Firstly I would like to thank Russ for allowing me to gate crash his blog and make a guest appearance. For Christmas, Elliw bought me an entry to Marathon Eryri, being a race I had watched for years, and recently having moved to the area, I knew it was going to be a challenging but enjoyable debut to marathon running.
I knew I was attempting something big, totally different to my usual 10km/half marathon races, and if I was going to have a real shot at this race I was going to need some guidance and a full training plan. So I kindly asked Russell if he would mind helping me out. We agreed to meet up for a panad at Trawsfynydd Lake to chat about the race and a plan, that’s when I knew I wasn’t doing this for a laugh!! We had the family planner out, note pads and even books for me to read!!!
I was given a 10 week training block with a two week taper. My average mileage weeks would be around 55/60miles, so we built it up week by week. Russ drilled in to me that this will get tough I’m going to feel very tired and out of my comfort zone for a long time. Sundays were all about long runs and sleeping! But we all still have to work full time jobs and as a road worker it can consists of working long hours. I had a two week period half way through the training where I was working 12+ hour shifts on the A55, starting at 3am meant that I wasn’t going to be able to get my morning runs in, resulting in more miles in the evening when I was obviously really tired. But I kept plugging on and told myself if I can get through this It will be a good test mentally.
Conditions on the morning of the race were perfect which was a huge surprise considering the torrential rain we had on the Friday and early hours of Saturday. I was feeling slightly nervous, but mostly full of excitement. The training had gone brilliantly and the races in the build up had gone well, so my confidence was high. As this was my first attempt I had nothing to lose and my final chat with Russ was to go out and compete for as long as I could then just enjoy it.
I reached the top of Pen-y-Pass in 27:37 couple of seconds behind Callum Rowlinson and Dan Connelly just behind me. Then it was time to descend down to Pen-y-Gwryd and towards Llyn Gwynant, I was leading at this point and opened a gap on Callum, I wasn’t panicking about going too fast, just opening the legs and enjoying the moment.
Callum had caught up with me by mile 10 and we ran through the half way point in Beddgelert side by side with 1:12:25 on the clock. It was at this point I knew I wasn’t going to win this race. I wasn’t feeling tired, neither did I feel like I had over cooked it, but I knew Callum is a strong and experienced runner and this was going to be his moment. From mile 14 he pushed on and opened the gap almost immediately on me. 3rd and 4th were 4 minutes behind me at that point, although that sounds like a big gap I knew the lads were hunting me down. Dan Connelly a superb fell and trail runner, then Martin Green, a runner I know very well, and is one of the best marathon runners in his age group in the country and a master at pacing especially at this race. So I just needed to get those miles ticked off, I was feeling lonely and started to get tired through Betws Garmon and the toughest part of the course was yet to come.
Still holding onto 2nd place I reached Waunfawr, I had friends waiting for me here and it was a huge help to have some support. But this is where the real test of endurance kicks in because we were faced with a 2 mile climb up a steep road up Bwlch y Groes. Almost instantly on the climb I felt terrible, legs were heavy, I started feeling dizzy and my body wanted to shut down. I had 5km to go when Dan flew past me and shortly after so did Martin, I was shattered and by now I didn’t care about position or time, it was all about finishing this race. I had worked so hard for so long for this race and I had friends and family waiting for me at the finish line and didn’t want to let them down so a DNF was not an option.
I battled through the pain of the cramp and finally got to the summit of the last climb. The welcome I had from the mad hatters feed station gave me a boost and it was just a matter of getting down the hill to Llanberis. But of course this is Marathon Eryri so it wasn’t going to be as simple as a little stroll down to the finish, this race had now turned into a fell race, conditions underfoot were very challenging after the heavy rain we had. We were forced to run through a stream of water almost knee deep at times and the grassy sections was like walking on ice. Slipping and sliding all over the show, spent most of the descent on my arse, I couldn’t wait to hit the tarmac again and get this thing done.
As I turned round the last corner I could see the finish line, the crowds were cheering me on and I was taking it all in. I had a smile back on my face and feeling extremely emotional. Russell and his family were there to support and my friends, family and Elliw were on the finish line. I finished in 4th place in a time of 2:45:59. I had hoped for a quicker time but I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.
Congratulations to Callum for running the second fastest time ever, just 34 seconds off the record, Dan for 2nd place on his debut Marathon and Martin for 3rd and a PB on the course. I don’t regret the way I went about running the race, and I’ve taken so many positives from the experience, mainly that I can do the longer mileage training.
I would like to thank Russell for the amount of effort and time he had put in to get me in shape for this race. I’ve been training with him for a couple of years now and he’s always supported me and we have a great group training together on a Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to have the de-brief and carry on being coached by him in the future. Another person I need to thank is Dyfed for keeping me company on my Monday evening training runs, and of course my now fiancé Elliw, she has been amazing throughout the whole 12 weeks and I really appreciate all the help and support I have had from everyone before and after the race. Diolch yn fawr