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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Swansea Half Marathon

My race calendar is filling up and last Sunday I took part in the Swansea half marathon.

Last year I ran this race, taking the place of Samantha from Caerleon RC who was injured if I remember correctly, I used the race as a training run before running the Tenby half. In that race I surprised myself by finishing in a time of 02:02, so of course I wanted to improve on that this year.

It was a particularly hot day with temperatures above 25°C and the sun was beating down on us with very little shade along the sea front route, which began in Swansea city centre and headed out to the coast road where we ran west towards Mumbles. This was the half way turn around point and we ran back towards Swansea along the sea front promenade.

With water stations every 3 miles I picked up a bottle at the 3 mile mark and held onto it, slowly sipping as and when I needed it before discarding the empty bottle at about 5 miles. At 6 miles I picked up another bottle but I only took a few sips and poured some water over my head and the back of my neck.

I had set the estimated finishing time function on my Polar M430 watch for half marathon distance and it was constantly updating and showing my finishing time at between 01:50 and 01:55, which was a pace I was comfortable at but I knew that I would not finish in that time as my final 2 - 3 miles would definitely be slower. I was hoping for a time around 01:58 ish, which I felt was realistic as this is a flat route but also considering the heat, and as I predicted, by 10 miles my legs were beginning to feel tired and at 11 miles my pace began to slow, and my watch was now estimating a finish time of 01:58 , so I just needed to hold onto that pace now.

I crossed the line in a chip time of 01:59:05, which I was happy with as it was still a sub 2 hour finish, just.

I don't mind running in the heat as long as I can stay hydrated, and I would much rather heat than the cold of winter. It has to be said that I hated last winters training in Arctic conditions.

So my race calendar now looks like this.

July 8th - Cardiff Epic 10k trail
July 15th - Wales half marathon (part of the Long Course Weekend in Tenby)
Aug 12th - Port Talbot half marathon
Sept 2nd - Cardiff 10k
Sept 16th - Mic Morris Torfaen 10k
Sept 30th - Cheltenham half marathon
Oct 7th - Cardiff half marathon
Oct 14th - Palma Majorca half marathon
Oct 21st - Stroud half marathon
Nov 17th - Brechfa trail half marathon

It's going to be a very busy summer, and I may be pushing myself too far running 3 halfs in 3 weeks in October.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

RACK Raid 2018

On Sunday 3rd June I took part in the annual RACK Raid (ruins and castle keeps), organised by Fairwater Running Club in Cwmbran. This was the 25th anniversary of this inter club relay race which this year was made up of 14 stages over a total of 114 miles, beginning in Llanthony and finishing at the Castell Y Bwch pub in Cwmbran.

I decided to drive the route the evening before, that way it would be fresh in my mind the next morning. This was a new first stage from Llanthony to Grosmont, a distance of 12.5 miles as usually the race begins in Grosmont.

Sunday morning came and I was up at 04:45 as I had to be on the road by 05:45 to be in Abergavenny for 06:15 to meet with Gwyn and Tom who were my designated support crew. I left my car in the car park and got into Gwyn's car for the final part of the journey to the slumbering village of Llanthony, where upon arrival we were met by a tree which had fallen across the road about 1 mile from the village and our start line.

The organisers made the decision to begin the race from the fallen tree, and they didn't have any other option really, and so at our designated race start time of 07:00, we were off.

The pack set off like a bunch of scalded cats, and they left me standing. There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with their pace, so all I could do was go at the fastest pace my little legs could manage.

The first 5 miles along the winding country road were easy as the road was either flat or a very slight down hill and my pace varied from 07:34 to 08:31, which is a very quick pace for me over this distance.

We reached the main Hereford road, which is usually quite busy, but not at that time on a Sunday morning, and there were marshals there to ensure we crossed it safely, and I then took the country road that would take me to Grosmont.

Very quickly the roads gradient increased and my pace slowed, (I'm pretty slow on uphill sections but usually make up what I lose on the down hill stretches), and then the road would level off for a short distance before beginning to climb again, and this pretty much continued like this until I reached the right turn into Grosmont, which was then down hill all the way for the next ½ mile

All the way along the route I could see a Pontypridd runner about 150 - 200m in front of me, and a Fairwater runner in front of him, but although I managed to close the gap on occasion, I couldn't catch them.

Each stage has a cut off time and mine was 1 hour 53 minutes, which I was a bit concerned about making before the race so, before I started I set the estimated finishing time function on my watch for 12.5 miles, which I find a much easier way of judging my pace in a race than looking at my pace itself, and for most of the race my watch was showing me an estimated finishing time of around 01:40 , so I was well within my cut off time even if I had run the full 12.5 miles, so I wasn't really bothered that I was the last runner to finish because I knew I had completed my stage within the required time, and that was all I could do.

Once I'd finished and recovered a little, it was time to hit the road and Gwyn drove me to the next stage at Skenfrith, where I changed cars and got a lift back to Abergavenny with Gareth. I watched the next group of runners begin their stage to the village of Moat and then the Skenfrith runners as they arrived. It was then time for me to head home to shower and get some food before heading out to support my club mates along the rest of the route.

What a fabulous day that was, which we ended by meeting at the finish line at the Castell Y Bwch pub for food and drink.

Autumn Catch Up

Hi all, it's been a little while since I posted so I thought I ought to tell you about what has been happening in my purple running worl...