Monday, 28 March 2011

A spur of the moment thing

I have had the Trail du Piedmont Pyrénéen Audois on my list of possible trail races to do since the start of the year, but couldn't commit to doing it. The main reason being that it is longer and has more ascent than I have ever done in a single outing (training or race) before. I simply wasn't sure that I was ready for it. But on Friday evening, after a verre or deux of vin, the 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' thinking won me over. I was feeling fit and strong and had recovered well from the race 2 weeks ago, so why not!

So, despite the clocks changing, I was up bright & early yesterday morning to head over to Quillan in the Aude which is only 25 minutes from us here. There was to be a 13km and a 26km race and the latter would include 1200m ish of ascent. The turnout was not amazing, but there is no website for the race and the organisers didn't answer the 2 emails that I sent them, so I guess that shouldn't have been a surprise! But at 9am, we were off. I had told myself that this was very much going to be a training run and not a 'race' as I had no idea how I would cope with the extra distance & ascent.

It did indeed prove to be a tough course with nearly 900m of ascent in the first 10kms, some nasty, technical, steep descent and a cruel, undulating section between kms 21 and 24 thrown in for good measure, just when you expected and indeed needed things to get easier.
 Despite carrying 1.5L of liquid fuel, taking a gel 15 mins before the off and then another 2 gels during the race, I could have done with one more at around the 3hr mark. But I still managed to finish in under 3 1/2 hrs and managed a strong finish, overtaking 2 people in the final kilometer. The best bit is that I wasn't broken! Tired, of course, but no pain, no damage - now that was a surprise. Did I say that was the best bit? Oh, I forgot, I was also called up to collect this.....
Yes! Now that was the best bit! 2nd woman finisher in the 26km race! OK, so there were only three of us in a total field of 31, but hey, I reckon I deserved it! Full stats on the usual site.

It was an amazingly well marshalled and waymarked circuit and was a fantastically friendly event. Some of the running was on great paths & trails and the scents that I kept catching as I ran through the wilder sections were just divine. The area around Quillan is a stunningly beautiful corner of the Aude. Just a shame I was concentrating too much on staying on my feet to appreciate the views. The Trail des Citadelles 20km race on Easter Sunday is the next race in the pipeline. I can't wait!

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