Monday, 8 November 2010

Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge 78.6 - Day Two

I woke on the Saturday feeling very lightheaded and dehydrated, and really struggled to get out of bed. By the time I'd washed, dressed and packed my kit bag, I'd downed several glasses of sports drink, and half a packet of salted cashew nuts, and I was beginning to feel a bit more human. The walk to the hall reassured me I could at least move my legs reasonably well.

At breakfast another runner I'd met on the first night, Caz said she would be taking it easy, and I offered to run with her. She seemed unsure, and said she didn't often talk when she ran, but agreed to stick at a similar pace. The weather was sunny and clear, a perfect start this time, no rain expected.

For the next 7 hours, Caz and I talked 19 to the dozen. It was fantastic. We worked brilliantly as a team. Caz's amazing ability on the uphill dragged me up the first 3 miles of ridiculously steep and challenging slopes. I ran in front on the downhills and flat, and dragged Caz along with me. Having again started 2nd to last, we were soon picking people off, and made a real challenge of it. As soon as anyone was sighted in front, the shout would go up, and we would aim for an overtake. It didn't matter if they were runners, walkers, or indeed locals out for a stroll, another person, was another target.

At some point during our overtaking spree, excitement of the challenge got the better of me, and in one most probably entirely graceless moment, I landed face first on the path. Being so tired stopped me from putting my hands out to save myself, so I simply hit knees, hip, shoulder and face in that order. My first thought was that I had broken my glasses, and so would have to pull out, but luckily they were ok. Caz was magnificent. She went into full on mountain rescue mode, and wiped me off, saved all the bits of my broken garmin, and even gave me her buff to scrape the mud off my face. Once I'd recovered, and realised apart from a slightly swollen cheek bone I was fine, the race was back on.

Check point 2 came and went in a wave of enjoyment. Along St David's Head we were still passing people, including the first of the walkers. The downhills were an opportunity to relax with the good ground, and allow our legs to have their way and fly down. We decided on a special Caz & Fin run/walk way of doing things, which in practice meant we always planned to walk after the next 20-30 mins running, but invariably put the walk off if we found a particularly nice bit of path to run.

Once we reached CP3, had a chat and a hug from our favourite marshall, it was a quick cup of coke and some Haribos, and just 2 miles over the hills from Abereiddy to Porthgain and the finish. The light was just beginning to fade, but Caz was determined we'd finish before dark. I have to admit that I lost it on the top. Once the driving hail and rain started, and I realised I'd lost my hat and that my headtorch was a bit pathetic, the finish line was close, but just not close enough. Caz rallied her troops though, and I did my best to keep up with her swift march to the steps at Porthgain. The final flat to the finish was fantastic, with Caz doing a superman slow motion run, and plenty of whooping from me, we arrived to another warm minibus and the satisfaction that we were 2/3 of the way through.

Getting off the minibus at St David's was not pleasant though. My legs had completely seized up, so I hobbled inside and booked a massage for later, and then shivered my way back to the cottage for a cold bath, a hot shower, and some warm clothes before supper.

Just 1 more day to go, and I'd have my hands on that trophy!

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