Day 3 – Tick. All in the bag.
So I did it. I registered and got on the bus to the start. I did faff about with my kit so that I didn’t even have my ruck sack on by the time they said go, but losing two seconds wasn’t a problem!
For the first 30k, I had a great time. My mind was silent, just concentrating on the present and not worrying about day 4 or whether I could think of a good excuse for pulling out!
There was a woman in black and a man in yellow who were running a couple of hundred metres behind me from around 18k or so. Mentally, I had to stop myself from racing them as that seemed to add a bit of pressure. Just before CP2 the woman almost caught me as I took a very wet, muddy, rocky route down a hill. She stood at the top looking down and I suggested she didn’t go my way! I got to CP2 before her and then carried on quite quickly. After a bit she caught up with me but the gap never closed. By listening to the sounds of the gates opening and closing you can tell that people are behind you and roughly how close. It took me a while to work out that she caught me up on the steeper downhill bits (my knee meant I was still going gingerly) but I gained on the uphill bits.
Coming into Fishguard for CP3 I knew that I had to be on the proper road but I ended up on a road where the garages are that is parallel to the proper road. I went down one bit only to find that it led to a derelict bit of land (not the path) and so had to go 50m back up hill to get back. The woman was just behind me now but reached the bottom of the hill a lot before me.
The path on the way to Fishguard was very wild and rugged. And there were no artificial safety barriers between you and the edge of a cliff. Sometimes, there was a bit of a bank that had been built up, other times a bit of gorse. There was loads of lovely mud though. Running on tarmac through Fishguard was a bit demoralising. I also got a little confused and ending up running the wrong way up a hill, only to run down it again. But after Fishguard, the path turns into a narrow path between two barded-wire fences. If you slip, you won’t fall of the cliff but you will get cut. The ruggedness was gone. But it did come back again.
After Fishguard, I started to find it harder to run (no surprise there then Sherlock). Before, my running form had been good (but slow). I think it had actually deteriorated on the between CP2 and CP3 as after about 35k a blister popped on my left foot. Strange, as I didn’t have any blisters before I left. So I then made sure that I kept chanting a particular phrase that makes me concentrate on running. It worked but it was hard to keep form.
CP3 to the finish leg is also mentally hard as you can see the headland where you finish from before you even get to CP3. But what you can’t see is all the little headlands in between. Or the gulleys that take you almost to the sea and then back up again. Just before the end I saw someone in black scrambling up the cliff ahead of me. Then I dreaded going all the way down to the sea and back up. But no, I was lucky – the path only went most of the way down.
I caught the woman in black up as she nearly got to the bottom of a long flight of stairs about 70m from the finish. I asked her if I should do the gentlemanly thing and try to out sprint her to the finish but she allowed me to pass and I was there. The END.
I finished in 6:26 – 44.1k.
I had ran over 81 miles in 17 hours 25 mins. What a strange world it is. I remember only being able to run 200m a few years ago. Then when I joined my tri club I remember saying I could not enter an olympic triathlon as I had never run more than 4k.
I was asked this morning whether I could have run further if I had to. Yes, I think I could have done. I wouldn’t have wanted to, but I could have.
My knee was fine and didn’t give me any pain today. However, that was because I took it very, very easy on the downhill bits. I have a second blister on my other foot but that’s fine. My legs obviously ache a little but I can live with that. The only more serious problem is that the waist strap on my rucksack cut into me on day 1 and 2 so I put some white tape over the cuts. I can’t get it off now (and I am not brave enough to pull it off yet) and where it has rubbed a bit it means that I stick to things (like sheets). I guess I am going to have to find some surgical spirit or something to get the glue off.