Here is the RR from Snowdonia marathon, as always it's a long one, so get a pot of tea and enjoy! =)
On Saturday morning I was woken up by a nice hail shower. Not what you want to hear the morning of a marathon. My alarm went of at 7:30, and I started eating right away. Banana and water first, then instant porridge with raspberry jam and another banana down in the kitchen. The other people staying at Neils place were also running the marathon but I didn't see anyone of them in the morning. Maybe they were clever and went early to Pete's for a good breakfast. I went back to my room to get my kit on and the bags ready, one to run with and one to leave with the cheering squad in case I needed more clothes along the way. After that I went to Pete's to get a real breakfast, you don't conquer Snowdon marathon on 2 bananas and some porridge. When I came out on High street I looked up and saw that there were actually snow on the mountain! It might be a cold, cold day! At Pete's the worst rush was over so I could find a table by the window. It was still a bit of a wait for food, and I started to get a bit stressed before my omelette finally turned up.
I got to the cafe to meet the buzzers just before 10, there were a lot of people there and I think half of them were the buzzers with crew! So many hugs! Brilliant! Soon it was time to go to the start. Me and Maxine had decided to run together for as long as we managed, and I was very happy to have her and her happy face as company! It was a bit chaotic but I think we managed to hug everyone and get a picture with all the buzzers in it just before the start went of.
Some of the buzzers left us behind fast, and others were we leaving behind. After just a few hundred meters we saw a lady who had triped and fallen over, she had damaged her knee but lots of people were helping her. But it reminded me to keep away from the curb and look out for potholes in the road. We found a good pace that felt comfortable, I felt pretty much from the start that Max was the stronger of the two of us, but figured I'll try and keep up for as long as possible and then tell her to go on and leave me. The surrondings were absolutely fabolous, with out a doubt the most beautiful race course I have ever seen. Just looking around me trying to take it all in made the first mile flash by. I also took so many pictures, they are not very straight and some are blurry since I took them while running, but they are still amazing. We all had our dedicated miles for Kat and in case someone didn't carry their phone I decided to try and take pictures of all the mile markers. I think I only missed one!
When we reached the start of Pen-y-Pass we went in to my Kat-miles, and as planned we switched to run-walk because no way we could run all that hill haha. I'm so amazed by you who do, that hill (wait, it's not a hill, it's a blimming mountain!) is a killer. At some point I looked behind us and man, what a view! And the whole time it felt like the mountain tops around us were our guardians. They were our challengers but also they looked out for us.
Finally we saw the top and tried to run just to not walk in the pictures! A cup or two of water and then we could set the legs free and start running properly again. The wind that met us here though, freezing bloody freezing! It was the only part of the race where I wished I had more clothes on, but it was only a short stretch, maybe half a mile, before we headed of the road and down on the gravelled path.
The path was a bit steep so I was a bit afraid of running parts of it. There were slippery stones, stones you could trip on and concrete gullies (I had to re-read Richards blog to remember that word!=P) to twist your ankles on. So on and of I fast-walked the downhill, and some skipping and running here and there. We still had quite a few people around us at this point but the path was narrower now so it was a bit difficult to estimate how many were still behind us.
There were a water station at the bottom of the hill, good to be able to drink and refill my soft flasks, but also it was so cold outside so the water was very cold to drink. I wanted to warm the cup in my hands first but instead I spilled it on my gloves so I decided cold throat was better that cold hands.
Maxine needed a quick wee-break in the bushes, while I admired the rainbow in the valley. Also I don't wee outside, I require at least walls and some kind of seat, so I had to wait a bit. Liz had said the night before that there were a public toilet in a rest stop before Beddgellert so when we got back up on the road I started look out for that.
