A Maiden’s Maiden Marathon

Waking up at 6:00 AM is not everyone’s idea of an Easter Saturday. Many people were most likely to be sound asleep curled and snuggled up in their beds at that time, but not if you were Daniella Mihal. In fact, she was wide awake, fuelled with excitement and adrenaline as she waited in anticipation for the starting gun to go off at this year’s 16th Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon, which occurred on the 30 March 2013.

To think that she completed half of the ”Most beautiful Marathon in World” is quite an achievement on its own, but to consider that she had only trained about a week prior to the race is an even bigger achievement. And if that is not impressive enough, then know that it was her maiden half marathon.

Although Daniella Mihal‘s decision to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon may have seemed sudden, the 20-year-old Audiology student at the University of Cape Town said that it had been an aspiration of hers for a while to run the race.  When she watched the runners complete the half marathon the previous year, she noticed that they had this sense of accomplishment, which she also wanted to feel as well.

“My favourite part was the beginning, because the vibe was incredible; everyone was very excited and the national anthem was playing,” said a delighted Daniella. She said that most of the race was enjoyable, despite having to run up those hills, witnessing a woman forced to stop racing after a fall and enduring through her pain of blisters, which she got during her short training process before the race.

“I just kept on imagining the ‘Green Mile’ (the last stretch of the half marathon) and imagined how it would feel running that final kilometre,” was her reseponse when she was asked how she prepared herself mentally for the run that has a distance of 21.1kilometres.

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A delighted Daniella posing with her first Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Half Marathon Finisher’s medal

Because running is an individual sport, it can get a little lonely during a marathon. There is not much talking going on, which makes the mental aspect a vital part of the sport. Daniella took me through her thought process throughout the duration of her run. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people taking part,” said Daniella as she was at the starting point of the half marathon, although she said that it was the easiest part in terms of running, for the pace was very slow due to the amount of participants.

As she neared the end at the 19-kilometre stage of the race, she claims that the last hill climb was the toughest part of her run, so she needed to keep herself mentally strong.“I was becoming aware of my time and started thinking about my pace. To keep myself motivated I was constantly thinking about the Green Mile. Near the end I was starting to get tired so I concentrated on my breathing.”

The most amazing part about running a marathon for Daniella was the atmosphere, which was created by supporters and fellow competitors, “The vibe was my favourite part of the whole day. There were people on every corner giving us support, even at 6am! People were dressed up, waving flags, holding posters and playing music,” said the proud Two Oceans Half Marathon finisher with a smile on her face.

For most of the runners the best moment  is arguably the stage when one finally has finished the last gruelling meters, crossing the finish line. Daniela described the feeling of crossing the finish line as amazing and that she felt a sense of accomplishment.

“I could not believe that I had just run a half marathon!”, said the young athlete.

The first thing she did was phoned her mother to share the good news, as it was quite an amazing fete for anyone to achieve. She ran the mountainous 21.1 kilometres in a time of 2 hours and 38 minutes, which is definitely not a bad time, especially for one’s maiden marathon.

Daniella said, “ I would like to,” when asked if she is interested in running the Ultra Marathon at some point in her life; which is a gruelling 56 kilometres; “but first I would like to complete a few more half marathons.”

As a fellow athlete and friend of Daniella, I am certainly impressed and extremely proud of her. She left me inspired to run the Two Oceans Half Marathon with her next year. As the event takes place every year on the Easter weekend, that leaves me with approximately 370 days to train until the 17th Old Mutual Half Marathon.

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