Glynneath 5 Boxing Day 2008

It's been a year of contrasts with the weather - exceptionally wet races in the summer then freezing temperatures and crystal clear skies all through December (apparently the coldest Dec in 9 years - feels like it too). True to form, race #22 was on another chilly morning of intense winter sunshine, this time in the Vale of Neath. I wasn't feeling great, and didn't expect too much of myself, but I set my watch for 6 minute laps anyway and had a nice, long, peaceful warmup alone on the old railway path the other side of the valley.

Once at the start line I ran into a bunch from Les Croupiers (Matt, Alan, Graeme et. al.) and learned that the course was undulating but still pretty fast, with just a single turn around a cone (as opposed to Weston 5, which has several 360 degree turns in it, each one slowing you right down). I guess there were two or three hundred there - it certainly made quite a crowd at the start, with some quick looking types from Neath and Swansea gathering up the front. Optimistically I went second row and told myself I'd aim at top 40 finish, seeing as after the warmup I was feeling a bit more awake and up for it. I went off fast, as always, and clocked up mile 1 in 5.43 - too fast to sustain, but I told myself that bought me a 6.17 mile at the end if I needed it - a positive spin on things for sure! But when the second mile, with a fair bit of gentle downhill, came through in 5.54 I was suddenly thinking the unthinkable and shooting at a PB - which would be the third at this distance in only 8 months - and maybe even a sub-30 time. Runners began to stream past coming back the other way, and I tucked myself into a group of three or four while we approached the turnaround cone in just under 15 minutes. Could I hang on to that pace? Probably not, but I was certainly going to give it my best shot. Straight after the turn I upped the effort and pulled away from the runners around me, aiming now at the guys 20 yards or so ahead and trying to shorten the distance between me and them with each passing minute. I was moving up the field, but my breathing was getting harder and I felt myself weakening slightly as fatigue began to set in. Mile 3 was just over 6 minutes at 6.03, but I was still on course for a sub 30.

Mile 4 was the critical one - I was expecting to really notice the gradient but it was not too bad - and I came through in 6.07. OK, if I blew it from this position I was going to be gutted so I focussed 100%, even as time seemed to slow down (as it always does when you're running against the clock) and my whole body made it clear it was less than happy with what I was putting it through. Pushing as hard as I could, I still had no accelaration left even as the 400m sign appeared, or even when I saw the line, but the steady pace was enough and I clocked the mile in 6.05. By my watch my finish was 29.53, so I was elated. Rather than stay and chat, I walked to the end of the road then grabbed a bottle and jacket from the car and headed off for a 50 minute warm down run up to the waterfall path at Sgwd Gwladys - beatuiful and peaceful. Results came out today (29th Dec) and agreed with my 29.53. which was 29th from 291 runners - I was well outside the V40 places though. Martin Rees apparently missed a world agegroup record by a narrow margin of around 1 second. Full results

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