up, up and away – maidstone half marathon race report

Sunday morning. 6am and I am slowly heaving myself out of bed to get to Maidstone for 8.30 where I have planned to meet Hauling My Carcass and our mutual fried Paul. Paul is a Maidstone native and had turned 40 the day before the race and decided that it might be a nice idea for us to run a Half Marathon to celebrate. When it was originally suggested about 6 months ago, it seemed like a fine idea but in the dark and cold of a Sunday morning hours before the race, I was wondering what I had let myself in for, particularly as I had not run a Half Marathon since March and had also had almost 3 months out with an injury.
Still, it was off out into the fog for a jaunt around the M25. It was cold and, arriving at the race HQ, I wondered if I should have perhaps opted for a long sleeve top. I found HMC and we quickly picked up our timing chips and race numbers, met up with Paul and, after a chat, we set off on the 10 minute walk to the start. The start itself is odd, placed in a non-descript road in a residential area, hundred of runners standing around in the road waiting for the off. Soon, a horn sounds and we are underway, firstly in a loop around the streets nearby – it is odd to pass the 13 mile marker after only 10 minutes running but soon we are venturing into the outskirts of Maidstone. We run along the side of anonymous “A” roads and the route seems to be a constant series of slight inclines – not enough at this point to tire you but noticeable. The first 6 miles or so is OK – not much to look at but the smattering of supporters dotted along the route offer encouragement as you pass. There were water stations at approximately 4 mile intervals but I had opted to take a bottle of Orbana with me whilst I ran so just sipped from that every few miles. The hardest part is around 7 miles where the road rises and rises… and rises passing through a few small villages as it continues to rise. This was the first Half Marathon that I had run without listening to music so distratcted myself from the hills by listening to the (very loud) conversation of the group running just behind me. The route then flattens out and undulates along the top of a ridge, giving you views of the surrounding countryside on this now blue-skyed day. Somewhere between 8 and 9 miles I was aware that I had a companion running alongside – she was quicker on the downhills than I was but I was faster uphill so we had an unspoken agreement that she would take the lead on the way down and I would on the way up. Having a running buddy at this point was great – we exchanged a few words every mile or so and generally kept each other motivated. Soon we were nearing the finish – looking at my watch, I could see I was close to a sub 2hr time. I asked my running pal if she thought she could manage a sprint finish, she politely declined and said she’d see me at the finish so I just went for it. The last 500 metres was a flat out sprint – shouts from the crowd urging me on. I finished in 1:59:17 which I was delighted with. I picked up my goody bag, medal and very, VERY bright race top, saw my running buddy, congratulated her on her time and thanked her for her support and went off to find HMC. Turns out he had run an absolute stormer and bagged himself a new personal best (you can read his account of the day here). Paul struggled in a while after, the hills having taken their toll on his knees which began to give up around the 10 mile mark.
The race is a good, testing Half Marathon. Smooth organisation, a friendly bunch of runners, good marshalling and crowd support. On a personal note, I had a great day… it was one of those rare races where the organisation, weather, atmosphere and my training and race preparation had all come together to make it very enjoyable event.

Soundtrack to this post: Funkadelic – Cosmic Slop

2 Responses to “up, up and away – maidstone half marathon race report”

  1. October 20, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I’m not surprised you’re chuffed, that’s an excellent time, well done! And without your headphones pugged in as well 🙂 Any chance of joining HMC in a marathon…? 😉

  2. 2 iliketocount
    October 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, shame the first half along the A20 is such a poor route.
    Fancy a hilly Hastings half in March?

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