Back-to-back 20’s – Rhayader and San Domenico

My first really big back-to-back long run weekend and I had entered two of Wale’s 20-milers to keep me off the streets of Cardiff.

First up – Rhayader Round The Lakes 20-mile on Saturday…

Two hours drive from Cardiff, through the Brecon Beacons on an almost perfect spring morning put me in a fantastic mood – plus a 1pm start meant that for a change, I didn’t have to get up at 5am! Parking was easy, and the boot of my car was 10 metres from the finish line – fantastic!

I didn’t know much about Rhayader – apart from there were some lakes involved and some rumours about a bloody big hill at the start so I set my sights on a 3:00 finish – 9:00 pace would do.

We set off on a mini-lap around a housing estate – immediately encountering the first hill – which lasted a couple of hundred metres… Oh – that’s not too bad I thought, what’s everyone moaning about? The course then wound through the village centre until turning off the main road after 2 miles or-so…

Aha – so, this is the hill then… 3 miles later, and somewhere around 300 metres higher I hit the water station at Mile 5 and looked at my Garmin – 10:00 average pace… Oh well, maybe sub 3:00 was a bit ambitious? Or was it…?

The miles started ticking by – I’ve never run a race where they seemed to go by so fast! The road went downhill, undulated a bit, went round the promised lakes and generally twisted and turned to keep things interesting. My legs seemed to know what they were supposed to do and by mile 15 things were back on track for a sub 3:00 :-)

Overdrive kicked in at mile 15 and the last few miles came in sub 8:30’s… The last mile through the village appeared and a final sprint finish put me over the line in 2:57:19 – only 3 minutes slower than a substantially flatter Gloucester 20 the previous Sunday.

I spent some time chatting in the car park about hills, heat, marathons and other running-related rubbish before heading back down to Cardiff…

Back home around 6pm and I entered recovery mode – there was only 16 hours until the next 20 miler…

Sunday – San Domenico 20 Miler
6 am Sunday morning and the legs were feeling suspiciously fine… So re-fuelled and re-hydrated I set off again up the A470 to the glamorous mecca that is Merthyr Tydfil for round 2.

Another fabulous day in Wales, and another fabulous race! I know most of the route as I’ve run it before – however San Domenico had kindly decided to throw in a blooming massive hill around mile 8 – yep, thanks – I had enough of that yesterday…

I was going to be happy with another sub 3:00 if I’m honest so ran by my heart rate and was ticking off sub 9:00 miles easily down the Taff Trail. At Mile 12 decided to up the ante a little bit and go for the Sub 2:50 which would beat my 2:54 PB at Gloucester – yep, I could live with that…

Again, the miles ticked by easily, (though not seemingly as quickly as at Rhayader – maybe because I’m familiar with the route?). Hats-off to San Domenico – the marshalling was excellent and friendly with familiar faces from the club…

Mile 19 arrived and everything was good – a mad sprint finish to the line, (at – errrr… 5:05 pace) put me in at 2:48:30 – Blimey – a 6 minute PB then to round off a 70-mile week :-)

Back to Cardiff – and it’s nearly time for a well deserved curry…

A nice easy one next week, with “only” a half marathon scheduled for Sunday – and maybe a Parkrun on Saturday… Sub 20:00 maybe?

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