I was going into Keswick Rugby Club Half Marathon still carrying a calf niggle from my previous run the Valiants Half Marathon.
As such I decided that I was going to take this one a little easier. Plus there were going to be hills…lots of hills.
Whenever I think of hills I immediately think of Iron Maiden.
The DH Runners had headed up in force for what promised to be a potentially wet, windy and gruelling few hours of running.
One of the DH Runners had had a little secret that was one of the worst kept secrets going. She was going to take part in her first half marathon and she had chosen Keswick as the venue.
So rather than gimping around on my own I thought I’d run around with her for moral support.
If you’ve never been to Keswick then you should find some time to get out there and see it. It’s such a beautiful part of Cumbria and a favourite go to for my family with it not being that far from home.
Before the race itself started there was the usual warm up routine to be done and the purchasing of a medal (well slate coaster) pre-race as we were told that these were likely to be limited.
There was a 15 minute walk to get to the start line and once there we were told that the first six miles was more or less a climb before it started to flatten out a bit.
I was fairly excited by this run. Having thought about it afterwards it was such a shame that I hadn’t brought my camera with me as there were going to be some lovely views.
They weren’t joking though when they said the first six miles were hills. It was hard work going up some of those hills and if I had been going flat out I expect it would have hurt. However, running at conversational pace was a great experience for me. I got to speak to some people along the way and got chatting to a woman who had travelled all the way from London for this, her first, half marathon and a guy from Scotland who had torn his calf but was raising money for charity for every mile he managed to do regardless of whether he finished or not.
There were a few first timers along the way and it was good to see some of the support they were getting from friends and family. One woman’s family had parked at the top of one of the hills so she could sit down in the boot of the car and have a flask of coffee and some cake. Another lady had her mum and dad driving past offering her jelly babies and then, probably out of courtesy, offering everyone in the vicinity jelly babies as well.
Once we got to six miles the marshall advised us that we’d done the hard part and it was all good from here. Still, six miles of hill after hill almost feels like you’ve run about ten miles.
The next six miles were a bit precarious as some of them were going to take part on the main road into Keswick. Some of the cars were getting a little too close for comfort which often resulted in having to run on a path to the side of the road and sidestep jagged rocks and stones.
To go off slightly off topic a little bug bear of mine is the energy gel packet/plastic bottle droppers. Is it really that much of an imposition to keep hold of the packet/bottle and drop it in a bin (or at least next to one) at the next water station? I know that some people are going all out for time and stuff but a little respect goes a long way especially in an area of such natural beauty containing a lot of wildlife and farm animals. That’s not to mention the volunteers who will have to trawl the 13.2 miles to pick up as much rubbish as possible and that’s if they find half of it. I saw one guy hurl his plastic bottle into a field of sheep…I almost felt like hurling him in to retrieve it.
Anyway, rant over, back on topic. Nina was doing fantastic. It was only when we got to around ten miles that she started to have a little trouble with her feet but she was going on regardless.
The final mile was a nice little run into Keswick and back to the Rugby Club and we’d started to pick up a little bit of pace as the end was in sight. Nina got a little emotional when she heard, then saw, all the gang shouting for her near the finish line. The finish line was there to be had and her first half marathon was in the bag.
She had done amazingly well on what was a really tough course. I for one don’t think I would have enjoyed the elevation had it been my first (but then I’m no fan of hills). But what an achievement it was.
It was another one in the bag for me as I battled back from injury and, despite a few twinges, the calf felt ok and was probably ready for a few speed sessions.
I’m hoping to be back in Keswick again in the middle of June for the Keswick trail run but I’m still undecided on that one at the moment. I’ll flick a coin at some point I think.
Heads or tails?
Dream, believe, train, achieve