I awoke early on Sunday, 3rd March after an unsettled night’s sleep. It always happens. Those nights where you really, really want to have a decent night’s sleep but sleep proves elusive. A quick walk with the dog in the chilly morning air helped to awaken the senses but the fact that I was doing a half marathon that day failed to sink in.
I’d left entering Haweswater half until the last minute. I didn’t want to enter on the day as that leaves it too easy to just not turn up. I’d really struggled during last year’s event, as the course is particularly grueling, and, despite achieving a PB, I’d ended up walking during the last 3 miles. It was those last awful 3 miles that were etched on my memory and the feeling that it was never going to end.
However, that was last year and I wanted to have another crack at this one. To put some demons to rest. I also had the plan to just enjoy it, get round in one piece and run the whole bloomin’ way.
After dropping the girls off at mum’s, Ali picked me up at 9:30am and we set off to Haweswater. It was a cold morning and there was still snow on the tops of the fells as we arrived at Bampton. Despite this, the sun was out and I knew, once we got moving, we’d soon warm up.
After arriving, we quickly registered and joined the long queue for the loos. Time constraints (and very long queues!) meant we only made one visit. A record for us as we usually need to go several times due to pre-race jitters!
We changed into our racing gear. I decided on just the club vest and 3/4 length tights as I was already feeling quite warm. Ali remained with her choice of thermal tights, a long sleeved top and her club vest. A decision I think she regretted towards the end of the run!
We assembled at the start, a narrow country road, just before 11:30 and listened to the pre-race briefing. Once that was over, we were off. This race doesn’t have chip timing, so it can take a little while to cross the start line. Once at the start line, I pressed on my Garmin and we were off! Usually, I get caught in the tide of the faster runners and burn myself out in the first mile. However, I was determined to take it steady and consciously eased up. A Tweet from Martin Yelling the day before was resonating in my head, and kept my mind on the task in hand
The start of this course is tough and involves a long slog up hill. A hill that never seems to end. I kept my stride short and just kept going.
I felt good and in control. The sun was out; the scenery was breathtaking. What better way to spend a Sunday! Haweswater is an out and back route and so you get to see all the quicker runners coming back towards you. Most of them making it look effortless! At the turn around point, at 6.5 miles, I had half a sachet of High 5 energy gel. I still felt pretty good but I knew there was still a long way to go. I needed to get past that 10 mile marker where it all went so horribly wrong last year!
Towards 8 miles, I started feeling the familiar ache in my left hip. Luckily, it didn’t get worse than an annoying niggle. My Yoga stretching must be working! My calves were also starting to scream and tighten but I knew I could do this. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Simple. (ha ha!)
Just before 10 miles, Ali caught up with me and mentioned the possibility of a sub-2 finish! I hoped that the utterance of this mystical (for me!) time hadn’t jinxed me. We kept together, spurring each other on. At just past 11 miles, some guys in a car had cranked up the volume of their stereo and were blasting out Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now!’. How brilliant and how motivating. It came at just the right time to pep us up again! Fantastic!
A few small inclines before the 12.5 mile marker were enough to leave my quads and calves screaming. All I wanted to do was stop and walk. But then I thought how devastated I would be. How close I was to achieving the sub-2 and I couldn’t just let it slip away.
I am indebted to Ali. She gave me the focus to keep on going. At 12.5 miles, the finish area still looked so very far away. Could we really do it. Could I finally get the time that had so stubbornly evaded me.
I dug in. Everything hurt. Every part of me wanted the pain to end. Another voice was over riding this, though. A voice that said ‘You CAN do this’. And I thought, if I run a bit quicker, the pain will be over sooner. The people towards the finish were cheering us on and we managed to pick up the pace. It hurt. It really hurt. Crossing the line was the best feeling. I stopped my Garmin and looked at the time. 1 hour 57 minutes and 25 seconds! Sub-2 hours! At last. At long last! I turned round and there was Ali. I gave her a big hug. We did it!
We were given our finishing goodies. A lovely mug with a well deserved flapjack tucked inside. Marvellous 🙂
We walked back to the car absolutely elated, if a little sore. However, after a good stretch we were feeling lots better and feeling a huge sense of achievement. Many thanks to Eden Runners for putting on a great event with such encouraging marshals.
So, I’ve finally done it. I’ve achieved my sub-2 hour target and I feel so amazingly happy. I really thought that I’d never achieve it; that I’d always let it slip away from me. But, I did it. I really, really did it 🙂
Images from the day can be viewed at Athletes In Action