Last Sunday, I was one of almost 13,000 runners taking to the streets of Bath and completing the 13.1 mile course, and I loved it!
All that training paid off and I was thrilled with my time of 1 hour 59 minutes, coming in just under the two hour target I had been hoping for. I also raised £120 for Alzheimer's Society which is more than I expected, so it was a very successful day overall!
I've heard a lot of good things about the Bath Half in terms of organisation, atmosphere and the course and the event certainly didn't disappoint. Everything ran incredibly smoothly, from the bag drop, to the start, to getting the train home.
We set off early from Bristol, leaving just after eight o'clock to head down to the station and get the train to Bath Spa. It felt like we were part of something big when we got onto a train full of people dressed in running kit and it was really nice to be surrounded by so many people doing the same thing. We also bumped into a friend on the train who happened to be hosting one of the elite Kenyan runners who told us he'd be trying to complete the race in 63 minutes! Safe to safe that we didn't see him again once stepping off the train...
We followed the crowds from the station to the Runners Village at Bath Rec and dropped off our bags before going for a wander through the tents for all the different charities. I found the Alzheimer's Society tent where the lovely team offered drinks and a place to shelter out of the cold morning breeze.
Just after ten o'clock we made our way to our starting pen, joining thousands of other runners behind the start line. The race officially started at eleven, but it took us over eight minutes to walk from our pen to the start line. It was a great feeling approaching the start and I probably had a huge grin on my face as I began the race!
The race itself was brilliant, although definitely a test of stamina and endurance. The beautiful sunshine definitely helped make it a good day, plus it drew out huge crowds whose support and cheering were just what was needed. I had deliberately put my name on my running vest, and hearing people cheer me on made sure I didn't stop in the last couple of miles!
During my training, I hadn't managed a long run without needing to stop and walk for a bit, but I think that this was mostly due to boredom, and on the day I managed to run the entire distance - almost entirely due to the encouraging atmosphere. There were teams of well organised volunteers handing out cold water and Lucozade - much needed in the sunshine to prevent dehydration! I also grabbed a couple of jelly babies from some kind spectators - although I'm afraid I trampled over rather a lot more! (Jelly babies that is. Not spectators...)
The last mile was without doubt the hardest - mainly because the crowd kept telling us we were nearly there from probably a mile and a half out! But when I rounded the final corner and could see the finish line I found a last burst of energy to sprint finish and ensure I got under my two hour target.
Then I headed from the finish line, collected my medal and finisher's t-shirt, before finding my way back to the Alzheimer's Society tent for a much appreciated couple of chocolate bars!
The Bath Half was a fabulous event and has definitely made me want to do another one - although I don't know yet whether I'll try for another, faster half marathon, or step it down to running a 10k. Either way, I'm hoping to keep up the running (or at least, get back into it after my upcoming elective period in South Africa) and set myself a new challenge in the near future.
For anyone looking for a good first half marathon to run, I can't recommend the Bath Half enough. The course is relatively flat, the atmosphere second to none and the whole event is organised to near enough perfection.
As I've said throughout my half-marathon related posts, I wasn't someone who runs regularly and having a goal to aim for was my motivation. At first it seemed a crazy idea, but it was definitely achievable, despite training through the winter and alongside hospital placement. If I can inspire even a single person to sign up for a race I'd be so happy!
My fundraising page is still open, so if you fancy a little congratulatory donation that goes to an incredibly worthwhile cause, you can find the page here.