This is a tough one...
It was another fantastic realbuzz weekend. Brilliant as ever to see everyone. People who feel like old friends despite the fact that I could count the times that actually I’ve met them on one had for most.
David and I set off for Snowdonia at around 3.30 p.m. on Friday. The traffic was pretty busy but we still made it in around 2 ½ hours. We quickly collected our numbers before heading to the cottage that we were sharing with Vicki and her family. The cottage turned out to be a great find. It was gorgeous and in the perfect location.
Buzzers came and went for the evening and we got a reasonably early night. Neither David nor I slept very well but then who does before a marathon?
We agreed that the cottage would be the meeting point before the race on Saturday. The race doesn’t start until 10.30 a.m. The upside of this means that Saturday morning was a leisurely start (in fact I was still in my PJs when some of the Buzzers arrived on Saturday morning!). The downside is that I think that we all get twitchy about getting going. I finally decided to go upstairs to get changed and heard quite a bit of commotion downstairs whilst I was up there. A few minutes later there was a knock on my bedroom door. I finally opened the door (after struggling to quickly put my t-shirt on!) and who should be standing there but Hollywood!! What a lovely surprise and an incredible thing for him to come all that way. He gave me the baton sensing I guess from my last blog that I was going to need it!
Shortly afterwards we headed off on that glorious walk to the start line. I was feeling calm. I knew that I’ve been struggling (a lot) with long runs in training…and all year really. But I had a little sneaky feeling that I might just be OK and would be able to pull it out of the bag on the day.
I feel that I set off too fast in the last couple of years so wanted to start off slowly this year. Therefore, I wrote down some target mile splits on my arm which were slower than last year to make sure I kept to my promise to myself to take the first few miles steady.
And the first few miles were fine. I slowed myself down at times. Miles 3-5 (ish) go up the Pen-y-pass and the going gets tough. This was fine too. I took it easy and walked towards the end of the hill when it got tough. So far OK. Then for the downhill stretch which I’ve loved so much in the last 2 years. Except this time I didn’t speed down as I have in the past. Nothing to worry about I thought. This is fine – nice and steady….
I got to about mile 8-9 and I was really starting to struggle and slow. I wanted to walk several times but was forcing myself to run “just a little bit longer” every time. My legs felt like lead and just had no energy in them. It was taking all of my physical and mental energy just to put one foot in front of the other…and it was only mile 9.
At some point (around mile 10 I think) I saw someone waving in my direction. It was Jim’s wife, the lovely Anna. I think I’d already become slightly delirious though as I wasn’t sure if it was her or not or whether she was waving at someone behind me. I had to ask her if she was Anna! It was a lovely surprise to see her but the odd thing was that the friendly face made me feel emotional and I welled up after I’d passed her.
I was not in a good place now. I know that marathons are hard but this was different. I felt an exhaustion that wasn’t ‘normal’; and I felt lonely and miserable. And I was slowing down dramatically. I mentioned to a few of you at the weekend that one of my closest friends who I’ve known for 20 years has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy just over a week ago and is due to go through 6 months of chemo. Rationally I know that she should pull through but I have been a bit cut up about it for the past few weeks. So with that and other stresses over the past few months that I won’t bore you all with I’m feeling a little emotionally fragile at the moment at the best of times.
I knew that it was likely to take me 2 ½ hours to get to the halfway point where the realbuzz cheering squad would be. I also knew that after this was where the race really shows it’s teeth. On a good day the second half would (and has) take me 3 hours. Today it would take me longer than that. The idea started growing in my mind that I was going to stop when I got to half way. I spent the next couple of miles fighting with my own thoughts about whether I could (or should) carry on. I was torn. I didn’t know if I could bear so many more lonely miles in the state that I was in.
Knowing that I was likely to find the day tough I promised myself that I would keep going in honour Su if I found it tough. What I was doing was nothing compared to what she is going through. I was disappointed in myself that I was rapidly failing in that.
The supporters were standing in a spot slightly earlier than I was expected. I approached Vicki who opened her arms to give me a hug and I recall practically collapsing into her sobbing saying that I couldn’t carry on. I continued to sob as I became aware of Bev and Kat around me too. I felt stupid for being so upset and a failure for wanting to pull out. I sat down for a bit and thought about whether I should get back up and carry on. Vicki told me later that day that I seemed so unsteady on my feet that if I had have decided to keep going she would have stopped me!
Bev took this photo just after I'd stopped and I was about to burst into tears (she hadn't realised of course what was about to happen before she took it). It captures the raw emotion that I was feeling at the time.
About 5 minutes later Rob turned up. He knew from the beginning that he would stop at half way. We realised that we hadn’t yet crossed the half way timing mat and that it was just a few feet ahead. So we decided that we would run until we crossed the mat then walk back to join the group. I’m glad we did that as it meant that we’d officially been recorded as having run half of the race.
We made our way back to the finish line in convoy with Rob and I in Bev & Tony’s car (thanks guys). It was great driving through the course going past the runners – a much easier course in a car than by foot! We got back to see some of the Buzzers cross the line but sadly missed the speediest ones Moose, HOBS, and Angus. The next person to cross the line was David and it was great to see him run down the home stretch. I don’t think that he’d noticed that I was amongst the support crew so got a shock to see me there when he came to meet us.
We watched everyone make it over the line then went back to the cottage for a celebratory drink (and cake). I was still feeling emotionally delicate about the day I’d had and found myself embarrassingly getting tearful every now and then. On the whole I was very comfortable with my decision though. I just felt sad L. I felt physically wrecked after only doing half of the run so dread to think what state I’d have been in if I’d done the whole thing!
The meal on Saturday evening was, once again, a fantastic evening and the whole weekend was just magical – even with my own aborted marathon experience.
So what’s next for me? Well I’ve hardly done any running at all. For the next few weeks I’m just going to stick to park runs and the odd run when even I feel like it. BUT my mission is to get some core and general fitness. To this end I’ve joined a 6 week intensive fitness programme at my local gym. Its 3 sessions per week with a maximum of 4 people in each session where you have an instructor take you through your paces for an hour each time. And it’s extremely gruelling! I’m in week 2 and there’s been a few times where I’ve ached in muscles that I didn’t even know I had for days afterwards. But absolutely I love it. On top of this I’ve still done my kettlebell class (which I also love) and my dance class. I’m already enjoying the mental break from marathon training and feel sure that I’ll get my running mojo back in full swing after my break. And of course there’s a small matter of still having a target to get a park run course PB before the end of the year…
David and I are doing a half marathon next Sunday. I’m planning to enjoy that and take it steady. And then it’s going to be 5k central for me for a couple of months whilst I work hard on getting my times down.
I’m sorry that I’ve not been on a read anyone else’s blogs yet. I will do so over the next few days. You are all amazing xx
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