The Very Long Half Marathon

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When you think of a half marathon you think of 13.1 miles, right? Wrong! Well, not for the Relish Running Very Long Half Marathon. The clue is in the name really. This was no ordinary race, it was 16 miles of mixed terrain and some beastly steep hills thrown in for good measure. The route was absolutely beautiful, it took us through woodland trails, grassy meadows, country roads and along the canals. Also up three very steep very long hills. My preparations for the race were poor to say the least – my longest training run was 9.5 miles and last week I thought it would be a good idea to maybe run up a hill! and continued

I’ll give you my version of the race now. The course started from Bath Uni, the runners village was very organised, getting my number was very easy and hassle free. My friend decided to sign up for the 10km on the day as he is doing a half marathon next weekend and this was also a quick and easy process. The start was so chilled out! Everybody was just chilling near the start line then about 9:58 somebody told us to assemble on the road. The race started pretty slowly as the paths were only wide enough for 1-2 people. We began by going into some stunning woods to run the trails. Then we stopped, and turned around..! We’d been going the wrong way for about 10 minutes! Doh! We found the right path and carried on. We exited the woodlands and ran over some lush grassy meadows, then down through some more woods which brought us out onto the road.

We ran down a steep road then along the canal to Bathampton. The course was so beautiful. I was happily enjoying my run until I came to the first obstacle. A mile long 15% hill. Holy cow. Wow. The day was so hot and the hill was so steep that even the toughest mofo’s walked up this bad boy. I hiked up listening to Angus and Julia Stone, and I soon forgot about the pain of the uphill struggle when I reached the top and was once again surrounded by beautiful woodland trails and lush meadows… That was until the second big obstacle at mile 8.

I rounded a corner to be told the next aid station was only 10 minutes away. Up the steepest hill I have ever seen in my life. This single mud track, 21% mother almost ended me. EVERYBODY walked. A lady with an inpressive six pack was walking and commented, ‘oh lord this is soul destroying.’ In my head I was thinking ‘oh lord and we’re only half way.’ A tough mental battle with myself ensued as I practically crawled up the hill. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to reach the top of a hill in my entire life! I won the battle with myself and continued. Before I knew it I had passed 12 miles and the hills were long forgotten.

My friend had finished his 10km and instead of waiting around came to meet me around mile 13 to run back with me 🙂 I apologise again for being a little narky, I was pretty tired and not really in the mood for talking right then. We ran most of the way and then walked up the hill back to the uni as I was fully done with hills by that point! I ran across the finish line and went to collect my beautiful medal. We flopped on the grass and clapped the other runners in before heading off to the weir for a well earned picnic and swim. This was the toughest race I have ever done and also my slowest but I had a blast none the less. The marshals were amazing and very funny! The other runners were totally cool and I had some brilliant conversations whilst trying not to die.

What did I learn? I actually realised I was pretty good on the technical trails – I was able to pass a lot of people on the woodland trails, especially downhill when I let rip. I also learnt that I suck at hills – I plan on turning this weakness into a strength and I am currently looking for some beautiful hilly woodlands near Bristol to run in 🙂

What I ate? I knew it was going to be hot so I had an entire watermelon blended for breakfast – carbs and hydration in one delicious smoothie :p The feed stations were epic. They were like amazing buffets! I made the terrible mistake of having orange and banana slices at the second aid station and then felt sick the rest of the race. Citrus and sweet fruits make me feel sick every time – bad food combining. From then on all I could stomach was flat coke and crisps! Terrible food choices I know but it worked to ease my sick feeling.

Would I do it again? DEFINITELY! I plan on going back next year – maybe even for the marathon, but of course with proper training next time! The route was so beautiful I would love to run it again.

What are you guys training for? If you live in or near Bristol and know of any beautiful trails please let me know I need new and beautiful places to run!

Olivia ♥

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