Sunday, 15 May 2011

Life is full of surprises

I have really enjoyed the trail races that I have done so far this year and have been really pleased with how strong I am feeling and the progress I am making. But since the Trail des Citadelles 3 weeks ago (already?!) I have been generally lacking in energy and the old legs have felt heavy and tired each time I have been out. However, the last run that we did on Thursday gave me sufficient optimism to seriously considering entering another trail race today.... although the decision to actually do it only happened this morning!

Le Trail de Dalou is 16.5kms with 600m of ascent. It was a new course this year, so I wasn't sure what it held in store. But after a good 2km warm-up and a gel 10 mins before the start, I was ready to go. The first section of ascent came very quickly and, after a brief section of respite, we were hit with more. My legs felt like they were struggling and once again, my energy levels felt low. This isn't going to be a good one, I thought. I found myself walking sections of uphill that I was sure I should have been able to run. Oh well, chalk this one down to just another training run, I thought. The worst moment was when I realised my GPS had fallen off my strap ... God knows where. Crap. Let's just get this over with. I'll just bimble my way round. At least it isn't raining. Hope the beer's good at the end. I'm going to need it.

The final big ascent came and then it was all pretty much downhill. I flew down that hill. Then there was half a kilometer of path which was on the level. I could hear people behind me. I didn't turn to look. I just heard the voices. I tried to push harder. We hit the road in Dalou for the final 300m to the finish. I could hear a man's voice urging this girl on behind me. They were close. Allez, you can catch her, allez, go on! No you bloody well won't catch me! Take that, I thought, as I emplored my poor tired old little legs to give a final push. I put the hammer down. Jeez, my lungs are going to explode. Nearly there, I must be nearly there. YES! By a whisker! I had held her off! She held out her hand which I shook in appreciation and we grinned at each other. What a finish! What a course!
The results were eventually posted. Hang on. I'd had a rubbish race, hadn't I? What's this 1h41m time they are showing for me? That's not bad, that isn't. 86th out of 141 overall. But 2nd out of 8 in my age group, 5th woman out of 21? AND I'd beaten a fair few female club runners! Really?! Hang on, that's not actually too shabby! I was actually on the podium - bloody hell!

Gary Devine who is a former British fell-running champion now living in the Ariege came 2nd and it was great to meet him and his wife Debbie at last.
So all in all, the result was a real surprise considering my perception of how I was doing and how hard the race felt. But I am not complaining!

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