G’day one and all this is going to be a bit of a long one but here’s my version of Snowdon 2016 and what was a brilliant weekend.
The training in the run up to Snowdon didn’t go quite according to plan but when does it ever. Basically I started later than I should of done a bit of a rude awakening after the summer holidays. I seemed to struggle for weeks with any form of fitness and as the mileage increased the knees were complaining not enough to stop the running but enough for me to use the old ice packs and Ibruprophen post run. Then two weeks ago I had a really good 15 mile run, yes it was pretty flat but it was one of those runs when everything seems to go to plan for once.
The weekend started for me on Thursday when I headed up the M5/M4 to a little village called Hawkesbury Upton, you may have heard of it. HOBS had kindly offered to put me up for the night so knocking 2 ½ hours off Fridays travelling. It was great to catch up over a couple of pints in the local AND I can’t believe you can still get a really decent pint of real ale for under £ 3.00, what a bonus and just what the doctor had ordered after a manic couple of weeks at work. After a good night’s sleep and a chance to stock up on supplies from the village shop the road trip continued. As we weren’t in a massive rush we opted for the pretty way and thus avoiding the madness that our motorway system that seems to develop on every Friday. The journey was pretty uneventful but gave us chance to enjoy the weather and of course the autumnal colours of the countryside. We were well passed Betws-y-Coed when the weather changed, mist and drizzle that just got thicker and heavier, by the time we got to the Pen-y-Pass you could barley see more than 50 yards, but as soon as we hit the top it cleared just enough to show that first climb we would be tackling in the morning. We then called in to see the Parker family for a coffee and cake at what quickly became Buzzer H.Q, a really love cottage that was situated in a great location, Richard, Vicki and Ollie were the most accommodating and perfect hosts, many thanks it was most welcomed. HOBS and I then dropped into collect our numbers before I took HOBS to his B&B/hotel, before heading to the Lodge Dinorwig where I would be staying. I must admit it did take a bit of finding but it was worth it, a stunning location high up over looking Lyln Padam. One minor complaint, it was a bit remote from Llanberis. A quick check in and drop off of my bags before heading back to H.Q. for our very own pasta party that Vicki had organised. By now the gathering of buzzers was well underway HOBS had returned Jenny and RD had arrived as had Gaelle and her 2 boys Hugo and Paul. Our numbers continued to grow though out the evening Jim and Anna, Angus, Bev and Tony and Rob. We were also joined by Ian and Lainey who had been part of the Hawkesbury 401 challenge. As ever it was just like meeting up with old friend’s great food great company and a great get together. Another sweep steak was devised more funds were raised for the Eve Appeal. All too quickly it was time to head for the hills.
After a pretty restless nights sleep which tends to be the norm the night before a marathon I was up just after 7. Normally speaking the first thing I would do would be to get the breakfast onboard but as the race wasn’t starting until 10:30 I decided to have it just before we met up at buzzer H.Q. Final kit check making sure I’d got the essentials for the finishing line in my case warm clothes, chocolate and lots of crisps, the alcohol was being taken care of. Then the last minute breakfast before heading to meet up with the gang. Got to admit I was quite taken aback with the view to my left the Pen-y-Pass was once again shrouded in mist to the right I could see all the way down to coast and what I imagine would be the estuary at Caernafon, today was indeed going to be a good day. When I arrived at our new found home Gaelle and Jim were already there, such was Jim’s nervous excitement I think if I shouted go he would have been off without a second glance. RD was busy cooking the biggest bowl of porridge ever whilst Jenny, Ian and Lainey were busy getting themselves ready. Before I knew it the 3 amigo’s arrived 1,2,3,4??? I just thought they’d pick up someone Rob knew and didn’t take too much notice at first. Then I realised who’d arrived only the bloody head coach. As always it was great to see the big fella and speaks volumes of him that with all that he’s got on his plate at the moment he was able to pop in to see us, it certainly gave me a boost. Before all too long the head coach walked us to the start line whilst our ever growing support team headed out on their exploits. Talk amongst us runners turned to expectations I didn’t have a plan as such other than to take it as it comes, I knew what my split times were for Pen-y-Pass, Beddgelert and the mile 23 check point from last year so the aim was to try and beat the 3.43 I ran last year. Then came Angus’s carrot he mentioned that no buzzer had gone under 3.40, certainly something to think about.
