Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oops It Went Again

But not as bad as last time. To be honest, I couldn't really call it 'going again' but I definitely felt a twinge. Unfortunately I'm talking groin strain but it didn't really strain this time and it was only the left side. Any takers for the official position of Chief Mad Runner Groin Massager? No, thought not.

Other than that, oh, and the appalling weather - is there a some kind of greater power working against me? - I had a good run.

Today I was on duty for Chepstow Harriers - a great honour - on Stage 14 of the Welsh Castles Relay - a cracking event organised by Les Croupiers running club. More a festival of running rather than a race. All the teams cheer on all the others. If you've not run it you should. This years race was a first for me on two counts. This was the first time I've run it legit - the two previous occasions have been as a 'ringer' - albeit a very poor quality one - and as an under-age runner in a vets team (declared as such to avoid any suggestion of fraud).

As we - that's my fellow competitors and I - gathered on the start line I felt somewhat overdressed as compared to the rest adorned, as I was, head to toe in SealSkinz beanie hat, compression top, SealSkinz gloves and finished off with full leg compression leggings - officially called 'tights' but I don't want to get a reputation so we'll stick to leggings. As we stood there it felt cold. Experience told me that once we got onto the mountain it would be colder - and wetter, although it actually couldn't get that much wetter because it was pissing down.

The first six and a half miles out of Builth along the A483 were deceptively undulating. I've never run stage 14 before, only driven it in the car. In the car you don't really notice how much up and down there is in those first miles - you bloody well do when you are running it. The name of the game is to not kill yourself on those first miles. Once you turn off the main road at Garth and head to the mountain that's where you start to work. Once you hit the climb at mile seven there isn't much respite.

I was pleased with the way I went on the climb. I managed a fairly sustained, steady pace and good solid effort all the way to the top. I didn't blow up but nor did I have much spare but I felt good and I felt strong - a lovely pair of ladies, they didn't mind.

With about a mile to the major summit the wind really picked up. That doubled the effort required. I ducked down, dug deep and just pushed on through it. It was really sapping.

Over the top and into the short, sharp descent I felt a twinge from the groin. Nothing major and it didn't stop me running hard but I was conscious of it from there on in. With the quick blast out the way it was the final shortish but never the less steep section to the finish. I pushed all the way and was glad when the finish finally came into sight. Over the line, I clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 27 seconds. My aim was to get inside 1:20 but pretty much the strong winds put an end to that. In conditions I'm sure I would have been on the right side of it. All in all I'm pleased with my run.

Not sure I've ever run in worse conditions in a road race. The rain was pretty much torrential the entire time - I'm bloody glad I was fully suited and booted - who's overdressed now, eh? The support crew on hand at the finish were welcome sight. I don't think it would have taken long to get very very cold. We didn't hang around long. Into the van and away to catch up with the race...

"Drover" - 11 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent.