Saturday, June 30, 2012

Not A Stunner...

But I'll take it. I am, of course, talking about my performance on stage 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay. Browsing past results and making a few assumptions I set my sights on 1 hour and 40 minutes for the 19km route with 525m (1,725ft) of ascent.

Not quite up at the crack of dawn - she was a little disappointed - I gathered my kit, lovingly prepared the evening before - OK, more piled by the front door, and headed over to Stanway House. There in plenty of time I managed to squeeze in a fifteen minute nap - toot toot.

Then with the time fast approaching I moseyed on down to the start to meet up with the Chepstow massif to take ownership of a shiny new race number - which I subsequently gave a lucky crumple before pinning to my vest - taking care to avoid giving myself a diy nipple piercing.

I set off towards the front to avoid getting delayed by the stile fest - there are a several in the first mile and I wanted to keep clear of those delays. Into the first climb shortly thereafter I struggled. I can't lay my finger on the reason other than that I am a lardy-ass these days. Just couldn't get going at all as I dropped to the middle order. That said, conditions underfoot weren't great. The recent rain made the going slippery in places and the mud sticky, clinging to your feet to add a little extra resistance to the mix. At least the rain held off though but it was a little breezy in places.

Along the top I went better but not great before dropping down into the villiage of Hailes. Things stabilised a little but I still felt way outside the comfort zone as another few runners sauntered passed. Then before I knew it I hit the outskirts of Winchcombe - halfway-ish - and I felt a little lifted.

The climb out of Winchcombe to Belas Knap, the biggest and claiming the highest point of the stage, went as poorly as the first. I was just about keeping pace with the two or three runners ahead on the flat but as soon as we hit the climb I was pants and they just left me behind.

From Belas Knap, with the clock counting down, I put in a really big effort to close the gap to those few runners ahead. If I could just get back on terms...

The effort paid off as I halved the distance by the time we hit the steep, wooded, twisty downhill section toward Postlip Hall. On that descent I managed to get back a couple of places and more importantly put enough space in between us - even allowing for my shit ascending - to hold my position.

From there I pushed on as best I could to cross the line in a time of 1:42 - at least I think it was 1:42 because I was going by my watch rather than stop watch and got myself a little confused - wot with the effort of the run and all. There is a possibility I was five minutes quicker! On account of working out the wrong target time of day offset from the race start - 8:15. I got it into my head that 9:50 would be 1:40 but it's not, that would be 1:35. In the heat and humidity, with fatigue knocking on my door, I can't attest to what time I actually ran any more. I will just have to wait for the results. Suffice to say I will be more than happy with 1:42 but 1:37 will be a humongous bonus - but I have a fair suspicion that that's just wishful thinking. Top tip of the day, use a bloody stop watch next time you plonker!

Anyway, with my stage complete I took a few minutes to recover. Had a bit of a natter - as you do - and then set sail on the return leg. The 19km back to my car - it was like deja vu 'cept in reverse. A net downhill run of only 360m (1,200ft) ascent. By the time I reached the car - and in fact quite a long way before I got there - I was fair discombobulated but, having committed myself, I had no option than to just keep going.

All in all it's been one of my better training days of recent months. I managed to fit in both a race and a 38km long run with a total ascent of 885m (2,925ft). Not too shabby if I say so myself...

Today's Stage 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay, 19km and 525m ascent
+ the run in reverse back to the car...

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