I awoke early on the 7th October with the familiar feeling of butterflies in my stomach; a now expected occurrence on the morning of a race! There was a slight frost and it was bitterly cold when I went to take the dog for a walk. The crispness in the air is so refreshing and I love this time of year.
I assembled all my race paraphernalia together, put on my race attire underneath my warm tracksuit and bundled the girls into the car. We dropped them off at Grandma’s; they get bored waiting for me during these longer runs, moaning that I take forever, and so it’s better for them to be entertained by Grandma and Auntie Karen.
We arrived at Carlisle and managed to park on Castle Way, very convenient for the start and the finish of the run. Already there were masses of people assembling at the front of the castle and so we made our way up to join them.
Just before 9:30, after the obligatory smearing of Vaseline on vulnerable areas and a blast of Deep Heat on my hips and calves, I said ‘Goodbye’ to the other half and went inside the castle grounds.
At 10am, the race was started. It took a good 5 minutes for us to exit the castle grounds as we started right at the back! The weather was glorious; in stark contrast to the year before!
About 400m from the start, I spotted Tristan and he took a photo of me at probably the only time I was feeling good during the run!
The first 4 miles are the toughest during this run. The first 2 and a half miles along London Road involve a steady climb before a brief respite towards the first water station. There are then 3 horrible hills, which are energy sapping. My calves were starting to ache now. I was expecting them to cause me trouble as I’d still been suffering from the good running form track session a couple of weeks previously.
I was still feeling hopeful of a sub 2 hour time, though, and kept on going. However, by mile 9 (it’s usually mile 10!!) my hips were screaming and every step was agony. I feel so frustrated by this! My breathing is fine and I really feel that I could do so much better but my hips have always, and continue to, hinder me. They’re the reason I stopped running initially in my late teens because I no longer enjoyed running. The constant pain took away any enjoyment from the sport I loved.
I’m determined to keep on running, though; it’s my sanity saver and so I will have to try and find ways to deal with this problem. I have had physio in the past and it really helped. I have chronic bursitis and, at age 25, the physio said that she’d never seen anyone so young with hips as tight as mine! That’s not a good thing!!
Anyway, getting back to the race, mile 9 was when I knew that my hopes of a sub 2 had faded; by mile 11 I knew any chance of that dream time had exploded. Running can give you such highs, but it can also give you devastatingly crushing lows. This was mine.
At mile 12, I joined up with a guy who I will be eternally grateful to. He was also struggling but, together, we kept each other going for the last agonizing mile.
Entering the Sheepmount athletic stadium, the end of the pain, well, the physical pain, was within sight and I was just happy for the suffering to be over!
After crossing the line, I was handed my medal and goody bag and reunited with the other half. It was great to get a cuddle from him as I just felt like bursting into tears. I’d finished in a time of 2:02:29; 30 seconds slower than last year and 1 minute 23 seconds slower than my PB. It’s always disappointing to run slower in a race than you did last year but I know I will get that Sub 2 one day. I know where my problems lie and I just need to work on them. I don’t think that a marathon will be in the near future for me and I may just start to concentrate more on the 10k distance and trail running.
Today, I still feel pretty gutted about how yesterday went but I need to get back to the real reasons as to why I run. It’s the time where I can be just me; where nothing else matters except the simple movement of putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the beautiful countryside that surrounds me. The beauty of running is in its simplicity and its ability to help me clear my head and revel in how lucky I am that I have my health and can get out there and enjoy my fitness.