I was awake and filling myself with toast just before sunrise. I wanted to make sure I ate something but didn't want to eat too close to race time. Once I had done that I had time to kill so fired up the laptop to do a bit of early morning tweeting. Thanks for all of the good luck messages!
Once I had managed to drag the two ladies in my life out of bed it suddenly dawned on me that race time was drawing near. We only had to walk down the high street to get to the start line but we were cutting it extremely fine. We arrived at about 9:43 (not that I was checking my watch or anything). I immediately said my goodbyes and went into the start funnel. The wife whipped out our lovely camera so she could capture lots of photos for the blog. As usual I am extremely grateful.
|waiting to start (aka the sun always shines on 7t)|
Wrapped up in my own pre-race nerves while the speeches took place I fiddled with my phone, making sure my GPS tracking app was ready for action. Dame Kelly Holmes took hold of the mic and got a really good reception from the crowd. The people of Tonbridge really love her and it showed.
|dame kelly holmes|
The weather was amazing, although not necessarily good for racing. Most of the course was in direct sunshine, so when there was a chance to escape into the shade, I did. I had taken a bottle of Lucozade sport with me. I shouldn't have bothered because I couldn't drink it on the move. I managed a few sips but my stomach wasn't happy with receiving liquid while running at race pace. I should have just thrown the bottle away at one of the water stations but I kept hold of it in case I needed it later.
The course was really nice, but it felt hillier than the google maps hill profile that I had been studying for weeks had suggested. Once I got into some clear air I locked myself into a comfortable pace and admired the beautiful Tonbridge countryside. Living in the centre of the town it's sometimes easy to forget the beauty that is just a few minutes away.
It was on this last section that the course took it's toll on me. At the 10 mile mark I remember thinking, this is good, we can have a nice sprint finish. But somewhere in between that point and the 11 mile mark I had completely changed my mind. All of a sudden just keeping going got considerably harder. I passed a couple of people that had resorted to walking and one that looked like he was about to see his pre-race meal again.
During my long training runs I had always wondered what the end of this race would be like. I had imagined myself smiling and sprinting towards the finish line. 'Bring it home' was always the phrase that came to mind. But today none of that happened. At 12 miles I was done, everything had gone. I had no energy, no smile, and my feet were hurting. The easiest thing to do would have been to stop. I honestly wanted to. I would never have forgiven myself if I had slowed down to a walk, let alone stopped completely.
|approaching the end|
The 'bring it home' from my training runs didn't even cross my mind. I enjoyed and was thankful for the cheers from the crowds but everything I had went on trying to stay upright so, and I feel sad to admit it, I didn't interact with the crowds at all at this stage of the race. I was completely focused on reaching the finish line. Then, at last, I could see the blue timing chip mats on the floor up ahead. In the past I have commented on being glad to reach the end of a race, this was no different.
|the end of the race|
As expected, Dame Kelly Holmes was there to present the runners with their medals. She may have said something to me but I honestly can't remember. Everything was fuzzy. I needed some water, and I needed it straight away!
|the wife tried to get a photo of dame kelly holmes giving me my medal|
I left the finish area and went into the school grounds adjacent to the finish line. And there I saw a whole table full of cups of water. I took one, then another, and then another. Thirst partially quenched I turned around to find the wife and the baba approaching me. I presented the wife with the many things I had accumulated since the end of the race. The I popped back to grab another cup of water!
|still a tad confused (why am i wearing a medal?)|
After a brief sit down on some steps to rest (which I thought may be my final resting place) the wife showed me something special she had managed to get while I was running (see photo below).
|a message from dame kelly holmes|
Now for some stats:
I checked my stopwatch at each mile marker, these are the ones that I can remember. The times below reflect what my stopwatch said, which was based on gun time and not my chip time, not that it really matters.
1 mile - 0:08:00
2 miles - 0:14:32
3 miles - 0:22:30
6 miles - 0:44:??
8 miles - 0:59:53
10 miles - 1:15:??
In addition I have checked my GPS km splits and I am very pleased with the way that I held quite an even pace right until the end. I won't list them here but you can take a look at my runningAHEAD log for the km splits if that kind of thing interests you.
- Overall: 98/820 (or 94/820 if you go by the chip time) Top 12%.
- Gender: 80th / 514.
- Senior Male: 46th / 233
- Age Grading: 59.55%
- Steve/Steven/Stephen: 3rd/20 - I'm pushing my luck here.
My Time: 1:39:42
- There was a race programme. It had a list of all of the competitors names. That was a nice touch.
- The race director stayed in regular contact via email in the run up to the event and sent an email out the day after. I liked this.
- The race pack included everything required to race. Meaning that I could just turn up and run without having to queue to collect the timing chip on the day.
- In my opinion the event ran very well. There were loads of marshals, the course was clearly marked, the volunteers/marshals were all very friendly and offered loads of encouraging words as I passed them.
- The results were available online almost instantly. This was impressive.
- The only piece of information that I didn't see on the website or in the race pack was whether the course would have mile markers, kilometre markers or both. In the end it was mile markers, which I thought it would be. I would have preferred to see both, I love to check my splits as a go around.
- The goodie bag wasn't as good as at some other events. But this event did have a much more reasonable entry fee, so it makes up for the lack of goodies in the bag.
- My only real disappointment was that my name was not called out at the end of the race. I heard a marshal radioing my race number to mission control and was listening for my name but I didn't hear it, neither did my wife. I had been looking forward to that.
Are you still here?
Thanks for sticking with it, I know it was long.
P.S. I enjoyed it thoroughly and will definitely be back next year!