I was at the start line for the Auckland Half Marathon. I felt like fainting, vomiting and crying and I needed to go the toilet. I was telling myself to calm down. It might feel like I’m crapping myself, but of course it wouldn’t actually happen. Just chill out Kelly, I thought, you’re being ridiculous.
I started to listen into a conversation behind me. Girl one was worried she would wet herself. Girl two was concerned she would crap herself. And then girl three said: “Oh my god remember that year that girl actually did crap herself?”
Stone the flamin’ crows! It was time for headphones and to freak out about how fit everybody looks. I imagined those gym bunnies galloping away like thoroughbreds, leaving me in their dust.
We ran through Devonport and it was wonderful. Neighbours had formed little bands and were playing us songs, kids were dressed in costumes and standing by for high fives. People were holding signs saying amusing things like “I bet this seemed like a good idea four months ago”.
I made it to Takapuna feeling pretty fantastic. The first 8km had been a breeze but then the old “Kelly Belly” kicked in. This is the state I get into when running a race. I’m nervous as hell and my stomach churns and I feel desperate for the loo. A nearby petrol station seemed the quickest option, but I was wrong and I stood in a long queue and watched what seemed like a thousand runners get ahead of me.
Starting again sucked the big kahuna and running when you feel sick is the worst, but I got going, intent on getting to the base of the Harbour Bridge and climbing my Everest. I hoped that once I was over the bridge, I would be over the moon.
The first glimpse of the city was really magical, but it felt like an eternity passed before we were at the Harbour Bridge.
Drummers were lining the motorway to spur us on, which was awesome. I plodded up the bridge, as slow as if my feet were bound. As I looked down on the harbour and the city, I couldn’t help remembering how I thought the view would make it all worthwhile… but it didn’t.
I had told myself that I wouldn’t walk under any circumstances, but when I stopped briefly to text my husband (“Top of bridge”) I suddenly felt so sick, I wondered if I was going to keel over. I ran down the bridge, up Shelley Beach Road and around to the 17km mark thinking I was going to have to dash into the bushes and then die of embarrassment.
Luckily I made it to the last support station where I sat in a stinky Portaloo for another pep talk. “There are only a few kilometres to go. You can do this. Just keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep moving”.
Then everything started to hurt and my running style turned into “fast hobbling” and only the thought of seeing the 20km marker kept me going. After that I told myself there was only one measly kilometre to go, and then I never had to do another half marathon as long as I lived.
When I rounded the final corner and saw the big FINISH sign, I burst into tears. Then I started sprinting because the announcer was doing a countdown to the three hour mark. I couldn’t believe it had taken me that long, so I ran with every last scrap of energy I had, and crossed the line with 10 seconds to go.
There you have it. My second half marathon, my first since become a mum, and all-in-all, for someone who never gets enough sleep, I felt pretty proud. It was DONE and I was never, ever doing it again!