Thursday, April 07, 2011

Grade A Day

Yeah baby. Bloody great recce and boy, what a day for it. I had to apply sun block for the first time this year! Bloody marvellous.

It was a circular loop today so started my run just below the change over point before the Pen Cerrig Calch climb and ran backwards. Well, not actually backwards, reverse direction might be a better choice of words. Anyway, I headed over to Tor-y-Foel and up to the ridge. Non of that part is in the traverse, just a means to an end to get me to the run across to Ystrad. I ran nice and steadily. Nothing too ambitious and found my way to the recce start proper. With Ystrad in clear sight I began.

Taking it steady, I wound my way over to it. I got the route pretty spot on. From there I cut across to the woods. Again I picked the lines pretty good. I mucked up slightly on one little bit but because Pat had showed me almost hidden paths I was able to bear back onto the correct line almost instantly. If I hadn't run this part with Pat there's no way I would be able to run it so quickly.

I dropped down through the woods and started the road section. My main aim of the day was to see whether my route idea, to miss out the private land of the Glen Usk Estate, is a goer. I managed a good pace along the road. Not too fast. Not too slow. As I neared the village I started my route. Heading off the road I bore to the left of the standard route to head into the village on the west side. I followed through the village and over the narrow road bridge. From there I carved through to the main A40 - the only slight down side of my route, a mile along the A40 but on the plus it was completely flat.

At the appropriate point I bore north off the A40 back onto footpaths which I then followed for a mile or so. Again flat running. Finally it was back onto road for the climb to the end of stage. All in all I am well pleased with the route. Although it's longer than using Glen Usk - but only 500m - it only utilises publicly accessible land. And because there is actually less ascent than using Glen Usk I don't think it will actually cost me much time.

My schedule for that section is 2 hours and 5 minutes. I ran it today, and fairly leisurely in 1 hour 39 which is great as I can afford to go even slower - and then it won't feel like I'm running at all. I'm kidding. I will have done many more miles in the real thing by the time I have to run that section but it's good to know I won't have to kill myself to hit the target.

The next part up to PCC was pretty text book. There is much opportunity for a balls up but fortunately I was able to follow the route properly. I walked the entire climb. No running, not even on the one or two flattish parts. I wanted to see what my time would be by taking it really steadily and not pushing hard. Amazingly I hit the summit in 41 minutes - the schedule allows for an hour and 8 minutes. Again, that's great because I was 27 seven minutes quicker and I really was taking it steady. I have to say I'm surprised but it all helps to build my confidence.

The descent back to the car was over in a jiffy and with some grub consumed I drove home. In all I covered just under 42 kilometres with 4,500 feet of ascent in 4 hours and 56 minutes. That's much quicker than I will be going in the real thing. And once home I even managed to get out the lawn mower and cut the grass - wonders will never cease!

Been a great day so far. Going to relax in a bit. Tomorrow is going to be a rest day ahead of the Sugar Loaf fell race on Saturday...