Well, you know me by now, you weren't expecting anything conventional were you?
Last time I ran, it was, ooh let me see.... my birthday, 26th June, and that was my first run in ages then. Actually, the parkruns at South Manchester with Jenny would be pretty much the only other running I've done since the Excalibur Marathon on May 10th.
To be completely honest that isn't strictly true, I didn't want to head off to run up Snowdon without any running in my legs, so I did have a little trot out just as the sun was dipping down in the western sky on Tuesday, one to be measured in yards rather than miles. All feedback from that little trot, much as I felt free and liberated and thoroughly enjoyed it, told me that the Snowdon Race this year would be a bad idea.
I've missed too many runs already though. I've been especially affected since I broke my bike. I get extra mad if I've paid an entry fee and then end up not doing the race, and that's happened twice already in the last few weeks , with marathons I'd been especially looking forward to. Trail Marathon Wales and the Lakeland Trails Marathon, £60 or 70 quid down the pipes , oh well, c'est la vie.
Luckily I have one extra little thing in my life just now that is providing a welcome distraction and helping to keep me sane, I've insured one of the girls in work on my car, and I'm taking her out for the odd tootle round so she can get a bit of extra driving practice and hopefully pass her driving test.
Some people have said its kind, some have said its brave. In truth its neither. The length of time she's been having lessons I knew she would be competent at handling the car, I suspected just needing to build a bit of extra confidence. She's also paid the extra few quid required to be added to the insurance.
I like Natasha, she's interesting, intelligent, and I actually enjoy her company, so its not like there isn't reward in it for me. I'd take her out every day if I could. Thursday & Friday worked out great for me as I got chauffered to the bike shop to drop off my broken bike and pick up my mended one. I hope it works out for her, I'd love to see that big beaming smile on her face when she gets told "congratulations, you have passed" .
Right, enough waffling, I came on here to tell you about the Snowdon Race. Ras Yr Wyddfa....
For anyone that wants to watch it on the telebox, it is being broadcast at 7pm tonight on S4C. That chanel also has an i-player now, on the website it is called "clic", there is a button to switch the language to English, and the footage will be on there for 30 days thereafter.
Earlier in the week, I'd been getting quietly excited about this opportunity to enjoy a beautiful glorious day on my favourite mountain, the sunshine might make for a hot race, but who cares? The golden sunshine on the lush green grasses and twinkling sprinkling lakes and tarns was going to be heaven on earth, the atmosphere would be amazing as it was two years ago, everyone would be happy, hundreds of walkers would be out giving encouragement and support and others would be waving from the train . Under the bridge at Clogwyn the shadows from the bright sun would add extra depth to the steep plunge down into the Nant Peris valley, and at the top Glasllyn and Llyn Llidaw would shine like diamonds as they bathe in wonderful sunshine, Crib Goch would glow red, so red it would look like the ancient volcanic rock had still not cooled down, and the line between shadow and light would be drawn right along the apex of Y Lliwedd, and it would appear razor sharp as its cousin across the Cwm.
I could see it all so clearly in the picture in my mind, but then the forecast changed, and the likelihood became storms, thunder storms, torrential rain and potentially flooding in Llanberis, where the race begins and ends. With the threat of lightning strikes on the high ground, cancellation was a definite possibility.
I'd picked up my daughter and her boyfriend who were actually keen to watch the race, and maybe shout some encouragement / abuse at me from the vantage point of the train. Blind panic swamped me as we arrived in Llanberis to see runners, led by Rob Samuel, already shooting off up the road. Wasn't many of them though. Panic subsided and I remembered that this year was also having an uphill only race, and this must be it.
I mooched around a bit soaking up the atmosphere and chattering with other runners whilst Phoebe and Matt went and filled themselves up in Pete's Eats. Saw Andi Jones, multiple winner of this race, leaning on the wall and having a casual cup of tea whilst others were starting to jog around the field by the lake. Well obviously Andi's success must all be down to that style of warm up, so if its good enough for him...
With the race starting at 2:00, at 1pm we were still waiting to see what decision would be made about the race. Weather feeds were coming in from RAF Valley amongst others, the lightning was certainly near us, tracking towards us, and conditions on top of the mountain were changing by the minute, gusty strong winds and sounding dangerous. In Llanberis itself the light rain was actually a very welcome and pleasant cooling influence in the humid heat.
They decided in the end that they would hold the race, but with an increasing threat of lightning hitting the summit at the same time as the race would likely be, they cut it short and decided to use the bridge at Clogwyn as the turnaround point. Some complained, but I thought that was a good and fair decision.
Start at the back, don't go too fast, take a jacket incase I end up having to walk, just have a go and see if I can actually run. Strategy doesn't take much thinking about these days, just see how it all unfolds. As soon as you leave the edge of the town the tarmac ramps up steeply, some were already walking, I expected to be doing that myself, but I managed to maintain a running stride despite the slow speed and congestion, and it stayed with me all the way past Halfway House and onto the rocky steps below Clogwyn.
Here, because of the early turnaround, congestion was tricky, there were a lot of runners coming down, and those internationals aren't half shifting! They have to be given priority, obviously, and there were a lot of runners going up and in both directions people are zig zagging because of the lie of the rocks. I still could have run. My running stride was still with me on the steps, and though my hamstring / buttock was starting to hurt, it wasn't going to slow me down. In the end though, to continue to run would put me in the way of the descenders, I wouldn't want to find anyone in my way on the way down, so I didn't get in theirs.
Up at Clogwyn the weather was much the same as in Llanberis, and it was hard to imagine that conditions could be all that much worse at the summit. I wondered how the kids would be getting on? With the shortened race, I didn't actually get to see them passing on the train.
After the turn my downhill legs weren't with me. I guess there is a skill to descending in the mountains, and I was out of practice. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was my shoes. I hadn't taken my fell shoes, they stick pretty well to the wet rocks and I trust my feet to stay where I put them. My trail shoes were slipping about and I couldn't help but sit back a bit onto my heels, even though I know it only makes things worse.
I got cramp. Just as I was starting to find my flow again and beginning to move more speedily down the slope, my right calf cramped. I hopped to a halt and had to stretch it out. A dozen or so runners I'd just overtaken all sailed past. Got going again, staying relaxed and really started to flow, fear was gone, I was back on the balls of my feet and enjoying it now, and I passed them all again. Then there was a faller, as he tumbled down the track the guy infront of me moved to the side, I had to dodge him and as I did so, slipped myself, rescued the fall, but cramped again, left calf this time. The dirty dozen passed again as me and the faller made sure eachother was ok.
Just as you come to the gate from the path and back onto the tarmac, the path is more naturally rocky and a bit more technical to run across. Pick your footing well and you can rip across it at speed, but you need to be watchful, most folks slow down on these technical bits. I had done that myself back at Clogwyn, but not now, now I was flying, and took my places back quickly. Grabbed a few more on the steeply descending tarmac too as I was more relaxed than those around me who were braking against the slope.
The run in on the flat was hard, my legs were gone, 7 maybe 8 miles, haven't checked it yet, and a good bulk of the climb of Snowdon, it wasn't a bad effort for a first run back. Turned off the roundabout, and cramped again ! Tried to hop into the finish but had to stop, again. Stretched it out on the barriers, and for the third time found myself once again being overtaken by the dirty dozen .
Got going again to great cheers and encouragement from the crowd, and came down the finish straight pretty much on my own, swept down the side high fiving loads of kids with a big smile on my face and feeling very happy.
It was a great day .
I hurt afterwards, really hurt, but nevetheless, great day. Can't wait to see it on the telly .
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