On Sunday, I ran the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, organised by the Tunbridge Wells Harriers. It's a great race which takes a hilly (yes, hilly..not undulating!) course through some of, what must be, the most stunning countryside and picturesque villages you'll find in Kent.
I was determined to finally get my half marathon time under 2hrs, but unfortunately it wasn't to be...I ended up on 2hrs 3 mins and 23 secs, which I'm actually pretty pleased with as it was still a PB, and the hills on the course definitely made it a challenging run for a runner with my level of fitness.
I would definitely recommend the race to everyone who can get to that part of the world though - as pretty much every review I've read says, the race is incredibly well organised, it's a lovely route, and there's an astonishing level of support from the local community. I think pretty much every section of the course had people lining it, clapping us along and calling out encouragement...and the number of people with jelly babies was impressive too! The race really did tick all the boxes including having Olympic athletes taking part which was really special - Liz Yelling won the women's race with a course record and Dame Kelly Holmes started the race and amazingly hung the medals round our necks at the end! And what medals - they're huge, and every runner also got a great technical shirt, which I actually ran the race in, an absolutely packed goody bag at the end. There was a mini-expo in the sports centre at the start, lockers or a well run baggage centre, an indoor area to warm up...the list of positives for this race goes on and on...
There were also some awesome downhill sections where I got to run very fast and easily, and get that exhilarating rush you feel as your legs run away from you. I really love that feeling! To counter those sections though there was THAT hill. Between 6.5 and 7.5 miles, the never ending hill was hard...really hard. Many, many people around me gave up and walked it, but I fought through the pain and the burning desire to stop too, and I ran all the way up that bloody hill, and I'm very proud to say I did. I had to take my headphones out, concentrate totally on my breathing, and really focus - it was the hardest mile I've ever run, but getting to the top, (having a gel at the next refreshment station) and then starting to feel the strength return to my legs as I ran on, was incredibly satisfying.
What I was also really pleased with, was that my last mile was my fastest mile of the whole thing...this bodes well for my marathon efforts and all in all, it was a thoroughly lovely way to spend a Sunday morning! :D