I woke up still feeling uneasy. A strange mixture of excitement and trepidation. This was probably the first race that I've set myself a real target and probably the first race in a long time that I can't use the excuse of 'lack of training'. I wanted to beat last years time, but more importantly sneak in at the 4 hour mark. Still way off the winning time but it would be a good indication that I'm doing the right things.
The atmosphere at the start was the usual relaxed and friendly environment that goes with fell racing. Windless clear blue skies and a crisp frost under foot. Perfect running conditions, particularly for the navigationally challenged.
As the runners gathered at the bottom of Ringing Rodger doubt crept into my mind. Everyone else looked so fit and strong. All I could think about was the fact that I've delusions of being a fell runner and worse still believe I can make a real attempt at the bob graham this year.
This is probably not the right sort of attitude to go into any race and needless to say the first few hours were horrible. Unable to switch my mind off I was convinced everything was wrong. Why were my calf's so tight? Where's my energy, why's my breathing so out off control and when would the pins and needles leave my right foot?
By the top of Loose Hill I'd convinced myself that I'd stop at the cutoff and call it a day. As by this point I was no faster than last year and finding is considerably harder. However, spurred on by seeing Jane and her parents at the half way point I resolved to continue. Things still weren't going to plan. It seemed like an endless slog through the peat bogs to reach Brown Knoll. Maybe I wasn't eating enough but I just didn't have any spring in my step.
Unfortunately seeing Rich with his camera soon after the climb up to Swine's back didn't make me feel any better. He kindly offered me a gel, yes I was looking that bad. I then realised that my legs didn't really hurt anymore and I wasn't sounding on the verge of collapse.
A conscious decision was made, "stop worrying and start running", well jogging at least. I began to look around. Tracing the skyline from where I'd been a few hours previous. It was a glorious day and I was going to make it. Maybe not as fast as I'd liked but with a smile at least.
Along the way I enjoyed a game of cat and mouse with a runner from Eryri Harriers and bumped into Mrs Stagger again. Cratchett also defeated his nemesis and made it round. And a great post race spread was put on. All of which helped raise the spirits.
Unofficial time was 4:20. I did enjoy the very last stages of the run but feel unusually flat. No 'runners high' for me this time and some serious thought is going into my future plans.