Well, the Rhayader 20 miler is done and dusted. My first run at a distance over half marathon which I thoroughly enjoyed, but from a performance perspective, I had a bit of a 'mare at the start mixed with bits of good running and lots of mental torture as the miles went by.
The day began with a pick up of Ian and Gron from Plascrug in the morning. Fearing a ban from Aber AC due to the state of my car interior, I gave my shed-on-wheels it's bi-annual full valet on Friday night.
I didn't quite realise the scale of the race - over 400 runners and lots of carnival style activity in the town itself. We still managed to find seats in a decent cafe pre-race where the Aber contingent talked about the upcoming punishment.
As the starters horn sounded, they say it's all in the head, but the first 6 miles were unnecessarily hard and i ended up walking a part of the big hill. Hills are usually my strong point and so I was so annoyed that my legs just didnt work properly at the time when I should have been passing people. Every now and again the fronts of my calves scream with lactic acid in the first few miles of a training run, a very locallised but quite uncomfortable pain which usually goes away with a bit of a breather. You can't really stop in a race so I just slowed and walked a bit as my right foot was also going numb, and then the descent restored full power and I was away.
I'm hoping more warm up and stretching will sort the problem in the future!
As for the race, its was a great ding dong betwen myself, Dan & Louise all the way to the line. After the big initial hill, my early lead over Dan was wiped out by the top and Louise was up ahead but within view.
Dan & I crested the hill together but his superior descending skills (or is that superior weight advantage?!) meant he had caught Lou by the bridge at the bottom. The descent had sorted my calf problems out and I was feeling good and clawed my way up to the other two. This set the tone for the remaining 13 miles, yep 13 miles which Lou pointed out as we passed the 7 mile marker!
The scenary was stunning in this 'Welsh Desert', not a bush in sight much to the annoyance of Brian Ashton who was speaking from experience back in the cafe before the race....
After around 8 miles the humps began again and whilst I tried to climb ahead on the raises, Dan escaped past me on all the downhills, to the point that he had carved out a 50 metre gap between 9 & 14 miles. Lou was also closing in as we navigated the hairpin bend descent.
As we hit the feed after the hill at around 14 miles, Dan seized up, time for his body to throw a hissy fit. As I neared he got it back together and we then ran the next four miles in serious discomfort. This was the business end of the race for us and Barker was about to scalp!
As our strides shortened, we struggled to maintain pace and I suggested that from behind, we probably looked like a pair of more mature ladies at the back end of the Race for Life field rather than runners in the Rhayadetr 20! Louise later confirmed this to be true.
We were caught at around 18.5 and the three of us ran together until, fortunataly for me, there was a great big hill at 19 miles (they seem to give my cycling legs a breather!). My legs came good and I managed to carve out a small lead. Dans cramp returned and he had a bit of trouble in the last mile. I caught a few more runners on the outskirts of town and with one more runner in the distance, Jos literally 'seargant majored me' from the sidelines to catch the guy. "One more place!!!!" he kept shouting. It certainly worked and I came into the home straight feeling tired but thoroughly satisfied with a time of 2.32. I'm not sure what this would equate to in London, its hard to tell, but now i know how hard the marathon is going to be. At 18 miles, myself and Burgess could easliy have curled up and died, so we're gonna have to beat these thoughts and pains on the big day!