Although I took part in a half marathon 5 years ago for a charitable cause, I remained relatively uninterested in anything that demanded physical training. Advancing into my 30s, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I wasn't in the best shape. I needed to do something positive, something that I could enjoy and most importantly something challenging. During the working week, I walk about 25 miles so the Potters Arf seemed a great fit for me.
Having lost a family member, bought and moved into a house in the last 2 months, I didn't get to do much training. I didn't know how fit I was or whether I would match the 3 hours and 50 minutes I did 5 years ago.
Until the starting klaxon, I had butterflies somersaulting and dancing in my stomach. While my "man in black" attire seemed at odds with the fluorescent offerings by the groups around me, the air was filled with focus and fun. Today I would be a soloist surrounded by small orchestras while others hoped to raisemoney, my job was simply to get over the finish line in one piece.
Though I started in the front 15, I didn't expect to stay there. The banter with a small group who would alternate between running and walking through sections of the course made for an entertaining first half. I would pass them, then 5 minutes later I would hear buckets jangling as they passed me in a blur of pink. I played pick the pacemaker with various people in front of me until they were too far ahead or behind. Eventually, I got talking with a 52-year-old guy called "Brian". He was the one that made my decision to do this worthwhile. Hearing about the cause he was doing this for would have had me in tears had it not been for the rain filling my eyes.
Getting to know "Brian" throughout the middle of the race helped this overthinker relax and find my rhythm. If I'd had my phone I would have focused on it and probably slowed down to check every mile. Instead, through talking to Brian we managed to reel in and surpass those doing the run/ walk combo. As the crowds started to thicken at around the 9-mile mark, I was starting to lose him and by the 10th mile when elite runners had passed me, he was out of sight.
From then on the energy from the crowd became my battery. I thanked or gave two thumbs up to everyone that applauded or told me to keep going. I officially crossed the line at 2 hours 58 minutes and 45 seconds, "Brian" was right, we had hit a quick pace. Somehow I'd managed to maintain it. As I scoured the official times, he was nowhere to be found, "Brian" must have been an Angel sent to encourage me, for that I am thankful.
This is my story