What a week!

As weeks go, this one hasn't been bad.
On Thursday, I got promoted! 

For the last few months, we've been a marketing team of two, and my boss, Karen, is pregnant! She left for maternity leave on Friday so now I'm heading up the marketing team. I've been very nervous about this for months, but I think this is going to be a really exciting time and I'm hoping I'm ready for the challenge!

And today...

As some of you might remember, I ran my first half marathon a year and a half ago, and despite all my training, I struggled on the day. The race was very competitive, quite a difficult course and in the middle of nowhere with mostly fields and very little support.

I decided to do the Great Birmingham Run after signing up for my first marathon, as I thought it would break down the training a little bit. I knew it would be a big, exciting race with plenty of atmosphere and after going to uni in Birmingham, I knew it would be the perfect second half marathon.

I've been training for months and had 2:15 in my head as my goal time, but I was hopeful that on the day I might be able to get closer to 2:10. 

The weather was perfect, cool but not cold, cloudy but not drizzly. I lined up at 10.35am and kept telling myself not to worry about my time and just to enjoy myself. I was so excited.

I ran the entire race (okay, until 10 and a half miles) with a smile glued to my race. It wasn't an easy course (I'd heard about "The Hill" at 11 miles) and it was quite up and down, but there were people lining the streets cheering us on, giving out sweets, shouting our names. I didn't plug my headphones in once so I could soak up the atmosphere.

I knew I was doing okay. I didn't want to set off too fast so I kept an easy pace for the first three miles. I pushed myself up the hills and let myself "flop" on the way down to catch up. My friend, Steph, was waiting for me with a sign at mile 7. I was so excited that it's no coincidence mile 7 was my fastest mile! 

I hit 10K in an hour and 30 seconds, and I was running about 2 and a half minutes faster than my goal time. I started pushing forward. At mile 7 I spotted the 2 hour 10 pacers, and I overtook them at mile 8. I remembered at my last half marathon I started to hit the wall about 9 miles in, so when I saw the Lucozade at mile 9 I made sure to grab on and try to drink it as fast as possible.

I started to get tired after ten and a half miles. But I knew I only had two and a half miles to go! I knew I'd banked some time when I got to "The Hill."

Man, it wasn't easy. It's like the hill that just keeps on giving. A small incline, then some flat, then a tough incline up to the last mile. It was about a mile long and I was flagging. I gave myself an extra few minutes to get to the top, but half way up I saw a group of University of Birmingham cheerleaders. I just had enough energy to yell "BIRMINGHAM UNI!!" and they cheered along as I waved my arms in the air. I think that's how I got to the top.

The Hill only robbed me of a minute. At I hit 12 miles at under 2 hours I started to realise I was going to hit under 2 hours 10. In my head, I'd hoped I would just absolutely go for the last mile, but the reality was I was spent. I'd just ran 12 miles - a 9 minute final mile was not going to happen. 

With 0.3 miles to go we ran through an underpass, and the slog back up the other side, with the end almost  in sight, was tough. But then I saw the end. I started to speed up but it was not my usual sprint finish. But I stopped my watch at 2 hours 8, and 5 minutes later, my text confirmed 2 hours 8 and 2 seconds.

I was exhausted, emotional but most of all, incredibly proud of myself. It had all been worth it. The early morning runs, the long runs on Sundays, all the parkruns. The aches, the blisters, the pain. All worth it.

Let's put this into context. My last half marathon took me 3 hours 2 minutes. I just ran a 2 hour 8 half marathon. I just took 54 minutes off my time. Plus I did almost the entire thing with a smile on my face.

I'm so so so proud of myself and I can't wait to run this race next year.

Sub 2 hours next time, yeah?


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