On Sunday we completed our very first race the Bath Two Tunnels 5k organised by Relish Running Races.
We had travelled down to where my parents live the night before as they only live about an hour from Bath and it would be much easier to drive from there in the morning than from our home in Swansea. We decided on a pizza for tea – probably not the best pre-race dinner as it was HUGE. I definitely felt like i’d eaten too much afterwards which worried me, and my stomach continued to be bloated and uncomfortable right through the night and into the morning. Needless to say it wasn’t a great nights sleep, which added to the anxiety I had been feeling pre-race.
It was a dreary morning, with thick grey cloud in every direction, and a light but cold wind with a very distinct chance of rain. We left the house at 8am and drove to Bath, arriving at around 9am and catching the park and ride to the starting area as instructed. We weren’t really sure what to expect from our first race as it wasn’t a particularly large event, but it was organised very well. There was a place for you to pick up your race numbers, check your bags and grab a bacon butty if you so desired (not for me thanks, my stomach still wasn’t over last nights pizza!)
Our race didn’t kick off until 11am so we had plenty of time to wander round and queue for the porta potties!!
There were several races setting off on the day, we were the last. The ‘Hilly’ half marathon went first (you won’t catch me doing that any time soon) then the ‘Hilly’ 10k, followed by the non-hilly half marathon and 3 waves of non-hilly 10k runners. Eventually it was our turn to line up at the start line, where we waited for a few minutes and were then briefed on our course.
The clock which had been started at the beginning of the hilly 10k was now only 2 minutes from an hour. Noticing this, the marshal held off the start of our race until the clock hit exactly 1 hour. I found this SO SO helpful because it meant I would know exactly what my time was as I passed the finish line – I could just take off exactly one hour from what was showing on the clock, without having to do any annoying maths!
As we were waiting for the clock the first of the 10k competitors that had set off earlier came flying back to the finish line, we all cheered as he crossed, and then off we went!
The course began in a field, there was a slight bottleneck as we left the field and continued down a small slope onto the two tunnels path. We then ran along the path for about 1.5km then down into the first of the tunnels (the only tunnel for our 5k distance) for about another .5 of a km, out the other side to the turnaround point which was well signposted and marshalled. It was then back the way we had came, through the tunnel until the point where we had initially come onto the path where instead of going back the way we had come we turned left, up a short but steep hill and back into the field from another direction towards the finish line. It was definitely more hilly (undulating small hills, up and down, up and down) than I had been led to believe, so that was quite a shock, but it did make it feel like even more of an achievement to finish as well as I did.
Gideon was gone the second we began, I knew this would be the case because he’s a minute or two faster than me in pace and we agreed he should go on ahead and we should both run our own races and try to do the best we could for our abilities. I could see him in the distance for over half the course but he eventually did disappear.
I really didn’t have much of an expectation going into this race. I just wanted to complete it and set myself a PB. I wasn’t particularly intending to run the entire thing, I was just going to listen to my body and if I needed to walk for a bit I would do it. However, once the adrenaline of being in a race kicked in and I was on the path surrounded by other runners (some of which were 10k runners on their return journey, and half marathon runners who were now on their second lap) I just wanted to keep pushing.
I felt good for the first 2.5km and was only starting to really tire once I hit the turnaround point in the course. It wasn’t my legs that needed to rest, it was my lungs, which I fully expected being asthmatic. I wasn’t wheezy and I didn’t need to take my inhaler, I just needed to really focus on my breathing and regulate it in order to keep on going which is what I did. Mentally I was also starting to tire, with the negative part of mind saying ‘you’ve already run further continuously than you ever have before you can stop to walk now.’
I persevered running, turning around my negative thoughts to ‘i’d already run further than I ever had before and I hadn’t died so why not carry on and make it a real achievement!’. I’m sure for parts I wasn’t even going much faster than people walking, but I carried on running regardless. The last km was definitely the hardest, I never thought it was going to end at one point and seriously considered walking. I’m sure the only reason I kept running was because of the fantastic supporters and marshals which were out in force on this last bit of the course willing everyone on.
I managed to get myself up the little steep hill back into the main field because I knew I was almost finished, and as I rounded the corner into the main field and the clock by the finish line came into focus I could see that the time was still under 1.32.00. I was shocked, that meant I could make it to the finish in under 32 minutes if I stepped it up. In that moment, that became ALL I wanted, and with a burst of energy that came from somewhere I didn’t know existed I started to sprint as the clock ticked away, and crossed the line in an incredible (for me) 31 minutes and 56 seconds.
I was sort of hyperventilating a bit at this point, mostly from the mini sprint which pretty much destroyed me but also from the shock of finishing in under 32 minutes & not walking a second of it! I found Gideon who had just finished and was so proud to learn that he had completed the race in 30 minutes and 45 seconds, a wonderful PB for him also!
It had just started to drizzle, so we queued up for our medal and our goodie bag (with a very welcome Double Decker in), picked up our bags from bag check and headed back to the bus stop to catch the park and ride.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience of my first ever race, and was absolutely thrilled with my time and incredibly proud of Gideon for his time. In reality I was expecting my time to be closer to 40 minutes than 30 minutes, but when it came down to it, we both gave it everything we had and came out with time’s to be truely proud of!
I can’t wait for my next race now… roll on June and the Caerphilly 10k (but let’s let my legs stop aching first eh!)ri