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Thursday, 16 August 2018

Port Talbot half marathon and more

Last Sunday was the Port Talbot half marathon, organised by Port Talbot Harriers. This was the second time I have participated in this event having run it last year where I strained a calf muscle at the six mile mark. I finished that race in 02:07 which I didn't think was bad considering the injury, so of course I had to run it again this year.

The forecast wasn't great with rain showers forecast all day, and anyone who knows me knows that if the rain is more than just a bit of drizzle, then I don't like it at all.

Running friend Claire joined me for this race and we had an easy drive to race HQ at the Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre although the drive took longer than I anticipated. We collected our race numbers and met up with other Caerleon RC runners for photo's and a chat before heading to our start pens.

The course is fabulous! It consists mostly of tarmac paths, deep down in a wooded valley with the river Corrwg flowing through the middle, which we crossed several times. But the first 6.5 miles leads you into a false sense of security as it is a very gradual downhill most of the way, but of course that means that the second 6.5 miles is a gradual uphill, and your legs really begin to notice that by mile 10 or 11.

The rain the night before and that morning meant that in several places there were some sizable, ankle deep puddles, which most people tried to tippy toe through in order not to get wet feet. I learned last winter whilst taking part in my first cross country races, that the best way to negotiate puddles and mud was to just plough straight through them at full speed, and that is what I did here. The rain began again just before the race started, only very lightly, and then it stopped, followed by some drizzle. And then by the time I'd reached mile 8 or so there was one hell of a downpour that just soaked everyone totally through to the skin.

My race went well and pretty much to plan. I was aiming for a 2 hour finish and I got in at 02:01 so I was happy with that. If you've never run this race then I can thoroughly recommend it.

Tuesday evenings run was different to the usual club run. The club run was to run the Llanhennock Loop in reverse, which meant some fairly sizable hills but, my calfs and glutes were still aching from Sunday's race and I really didn't fancy that. Fortunately fellow club member and friend Michelle came up with an alternative which was to run from the 14 locks canal centre with some of the runners from the Run Newport group. This was a nice, easy paced run along tarmac paths , an open grassy field, and some trail paths before getting onto the canal path where we headed back to 14 locks, and my achy muscles thanked me for not subjecting them to big hills.

Wednesday evening was something different, a 1 mile track night at Newport Stadium with Lliswerry Runners. This was divided up into times, so for instance there were groups for sub 7 minute runners, 7 to 8:30 minutes, 8:30 - 9 minutes and 9:30 plus minutes, and I was in the 7 - 8:30 minute group.

Running on a track was a new experience for me, the track felt slightly spongy and a bit of a weird feeling to it, but after having run a lap or two to warm up I quickly got used to it.

My race began and I think I was somewhere mid pack, and I did manage to catch and overtake a few people. Then with just 50 metres to go I could hear my Caerleon running buddies shouting that someone was on my tail and catching me. I had a quick glance behind and Eddie was there, but I knew if I put a burst on for those last few metres then Eddie wouldn't catch me, and so it was, I finished with an official time of 07:30

All in all it was a good hour or so, and good fun too.

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