Pontypridd Roadents Reverse 10, February 2009

With tropical illness behind me, jet lagg pretty much sorted, good weather and a flat course - there were absolutely no excuses! Well, it was breezy and the course is not 100% flat, but I knew it would have better PB potential than the Epsom race I did before Christmas, so as I cycled up to Treforest on a cool, dull, Sunday morning I was determined to have a crack at my rather useless PB of 65 minutes. I registered nice an early, signing my name as Garga for the first time (which felt pretty good!), then hung around getting cold and chatting to everyone as they arrived. Word on the street (well, on the sideroad of an industrial estate to be exact) was that the course had a few undulations and some exposed sections where the wind slows you down, but was basically a quick one. With half an hour to go I headed off to warm up - still acclimatised to Balinese temperatures I found my teeth chattering and my body shivering, so I opted to keep my tee shirt on. They told me the start was right outside registration, but I soon saw everyone heading up to the actual start line some 5 mins from HQ - take note of this if you do the race!

On the line we had a completely inaudible briefing and I lined up about 5 rows back - the start is on a wide road with the traffic stopped, so there's plenty of room. From the gun, or horn, or whatever it was, we shambled off and soon picked up speed through the industrial estate, which is surrounded by mountains and pretty scenic as Ind. Est.s go. Soon we turned around a cone and headed back the other way, which gave everyone a chance to greet their clubmates and shout abuse or encouragement as they passed. The mile marker was easy to spot - it said 9 of course as this is the reverse 10 and the markers count you down from 9 to 1 - and I came through bang on schedule in 6.15. Now, for me to hold back and not stupidly hammer the first mile is a sign that I'm either under the weather and about to have a nightmare struggle or I'm in good shape but pacing myself well and on for a good run. The latter is pretty rare!

The race was beautifully silent - it's a distance that demands a hard effort all the way but also requires the stamina to keep your foot on the gas all the way, so everyone was looking grimly determined (though doubtless enjoying it too). Treforest on a Sunday morning is a quiet place - the 10am start helped a lot - and so we heard little except our pwn breathing and the odd shout from a marshal for the whole ten miles.

Still, I found it easy to keep a steady pace and hold my place - the first lady Cath Dugdale was ahead and the second and third ladies part of a loose pack that formed around me so I just hung in there and tried to go with the flow. Mile markers came and went - the roads were empty of traffic, either closed, half-closed or just well marshalled depending on which part of the course we were on - and while I couldn't stay spot on 6.15 per mile I could see from my watch that I was close to the target pace and only had to keep it up to get a PB. Half way came in around 62 minutes, and the most undulating section on a narrow lane began, though I was well warmed up now and the slopes didn't seem to make much difference. I eased past a few runners I recognised - they were people who usually beat me so I knew I was on form - and a few eased past me including Mr McIlroy who left me standing, but I knew from a marshal that I was around 40th which was OK for me in a road race.

The final section was a long, solo mission with a huge gap between me and the runners in front, and no-one at all on my shoulder, so I had to coax the effort from my limbs with what little will power I possess. Still, the result was encouraging as I knocked a minute and a half off that rather useless PB to get a more pleasing 63.21 which the results tell me is 6.20 pace

The Roadents put on a great race here - nice course, superbly marshalled, interesting goody bag (Roadents cap, pocket warmer, mars bar & water) and friendly atmosphere. Now, where can I find a perfectly flat and windless course to knock off that 21 seconds and run 62?

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