Well into my second week of Stravadom & the plan may indeed be working albeit early days in reality. My recent running streak continues with me having only missed one day in the last 23 & none in the last 16 & I am enjoying them even when I’m a tad tired like yesterday a day after my latest race.
Before I come to my ‘Good’ Weekend I’ll briefly cover a chance in a million that I experienced last Tuesday when I was out for a ten miler in the Coed y Brenin as ever starting & finishing at home. Approximately 7 miles in & high up on a section of The Goldrush Trail I was clipping along at a steady pace (faster than my tired ‘recovery’ run of the day before) when I heard some footsteps storming up behind me (possibly un-heard off you may be surprised to learn). A quick turn of the head saw a very slim fair/ginger (am I aloud to describe a human as such) figure closing in on me at speed. My first thoughts were ‘surely Andrea (our neighbour) can’t go that fast (albeit she is a fit & respected Triathlete), as ‘she’ drew alongside we glanced at each other again, this time I noticed a beard too (which Andrea definitely does not have), then the penny dropped simultaneously to both runners (if I may compare us as similar), ‘hi Paul’, ‘hi Marcus’ & probably other words such as ‘what the hell are you doing here’. The’Marcus’ in question was Marcus Scotney, yes he off the Cape Wrath Trail win (8 day race) & Dragon’s Back win (at the time of it being a mere 5 day’er over most of Wales’ iconic mountains). Dorina & I had gotten to know Marcus back in 2019 when we ran the Everest Marathon, he’d even asked if I’d bunk with him the night before the race something I had to turn down having already agreed to bunk with Tomas, a very nice Pole who just happened to have a snoring habit to kill for!
Now Marcus is not a local, was the only person I’d seen all morning so what the hell was the chance of seeing him here? Anyway the shock soon turned into talk (well first we both stopped our watches as any runner would). It turns out that Marcus had honeymooned here with Jen & now they were back to celebrate their anniversary. He was out running the Goldrush & I just happened to be on a part of it as he came upon me.
Now I don’t consider myself slim (as a runner) but I’m not fat either however as Marcus commented ‘it’s hot’ he removed his windproof & I was reminded how slim he is, an inch taller than me with no waist he must be at least 10 Kilo’s lighter than me, the sign of a truly competitive runner.
Soon we said farewell, Marcus ran on at speed with me calling after him ‘don’t worry I’m not going to try & keep up’, one of those lovely moments that sometimes turn a good run into a fabulous experience.
Now to that weekend. It started as usual at the Dolgellau Park Run where soon after my arrival two cars pulled up spewing out 7 Athletes, ‘oh shit’, I thought. This was followed by other Athletes at every turn of my eye. Immediate thoughts were ‘Paul, forget top 3, you won’t even be top 10!’ Thankfully a few minutes later I pulled myself together whilst urinating in the toilet block (maybe better for the soul than a church?) as I regained some composure by thinking ‘you are not here to race them, you are here to race yourself so just think about that’.
It worked, in the end I finished 7th in a marginal pb for the year of 20:27, age category win for 4th consecutive week & just beating an over 60 who had earlier yelled to me & another guy ‘come on lads run faster I’m old enough to be your Father’ with me making a mental note to ask him how old he was at the finish. This I duly did, he was 61 & my riposte was ‘well you must have started early then’. He then went onto confess that he regularly uses the chant to make young bucks accelerate only to blow-up allowing him to pass them later on. Next he admitted that today it backfired as both the Under 35 year old & yours truly never came back to him!
The main event however was Sunday’s Conwy Half Marathon which I had only run once before back in 2016. This was to be my first significant test of ‘where am I on my road to Half Marathon/Marathon pb’s for 2022?’
On a beautiful but cold & blustery day the climb around the Orme with an initial head wind was as tough as ever but the reward of a two kilometre descent followed by the 7K run to the finish were a wonderful reward. I could feel the strength/stamina/speed of my recent Park Runs & the Dyfi 8 race in my legs as I steadily improved my position, possibly my strongest finish in a race for years. I crossed the line in 1:32:49, possibly a pb which I’d check out when back at the Café.
In fact I pb’d on the course by a massive four & a half minutes how good did that feel (bearing in mind I am 5 years older too), clearly a sub 1:30 & possible pb of sub 1:28:10 on a flatter course now has a tinge of realism about it for 2022. O.K. I admit I had my Nike’s on but that is a ‘runner’s irrelevance’ in motivational speak.
Next day the results were posted, I’d come 145th out of 1,750, 4th in age category out of 130 (missing a win by less than 2 minutes), all just icing on a very nice cake.
I’ll sign off there until I have something else to either feel good or sad about, there will be downs I’m sure but they just make the Ups that much more sweeter.
Don’t forget with have live music at the Café this coming Saturday, details on our Events page.