East London Half Marathon 2013 – Discovering my love for running long

East London Half Marathon 2013 3

It was only 6 weeks before the event I decided to run the East London Half Marathon on the 14th of April in 2013. After a tedious recovery from my achilles tendon injury, that was a leftover from the Dam tot Damloop in September 2012 (16 km), I started to do some easy running again in the winter.

I moved to Brighton (United Kingdom) in February for my graduation internship and I wanted to stay fit, so I started running 3 times a week. After visiting the Triathlon Show in Esher I met one of my sports heroes Chrissie Wellington. I got motivated and refreshed my memory of my ultimate sports goal – the Ironman. I needed to build up my fitness and start doing longer runs. The result were lots of trail running, hill repeats and 1 hour runs 6 weeks before the event.

I went to London by train on Saturday, traveled to Stratford via the underground and found a place to sleep close the Stratford Park where the half marathon was taking place. In the morning I felt my legs were not in top shape, because I had been walking and traveling the whole day before, so I knew it was going to be a hard day. Also to keep in mind I did not do more than 13 kilometers on my training runs…

The start was a little bit hectic, because a lot of people still had to drop off their bag but there was such a big queue and not enough capacity to help all the runners on time. Therefore I started about 4 minutes after my wave gone. It did not matter for my final time though, because my time started when I crossed the starting line.

The half marathon consists of two 10k laps. Starting with a loop around Stratford Park going all the way to the London Olympic Stadium and back. I felt good the first loop, but I started feeling quite tired after 11-12 kilometers and I still had a long way to go. I kept on pushing myself, because I wanted to finish the 21 kilometers without walking. I also felt I had put in a lot of money and effort in to participate in the event. The quote from Lance Armstrong kept repeating in my head, “pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever!” The last 5 kilometers were brutal and my legs felt like bags of sand, but I had to continue. A spectator yelling at me “well done Erik, you´re almost there!”, because my name was spelled on my race number. A disadvantage was that they were only serving water on the aid stations; so I was dealing with a low sugar level at the end. I did not carry sports drinks or Dextro energy with me.

At kilometers 19 and 20 I saw two guys hitting the wall, one falling down and the other had a blank face staring at nothing. It was quite scary to see. They clearly pushed too hard in the beginning and the heating sun got to them. I was glad I saw medics running up to them to help. The last kilometer was so hard and though, but I made to until the finish line. With blisters under my foot and my medal put on my neck by Olympian Tessa Anderson, I was happy with the result. A finishing time of 1 hour 47 minutes and 33 seconds for my first half marathon was not bad in my opinion.

I found out I really enjoyed the half marathon and pushing myself hard only occurs in longer events. It is all about the finish line what makes everything so rewarding. I really discovered my love for running long and will keep on doing it to train for a marathon!

Lessons learned:

  • Train more longer runs (and go longer)
  • Bring along sugar to increase my energy level just to be sure

East London Half Marathon 2013 East London Half Marathon 2013 2

East London Half Marathon 2013 medal

This article has been written by Erik Brandsma, a triathlete from the Netherlands with a dream to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona-Hawaii.