This was it.
It’s been a month since our last race and the medal collection was getting lonely without a new addition.
Today we took on Born 2 Run Castleward Challange with a 10k and a Half Marathon option.
It had already been touted as a tough course and with the route, rerouted like an Orange Parade during the twelfth, it was apparent that the trail would be mucky and tough.
Amongst the grounds of Castleward lies the infamous “Winterfell” from Game of Thrones. So the place was hiving with tourists as well as runners.
As the half runners lined up for 13.1miles of misery, Michael (bare arms and black and red vest) fought with his Garmin, a regular scene at every race. I thought to myself as I stood on the side lines that in 2 months that will be me lining up to take on my first half. I felt physically sick and emotional as I watched him set off with a field full of all shapes and sizes.
After returning to the car to dump the baggage and get ready for my own race, I headed to the courtyard to find someone to chat to.
This was my first race as an affiliated club member. I’d the vest and was in the hunt for those in similar colours. It’s amazing how that even as a newbie to the club that people you have never met before will automatically start chatting to you and making you feel welcome.
Even more so throughout the course as the half marathon crew and faster 10k runners passed me, all the Murlough runners spotted my vest and gave me a tap on the shoulder and wished me well. Absolutely fantastic support and encouragement throughout the whole field. If you haven’t joined a running club…do!
The Claxton sounded and we were off. I usually procrastinate and spend the first 2 k wondering why I even thought this was a good idea but as the sun beamed down and the crowd of over 400 passed in the shadow of the Castleward Mansion out to the boundary, I settled into the race swiftly.
In the early stages of the race it was clear that we had merged with the half marathon and I wondered at what point Michael would catch up with me. We had talked about if we both paced as planned we would end up crossing the line together. However a mixture of not exact start times and different paces meant he had caught up with me by the 5.5k mark.
I’ll admit I was glad to see him looking fresh, considering he had already done 9 mile and as he powered on ahead I knew he was enjoying it as much as one can enjoy a half marathon.
As we swept around the corner to be greeted by Strangford Lough I realised the mile and km markers where not matching my garmin distance by over 3/4 of a kilometre!
This began to really grind on me as my time was based on my garmin distance which is never out. I tried to ignore it and focus on the race but I am sure it had a huge mental affect on me.
Nothing as bad as knowing the finish line is further away when you have been mentally prepared for.
At 7.5k I had my own personal cheer squad in the form of Mrs Marshall for the day, my bff Tara who had her camera poised with the hope that she could capture some awesome pictures in transit.
Ok the distance markers where out but if that didn’t upset things enough…the hill at 9k was something else. It was horrid…not one person in the field in front of me was running it. I can be thankful for my mountain walks as I dug deep and power walked that hill like my life depended on it. I knew Lauren would be so proud as I tackled that hill like it was the final ascent of Slieve Donard, telling people to move as they were in my way and out for a chat…I’d a race to finish.
I watched my pb time slip away but knew the end was near…or at least falling on my ass on the grass path wasn’t going to happen.
As I spied the Mansion in the distance and looked ahead at the pure mud bath that lay ahead and seen others going round it…I just threw the head up and went straight through it, belting down the grass hill and onto the final stretch.
In true Siobhan style, I was flying towards the finish line and taking over a few people while I was at it. Nothing was stopping me. And I came across the line into the arms of one of my fellow Murlough members who was giving out medals clocking 10.48km on my garmin.
So the times came in and I managed a 1.15.09 however if I cross it with the additional stats from strava and garmin I’ve 6.14 to take off that for the last 0.4km giving me a pb of 1.07. 55
It doesn’t feel like a pb as the distance was all wrong etc but hey I know it’s in me and will manage it again someday.
Afterall I’ve a marathon to run and that’s technically 4 attempts in 1 race to break it..not that it works like that. The theory is good though.
So another medal for the collection and so begins the 60 day count down to my first half. But before then…Belfast Marathon Team Relay on the May Bank Holiday.