She was there. He was there. And you know what? I felt fine. More than fine. I feel fan-bloody-tastic. I'm the fittest I've ever been and I feel great. I can see clearly now the pain has gone. My life is better now. [shit I've just switched from past to present tense in the same paragraph - that can't be good, oh well]. I've no regrets. It's been like sailing through a tempest. Like navigating into the eye of the storm but I've made it through and I honestly do think my life is better now. Life is one big lesson and f*%k me I've learnt a lot this last year. And now I'm back to enjoying life. I started the day with a smile. I started the race with a smile and I god damned finished it with one.
The race to which I refer, of course, is the 15 mile Llanbedr To Blaenavon fell race. A testing little race consisting three main climbs to Crug Mawr, Sugar Loaf and Blorenge accounting for the 4,500 feet of ascent. In truth the race was a little too much of a sprint for me. To really show my strength I need something a little longer - oooh matron - but I did my best.
As a one trick pony - or should that be, one speed pony - I started steady. Remained steady on the middle section and finished steady.
The race usually attracts about thirty runners. Maybe fifty in a good year but there were 110 starters this year on account of it being part of the Welsh Fell Championships (or something like that). I didn't fancy my chances. It was also a Chepstow nominated fell series race which I didn't realise.
I was never really sure of my position through the race but I did over take a few here and there - especially when some of those ahead charitably decided on experimental new routes - not sure their choice of 'long' cut were particularly sensible though. Anyway, I knew the route and ploughed my own furrow - ssh, stop it - to traverse what I believe is the optimum route. I remember the words of my Nepalese Guru well, 'Always stick to the route you know'. OK, you might lose out from time to time as those with local knowledge pick a shorter line but you lessen your chances of what is commonly referred to in fell running circles as 'a cockup'. So, if you only take away one piece of advice from me - I ain't a wise man - it would be:- always stick to the route you know.
By the time I hit Blorenge I was still feeling good. I fueled up on my final energy gel at the start of the climb and by the time I hit the mid section I was going well. I hit the top with something to spare and got running quickly. The final two to three miles can be heaven or hell. I've done hell before and today it was heaven. I can't claim to have blasted across the top at lightning speed but I certainly went well and didn't fade. And fortunately I didn't make any mistakes on the final drop through Blaenavon to finish in a time of 2 hours and 31 minutes - a PB by two minutes - whoop. Better than that though, I was top ten - yeah, baby - 9th place - whoop whoop. Ninth place in a large field and a championship race too boot. Magic, bloody magic.
So far it's been a corker of a week. Fastest 5k for over three years. PB on Thursday night in the Chepstow Handicap by over a minute and another personal best today. And possibly better than all that - hard to imagine what could be better than that - I've only got meeself a bloomin' pizza for dinner.
Right, I'm off for half an hour on the bike to unwind - got my fourth race of the week to prepare for, the Bitton Road Relays. If you're running, I'll see you there tomorrow - just don't expect me to run the 5 miler very quickly.
Today's race route:-