Rhayader Round the Lakes 20
Saturday 17th March 2012
I went to Wales to compete in the Rhayader “Round the Lakes” 20 mile race for the 7th consecutive year, having set a course PB last year by over 11 minutes, 2:40:12 instead of the usual 2:51 - 2:53. Even though I’ve run quicker every year, surely I couldn’t better my time this year especially since I hadn’t trained the previous 2 weeks, partly due to a minor abdominal operation 9 days before the race.
We set off in light rain which stopped after 15 minutes just as I got to the start of the long hill, which was just as well since that meant I could take off my coat and not over heat on the 3 miles long climb.
Despite not having trained for 2 weeks, I somehow got to the half point in 83 ½ minutes, exactly the same time as when I ran last year’s 2:40, but I knew even then that I wouldn’t get anywhere near that time this year since my legs were already starting to ache. Sure enough, the legs got tighter and stiffer so I just concentrated on steady running.
There was the usual lot of friendly talking between runners, asking about the course, commenting on the wonderful scenery, “how are you doing?”, mutual encouragement and so on.
Normally, in the latter stages of races I speed up and pass lots of other runners, but this year the roles were reversed – I slowed down and runners were passing me. Words of encouragement from them to me and vice versa.
Despite the legs rapidly getting worse, I wasn’t going to give in and I kept forcing the pace from myself, although dropping to 9 minute miling over the hilly last 3 miles, and even raised an effort to “outsprint” another runner over the last 150 metres.
Just under 2:48, nearly 8 minutes slower than last year, but still my 2nd fastest time on this course by over 3 minutes, so I finished with mixed feelings.
From being barely able to walk immediately after the race, I was surprisingly relatively mobile the next day; testament to the effectiveness of foam rollers!
A contrasting fortune to last year’s perfect race day, but one that we all need to experience from time to time to make us appreciate the good days. Can’t wait until next year!