Trail Half Marathon Wales

This race was the first big one of the year.  I had two weeks of bad runs at The Hurt and St Albans. Behind in my training.  Not where I wanted to be at this point. Drinking again.  Everything is going a bit wrong. OH WELL.  I’m still going to do it, I said to myself.  My experience at The Hurt two weeks before told me that I can just go round and enjoy it.  It’s a tough race this half.  If I’m last, I’m last.  As long as I have a good time whilst wandering around Snowdonia, what does it matter?  The big training comes later.  This...let’s just do it.  And so I did.
Off to Wales I went with JB and his best friend, Simon.  JB was excited and nervous.  He is in his element in a race like this.  He’s so strong.  He’s fit.  He loves it!  He’s a modest fellow, rarely talking of all his achievements.  I usually big him up and boast about what he has done to everyone!  Perhaps I’ll write a blog post on him at some point...he’s much more interesting! Anyway.  We stopped off for some chips at about 7pm.  Time for some food, we thought.  JB was saying he should probably check what we had to do at the accommodation.  He had booked a lodge at some holiday village place for the three of us.  Small, cheap, perfect.  He’s very organised is our JB. He’s great at planning holidays, weekends away, everything.  The amount of research he does on just one activity is immense.  My 30th last year was incredible.  That’s another story, but you get the idea. He’s good. So there we were eating our chips.  Then I hear this: “I might have ballsed up here, guys” What?  JB? Surely not.  The holiday village has a reception.  The reception closes at 5pm.  If you’re arriving late, then you have to tell them before the day so they can make arrangements for a key collection.  Crap. I threw my chips in the bin - this upset me.  We all jumped back in the car.  The next 30 minutes was spent in silence.  Anger was brewing inside me.  Why didn’t he do this?  Why didn’t he do that?  I said none of this out loud, of course.  That wouldn’t help!  I then blamed myself.  JB has been under an enormous amount of pressure in his work.  I’m a selfish drinker causing him immeasurable upset.  He just wasn’t on the ball recently.  That’s it. So we arrive at the village.  Pull up.  What’s that over there?  AH HA.  Instructions as to what we needed to do!  We had somewhere to sleep!  JB:  “I knew this would be the case, they wouldn’t just leave us stranded.”  You got lucky, mate.  Lucky.   Race Day
I was still nervous on race day.  Had my porridge for breakfast.  Got dressed.  Off we went to the start.

The race HQ was at Coed Y Brenin.  The place is just spectacular.  You couldn’t help, but smile at the surroundings.  

Lots of friendly people at the start, quite a chilled atmosphere considering the gruelling race ahead! The big event of the day was the marathon.  They started half an hour before the half marathon.  We watched them set off.  Some bearded chap with a rifle started the race.  He also started the half.  I said my good lucks to JB and Simon and then off we went. The start is uphill for quite a while.  Immediately I knew this was going to be hell. But as I said above, I was going to enjoy it. And I really did. The course was relentless.  Up down up down. Very little respite.  I walked.  I ran. I walked mostly.  It was also so hot.  Apparently it rains every year.  Unsurprising being around a mountain. In Wales.  Not this year, though.  There was a heatwave that weekend.  Oh my goodness was it hot. I think it was only about 23 degrees. But when you’re running. With no cover.  Sun bearing down on you.  It’s hot.  Absolute sweat fest.

I didn’t let this bother me though and just carried on walking and running and walking round.

My favourite parts by far were running through the woods.  The race has its own waymarkers on signposts through the woods which is just lovely.   Downhill, jumping over tree roots, it’s my favourite thing to do!  I’m not fast at it at all.  And I’ve seen people speed down these hills before and I don’t know how they do it.  I have the fear.  BUT. I enjoy it all the same! I was on my own for much of the race which was fine.  I’d reach a point with marshals and they were so supportive cheering me on whether I was running or walking. Just me, my thoughts, the woods, the trails.  I may have had a tear at one point thinking about the year ahead.  It was a good feeling.
My least favourite part of the day was the sting in the tail.  11 miles done. And then you basically have to climb a ridge.

Which just keeps going…

And going….

And going…

And going...

And yes going…

And then when you think you’ve reached the top….no it’s still going up on a track!

Awful.   Once that was done though it was downhill to the end with a short sharp rise to the finish. I ran up.  I did want to walk, but then realised it was the finish so of course I had to run. At the end I was greeted by JB and Simon, a bottle of water, orange segments and of course, my first coaster of the year! This one is wooden, not slate.  But it still means the absolute world to me.

I did not perform as I would have wanted which is my own fault.  I did not train properly.  I was not prepared.  However I still completed it and am enormously proud of myself. Next up after this is the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon.  I’ve already decided I won’t be able to do the half and I need to get back to the basics with my running.  They also do a Tough 10K in Hitchin so I am going to drop down to that and stick to 10K for the next few weeks and learn to run again.  And learn to love running again. I’m sure I will.  Following that, the marathon training will begin in full force.  I’m going to be building my distances up slowly.  There are many other events over the summer, but I don’t go further than a half marathon for some time. Back to basics, Jen.  You can do this.


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