Just show up… the motto of a personal trainer who I’ve met recently. And that’s what I did… I showed up, day in day out for 7 months and, when the time came, I DID IT!!!! I’m shocked how well I did! I honestly thought I was towards the back of the field but I came in the top half, 37th of 141 ladies, 7th in my age category. My time was 20 minutes faster than I expected… 3 hours 10 minutes and 56 seconds. But better than that.. I smiled… all the way round… even when the wind and rain drenched and chilled me… even when my legs really, really hurt!!!
I’m so proud of John too. He flew up and down that mountain! 2 hours 40 minutes and 66th overall! And he generally only trained once week, at my speed and not really pushing himself. He never ceases to amaze me when he races. He did get told off though. The last thing I said to him before we started was ‘Be careful’, and I’d warned him the night before that a broken wrist or ankle could lead to a cancelled holiday! He runs down mountains kamikaze-style, arms flailing to keep his balance. Well… he didn’t keep his balance this time. He fell twice and, after I’d crossed the finish line, advised me that a trip to A&E was needed to clean his wounds, a couple of which were quite deep with grit in them. Ugh! Once there, there was a bit of a panic when 2 nurses thought his knee might be broken, but, thankfully, all is well and he’s just bruised. Phew!
In the race, I started towards the back. We’ve had a stressful few weeks and I haven’t been sleeping very well so I’d promised myself I could take my time. My goal was not to push so hard that I ended up in tears and hating it, as has happened in the past, but to cross the line with a smile on my face. I wasn’t racing for a time, I was running to keep fit and healthy and find out what I can do.
For the first 5-6 kilometres uphill, I ran when I could and fast walked when it got steep, surprised to find that I was overtaking people, even when I was walking. We reached the col after about 45 minutes before dropping down a grassy hillside, slipping and sliding, to meet the Snowdon Ranger path. There, the marathon runners turned right and I turned left towards Snowdon with the half marathoners. This section was easier than I expected. It was getting cold and rainy though so I pulled my jacket on and grabbed some water and flapjack.
At 8 kilometres, after another 25 minutes or so we started the steepest part of the ascent up the mountain. For 2 kilometres everyone walked, breathing hard, muscles aching. It took me about 35 minutes to the top, once more overtaking quite a few people with my fast walk. I fully expected to see them pass me again on the way down. Unlike John, I’m not particularly fast at descending, particularly on wet, rocky paths, and the wind and rain was now very unpleasant.
After 1 hour 45 minutes and about 10.5 kilometres I reached the top of our ascent, half way through the race. We didn’t quite go to the top of Snowdon. The organisers probably thought it would be too difficult getting so many runners over the summit. I was so pleased that I hadn’t found it as difficult as I expected and I gave the waiting photographer a huge smile and set off downhill into the mist. For some reason I was on my own for a while. I was worried I’d gone the wrong way as visibility was very poor and I couldn’t see more than 50 metres ahead or behind. I checked with some hikers that there were runners ahead of me and was reassured I was on the right path.
The downhill section went much faster than I expected, apart from stopping for more food and drink and, later, a wee behind a tractor! I’d found the descent difficult when we reccied the route at the end of March and I wasn’t looking forward to it. However, my fitness had obviously improved as various landmarks seemed to appear quite quickly and, after 35 minutes, Llanberis came into view and I reached the road. 16 kilometres done and 5 to go.
This is where I started tiring. Pounding the tarmac on the road my legs were hurting and I was pleased when the marshals directed me off onto a path through the woods, which would hopefully be a bit kinder on my muscles. I plodded along quite slowly, slowing to a walk on any uphill bits and watching my step where it was rocky or slippery on the downhills. Concentrating on what I was doing helped to distract my thoughts from the pain. After another road section, I reached the section I was dreading… 150 metres of steep climb up past Llanberis quarry, with some huge steps for my little legs. This hill seemed to go on forever, although it was probably only 20 minutes. I then negotiated the downhill ok, but on reaching road again, I found myself needing to intersperse my running with walking to give my muscles a rest. I wasn’t the only one doing this though.
It was great to hear John, Dick and Mel cheering me on as I reached the main road and they ran alongside me, taking photos, for the last 500 metres. I couldn’t believe I’d finished, and finished in good shape, easily smiling as I’d hoped to. Job done! All the training was worth it. What a day!
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. It really helped to motivate me through the difficult times, and your money has gone to good causes. £140 to Mountain Rescue and £215 to Claire House hospice.
Thank you also to the race organisers, particularly the marshals and photographers who were standing out on Snowdon in pretty bad weather. Your support is invaluable.
Time for a rest. Although, I don’t suppose it’ll be long until we decide on another challenge.