- ooh, nasty - with the plan as I went and raced Cribyn. A reasonably tough 5.5 mile fell race taking in the summits of Cribyn and Pen-y-Fan with a total ascent in the region of 3,000 feet. To be fair it's probably got one of the highest ascent to distance ratios of any short fell race. And I surprised even myself with how well I ran. Mind, I was fair destroyed at the end and almost puked after the finish - is that too much information?
The raced started in chill conditions but at least it wasn't raining. I decided to push things today and instead of the normal sitting back at the rear I decided to go for it. I was fired for it and off I went. Within a few minutes the climb really began and it wasn't long before I was walking - but it was a determine type of walking, a hands on legs, pumping, kind of walking. A walking that brings that bloody taste to the back of your throat - yum. That said, it didn't stop that sod Mr L going past - grrrrh.
With the first ascent to check point one out of the way it was time for a little bit of faster running on the drop down into the valley below Cribyn/Pen-y-Fan. It's a fairly technical section with a few rocks hidden underfoot and some thicker bits of vegetation - my sort of descent and I soon passed Mr L - hee hee hee [that's meant to be evil laughter] as I struck out on my own route - as I tend to do. I take a line to the left of most runners, giving a steeper initial drop but it's more level rather than a contour down as I find it better to get to the slightly flatter, runnable downhill as quickly as possible. The plan worked as by the time I reached the low point - altitude, not state of mind - I had passed several more runners.
I feared the L-meister would be champing at my heels on the climb to Cribyn as I climbed with all my might - which isn't much because I am sloth like on the steep bits of ascent. Gripped by fear I pushed and pushed, running as much of the slightly flatter bits as possible even if it was only for 10 metres to try and keep my advantage. Again, I ploughed my own furrow - ooh, er misses - as I bore slightly left of the normal line to try and hit the more solid ground sooner. Again, it worked, as the chap that had out climbed my over the softer ground, floundered once I hit the solid path will he was still on the softer stuff. Although slightly longer in distance by the time he hit the path I was ahead - and I stayed there all the way to Cribyn. There was still no sign of the L-minator coming past which I thought was odd - not that I was complaining.
My descent from Cribyn was acceptable but not great. I was a little timid but with the climb to Pen-Y-Fan up next I guess saving a little bit in the legs might not have been such a bad thing. It wasn't long before the lactic began to throb through my veins. Up, up into the mist as the hail stones began to fall. Still no sign of the L- exocet. I was beginning suspect something was awry - either that or he had one hell of a master plan waiting around the corner. Turns out he'd done his back - and there was me pushing, pushing, pushing for all I was worth. Still, there was a new battle to commence as one chap had the indecency to over take me in the final 50 metres of ascent to the summit - I wished him well though, grrrrh.
Next up the descent and I was good to go - on my now wobbly legs. I pushed a little too hard, too quickly to regain the place and, having pulled out a bit of lead, got a bloody stitch and had to slow. Bastard. It was agony. I ran on for a few hundred metres but I knew I had to do something as I was down to a jog and half the field would soon be flying past any second so I stopped and massaged the area of the stitch. It was then I realised the gap was larger than I had thought and that there was still a small chance I could keep ahead.
With the stitch easing I got going again but he was on my heels. I couldn't go at full capacity over the rough terrain as it seemed to aggravate the stitch. I knew if I could hold him until the field that I'd be OK. I was confident the stitch wouldn't rear up running across the smother terrain - and I was right as I rammed along, all guns blazing to cross the line in 1 hour and 8 minutes. Over two minutes quicker than the only other time I've run the race - which was a surprise. Still not really very good though but after the last two months of spiralling ever downward I'll certainly take it. Cue a coughing fit and - no, I'm not mentioning the other thing again.
It's good to know I can still raise my game when I need to, to draw on every ounce of strength and be able to drain the tank down to empty. It was the first time I've felt a wrecked after a race for quite some time. I just hope I can start to get some more stable training done over the next few months. Gives me some hope I can get things turned around once I get some stability.
Well, it's about time to wrap things up here. It was a hollow victory over the L-xocutioner today and battle will recommence once he is mended - which I hope will be soon. Up tomorrow is Chepstow Harriers Offa's Orra with it's all new start/finish location and slightly amended course. At 20km I'm not expecting another 13th place finish...
The route of today's Cribyn Fell Race..