From the Pewsey White Horse to the Welsh Red Dragon!

Posted on: 04 Mar 2019

Two weekends, two very different races; from horses to dragons, from very off-road hilly to undulating road, from 17 degrees and blue skies to grey skies, relentless rain and a storm brewing!  Unexpectedly I loved them both!

Firstly was The Terminator 12 mile off-road race, my schedule had 17 miles for that day so before the race I ran a gentle 5 miles around home just as the sun was coming up and the mist was clearing; it certainly cleared the head from the previous days overindulgences (early Birthday celebrations)!  After some sustenance and a change of clothing I then headed over to Pewsey, which is a village at the centre of the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire, with my partner in crime Kirsty.   The Terminator is described as ‘a challenging multi-terrain course of around 12 miles, with a gentle start across fields and along a canal tow-path.  It then gets serious with several climbs, a sting in the tail and a free shoe wash’.  The description I have to say is completely spot-on as the first 6 miles lulls you into a false sense of security as you meander across fields and along the tow path enjoying the scenery, blue skies and good conversation when abruptly you come face to face with a vertical climb and all of a sudden you’re crawling on all fours up what feels like a sheer cliff face! 

It is certainly a race of two halves!  The plan was to run with Kirsty, enjoy the scenery and the unseasonal warm weather and however long it took would be good ‘time on feet’ marathon training.  Poor Kirsty had a head cold so as I chit-chatted along talking about this and that, Kirsty was just trying to breath and stop her nose running!  The last 6 miles has 4 serious climbs in it with the last one being quite pointless; you crawl up a hill, recover at the top, run approx. 20ft and then come back down adjacent to where you’d just come up!  The strength work I’ve been doing seems to be paying dividends as I felt stronger than normal going up these vertical climbs, so I did get a breather at the top whilst I shouted words of encouragement to Kirsty who seemed to be replying with vocabulary that was shocking at times and gestures which I don’t think were her waving at me!   I did get excited at one point to see pigs and piglets in the next field so I sprinted ahead so I could have a chat and take some photos much to Kirsty’s bemusement; I do love pigs!  We finally crossed the line and as my watch said 11.98 miles I ran around in circles, whilst the bewildered lady on the finishing line tried to give me my t-shirt, until 12 miles clicked over!  Here’s some more photos of our Terminator adventure!

What a difference a week makes!  7 days later I was making my way over the Severn Bridge, where we no longer have to pay to get into Wales, in the pouring rain, to go to Newport for a half marathon.  Newport was a last minute decision and I entered for a number of reasons.  Firstly my friend Cath on seeing a Facebook posting about Newport declared that she was going and I should enter, so with Watford having being cancelled but with a full refund Newport did seem like a good idea, so I entered.  ‘I’ve entered’ I declared, to which Cath replied ‘oh I didn’t read the post properly I thought there were talking about the marathon not the half, I’ve not entered this one’!  Oh well I wasn’t the only one going to Newport and I really had no idea what my pace is at the moment so I thought it would give me a guide for London and I’ve never been to Newport before!  The weather lets’ say was grey with the rain switching between persistent, torrential and drizzle; we were going to get wet!  I must say where Newport half marathon lacked in signage for anything they made up for in organisation; you might have had to guess where the race HQ and the race start were but once you were there it was excellent!  The road closures were spot on as were the marshals, water stations, the spectators who braved the weather and actually the course which to begin with I was a bit sceptical of.  The first 5 miles are around the town and on a grey March Sunday it is not really a picture postcard setting and I was thinking if the rest of the course is going to be like this then it is going to be grim, but then suddenly we were out along country roads, down by the water, through what seemed like a country park and then along the river walkway in the centre of town; I actually enjoyed the route!  Newport is not flat, I would say undulating but what went up came down, there were points where the route was a little twisty and the pathways narrowed but I did not find this an issue and fortunately Storm Freya only started to blow a hoolie for me at around mile 11!  So how did I do?!  Well at the start line I felt good and comfortable and so I decided to set off at a pace around 9 minute miling and see what happened.  I have to forget that my half marathons times of old are that, of old, and this is new beginnings and I did this; I just concentrated on the here and now.  I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off but they didn’t, I just kept going at a steady pace and as the miles ticked over I could see that a sub 2-hour was well within reach which believe me was enough motivation to keep pushing as after Barcelona I thought this too was a thing of the past! 

I crossed the line so unbelievably happy, 1:58:13, I wasn’t broken or on the pavement in bits, I’d run a strong race at a consistent pace and achieved what I thought would be now unachievable so happy days!  I must say the medal is quite magnificent and I accidently got given two technical t-shirts, happy days again!  Suddenly Newport is one of my favourites, thank you Cath!  Half marathon no. 69 completed! 

Next stop Larmer Tree Marathon, this is where my structured training plan takes a slight detour! 

PS If you like a bit of competition why not guess my VLM finishing time, more information here! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/libbylaird

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