The final three days of my Brathay 10in10 journey all passed in something of a blur. And sitting here, experiencing a maelstrom of emotions, it’s a little difficult to draw out specific details to share with you.
Days 8 and 9 very much followed the pattern of Day 7. No longer was I suffering the ups and downs of earlier in the week (emotionally that is – the course hadn’t changed!). I had finally broken down the course into enough manageable chunks, and had found a comfortable rhythm to run at that would get me round safely in under 4 hours. My body was also starting to adapt to the running and the conditions and to respond to the intensive physio, meaning I was having less issues and less treatment as the week went on.
I also received a welcome boost on Day 8 with Liz’s arrival back at Brathay. A hug before I set out and the knowledge that I’d see her around the course set me up for what was a good, if uneventful, run. And back before the rain started!
More of the same on Day 9. I had found a plan that was working for me and I was determined to stick to it. Again, I finished within two minutes of my time for the previous two days, only this one just felt a bit more like hard work. No major issues, just a tiredness that had settled into the legs. Not surprising really. The real difference on Day 9 was the support around the course. More locals and tourists, particularly in Bowness and Ambleside. Friends and family following me round the course and cheering us all on. And a host of former 10in10ers around the route and at the drinks stops, proudly cheering on the class of 2017. I’ll admit to being a bit of a running geek, and so it was a special moment to have my drinks handed to me by marathon legend Steve Edwards (a Brathay 10in10er himself) at miles 12 and 24. I had a special finish too as Phoebe and Alafair joined me for the last 100 metres and across the line. Special moments. Just one more day to go.
Day 10. Marathon 10. The last 26.2 miles. Our lap of honour. It’s a day unlike the other nine, and not just because it marks the end of the 10in10 journey. With the running of the Windermere Marathon taking place at the same time, Brathay Hall is transformed from the quiet and tranquil place it’s been and is overtaken by the usual noise and activity associated with race day. It does, however, mean that friends and family are joined by hundreds of cheering runners (and KuHAC clubmates) as we make our way to the start. A very damp start.
Once we are away it’s business as usual and I fall into the same pattern that has served me well since Day 7. “No need to do anything different, get home, sub-4, job done”. The course is much quieter than usual, with the marathon road closures and the fact that most friends and family are staying at Brathay Hall to ensure they see us finish. The only real change on the way round are the “that’s the last time I’ll see that tree/house/sign/roadkill” thoughts that punctuate my 26.2 miles. A little more tired than yesterday, but still going strong, still hitting the same rhythm.
The last four miles are my favourite as we run along the lake from Windermere into Ambleside and to Brathay. And I stop at 24.2 miles (as I have done every day) to gaze at the view of the lake and the hills. My favourite spot, and my last chance to take in the quiet beauty of this most picturesque part of England. Two miles later I’m running up the steep drive at Brathay Hall (not the kindest last .2 of a marathon), down the finishing line, past the cheering crowds.
I cross the line arms aloft and stop the clock. I am embraced by my family, including Trent my amazing physio who has done an incredible job getting me on the road every day. They proceed to place ten medals around my neck.
I am done. I am a 10in10er.