Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Return To Form?

You decide...

Now that we are approaching the winter fell running season the race start times are moving backwards - and that's good - and that's bad. Bad because most of the day is spent by the time you get home afterwards. Good because you can have a damn good lie in - and that I did in fine style.

Conditions, as I set out, looked good. I decided not to wear my contacts - what a mistaka to maka. On arrival there were spots of rain in the air. By the time the race got underway it wasn't long before there was proper rain. Only gentle at first but becoming more persistent. Mind you, it was nowhere near as bad as the rain of the past two weekends but I think it still classifies as three wet races in a row. I'm not likely the precedent that's being set.

Anyway, back to the race. Unlike my recent races I took it out fairly hard. For those not in the know, the Llyn y Fan race climbs gently - but steep enough so that you damn well know you're going up hill - from the start all the way to the top ridge. The approach to the ridge gets fairly steep. My now ever present mantra of 'come on, you can run this bit' was pulsing in my mind as I pushed myself to run every possible stride - not sure if I should blame a certain person for that mantra or not...

Once to the top ridge I knew the run like the back of my hand on account that it follows the route of the South Wales Traverse. I ran hard but steady. I ran quickly down and climbed, what I felt was, quite strongly for once. The rain came on harder and harder and by the final summit it was full on rain and with it my vision suffered - the choice not to go with the contacts was coming home to roost. As I approached the fast, rough downhill I felt optimitic of getting down to the finish quickly. Once the rain hit - and with it a little hail! - I knew I would struggle - and that I did. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't terrible on the descent but I struggled to spot my mark and I know I could have gone better. Half way down there was a huge crankle of thunder and I was glad I wasn't still at the top! In all I reckon the rain cost me 30 seconds. Ho hum.

I don't know my position and it was a strong field consisting of the Jones brothers so my points will be pretty worthless towards the Chepstow Fell Series. Despite that, it was a pleasing performance. I finished in 52 minutes and 57 seconds for the 5.5 mile race with 2,000 feet ascent and that, my cheery chums, is over one and a half minutes quicker than the last time I ran the race way back in 2008 - and that was at a time when I was at my best. Today's race has been a real confidence boost. I ran well on the up - first time for ages - and over all, felt strong. All systems go - but perhaps not for tomorrow's St Arvans 10. I tried bloody hard today so I think I might just feel slightly sluggish tomorrow. Whatever, bring it on...

The route of today's Llyn y Fan fell race:-