Before all too long it was time for the final hugs and best wishes and we were off, the mid morning misty drizzle certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of us runners or the crowds that were lining the start. I found myself running with RD, quite soon we were ushered to one side to allow one of the filming motor bikes pass and unbelievably we made it onto the S4C marathon highlights programme. I quickly settled into a comfortable pace and it was great to share those first couple of with RD before he eased back a little. By the time we started the climb up to Pen-y-Pass the mist had come right down, which wasn’t a bad thing as you couldn’t see the top and therefore didn’t really know exactly how far you had to go to the top. I managed to have a quick chat to 2 chaps from another one of the running clubs based in Plymouth. After 39 minutes I’d reached the top, now came the good bit, relax, lean slightly forward, arms out, smile and let gravity do its thing, it was time to Barber. The only slight disappointment was the thick mist meant you couldn’t see the other runners snaking down through the track ahead. No surprise that this section produce the fastest miles of the day. The next few miles passed by quite nicely they’re slightly downhill and by now we were a bit more spread out I was feeling comfortable but a bit concerned that the miles were going by a bit too quickly. I got a nice cheer from the O’brien support crew between miles 10 and 11 before heading onto Beddgelert and the half way point. What a brilliant reception and a real boost to see the buzzers support team, even more so because I wasn’t expecting to see them there, high 5’s and Bev(thanks very much) managed to get a half decent picture of me which given what little she had to work with was little short of a miracle. Through half way in 1.42, quicker than last time but now comes the tough miles, just after the half way mark is for me possibly the toughest couple of miles of the whole run. Its not the steepest climb it just seems to be a steady endless continue grind, even trying to share these miles with fellow runners doesn’t make it any easier. Miles 14 and 15 were slow even slower than the miles up to Pen-y-Pass. The next 6 miles offer some more stunning scenery whilst the road tends to be rather undulating as a result the pace was rather up and down ( well that’s my excuse). Then my real battle started I could feel my right calf beginning to tighten and before I knew it Pow the dreaded cramp had hit and I was forced to stop and stretch it out. I didn’t stop for very long but all momentum was lost. By now I’d realised that the carrot had gone, the climb up to the water station at mile 22 was again slow. The next 2 miles are without doubt really so tough but you’re so close to the finish, time to employ the walk, walk, shuffle, trot, method. Through the gate at mile 24 and then the right hammy starts to tighten another quick stop to try to stretch it out but it doesn’t feel brilliant. Then we head across a particularly rough section of ground, before its time to Barber for one last time. But just as I clear the second large puddle the dreaded cramp hits in the hammy not good I had to stretch for what seemed an age but gradually it eased and I was able to get back in my stride, but what a blast that last section was, it’s like being a kid again and I loved it. I found myself running it with a guy called Simon who was running his 335th marathon. Then a sharp right turn onto the High Street and the sprint for home must remember it’s the second arch and not the first arch for next year. Job done it was much harder than I remember from last year I was totally spent, I had my normal funny 5 minutes but this soon passed after a drink and something to eat. Once again I witnessed some amazing feats just in that last few hundred yards it really is humbling to watch your fellow runners in the last few steps of their own journey. Then it was catching up time our support crew had grown Kathy and Richard had now joined the ranks. Those chocolate brownies really did hit the spot Kat absolutely delicious and just what I needed. As always great to see the big fella back safe after his pilgrimage and brimming with pride and rightly but all to quickly he was away to get back to his family. Before long we were heading back to H.Q. for cake, processco and a chance to catch up with everybody’s stories that cottage was well and truly buzzing.
After a quick trip back to my accommodation for a shower and a change it was back to the Royal Victoria for yet more food a drink. A big thanks to HOBS for organising this, the master of the spread sheet strikes again. But all too quickly the efforts of the day were beginning to become evident by now I was absolutely shattered. Today had been a bloody fantastic day. Before long I was heading back to the hills and my bed. Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to make the most of the extra hour in bed, I was awake just after 5:30 my legs were so tender. I just had to console myself by going outside and watch the dawn break how special was that and there she was for the first time I got to see the top of Snowdon. Every one remembers their first time, right. After breakfast I headed back to Llanberis to pick up HOBS and got chance to say a quick good bye to the team that were climbing Snowdon before finally heading south. Three hundred and forty miles and just over six and a half hours later I was home.
If there’s anyone still reading this then thank you so much for sticking with it, for all those involved in the weekend thank you very much for your support, help, generosity and hospitality to quote one of the greats ‘Your bloody great you are’. To anybody reading this thinking should I, could I, the answer is YES but don’t tell everybody about it.
Finally the boring bit and for my info so I don’t make the same mistake for next year I was 353rd in 3.45.47. Look at the splits 8.01, 7.44, 8.25, 8.53, 8.33, 6.34, 6.47, 7.14, 7.32, 7.40, 7.51, 7.42, 7.42, 8.52, 8.25, 8.08, 7.50, 8.19, 8.24, 8.17, 8.41, 9.30, 13.38, 13.51, 10.39, 7.40 and 6.57 for the last bit. DON’T GO OFF TOO QUICKLY IN THE FIRST HALF.
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