Saturday, April 05, 2008

Who let the dogs out

I haven't run as far as today's race distance for - let me see - over three months so I didn't really feel I would be racing, more training but I really surprised myself.

The race started in Llanbedr and I started steady - in 5th place - now that's not what I call steady! I just found myself on the front row of the grid - OK, it wasn't quite that formal and I really didn't want to be there - honest. I soon let a number of clearly faster runners come past - OK, so I didn't exactly let them come past, more precisely I bloody well couldn't stop them. I settled into a reasonable 16th place.

Then I steadied the ship over the first few miles on the climb up to the first of the three summits, Crug Mawr, and got that one out of the way having moved up to 13th.

The next few miles saw the race move off Crug Mawr and down towards the start of the Sugar Loaf ascent. The climb to Sugar Loaf goes on for miles as the route winds around the houses - except there aren't actually any houses. I took another two places and really worked hard to pull out a big gap on them. I ran as much as I could on the climb - and possibly a bit more - to really move on. Race mode had well and truelly taken hold as the race moved from training to full on race. I pushed hard to make that break but in light of the rest of the race possibly a bit too hard. Anyway, I was up into 11th.

After reaching the summit of Sugar Loaf the route takes in a good few miles of downhill starting with the steep descent from summit and then the more gentle section through Abergavenny. I actually moved up into 8th place by the time I hit the start of the Blorenge but by then I was suffering - and suffering bad. It was all I could do to actually make it to the top. Suffice to say I lost a couple of places on the way up to the final summit of Blorenge and if the truth be told I was hanging, really hanging. The lack of mileage was telling.

The final couple of miles across the top and down to the finish in Blaenafon were agonising even though they were flat or down but by then I was limping along on impulse engines having lost warp drive a good number of miles earlier - I wasn't physically limping just in case you were worrying. The spring in my step had gone and the path across the top is very stony - making the going tough. I took a few looks behind - which I don't usually do, nor, in fact, do I condone - but I had to know I was safe in my 10th place - and I was.

My time for the race was 2:33 and six minutes quicker than last year and a brilliant top ten finish. I still can't believe I managed to go quicker than last year because of the lack of training miles in my legs. Just think what I could do if I actually trained some distance into the old legs...

Thought for the day: Life isn't about how many breaths you take but about the moments that take your breath away.