Long weekend

Saturday – Black Mountain Big Dipper

30 miles,1820m of ascent
I love the black mountains, less than 90 minutes from home, plenty of variety and over 800m, not too busy, and the quite brilliant castle Inn for great hospitality, camping, steaks and ale.
After dusting off the cobwebs it was clearly going to be a glorious day, and I made Llanthony my aim. I had to get over three ridges to get there, but If I want to survive the Cotswold way century then I need to get used to hills. As I came up towards the main Waun Fach path it was jacket on time, despite the clear blue sky and warm sun the wind was really strong. Got a really fluid pace going on the gentle 4 mile down hill, then started the second ascent. On top of the second ridge the supposed footpath through the forest had lost out to the trees, so decided to zig zag gently long the forest roads. I hit a real sweet spot here, clocking sub 8 minute miles and felt like I could go all day. Needed some lunch though and the pub at Llanthony beckoned  so dropped through the trees to the road and then started the third climb of the day.


Looking back towards Pengenfford



AT 17 miles I arrived at the campsite in Llanthony where they also have a bacon & burger van. I couldn’t get past the smell so had a great locally sourced beef burger 🙂 Then onto the pub in the  Priory where last nights beer was asking to be neutralised with a lasagne. I took the next 7 miles  at a brisk walk to digest and save the legs a bit until back up high, it was 5pm now, a great time to be on the hill I had it to myself. A gentle run back to the pub finished off a great day in the hills.

mid wales in the sunshine
Back to Waun Fach on the final descent
What a great route back down to cold beer

Sunday – Welsh Castles Relay

Leg 18, Merthyr – Abercynon, 9.05 miles, 59:08, 15th Place
Now, the other reason I was in wales was to join Stroud AC on day two of the Welsh Castles Relay. I’ve never raced anything quite like this, 20 legs, mainly on minor roads, down the length of wales. With each leg starting at a set time, it’s not a true baton passing relay, but the teams time is added up. We had a mixture of runners and were there for fun more than to compete at the sharp end of the field, with teams from all over the country the standard was really high.
1) 1m – 6:24
2) 1m – 6:35
3) 1m – 6:29
4) 1m – 6:54
5) 1m – 7:01
6) 1m – 6:59
7) 1m – 6:10*
8) 1m – 6:02 
9) 1m – 6:18
10) 0.05m – 16
*Can you spot the point where my club mates on Bikes joined the route and started shouting at me?!
It’s amazing what you can do when you think you can’t give anymore but someone else thinks you can….I was felling the heat and had settled into a fairly comfortable pace, but Darren Jewell was telling me If I ran as hard as we do in training I could catch some people “they’re knackered up there mate, you can get them”….”i’ve got them…..” – I think I picked up 4 or 5 places in the last three miles. I don’t intend to race comfortably for half marathon or shorter again after that!  
Had great fun following the race and supporting, it’s great running as a part of a team especially when it’s people you’ve trained with through rain and snow all winter. Stroud finished 27th of 61.

Monday – Westonbirt 10k

38:49, 30th of 712, 4th Stroud runner
With tired legs, I wasn’t expecting a pb (37:54), but thought I’d see if 6 minute miles were possible  Of course they weren’t, especially on an undulating course. I started off with Jason & Dan from Stroud who I run with regularly, but couldn’t stay with their fresh legs after the first mile. Dan went on to run his first every sub 40:00 10K, in 37:56!!! an amazing improvement. 
I was hurting but going for it and passed a fading Jason at 5 miles. Was really pleased to finish within a minute of my spring best. there’s close to a 37 minute 10K in me on the right day at the moment I think.
Split Summary
1) 1m – 6:01 169/177bpm 
2) 1m – 6:27 177/180bpm l
3) 1m – 6:09 174/177bpm 
4) 1m – 6:26 175/178bpm l
5) 1m – 6:29 176/180bpm 
6) 1m – 6:22 173/178bpm 
7) 0.11m – 40 180/181bpm 
Near the start with Dan Brook

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