I have had the vision of finishing a half marathon in less than 2 hours for quite some time. Each half marathon I competed in prior to 2010, I would aim for a time of less than 2 hours, but each half I let myself fall into the post 2 hour slot. I would push hard for the first 10 km and then mentally feel myself fall as I began the second half. This year I told myself that I would NOT finish post 2 hours. I wanted to finish under 2 hours so badly. Mentally I wanted it, but physically I hadn’t really put my body to any real test in training. I trained haphazardly or so I thought. I ran some days, biked others, and managed to avoid any workout that involved speed training. I cross trained for this race and I think this was part of the reason for my success, but most importantly my success is in the story of running with my sister.
Last weekend before the Victoria Half Marathon, at the start line I asked my sister to pace me. Emily is an excellent runner. She is strong, fast, and most importantly long legged. At the start line I said “Now remember I have a shorter gait.” She responded with “Yah, that doesn’t matter just keep up.” I said “Now remember to keep looking back for me, okay?” “Yah, well I shouldn’t have to cause you will just keep up.” It was this constant back and forth. Me, coming up with some sort of excuse of why I would have to hold back and Emily responding with a statement that pointed out “just keep up”. I did, however insist that she provide positive feedback to me on the course. She laughed. “Yah, okay I can do that.”
As we pushed our way to the start of the race my heart was pounding. Was I really going to be able to keep up with her? When we crossed over the start line we zig zagged through the crowd, trying to find some space. We were definitely going fast. I was not going to lose Emily so I kept up. We finished our first 5 km in 26 min. My fastest 5 km ever. We both did a quick check in with each other and realized we could slow down a little bit, but we didn’t. We kept the pace going and it was consistent. At 10 km we were at 54 min. Another personal best for me. I think at this point both Emily and I knew that I could break the 2 hour mark. Emily’s positive comments were in overdrive. “You CAN do this” she said. As we would go up hills she would say “Be strong and power up”. She was constantly encouraging, while I could barely say a word unless that word was “Water”. I was panting heavily.
All along the route I couldn’t believe how hard we were pushing. I knew we could do it and we were going to do it together. At the 20 km mark, with 1 km to go, Emily said “You are going to do this Amanda. I am so proud of you!” I was pretty sure that my legs were going to give out and I felt like I was hunched over running, the sort of running form you see Ironman complete their races in 17 hours, only mine was no where near that time.
As we came into the shoot together, I grabbed Emily’s hand and together we crossed the finish line. It was absolutely amazing. Without Emily’s support I would not have made it all 21 km in under 2 hours.
I am so proud of my under 2 hour time and hell, I am not ashamed to boast about it. There are a lot of athletic events I take part in and rarely do I boast about them to others. In fact, I often come across as very nonchalant about the event. “Oh yah, the marathon? Yah I did that this weekend.” or “Yah I did a triathlon once, but it was only a Sprint”. My friend Rhiannon and I talk about this a lot. The fact that we both partake in many milestone events, but don’t really give ourselves the credit for the work we completed.
Well, I can tell you that I am definitely giving myself the credit for completing the half in 1:56. It is a milestone that I will never forget and crossing the finish line hand in hand with my sister is part of that milestone.