Saturday, 12 November 2011

Endurance Life Gower - 14.4 Miles of Sun & Mud

My last race of my 2011 calender has arrived and I can still remember writing my first report of 2011 back at Cardiff Try-a-Tri. The weather up to the race had been wet so the ground was already soft so I was hoping the sun would be out for my first off road half marathon. Lucky for me it was, and it wasn't to cold either, an ideal day for running.

I arrived at the start line in time to see the ultra marathon runner leave and there were about 30 runners, They have a long day ahead of them as their race was about 35 miles, I'm hoping to get a marathon under my belt in 2012 but that depends on how much training I can get done in the new year, but back to today's race. It was easy and simple to check in at the race, picked up my wristband and timing chip and there were some free samples of Cliff bar so I helped myself to them for after the race as I didn't fancy eating something now that would effect my race and make me stop for the loo half way round the course.

At the start line there was a mixture of athletes, some hardcore off road runner, just simple runners (like me) and fun runners so it was good to see so many people given the terrain a go. I felt sorry for people in running trainers as I could see them going flying as they had less grip than the off road shoes most people were wearing.

A final kit check, get my wrist band time clocked in and off we went.

Half way into the first mile I went to look at my watch to see my pacing, only to notice that I hadn't started the watch, so I started that late and then I was met by a large muddle puddle, do I tip toe around the edge or do I plough straight through it? I wasn't going to stay dry, clean and warm for long so I decided to go straight through it.

After the first 2.5 miles that was relatively flat with a few cheeky hills, my first test was a 150 meter climb, this was a shock to the system and my mate that I started with left me behind, his legs seem to drive through alot quick than mine and he reached the summit before me and I never really caught up with him (but he is an Ironman). This hill was the reason why it was a 13 minute mile, but once at the top you had a great view of the Swansea cost line which helped take away some of the pain in my legs, but the best part was still to come the decent. I nearly went flying down the bank, I was going down like an Olympic skier from side to side, If I was going to bump into someone they were coming with me, thank fully I missed everyone.

Then it was to the beach and running on sand is something I never enjoy, but I suppose it was a break from the climbing and I managed to get in a under 9 minute mile. After the beach this is when things got harder and the water was running out.

It felt like the further I went on the course the muddier it was getting, on mile 11 and 12 it was uphill and very slippy. I was grateful for the off road shoes as my traction was great with them so god knows how the people in trainers got on? . They were tough miles and by mile 13 I had eventually run out of water, I took on some jelly babies and water at the water station at mile 12 but I had to carry on and get to the end for my next drink... and it felt like it was miles away. I had pre-empted my Powerbar gel schedule I would use one at 5 mile, 9 mile and 12 mile markers and I hope this was enough to get me safely to the end of the race and it did, something I can note for the next long distance race.

On the final downhill I took a cracking tumble, I think it was down to fatigue kicking in and not lifting my feet high enough, I did look around to see if anyone saw me take a fall, thankfully the only person about was the person I was chasing down. The final half a mile was on the road and I could see the finish line and hear the spectators so that drove me on and I gave everything I had left in the tank.

I crossed the finish line and I was done! I was shattered but I really enjoyed the race and I would definitely do it again. It was well marshalled and well organised, and I understand 2XU are now involved for next years races so things can only get better.

Todays session

Duration 02 23 19
Distance 14.4 miles
Calories 1715
Average HR 170 BPM
Max HR 184 BPM
Average Pace 10.39
Best Pace 5.40

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