With my last 'long run' of 16 miles now fully 4 weeks behind me, and a renewed keeness to train short and fast, the Keswick Half Marathon was all about proving to myself, and others who may have doubted me after I quit London that I am still very fit and more than capable of producing the goods in a long race.
I set off in about 5th place with young Sparky on my shoulder. We had a good bit of banter as those first two rolling miles passed by in 5:50 and 5:55. a handful of lads passed us once we were settled in and I never saw them again - seems odd they ran behind us for so long when they were so much better then us - just very steady starters I guess. I didnt notice the 3 mile marker but as it included a steep climb out of Stair and onto the Newlands Pass climb it would have been quite slow.
Not so slow as the 25:15 stated by the 4 mile marker though - we had just ran a long downhill so it must have been placed incorrectly. Sure enough by 5 miles we were back on track, or rather the signs were, about 30:30 I think.
|Photo by Penrith Stu|
Up to this point I had been running nice 'n relaxed. Cruising along. Running down the big hills rather than racing down them . Once I was onto the main Derwentside road along under Catbells I knew I needed to push on - both uphill and downhill. The next 2 or three miles to Grange were mostly downhill and I pulled a decent lead on all but one of my previous companions. Marc Penn of Blengdale had ran 2:46 in London two weeks ago - I expected him to fade from my side as the race progressed but he actually made back the gap I pulled on him at 5 miles and by 9 we were together again.
Each mile marker from 5 seemed to be correctly placed. The maths was very easy. Mile marker multiplied by 6 (minute miles) then glance at the watch to see how many seconds over that full minute I currently was. The good news was that after being a minute down on 6 pace at 6 miles (37mins) I then chipped a few seconds per mile off to be just 48 seconds over by 9 miles.
Once the big downhills were done and dusted I knew it would be hard to pick up time on the final 4 mile run-in along the Borrowdale road back toward Keswick. But I also knew that I had to give everything I had in this last section. So I dug in and gave it 100%. I encouraged Marc, still on my shoulder to stay tight with the mild headwind. I was actually hoping to spend a minute behind him every now and again to get a small rest and perhaps increase our overall pace. But I was so impressed by his staying with me at all that I certainly cant' complain that I had to remain in front and do all the work myself.
Our 10 mile time was 60:58. Again, easy maths. We were one minute over 6 pace. 6 Pace is 1:18:36 for the full distance, so we were heading for 1:19:34 if we ran 6 pace to the end. Cheking my watch I noted 6:00 at 11, then 6:00 again at 12. Finally I spotted the tops of the lamposts surrounding the mini roundabout at the top of the hill as you enter Keswick and I knew it was all over bar the shouting. The last half mile I had forgotten from last year and included another wee climb around the Headlands esate. There was then a really tight left turn which robbed a second of time and prior to entering the finish field I had also to negotiate the long way around a tractor and trailer loaded with portaloos which seemed to be stuck in the road.
I had already told Marc I wouldn't be sprinting for the place. Little point risking a hamstring pull or calf tear or slipping on wet grass to be 7th instead of 8th in my opinion (especially at my age eh Gareth?). So I was 8th, same as in 2011. I was also 4th Vet 40, same as in 2011. But all I care about is that frontrunning for approx 95% of the distance I ran almost 3 mins quicker than 2011.
If a marathon time can often be reliably estimated by doubling your half marathon result and adding 10 mins then I would have 2:49:08 on this extremely hilly course.
I'm not saying that this race proves I could have ran a sub 2:45 marathon two weeks ago in London. The only way to prove that is to physically to it, and I will, mark my words I bloodywell will do it. What I think this result does vindicate is my decision to quit London. I wasn't running the VLM for charity or just to finsh my first marathon, or my 100th, I was running it to achieve a specific time. A time I think was realistic and that I had trained specifically towards for 3 months. Once I knew that there was zero chance of getting that time and to have continued on course would have meant enduring ever increasing discomfort for an additional 16 miles, quitting was by far the most sensible option.
Keswick Half Marathon result http://www.ukroadraces.info/results/2012/kesh.htm