My first run of 2015 The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon was taking on a grueling and hilly 13 miles amongst the scenic villages in and around Tunbridge Wells.
The race was the scene of my triumphant PB run last year but this year I knew such a performance would not be on the cards.
The early part of 2015 has seen me move into a new flat and take on a new job which all in all has disrupted my training somewhat. Added to this my troublesome calves which have been playing up since Christmas.
The race was always going to be a struggle and just about getting round rather than aiming for a certain time, but in the days leading up to the run I was doubtful of running at all. Being busy with the flat move logistics had meant having to squeeze in runs to my schedule where possible and with time being constrained I was in the bad of not warming up or cooling down properly leading to my calves getting worse.
On the Friday before the run I was so concerned at not being able to run the race on the Sunday I started making inquiries with local sports massage establishments to see what they could offer at short notice. I managed to squeeze in an early morning appointment at a local physiotherapist where I received a gentle sports massage to try and ease the tightness but without causing too much damage to prevent me from running the next day.
Come the day of the race I just about felt well enough to run but didn't feel particularly fighting fit to take on 13 miles.
I was running with my main running buddy my brother in law Tom who was raring to go for this years race after having to sit out last years event through injury, as this is his local event he was more keen to run and do well.
We headed off at a gentle pace meandering our way through the other runners. It was nice to enjoy a bit of a company and a bit of a chat. Around a mile and a half a bottle neck of runners going into a tight corner meant that we got split up, it was also a slight downhill bend which Tom decided to take full advantage of and put his foot down and accelerated away. Not being in the greatest shape I knew I couldn't speed up to catch him so I watched him run around 50m in front of me, however every time I looked up he had sprinted further into the distance.
After 3 or 4 miles my calves felt better and I felt like the race had started so I started to concentrate on my strategy.
I was conscious of not pushing to hard and making sure I just finished in one piece and I was of course spurred on by trying to catch Tom up.
This year I found the hills much harder than last year but the genius of the race organisers of positioning bands and musical entertainment at the summits of hills was incredibly motivating.
As I moved into the second half of the course my thoughts turned to trying to catch my running partner Tom up, I wondered where he was on the course and how far ahead he was. I was chugging along with the aim of finishing in around 1.50 which I knew Tom was more than capable of matching and probably even going a bit quicker.
As the miles past I expected to see him and overtake him but with every mile that I didn't pass him I was more concerned firstly that he was going to beat me by a sizable time and secondly concern that he might have pushed to hard and dropped it.
As the race entered the final stages with still no sign of Tom I had feelings of both feeling pleased that Tom looked on for a great finishing time matched with the anguish of fearing he had pulled out. As my own chances of a good time faded the thought of knowing Tom was achieving a good time kept me motivated and I hoped I wouldn't see him again until the finish.
When I got to the ten mile mark I found it tough as usually I would summon up what energy I had left and push for the finish line but not on this occasion. This time I went to look to see what I had left in the tank and the answer was 'very little!'.
I still didn't see Tom in the final miles and felt excited to find out how well he had done but was still concerned he might have pulled out.
After I staggered across the finish line feeling as bad as I probably have after any race I worked my way through the finishers area where I spotted a disorientated but jubilant looking Tom who had finished a few minutes before me and smashed his PB to run a blinding 1.48!
I was kind of disappointed with my own time of 1.51 but at the same time I knew I couldn't have worked any harder during the race I just simply wasn't fit enough on this occasion.
I couldn't be too downhearted as the memories of my own triumphant PB in the race last year came flooding back.
It was great to revel in the enjoyment of someone elses achievements and a pleasant afternoon was spent recovering, refueling and suggesting how much faster than our PBs either of us could go. I suspect these predictions became more fanciful and less realistic as the beers flowed! A cracking Sunday lunch at the Duke of York pub was heartily enjoyed to wrap up a great race weekend.