A Race of 2 Halves

Posted on: 30 Oct 2018

Snowdon Marathon 2018. I had unfinished business and I was ready for it. 

If I was to sum up the weekend in as few words as possible I'd say: the weekend was fabulous; the sunshine was beautiful; my race didn't go so well in the end; and I spent a lot of time waiting for food!!

David and I weren't able to get to Llanberis until around 7.00 on the Friday night.  We knew the Buzzers were meeting early for dinner so were a little disappointed that we'd miss them.  As with everyone our traffic was hideous and we finally arrived at our yurt (yes really!) at around 7.45.  It turns out that some of the Buzzers were still in Pete's Eats so we dumped our stuff and headed down to meet them.  David ordered food for us whilst I went to pick up my number.  I then rushed to Pete's Eats hoping my food wouldn't be going cold.  

Hugs all round for the Buzzers then we chatted and caught up whilst we waited for our food.  And waited. And waited a little more.  Finally David went to check and they'd forgotten our order!!  The food finally arrived and it was lovely and great company.

Back to our yurt which was just a tad on the chilly side but apart from that it was cute.  I imagined that I was going to have a terrible nights sleep and that I'd be awake early.  We were meeting the Buzzers at 9.30 the next morning which means we'd have to leave at 9.15 to get there.  I set my alarm for 8.30 as a backstop on the off chance that I slept in.  To my surprise I slept really well and was woken by the alarm at 8.30!  This meant that by the time we got sorted and walked down the hill we missed the other Buzzers at the meeting place but found them on the start line just before the off.

So to the race itself.  As I've said before my PB from last time I ran it was 5.01.  I would love to have gone under 5 hours at the weekend.  I looked at my mile splits from previous years and decided that if I slowed down in the first half (especially up the first hill which I would run/walk); then I could slow down the slow down in the second half.  Therefore I wrote down some mile splits with strict instructions to myself not to go any faster than them in the first half.  

And the first half was just great.  I had to slow myself down a few times at the beginning and the pen-y-pass felt very comfortable.   The sunny weather meant that the views were simply stunning, however the price we paid for that was that it was very cold!

I charged down the hill after reaching the top and managed to catch up with Nick who had taken over me on the way up (it wasn't long before he went past me again and that was the last I saw of him).  I felt strong and happy and the miles were ticking off really quickly.  I wanted to get to half way at 2.17 which would give me 2 hours and 40 mins or so to do the second half.

I just about caught Gerry in Bedgelert when I heard someone call my name but hadn't realised who it was until it was nearly too late.  And Gaelle and Kat hadn't spotted me at the half way point so I shouted out to them both as I ran past.  I was smiling and happy.

The hill out of Bedgelert wasn't too bad.  By now the cold was hitting me though and my legs very numb with cold.  I phaffed around at the water station at the top of the hill filling my bottle up and trying to open an electrolyte pack with cold hands.  And then suddenly at around 16 miles that was it.  My legs weren't playing any more.  I felt like I had no energy left and I slowed dramatically.  Also my left knee started to hurt.  Nothing too awful but enough to bother me.  I put some music on (even though we weren't supposed to) and this helped take my mind off things.  After a couple of slow miles I knew that sub 5 wasn't going to happen anymore and I'm not proud to say it but my mind gave up too at that point

I wanted to walk.  I wanted to cry.  I did start to run/walk.  I was 18 miles in.  I was tired and still had 8 tough miles ahead.  I called David to tell him that I was struggling and not to expect me too soon.  Then my phone battery died which meant the music was gone too.  

I always think of Snowdon as a 22 mile race because you know that by the time you get to the hill at 22 miles you'll be walking for practically 3 miles and then it's just one mile down hill!  On Saturday those miles between 18 and 22 were just plain grim.  

David appeared at some point up the nasty final hill.  I was so pleased to see him and felt tearful.  We walked up slowly together and I'd given up caring about what time I finished by now.  We talked about how we were 'running' for Kat from 24 miles and took our photos. 

Libby went past us on the hill and there were a few times where we got close to her again but eventually she disappeared from view.

The downhill section was a welcome relief - for about a minute or two until that went pear shaped too.  I jarred my leg on a stone which caused my knee to be in a lot of pain whilst trying to descend.  I was having to hold on to David and slowly hobble down.  There was a lot of cursing and frustration.  I've since looked at my splits and seen that it took 18 minutes to do that downhill mile!

Once I was on the flat again and approaching the finish line I found some strength an speed from goodness knows where!  There was no-one else running down the straight at the same time as me so everyone was shouting my name - including the lovely Buzzers of course.  I was feeling emotional and just relieved that it was over. I ran that section at an 8.30 minute pace!!  

My finish time was 5.44.  And that second half took me nearly 3 and a half hours!  Just a little longer than I'd planned.  For me that is a personal worst by a country mile. 

After finishing I 'rushed' back to the yurt to get showered and warm before coming back down to the finish line to watch the remaining Buzzers finish.  This involved a 10 minute walk down a steep hill which I had to walk sideways!

I wanted to do myself proud on Saturday so I wish the wheels hadn't come off.  In thinking about what went wrong: I think that my instincts were right beforehand that I wished I'd got at least a couple more long runs in whilst training.  I just think that I didn't have enough endurance in my legs.  Plus of course my knee packing in didn't help in the final mile.  Having said that I know rationally that to keep going when I was suffering so much is something in itself to be proud of.

I'm also proud of every single Buzzer who was there - either running or supporting.  And of course I'm grateful that I could run at all as there were several who couldn't for various reasons.

The meet up on Saturday evening was lovely as usual.  Although I had to sit and wait for around 20 minutes after everyone else had their food before mine arrived!  This was not pleasant after having spent nearly 6 hours on my feet and not having any lunch!

Will I be back to run next year?  If you'd have asked me on Saturday afternoon I would have sworn at you.  Now.....maybe!

Well done everyone and thank you for another legendary weekend. xx

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