Paul’s Blog – Race updates

Where have recent weeks gone, feel like I’m in the heart of racing season now with two big races out of the way & two harder ones just around the corner. I’ll start with the ones under my belt.

3 weeks ago the snow finally left the Moelwyn summits literally a day or so before the Moelwyn Race & we awoke on race day to near perfect conditions, wall to wall (or should that be mountain to mountain) sunshine & a stiff breeze that seemed to relent quiet early into the race. At the start a quick chat with Mike Blake who commented that he didn’t like the long opening section upto & around the lake showed his experience. Despite running the race the last couple of years I’d forgotten just how though a start it is & all the while you are thinking we haven’t even got to the first of main climbs yet. Simply put you question why am I hear, why! Once into Moelwyn Mawr’s main climb positions start to settle down & the commaraderie takes over, those around me seem to share my pain & a feeling of optimism that you can get through this begins to appear. Made a real hash of the descent off Moelwyn Bach but things then improved & to my amazement & for the first time no one came past me on the final descent & long run-in to the finishing line. No collapsing onto the grass (another first for this race) as Dorina greeted me with her huge smile as I crossed the line in 1:54:54 a pb by over 3 minutes. How could I have doubted that it would all be worth it less than 2 hours earlier. Finished 55th out of 108 finishers so top half will have to wait until 2014 but at least I’m making progress.

The following weekend it was onto the Snowdon Half Marathon, the weather wasn’t quite so kind but apart from a vicious slog into a fierce headwind as we ran past Llyn Geirionyd isn’t was too bad in the end. After setting off from Llanwrst we I soon realised that my Estimated Time of 1:45 to 1:50 might have been pessimistic as my first mile was below 7 minutes. Soon the 1:7 hill that I’d been fearing ever since entering the race 2 months ago came into view, no option, head down, grit teeth & suffer. To my surprise & delight I reached the top still running to collect my medal (awarded to those who don’t break into a walk). There were further climbs ahead but as I reached the halfway point I felt pretty good. A surprised left turn was a bit of a shock but apart from that the second half went well with 5 runners overtaking me & my passing 5 as well. Great support as we passed through Bettws including Emma of Cotswold Outdoor & her family, apologies again Emma but the Cotswold logo just wouldn’t stick to my vest. The long run into Llanwrst did go on for ever as seemingly did it hills too but how thrilled I was to cross the line in 1:36:16, not just well below what I expected but even beating my Flat Half Marathon pb to boot. Waited at the finish to see my mate Ron cross the line an agonising 11 seconds past the 2 hour mark. Race results were awaited with excitement for a day or two before I found out I came in 41st out of 521 finishes, how good did that feel. I suppose it puts in perspective just how though fell racers are when you compare the two race positions I’d achieved, clearly though The Moelwyn Race had been ideal prep for this one.

Looking ahead I’m looking forward to an 18K relatively flat trail race in Borrowdale next weekend before the two beasts arrive in June. The first of these is The Welsh 1,000 metre race (I’m in the Walking race over the traditional 4 Peaks) covering over 20 miles & 8,000 feet of climb. At least I know I can do it & want to make serious progress on my 5th place of last year & 7th the year before that. I might try to persuade my brother Ian to pace me up the gruelling Pyg track which I normally find easy during the rest of the year but at the end of a traverse of The Carneddau & The Glyders it is anything but. Then 3 weeks later comes the one I’m really worried about, The Coed y Brenin Full Marathon, all I will say at the moment is that I’m just beginning to adapt my training, my plan is simple reduce the speed & increase the length of the training runs between then & now as well as lose a couple of Kilo’s. Then on race day be positive & keep telling myself that these are only trails & that I’m a fellrunner!

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