Both Brecon and the Vale ultra were huge learning experiences for me. Not just the races but the training too. I’d never ran as far or pushed my body that hard. I’ve always thought that I’m more natural as a sprinter. So lots of high mileage and tired runs didn’t seem the way I wanted to go. Have to say I enjoyed both in different ways.
The few weeks following B2C were difficult, I was back training after 4 days and racing within a week. But body wasn’t ready. I’ve spent weeks feeling under cooked for every race and even training. Always feeling like something is missing. I’m not sure if I have lost some speed or maybe I’m expecting things to happen post ultra that never were. But it’s been a struggle. Mentally as well as physically. The success is part of the enjoyment and not getting PB’s starts to challenge you.
I’ve raced alot of short distances since and quite a few hilly races. But only got 1 PB and equalled a PB once too. I’m hoping this is part of the cycle. Improve, Plato, change something, improve. I’ve enjoyed not pushing my body too hard and to be honest I’m not sure I could have coped with anything more than the 3 sessions a week including races.
This weekend before last I completed the Merthyr Mawr Trail Running Festivsls “The Witches Run”. This was jointly set up by my club Bridgend AC and the owners of the Merthyr Mawr Estate to showcase the beautiful area. The weather was ideal for a distance run, light drizzle and a little breeze. I’ve not done any real long runs for a while as still felt I wasn’t recovered from the ultra, lesson learnt about pushing it too early after.
The race started well, taking it easy up the first hill and then the next down. We then came to a wooded element and this was mud. Mud 6″ to a foot deep. The kind that rips your trainers from your feet. I ploughed through the seemingly never ending mud and was relived to hit some normal trail. At this point I was caught by 2 other runners and we chatted as we ran for the next few miles. Although I felt a bit tired I was comfortable. As I started the 2nd longer lap I felt that I could sustain the pace and pick it up later after the mud. But then it all changed, I rolled my ankle on some stones poking through the grass path. Immediately I felt a burn and stopped. The other runners disappeared without question and I gingerly started again. As I got moving my mental focus had changed. I’d now be one annoyed at being left and not focusing on the race. This slight mood change was enough to drain my motivation. I hit the mud again but this time without interste. Each step see mile pointless and wasteful of my energy. As I made my way slowly through to oncoming sand dunes, beach and more sand it was a constant battle to keep going. Other runners came and past, some with motivational chats others with a swift prompt. However i just wanted to finish. Eventually I made the river crossing which made the whole second lap worthwhile. I mustered a bit of a lift in pace and clawed back 1 of the 14 places I had lost on that lap. The chimp won that day. That’s the closest I’ve ever come to a DNF. Easily the hardest 18 miles I’ve done.
I’ve learnt that I hate sand and maybe i need to be more prepared going into these races. Just cos you ran 43 miles once, doesn’t mean you can turn it on whenever you like. So this weekend Gower 50 training commenced. Parkrun Saturday with my boy and 9 easy mile on the bike later on, followed by a hilly 13 miles Sunday. I’d hoped to just take it easy, but hard to keep HR low on uphills I just sacked it off and ran to feel, easing of a bit here n there. Club training down the lanes and a bike commute added in today. I’ll look to rest wed and Friday, with maybe a long run at weekend or two medium runs. Just need to keep upping the mileage each week. Next week I’ll commute 2 days on bike and week after I’ll swap 2 bike legs for a run home and a run in. I plan to train for Gower 50 miles, then just minor top up from that for Snowdonia Marathon and then straight into Brecon Ultra (46 miles). Going to be another interesting set of races. But a few more lessons I’m sure.