Not the Oxford v Cambridge type but today included a race against a boat along the coast. The run started normally as per usual. Down to the beach and along to Witches Point.
At Witches Point I stopped to turn to return home (around 3 and a half miles) and noticed a sailboat just coming around the point and headed with the wind in the direction homeards…..
I wonder if Im faster than a sailboat over 2 miles? Even better a boat that doesnt know its in a race. The course was set – me v boat to the headland in the photo below. I had some rocks to traverse but I reckoned I could do it
So as the boat drew level I was off. Boats actually go much quicker than they seem when you’re trying to keep level so for the 2 miles or so I was going pretty much flat out. I was pleasantly surprised that I could do the first mile over a lot of rocks at 7 minute pace but the boat was keeping level. The second mile was just wet sand and with some determination and complete disregard for my health I managed a 6 minute mile (probably the first and only in my life) to come in just ahead of the boat. Winner winner chicken dinner!
Next up a speedboat ….. kidding …. Last risk taken before the ultra …. probably
So the holidays started officially yesterday and so I ran despite the torrential rain. I mean it was stair-rod stuff, cats n dogs, pissing it down. You know the drill. So I only did the beach and back as by the time I got there I was like a drowned rat and didn’t fancy dying of hypothermia running along the exposed beach despite it being july – its still Wales!
A quick tempo run around the beach today, was feeling good and working hard seemed to make me feel better so I pushed a little and did 5 miles under 10 minute pace for the whole thing which by my calculations include 20 stile and gates and at least half a mile of tricky rock running. Im trying to recover some form as its only 5 weeks to cornwall and I havent fitted in a long run for ages due to a suddenly mental social life! Still you cant really justify missing someones wedding for a long run …. can you?
And the post title? I was pushing back up the wooded path homewards bound and passed an older guy in hiking gear, walking stick and broad brimmed hat, I puffed a good afternoon and went past. Next thing I know he’s alongside going hell for leather “to give you someone to race against” he shouted. I had to laugh, theres me working hard and this guy is flailing along madly next to me. Fair play he managed around 100 metres before falling back with the cry of “I’ll let you have this one” I gave him a cheery thumbs up and headed on bemused.
After work yesterday I wanted to get the seven miles to Witches Point and back done and see if there was any quad pain. If I can do that I can happily start on “mid range” runs again and the news is that I only suffered the usual pains of several miles of trail and beach. The quad withstood it well although I admit I’m protecting it more than usual. I though I felt a twinge but that was more likely injury induced paranoia!
Was so happy to get back and feel I can start building up for August now. Gradually of course, I figure I still have 6 weeks of training not including a weeks taper and I should be able to return to the form of Preseli in that time easily enough. I don’t see the point in pushing my body to get close to 32 miles in training, 20 will be fine again and like Preseli the rest comes together on the day.
So having completed the Beast Bach last year which is the Beasts offspring at 11 miles yesterday it was the full Presesi Beast over 24 miles and 4500 feet of climbing. Was to be a new challenge for me as I’ve only ever done 20 miles in training and the climbs on the beast are excruciatingly long and in parts steep. I’d trained for this for many months so determination was high but how the body would cope was the question.
I won’t do a blow by blow account here or go into depth, when I’ve had time to work out what happened I shall probably write a bit more. I finished in a few minutes over 5 hours (as is tradition here I forgot to stop my watch on the line so I await official timings) I think I probably would have gone under 5 easily had I not made some mistakes which I can now learn from. Oh and the marshalls at this race who are utterly brilliant all seem to have the most beautiful dogs which meant stopping to stroke and chat with every one (dog not the marshall) including one staffie which reminded me of Soaky so much I could have cried. At that point I was in pain and a low point and seeing that particular dog reminded me how far I’ve come and the promise that brought me here – Perfect timing Soak!
I didn’t win – LOL like that was never a thought – The race was part of the Welsh Fell Running Championships this year so there were some seriously fast fell runners – Winner took 3h 5m apparently! Thats inconceviable considering the terrain. I dont think I came in the top half – No matter not why i was there.
I obviously didn’t come to win – I came to finish, learn and enjoy. I did all three.
As I say I’ll flesh out the thoughts below a little later
I learned a huge amount about longer races.
I learned that there is a huge step up from trail half to a long fell race.
I learned what works kitwise.
I learned more about pacing myself (though I’m very happy with my plan and how I pretty much stuck to it)
I learned how to fuel and hydrate sufficiently
I learned that in fell racing there is so much time to be made on quick descending, what you lose climbing you can easily haul back with quick feet and a lack of common sense
I learned that its true that climbing decides winners and descending decides DNF after I managed to blow out a quad after 9 miles
I learned that you do have to learn to cope and adapt physically and mentally as the race progresses.
I learned that with a determined and positive outlook physical issues can be overcome.
After all that you’ll also be glad to hear that I paused quickly to take a few photos this year – I couldn’t resist treating you guys who have been so supportive. Many came out a bit blurred as I wasn’t really stopping for long but I got some good ones. Enjoy.
Its a fantastic race. I cant praise the organisation and marshalling highly enough. The whole village is there to see you off and cheer you home with horns and drums. Every marshall is cheerful and supportive as were everyone we met on the course. A favourite part was the water station around 14 miles in which was 3 old farmers in a farmyard with water and jelly babies. They were obviously loving the day as much as we were.
Im very proud of achieving something I put my mind to. There were doubts in training, there were doubts in the race but 24 miles is just 24 miles, more important is how far I’ve come in the last 2 years. From being unable to run a single field to running in the Welsh Championship fell race over long course just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Tuesday it was back to normal following the Easter weekend. Well I say normal but of course I’m still off work 😉
So a quick 6 miler in the sun to stretch the legs. Along the cliffs to Cwm Mawr and back.
It feels a little odd at the moment with just over 2 weeks to go until the Preseli Beast. I’m now trying to maintain where I’m at without getting injured which feels almost like I’m putting the brakes on myself when the weather is sunny like this. Perhaps its overcaution but I really don’t want to screw myself over after 4 months of training for this run so I guess it’s listen to the body and force myself to rest every few days …. like today … hey I get to catch up with everyones blogs (and mine)