A Quick Look Back
Just before blogging about Snowdonia Marathon and how it went, thought I’d just take a second as it marked exactly a year since I returned from injury with a 5k ParkRun at Wimpole Estate. Having struggled getting round a 5k exactly a year ago to completing 2 marathons and actually feeling fairly strong during this last one, well, happy days. Just shows most things are possible.
Snowdonia Marathon 2016
Training for once had gone fairly well. A couple of 20 milers, a few in the 18 mile range and if this had been a ‘normal’ marathon I would have thought I’d been in 4hr15 – 4hr20 kind of shape. A few niggles though (calves, plantar fasciitis, knee (right)) and a complete lack of hill training left me concerned though. Secretly was hoping for a sub 4hr 41 (to beat MK Marathon from earlier this year), but knowing something around 5 hours might be more realistic. Regardless of times the main plan was to run this course with respect, focus on heart rate and take in the lovely scenery on the way.
On the start line, a pre-race photo was proving difficult, or I actually had a glove growing out of my head .
Turned out it wasn’t a glove, but rather @SG_Ball1970.
The 1st 5 miles are essentially up hill, and I was concerned by everyone disappearing away from me. I vowed to be a ‘steady eddy’ though, trying to keep my heart rate below 170bpm, and taking in some of the fantastic views. My right calf hurting at about 2.5 miles was a worrying sign (but it didn’t surface again after that, thankfully).
At the top someone pointed out to look at where I’d come from, and glancing backwards showed a fantastic view. I decided to plough on rather than take a photo (now regretting that decision), but at about 5.5 miles I decided to stop for a gel and to take in the view! We were well into the mist!
The next 8 or so miles were fantastic being downhill and/or flat. I really enjoyed this part, but kept a lid on the pace. At Mile 15 I asked the person running next to me if this was the start of the next main slog. They pointed out in lots of detail how to run it, and again I watched my heart rate, allowing it to drift up to mid-170s, but again this hill felt good.
Normally in marathons I start to struggle mentally at between 16 and 18 miles, but not today. I started having ‘walking’ thoughts at mile 18, but managed to convince myself to keep running, which I did. I was even disappointed to stop running at Mile 22.5, but everyone else had stopped, and everyone I’d spoken to on the course had said the same thing. I managed another little run as the climbed levelled in the middle, and ran again to crest the hill.
Running down the other-side was tough work. Off-road, wet, and really not suited for road shoes made life difficult and this was a bit more of a run-walk affair. I then came across the steepest downhill ever (never been so disappointed to see a downhill!!!), before then sprinting through the high-street and holding out for 4hr 39m – some 2 minutes faster than MK marathon earlier this year. The run of thumb for Snowdonia is to take about 30 minutes off for a comparison to ‘normal, flatter’ marathon, so my reckoning of 4hr 15m shape wasn’t too far off the mark. Most importantly though at Mile 18 of this race I felt like I’d really achieved something, and felt fit again – which has been a feeling that has been missing for quite a while.
Afterwards was a choir singing in the Electric Mountain Visitor Centre, a lovely way to relax after running 26.2 miles.
This marathon was truly fantastic. Its taken me 4 years to get here. The 1st year the thought of the hills put me off, and subsequent years saw me withdrawing with the girls joining us. For anyone thinking of this event, just do it. Seriously, don’t think twice. I’ve not met anyone who hasn’t raved about this event, and there is good reason for that. If you are thinking of taking part though you’ll have to be quick on New Years Day. This years event sold out in 12 hours, and I’m planning on taking one of the spaces for 2017!
Finally, managed to escape the children for the night (thanks in-laws!) so a very pleasant evening spent celebrating in Barmouth was in order.
Whats Next? – MK Marathon with Willen Hospice
A much more detailed post will be coming along shortly, but I’m delighted to say that I’ll be running MK Marathon in 2017 for Willen Hospice. I’ll be blogging my journey to share some of the training, the ups and the downs, as well as the juggling of day-to-day family life. I’m really excited about this adventure – is anyone else planning on doing MK Marathon/Half-Marathon in 2017? Or what spring marathons are coming up for others?
As part of the build up in training I’ve entered (or will be shortly entering):
Fairlands Valley Spartans – Stevenage Half Marathon – next weekend!?!! (Thats some really poor planning!)
Royston Runers – Buntingford 10 Miles – Dec 27
Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon – March