Half Marathons are only half mad right?

Yesterday was the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to the organisers for making sure it went ahead despite Storm Dennis.
It was just a little bit wet...

I booked this race in October, just 17 days after finishing my first Marathon, and even then, I had no set goal for a finishing time. Tunbridge Wells is a pretty hilly place and I knew this would be a very different experience to any other race I had done before. There was no way of knowing then that over the next couple of months I would barely run, have a big change in my career to get my head around, and have my heart broken, let alone that on Race Day itself I would welcome my period (I love the feminine power of her but the bloated heaviness doesn’t exactly aid running). Despite, or perhaps because of, it all I had the most amazing 2 hour 22 minutes and 19 seconds and have come back feeling like me again.
21.1km in 2:22:19. Strava activity shows an extra 100m likely due to when I started and stopped my watch not lining up exactly.

The last Half I ran was in October 2016, I had been through a bit of family drama in the weeks leading up to it which had left me in a bit of a mess. That day was the first time I saw the possibility of a Runner’s High as I spent 15km working through my pain and releasing a lot of the anger that had built up and the last 6km just trying to cross the finish line. With 2020 starting as it has, I expected it to take a lot longer than that 15km to work things out…it only took 6!

When we lined up at the start, I found the 2:20 pacers and tucked in behind them, keeping physically close to them as we set off expecting my mind to drift far away. We hadn’t even reached the 3rdkm when it dawned on me how good it felt to be running again and that the only time’s I had run since meeting my ex was the Marathon that had been booked months in advance and when we had disagreed and I wanted to clear my head before having an argument I wasn’t prepared for, it took just 1km to start seeing how this relationship had not been as wonderful as my friends and I had thought it was, including realising some of the things that mean he was right and our lives are headed in different directions. Part of me still wishes he’d have just explained when I asked him too but then I guess I wouldn’t have been able to have this moment of enlightenment, I actually feel more gratitude for this experience now than sadness, pain or anger. I let myself consider work briefly before deciding this was not the time, running is my space away from work and, as our work was our similarity, that’s all I had put myself in to since meeting him, so this was time to just enjoy something I love without allowing him or work to intrude on the peace I was quickly feeling.
Herman celebrating with his second medal.

Kms 4-6 were where the real magic happened, I looked around me at the countryside, smiled and felt flooded with love for myself, the run and everybody who has been a rock for me, especially in the last 5 weeks. As my watch beeped 6km one of the pacers turned to me and asked if I was okay, she brought me back into my body, I smiled “YES!”
Penshurst (8km) was when I started falling back from the 2:20 pack but I kept plodding along, one foot in front of the other, smiling even through the freezing cold water as it flooded across the road ankle deep. It made me laugh when we reached the long flat stretch to the finish and there were people trying to avoid puddles knowing full well their feet would have been as wet as mine. I saw my friend’s dad and as I passed him and I shouted “Hi Libby’s Dad!” only to see the confusion on his face as he tried to place me having previously only met when I was clean, dry and wearing my glasses.

By the time I crossed the finish line I felt like I had washed away all the negativity I had let cling to me over and I haven’t stopped smiling since. The next 6 weeks focus is Paddock Wood half, a much flatter and faster course that I am very excited to try.


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