Snowdonia the summary
Sometimes you can have a great weekend… sometimes a fantastic weekend…. sometimes an epic weekend and then very rarely a weekend like we had in Snowdonia last week. Great, fantastic, amazing, epic all rolled into one. Memories that will last a long long time. The most incredible running and support team. The most amazing displays of determination.
I didn’t initially have a place to run this weekend, but once HD had a stated his challenges, and I had run one of them with him in Manchester, I knew one way or another I would be there in Llamberis to see him finish.
It’s been a privilege to run once again with so many of the real buzz team this year, and especially to be part of HD incredible journey. Well done HD, you have a huge heart and inspire so many of us. The climb up Snowdonia on Sunday was probably a step to far for my body (if the pain I am in now is anything to go by) but I don’t regret going. It was the most fantastic weekend. Thank you everyone.
Snowdonia the long version below
For me the journey started on Thursday evening with a trip to Heathrow to pick up Super Swede Em. We started our drive north early Friday morning, Em super excited to be something of the UK, and made a short detour to Crewe to collect Crooxi – Anita. Warnings of “stranger danger/ internet meet ups” from my daughters were ringing in my ears as were marched around the station with just a face book picture of Anita to go by. Finally with a full car we continued north and then turned left into the beauty of north wales.
I think the enormity of the task ahead finally hit me when after picking my race number up we met with the familiar faces of some of the real buzz team. Moose, and Hobbs and Kat & Richard, Mr & Mrs Bolty and Libby. Was I really going to run not just any marathon but the Snowdonia marathon tomorrow? Really? Could I?
Back at the beginning of Aug when I had gratefully accepted the offer from Gaelle to transfer her place to me, only a holiday in October stood in the way of some great training miles. Then suddenly from nowhere work trips to San Diego & Singapore, packing two daughters off to university, wedding dress shopping and hen night duties for my best friend’s wedding, all appeared. Great training miles became some training miles. Fully marathon fit became fully marathon willing. Help!
Vicki and her family come next in my list of amazing people that made this weekend possible for me with the offer to join them in their cottage. My experience of catering for a large family paid off and I was able to help prepare the mountain for pasta needed for a real buzz pasta night. Another lovely evening when old friendships were re visited and new friendships made and my weight in pasta eaten. Thank you Vicki!
Finally it was race day and the teams started to gather in the cottage and then onto the start line. I looked around me at the huge snake of runners and definitely felt nervous, inadequate and ill prepared. Hugs all round, bin bag cloaks discarded and we were off
Mile 1 & 2 were great. Solid steady miles with myself with 5 or 6 of us running together, liz and I catching up on the woes of the men in our life, and then the gradient kicked in as we started up the Pen-y pass. Save your legs for later I told myself as I started to slip behind. I stuck with Gaelle’s suggested plan of a 4 min run, 1 min walk for as long as I could and then it became 1 min run , 1 min walk and finally the white building signalling the top of the pass grew bigger and bigger. Finally ! made it! 52 mins, exactly the same as in 2015 ! First major obstacle completed time for a little rest, a drink and a gel!
Mile 5 to 8 were a joy. Down hill, mostly off road, I loved these miles and ran than way too fast . I was also slightly bemused to come across the sight of Rob running backwards down the hill – a sight I saw over and over that day
Mile 9 to half way. Tough miles. When the hill ran out and the road turned flat, my legs suddenly felt heavy and the doubts set in. My focus now became “get to half way”. I knew most of the support team would be in Beddgelert and I just concentrated on getting to them. In hindsight I put everything into getting to that half way point and pushed much too hard.
Half way ~ 2hr 20 As I approached Beddgelert the noise was huge. Such big crowds, and the best crowd of all - Kat and Vicki and Max and Jenny and Bev and Nick and Anita and EM and Claire and almost the whole real buzz team. Hugs all-round, chocolate, Kats cake, photos ….. and the realisation that this was just half way.
Miles 13 to 15 – tough dark dark miles- a long way still to go. The realisation that you have nothing left in the tank and it’s uphill again. Many people around me were walking but I did my best to run every time it flattened a bit.
Miles 15 to 19 – Still trying the run / walk strategy somewhere around 16 miles I look ahead and once again I see Rob running back wards again ( in a forwards direction) , and then I spot HD and Red D. Yippee its Manchester all over again. I run on past HD as I know that whilst I might have more speed now, his great heart of stamina will outlast mine and he will sweep me up again later. Red D and Rob were my savours in these miles and they circled back and forth between myself and HD, always encouraging, always willing me on. Thank you guys – I couldn’t have done this without you. The focus now was on getting to Gaelle who we knew would be somewhere around mile 19.
Mile 19 – Thank you Gaelle. You were such a welcome sight. I was ready to give up and you saved me. A quick change into a warmer top, and more cake and I was off again, once again joined by Rob, HD and Red D
Miles 19 to 22. In my mind Mile 22 became the finish line. (After that the course goes off road again and up the most enormous mountain. I remembered it being the most ridiculous hill and there would be no thought of running. Just a march up the hill and then run down the other side to the finish. ) So the focus became get to mile 22 . Give it everything and just get there. I hit mile 20 with Red D at about 4 hrs and I remember him saying if we pushed a bit we could get to the finish in 5 hours. – I am not sure I even managed a smile at that pint let alone serous thought of a 5 hour finish.
Then finally mile 22 and the hill started. I waited for Red D and HD and we marched up that bloody hill together- and boy can HD march!!! As we came closer to the top humour started to return and we even played the Alphabet game. The A to Z of swear words was very appropriate at this time. Asshole to Zebra bollocks we did them all.
Finish ! Finally finally it was the downhill run to the finish. More traitorous than I remembered but the finish was insight and nothing would stop us finishing! Tired legs were forgotten. Red D and I tried to sing a few rousing songs, but our brains were so far gone the words escaped us. Down the hill, round the corner and then in front of us was the real buzz team, Mrs H joined us and we crossed the finish line together.
Of course if you are part of the incredible real buzz team the day is not over until the last runners have been brought home. My best memory of the weekend was being part of the team that brought Mr and Mrs Bolt home. Emotional all round. Mandy you were amazing !!! You had the toughest day out there and so many would have given up. Well done. I hope you are very proud.
Thank you Jim for organising the after marathon dinner – I am just sorry exhaustion set in and I become a party pooper and and off to bed early pooper.
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