Snowdonia Marathon #3

Way back in 2015, New Years Day. The Parkrun double, Pontefract and Nostell, Barnsley was cancelled that year. A quiet lad really, didn’t know many people in running. Didn’t speak to many people at parkrun other than Ian Neville really.

About the time this photo was taken actually, I’d been through to Pontefract first. Run that. Over to Nostell run that. I was speaking to Ian in between, and then I met Bryan. Bryan Harrod, I had seen him previously at Barnsley 10k and other events around the place. But I’d say I truly met him here. He was banging on about some race that sells out quickly and I better get entered. Because and I quote, ‘a man of your capabilities would smash it.’ So later that day I went online searched that race and entered it. The Brooks Snowdonia Marathon 2015. A year of training followed a few marathons and a few mad hilly races. Setting a 2:50:02 Marathon PB at Manchester, Running Edinburgh in may. Then using hull as a build up to York. Running a well paced race at both to get a 2:58:05 at York. I went on to run The Snowdonia Marathon in 3:13:58, 69th place. I slipped down the grassy bank 3/4 times, was absolutely drenched from the worst rain I’d ever run in. Didn’t run an exceptionally brilliant race. But my god, did I enjoy it! The climbs more than the flat and descents! It was brilliant! The area and the race breathtaking. Bryan ran 3:44:20 a marathon PB I believe for him.

That was that, I got the bug. All thanks to this guy. 2016, New Year’s Day, entries opened and I was in. Booked, entered and onboard. Goal to break 3 hours. I narrowly missed out on sub 2:45 at Manchester clocking a 2:45:49. Ran the Milton Keynes marathon, the Snowdonia Trail Marathon, Hull again, York again. Clocking a 2:48:18 at York. I had PB’ed at every distance. So I was in better shape than the year before. I had 13 minutes to cut and knew where I needed to improve. It was roughly 30 seconds a mile. I lost it the previous year on the flat. But I came back in 2016, finished in 16th place. 2:58:04. Blew my sub 3 target away with a minute or so to spare. The weather was the best you could wish for. Dry as a bone! It would take some beating down to the weather and conditions being so perfect!

2017. Back again, entered as soon as entries opened. I’ve had a year with a few injuries. Didn’t get what I wanted at Manchester in April, missed out on sub 2:40 by seconds. Went to Milton Keynes, PB’ed and somehow managed to win the event. But still no sub 2:40! 2:40:06. Ouch. My ambitions had been blown, ran around Barnsley in June. Did the trail marathon in July. Hull in September, build up to York, had a great race there! York now, and somehow managed to unexpectedly PB. 2:37:49! Whaaaaat! Just when I thought it was over. Had I run too hard to even attempt Snowdonia. Who knows. But every single year, it all boils down to that man. Bryan Harrod, and his ‘a man of your capabilities’ speech! Would I love to thank him, too right. I’ve since gone and built a friendship with Bryan, an inspirational one. He’s pushed me in a direction with my running that I now love, I’ve since gone onto meet others, like minded people. It’s all down to Bryan. And this quiet, shy young chap somehow managed to break 2:40 for the marathon. I’m going into Snowdonia Marathon full of confidence and inspired. But do I want to race it, no. I just really want to enjoy it. But what happens on the day, will happen and we shall see. I’ll probably be back next year anyway. That’s all down to Bryan Harrod.

Since York I’ve run a cross country event, a few parkruns and Holmfirth 15. Done about 300 Miles in training and a few speed/ hill sessions. Worked 140 hours at work and gymmed as well. Recovery has been quite alright, legs got back up to speed this week. Particularly quick given the fact that I finished 2nd at Holmfirth 15 last week on a not so easy course with a bit of wind! Did 800 metre reps Monday night with Scott. Feeling tired but could hold pace around 5:10 per mile to be precise. Aiming for 2:30 each rep, hitting it give or take 5 seconds. Week went quick before I knew it I’d finished my afterschool club at Carlton primary at 4 and had set off to Wales. A arrival time of just after 10.30 wasn’t pleasant. Traffic was awful and i did not enjoy that. Pretty much straight into bed for a 7.30 wake up. Waking up, porridge and Nutella down and set off. Destination Llanberis, the foot of Snowdon mountain, we had stayed in Bangor so only a 20 minute drive. Better than the 6 last night! Banana, a few toilet trips, my bladder with every sip of water was filling so easy! Not good. Jakemans packed, loitering around the start line now.

