It had been three years since I last set foot on the start line of The Cumbrian Run. My last couple of years had been consumed with a first and second attempt at Chester Marathon.
I had briefly dabbled with the idea of doing a third Chester Marathon but decided against it due to The Cumbrian Run being part of the DH Runners’ club championship and the decision to have a go at a different marathon course instead (that being Dublin).
My previous attempt at The Cumbrian Run in 2012 had seen me finish with a time of 2:03.21. As far as I remembered it hadn’t been a course I enjoyed but where I was at the time in my running journey the time was about right for how I was running then.
Of course a lot has changed since then. I’m certainly running well and I’ve started to work on the issues I had with pacing and nutrition.
With only a few weeks until Dublin Marathon and having had a stonker of a cold the week before I’d decided that I was going to follow my training plan and run at about 9 minute mile pace to give my lungs a chance. Asthma plus colds plus running can sometimes be a terrible combination.
The event was looking to be full of DH Runners and, being on home soil, it looked like it was going to be well supported by family, friends and familiar faces.
On the morning of the run I arose at 6:30am to get myself sorted and follow my usual pre-race routines. Porridge immediately on waking then shower followed by bacon, sausage and scrambled egg. It wasn’t long until 9am rolled round and my dad arrived to give me a lift down.
The next 40 minutes consisted of getting photos taken, making use of the portaloos, talking to team mates and stretching.
It also consisted of re-iterating to anyone who asked that I would be looking at around the 2 hour mark for finishing.
It wasn’t long until we were bundled to the start line for 10am and the race was started by Tom Farrell.
The first few miles sees a steady incline from Carlisle Castle, through the city centre and then up Botchergate and London Road before turning into Careleton and making our way to Cumwhinton and then Wetheral.
I found myself caught up with a pack from the start up to the top of London Road and I didn’t check my watch once. I felt like I was going steady so assumed I was running slower than I usually would. It wasn’t until mile three when I checked my watch to find I was on 23 minutes. I felt ok at this point so I decided to just keep going at the pace I was going at to see how I got on.
I’d noticed a lad running next to me who had been there or thereabouts from the start. He would absolutely belt off at a rapid pace and within a few minutes I’d see him either walking or sitting down. He managed to keep this up for about four miles when I overheard a few runners telling him to slow down and keep at a pace he was comfortable with. He kept doing what he was doing until we hit Wetheral and then I saw him sit down. That was the last time I saw him as, when I hit Wetheral, I picked up my pace and went for it over the 2nd half.
I was under the impression that I’d struggle with my lungs following my cold which was why I’d estimated a slow run but once I got past 3 miles nothing seemed to be phasing me. My lungs were clear and my legs were coming along for the ride. Once I got past 6 miles I looked at my watch again to see I was on 46 minutes and still feeling good.
Doing a quick calculation in my head I’d worked out that I wanted to be on about 1:25.00 to 1:28.00 at 11 mile if I was to do a sub 1:45.00 finish. If I kept at the pace I was at then I was looking good for it.
The next few miles were a drag into Scotby before heading back into Carlisle for the final few miles.
I’d started looking for people ahead that I could target and started to pick them off before picking some more targets. This was keeping my mind focussed as it’s always around miles 8 – 10 that my mind starts to wander and I start to lose pace.
Heading back into Carlisle and round Carlisle United’s ground (Brunton Park) and I was still looking good with the pace I was going at.
Before long I was heading into Rickerby Park and a marshal shouted that I was on 11 miles just over 1:26.00. I was looking good and the next two miles I was more than familiar with so I knew exactly where to push to gain the best advantage.
A slight uphill on Brampton Road and I was soon flying down Stanwix Bank/Eden Bridge and past The Sands Centre towards the 12 mile marker and the final push back.
The last mile took me through Bitts Park and the last stretch around the back of the Castle and towards The Sheepmount Stadium saw me start to tire for the first time. The support leading up to The Sheepmount dragged me towards the track and the final 300 metres home. I managed to get the legs moving enough to do a sprint and pass a few people on the track and a quick check of the watch at the finish had told me that I’d yet again finished with a sub 1:45.00.
The official results later told me that I’d finished with a time of 1:43.11. I’d gone 49 seconds faster than the English Half Marathon in Warrington over, in my opinion, a tougher course.
After a quick catch up with some of the DH Runners who had already finished myself and team captain Andy headed out to cheer some of our team-mates back in. There were some amazing stories with some doing their first half marathon to some who had not had the best of runs but had dug in to finish.
It was a great day and although I’d sandbagged it a bit at the start I never for one minute thought that I would’ve gone sub 1:45.00 again. The tweaks to my training plan have certainly seen me put in some great efforts and hopefully I’ll be rewarded in Dublin.
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Next up for me is Dublin Marathon on 26th October. It’s also our first family holiday as a foursome so God only knows what awaits.
Until next time.
Dream, Believe, Train, Achieve.