As such, I guess I'm pretty much about 2-3 months behind where I would like to be fitness-wise. The Spine took a LOT out of me - but I think it has been the inability to train at the intensity and distances that I want to which has really taken its toll.
|The start - thanks to Mary Jeal for the picture|
The usual suspects were around at the start of the race, deep in the Valleys which contain the River Dee. The hills looked pretty steep, though apparently the route is quite forgiving and an awful lot of it is in fact, horribly runnable. Although the weather was promising to come in with a bit of a vengeance later on, at the start of the race it was mild, but breezy, and with the promise of considerable more breeze across the tops. Al, Carl and I drove down and met up with Chris J down there - so a decent Glossop turnout for a race in the midst of the valleys. (It took less than 2 hours to get there, to be honest)
|Al and I discussing the route - thanks for the picture Carl|
At the gun the race set off at a fairly sedate pace (ie. not totally balls out from the get-go). It winds up and around a farm before heading up to a steep hillside climb which I powered up, ended up at the top in 3rd place, a considerable distance behind the first 2. However, my enthusiasm for hammering up the climb as hard as possible was met by the unfortunate prospect of legs giving out on me before a kilometre and a half had gone. "Move!" I told my legs. "nope". they replied. Over the course of the next section (mostly on the next uphill) person after person came after me until I was hanging onto about 8th/9th place with Chris Jackson pushing me hard for the place.
Jez Brown from Buckley had shot off earlier on, in hot pursuit of the Mercia guy in the lead. A North Wales Road Runner was up there in the top 4 (though I couldn't for the life of me detect any hint of compulsory kit on him). The next few places were being duked out with a very on-form Karl Steinegger and Clive (insert whichever name he is using this week here) who seemed to be trotting around in a waterproof.
The beginning of the "runnable" hills started, and it was all I could do to run a bit of it, and walk the rest. Fairly soon a 3 way battle for 7th started between me, Chris and an Eryri runner. We swapped leads, pushed each other hard and generally had at it as fast as possible.
The breeze got up, and for a time was to our right, then behind us as we made our way across the ridgeline. The path is massive - landrover track size, so no possibility of getting lost. Again and again on the uphills I was reduced to a walk, and it wasn't until the penultimate downhill where it radically steepened that I managed to put some time into Chris. Not so the Eryri guy, and we battled it out up the final rise to Moel Gamelin, with him topping out first by a few seconds.
|The Sun inn- a lovely location for a race HQ|
The Marshal at Moel Gamelin was leaning at about 45degrees into the wind - so strong it was there- and we turned to go down a delightful singletrack section with heather on either side. Again, the wind battered us, and there was no way to stay in the singletrack - the Eryri guy was getting buffeted about, so I took my chance and blasted past him down the hill, hoping to put a decent gap between us.
Past another marshal, a tight turn around and into a surprisingly calm section in a sheltered bit of the hill. Karl was a bit too far in front of me to contemplate catching him, so it was mainly a question of keeping the Eryri guy off my back.
Round the corner, down the hill, another technical downhill section, and then flat out into the field before the final road section- about a kilometre long.
Then the dreaded stitch hit- slowly and surely I began tightening up on the left of my torso. Stride reduced in length, and it was all I could do to keep running at any pace. It seemed like I had enough time behind me not to be caught, and slowed down radically in the last couple of hundred metres.
Thankfully I had enough time, and painfully stumbled over the line in 7th.
A couple of lessons today-
If you're going to Llantysilio race, get there early, there really isn't a lot of parking.
Its a superb race put on by Tattenhall runners.
I need to get better at running uphill again... strength-wise and psychologically as well.
Jez is on FIRE this year.
Well done to Chris in 9th, Al- top 20 and Carl Bedson in 33rd.
Grand day out.