Four do the Coniston 14

On Saturday 19th March, 4 Harriers made the journey North to the Lakes. Their aim, to conquer the Coniston 14 race.

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I arrived in plenty of time and parked up on John Ruskin school field. I love Coniston and have been there many times racing. Last year I had taken part in the Coniston 14 race but shin problems meant I left down heartened, I was determined that this year would be different. I was training well and had high hopes of a sub 1hr 45 time. I met up briefly with Andy Ratcliffe, Warren and Karen. We had a quick brew and discussed the race. Soon after I was doing an easy mile warm up enjoying the views of the lake and surrounding hills.

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At 10.50am, the Harriers contingent met up for pre race pictures and before long we were in the masses waiting for the start. At 11am, we were off. Andy soon disappeared and Karen and I saw Warren just ahead but gradually pulling away. The first mile and a half was a constant uphill, the largest ascent of the race. Karen and I weaved through the masses and were soon in space. By mile 3 we were in Torver and going downhill at last! We had lost sight of the lake by now.

This continued for a mile and I had lost Karen by now but knew she wouldn’t be too far behind me. Eventually I was running and the sun was peeping through the clouds at times. There’s something about running in the countryside that makes it that bit more special. I went through 10k in about 43m40s (which was over 1 min quicker than my Blackburn 10k race back in February and on a hillier route). That was when I made my choice. I’ve always given every race I do 100% and tried to run to a plan. My brain and legs were saying ease up as there’s more hills to come. Part of me was willing myself to push on, keep going. I can’t explain it, it’s like I had an angel on one shoulder saying stick to the plan, ease up and a devil on the other saying death or glory. I opted for the devil inside me and held my pace.

From 7-10 miles was a constant rhythm of inclines followed by a downhill. My quads were screaming in the ups, my calves on the way down. I was steadily passing people but holding my pace.

At mile 11 I was at the bottom of THE hill. This was the hill that everyone who completes this race winces in terror as they recall it. Just as you’re tiring and getting mentally preoare for the run in, you hit an uphill of constant false tops. Just as you think it’s funny vet, it goes up again. 130+ft of uphill in less than a mile.

Here I made an error of judgement. My devil said go on… I went. I pushed hard up the hill. My legs were aching but I was soon up it. On the following incline though I got jelly legs. I lost my rhythm and wobbled. People were passing me in a constant steam and I couldn’t do anything. My pace had slowed and I was worrying my call on 10k was the wrong one and I was now paying the price…

On about 12.5 miles, Karen has caught me up and I tucked in just behind her trying to hang on for dear life. Before long I was at the 13 mile marker and passed the 13.1 half marathon sign. I’d done the half distance in 1hr 37mins and 20 something seconds. I was only a couple of mins outside my half marathon PB (which I got on a flat course). This inspired me to push on and I did. I surged. Every muscle in my leg was aching and I felt like I was running in sand. As I entered the centre of Coniston, the crowds clapping and cheering spurred me on again. I heard a, “Go on Wigan!” and I went again. By now I felt like I was flying. I found fed the last corner and just out everything into the finish. I crossed the line, stopped my watch and held back the sensation to vomit…

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I felt dizzy and horrible and lay down. After a few mins, I stood up and looked at my watch. My time was 1hr 42mins and 53secs. I’d beaten my time from 2015 by over 4 minutes. The devil had been right. As much as it hurt me, I’m going to start listening to him a bit more when I’m out running. Not in my day to day life mind, just to clear that up…

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