A Tale of Two Marathons

Posted on: 10 Dec 2018

Well as they say, better late than never so I thought with 2018 almost drawing to a close I would finally get fingers to keyboard and write about my challenges (although very minimal) for this year. Apologies as could be quite a long read so get yourself a cuppa!!

Race to the Stones 50k – July

As far as I can recall I signed up to do this challenge around Aug 2017 after fellow buzzer Mad Max informed us that she would be doing the 50k leg on the Sunday and would anyone like to join her. I obviously had had a few drinks on a Saturday evening and thought ‘oh this seems like a good idea’ and promptly signed up not even thinking properly about the challenge I would be undertaking as had never run further than 26.2 miles previously. Another buzzer Yve also decided to join us so we aptly named ourselves the Realbuzz Ultra Virgins.

Skip forward almost a year later and the day was looming upon me pretty fast. I know this is not best way to approach an ultra-marathon but for a better word my training had been pants and I didn’t feel prepared in any way whatsoever. I hadn’t thought about what kit I would need, food, drink, what rucksack I would carry or even how I was going to get to the start and back etc etc etc.

It was about 3 weeks before the event that I really sat and thought about it and it hit me how unprepared I really was and seriously thought about pulling out, but then I thought I can’t let my fellow ‘ultra virgins’ down, I can’t let my fellow buzzers down and I can’t let myself down so it was a simple case of just thinking oh well what the hell, what’s the worst that can happen (well I could die I suppose!). I was very aware of how unprepared I was but it didn’t even register in my head that I might fail the challenge, I just kept thinking about that finish line and what a feeling it would be when I crossed it, failing wasn’t an option.

So, after a blitz of purchasing a running backpack, energy food & drinks, blister plasters, vaseline & all the other bits n bobs I thought I might need at least I was ‘kit’ ready. As I only live about 30 mins from the start my hubby Tony kindly volunteered to drive me over in the morning and be the Ultra Virgins support crew for the day, follow the route in the car and meet us at all the pit stops along the way.

The day was soon upon us and as the weather was forecast to be another scorcher we decided the best idea would be to start at 6am so at least we could get a few miles under our belts before the full heat of the day set in.

After a very early wake-up call me & Tony set off for the start. Yve had arrived around the same time and we waited for Max to join us. Once Max joined us it was a quick photo opportunity, a hug for Tony and we were off full of smiles and nervous anticipation of what laid ahead. We also had the privilege of carrying the RB baton with us. Max would be carrying it for the first 17km, then it would be my turn and then Yve’s turn for the final 17km stretch.  The first pit-stop seemed to arrive quite quickly where Tony was waiting for us. A quick cup of tea, loo break, delicious cold melon slices, pockets filled with goodies and we were on our way again. By this time and although it was still early in the day the sun was starting to get a lot warmer so it was less and less running and more & more walking.

Even though it was getting hotter by the hour, surprisingly I was rather enjoying myself, the scenery was great, the company was fantastic with lots of chatter and laughter, the pit stops great fun with delicious food, more cold melon slices and the ‘water spray’ guys were a god send in that heat. Tony was another god send at every pit stop to help us refill water bottles and help Max & Yve with blister problems that they were starting to suffer with, at this time I didn’t seem to be having this problem.

The miles were getting ticked off and I seemed to be coping pretty OK (well as well as one can undertaking an ultra-marathon in that heat), until we got to a huge area of open land with no shade whatsoever and it seemed to go on for miles. Not sure if this was ‘The Field of Dreams’ mentioned on the RTTS website but it seemed like The Field of Nightmares to me, as although it was later in the day the sun was still so intense beating down on us and the heat was unbearable. I was really flagging and finding it so hard to put one foot in front of the other but I just thought “well its either drop here in this heat or keep going” so only one option really & kept going. The chatter between the three of us was getting less and less at this point (well apart from Max & my reply was probably just a grunt ha ha) as everyone was dealing with their own demons to get through the long hard miles in front of us. The heat also started to affect my feet as they had begun to rub and I could feel the blisters appearing as every step started to get a bit more painful but I just tried to put it to the back of my mind and keep plodding on and would sort them out at the final pit stop. It was a hard slog and so relieved to see the last pit stop up ahead so at least could have a little rest and sort the aches and pains out and knew then we only had the final stretch to get through. I managed to get some blister plasters on my feet but think the damage had been done by then. After some more feet maintenance, dousing ourselves in water, grabbing a few munchies & hugging Tony we were ready to be on our way.

