13.1 Miles: Stepping Back in my Shoes

At the end of March, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time. I put on my running shoes and went for a run; and on June 11, I ran my first half marathon: The Isle of Skye Half Marathon.

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Pre-run selfie with Emilie

It was a registration made on a whim. I learned about the Isle of Skye Half Marathon from Emilie and decided I had to go back to Scotland. At that point, I had never run more than 10k in one go.

I used to run – never long distances and never that seriously, but I used to run religiously at one point. I have a complicated history with running. In Philippines, where the sun is merciless, it meant getting up at dawn to commute to the starting point. Cebu was definitely not like Berlin where you can find a park for running anywhere within walking distance of where you are.

And then there was the time from when I entered university to when I dropped out, a phase of my life I rarely talk about. Nobody likes talking about mental disorders.

All my life, I was constantly aware of my weight. I had a mother obsessed with skinniness and everyone around me was always telling me how fat I was. I never was that big, but in a family so exposed to airbrushed models, I seemed so. When I was sixteen, I decided I was tired of being called fat and succumbed to the craze on skinniness.

I started running and not long after, obsessively counting my calories. I lost weight, fast. I reached what I could be but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop counting the calories and wanting to see how much skinnier I could still be. Better legs. Thinner arms. I had anorexia, and in a culture where psychologists are  generally unheard of, I was never given professional help. When I started running, I was a healthy 48kg. But that was too fat for the ladies in my family. At my worst, I was 37.5kg at 152cm. I didn’t menstruate for a whole 6 months and wouldn’t have until I went to see a gynecologist who started me on the pill so I would eventually get back to regular cycles. I was very depressed and I kept running. One day, the anorexia turned to binge eating and I struggled with it for a few months until I moved to Berlin.

I stopped running and for a good two years went about life without it. Then I met somebody who loved it, and I was so jealous. I wanted to get back on track, but it was constantly a mental fight with the memories of that awful stage with every tread.

Somehow, I did it. Silenced the voices, just like that.

I trained with Nike+ but my job made it impossible to completely follow the program. I was mostly just preparing according to my own pace. I was also constantly running with my trail running shoes which had very good grip but was awful on asphalt. It was also a little too tight for me so I (in a panic) bought new shoes just a week before my run. I had to break into them and I ended up doing that by running a 20k because I was feeling so good I didn’t want to stop.

On the day of the run, I had to wake up early to get to Portree two hours before because that was the only public bus in. Despite my carbo load, I was famished by the time I got there. So 90 minutes before the start, I succumbed and ate the fattest bacon I’ve ever had. (I normally hate bacon).

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On hindsight I could say that the hilly Isle of Skye Half Marathon was not the smartest pick for a first, but as I finished it in a good time (for me) 2:10:20, I won’t. It’s a beautiful route that wounds through open fields. And hats up to being marched to the starting point by a bagpipe band.  How Scottish can it get from here?

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A lot of people are still asking ‘Who the fuck put that hill on the starting point?’

It was such a humid day that I had a little too much to drink at the first water station, skipped the second and had the much-needed Powerade boost at mile 6. By the halfway point I was feeling amazing, still pacing off this senior man who maintained his tempo throughout the whole run. That’s when I started wondering how long a half marathon is in miles… (True story). By the 9th mile, I was really pushing myself and had to take a walking break. I spent almost 10 minutes walking in total. I was looking at finishing it at slightly under 3 hours as I hadn’t run for almost two weeks before that but it turns out I underestimated my Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg training.

I would have done better and actually pushed myself had I studied the route before and had the mind to turn my Nike+ on. Then again, the goal was to try.

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So there, you can hike and run your first half marathon the day after with an okay time. It must have been the much needed bacon I had for breakfast. I ended up at The Isles Inn after the run and had a beer and haggis for this accomplishment. I only ran 21k right?

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Life’s a sair fecht for a hauf loaf.

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2 thoughts on “13.1 Miles: Stepping Back in my Shoes

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