Update: My official time came in at 1.54.55 – so 4 seconds faster than I thought!
You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for this race – 14 degrees C, so not too hot, not too cold. The sun was shining, but not so strongly that it was uncomfortable. There was a cool breeze – strong enough to refresh you but not so strong to hold you back. It was an ideal running day for a lovely race. My morning routine saw me in Tunbridge Wells by 8.30am – a good hour and a half before the race – so I easily parked and then went exploring.
I found the finish line while it was empty of people so at least I knew where it was and what it looked like – very important. I then went and started the toilet cycle…go, wander, queue again, go, wander, queue again, go…
The race was started by Dame Kelly Holmes which was pretty exciting but I think the several thousand runners would have been excited even if she hadn’t been there. It was a great atmosphere. We set off towards Southborough and I settled in.
Having lived and run in Maidstone, Kent for several years, I should have remembered how ‘undulating’ it was but I have got so used to running on the flat by the Thames that it took a little while for it all to come back. The first few miles went really quickly – to the point that I was running at below 8 minutes a mile for some of it…way too fast for me. Fortunately, the speed I gained in the early stages of the race counterbalanced the slow, mile long climb up Spring Hill which was a killer, to say the least.
The spectators, when they were around, were fantastic and the organisation and marshalls were just superb. There was plenty of water – including a water station three quarters of the way up Spring Hill – heaven! And I ran it in 1:54:59 – 1 second faster than I expected!! Yay!
Anyway – here is my good, bad and ugly of the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon
- The Scenery – it really was breathtaking. Unfortunately, the couple of pictures I managed to get before and after the race on my mobile phone didn’t show a thing. Not that I would have stopped to take pictures as I was running, but if ever there was a race where you might want to, this would be it.
- Organisation – just enough toilets, efficient bag collection and storage, easy parking (if you were there early enough) and friendly marshalls.
- The Goody Bag – Powerade and shower gel! You wouldn’t want to get them mixed up of course. Lots of fruit, a great T-Shirt and my favourite medal. It just adds that extra bit of fun to running the race.
- Weather – what can I say? It was perfect.
- ABBA – I have a new song to add to my ‘runner’s high’ playlist. ABBA saw me singing away in mile 3 feeling like I could take on the world.
- The traffic – I know you can’t expect a road race in Tunbridge Wells to close the roads off completely, but it stuns me how impatient some drivers can be. It’s not like the race hadn’t been advertised. I was in Tunbridge Wells the week before and there were signs everywhere. I don’t like running along with cars coming up behind me – it makes me very nervous. Granted, most drivers were pretty good and slowed down or stopped but for those few who didn’t, I hope the extra 2 minutes you gained getting to your destination were worth it.
- My Polar watch being out – for several years now, my watch has been out so that it beeps the mile after the mile has been passed (making me run further and faster than I think). Now, for some reason, it is out the other way, which means I was running slower than I thought. It wasn’t by far but it was frustrating when it would beep and I still had several hundred metres to go before the mile marker. Must get that fixed!
- My wayward bladder – why, no matter how many times I pee before the race, do I suddenly need to pee again when the starting gun goes off? I think I might write a full post on this little affliction of mine, but I was pleased to note I wasn’t the only young lady to dash into the first reasonably discrete bush at about mile 2.
- Spring Hill – fortunately, I was expecting it (I would hate to think how awful it would have been if I wasn’t) but it did go on, and on, and on. I ran the whole thing repeating to myself ‘it’s only a mile, it’s only a mile, it’s only a mile). The water station near the top was exactly what you needed, but every little incline after you had done the hill felt like scaling Everest.
This morning, my quads are protesting a little but otherwise I feel pretty good (and looking forward to the next one in two weeks time. I so wish I had recorded all of the other races I had run like this. Perhaps I might go back and do a few retrospective race reports just so I can keep a memory of them…