It was the morning of Sunday October 7th and for once, on the day of a run, I’d woken up in my own bed and made my own breakfast (Weetabix followed by Sausage, beans and scrambled egg, most of which was stolen by my son at some point).
The run started at 10am and I was keen not to arrive to early so the male parental unit came to pick me up at 9am and we both expected some semblance of traffic but the roads were dead and it became evident that I was going to be very early. I ended up getting him to drop me off a mile and a half from the start so I could walk down, if nothing else it would be a warm up on what was a very cold morning.
I’d been struggling for a few days on what to wear as I knew it was potentially going to be a very chilly morning. At one point I had my leggings and long sleeved t-shirt out but in the end I opted for shorts and a t-shirt with a sleeveless t-shirt bearing the logo of my supported charity (Families Against Neuroblastoma) on top.
It was only on making my way to the Castle that I’d realised I’d left my sports drink at home. Luckily upon arriving and entering the grounds there was a stand giving away lucozade sports bottles so it was disaster averted. After a couple of warm ups before the run taken by a personal trainer from one of the gyms it was time to head to the start line.
I’d posited myself in the 2 hours or more bracket as 2 hours or just under was around the time I wanted to achieve. Once the run had been started it took around 2-3 minutes to get to the start line, activate my chip and get my run underway. The run started at the entrance of the Castle and the runners made their way up through the city centre onto Botchergate and then from there it was all ascents as we made our way up London Road.
I must admit I was surprised at how hilly the route actually was, especially the first three miles which appeared to be all upward and very little in the way of downward. I cursed myself slightly as I’d tailed off the hill running about three weeks before due to a slight calf twinge but there was nothing I could do about it now. Upon hitting three miles I looked at my watch and realised I’d started lagging behind on my targets a little bit. I’d been slowing down as I was going up the ascents and it was time to move my legs up a gear and start hitting the hills harder. It was also around this time that I started to notice how warm I was which made me thankful for not choosing the leggings and long sleeved top in the end.
The run was pretty scenic around this point having gone through Cumwhinton around 4 miles then Wetheral around 6 miles and Scotby around 8 miles and there were plenty of descents from mile 4 onwards (which is where I picked up a lot of time).
Upon hitting Scotby I checked my watch to see how I was doing timing wise. I’d highlighted Scotby pre-race as an area I wanted to be hitting around 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes if I wanted to finish around 2 hours. The watch said I was 1 hour and 18 minutes into my run so all was going well at this point. It wasn’t long after that when I ran over the M6 then back into Carlisle and onto Botcherby. I was about 9 ½ miles in at this point and I knew as soon as I passed Carlisle United FC’s ground (Brunton Park) it was only about 3 miles to the end.
Passing Brunton Park was where my legs started to tighten a little so I’d decided just to ease off the pace and finish smart. There was no point pushing at 10 miles as if I did myself any damage it would be a long walk to the finish. I’d thought to myself if I can get through the next 2 miles then I can push on after that for a strong finish.
A short run through Rickerby Park later and it was onto Brampton Road and past the Sands Centre. It was here where a friend had positioned himself to take pictures as I went passed and then ended up running next to me for a little bit to pass over some Jelly Babies. This was very uplifting as it wasn’t expected in the slightest and the Jelly Babies gave me a little burst of energy to hit the last 2 miles.
Once I’d gone around the back of the Sands Centre I checked my watch and realised that yet again I was going to be just over 2 hours but there’s not much I can do about that at the moment. It’s either a case of pushing hard and possibly pulling or injuring something or easing off and at least finishing. At some point I think I may just have to hit a run hard and see what happens and if I come through it ok and finish under 2 hours or I knacker myself then at least I’ll have the answer. But as this was the last in my series of races for fundraising for Families Against Neuroblastoma then I at least owed it to them, and the people who sponsored me, to finish.
About a mile from the finish my brother said he’d shouted at me but I was obliviously singing along to a song that was on my Ipod and hitting the Sheepmount and rounding for the finish I kept an eye out for my dad with the camera but he was nowhere to be seen. It turned out that when I said I’d finish around Midday he took that as a given and turned up dead on and ended up hitting a traffic jam.
The finish line took me by surprise as I was used to finish lines at The Sheepmount being a bit further back on the track. But the biggest surprise was the woman who fell flat on her face just as she was coming up to the finish line, a lot of people had rushed over to her and it had turned out that she’d either gone dizzy or had some sort of asthma attack but by the time I’d finished and looked over she was back on her feet and seemed ok.
Bib 583 Name S Claringbold Gun Position 826 Gun Time 2:04:49 Chip Position 838 Chip Time 2:03:21
I had my timing chip removed and collected my medal and t-shirt and made my way out of The Sheepmount on the search for my lift home.
It was nice to do a run on home soil for a change and see some friendly faces cheering you on especially considering I’d tried to run it every year for three years but somehow fate conspired to keep me away from it. Now I know the route and where I lost time it’s possible that, if I did it again in 2013, I could come in under two hours and finishing a half marathon in that time is still one of the goals to achieve.
For now though it’s time to focus on The Zombie Evacuation Race and The Brampton to Carlisle 10 miler in November and to work out what running gear is best to wear for running into Winter.
Wish me luck.