A Brutal New Course Record

Wow, that was quite a run, I was smashing records all over the place.

Wednesday morning seems to be my day for a long hilly run. Not that long in comparison to what some people do, but long enough for me. As the nearest hills are about 4 miles from here, I tend to drive to the bottom of them and run from there. I have a few different courses that I do but usually stick to the same routes and therefore know my timings and reords at various points on these courses.

Today’s run was from Borth. I didn’t feel that ‘up for it’ but as soon as I got going I felt quite spritely and felt quite good. It starts with the Rhyd y Garreg Climb out of Borth, a steady, 0.6 mile climb with an average gradient of 8.5%. I went quite hard from the start and then pushed harder up towards a maximum effort up and over the top. My previous best for this climb was 5:30, but I knocked 7 seconds off that today with a time of 5:23. A new course record on a Strava segment, and not a bad way to start the run, so I continued pushing hard.

After a long descent into Dolybont, the run turns upwards again for the Tannery Climb, another 0.6 mile long climb with an average gradient of 9.2%. I didn’t quite manage a course record on this one, but did get my second best time of 5:27, just 4 seconds off my best ever. So, that was another Strava¬†achievement and I was now on target for a course record for the whole run.

No time to dither, I kept pushing along the back of the run and then turned onto the brutal Pentrebach¬†Climb. I hadn’t realised until writing this that the Strava segment for this only records the bottom part of the climb, a 0.5 mile, 8.3% climb. I actually continue up beyond this and run to the top of hill at Staylittle and then along a flat and up further to the highest point of the run, making this an undulating climb of 1.2 miles averaging out at 4.1%. I pushed as hard as I could up this, giving it my all and once again got a course record on the Pentrebach Climb, knocking a massive 14 seconds off my previous best, and a new course record on the full climb, knocking 20 seconds off that.

I was now pretty tired though, just a long descent back into Dolybont and the final even more brutal climb up the other side of Rhyd y Garreg into Borth. For some reason Strava splits this climb into two. There must be a flat in between but I barely notice it. Starav records it as a 0.5 mile steep climb at 9.4% followed by a 0.3 mile kick to the top at the steeper gradient of 9.6%. Yes, it’s a mean way to finish off an already tough run!

I managed another course record on the bottom part, knocking 5 seconds off my previous personal best to give me a time of 4:31. I was pretty much toast by now though and my legs and lungs were screaming at me to stop. I kept pushing as hard as I could, but lost most of those gains on the top part, missing out on a course record over this segment by 4 seconds, but still with my second fastest time so another little medal on Strava!

Now it was just a quick chance to try to recover over the top and then a run downhill to Borth followed by a 10 minute cool down and some stretches. By the time I hit Borth I knew I was on for a Personal Best around the entire course and was already thinking about how reluctant I would be to run this route again as beating that was going to be near impossible for me.

My previous best for the entire 7.4 mile hilly Borth -Dolybont – Staylittle run was 54:28 set on February 29th – at an average pace of 7:23 minutes per mile. I went pretty hard on that day with an average Heart rate of 154 bpm. Today felt harder but despite the fact that it was warmer out there my average heart rate was pretty comparable at 153bpm. The times however weren’t comparable as I smashed my previous best time with a new course record of 52:23 – a whopping 2 minutes and 5 seconds faster than before and an average pace of 7:06 mins/mile.

I’m obviously pretty pleased with that, but on the other hand, REALLY don’t want to run that course again for a while as getting anywhere near to that time again is going to be hard. It was quite a brutal run for me!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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