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  • Alex Yagoub

My First Half Marathon

Updated: Sep 27

It was not a hoot.

I'm not a runner, never testified to being one and this was something I think I've always considered impossible for me to do. Not because I had no faith in myself, I just didn't really understand why people would want to torture themselves like this.


So naturally, I did one


I don't have much to say by way of advice; except if you're doing one - avoid free online six week plans... that's dumb. This post will be more something to note my first ever attempt at 13.1 miles.


Miles 0-2

As this run was planned training, my long Sunday run day, mile 0 to 2 was a warm up. Naturally, you start a little slow and build every couple of minutes, finishing with two two minute sets, one at 5k threshold, and one faster.


Within the first 500 meters I wanted to stop. Mentally, I knew I had a two hour session ahead, I knew I had 13 miles and some change to achieve, and I knew I tried once before as part of normal training and fell short at 11 miles and some change.

My left knee started hurting, my right ankle was tight... there was no real reason for this apart from the fact that I got ready, got out the house and started running. Naturally you're going to have something going on you warm up into. The main thing here was my head, I was heading into uncharted territory.


Miles 2-10

So first of all - yes, eight miles is a very big proportion of this 13 mile run to talk about, but... nothing spectacular happened. Pace felt good, maintained surge sets, and in all honesty the weather played its part and I'm really fortunate that the Cardiff Bay Barrage is my run route so it made for some excellent views and motivation.

I never really felt a struggle to maintain the pace, and the surges were a nice opportunity to stretch the legs out. The session was 5 repeats, 18 minutes at tempo and 2 minute surges at supra threshold. Miles two to ten were a good three, into the fourth set, and I felt a lot better this week than in the last.


The Key Difference? Food...

I've done this session twice before, once with four repeats, and another with four repeats of 20 mins with 2 min surges. In the last few attempts by set four, pace was out of the window and it was survival mode - run to get home... nothing else.

This time I had actually seen a difference as I was very conscious about what was going in, on the days prior. Also - I was very lucky to have Jess (my girlfriend) with me on the bike, with water and gels to get me through while running.


Miles 10-13

Everything I just said about easy pacing, and importance of food... yeah bin it.

These three miles were the biggest struggle I've faced. Legs felt like lead, and all the tendons in the bottom of my feet felt like guitar stings. Mile 11 I thought maybe if I walked for a couple of minutes then maybe it would ease things up a bit... at that point I don't think I was taxing my energy systems so the walk made no difference and I picked back up to a run after 60 seconds.

The only thing at this point keeping me going was knowing that I had tried this before, came so close and didn't get it. At this point my pace had slowed by 1:10 per mile, but all that was in mind was keep on going, just keep trotting on.

Mile 12 hit, I knew I was chasing something less than two hours for my first attempt and I was around the 1:50 mark and I came to a Cross Roads.


When I say Cross Roads... I mean a roundabout


Turn right at this roundabout, and it's a two minute jog home. End my suffering, and call it quits. So Close yet So Far, and just be done with it. Or... turn left and keep running.

I didn't make the choice, Jess turned left on the bike ahead of me. As much as I could've been all motivating about this... some times the decision is best left not in your own hand. Ha.


Anyway, I'm glad I did it, and here's hoping I don't have to run for two hours straight - ever... again... unless I have to.


1:59. Flat.

24 frames a second, and a picture's worth a thousand words.

Telling my story one espresso, bike ride, run or swim at a time. With the occasional video here and there for good measure.

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