I love Snowdonia national park, every time I’m there I’m in awe. It truly is an awesome place and this year I took on the 26.2 miles that is Marathon Eryri
I was due to take part last year but after 2 marathons in spring my marathon mojo up and left me and I could not face the challenge that the Snowdon marathon promised to be.
Fortunately this year I’ve found my marathon mojo! and after 4 marathons in 2014 Snowdon was going to be my 10th marathon. I knew I was feeling fit after I had run a sub 3hr 30 minute marathon for the first time in 12 months just 6 weeks before. However this didn’t stop me feeling unwell the week before, doubting my fitness and thinking I was going to develop an injury from nowhere. One thing that did help calm my never diminishing marathon tremors was a training run just days before with my training mate, who was aiming not only to run Snowdon but to win the women’s race!! We went out and did some strides together that went really well and helped me feel more positive 🙂
The first challenge of the Snowdon weekend was transporting the twins to Aunty Sian’s so that I could focus child free on the task ahead! (Rubbish) any excuse for a twin free weekend. It was a challenge in itself though. Squeezed into a small rental car ( a change from Basil the Land rover our usual transport of choice) so that we could hear ourselves on the journey and the fuel bill was a little less. We headed up the motorway playing, eye spy with my little eye ‘something blue that I randomly make up and you’ll never guess cos I am 3’ reading Mr Nosey and Mr Messy (I wasn’t driving Doug was) and when all else failed? eating lunch at 11.30. Food in face equals peace, albeit brief. Once the twins were safely in the hands of my super sister, we were on route to my ultimate marathon challenge so far.
I must have said over a hundred times during my time in Snowdonia as I looked up in awe just how lovely it is. It is lovely and I just know it’s lovely in all weathers and you always see something different. We arrived in Llanberis after a slight Sat Nav detour at 4:30pm ready to register. Panic set in when I couldn’t find my number from the lists of runners taking part, arrrrgh!! This panic was soon laid to rest when my right hand man found my name and number Phew!! I collected my number and very nice t-shirt along with my rain poncho and Hi-5 nutrition.
Registered and ready for the next day it was time to head up to the Youth Hostel that we were staying at along with 6 other club mates 3 others running the next day 3 supporting with Doug. The youth hostel was in Pen y Pas which is just after mile 4 on the marathon route. It was great and scary seeing the first 4 miles I would have to run. But it was also beautiful so I knew I’d be happily distracted by the view even though from 2-4 would be a steady climb.
Once settled in and over the shock of bunk beds as virgin youth hostel guests, it was time to group together to cook the Spag Bol, pizzas and garlic bread followed by yummy puds that we’d all brought along with us to make sure that both runners and supporters were well fuelled for their tasks the next day. Some supporters hit the bar, but for us highly focused runners an early night was in store.
My early night was taken up with prepping race kit, number on vest, shorts socks, and rundies all set out ready for the morning. The morning seemed to take along time to come watching the smoke alarm flash and listening to my snoring supporter in the bunk below, ah well no night before a marathon is a restful one for me.
First job of the day after donning the running kit was breakfast. Seen as I had a whole 2 and a half hours untill take off I had a big breakfast of a croissant and porridge with diced apple in, nom nom nom.
At 9am…ish we all set off for race HQ apart from our team celeb, Steve Edwards who was there early being interviewed. He has run well over 650 marathons and this run was his 17th Snowdon (nutter) Once the team, that was me, Susan Hunt, super mum of far too many and multiple marathon runner and Lucy Walmsley who was running to win!!! and is incidentally the wife of some chap who had previously won the marathon 5 times. But no more about him, his wife Lucy has run for England and achieved amazing things across he worlds of Triathlon and running. She also has 2 children and a business to manage as well. We all had enough time apply Vaseline, visit the loo and panic, yes even though we’ve all run a marathon or 2 before we all had our worries. A hug from me to Lucy my best training mate before we split up to run, Lucy to win, me to finish and Susan to enjoy the run like she had the year before and maybe beat her previous time.
Just after 10:30am off I went on the most beautiful most interesting marathon I’ve run to date. Mile 1-4 working steadily. up hill far faster than I probably should have. But on the way up I decided not to look at the watch and stuck to my decision until some time later. When you reach the top of the hill that is flanked by awe inspiring mountainous hills either side you’re rewarded with a long and winding down hill that leads to an off road track. I was also rewarded with the top notch support of team Bourton. This meant as I went down the track I was not only smiling at the views but at the feeling great support gives me too 🙂 I kept working hard and was helped along by all of the support from spectators on route. They were calling out my name which was printed on my number. I saw people go past me and resisted my urge to race them thinking to myself that I wanted to finish this race and run up the infamous hill coming up at mile 22 that I’d heard so much about . I didn’t chat a lot except to two men. The first let me know there was a steady climb coming up out of a village at around mile 14/15, it was a climb but not bad at all, to be honest I think I was quite distracted by my love of place. Then at mile 18… Ish when I was feeling the miles I caught up with a club Eryri runner who I’d seen the back of for a while. I was thinking to myself pretend he’s Niamh pretend he’s Niamh. Niamh is a regular long run training partner if mine. He was checking out my chest, no really he was but just to get my name. So we had a little chat and he said we would get each other through this, great!! I thought but I couldn’t keep his pace and was running solo again pretty soon. I didn’t look at my watch because I didn’t want to know my pace was slow I just kept on going. Before to long I reached that hill, initially I thought is this it? I saw the club Eryri chap again at the water stop on the hill and he’d stopped to get a drink and was walking up the hill. I on the other hand grabbed my drink on the go and kept running I passed him and did not see him again (get in) I then realised that the first bit of THE hill was not THE hill, it got steeper but I kept running. I counted 1,2,3,4 over and over again just like my fellow runner and supporter Pauline had about 7 years previous (when she had run the marathon) to get her up the hill. She had shared this story the night before and I thought if it worked I’m going to use it. It worked a treat. I passed over 20 people in those miles up hill. Coming down hill even with stunning scenery to deflect from the discomfort, my legs went OUCH but my head went into joyous celebrations especially when I checked my watch to see that I could do this in 3:40 or less. Coach Den was towards the bottom of the hill snapping our pics after seeing his wonderful wife run home in ladies 2nd place (3:11:37) I joyfully told him my legs were knackered and continued down the hill and on to the home run where I took over another bloke and a lady through the excellent atmosphere of the finish in 3:40:06
WAHOOOO and there you have it my 10th marathon, the toughest most awesome one to date