The joys of a Half-Marathon

Off the fence
The joys of a Half-Marathon

Off the fence
Anton McNulty

Oh the pain! Why, oh why did I put my limbs through this torture? Forty-eight hours after completing my first Half-Marathon - and by the way I am feeling it will probably be my last - the pain in my body is still as bad as ever. My thighs, hamstrings, groins, calves and back and every muscle you can think of are crying out in agony.
However, despite the pain, the sense of satisfaction in finishing the grueling 13 mile trek around Achill over-rides all other emotions. If you told me four months ago that I would run the Achill Half-Marathon, I would have laughed. I think the last competitive race I ran in was the U-12 sack race at the Achill Sports Day, way back in the day.
However, when The Mayo News agreed to become the media partner of the Achill Half-Marathon, my colleague Edwin McGreal thought it would be a good idea if a few from the office ran it. Being an Achill man, I felt somewhat obliged to put my name down.
That was back in April, plenty of time to start training or so I thought. Weeks started to go by and besides a few sessions in the gym my running shoes hadn’t touched tarmac. I would set the alarm for 6am to do a few miles before work but the majority of the time the snooze button was just too tempting.
Before the race my biggest fear was the thought of running up Maam, which is a constant climb of over a mile. However when I started and got into my stride I felt good. As I passed the two mile mark before the start of the climb up Maam, I had no pain, no need for any water and was cruising. Half way up Maam, no bother and as I got to the top of Maam, I was thinking, this running lark is a piece of cake.
After Maam, it is down hill for a number of miles which would allow me to get my energy levels back for the last half of the race. Or so I thought. As I entered Dugort, my breathing was fine but my legs started to get heavy and then came the hills. I never knew Dugort had so many bloody hills, and steep ones at that.
By the eight mile mark, the legs were like concrete and it felt I was going backwards. The swagger and arrogance from the first half was gone. The pace had slowed right down and I was struggling. Ten mile mark, more bloody hills.
I was struggling to get the legs going. I was so knackered I didn’t have the energy to even drink water but by this stage the finish was in sight. With less than a mile left I caught up with Edwin and we basically dragged each other to the finish line in a time of 2 hours; two minutes and ten seconds.
The sense of relief and delight when crossing the line overrides the pain and suffering but right now I don’t expect to be putting on the running vest for quite a while!