Tunbridge Wells 1/2 Marathon. 15th February 2009
That was, without doubt, the closest I have been to total hell in the 34 years I have been on God`s earth.
We can skip past the fact that anyone wanting to run for 13.1 miles might be slightly unbalanced but to run one with two mile long hills as steep as a the sides of the Eiffel Tower must be loco on a different level.
I live in Sussex, I know the countryside, I run through the countryside. These cannot be that bad, I have, after all, run up many hills on a Sunday afternoon this year. Turns out that those weren`t hills, more like bumps in the landscape by comparison to today.
I knew I was in trouble when I started off at too fast a pace and after the first few inclines my mind started to ask questions like "if these aren`t the big hills, what lies ahead?". My pace reduced significantly, only the uplifting scenery picked me up and that carried me through the first 4 or 5 miles. And what really open, beautiful scenery it was too I could keep running like this all day. You could see far and wide, greenery everywhere, river beds and mountain tops - oh, dear Lord no...we are not running up that are we? Perhaps it is just there to scare us? There were certainly enough children at the side lines in tears but as the local vicar made the sign of the cross and bowed his head I took one heck of a deep breath and made my ascent (if only I had brought the oxygen).
Now just under 2 1/2 miles of steep hill doesn`t feel like much when in the car but out in running terms it was going to be just over 25 mins of tread from my trainers. I set to it. After a while of real hardship it flattened out - magic I thought, good show, cracking job, let`s get on with the rest of the race 8 miles done and 5 and a bit to go. Come on....hang on didn`t that marker just show 7 miles? But I thought the worst bit was shown between 7 and 8 miles and I have just done that, surely? My heart sank as we turned a corner and something I would usually have taken a ski lift up and classed a black run, stared back at me. If roads could pass comment I beleive it would have been laughing at me.
The next ten minutes have been consigned into my memory as one of the most painful and knackering as any 13.5 stone semi-fit chap with a liking for crisps can endure. There was going to be a lot of comfort eating tonight and it wouldn`t stop at the first packet, or the third. I just hoped I was going to get home without a lift from the St John`s ambulance.
To top matters not far from the summit "Spiderman" steadily ran past me, without a whisper of unease coming out of his mask.
After this ordeal the rest of the race paled into insignificance and my mantra of "one foot after the other" came in to play from the 10 mile marker onwards.
There was no sprint finish for me this time and I have to thank the local support and last "downhill" mile to getting me home.
Somewhere in Tunbridge Wells there is a hidden mountain, you won`t find it on a map but it`s there and I intend to keep well clear in future.
Finish time: 1hr 54mins 20secs
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