of Christmas' with friend Lee Nyland. The pair raised over £1400 for the Tiny Lives Fund.


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