The last time I raced at Great Langdale in the Christmas Pudding 10k I finished in 53:05.
That was three years ago. I’d missed 2014’s edition due to work and 2015’s version was cancelled following excessive flooding throughout Cumbria thanks to that rapscallion Storm Desmond.
So it was nice to be heading back there to have another go.
Yet again this race had been decided on as being the culmination of our club championship so it was expected that a few DH Runners were going to head down to take part.
After a lovely drive down which involved birthday cake (thank-you Anni) and lots of laughs (and the realisation that yet again we’d packed the car with half of the DH Runners committee) we arrived with half an hour to go before the start. I used to like arriving early for races but I’ve found that lately I prefer turning up that little bit later as there’s less time to think about things. It’s literally a case of get ready, nip to the loo, grab your number and go.
With numbers picked up and a quick trip to the loo we were ushered to the start line which was a fair walk from where we had parked.
After a wander down to the start I ended up finding myself pretty much right at the front. Probably not the best place to be, unless you’re prepared to run fast to avoid being trampled over that is.
And within a minute of arriving at the start line we were off.
I set off with the fast runners and managed to keep up with the quicker lads for all of half a mile before I realised that I definitely could not keep that pace up for the next 5 ½ miles.
Having dropped back a bit it wasn’t long until fellow DH Runner Michael popped up alongside. It was nice to have some company (even if I couldn’t talk to him) so I decided to stick with him for a bit.
The course is great as there are some uphill climbs (my nemesis) with some great downhill sections (my saviour) so although I was losing a little time on the uphill I was gaining it back, and more, on the downhill.
When we got to 5k I thought Michael was going to leave me for dead as he picked up the pace a little and I was struggling to catch my breath in the cold air so I told him I’d see him at the end. No sooner had I said that, and he’d started pulling away, it turned out there was a big downhill section and I was back alongside him. We’d been swapping places throughout to keep each other going and it was to stay that way for the next 2 ½ miles when the downhill just kept coming which was powering me on to a decent finish.
With about 600 metres to go it was all downhill to the finish and the sprint to the end began. (I did have time to have a little chuckle to myself though as I passed Stu and I heard him say; “I taught him that,” fair play though…he did.)
Finishing in 61st place with a time of 43:38 I was well and truly done for.
It’s safe to say that I have come a long way in the 3 years since I last did this event.
With the race behind me it was time to get home and get my glad rags on for the DH Runners Christmas Party. It was nice to have a chat with some people and reflect on what a great year I’ve had.
I honestly don’t know what 2017 has in store but I hope I can continue to improve and keep grasping for the next rung on the ladder.
One thing 2017 will definitely have in store for me though is training towards qualifying to becoming an England Athletics Coach in Running Fitness. With any luck, by the end of September 2017 I’ll be fully qualified and ready to help others achieve things that I never thought I’d be capable of.
Bring it on.