A couple of weeks ago on a wet October weekend I headed to Snowdonia to begin my third marathon. It truly was a wet Autumnal day and after an hour journey from my parents house to Llanberis it was safe to say that I didn’t really want to get out of the car. But I did and headed in to pick up my number with plenty of time to spare before the 10.30 start.
Once we had picked up my number and my Dad’s friend Graham’s number too the support team aka my Dad and boyfriend Stewart and Graham’s wife Sarah-Jane, headed to the hotel near the car park to get prepped. I was debated which combination of clothes to wear but went for my waterproof jacket, gloves, headband and camel back on top of my normal running gear. As we set off from the start I was a bit worried I had too much on as there were a lot of runners wearing a lot less, but they were also running a lot faster than me too.
So I had been preparing myself for the hills in the Snowdonia marathon and from the start we were faced with a 6 mile long one. This wasn’t too bad however as I was feeling quite energized and our legs were still really fresh. I just got down to a slow pace, kept my head down and just drilled it out. Once myself and Graham reached the 6 mile mark we we’re met with a great sight, a downhill. The weather was still pretty wet and it must’ve been between miles 6-9 where I enjoyed myself the most on the whole route. After a couple of corners on the road we came to a track which was downhill and really fun to run down.
We carried on downhill/on the flat taking on some Dextro tablets after an hour in. It was a nice part of the route at this point with some leafy country lanes. Then we carried on towards miles 10/11/12 this was a bit less exciting, longer winding roads with cars on, but the support team had caught up with me at this point and my Dad had brought a cow bell from home so I could here them a mile off when they were approaching in the car which was great. I stopped and said hello as my Mum had joined the support team at this point, but knew I would be seeing them at mile 16 so said I would see them up there. This motivated me to push to mile 13 at Beddgelert where there was a lot of support there which was nice.
After mile 13 coming out of Beddgelert there was a 3 mile hill that took my slightly by surprise. I thought the hills were at the beginning and the end, I wasn’t expecting a significant hill in the middle as well. I was determined not to start walking yet. I had seen loads of people walking from the very start. I think because people knew it was hilly they just took their time which is fine if that’s what you want to do. I also knew that the support team was at mile 16 and that I’d want to have a rest when I saw them so tried to keep going for as long as possible but it was pretty tough. The weather at this point was still really miserable. I said to one lady running next to me that there must be a downhill somewhere. She had really had enough she told me she was willing to give up four miles ago. This seemed to be a general theme as a few people I spoke to along the way really didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves.
I got to mile 16 and saw my team. I was ahead of Graham so decided to wait for him so that we could run together before the big horrible hill at the end but after waiting for 5 minutes I was worried I was going to get cold if I stood still for too long so carried on with Stewart who ran alongside me for about 100 meters then headed back.
From mile 16 on wards it felt like we were just heading towards this massive hill. At this point the support team appeared again with the bell saying Graham was right behind me so I waited for a couple more minutes but Graham was struggling. I wanted us both to get a sub 5 hour time and we had about 1 hour 15 minutes left when we got to close to 20 miles so I knew it was going to be tough to do especially with the hills. I pulled out the big gun jelly beans at this point to keep us motivated but at this point it was tough and I just wanted it to be over. As Graham was struggling I carried on aiming to get as close to 5 hours as possible.
At this point the sun had come out and the scenery was in all it’s glory which really helped. As I was walking a bit at this point it was nice to take in the views and appreciate what the Snowdonia Marathon is all about. I had always said that Snowdonia Marathon would be about the experience and not about the time, but at this point I wasn’t too bothered about the experience and just wanted it to be over but there’s only one way to get a marathon finished and that’s to keep moving.
After walking for a bit with Graham I felt quite energized again and ran on for a couple of miles until the bottom of the final hill at around mile 22. I knew it would be a whopper so decided my best bet would be to power walk up it at a consistent pace, which was still knackering. The views at this point were the best. I was pushing so much at this point to keep moving at a quick pace as I could see 5 hours approaching quickly. I said to myself to get to the summit then you can rest on the downhill and this will all be over.
When the downhill did eventually come at mile 24 I wished I’d never asked for it. The muddy track had been worn down into a road runners worst nightmare, poor trainers. Not only was it so much effort trying to work out where to step, it also made everything move very slow and it felt like we were so close yet so far. I even almost lost my trainer at one point, so much for making up my time on the downhill.
Then after this treat we came to what I can only describe as the steepest bit of tarmac I had ever seen. This combined with muddy trainers and legs that have ran 24 miles was a scary combination. I was genuinely scared of doing permanent damage to my legs as I didn’t feel like I could control them and I felt like if I fell down I wouldn’t be able to get back up and would just be in a heap on the floor.
This felt like a familiar point in other marathons I’ve done where people have been keeling over at the side, at this point it’s just about getting over the line safely, better to pass it a bit slower than planned than not at all. I started chatting to a girl from Cardiff cursing the downhill as much as the uphill which really helped and finally when we crossed the finish line I gave her a hug to say thanks for distracting me from the downhill and the pain.
I was so pleased to be over the finish line. It was a massive sense of relief that it was all over. I saw one woman crying and said well done to her then saw my support team and had a little cry myself simply due to the fact it was so painful and at the end I was so happy it was over.
As always I’m so pleased that I did the marathon but more so with this one that previous ones I was really glad when the whole thing was over. The training had been time consuming and the marathon was really hard but I did it in 5 hours 6 minutes. After doing my first marathon, knocking 20 minutes off my PB and tackling a marathon with some serious hills it’s time for me to find a new challenge like a triathlon.
Thoughts from this week:
- Sudocreme between my toes solved my blister problems this time around
- Starting swimming which is really tiring
- Watching Desperate Housewives from the very beginning
- Going to try and improve my 5k time again this weekend
- Still need to clean my trainers from the Snowdonia mud