The South CANUM, what a race!

Yet again it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life seems to have been super busy. Between my last post and this I’ve had covid and got over it and changed jobs. Plus trained for and completed another ultra.

I’m going to be honest, training didn’t really go to plan. I mapped it all out but then a few weeks in I caught covid. Whilst I was only really ill for a day it took me nearly four weeks to get back to running at full capacity and I lost more training time than I expected. As I’d not been that ill I figured I’d be back training as soon as I was out of isolation. Turns out this was wishful thinking. My heart rate spiked every time I ran and it felt like all the hard work I’d put into running easy was wiped. I ended up axing the speed and hill training and focusing on keeping my heart rate down and re-learning the easy run. I tweaked the long runs as I was worried I’d overdo it and end up ill. I’m starting to see the longer term positive effects of that training now though, so I’m glad I’ve been able to take something positive from the experience.

Before I knew it I’d had THE phone call from Rhys in the week running up to the South CANUM and then the big day arrived. Not before an email the day before the race with a little diversion to the route, well what’s half a mile between friends when you’re already running 42.3 right?

It was a beautiful day on the day of the race, very chilly but sunny. I’m still super grateful it wasn’t as warm as it was for the Cardiff Half Marathon the weekend beforehand. Before we knew it the toilet queue had disappeared, the race brief delivered and we were off.

The route for the South CANUM takes you from 14 Locks in Newport all the way up the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal and finishes on the outskirts of Brecon. What surprised me about it was that other than within the first nine miles or so the route is relatively flat.

It’s a stunning part of the world, as the canal winds its way up from Newportto Brecon, with the mountains on either side and fields full of sheep and lambs. We were even fortunate enough to see a heron.

Sharon and I completed the race together and whilst we’d looked at running we mostly speed walked the whole thing. We did run on and off for 5 miles but decided that actually we’d enjoy the day more walking then finishing about half an hour earlier and running more of it. I’m really glad we did as if I’d have decided to run it would have been very lonely and I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the race. I’m more than happy running on my own, but 43 miles on my own would have been a bit too much of my own company and would have been really isolating. Instead we chatted as we went, and talked to passers-by who were interested in what we were up to. We so spent an inordinate amount of time counting the bridges as we went.

The check points, as always, were supported by the amazing volunteers. They were all so happy and welcoming and looked after us making sure we had enough to eat and drink, and helping refill our drinks so we could eat. These kind of events wouldn’t be able to go ahead with volunteers at the check points and I’m hugely grateful for everyone giving up their time so that I could complete the race.

I’ve got a couple of weeks rest then I’m picking up training to complete the Race to the Stones in July. I need to plan out how I’m going to fit in my runs around family life to make sure I’ve trained for the extra mileage. The race is 100k, so 20 miles further than anything I’ve done before. I’m hoping with three 40 mile races under my belt I’ll be able to take that experience and use it to the best of my ability.

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