Well, bearing in mind I overdid the training in the run-up to this (I went from about 16 miles a week, nice and lazy, to 30 in less than 3 weeks. D'oh) and had to go and see the doctor, this went incredibly well. Lake Vyrnwy is, as the name suggests, a lake, and the half marathon runs around the outside of the lake. not through the middle, none of that swimming shite. Round the outside. Like a Buffalo Girl, right? Right.
Anyway, we arrived - Lovely Wife, two friends who kindly drove - just 30 minutes before the start of the race, which was a bit of a worry. It all turned out okay though, and I made my way to the back of the pack just in time for the buzzer to start the race. It was a surprisingly deep field, and the race attracts a real variety of runners because it's kind of fast and flat. Well, flat-ish.
It took a few minutes to cross the start line, then we were off, moving up a hill. Which went on for a full mile. Then we crossed the lake (which is actually a reservoir, as the bit we crossed was a dam). From the start line, I overtook people and did not stop until the finish line. There were a lot of slower runners out, perhaps attracted by the easy and exceptionally picturesque course. It really is gorgeous - the road is lined with huge, old trees, the lake to your right, woods to the left… for 13 miles or so. I love that kind of path, but I must admit to struggling in the first few miles. My dead leg felt fine and was not yet dead at all, but I was heating up and as we all learned in London this year, hotness is the enemy. So at the second drinks station on six miles, I dumped a load of cold water over my head and suddenly, miraculously, I was feeling fine.
I cruised through the next miles, the road gently undulant and the course really rather lovely, with my brain firmly in the 'off' position. It's a no-iPods race, which is pretty unusual, though plenty of people had them on anyway. Gobshites.
At the next drinks station, 10 miles, I doused my head again and was feeling pretty good. Doesn't double figures always feel that way? Righteous, dawg!
Anyway, then we're on the way back, almost home, and I know Lovely Wife is there somewhere. She was waiting on the turn by the dam, with a big smile for me. The next stretch was all downhill, and I was halfway down when I realised this was the uphill we'd started on - and fuck me, it was incredibly steep. It hadn't seemed particularly so on the way up, but on the way down for a mile my quads were screaming. Even so, I let the brakes off and went for it, because I have absolutely massive quads and they're built for downhill. Ouch. Especially at the bottom, when I saw a small hill ahead which I really didn't remember, and I almost crawled up it.
Then I finished. The end.
Oh, the time was 2:12 on the clock, but it felt a lot faster; plus, I'm taking three minutes off that for the delay getting to the start!*
Things I noticed during the race:
• Nobody had a nice bum. Except me. Weird!
• I saw people running perhaps 11:30 minute miles who had bags on with multiple gels, and sports drinks. Seriously. I think these people would have put weight on during a half marathon. Incredible.
• You really couldn't see the lake. Trees in full, erm, leaf= no lake. My sister ran the course in April, and she said it's gorgeous when the leaves are down or just on their way back. In fact, hold the race a month later and you'd have the most gorgeous road race ever.
• I was disappointed with my time, but on the other hand, I was kinda injured. So really, not so much.
• My Lovely Wife noticed a change in my running style - she said: "You were leaning forward, I've never seen you do that before". A conscious effort to land mid- or fore-foot, and it worked. Rockin'
• I forgot to do a Random Friday Facts. Curse you, brain!
*My friend Angie started in the middle of the pack and her watch showed a two-minute difference to the race clock when she crossed the line, and I was waaaaaay behind her. But I'd feel bad if I claimed more than three minutes, as I can't do it with any accuracy. Three's fine, for a 2:09. Thirty seconds slower than my PB, which was pretty slow in the first place.