As I stood on the start line looking like a cross between John McEnroe, almost a runner and a one legged donkey I thought ahead to the challenge that lay before me - the Black Mountains race. At 17 miles and 5,000 feet of ascent I wasn't really sure I could finish. At high noon we set off. The field of seventy plus hard men and women of the fell, with grit and determination in their eyes - damn that wind whipping up a dust storm, just kidding - headed out of the village and into the mountains.
I went out steady but soon realised that steady was not going to cut it. Through check point one I was OK. Then it was out along the ridge before heading down into the first valley. Miraculously I found the Holy Trail - which is like the Holy Grail except more of a path. I skipped on down the mountain gaining good ground on those who failed the quest and took a steeper, slower descent. From there the pain began.
The climb to Pen y Gadair Fawr hurt. The descent from Pen y Gadair Fawr hurt. The climb to the summit beginning with C and ending 'y Fan' - my map is smudged - hurt. The run along the ridge was good but I was tiring and fading. The descent to the road crossing was alright - but nothing to write home about. Then it was time for major jelly baby eating on the ascent towards Crug Mawr through what would have been lovely woodland where it not for the fact that I was 12 miles into a damn fell race.
Once at Crug Mawr it was down hill to the finish but I had well and truly had it. With almost every step my legs where on trying to cramp. As the last mile or two counted down agonisingly slowly the last vestige of my energies were draining away. With the sun beating down I passed the finish line and my self inflicted torment was over.
Helen won the women's race a few minutes ahead of me and as pen the last of this post my eyelids droop with what be soon to come restful sleep...
Tomorrow I'm heading out for a 20 miler - like f#@k am I!