There’s quite a few races held on the first weekend of April, but when I saw the Cathedral to Castle advertised it instantly appealed!
10 miles, mult-terrain, from Lichfield Cathedral to Tamworth Castle.
One of my worst things about running is having to go back to your starting point, especially when you do an out and back course, although not awful I’d much rather keep going and get somewhere! Go on a journey. An adventure. Arrive in a new place.
So the fact that this race takes you from a city to a nearby town was hugely appealing, plus even more so because part of the route is off road!
Thankfully I had family joining me on the day so we parked up near to the start and they watched us go then met us at the finish lining, meaning I didn’t need to worry about getting from one end to the other, although there was a coach service running.
We arrived in plenty of time but as always the toilet queue was huge and we only just made it on to the start line in time.
It was a slightly strange start, I think because we were round the back of the building we missed all of the build up and sort of just joined the runners and then we were going.
We did a lap of the huge sports field that we had started in and then we were off out in to Lichfield. We headed down a little street with the cathedral straight ahead of us and circled around the stunning building.
Soon we were heading out of the city along residential streets.
The support was amazing. There were lots of marshals plus residents stood outside their houses cheering, handing out jelly babies and playing music from a bluetooth speaker. We later saw the same lady with her bluetooth speaker at a later part of the race. Brilliant!
As we left civilisation we headed over the motorway and down a long country lane. We could see in the distance the lane went down and then up again. It was a gently hill though.
Me and my running partner had decided to do intervals of 4 minutes running 1 minute walking and it was working well for us. We were hitting quite a fast pace for our running sections and I was a little worried I wasn’t going to be able to maintain it all the way, but it felt comfortable at the moment so I pushed on.
There were a couple of steep uphills where we needed to take a bit of an extra walking break, but not for long and I was proud that I managed to keep running up most of the hills.
As I looked around us we were very much near the back of the pack, but I loved it. People were chatting and joking, occasionally someone would break out in to song. People were wearing tutus and rainbow socks, this was my tribe and I loved them in that moment.
We found ourselves running alongside other people from time to time and got chatting for a little while as our paces fell in sync for a short period.
We met runners who are in the Run Mummy Run facebook community, a lovely and very supportive group for female runners (and you don’t have to be an actual mum).
After about an hour on country lanes and short stretches of woodland and dirt tracks we reached the half way point!! 5 miles!!Wooo!
We were on track for our 2 hour aim and doing another 5 miles didn’t seem too bad at all.
I was mostly feeling really good! My feet weren’t numb. My hydration pack was comfy as always. I was warm enough. Nothing felt stiff or tight or sore.
The only problem I did have is that I was getting hungry!! I’d had my usual breakfast of porridge, although I hadn’t managed it eat all of it, but I’d eaten enough I’d thought.
I was using tailwind in my water bladder which I’ve used a few times before on 2 hour runs with no problem.
What I figured out it must have been is that I diluted my tailwind too much, as I filled the bladder up to about 1.2 litres when you should only mix tailwind in with 500 – 700ml. Lesson learnt for next time!
Not knowing what to do I took a gel as the hunger got quite bad, which then caused me to have a bit of a jelly belly for the next mile or so, but did keep me going until the finish.
After the halfway point we entered Hopwas Woods, which started with a big uphill stretch.
We walked most of it but then soon got going once it was flat. It was beautiful!!
Once we reached the steep downhill all of my confidence of running on trails, which has grown from running around the farm, came out and I flew down the hill with my arms in the air shouting “this is how you do it, let the hill take you, wooooooooo”.
I’m so glad I didn’t go flying as that would have been a major embarrassment! (Plus painful).
We came straight out of the woodland on to the canal before quickly leaving the canal and heading through the very quaint village of Hopwas.
We were on main roads now and somehow I just knew all of the pretty bits were done.
We were getting closer… but still so far to go!
We passed the sign for Tamworth and at each mile I was texting Ash so they could start looking out for us.
It felt nice to keep in touch with him and the walking breaks made it much easier to do so.We weaved our way through residential streets and an industrial estate.Soon we were entering the castle grounds! We were nearly there! Everything felt good still but I was getting tired now. One final push.
We turned a corner during a walk break and there everyone was!
I nudged my partner and we kicked ourselves in to a run towards them and they all laughed.
I was grinning from ear to ear as I passed them.
The park was chaos. There were spectators and runners who had already finished wandering around across the course and for a moment I couldn’t see any marshals or signs seeing which way we needed to go. I couldn’t even see the finish yet.
Fellow runners started cheering us as we passed them and we followed the runner ahead of us, then we spotted the next marshals showing us the way.
We were being taken in a huge lap around the field before having to circle back in to the finish. We stopped for a walk break. As much as I wanted to keep going for the finish it was just too far yet.
I could see the path was going to start dropping downhill before going in to the finish, then I spotted the clock… 1:59:20…. C’MON!!! Let’s make it in under 2 hours!!
We sprinted our hearts out!
I have never finished a race that fast, or even been able to go that fast at the end of a race before.
Wendy flew past me and I just couldn’t keep up with her. A massive smile broke out on my face. I was so happy for her. She is an absolute machine of a woman and I realised in that moment I’ll never been quite as fast as her, and that’s okay. I was so happy for what I had achieved that day. So proud of us both for our individual accomplishments, and what we had done together.
We finished in 1:58:50… the clock had been 1 minute ahead of the chip times.
We had done it!!
My first 10 mile run!
What a race. What a lovely event.
Unfortunately it measured a little short (9.8miles) so I’d not quite reached double figures, but I didn’t care.
I had had the best time! And felt amazing.
The run/walk intervals really work for me. It’s better for my body and actually it enabled me to maintain a consistently fast pace.
While I was at times dubious about how fast we were going I’m glad we managed to push on and keep such a good pace as I’m proud of the time we achieved. Although this was just another Sunday longrun, it was also a race.
I pulled my compression leggings and a warm top on and we headed off round the town a little before going for a Sunday roast.
Yum yum yum!!