The morning sun peered through the overhead canopy of trees, gently stroking my face with its soft rays. All around me, birds tweeted, darting across my path in an array of vibrant colours. The path through the woods was all but empty, aside a few fellow early morning joggers in the distance.
The world felt like mine, and mine alone. It was the escape I needed after a stressful week. I disregarded my worries and focused on my senses, putting one foot in front of the other.
I was 4K into my first ever full marathon, and so far, I was in running heaven. I couldn't have wished for a more beautiful morning.
It was one of those runs whereby you just fall into the perfect pace almost straight away. I felt as though I could have gone on running forever.
... Which was just as well, as I had 42k to get through!
When I started running 5k's, I didn't think that I would ever be able to complete a 10k. When I achieved this goal, I set my sites on a half marathon, but again, I didn't consider it to be a target within my reach! That stuff was for serious runners, right?!
When MedalMad released the Wonder Woman half marathon medal last September, I was finally given the push I needed to challenge myself – all in the name of a cool new medal, of course!
I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying my half marathon, and have gone on to a do a few more since.
So, I had several 5k medals, a beautiful Wings of Transformation 10k, and my Wonder Woman half marathon – the question was, what could my next challenge be?
Do a marathon! A voice in my head whispered. You know you want to!
But 26.2 miles... Even the thought of it made my legs wince!
When it comes to MedalMad's awesome collection of bling, I am very easily swayed, and as soon as I saw the Trivia marathon anytime challenge, I knew it wouldn't be long until I caved!
The morning of my marathon saw a gorgeously warm dawn break across the countryside. I hardly noticed the first few miles as the dreamy setting of my route enchanted me and carried me along. I felt as though I was gliding above the clouds. A field of cows frolicked alongside me, the claves bounding through the buttercups. The air was sweet with the scent of the white hawthorn trees, and the bees danced through the breeze, leading the way forwards.
It reminded me that running isn't just about pelting out a few kilometres for the sake of it, or because we feel we have to.
Running is a time to leave life behind for a few hours.
Running allows us to become immersed within another world.
Running gives us that instant boost of achievement and pride.
Running is free therapy!
I did the first half of the marathon - 21k - in my personal best time, at 1 hour 46 minutes, without stopping once. I was absolutely over the moon, and didn't feel burned out at all! In fact, about five minutes into my walk break, I had the desire to keep running, so I managed to get to 30k without doing too much walking.
Truth be told, I didn't find the marathon to be as gruelling as I had imagined. It was only towards the last 10k or so that my knees and hips started to protest, but the euphoric feeling of watching the distance increase on the map carried me through!
At 20 something kilometres in, I passed two guys jogging in the opposite direction. They heard my app bark out my distance as I ticked another kilometre off.
"Go on! Enjoy you run!" One of them called after me encouragingly.
It was the boost I needed!
I do love the running community. Nothing spurs me on more than a beam or a few words of support from another jogger as we pass, our dedication mutually appreciated and understood.
I felt like an Olympic athlete as I bashed out my last kilometre, grinning from ear to ear. I almost expected crowds to gather around (... Two metres apart, obviously!) and cheer on my last few seconds.
I couldn't believe it! I had done it!
Pride surged through me as I ended my work out at 42km after 4 hours and 23 minutes. I had been aiming for a time around the 6 hour mark, so my final numbers left me feeling utterly overjoyed.
(I'm glad that I am working from home today so that none of my colleagues have to watch me hobbling around, scoffing down French Fancies, but the sense of achievement running the marathon gave me is definitely worth a day or so of hard-work induced aches!)