Unconventional training as always; from Turkey, to Majorca, to A&E, to Snowdonia!

Posted on: 01 Nov 2018

It’s been a while since I followed any kind of training plan and this time round was no exception to that pattern!  At the end of September I went on holiday to Turkey for 2 weeks and whilst I ran more than ever on this holiday, 8 times in fact, it wasn’t exactly ideal for Snowdonia; the temperature was in the 30’s and the landscape pancake flat!  In hindsight the only Snowdonia specific training I got was stopping to take photos whilst out on my runs, well it was just so hard not to!

A week after landing back home (32°C to 8°C within 4 hours was a shock!) I was back at the airport to fly to Palma, Majorca.  This was not a planned trip at the start of the year, but when snow scuppered our running weekend to Benidorm back in March I needed my Running Crazy overseas fix and this race was the only one which the dates worked.  Plus this trip would delay the post-holiday blues and I could use the marathon as my last long run before Snowdonia; what could go wrong!  At the airport I wasn’t sure if the weather yet again would stop play as Storm Callum hit but after our plane took off sideways we landed in Palma in record time!

The weather was glorious in Palma and as it was the day before the marathon I thought I should spend the afternoon around the pool with my feet up; how terrible!  In the evening the rest of the Harriers arrived so we joined the Running Crazy crew for some serious carb loading!  I’ll keep my race report brief as Snowdonia is the main word for this Blog but I don’t want to take away from the fact that I really ‘enjoyed’ Palma!  The marathon and half both start together with the 10km 40 minutes later; the marathon is 2 laps and is a race of 2 halves if you’re not too speedy!  The first lap was busy with both the half and marathon running together; the water stations were a bit of a bun fight as the temperature rose.  One lap is up and down the seafront and then onto the old town, then repeat!  I was taking it steady as it was a training run and felt comfortable after the first lap but then the number of runners considerably diminished!  I then caught up with Jerome from the 100 Marathon Club and he was my saviour.  Asking how I was I declared that I really, really wanted an ice cold bottle of Coca Cola, Jerome then pronounced that what was the point of carrying €20 with him if he couldn’t help a lady out so off we went to the nearest minimarket and bought the aforementioned drink; it was the best Coca Cola I’ve ever had!  For the next 10 miles we ran (sometimes walked!) together and the miles passed much easier.  By the time we reached the old town for the second time it was a hive of activity with all the bars and restaurants now busy; the plus side was there were lots of cheering from the punters as we shuffled past and the downside was the oblivious people wandering around mainly looking at their phones (why when there’s so much to see!) and dodging waiters!  As I finally crossed the finish line the sun was still blazing and the finish time was irrelevant; it was just a training run except my feet had now seized up!  I hobbled out of the finish area and plonked myself in the nearest chair; Claire, Dena, Issie and Janine rescued me with Prosecco….now that sorted me out!

All was well until I spent the following weekend holed up at home with chronic stomach and back pains, after 48 hours and my imagination running wild I called Kirsty; I knew she’d be rational! So long story short I ended up in A&E where I had blood tests, painkillers and an anti-sickness dose.  The doctor then said it was something gastro but they were too busy to do any further tests so to go home, take painkillers, Gaviscon and if it got worse to go to my surgery!   Fortunately by Wednesday I was able to start eating more, my appetite was very gradually returning and most importantly I was pain free.  With this positive change Snowdonia Marathon was now a real possibility but after 5 days of barely any food I only had 3 days to get sufficiently fuelled for the UK’s toughest road marathon; I was going to give it my best shot! 

Friday arrived and we were bound for Llanberis and I was able to get a lift with Dave (HOBS).  We listened to Jim on Radio 5 live with Nicky Campbell extoling the merits of Realbuzz and social media which was that morning’s point of discussion.   We listened to Dave’s eclectic music download mix and I fuelled the journey with both my constant chatter and plenty of food; Hot Cross Buns, Bananas and heavily laden Bagels!   We arrived in Llanberis in good time and went straight to registration where gradually the Realbuzzers were congregating; just wonderful to see everyone again.  It was then a mass meeting at Petes Eats for some serious food consumption and conversation!  I took the carb loading seriously as I had some catching up to do, this was my main course with some flavoured Snowdonia water (!!) and then I had apple crumble and custard!

After a good night’s sleep it was time for my full Welsh breakfast; this marathon needs good fuelling and with a civilised start of 10.30am on a Saturday there’s no rushing some porridge at an ungodly hour!   We then all met up at 9.30am, chatted and just after 10am walked to the start; here’s most of the Realbuzzers who were running at the race start (a few had gone astray!).

My plan was just to take it steady, ignore my pace and evaluate how I felt.  Having run the race 3 times before I know the course well and was prepared to stop if I had to; it’s not a marathon you can blag however it does have parts that are gifted to you to walk if you so choose!   Here is the profile with some added captions, credit for this to Maxine (the haircut refers to a dream Jenny had!).

Every year I come to Snowdonia I always say that next year I’ll do a different race and then every year as I reach the top of Pen-Y-Pass and run down towards Beddgelert I start planning my return for the following year; I mean how could I miss out on all this and the Buzzers! 

By the time I reached Beddgelert and was welcomed by our wonderful supporters my plans for 2019 had been finalised!  To say this race is tough is an understatement but the outstanding scenery, camaraderie from all the runners, truly amazing support from both those driving past and on the roadside makes this race one of my favourites.   

My steady pace continued, I walked when I had to but even though I was much slower than last year I felt the strongest yet at this race.  The weather was very Welsh; snow, sleet, brilliant sunshine and a brutal biting wind which made the temperature feel below zero at times!  After the climb out of Beddgelert, which was definitely longer this year (!), the climb up to Waunfawr loomed which is definitely walking territory; the climb is brutal but the scenery stunning.  

I loved the water station at the top at mile 24 where they were all dressed in Hawaiian outfits and even had a surfboard up there, a snowboard would have been more appropriate though!  Then finally you can see Llanberis laid out below and the fastest 1 mile downhill of any race!

As I did last year I relaxed on the downhill and went with the flow, I passed everyone in my wake and nobody passed me; what a feeling!  My pace continued to increase as I went, there is one short section which is much steeper and scary but I held my nerve so that when I hit Llanberis High Street I had the momentum for a sprint finish; my pace was 7m 30s for the final stretch which is the only time my pace ever begins with a 7!  Ecstatic I crossed the finish line, I might have been 40 minutes slower than last year but considering 6 days earlier I had been in A&E and 13 days previously running Palma I was just completely thrilled to finish!

Reunited with the Buzzers that had already finished and cheering in those coming in for their moment of glory was as always so special, as was our traditional evening get together.  What an extraordinary community and what an exceptional weekend.  Thank you everyone, I’ll be back!

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