For some obscure reason, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for the inaugural Silloth Beach Half Marathon. I really don’t know what possessed me to think that running a half marathon on sand would be a good thing to do. Nevertheless, I found myself heading to Silloth with Ali on a not too pleasant Sunday morning. We arrived in Silloth just after 12pm and headed to the registration area. There were already several people milling about; faces full of trepidation as they too seemed to be wondering what on Earth they were doing.
It wasn’t long before we were stood at the start preparing ourselves for what lay ahead. However, I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the harsh reality of running on sand into a gale force headwind! As the runners set off around the perimeter of the docks, the grey clouds seemed to gather. As I hit the sand and turned to follow the route, I was blasted by the wind. It was horrific! Head down, I battled on. After what seemed like ages, I glanced at my Garmin, only to discover that I hadn’t even covered 2 miles! I was ready to cry then, but kept on going. My pace was slow but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other; determined that this wasn’t going to beat me. I’ve run an off-road marathon in 26C heat; I can do anything…. Surely..
It was grim. Truly grim. The terrain constantly changing from the occasional hard sand, to soft squelchy sand, to pebbles and streams of water. I gave an audible sigh of relief as I turned at the halfway point, escaping the evil headwind. But my legs were screaming and I couldn’t pick up the pace. The way back was much more enjoyable and I managed a half-hearted sprint at the finish. My shoes were laden with sand and it took all my strength just to lift each foot up. I even needed help to lift my leg on to the bucket in order to have my chip removed! It was such a relief to finish and I was so pleased that I’d finished it, albeit in a slow time of 2 hours 22 minutes. I was even more pleased when I discovered that we’d be given a voucher for chip shop chips! The organisation of this event was brilliant and I can see this being even bigger and better next year, and the years that follow. Would I do it again knowing the challenge that lay ahead? Definitely! Pushing yourself to your limits and achieving things you never thought possible is a good enough reason to put myself through the pain again!
What better way to recover from a tough half marathon than doing a fell run. Following a walk up Latrigg on Monday with my mum and the girls, I noticed on my Facebook feed that the Round Latrigg fell run, organised by Keswick AC, was going to be on on the Wednesday evening. After establishing that it was a fully marked and marshaled course, I began to really look forward to it. I want to take part in more fell runs but, at the moment, I want to build up my confidence on marked courses.
After a long day at work, I headed down to Keswick with my support crew; the ever suffering other half and the girls. Although the sky was grey and rain threatened, it was dry and sunny when we arrived at Fitz Park. Once registered, we passed the time by playing in the park (the girls) and making several trips to the toilet (me!!).
At 7pm, we were off. A record field of 168 runners was a fantastic turnout for an evening event. As we headed out of Fitz Park and along Spooney Green Lane, I was already thinking ‘What the Heck are you doing?!’ The climb began almost immediately and so began the hard slog. With a mixture of running and walking, I finally made it up the worst of the ascent.
On reaching the top, there followed a fantastically fast downhill. I chose the right shoes to wear that night; my trusty Salomon Speedcross 3s. They gripped perfectly on the mixture of grass and tarmac as we wound down Latrigg. As we hit the flatter sections along the old railway, my legs were screaming. However, I was able to maintain a decent (for me) pace, ignoring the protestations of my quads. There were a couple of slight inclines which almost finished me off but, as the leisure centre came into view, I gritted my teeth and kept on going.
I got a last burst of energy on spotting my cheering squad at the entrance into Fitz Park. It gave me that little boost I needed to get me over that finish line. I’d hoped to be under the hour, knowing how difficult the climb is and the state my legs were in after the half, so I was delighted to have crept in just under 50 minutes!
And, with all the downhill sections, I got a host of Personal Bests on Strava! On the flat, I have no hope of beating these times but at least they look quite impressive!
What a week of running! My legs are paying for it now but I thoroughly enjoyed both races. I plan to have an easier week and then start preparing for the Great North Run.