The Goldrush trail race was the first of the 4 races we’re doing in the UK, culminating in the biggie, the Scott Snowdonia trail half marathon. And it turned out to be a good one, proving to me that my hard work is beginning to pay off.
We drove down to Coed y Brenin near Dolgellau after work on Friday night and found a good spot to park up in the forest, next to the river. After dinner and a glass of wine, we had an early night, waking up to perfect weather for running the next day.
The race was 13.8 kilometres (8.5 miles) long, along forest tracks and trails with beautiful views and over 400 metres of ascent. We’d reccied the route about 4 weeks ago so we knew what to expect and, although I struggled and had a tantrum last time (see previous blog), we’ve done longer and more difficult routes since so I was fairly confident.
Last time it took me 1 hour 42 minutes so I told myself I’d be pleased with under 1 hour 40 this time, although secretly I was hoping for 1 hour 35! I was nervous but excited to see what I could do and tried to keep busy until the race started at 1.00, preparing everything I needed for the race (and treating myself to a new bum bag and socks!), while John relaxed in the sunshine with his book and complained because I couldn’t settle!
Suitably fed and watered, and dressed in my kit, we gathered at the start line for the briefing and soon we were off. I started at the back to avoid being under pressure from faster runners but, as we set off uphill, I gradually passed quite a lot of people and settled into a rhythm with a group who seemed to be going at a comfortable pace for me. Each time my watch buzzed to tell me I’d done another kilometre, I looked at my pace and began to dare to think that I might finish in 1 hour 35!
After about half way, a lady ran past me and the group on a level forest road and, as I was feeling quite good, I decided to push a bit harder, up my pace and follow her. The path left the road and started to climb uphill again. She slowed to a walk and I carried on running, feeling quite pleased with myself. I was on my own for a bit and enjoyed the silence and beauty of the forest track, particularly when it finally wound downhill and I skipped over the rocks and tree roots, with time and distance passing quite quickly.
I soon came to the final forest road. This was where I had struggled on our recce and I knew it was going to be a tough slog up the gradual ascent to the finish. There were about 3 kilometres to go and I really hoped I could keep my pace high enough to complete them in 20 minutes and hit my secret target, even though my legs were heavy now and my calves were burning. I had a flapjack bite and a few swigs of my electrolyte drink, kept my head down and plodded, trying to keep up with the people I could see ahead of me.
I could hear the finish before I saw it, with people cheering the runners over the line. A photographer took my picture at the bottom of the final, short steep hill, advising me it was only a slope! I waved to John (who’d finished 10 minutes before me) and grinned as I crossed the line and my name was announced. I was amazed to see my time flashed across the screen as 1 hour 32 minutes! I’d felt pretty good throughout and I’d exceeded my expectations, knocking 10 minutes off my time, in the space of a month. I can’t explain how good that felt.
My training, kit, nutrition, hydration and recovery seem to coming together, and I have evidence I am making progress. I’m satisfied with 9th out of 28 in my category, 22nd of 62 ladies, and 74th overall.
Excalibur is our next race on 21st May. This is a half marathon up Moel Famau and about 7.5 kilometres (4.6 miles) longer than Goldrush with twice as much as ascent. I may need to walk some of the hills but I’m happy I can get round and I’m looking forward to doing my best on the day.
By running Excalibur and Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon, I am raising money for Claire House Hospice and Mountain Rescue. If you would like to help me support these great charities, and motivate me through the low times when I’m training and racing, please click on the links to the charities in this paragraph. Even a pound would be appreciated. Thank you very much