Brathay Windermere Marathon 2013
Has it been a year already?
A good week for running.. a 5k PB on Wednesday lunchtime (19:10) and I travelled up to Cumbria after work. On Thursday I headed off to Brathay Hall to see the 10 in 10 runners and use the wifi there to do some work before I saw them off on day 7. I then drove down to Newby Bridge, near the halfway point and did some more work there before running back up the course and seeing all of the runners. Lots of high fives! I did about 10 miles in total and had a nice lunch at the Swan Hotel which I had run past 10 times last year! Back to Brathay and more work and I saw some of the runners come in. I popped over on Friday afternoon too and saw most of the runners finish. Such an inspiring bunch. For some reason I felt really worn out that evening – much more tired than I would expect after only having run 10 miles. As the evening wore on, I felt more and more ropey.
On Saturday morning I felt a little better. Sally and I headed to Brathay to register for the race and bumped into lots of friends.. ex-10in10ers like myself (in particular Davey Green who was selling his new book all about the 10in10 last year), the author Helen Summers (of Running Crazy), the physios and many more. Very nostalgic. We popped into the on-site Pete Bland Sports shop and bought some stuff – they offered to sponsor Sally with some kit for some events going forward which is really cool. Lunch in Ambleside and then back along the course to see some runners go past. Unfortunately it was Sally’s turn to feel a bit off on Saturday evening. I had been ok so hoped it would soon pass for Sally also.
Sunday morning we were up and off to Brathay again in plenty of time to see the 10 in 10 runners off, get a coffee and have plenty of time to get ready. One of the perks of being an ex-10in10er was to be able to use the athletes room after they’d set off to get ready and to store bags. It was very odd being back there after spending so much time in that room before and after each run last year. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the race – the forecast had been for warm weather (up to 18) and after feeling a little wiped out on Friday I wasn’t sure how I’d last. That said, it was an energising morning, and I was inspired by everything that had transpired over the last few days whilst I’d been there in person, and the preceding week watching events from afar. On the walk down to the start line, lead by a drumming band, I felt pretty up for it.
Off we went, on closed roads. I know this course like the back of my hand but I’ve never run it on closed roads before, or surrounded by lots of other runners before. Very odd. However, the good side of that is that you can take a bit of a racing line around the bends rather than stick to the edge of the road Feeling good, I started quite near the front and went off fast. I was soon passing people who are usually quicker than me, such as Steve Edwards and Jonathon Godfrey and I briefly wondered whether I was overdoing it. I know this course better than any other – I know it’s tough, but I know every hill. There are lots of them, but what goes up must go down and whilst there are some tough climbs, none of them go on for too long and there’s nearly always a drop after to pick the pace up and/or catch your breath. Plus this is a very special place for me. I felt inspired and confident with lots of good memories occupying my thoughts. It felt right to go for it.
8 out of 10 of the first 10 miles were sub-7 m/m and I felt strong. Even the big hill at around 7 miles only resulted in a 7:39, although I was blowing hard then. By 4 or 5 miles there weren’t many runners around and it almost felt like running in the 10 in 10 again, when I was nearly always running on my own. That was a nice, familiar feeling. The support at Newby Bridge (12.5 miles) was immense and I got a huge shout out from Rob Dallison, one of my 2012 10in10 compatriots. I love a quiet marathon, but the occasional pocket of vocal support is a massive boost and I was flying here, nearly running right through the traffic cones on the bridge. I knew I was quite far up the field which is new for me, and everyone I knew out on the course expressed surprise and joy at seeing me doing well – even more of a boost! I had passed a few of the 10 in 10 runners by now, and I made sure to congratulate every one of them. Superstars.
I hit the halfway point in 1:29:xx but I knew that wouldn’t last – many more hills in the second half of the race and I was going for it – I knew it would catch up with me at some point. That said I somehow kept strong through the relentless hills between mile 14-18 with my slowest mile split being a 7:15. I passed the leading lady somewhere along here and hit Bowness at mile 20 to another pocket of loud support. It was weird – I had no other runners around me and loads of crowd support – it felt a bit like I was leading the race! Once again, a massive adrenaline boost and I was flying. There’s a little side road you have to go down in Bowness with a small climb that I always found hard going and I did again this time. It was after here that the pace and effort started to catch up on me. It felt warmer too – it had been perfect (for me) conditions for most of the race – cloudy and mild with little wind, but the sun was breaking through and it was warming up. I made it up ice cream mountain at mile 21.5 with my first little walk break, just 5 seconds or so. Stuart Pyper (another 2012 10in10er) was at the top as he’d been all week and gave me a huge shout. I pushed on but was desperately looking for a drinks station. There wasn’t one, but at least it was mostly downhill from here. I had to have another couple of brief walks along the next mile or so and the leading lady passed me. I gave myself a good talking to – I was on for a PB and almost certainly a sub-3:10 if I didn’t throw it away here. Miles 23 and 24 were the only ones over 8m/m and finally I found the last drinks station which got me going again.
On the approach to Ambleside now and nearly home. Always a great feeling on that stretch. As I went through Waterhead I was closing in on the leading lady again. Over the wooden footbridge and half a mile to go. This stretch always seems like you’re almost there but it’s further than I think. I pushed on though and got to the bottom of the drive up to Brathay Hall. In the 10 in 10 I ran up that hill strongly every day and this was not going to be any different.
I was breathing very hard by the top, but mile 26 was a nice 7:23. I sprinted along the narrow tunnel of spectators to the finish line, heard my name being announced on the tannoy and crossed the line in 3:08:17, 18th place out of nearly 800.
Over. The. Moon. a PB by 5 minutes, on a tough course. If only London hadn’t changed their GFA standards recently!
Sally finished in an excellent 3:15 and clinched 3rd lady
A truly excellent and uplifting day.