Saturday 24th October 2015
(This is all me me me because I didn't see any of our other runners except Ben briefly afterwards! As copied from the RW 'Sub 3' forum.)
So... what a race. I said 2:50 would be great, 2:55 fair, and 3:00 disappointing. It has about 3000 feet of climb/descent and it started in lashing rain too. But half way through the race I was kidding myself it could be 2:45 (13M in sub-1:22) -- I've found I'm surprisingly unslowed in hill training compared to the flat, because the uphill grind is compensated for so well by the downhill 'loping' I've been practising. Yeah, right... still 2 climbs to go and only one of those would repay me, as the second one was a bit disastrous. Also I was inevitably doing it all by feel, and though I overtook 1/3 of the field ahead of me at 5M by the end, I think I was still blowing up a bit in the latter stages, though as this coincided with the toughest hill it was hard to say.
I had a 'yellow warning light' from my left hip adductor at around 12M, when a few people otherwise unaccountably passed me, and that niggled again a bit on the last climb. But though I cursed it as a wildcard problem, it never worsened, and I forgot about it later. And I went through a stupidly euphoric patch at about 19M and took several scalps. So euphoric I went back for a plastic cup I dropped -- what a goody two-shoes -- which may have cost me a place at the end in fact (8 sec gap).
But the big deal, as veterans of the course will know, is the downhill from 24.5M for half a mile or two. After 90% tarmac (or stony track), after the morning downpour, I found myself sliding Bambi-like, utterly out of control, down a saturated grass/mud/stone path of evil gradient. I was utterly terrified and couldn't do anything (well, except stop and shuffle down on my ar$e I suppose). I crashed twice onto my back, bashing my head slightly too, and lost a couple of places while wailing desperately for my Mummy. I almost cried with relief when we picked up tarmac again, the Hyperspeed 6's re-engaged grip, and I could resume my well-rehearsed 'flying', which I was pleased with -- quads were still up for it on a 1 in 6 or something at about 26M -- but though I retook one place like that, and held 5:30/M or so through the village, I didn't catch the other.
Scores on the doors: 2:54:28 by my watch; I thought I came 12th, guy behind me reckoned I was 11th, web chip results 10th (woo hoo -- prize!), but I later heard the posted results had me 12th and only 3rd MV45 [actually 2nd]. Stupid back-of-number chips maybe didn't work for a couple of guys in front of me (and by hand-waving extrapolation, about 400 others behind). No official results when I last looked, maybe indicating a technical problem. Mile splits ranged from 5:08 (flying down) to 9:02 (grinding up), to give you an idea of the 'variety'.
Then instead of getting to see my clubmates come in, the first aiders spotted that I was dripping blood and called me into their tent (twice) for patching up. There was in fact a short queue of guys with identical injuries (and shoes in one case). Turns out I had some quite deep lacerations so hospital was encouraged; instead of socialising at the presentations, I therefore asked the SatNav for hospitals, picked one en route to home, and got my arm anaesthetised, cleaned out (with tweezers and a kind of spiky washing-up sponge), yielding a fair few bits of souvenir Snowdon rock, grass and mud, X-rayed to check there was nothing left, then sewn up and dressed. All very slick I should say -- top marks to the Royal Shrewsbury.
Now I had saved a pair of part-worn-down XTalon212s for this very race as a road/trail compromise, but after some agonising, went for the lighter road shoes I knew would be faster and more comfortable for 95% of the race. And I would have been OK if the weather had remained dry for another few hours. Better keep those XTs in a cupboard in case I do it again...
The next day, I woke up to find I had mercifully light DOMS. Oh yeah, full-on 800m vertical marathon race, I'm trained for that, any time! Like judging a hangover before you've sobered up. By the evening I was a wreck with seriously stiff legs, a throbbing arm, and sleep deprivation. Already a lot better today though so I'll be out of the woods soon enough (local HM race in 3 weeks).
Overall -- a good one for the story-books. And as I told the motorbike cameraman who accompanied me for a while on top of the last hill, it really was stunning up there. A very different kind of marathon, but a splendid and epic one.