My First Half Marathon – Henley Half

It seems like months and months ago that I signed up for the Henley Half and I can’t actually believe its over. I’m still buzzing, 4 days on!!

Its 7.30am on Sunday morning, race day. ANOTHER bowl of porridge in front of me, topped with a banana and almond butter, my phone, scrolling through Instagram in one hand, and a glass of water in the other. To say I was feeling nervous, is an understatement, I was s**ting a brick…I’d pee’d about a thousand times, and I hadn’t even arrived at the start, let alone changed into my running gear! After I’d munched my breakfast, I quickly got changed, said goodbye to my parents and off I set.


I arrived to a very busy rugby field, already filling up with cars, and headed to the start where everyone was gathering. It was freezing, and I had to leave everything except what I was racing in, in the car. However, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – what perfect weather for running!
Now, little did anyone know, that Laura, the awesome lady and trainer, who runs bootcamp with, was running the race too. Crazy lady, is all I have to say! With about a weeks worth of “training”, she decided to enter and bloody hell I give her credit for it! We met at her studio and kept warm until we decided to head to the start. As we were waiting, one of the local reporters from the Henley Standard approached us and asked if he could interview us!! WHAT are the chances?! After we had been interviewed, it was time to line up. The 10k took off before us and we followed shortly behind. There was no turning back now, for either of us…!


Pre-race interview with Laura! 

I wished Laura good luck, plugged my headphones in and we were off. The route was really quite beautiful. We ran through the town, over Henley bridge and along a lane that looped round and back along the river. Dog walkers, rowers and people in their boats cheered and waved us on as we all ran past. Now, in my mind, that was the easy part. A very flat route and safe, until we headed back towards the start and along the road…this is where I started to feel anxious. The course took us through a local business park grounds, where a water station was waiting, and then we met the hill…Icehouse lane, or known to locals as ‘the bitch of Henley’…A mile and a half of gradual incline/hell, and this is where I lost my mental motivation. I had to walk a lot of it, because at this point my lungs were giving up. A lot of people I was around, ran up it and I have to say I’m super impressed. I think this is where I went wrong in my training, I didn’t run up and down many hills, in fact I avoided them like the plague. However, once at the top, marshals were there cheering us on and off I set again. Another water station, phew, I grabbed a cup and took a sip then carried on.

On the home stretch…Down hill we went through a small hamlet, along the road into Henley and back round to finish at the rugby club. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it to the end. I felt sick and wanted to stop, but I when I saw my parents standing at the corner of the road, cheering me on, I used that and every last ounce of energy I had, to get to that finish line.


Sooo not glamorous!

A real sense of achievement overcame me when I crossed the line and was handed a medal. At this point all I wanted was water and a huge hug from my parents, which I got moments later! I started crying and so did my mum, wow, I’d just run my first half marathon and under the 2 hour mark – woohoo! When Laura rang me to say she had completed it in under 2 and a half hours, I was extremely proud of her! I raced to meet her at the finish line and gave her a huge well done hug! Way to go my new running buddy 😉

I really, really enjoyed running this half, and to have friends and family there with me, made it a thousand times better. Yes, the training was stressful at times and intense, but all that hard work totally paid off and I wouldn’t have changed the past few months for the world.

I wanted to thank everyone who donated to my chosen charity, Millie’s Dream. I couldn’t have done it without all of support, encouragement and generous donations – thank you!

Hope you enjoyed reading.

Emma xx



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