I'm now sporting a pair of symmetrically placed blisters on the sides of my feet, sort of inside top area. One is red raw, the other has maintained skin structural integrity - I guess I've not raced a long in my Wave Harriers before.
Anyway, it was a great day for it. Ideal conditions. It was misty on top and sunny in the dips and very little wind - except for the beans. As is the norm for the Seaview 17 - the 21 mile 'undulating' race along the coastal path from Contisbury to Minehead - we huddled at the start for the official photo and then we were off.
I found myself in the unusual position of leading things out which I maintained for about three miles. It didn't last as I had to cool it. I was overcooking it trying to stay ahead and 21 miles is a long way. That kind of distance can be hell if you've burnt up inside five miles. I eased to the side to let five or six runners past. I wouldn't have held them for long and I'd have blown my chances of a good run. A few more came past in the next couple of miles but I continued to hover around the top ten.
As is now customary for me in this race, I ballsed up at mile five and darted off downhill on the coastal path - just not the bit of the coastal path we follow - doh. On the upside I led a load of others the wrong way too but on the downside the net affect was a couple of minutes lost, some energy wasted and a few more places dropped - doh, doh. Will I ever run this race and not go wrong? Maybe fourth time lucky next year?
The race steadied for the next six or seven miles as we wound our way around the coast down to Porlock Weir and the flats before hitting the main climb. I made inroads into the places I'd lost and moved somewhere back towards the top ten.
I stuffed my face full of dates and drink on the steep climb. It's too steep to run so I took the opportunity to fuel up. A couple came past but I was more concerned with getting the fuel onboard than flogging myself to death on the climb. With six or seven miles left to go once you get to the top, running out of energy is not the thing to do - been there done that, got the T-shirt. A few lost seconds on the climb could save minutes at the end.
Across the top I worked hard to get back on terms with one of those who'd come past on the climb and for four miles we worked well together. Sharing the lead as we pulled out an uncatchable lead on those chasing us - but we failed to dent the lead the chap ahead had over us - win some, lose some.
On the descent to Minehead - which goes on and on - I got a stitch and struggled for ten minutes. Fortunately - for me, not him - the guy I was running with was starting to go into energy debt and dropped back. With the stitch gone I pushed hard to the end but never managed to make any ground on the runner ahead.
In the end I finished in 7th place in a time of 2 hours 56 minutes. I'm really pleased with that and it's only four minutes down on my best from back in the day. I felt pretty strong the whole way and it was definitely a good decision to ease back in those early miles.
Well done to Minehead RC for putting on another great race, and a lovely buffet at the end.
Seaview 17 route (with unintentional variation);