This was a run that I have been looking forward to for so long. Sue and I had registered for the half marathon and booked our stay in Cyprus a year ago and decided to make it a mini holiday. Our week in Paphos and running in the event has always been in my mind during the past twelve months. Even during the time after my cycling accident I focused on this event. It helped to keep me going through some very difficult times. I am delighted to say it did not disappoint.
Not having been to Cyprus before I was unsure what to expect. We had been given assurances that it was a lovely place, everyone speaks English, and they drive on the left hand side of the road. Despite this I was still feeling nervous. Having to deal with airports and flying and transfers has never been my idea of fun. It is safe to say I need not have worried. Following our arrival and settling into the villa Sue and I went for a run – three miles in the warmth and the sunshine. I felt at home straight away. This was running for pleasure and I wanted more.
The bonus of being a member of a running club is that there are always familiar faces to see. Katie Tucker, https://cleancoachkatie.com/#StrongerFitterFaster had initially suggested a group of clients take part and then with collaboration the Redway Runners club,http://www.redwayrunners.com/ had made this event a club trip. There were around one hundred members in and around Paphos. We met regularly in the evenings for social get togethers. I felt at home. This is what running is about.
The half marathon was due to take place on Sunday. During the evening on Saturday I started to feel very anxious and nervous. My hands started to shake. What was going on? Thoughts started to appear in my head – “I am going to struggle.” “This is the longest I have run in over six months.” “It is going to be a slow run.” “I will not finish this.” ” Why am I doing it?” “How am I going to cope?”
I had to sit down in the dark and collect my thoughts. Focus on breathing, stop getting frustrated, think of alternatives. This is when after a few minutes positives started to appear – “This is a run for fun, not for speed.” “I can do this, take it easy.” “Friends have offered to help – Daria and Amy will support.” “Take it as a leisurely and social run.” “Enjoy the sunshine and company.” This worked. I started to feel better. My hands had stopped shaking. I felt calm and relaxed.
Sunday morning arrived. Off to the start of the runs. The sun was shinning and the temperature early in the morning was warm. Surprisingly I was not feeling overly nervous or anxious. I was looking forward to the run. I was feeling confident. The atmosphere at the start was buzzing. So many from the club were attending. There were four events. The marathon, the half marathon, a 10km run, and a 5km run. Sue had opted to do the 10km run and this started after the marathon and half marathons had set off. There was a lot of chat, good lucks, and other felicitations.
It was getting very noisy and a great deal of bustle. Sue and I needed a little time to sit and relax. We went and sat on the quay side and dangled our legs over the edge. Just a few moments to collect out thoughts and relax.
Time was ticking on and the start of the half marathon was looming. We had a hug and a kiss and wished each other good luck and off I went to find Daria and Amy, my support team. This was to be Amy’s first half marathon and was running with Daria for support, so for them to offer me support was exceptionally kind. It was obviously very busy at the start line and it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces from the club. I found my support team and we had a chat whilst waiting for the start. After a few years of running I have come to learn that it is always good to have a race strategy. So on this occasion my strategy was – Take it easy, do not push hard, take into consideration the temperature and the hot sun, pause at water stations as required, but above all ENJOY IT!
The race started. Off we went up an incline out of the quay side. I was following Daria and Amy. I was surprised. Normally it takes a little time for my legs to warmed up and for me to get into a comfortable pace but I felt comfortable straight away. Was it the sun? Was it the location? Was it the atmosphere? I do not know but I felt good right from the start. I managed to blow Sue a kiss as we made our way up the incline and then it was down and along Poseidonos (the sea front). There was a lot of cheering and encouragement from the spectators. This run was already feeling good.
We continued running with the masses along the sea front. Then the runners started to thin out as they found their pace. The temperature was getting warmer and there was some concern in my head thinking “Can I continue all the way to the finish line?” Daria and Amy were fantastic. Daria kept checking on me almost every mile. Amy kept going. We passed water stations taking on water without stopping. Both Daria and Amy offered me sweets throughout the run for energy, but I had a stash of fruit pastilles in my pocket which helped. After a while we were running out the back of Paphos on dual carriageways. The surface was good (smooth and very few obstructions).
Half way round and we were all still going at a comfortable pace. The sun was climbing in the sky and the temperature was getting hotter. Some of the stretches on the run were ‘out and back’ so you got to see other runners heading back towards you. This provided excellent opportunities to shout encouragement to each other. I was feeling good. The legs were going well and not aching. Daria was leading our little team with Amy following. I followed Amy.
Little did I know at the time but Sue was heading for the finish in the 10km. All I can say is she was amazing. At the start Sue had a lot of doubts and was feeling negative. This had been brought on by her bad hip and difficulty in running (frequently Sue runs in pain). Despite this she flew across the finish line, and I missed it. Absolutely fantastic. Thankfully others were there to catch it on camera. I am totally in awe. Despite all the problems Sue still did it and with flying feet.
We were now well passed the half way mark and were heading back into Paphos. I was still feeling good and ideas started to pop into my head. “Shall I go for it?” “Shall I push hard?” “Lets speed up.” Ridiculous now that I look back but I was very tempted. All I can say is that I am pleased I stuck with my strategy. Daria was still leading us, Amy was still going strong and had not stopped once, and I was feeling good. “Lets not spoil it. Stick to the plan. It is hot. Don’t be stupid!” I told myself. I offered a few words of encouragement to Amy which also fortified my own thoughts. Daria kept checking on me and all was going well. Soon we were back on the front heading to the harbour and the finish line. The support from spectators was great. There was a lot of applauding and cheering. This was pure enjoyment and this is why I run. Because I enjoy it.
We were on the last half mile with a little incline up and around on to the quay side and the finish line. This was exhilarating. Cheers, shouts, applause, and so many spectating. Around the last corner and down to the finish. Amy in front, Daria closely behind, with me following. I caught a glimpse of Sue and blew her a kiss. With the cheers and applause we crossed the finish line. WOW! That was fantastic. I loved it.
The medals were handed out and congratulations exchanged. We had done it, without stopping once. I was thrilled. My first half marathon for over six months and I kept going without stopping with the support and encouragement from Daria and Amy. And for Amy to complete her first half without stopping on such a hot day is amazing.
One of the perks of the Cyprus Marathon event is the free cold beer for the runners at the finish line. I can assure you that this was greatly appreciated. Running on hot days can cause some serious dehydration. What better way to quench your thirst and rehydrate?
Looking back this run was everything I had hoped for. I am glad I did not push hard. If I had I firmly believe I would have become a cropper. This was not about ‘time’. This was about running for fun. The atmosphere was great, the event very well organised, and the support was excellent. Will I do it again? Definitely YES.
A huge thank you to Daria and Amy for supporting and guiding me around the course. A huge thank you to my wonderful wife for her support and encouragement and a massive WELL DONE for her 10km. This is one run that I have many happy memories and will always look back on with great fondness.
We had a few days in Pafos after the event for sightseeing and relaxing. It is a lovely place and we shall return. During our few days I was mentioned in the Redway Runners club press release for my half marathon. This made me feel very humble yet honoured and very proud.
Why do I run? I run because I enjoy it. I run for fun. This event delivered exactly what I was after. Bring on Pafos March 2020.