After spending months deliberating as to whether to enter another marathon this spring to have another crack at the magic sub 3 hour time, I finally entered the reborn Manchester marathon (29th April) after missing out on a ballot place for London.
This meant that i would have to start doing some 'proper' training again this year, after having a pretty sedentary few weeks after the Aber 10k in mid December.
Despite Steve Kings best efforts to coax me out on the now famous Aber AC lunchtime bash, my excuses each day/week ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, although I did manage a couple of wheezy outings.
I had actually been doing some training, a few decent evening tempo runs and of course the Tuesday night speed sessions, but nowt much else and so mileage had suffered.
Knowing that the Tregaron half was looming in the distance, it came as quite a surprise last Tuesday when Bash asked 'are you doing Tregaron on Sunday?' to which I auto responded 'yes' despite subconsciously thinking it was weeks away!
On the day the conditions were nigh on perfect. A cold yet not too cold stillness made for a perfect body thermostat regulator and there was no wind of note either! After a very short warm up the race began and my initail idea of keeping to marathon pace for an approx 1.30 time soon went out the windowas the race blew to bits straight from the gun.
The usual gaggle of Sarn Helen elites and other fast men & women disappeared into the distance yet Steve King, Dave Powell and myself were not too far behind, but the pace was 6 minute miling and my thoughts went into panick mode. This was my 5k pace, not half marathon!!
I figured Dave knew what he was doing and so decided to try and keep up with him. Once we hit the hills after the turn off the main road we dispensed with our two companions but my horrible lactic burn in my lower legs (the result of not warming up enough - happens alot!) was becoming unbearable. If Dave would have known this I'm sure he'd have pressed on. As it was I decided to man up and carry on the dreadful pace...
As we lumped ourselves over each steep climb between miles 4 and 8, we saw Steve King yo-yo to and from us but we never actually made up the gap.
On one climb I managed to distance myself from Dave only for him to come stomping back minutes later. I decided that it would be best to ease off the gas on the climbs so that I stood a chance of keeping with him on the flat. My descending has come on leeps since last year and I now know how to relax and take the handbrake off, but it was on the flat roads that my slight weight gain and lack of recent mileage was starting to show.
Onto the flat final 5 miles and I hoped that we could up the pace to 6.20 ish to try and claw back some time on Steve. I was a pathetic passenger as Dave plodded on in the wind as I hid like Mark Cavendish in his slipstream. We were caught with 4 to go by Stafford Rees from Rhayader, in the same place that he caught me last year, how annoying!
Our pace was never quite 6.30 but we were still going well and a look at the watch told me that we were on for a 1.25 or 6, barring a catastrophe.
As we exited the old railway and onto the road the thighs started to complain and despite my best efforts I just couldn't hold Dave who stole 10 metres on me. One look back and I had another chaser about to make contact. In this kind of situation, the animal is unleashed and I upped my game, determined not to lose position at this stage in the race. I managed a kick and couldn't quite catch Dave, but held off the pursuiter and so it was an Aber 3 up finish with Steve coming in a minute up the road.
Steve's improvement has set a new benchmark for the season for the rest of us. Roll on the next race!!