Monday, 8 November 2010

Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge 78.6 - Day Three

Again it was a real struggle to get out of bed, even with the help of an excellent sports massage the night before. I had decided to join the walkers for the last day to get an early start as I knew I would be very slow. This meant getting out of bed at 5.30am, but not surprisingly I was awake at 4.50am and starving. Everyone at breakfast was complaining of not having slept well. Exhaustion seemed to be setting in with everyone.

There had already been several retirements due to injury, and 7 people had been stopped from finishing yesterday's race because they didn't make the cut off time for the last check point.

After another full English breakfast, and cups of squash (not my usual fare at all!), we arrived at Porthgain at first light. There was a definite air of hysteria in the air as we set off over the coast next to a wild sea, and a strong headwind. Given that day 3 had been billed as the toughest of the 3, it started pretty comfortably, with lots of rolling hills and flat gassy tracks. I had decided to walk the first 2-3 miles until my legs felt better. After a slight detour into a cornfield we reached the first CP and fuelled up. I was feeling a lot better, but was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with Caz and Paul's energetic marching pace. I found I had to run to keep up with them, and then would drop back again as I walked. So I gave up, and decided to run. Caz had a nasty blister on her instep and decided not to run with me, so I was on my own. What followed to CP 2 were miles and miles of slippery, muddy downs and ups around headland after majestic but frustrating headland. Just before CP 3 the runners who had started an hour later started to pass me. It was the first time I'd seen the front runners, apart from a brief view of their backs at the start line, and they looked so comfortable. They certainly weren't flying finding the terrain pretty tough going, but they all looked so natural.

At Strumble Head CP2 my legs were beginning to suffer. I had developed a couple of blisters on the ends of my toes, and this was beginning to affect my stride. My foot was beginning to hurt, and so I decided to walk far more. What this meant in practice was that my pace slowed to a snail. My balance had gone, and my quads were in agony, so going down was tough, going up better but tiring. On climbing over a rocky outcrop I managed to fall again, this time to find myself on my back in some heather and gorse. A fairly soft landing, so I jumped up and plodded on.

I managed to break into a run again just before CP3 once I reached the tarmac of Fishguard. It felt strange to be running through town whilst everyone else was enjoying a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon. A couple of people asked what the race was, and to be able to say I'd run 73 or so miles in the last 3 days, was a pretty good feeling.

Having fuelled up and been assured by our favourite marshall that the last 6 miles was just a short stroll along the coast to the finish, I grabbed a bag of crisps and plodded onwards. The last few miles, were like the last few miles of any event, painful, neverending and frustratingly slow. Again so close to the end my mental determination let me down, and my pace slowed. This is definitely something I need to plan for, and find a way of dealing with. It was only Paul on day 1 and Caz on day 2 that saved me. I met a girl just a few miles from the finish line of day 3, but just couldn't keep up with her pace, and found myself dropping behind. Caz passed me at a cracking marching pace, shouting about missing her flight, I needed some of that determination to get me home!

I did finally make it in 8.56, a truly shocking time, but one that says it all about the terrain and the challenge we all faced over 3 days of it. With 6.17 on the first day and 7.03 on the second, I managed to come 32/67 a fairly creditable position, where 14 dropped out. I was the 10th lady and 3rd female vet, and frankly enormously proud of my acheivement.

I am now planning to take it easy for the next week and let my body recover. It was an amazing weekend, with some amazing people, and fantastically well organised. I don't want to see my trail shoes for a while though!

1 comment:

  1. I keep on thinking that you're a bit mad, but well done anyway!