February – Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon

Half marathon number 2 – done! Yay! This is the story……………


I love the Tunbridge Wells half marathon.  This was my fifth time of running – it is always challenging and it is always different.  The route is very pretty and the race is always well supported – so there are plenty of cheers to keep you going.  It is dominated by stories of Spring Hill……….. “you need crampons”, “it’s 3 miles long”,  “there are great drummers at the top” “that’s true – if you ever get to the top”……………. Fair to say – it does kill conversation – and it is quite long (I recon about a mile but it levels out a bit after the pub) – but it is only a hill and the truth is that what goes up – must come down!  A lot of the rest of race is flattish or downhill.

I went into the race carrying an injury – this was not how I wanted to start our 12 in 12 challenge – but so be it!  My hip was no longer as sore or as stiff as I had rested, and stretched, and rolled, and iced, and done my yoga.  Nevertheless – I had only done one jog/walk in that previous 10 days and I didn’t know how it would hold up.  I was very keen to run as I really want this 12 in 12 – but I had decided that I would pull out if I had to.  I was not prepared to seriously aggravate the injury and so jeopardise the next 10 half marathons (not to mention my ability to keep running).  So I was nervous at the start.  Gill was there – ready to go – and Bev had joined us – running her first race for some time – and keeping a low profile as she wanted to get back into her stride without the pressure of everyone watching her.  Great company for the start of the race – we pin on our numbers, eat our snacks, go to the toilets – very smoothly organised (thank you Carol – great work) – and up to the race start on St. John’s Road – heading up through Southborough.  And we’re off.  Bev leaves us as we have no chance of matching her pace – but Gill and I run together – all the way! Through Southborough, and Bidborough and the long downhill into Penshurst.  A steady pace – all is going fine and we get to know some of the people around us running at similar paces – there is the girl in Mr Men leggings and a chap we start chatting to – he looks light on his feet and as if he can run much faster – he tells us he is pacing himself in preparation for the hill………….  I can feel my hip but it is uncomfortable – rather than painful so I keep plodding on – I think I’m going to make it!  The hill is as long, steep and daunting as always – but we take it steady and walk/run it.  Mr “Light on his feet” has left us as he runs onwards.  My hip is worse when I have to lift my bodyweight going up hill – so steady – one step at a time (that’s my excuse anyway)!  NO DRUMMERS – I’ve been telling Gill we will hear them and then we’ll know we are nearly there – but there are NO DRUMMERS – does anyone know what happened to them?

At this point Gill decides it’s time for a bit of music.  Headphones are not allowed at most races these days.  I have heard all the arguments – about safety – and the serious runners who are surprised that anyone would want to listen to anything but their body – but in my experience there comes a point in any race (often quite early on) where a bit of distraction is needed!  So Gill’s music is in her waist pouch on speaker from her phone and it jollies us along – well maybe not the country music……………… which raised a few eyebrows as we run along. Through Langton Green and that annoying little loop round the housing estate – the Skinner’s School Water Station “Hello Mr Flemming – Sam Carter’s mum…….”.  And that uphill stretch towards the common where my running track for the week put a spring in our step “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins (sorry – but it really did help!).

The last mile is great – plenty of running left in the legs and it’s all downhill – we catch and overtake Mr Lightfoot! – 2 hours 24 mins – 18 mins slower than last year but I couldn’t be more pleased if it had been a PB!  I’ve finished and in great company – 2 down – 10 to go. Yay! Bev is there at the end (well done – great time!) and I’ve seen old friends on the way round – members of Sarah’s Runners – the friendliest running club in Tunbridge Wells.  And there are Heathfield Road Runners there at the end – good to see you Will and Fleur, Graham, Roy – sorry I missed you Vicki!


And that’s it – I’ve not done my hip any good – but I don’t think I’ve done it much harm either – rest and recovery is the order for the next week.

The next day I’m stiff and sore – but yoga helps and a good sports massage.  For those of you that haven’t indulged – sports massage is a bit like psychotherapy – it hurts a lot whilst you’re doing it but you feel better afterwards.  And a sports masseuse is a bit like a psychotherapist – once you have made a relationship with one it is very hard to switch.  So I go back to see Valerie in Tonbridge – who has put me back together over the last 4-5 years.  She is good for my soul as well as my body and we talk yoga, meditation and families whilst she attends to my quads, glutes and (unusually) my shoulders.  I leave with much more movement and instructions about rolling and stretching.  If you have any desire to run multiple races I can’t recommend her highly enough!

Cross Training for the week – just walking.  I walk every day and gradually everything begins to loosen up and feel better.  One week on I have run 4.5 miles pain free – so fingers crossed.

Cross stich is progressing – though I have a mistake to unpick……………………

And a musical interlude with a trip to the Barbican to watch/listen to the concert for John Adams at 70.  His Grand Pianola Music is totally uplifting – so I’ve added it to my running playlist (competition for that country music Mrs B!)

Next up is the Palace half (March), Paddock Wood half (April) and then the Weald Challenge (May)………………..Watch this space!

One thought on “February – Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon”

  1. Well done, you. That’s one of the broadest smiles I’ve seen in a while. I never know whether reconnaissance before a race is a good idea – it sounds like a good idea to know what’s coming up throughout the route, so you can plan for it. But the trouble with this technique is that …you know what’s coming up; so one might become fearful whether it can be done. The steepness of the hill in your mind grows inversely to time remaining until you reach the bottom. I was expecting to be away last weekend, so didn’t enter, although lots of Sarah’s Runners did. In the end I ran elsewhere in the town with one of the other members who hadn’t entered.

    Another fun read for us, though. Thanks!


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