I went into this race feeling horribly physically underprepared. I had barely trained at all and I was worried about being able to finish in the allotted time frame. But then I remembered the thing I love about distance running: it’s just as much as a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge.
It’s about knowing how to pace yourself, finding comfort in the discomfort, occupying your mind for hours on end, and convincing yourself that you can finish. In my experience, once you have the physical capability to run a few miles, you have the physical capability to run a half marathon (and probably longer), it’s just a matter of mentally training yourself. It’s about running smarter, not harder.
The adrenaline rush you get as you begin to approach the end, the feeling of pure joy when you cross the finish line, and the sense of pride and confidence you gain afterwards are what make running so amazing to me. Despite my body not being as ready as it could (or should) have been, I held onto those feelings to help myself push through. And that apparently worked because I shaved a solid 12 minutes off my half marathon PR.
This was without a doubt my favourite race that I’ve done to date. It gave me a new way to explore a city as we ran two laps around Pardubice: passing through residential neighbourhoods, by gorgeous parks, and over the Elbe River. There were spectators scattered along the path more frequently than other races I’ve done, and even though their cheers were all in Czech and I had no idea what they were saying, I was motivated by their encouragement. I enjoyed the challenge in having to trust my gut to know what to do when announcements that may or may not have been important blared through the speakers. This was also the first race I’ve done where I’ve had an (unofficial) support team with me. Natalie was a massive help, holding onto my stuff while I ran, snapping photos and videos of the start and finish, helping navigate the trains, translating when they could, and just being a familiar face cheering in the crowd. And taking some lovely photos around Pardubice for me.
Pardubice is a small town with not much to do, so after I finished running and scarfing down my free pasta lunch, Natalie and I headed back to Prague. Like our train ride to Pardubice, we were given complimentary water bottles. This time we also had seats that were bigger than most business class flight seats and free (working) wifi. The Czechs clearly know how to do trains (UK train companies, please take note). At the Prague train station, we checked out the historic portion of the building.
After showering and getting ready, we went out and got our last Czech meal. I had bacon wrapped rabbit with dumplings. I’ve asked myself this many times over the past few months, but why in the hell was I ever vegetarian? Neither of us seemed to really have the energy to go out, but we had a bottle of Moravian wine which I received as a finisher prize. We enjoyed that in our thankfully empty hostel room while chatting about life before going to bed for our last night in Prague.