Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Exactly The Best Prep For A 5k

But who the hell cares. It was bloody great running conditions out there in the mountains. Balls to running a quick 5k tomorrow. I set out a little later than planned on account of not setting the alarm properly. Not that it really mattered. I was over to Tal-y-bont reservoir for eleven, put on the sun block - yes, it was sunny - and headed out on the anti-clockwise Brecon Beacons Race route.

I took an unexpected gamble on the climb to check point one - or more correctly, the place where check point one will be on race day. Just after the first part of the ascent, the bit through the bracken, just as things level off a little so you can run, I espied a small trod off to the left of the main, undulating path and, using my spider senses, sensed the force was strong in said path. And what a boon, it missed out all the extra sub summits, stayed pretty much level, and although narrow was highly runnable - bargain.

The next deviation from the main route was on the ridge not over the river Kwai. I took the corner cut but erred a little too much on the side of caution. That wasn't such a bad thing. The running was good and I made some gain over the main path. Just need to veer a little to the left of the pool and I reckon I'll have it spot on. The jury is out on whether I will use it in the race. You definitely gain time but not without risk. I think I'll base my decision according to the weather conditions on race day - and the size of my balls.

From there it's all standard fair although I did seem to ascend pretty strongly today. After the first steep bit towards Cribyn I was able to run all the way to the top. Then, after the 'walk' to Pen-y-Fan I was able to run up Corn Du and Duwynt. In fact, baring the walk up to Pant-y-Creigiau - snigger, more on that later - I was able to run the rest of the route back to the reservoir. From Duwynt along the ridge and down past the Neuad Reservoir was mint. You could see for bloody miles. The road and forest section were a bit mundane but then came the final climb to the trig on Pant-y-Creigiau - snigger.

I decided to follow the tree line fence and I could make out quite a bit of crushed grass and reed - me thinks others have been this way... I stuck to the fence line all the way. Over the rusting gate and up, still sticking to the fence. There was a nice track, shortish grass, on which to chug towards the top - still keeping close to the fence. Then as a small crop of trees came into view and the hill dropped away sharply to the right I turned to where I deemed the trig point to be. Spot on the money. After having to cross about 200m of rough grass I hit the top. That my friends, is the way to do it.

Finally I tried my 'Path' option. I dropped away from the normal race route and descended rapidly. I soon realised that this was most definitely not the way to do it. Once the descent shallowed off, despite only being 500m from the edge of the forest and the path, it was horrendous terrain. Really tussocky, tall, reedy grass. The going was slow. Too slow. Any gain made on the path would not counteract the time given away getting there. No, this one was a definite fail. Not even close to being a maybe. I shall be sticking to the top on race day.

Well all in all it's been a successful day. I reckon I've refined my route in a couple of places. 19 miles of running with 5,000 feet of ascent - I missed out the final climb to Tor-y-Foel on account of being a lazy bastard - completed in just under 3 and a half hours on a gloriously sunny summers day....