Where do start after a weekend like that, well I guess its best to start at the beginning really.
I’d been running quite well during the summer and even managed a sub 8 minute miling 15 mile run just before our summer holiday. I had the best intentions to run during the holiday but temperatures of about 30 degrees at 8 am ensured that the runs weren’t as long as they maybe should’ve been.
Back in gold Blighty and the runs were ramping up nicely and were of course including the mandatory hill training. The wheels soon came off though I was about half way through my long run on a ‘easy week’ when the calf went and let me down. A area at the top of the calf about the size of an egg felt it as if it was being squeezed in a vice. Stopped had a stretch and tried to run it off but after a couple of strides it became evident that todays running was over. Fortunately I was able to get hold of Mrs M to come to the rescue.
What followed was 6/7 weeks of frustration. I had some physio treatment which included accupunture, which I found really rather strange, lots of exercises and of course icing and rest. I thought things were getting better a couple of times and would go out for a run which would be ok only to find the pain would come back during the second run. A fortnight before Snowdon I felt confident to go for a 10 mile flatter than a pancake sort of run. All went well calf started feeling a little bit tired towards the end but no great dramas. The following Tuesday I decided to go for another short run but only managed 3 miles before the calf flared up yet again. So that was me no more running until Snowdon.
So as I headed off to meet with my travelling companions,on that Friday morning I was full of questions. Would I be doing this if it was any other marathon? No, I knew I didn’t have the miles in my legs, simple. How far would the calf last out? Who knows there’s only one way to find out. How painful was it going to be? Its always going to be painful its just how you manage it. Would I be able to get round? You bet because Im going to be
meeting up with THE team, people who inspire, people who do, people I know that if the wheels were coming off that they would have my back.
It wasn’t long after meeting up with Hobs in Hawkesbury that I realised that my Garmin was 150 miles away still on my kitchen window sill. A quick message and I had 3 waitng for me in Llanberis, they’ve got my back already, thanks folks. It wasn’t long before Libby arrived, its always great to catch up with everyone and the long drive passed quickly. The highlight though had to be Libby’s catering, the hot cross buns were good but those bagels had to be seen to believed and they’ve certainly put my lunches to shame ever since. After dropping our gear at our bases for the weekend, I was staying at the Heights bunkhouse certainly not grand but more functional and a great location, we headed over to collect our numbers and meet up with more of the team. Gerry,Mandy,Kat and Richard were already there and we were soon joined by Jane, Em and Anita. This was going to be one very special weekend.
Back for a quick change before heading to Vicki’s for the real buzzer pasta party and suffice to say that we were never ever going to be running out of anything. This was also another great oppourtunity to catch up with more and more of you Richard and Vicki are brilliant hosts and really do look after us so well, thanks very much and Vicki go on you know you want to and I’ve got every confidence in you.
After a relatively good nights sleep I woke at about 7ish race day nerves were now kicking in big time. Of course a good old Hollywood hug does help, cheers roomy. The 10.30 start time always seem an age to come round but after returning to Vicki’s and talking strategies,the use of the facilitiies and of course catching up with some late comers the time soon passed. Em gave re-set up her Garmin for me and gave me a quick briefing. Thanks very much Em I’m just sorry I couldn’t put a few quicker miles on there for you.
Then it was time to head for the start lots of pictures, good luck wishes, hugs and handshakes and we were off. By now I had a cunning plan, run as far as I can and then try and wing it for the remaining miles, simples. The first task was to try to run up to Pen-Y-Pass, which I just about managed. I spotted Hobs just before the Youth Hostel and whilst I couldn’t catch him he was a great target for me. Four and a half miles in and all was good with the calf so far. Time for some hard earned free miles and as has been said before some of the best marathon miles any where. As the confidence with the calf increased so did my pace for a mile or two. I finally managed to catch up with Hobs at a round the 8 mile mark as we left the track and headed back onto the road. By now thoughts were all about getting to Beddgelert and the wonderful team of supporters who ensured I got the warmest of welcomes. Fortunately Richard Miller came to my rescue with a bottle of water after I dropped my carton at the previous water station. A couple of bits of Kats rocket fuel and I was off agin and still running. Well that was until those wheels started to come off. Just after the 14 mile mark the calf re-introduced itself, it was a sharp pain, more a dull achey throb. I tried to walk it off all to no avail. By about mile 15 I’d adjust my stride to get the calf as comfortable as possible and set off running (in the loosest possible terms) once again. By about miles 17 I was starting to suffer from the lack of training miles the legs weren’t at all happy the ITB’s and hips were particular pee’d off by now. Then just after mile 19 I had my first attack of cramp in the left hamstring. Not long after I saw Gaelle in her lone supporting post, great to see a familiar face and gave me the kick on I needed. I tried to get to the water station at mile 22 before I started walking but to be honest I was walking a little way before that. I managed to start running once again at about mile 23.5 just as it flattens out and you run adjacent to a wood but no sooner had I started than I had to stop again for another attck of cramp in the left Hamstring.
After what seem an age I finally reached the downhill grassy slope by now I was running again but all thoughts of enjoying that downhill were soon smashed as I got more cramp, this time in the left calf, quickly followed by the right hamstring. Strange that the dodgy calf never got cramp at all. By now I just wanted to get finished I was cold from all the walking and stop starting and I was pretty much all in. Saying that the High Street finish is very special and I got a wonderful reception, I tried to put on a bit of a show and whilst I thought I was flying on those last few agonising metres the pictures tell a different story.
I took an age to get back to the cheer station I was pretty disappointed with my time but I knew with the way I was feeling that I’d given it pretty much my all. My mood soon changed as I caught up with everyone you can’t help but be lifted by everyone’s spirit,generosity and congratulations that and a few bits of Kats brownies and some warm clothes. By now energy levels were returning but my legs just felt as if they didn’t belong to me. Then the steady flow of Buzzers came through firstly those gentlemen of Hawkesbury Jim followed by Hobs. Next Liz went flying past us with one of those finishing bursts you can only dream of. Soon after came Rob he’d only gone and done it, I know how much I was hurting so goodness knows what he went through. Then came Mr & Mrs H accompanied by Jane and RD and what a finish I only hope it was as special for them as it looked and most definitely a goose bump moment. Then it was back for a quick change and shower before getting back out there to cheer the our final three legends. And then they came Swiss Dave and Sir and Lady Bolty what an incredible effort and what a finish it was brilliant to be there.
We then made our way over to the hotel for the evenings festivities which were expertly organised by Jim and what an evening. Lots of limping and shuffling and definitely no dancing ensued, the legs and by now in particular the calf were giving
me a few problems but it was such a pleasure to be there and the pains were soon forgotten.
I found the climb up Snowdon the following day pretty tough if I’m honest and the best way for me to manage the discomfort the quads and itb were particularly angry, was to keep moving in some sort of forward direction. But it was well worth the effort to just to Liz and Max well and truly banish their own demons. But all too soon we were back in the car park and saying our goodbyes which is never easy. The drive home was just so long, nearly as long as this post, but was made that bit much easier thanks to my travelling companions.
So thanks very much to each and every one of you who made this weekend so very special. Until next time my friends. Take care out there.
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