I ran the second of the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series marathons on Saturday, down on the Gower peninsula. The drive down on the Friday night nearly ended in disaster when we couldn't find anywhere open to eat (note to self: stock van with noodles), but luckily a small hotel I went in to ask if they knew of anywhere still open turned out to have a bar that was still serving. Chips and frittata saved the evening.
The weather during the week was not great, and on Friday night in the campsite the wind howled round the van and the rain drummed on the roof. Saturday dawned and, against the odds, it was bright, breezy and clear.
Like previous Endurance Life events the atmosphere was laid back and friendly. There was a pre-race brief and then at 0900 we were off (there had been an earlier start for the Ultra, and slower marathoners, and a later start for the 10km and the Half). We started in Rhosilli, ran across a couple of fields and were quickly on the coast. It was pretty stunning. I felt good, and soon settled into into a comfortable rhythm. The lead group spread out over the first few miles and I was left in what I thought was probably seventh or eight (mental arithmetic of any sort is not my forte when exercising).
The scenery and varied terrain (i.e. hilly) meant the time passed quickly enough. We were soon turning inland to cross the peninsula, and at the second checkpoint which was ten miles in. I was back on the coast again, at 16 miles, surprisingly quickly. I ran with another guy for a while, discussing various races. He is on for the entire coastal series, which will be good going. A burst of stamina saw me leave him behind. I was flying at this point, some sort of sugar buzz from the sixth gel. The scenery was good and I was confident of a sub four thirty hour time. And then... I was flat on my face. I tripped and landed heavily on my hip. It hurt but I picked myself up and quickly established I was ok. I continued on but the pace had dropped off.
Shortly afterwards I got to another checkpoint. How far to go? I asked. This is 22 miles, was the reply. Hmmm. Even my exercise murkified brain realised that wasn't answering the question, and having done (excellent) Endurance Life events before I knew they liked to sneak a few miles on the end.
I passed a guy with a Garmin Forerunner at 4:17, and he said we were at 42km at that point so I paced myself just right! However it didn't seem to be anywhere close to the end. I limped on. The pace in the last few kilometres dropped significantly, in line with my sense of humour, and I was passed by one runner (the first to pass me since we had separated out at the beginning, though you get individual times so someone starting further back could still do a faster time potentially). Finally, finally we turned back onto the path leading away from the coast and up to Rhosilli. I crossed the line, after close to 29 miles, in 4:47 and 10th place.
My legs have never hurt quite so much after a run. I limped round looking for Ali (who had had a fab time doing the half marathon). Eventually I found her, and the Bongo keys and was able to sit down and drink some tea. My mood rapidly improved!
It was a great event. A stunning location and well organised. Looking forward to Portland in less than three weeks. Chesil beach sounds like it might be a challenge.
In other news, it turns out the three of us in a notional team in the Mudrunner, were the 3rd fastest, and got 15 quid in vouchers and a trophy. So a fiver each. I've peaked - it's all down hill from here.