We had about 5 miles left to Beddgellert, not a lot of runners around us now, but there was an elderly gentleman that tried to point out "interesting" trees with birds nests in them. We only showed a very brief interest in this. =) Max had gone around the course by car the day before so she had much better knowledge of what was coming than I had and had some good checkpoints that we could tick of as we went. I did find my toilet, but it was not until somewhere around mile 10. For once I was not a well-behaved swede, I ditched the queue to the ladies and jumped into the mens room instead, I didn't have time to queue, I didn't want Max to get cold waiting for me. A very quick stop but very necessary and I felt so much better after.
I had a bit of a system-check, I still felt ok, I knew this was not my best day but I could keep plodding on. The breathing worked fine, no obvious problems there yet which was a good thing. of course. The miles to Beddgellert were fairly flat so we ran a lot of it, short walking breaks in the small hills that were but all in all, good pacing in this part of the course. The sign that welcomed us to Beddgellert was such a happy sight! Now the well needed support was near! First we met Bolty who had only stepped out of the cottage to support us and greeted us with the biggest smile! He had also saved warm hugs and sweets for us. Brilliant supporter!
Just as we left Bolty we could hear our other supporters cheer for us as we came in to view. Kathy, Gaelle, HD's daughter and Joes dad greeted us with hugs, cake, offerings of dry clothes and updates on the other buzzers. We had barely had phone signal at all at this point so we had very little knowledge on how the others were doing. After filling our packs with cake we started climbing the hill out of Beddgellert. As suggested by a lady who had run the race 26 times before we tried running one lamp post and walking one. It worked for the first half or so, then we were mostly walking.
On the way out of Beddgellert the phone signal came back for a while, our phones were buzzing and pinging like crazy, we had amazing support from buzzers following from home too!
I can't believe I have written this much and almost haven't mentioned the weather. As told it was a cold wind coming down from Pen-y-Pass, then it got better and the sun was out almost the whole way around. On the way out of Beddgellert the weather started acting up though, and it was raining, a bit och hail and also sunshine. That's when I felt the need to take out my phone and put on some music to boost my mood. Choice of song: Sun is shining by Axwell/Ingrosso. Here is part of the lyrics, that was perfect for that occasion:
Faith is in our hands
Castles made of sand
No more guessing, no regrets
And you came my way on a winner's day
Shouted loudly come out and play
Can't you tell I got news for you
Sun is shining and so are you
And we're gonna be alright
Dry your tears and hold tight
Can't you tell I got news for you
Sun is shining and so are you
I was so glad that I had company at this part, it was getting tough and we still had about 10 miles to go. And Max never showed a grumpy side, me I get quiet when I get tired, she only seemed to find a joke in everything. I have never laughed that much during a marathon. I think we both started to feel pain here and there, my achilles had been hurting on and of since Pen-y-Pass, but it was still ok to run. My hips started to hurt, and of course the feet started to feel sore. But the views were still great, on this part of the course we could actually see the top of Snowdon, the visitor centre and everything. We also jumped in to the messenger thread now and then to update the supporters on our status. The guy who tried to show us birds nests earlier told us a story about the trains when we passed an old station, but I was to tired to take it in and remember it.
Between 16 and 17 miles the supporters caught us up by car, the told us all buzzers were now through Beddgellert and we told them we were alright and that we would soon-ish see them at the finish.
We didn't make it to 18 miles before the sweeper car came along, but we told them we were to finish this thing at that we had our own support, no problems for us! Then we kept passing the car for a while because it slowed down to talk to other runners ahead of us. I was starting to really lose my mojo now, just trying to estimate how soon I could get this thing finished. A longer stop at a water station to eat some bananas, stretch the legs, fill flasks helped to cheer me up a bit but I was getting sick of it now.
We still had mile markers to take pictures of and I even half climbed up on a wall to make it into Max picture haha. My favourite pic of the day, no doubt! Finally we started seeing the village where we knew we would make a turn of the main road, it was of course up hill already, the final climb actually started at mile 21,5 or so. The water station at the turn was out of water, we didn't really need any so no problems, we were just glad there were still people out there.
