Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beyond the outer limits

Never in the field of my running has so many miles been run in so few sessions [just the one]. I have never run so far. 32 - don't adjust your screens, you read that right - 32 miles. I ran out from Chepstow again and ran all the way along Offa's path to Monmouth before heading home on the Wye Valley Walk. That's 32 miles and 7,000 feet of ascent - and I was knackered at the finish but recovered pretty quickly.

I loaded the pack with various foods, 2.5 litres of drink, map and compass and waterproof - just in case. I wasn't planning to get lost but only a fool breaks the two second rule, I means sets off unprepared - even on a pretty straight forward route in relatively hospitable territory things can go wrong.

Anyway, I set off at 11am - but quickly stopped... at the Bank in Chepstow to pay in a cheque - as you do when you're running.

The run out to Monmouth was very pleasant. Offa's path mostly wends its way through woodland. Breaking cover here and there but mostly sheltered - which was just as well because the weather for the first half hour was pants but after that the worst just about held at bay. The final part of Offa's headed up over the Kymin, following bits of the winter Kymin race route - which helped pass the time. Then it was down into Monmouth and out onto the Wye Valley Walk [WVW].

The first few miles of the WVW were pretty uninteresting, across fields, to the side of the Wye. There were a few kayaker's on the river which provided a few moments to break the boredom on that section but other than that it was mentally tough.

Then it was into Redbrook and over the bridge to the Welsh side - that's right, I crossed to the Dark Side. I missed the path and headed up the road by mistake - and it was noticeably up. I should have been pootliong along the flat and I was climbing - doh. I still felt good at that point. I found a path back down a few minutes later and rejoined the WVW for another few miles of flat, boring running. I pushed on.

Then I went wrong again but not by too much but soon picked up the proper route. The WVW climbed above Llandogo across to Tintern and I began to tire. The climb was hard. The run down into Tintern was less so.

The grind out of Tintern back up was too much for me. I was about 26 miles into the run, with 6 to go and I crashed - and crashed big style. For a few miles I had a very tough time. I couldn't run at all on the way up and to make matters worse, as I neared the top my 2.5 litres ran dry. My personal energy tank was empty as well and I got the shakes - never a good thing. I dug deep. Took on lots and lots more fuel and gave all I had. Once I reached the top ridge I ran as much as I could. I knew the quicker I got back the quicker I could tuck into my ham sandwiches so I just kept on going.

Once I got back down and crossed the road, 3 miles or so to go, I knew I would make it and began to feel a bit stronger. I pushed as hard as I dared but the pace was slow. Desperately bloody slow. My average pace from Tintern was shit. I had a good time going for the first 26 miles. But that was a distant memory by the time I finally got back to the car.

Then it was into a certain branch of the UK's leading supermarket chain to pick up - and pay for, I hasten to add - a celebration pizza. Then it was the drive home to go cook it. I am now officially a bit knackered just about now.

Today's route;