Rhayader 10 Mile - Elan Village - 19/11/11
As part of an effort to do a few more races and to get in tip-top shape for the upcoming Aber 10k, I decided to follow the Ian Evans performance plan and race race race!
After meeting the aforementioned gentleman, we were collected from Llanbadarn petrol station by another fastman, James Thomas from the Uni team who offered to drive. Bridget also pulled up for a refuel and informed us of a few others heading over. In all there must have been well over 10 members of Aber AC, many of whom had done a few laps of Pudseys Marathon the previous evening.
The brights skies of Aberystwyth gave way to slightly duller coverage over Pumlymon, yet for November, we weren't complaining and in Elan Village, the weather was pretty much perfect for road running.
The visitor centre voyer filled up and we met up with Dave Powell, Cameron, Gron, Sian, at least two Helen's, Bridget and even the mighty Bash had come along for the race. Kevin and Geth Holland also showed up and with some members heading over to the Dyfi 8 which unfortunately clashed with the Elan 10, it seemed a very active weekend for Aber AC.
The dilemma of what to wear was fairly easy as the conditions were mild and so it was the summer kit that clung on yet another week deeper into the supposed winter. Shorts & vest it was then.
My plan was to race for position which is totally against every other race I've done this year, save the Twin Peaks I suppose. Even though the race was a standard distance, it was too hilly to record a top time on and so I was no longer a slave to the Garmin pace setting watch, i just raced instead of time trialling. This tactic usually sees me wheezing and going backwards at some catastrophic point, usually at around half way as I would have already spent my race tokens for the day way too early, but with nothing to lose i went for it.
The first mile was an easy downhill affair and I made the front pack and tried not to be alarmed at the sight of an early leader streaking away from us. Mile 1 was completed in 5mins 30 seconds and the alarm bells rang. This was 30 seconds quicker than PB 5km pace! Not to panic, I put it down to the downhiil section and besides, I felt comfortable in about 7th place. Mile 2 was a slightly more stable 6.10 and again, things felt good. We hit the climb and i found myself at the front of what was left of our group. James Thomas had been feigning his pace up until now and he hit 5th gear on the climb and streaked ahead. I also thought I felt good and decided to track him, big mistake!
By the top of the climb I hit the purple zone, the bit after the red zone which is the bit when you imagine that this is what it must feel like to be drowning. This feeling usually means game over, reduce pace to trotting standards and limp home red faced, but there were still just under 8 miles to go!
I decided to man up and deal with the pain, and posted a 7.33 mile for mile three. My pack caught me up but I managed to find something to tuck in with them. I guess the hill had hurt everyone.
By mile 4 I 'came good'. The drowning sensation had gone and I was back in the 6.10-6.30 pace bracket, although it was uncomfortable with all the undulations.... The next few miles were spent with two other guys. I was the demon descender (unusually!) whilst one of my new friends was handy on the sharp uphills and the other seemed great on the long gradual decents. We worked like a pack of three breakaway cyclists trying to hold off a marauding Tour de France peleton and so we were able to stay ahead of the other chasers. At around mile 7 I pulled away from the two yet was overtaken myself by a young guy dressed all in black who looked like he was out for a Sunday stroll. I decided it would be unwise to give chase and anyway, I had my own problems as my pursuiters Darth Vader style breathing made it feel like he was on my shoulder. He was actually about 50 metres behind me but it was very off-putting!
Coming into the last two miles and I could see the man in black and also the guy in pink who was in fourth place. I was actually reeling them back but only very gradually and not at a pace that would enable me to catch them. Darth Vader had also gone quiet. I still feared him as some uber tactician who had decided to go silent as he actually got up to me, to then crush me with an un-witting catch in the final metres. I hate looking around but I had to for peace of mind. Darth was thankfully well back and still breathing hard and so I was able to take 6th place and as a bonus, a new PB by around 25 seconds from last years Teifi 10. I'll take that and remember not to try the racing part too often as it so nearly ended in tears!