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Llaneli half marathon 10th February 2019

Race number 2

Here I am again in another town and another race, you have to love this lifestyle to really get anything from it. The days away from home and your normal existence to take on another challenge for yourself, it certainly is invigorating.

So I really didn’t know what to expect from this small Welsh town on the coast, I guess I was thinking it would be like a standard seaside place, wall to wall shops full of buckets and spades and various other shite, and the obligatory amusement arcades, as is found in so many coastal resorts in the UK. But on arrival we couldn’t even see the sea or the coast.. we were routed into the small town itself straight to our hotel. On first glance it was a quiet little town with as is now the norm, a crazy fucked up road system that takes you anywhere but where you need to be.
The town has quite a warm feel to it, it feels like it could be a real close knit community as it’s filled with lots of small shops and a market place but yet also has major supermarkets and stuff .. everything looks a fair bit dated and could do with a good refurb but it’s kinda homely in a strange way .. really not what I had in mind before I got here.
Went to check out the coast and the start line ahead of the race today .. a really long stretch of coastline with that musky hue of salty air and gusty winds howling between the buildings sparsely scattered around the coastline.. the tide was definitely out but I’d say this place is a really nice place to be in the summer.

The day started off super early as I couldn’t sleep .. Physio exercises and a bit of yoga and breakfast followed by a nice hot shower which almost cost me the race .. I had a reaction to the towel..must’ve been washed in something nasty as I came out in a rash all over my body and hot flushes .. luckily on going outside in the cold it subsided .. tad scarey going through something like that before a race.
On arrival to the Stadium area the atmosphere was as cold as the weather at first .. no welcoming race feeling but the obligatory queueing for the toilets got people chatting together in the freezing cold Sunday morning, as we queue there’s already an announcement that we have a delayed start of another 15 minutes .. in this Baltic cold,damp weather this isn’t what we needed to hear.
Queuing at the start line and the elites get sent off followed by another long delay before ourselves being allowed to hit the road .. the runners all huddled together manages to bring the temp up enough to keep us alive while waiting, as it’s now spitting with rain as well as the howling winds.
As we get off on our journey along the roads in Llanelli it’s now clear that this is NOT a flat course, the first mile is slightly uphill and closely followed by an undulating few miles.
The first 5miles for me went pretty quickly and with no issues .. as we headed along the coastal paths towards the turning point, the hills are coming more and more now .. not huge hills but some were enough to stop me in my tracks to walk them, to preserve my injuries. By This point its really cold and at some points we were running against the wind which was freezing cold and we now know were going upwards towards 21 mph winds.
By the turning point my guts were starting to kick off .. not a full blown IBS attack but certainly a pain in my side, it went downhill from there on in but nothing to stop me in my tracks.
We are now heading back along the beautiful coastline but open to all the elements .. the sun briefly shone and it seemed to warm up a little as we battled more hills along the way .. closely followed by more of that crazy fine rain now I was freezing my tits off .. I had decided on vest and shorts today as in my last few runs I’ve been too warm, it was the right decision to go down that route but when the wind hit, I questioned the decision a few times.
Running along the coastline in the fresh sea air was amazing, such a change from the smell of cow shit in the country lanes of a lot of the local races I have run along my journey as a runner.
The coastline paths battled along the sea front winds and freezing cold temperatures and gave myself at least, a real challenge .. coming up towards the 9 mile point my left ankle is beginning to ache, which is now dragging my calf into the picture .. my calf is slowly tightening and I’m slowing down in pace.
As the coastal path turns into a dirty wet off-road section, my feet are now wet through, my toes almost frozen and I’m having trouble keeping the whole thing together .. a string of slow running and walking is now hindering my time ... this last three miles is going to hurt .. it’s demoralising me into submission, and I am getting a weird pain in my right kidney area that is seriously hurting while running but subsided while walking.
The last mile is now ahead and omg, more hills .. this isn’t what I need at this point in my condition .. now my hips and groin have joined in the attack on my body .. I’m so cold that I can’t feel my fingers and toes, I’m sure my hips are reacting to the cold and pressuring me to give in .. but I’m screaming at myself inside to keep going ... to at least try and run, but the walking has taken me over more and more on this last stretch of road .. all I can hear is the dull sounds of the crowds at the stadium finish which is close, but not close enough to get me there in a full on run which is usually my wake up point in a race .. I can usually manage to pick up pace at this point in a race but today it’s just not happening ... I’m broken.

The last turn towards the finish line finally gives me a slight push .. I manage to at least muster up a bit of a jog but as the line approaches something inside me says hit it .. give it you’re last bit of energy and I only just manage to lengthen my stride, pick my legs up and power it all across the line to a paltry 02:01:36 ... not my finest hour .. and not what I wanted for today .. I usually get to fight to under two hours if I’m in trouble in a race .. injuries and cold kept me from that aim today but in my head I’m protecting my body from more injury .. I know I’m healing slowly and hitting it hard would probably have set me back again on my journey .. the winter runs are being cruel to me this year so far and hoping that as the year progresses my injuries will subside, I’ll gain strength and speed and manage to keep up my past times and pbs, as well as be able to manage marathon training. Right now I’m seriously debating if I want to go ahead with the full marathon ...

Is my old body going to hold out through all this ?
Is my headspace going to subside and make me want to do this ?
Is my injury going to kill off my wanting to run and better my running ?

I seriously hope not !!!

Runelli today was an experience in coping and getting through no matter what .. such a shame this race isn’t run at another time of year as I would love to give it a go again under different weather conditions.





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