A few familiar faces. Scott Harrington for one and Neil Burton, I’ve seen these knocking around at races before. Also seeing Paul Gidlow who was riding around on his bike supporting runners, due to him being injured. A nice chat before the start anyway, I don’t think any had run Snowdonia before so I was giving them information about the route. I’d expect Scott to win it. Given his marathon times! But the hills may let him down. A moments silence for some fallen heroes of the Snowdonia Marathon and fallen heroes of life. And then we were off. I quickly noticed Adam Holland, the man from Notfast AC. Who I pipped to the line at Milton Keynes, another high mileage runner. But he’s done a fair few more marathons than me! He set off quick keeping with the lead group. I set off quick too. If anything too quick. 5:35 for the first Mile, I know it’s downhill but I’ll pay for that later. The climbs here at 2-5 mile, 13-15 and roughly 22-24.5 the two beastly ones are at the beginning and at the end! The rest is flat or downhill, sometimes off-road. I hit the first climb quick and probably shouldn’t have done. Passing Adam Holland and clocking a 6:33, 7:08 and 7:07. Official timing says I hit the top of the climb in 29:52, 13th place. Unlucky for some. I pulled a Jakemans out my back pocket early and really struggled to separate sweet from wrapper, spending the full mile before going off-road unwrapping the sweet. Choking on the wrapper and biting wrapper off of sweet. Not good! Hitting the off-road section and still choking on wrapper, spitting pieces as I run. Loosing a bit of time in the process. But head up, looking around, enjoying running through this unbelievable scene. But slowly being stabbed in the foot due to the soft soles on the shoes and loose stones! Ouch. Bounding and sprinting down the fast downhill section, recognising bits of the Snowdonia Trail Marathon enroute. Jakemans still in, and feeling rather fresh. Gradually making my way round the route. Making my way towards Beddgelert. That’s where the climb at 13 begins. It’s all flat, and scenic until there. Weaving around the lakes of Snowdonia National Park and on the picturesque roads. Driving roads! The wrapper full Jakemans still survives and my legs feel quite alright. Ticking mile after mile. Keeping around 6/6:10 pace. Which I know will land me around a good time. Something I’d be happy with. But I know in the back of my mind that naturally due to the challenge the last 6 mile brings in this marathon it won’t be due to fade. It’ll be due to the hill and the grassy descent that follows. The weather today, a bit breezy, misty and foggy, with a dew of rain slowly falling. That really fine rain that you don’t know is there. But it’s gradually soaking you! So the grass banking isn’t going to be pretty. It’s going to be slippy, muddy and a odds on that I fall. Reaching Beddgelert and beginning the climb rather quick mile 14 brought another official chip timing mat. 13th still. 1:27:18. I spent a lot of time alone up until this point and I’d spend the next 12.2 mile pretty much alone. Mile 15-16. The Mile were it all went tits up. Before the start I needed wee after wee. I could slowly feel my bladder filling, I wasn’t taking big sips at water stations but I was having sips. This was it, I needed to stop. But I couldn’t do that to myself. I just couldn’t stop. I could see two runners in front and I needed to catch them. That was my target and I’d been chasing them for 15 mile. But psychologically I couldn’t shake the knowledge of needing a wee! Really feeling uncomfortable now. But clocking through the mile. Some way off of the 6:10 pace, hitting a 6:27. Stopped looking at the watch and just tried to hold in there. 10 mile to go. It became a chase, gradually passing one runner before the end of the 13-15 climb. Without knowing it at the time but finding myself in 12th place. Charging down but feeling so uncomfortable! I managed to shake to knowledge of needing a wee, put another jakemans in. And stopped drinking from the water stations! Which would eventually lead to my skin going dry and salt covered by the end! Just having the scene and picture of what Mile 22-24.5 looks like. I know it well. Keeping me going. I eventually caught the runner just after mile 21. Just before the climb! He then tucked behind me and I kept him going. But really I was still on my own, not really running with anyone. Pulling away from him on the climb. The uncomfortable feeling returned, shall I stop or not stop. In hindsight I should have! And just had a wee. I may have run quicker and wouldn’t have felt as awful when I finished! First mile of climb, 8:54. That’s not good. Last drink station down. Second mile 8:25. It levels out to flat and then down the grassy bank! All I had was these images in my head, note I’m actually facing the wrong way because I fell on the wet grass and was getting back up!

Ooops! Too right I wasn’t buying that mess of a man.

Soaked. But I didn’t want that to happen again. I hit the decent, could see standing water. De ja vu! In 11th place. I could here the man I previously passed behind me. I was too hesitant and feeling crap! Ran slow in 7:55 coming down there. When I should’ve been doing a sub 7! Loosing time. And loosing my mind. Needing a wee. But I tell you what it’s beautiful! As soon as I hit the tarmac I let my legs go and had the noise of the Finish. Nearly there..

I crossed the line 12th place. 2:54:13.

A Snowdonia Marathon PB and I hit my baseline target of beating last years time and my target of sub 2:55. I’m happy with that. But I needed food and I needed a wee. That overcame me all too sudden. Quick toilet trip, clothes change and food down me. Recovered well and felt alright as soon as I had eaten.

Results Link: http://tdleventservices.co.uk/race-results.php?event=2783

Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1250836858

Of course I’m happy with that and of course I’ll be back next year! It’s so addictive and it’s so beautiful. I do love a good hill! 2,500ft of climb. 26.2 Miles, there is no better feeling than the marathon. But the Snowdonia Marathon, well that’s just something else! It’s all down to that man Bryan Harrod!

Just Keep Running!

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