Two Tunnels Half Marathon Review and round up of weeks 9 and 10 marathon training

Rebecca Merchant with her Two Tunnels medal

I have combined weeks 9 and 10 together because I am conscious that the majority of my blog posts have been about the Bournemouth Marathon and I want to introduce some variety back into my blog posts because well… I have a life!

Side note: I have also realised I have missed two weeks blogging about training out. I will catch up on those later but really wanted to get this post out.

Week 9

Started out with my final bootcamp session at the beginning of the week. To be honest I am glad to have the bootcamp out of the way. I have enjoyed it – for the most part I have learnt that I really haven’t been putting enough into my own gym sessions and I met some lovely people. As I have mentioned before in previous posts I couldn’t put my all into Bootcamp and balancing my marathon training so was glad it has finished. On Tuesday it was Green Heart Runners and I had a lovely run around The Vale and down the canal back towards the Uni and its a run I definitely will repeat in my own time and soon as well before the light goes!

After that it was complete rest for the rest of the week before the Two Tunnels Half in Bath on the Sunday. I was looking forward to the half in Bath because I had never been to the city so it was the perfect chance to experience the city, see the countryside via the half marathon and see my friends as we had booked a house out for the weekend!

I turned up to run the Bath Skyline Parkrun on the Saturday. I would recommend travelling there early as if you park up at the school opposite the Parkrun it is a ten minute walk to get to the start from the car park and if you are new you do need to go to the briefing as the route is a very random one, there was even a map!

Bath Skyline Parkrun map

Bath Skyline Parkrun is what I would consider a trail run. You are running up steps, through fields, woods and lots of muddy paths. The organiser said that the route offers the best view of Bath and it certainly did not disappoint. I just wished I had enough time to take a photograph! Having done two half marathons, run club and the Bootcamp my legs were really feeling it. So I didn’t feel too good running Parkrun and that affected my enjoyment.

After a lovely Saturday afternoon mooching around Bath, it was time to put my game face on for Sunday. The Two Tunnels organised by Relish Races is a day full of events ranging from a colour run, 5 and 10k’s half and full marathon and a 50km run. So it is pretty large event! The event is called two tunnels as you run through two previous railway tunnels that were closed in 1966 and were restored by the Two Tunnels Group and Sustrans over a seven year period. The Devonshire Tunnel is 408m long and the Combe Down Tunnel is 1672m long.

Two Tunnels event village

As well as the two tunnels my half route went via Trucking Mill Viaduct and Dundas Aquaduct and along the Kennet and Avon Canal near Bath Abbey and finishes at a park.

We parked at the park and ride just outside of Bath and got one of the specially dedicated buses to the event which was based at Brickfields Open Space. My half was the last wave to be called at 12.30 so we got to the event at the recommended time at 10.30.

You have to collect your number on the day so I was anxious about there being no safety pins (I had forgot to bring my own as I haven’t been used to collecting numbers on the day!), massive queues and just large crowds. But Brickfields is very large and as we were late a lot of the races had either started or had finished so people were heading home but it certainly didn’t have that feel that everyone was dashing off as there was an event village with a variety of food and drink vans and with the good weather everyone was sticking around.

My review of the race, well my legs still felt very heavy and to be honest as I started running I was regretting signing up for the race and wished I had dropped down to the 10k. I decided to take it slow and see how I felt as I knew I could always pull out.

The weather was really warm so making sure I was hydrated was important to me. The tunnels are early on in the race as they are not that well lit inside, I did find that I was getting a little disorientated. After the tunnels was the first feast station, another concern of mine having had experiences of previous races was that there wouldn’t be enough food or drink left due to the races beforehand but there was plenty (they had four feast stations for the half)! Lots of water (in recyclable plastic cups) and the food ranged from sweets to banana and orange slices to cake! I was very impressed, other organisers should take note!

The route was fairly flat and took me through the Bath countryside. Running down the canal was a treat for me because the countryside was beautiful although I did want to go crazy as the canal route seemed to last forever! However bath is known for being hilly and I knew running along the canal meant that it would be flat.

About mile eight my right hip really started to hurt and I was having to stop every ten minutes or so to stretch it out. This seriously impacted my running time so I knew a 2hr 15min run would be out of the question and because of this I really remember the time dragging until I got to the stop opposite the Abbey. At the Abbey you get given an elastic band that you have to wear on your wrist. This is so the marshals at the end of the race know you have done the full 13.1 miles as there is a point where you could take a shortcut. The route after the abbey was back along the canal until the end of the race.

I found the race hard mentally as I think leading up I had over trained and not allowed my body time to rest. I was tired and my legs felt like sludge. Overall the race was lovely, this race wouldn’t be on the top of my list of races to do which made it all the nicer. I think if you want to run through the historic city of Bath then I wouldn’t recommend this race as really you go around Bath and the part where you do go through the city you are really going through a small part away from the tourist parts (which makes complete sense as it would be chaos with all the tourists. I felt it was very well organised beautiful race and recommend anyone to run the race. If you are local you could take part in all the races that Relish run for the year and complete the medal set as the medals link up together which is quite cute!

Week 10

After the Two Tunnels Half I just stumbled on such a mental block with running. I felt constantly tired and it was making me irritable all of the time and it was starting to get me down. I decided at that point to take the week off running. It has been a bit odd really, I didn’t realise how much running took my time up and I feel like I can hear the ticking in the background of Bournemouth just being around the corner. I didn’t even do Parkrun on the Saturday I just wanted a complete rest.

Have you ran the Two Tunnels Half? Have you hit a mental block when training? I would love to know your thoughts.

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