Monday, 1 April 2013

Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km

It has taken a while to get writing about this. One of my best mates was killed the day after the race so it didn’t seem write talking about good times..

As this dominated my early season I did actually taper properly for this event, I’d had a good 20 weeks of 90-100 mile weeks and my basic week was two long runs, 1 20+ miler and 1 15+ miler. Then two effort sessions. The bulk of the miles were road miles at or below my 100k pace. Its certainly the most prepared I’ve been and a recent marathon pb was solid evidence I was fitter than I’ve been before.

The last two weeks were 70 and then 40 miles per week, dropping the volume but maintaining the intensity. This certainly worked as I felt great on the day.

Breakfast was 5:30am, and the race started at 7:00 am, so there wasn’t too much time to get food and digest it which may account for a steady start, which is no bad thing. It was a bitterly cold morning but it light by the time the race started. At the start 3 groups formed pretty much instantly, the Irish guy and the English guy shot off.. then 2 english guys then a group of 5 or so of us, which was me, Donnie Campbell, Marco Consani, one of the English runners and Ian Synmington. Our first 3 miles were 7:01, 7:01, 7:01… which I was happy with, I averaged 7:04 for the whole race and my basic race plan was run a 3 hour marathon and try to hold on.

There had been talk about the English having some rapid runners, 2 sub 2:20 marathoners so we knew a fast start was on the cards, but both these runners blew up and had never run the distance before, but even doing so one held on to run 7:36 so a real threat for the future.

It was a cold morning but it suited me, I ran in a thin long sleeve thermal, shorts, then my welsh vest and hat and gloves and slowly the layers came off as the sun got up. Conditions were perfect, 5 deg C and a light wind, this built during the day but as it was in our face on the long gradual descent down the river bank I don’t think it was a factor at all.

The race was a 2.4 km loop with one short climb and it was pretty busy on the route. Especially once the 50 K started a few hours later. For this year I-pods were allowed but people seemed to hear still, a few groups of the 50 km seemed intent on running as groups strung out across the track so that was a bit of a pain but generally it was a pretty free route.. we were also allowed to wear our GPS watches.. some times we aren’t, sometimes we are, and I much prefer to run wearing mine so was glad about that.

The early miles went through OK, I had to go to the toilet a fair bit, but that wasn’t overly concerning.. after 3 miles the pace increased to around 6:50 and this helped pass the miles. I went through the marathon in 2:59 and half way in 3:33. I knew I’d slow in the second half but maintained sub 7 minute miles for around 40 miles, then my pace suddenly dropped 30 seconds, but thankfully no more. Running in the group helped pass the miles. I was always around the same position but was more bothered by my time. In the end I dropped 16 minutes in the second half to finish in 7:19:09, a pb by almost 17 minutes. So I was happy with that.

Despite having a name as an ultra runner I’ve rarely performed well in ultras and this was certainly my best ultra performance to date. But I won’t do many ultra’s as I still have things I want to achieve on the road. Turning more to road running has certainly rejuvenated my running and helped me to step up a gear and become a better runner. With fell running it is too easy to cheat yourself and think you are fitter than you are.. the road keeps you honest, forces you to keep pushing for more. I’ll always run on the mountains but I’m 33.. and realistically I have 10 years in which to keep improving and basically aim to run a pb every year, this year I have set pbs at 100k and the marathon, and a new half pb should be a formality.. last year I set pbs at 5k, 10k the half marathon and marathon and also in the Snowdon race. So I’m pretty happy with how things are going.

Food wise I ate 8 banana’s, 4 bottles of flat sugar coke, 4 bottles of lucozade and some small squares of brownie or flapjack. I had no salt and by 40 miles was really starting to crave it so that was a mistake.

100k’s like that are pretty boring, especially early on. My plan was run a marathon, then get to half way.. then get to 40 miles, then to the last 10 laps and count them down.. I had my plan and was pleased to pull it off, I thought I’d be sub 7:25.. but didn’t think sub 7:20 was possible. 7:18 is GB qualification time, so I’ve put myself in contention at least and demonstrated that I can compete at that level.

The race is superbly organized. Pasta was available immediately after the race and with that and a massage I was in a much better state than I have been previously.. I took a day off Monday after the race, but have ran every day since and am now back to 12-13 miles a day, but still not much pace. I got through the race relatively unscathed, just one blister.. my knees felt bruised and my hamstrings were very tight but they had been for a few weeks anyway.

The support from the sidelines was great, due to running a fair few Scottish ultras I know a fair few of the Scottish runners so even though I was running for Wales there was still great support.

We also had great support from Wales though, Arwel, Mike Robbins and Arwels wife and her sister were there to provide the food and information during the race. I’m not sure how Wales did, I assume we were third. We had 3 finishers, John Pares pulled out, he just couldn’t get warm and Emily Gelder won the womens for the 4th year in a row. Jason Scanlon was our next counter in 8:16, with Jeremy Mower just going under 9. This was only Jason’s 2nd 100k and a 40 minute improvement so sub 8 next time around should be a realistic target. With him and John and Sean when he gets back we could have a group of 4 runners who can run sub 8, which we need if we are to challenge the other nations.

The race was won in 7:05, 7:12 2nd, 7:16 3rd and me 4th in 7:19:09 and with that also got third in the UKA 100km championships.

Next is the Zittau Gebirge, a 35 km mountain trail race in SE Germany and then maybe a half marathon the week after.

Thanks to John Kynaston for the photos.

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