We also had to haul Yve off the ground otherwise I think she would have gone to sleep but we were all so very tired by now. To be honest I can’t really remember much about the last stretch, I just wanted to get it done and it was such a fantastic feeling as we were finally heading up the road to the “The Stones” & people coming the other way telling us “it was not much further now” & “you’re almost there” which definitely gave us all a boost. It was amazing to finally see those stones, and made all those darn hard, hot miles worth it. A quick photo opportunity then we were swiftly on our way again then around a corner we could see the finish line in the distance and when it was about a hundred meters or so away we all held onto that RB baton and ran the last bit over the finish line where it was hugs, tears, hugs, tears and even more tears. We had done it & had the medal to prove it, I was so, so proud of us all!!!  We were ULTRA MARATHONERS!!! After a rest, some food & longed for cold glass of cider we said goodbye to Yve & set off home, dropping Max back off at her car along the way. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised how bad my feet were, I had blisters on blisters and the air was pretty blue when I tried to take the blister plasters off taking most of my skin with them, not a pretty sight!!  A quick shower and into bed, although I had to hang my feet over the edge of the bed as the blisters were so painful even against the sheets, god knows how I managed to get to work the next day as I could hardly walk and it took about 3 weeks for my feet to heal.

Although I was shattered, my feet were ruined and it was one of the hottest days of the year it was still one of the best days of my life. A few years ago I didn’t even think I could finish a half marathon let alone an ultra & I know I would never have completed it if it hadn’t been for Max & Yve by my side, what a team we were & I couldn’t think of 2 better ladies to have faced it with so I thank them so much for a brilliant day. Also, I know that RB baton really helped each one of us when we needed it most, there really is some RB magic in that baton. Finally, I couldn’t have even started this challenge without my rock Tony by my side, driving around all day, carrying extra kit & with never ending support at all of the pit stops making sure we were all OK and seeing us 3 ladies safely home. In his own words “This supporting lark is hard work” 😊

Snowdon Marathon – October

Well, where do I start with this one. It is not going to be a ‘frilly happy blog, I just need to get it written down. The training had been done, the organisation and prep had been done and although it wasn’t going to be easy, I knew if I could get through 50km in the scorching sun in July I would finish this marathon one way or another. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

The Snowdon marathon has become one of the big events on the buzzers calendar & I was excited about the weekend and what laid ahead.   

Me & Tony set off for Snowdon on the Friday morning. The plan was to arrive mid-afternoon, settle in our B&B then meet up with all the other buzzers at Pete’s Eats around 5ish for a pre-marathon feast. It ended up being a bit of a rush as the journey ended up taking over 6 hours due to the dreadful traffic.

After Pete’s Eats me & Tony headed down to registration to collect our running numbers, we had a little wander round and then went back to the B&B to settle for the night. About an hour after we got back my mobile rang and it was my son Kieran asking to speak to Tony.

I didn’t even think about why he was asking to speak to Tony and not me. It wasn’t until I could hear my sisters voice that I started to panic and asked Tony what was wrong. There was no easy way for him to tell me but my son & his girlfriend had come home earlier that evening to find our home had been broken into and completely ransacked. Needless to say, we just packed everything up and after speaking with the B&B’s owners went straight home. I don’t know how Tony managed to get in the car and drive as he was shattered after the long drive up. I couldn’t drive as I was shaking like a leaf all the way home. It was one of the worst journeys of my life as I just didn’t know what we were going home to. We finally got home around 2am and Kieran and Lucy were understandably waiting up for us. The police had already been and taken Kieran’s statement and told him forensics would be back the next day.

If you have ever had the awful misfortune to have been burgled (and my sympathies go out to you) you will know the gut-wrenching feelings you have when you see your precious home & everything you have worked and cared for turned upside down & just thrown around without a care in the world. I was trying to be strong for Kieran and Lucy but when I saw the utter mess everywhere I just burst into tears. How could someone do this to someone else’s belongings and home. I wanted to kill them.

We all slept downstairs that night as the bedrooms were in too much of a mess and didn’t want to clear it up until forensics had been, sadly they couldn’t come until the Sunday due to a more severe emergency so we lived downstairs for 2 days until they had been. At first it didn’t seem like anything had been taken as no larger items like TVs, laptops etc had gone but after we started the clear up I realised that gold jewellery belonging to both myself and my late mother had been stolen. I was upset enough about my things as they were gifts from my parents but even more upset about my late Mothers things which can never be replaced.

For obvious reasons I can’t say too much else about the burglary as it’s with the police but we have to be realistic and know that we will probably never ever get the items back which makes me so sad as it is our memories and the people who took them don’t give a jot (that’s the polite word) and just sold them on or melted them down, I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about them.

Your home should be your safe place, your haven and it is the worst feeling in the world to know that some scum has forced their way in and been in every room and through all your precious things. As with most awful events that happen in life you have to learn to cope with them as best as you can and try and move on and we are only nervously looking out the window every 10 minutes now rather than every 5. We have also had better security lights and an alarm fitted which helps us feel more secure again but it will just take time.

And as for Snowdon, well it’s unfinished business for me & Tony. After speaking with a couple of the buzzers they advised me to contact the organisers and ask if it would be possible to defer our places until 2019 which they have very kindly done for us.  So, we will be back there again next year alongside the other buzzers to tackle those 26.2 miles. And when it gets tough, I will think of those b*stards who invaded our home and mentally kick their arses to get me round. I WILL NOT BE BEATEN!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog & wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

 

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