Fiday evening saw me toeing the line at the Annan Festival of Running, first up was my annual attempt at a one mile track race, I was chuffed to manage 6:11, 6 seconds quicker than last year. In slightly muggy conditions 20 minutes later we set off on the 3.5 mile cross country race, starting at the Everholm running track and following a narrowish track out and back alongside the River Annan.
With the faster runners quickly pulling ahead I was passed by a couple of guys in the first mile before I gave myself a kick up the back side!, I run marathons, this is only 3.5 miles and we're not going that fast, get a grip Keith! so lurching through knee deep nettles with an alarming lack of grace I overtook the older guy and shortly after passed the younger chap, then it was over the suspension bridge with that bizarre feeling of running on jelly and then its a fast trot back to the finish. Completely forgetting the instruction "straight through the gates and finish on the grass" I veered through the gates heading for the running track for an Eric Liddell style finish, the shouts of the crowd ringing in my ears......................no wait a minute, they're shouting "run on the grass, not the track", you pratt, sprintish finish looking more Eric Morecombe than Eric Liddell, then my customary collapse on the grass at the finish line. My Garmin time was 26:08, nearly 90 seconds faster than last year, WOW well chuffed.
This is a great event organised by the very friendly crowd from ADAC, and with friends from Dumfries Harriers and Dumfries Running Club, giving both encouragement and abuse in equal measure, its got to be one of my favorite events of the running year and I was slightly sad that I'd decided to sacrifice the Saturday road race in favour of a long run with Andy B, in preparation for Berlin marathon for me and Iron Man Wales for Andy.
So less than 12 hours after my double header it was off to meet Andy for an 8am start for a 3 hour long run. We've been concentrating on trail running recently, so it must be 3 or 4 months since I did any distance over 10 miles on the road, whilst Andy has been cycling to work from Lockerbie to Carlisle most days as well as his running, would I still be able to keep up a decent pace or would I embarass myself?
Dumfries delivered another beautiful morning, sunny and bright with an breeze into our faces on the outward leg, we followed our usual route South East out of Dumfries, with the hills of the Lake district in the distance looping round the coast at Caerlaverock Castle, through Glencaple village, up the killer hill and then back tracking for a loop through the fabulous Crichton Estate. The first 17 miles felt pretty good, with our usual random conversational mix, stunning views and picking up the mile pace every time we talk about a race, we really are the worlds worst at judging pace!
I was trying out my new Saloman XT Wings Backpack for the first time, I'll do a full review in the future, but first impresion is very good.
After a good first 17, the last 5 felt realy tough going, no conversation, well none from me, Andy looked fresh as the proverbial daisy, I was just grinding it out to the finish. On the plus side we completed the 22 miles in 2:59:18 a respectable 8:09 average pace, the fastest long run we've ever done, on the down side my legs were in bits, so instead of running the ADAC hill race on Sunday, I had an enforced rest day instead.
I'm very happy with the weekend's efforts, with the training all focussed on trails and ultras it was great to still be able to batter out some quick (for me) road miles.
Club training on Tuesday evening, then I'm going to take it easy before the Coll Half Marathon this Saturday.