And now we started understanding what the last hill was about. It was a never ending story. Running had not even been an option if I was chased by a murderer, my legs were screaming and my lungs felt like they were not working anymore. Max hade better boost in her legs but kept on waiting for me here and there. I had told her she could go ahead but she refused to leave me behind, which I'm so thankful for, if she hadn't been there I would have been much slower. Water station at mile 23 was full of happy supporters, cheering us on and telling us we were doing so great. It was hard to belive but it felt good passing the timing mat and sending an update to the support crew.
About half a mile up the hill I saw something blue going down behind a wall or so, the path curved a bit here so couldn't quite see what it was. My first thougt was "a blue Ikea bag some one has lost in the wind". But as we came closer we saw that it was actually a guy who was lying on the ground. At this point we were 4-5 ladies here so we got him talking and told him he couldn't stay here, it was way to cold. He said he was just going to sleep a little. No way, we got him to his feet, one lady had a space blanket in her back which they wrapped around his legs to get him warmed up again and with a little support he could start walking again. We fed him jelly babies and he said he would be alright so we jogged ahead a bit, but knew we must alert someone to take care of him, so he didn't lay down again. Who knew when the next runner would come along to find him? After a while a support car came along, and we told them who he was and as far as I can tell from the results list, they took him of the course. Tough to not get to finish when you have made it 24 miles but he was not in a good state.
The last water station at 24 miles was another happy place, with Hawaii theme this year. I missed the warm tea they had, bummer, but now it really was not that far to go. Of course the hill wasn't quite finished yet, but at least we knew that it was just one little bump left to climb. When we got over the top we could hear the speaker from the finish down in Llanberis, what a mood lifter! We imagined that we could hear the buzzers cheering as well. =) Just to manage the downhill bit now. And that was tougher than I thought. The thighs were out now, my left knee had started to give up so wasn't sure it would hold in the steeper parts. Max continued her happy times with singing, christmas carols but with more situation-customized lyrics about my cramping a*s and our painful feet and legs. I only filled in the "fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-laaa". =D =D
Max, just enough ahead to keep me going, always waiting for me.
25 miles passed, only a mile to go. I almost walked up here last year when we were looking for the Boltys, so the roads started to feel familiar. But they were so steep, and on the tarmac bits it was even harder than on the gravel, and at many times I thought I would fall and just roll down to Llanberis. On and of we heard the speaker, and he was getting closer. Finally we passed the little stone bridge and we could see the last turn to High Street! WE MADE IT!
Making that turn was awesome, there were some barriers left (one of my goals, finish while the finish is still there), there were buzzers in the street yelling and cheering and we crossed the finish line hand in hand, together all the way around. What a team we made up that day. So thankful and so tired, I got my medal, a space blanket that the wind tried to take and a bottle of icing cold water. Marathon #7 was done and dusted. And do you know what? I actually was number 1! I was the fastest Swede there! The first time in my life I actually win something, and I didn't think a 6:46 marathon would be it. But yes, it was. (should I mention that I was the only swede maybe? But who cares? =P)
When I stood on High Street the year before I said this race was not for me. I'm still not convinced it is, but I did it anyway because some people said I could. The same people who greeted us with hugs, drinks, dry clothes and what ever we asked for. I put on my extra clothes to get a bit warm but it was freezing cold and the last buzzers were still a bit away, so I decided to go back and get in the warm shower. On the way I went into the supermarket to get some snacks and also a big bag of cakes from the Subway in there. Yummie! Once back inside I started to melt and feel my fingertips again. A bit of rest on the bed before I managed to drag myself into the shower. The chaffing was not too bad this time, just a little on the shoulders from the pack but otherwise pretty ok. Blisters was also controlable, just general pain in the feet.
It was nice having some quiet time before dinner, a few moments of reflection and silence, to get the head back in the game. I also called mum to let her know I was ok, they had followed me all day in the app so they knew I had finished but always nice to have a chat. I think she might want to come next year, at least for support. =)
It had been such an incredible day, and more was coming, the annual Great Realbuzzers dinner at the Royal Victoria. But more about that in the next post.
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