Phew. Four days off work became one, hugely important day, taking two days to prepare for beforehand and one day to come down from afterwards. I was so glad to be back doing the Keswick Half, as after all, it was my first half marathon, and to date remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
We watched Run, Fat Boy, Run the night before to get us in the mood, and loaded up on carbs with an amazing veggie spag bol. But, similarly to last year, the day started off early, and after very very little sleep, and we had a long long drive to sit through while my nerves jangled around inside me like tablespoons.
I ate breakfast in the car - overnight oats with raisins and banana!
We finally arrived in Keswick and it was windy and hot. The only two weather conditions that I had hoped would stay away! The race started at 11:30, so we would be running in the heat of the day, with the sun right on our heads. And wind. Oh no, so much wind.
Still, the atmosphere was amazing. We got ready, smothered in sun cream and moisturiser and hydrating as much as possible, and walked the mile to the start point.
I could go over the race in the tiniest detail. I can remember almost every minute of it in vivid technicolour. But, to cut a long(ish) story short: it was amazing! I had stomach cramps for the first few miles, but once I got to mile 4 I was flying. The uphills were deadly, the downhills were deceiving, the scenery was incredible and the on-lookers were brilliant. Every mile was pure pleasure and pain at some point - I loved every minute but also spent every minute wondering what the next corner would bring; would my knee start to twinge? Would my stomach give in? Would I just get too tired? The answer was a clear no to all these questions, and by mile 9 I knew that I'd be ok. Even the wind and the heat was ok - my lips are wind-burned and I had an awful sore throat from dehydration, but apart from that I'd say that the weather was ok after all!
In many ways it was exactly the same as last year, just I knew what to expect in terms of extreme levels of elevation (!). I got exactly the same time, despite all of my training, and I started to ache all over in roughly the same spot (mile 10). But what was wonderfully different was my control; I could enjoy it, because this time I actually knew that I could do it. And I did :-)
After the race they were handing out water, apples and digestive biscuits. Such a nice change from the chocolate bars that you get at some of the bigger races.
We got changed and headed out for lunch. I was gagging for a lemonade - the heat had dried up my throat so much that I actually couldn't quench my thirst, and I'd been dreaming of lemonade since mile 2!
We went to the Pedlar, which was voted number 5 in the UK's top 100 veggie cafés! I can vouch for that - the chilli was incredible!
After a lovely walk around Keswick to stretch our aching legs, we hit the long road back home again. I was so sad for it to be over already - it sped by so quickly, after all that excitement, preparation and nerves! Still, I'm looking forward to more Lakeland adventures soon; who knows what's on the horizon?