Having only started running properly in May, I was not sure what to expect from my first half marathon, only 5 months later. I have played football since 6, and refereed since 14, but prior to race day, the furthest I had run was 10 miles (once in training!).
With a few parkruns and plenty of Monday and Tuesday night SJ sessions under my belt, I was raring to go come Sunday morning. The Oxford half-marathon is notoriously flat, but there is no such thing as an easy half, so I was nervous all the same come start time.
I achieved my best parkrun by starting my stopwatch, covering it up with my sweatband, and not looking at it until I had crossed the line. I decided to employ a similar tactic last weekend. I was determined that my main focus would be on enjoying the day, although we’ve all got that competitive side to us once the timer starts!
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the sheer amount of support from spectators on the day. My top tip (albeit as a complete rookie) would be get your name properly printed on your top, I received iron-on transfers from my chosen charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK. The number of people that shouted ‘well done Nick’, or ‘keep going Nick, you’re doing really well’, was amazing, and it really helped me on my way.
I ran, as planned, at a pace I found comfortable, didn’t look at my watch once, and thoroughly enjoyed the day, soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying all the support and smiles around the course, and high-fiving the many children lining the streets of Oxford! My initial target was 1:50 – anything closer to 1:40 would be a bonus, I was looking to average an 8-minute mile. My final time was 1:40.34, and my average pace was 7.30/mile.
The feeling of crossing the line was one of sheer jubilation and happiness. I had trained pretty well for the race and was very excited for the fish and chips that was awaiting me for lunch! I’d thoroughly recommend Oxford for its atmosphere, organisation, and scenery (some lovely parts of Oxford city centre). The only down side was that Storm Ali had prevented the shipment of medals from being delivered in time for the race – I’m still waiting to receive mine in the post!
I managed to raise over £100 for Crohn’s and Colitis UK and look forward to completing many more runs in several different parts of the country in the future!