Road to Snowdonia 2017

New Year’s Eve 2016.  I’ve not had a drink yet.  This is difficult.  I need to be alert, however.  I cannot miss this.  At midnight the entries for Snowdonia Marathon 2017 go live.  Last year they sold out in about 12 hours.  I’m expecting them to go sooner.  I HAVE to get a place.  It’s all I’ve talked about for the last year.  Right, almost time.  Panic...where’s my bank card?! Oh, I’m sitting on it.  Right.  Click.  Type.  Type.  Type.  Click.  Click.  BOOM.  That’s it.  I’ve entered.  Shit.  Fast forward to Saturday 28th October 2017 and I’m there.  I made it.  I’m doing this.  BANG.  Let’s go!

My running journey began when my two besties dragged me round a 10K at the MK Festival of Running in March 2015.  I will be forever grateful to them for getting me through this.  I’d pulled out of an event a couple of months before.  I’m Gin Jen.  I don’t run. They got me to this one.  73 minutes later.  It was done.  That wasn’t so bad, I could probably run a half marathon. And so I entered Bristol Half Marathon in September 2015.  Trained hard.  Got through that one. 

 I could probably run a marathon.

Dad ran marathons before he was ill.  I could do this.  I could do it for him.  Which ones did he do?  Ah Snowdonia.  That’s in October.  Snowdonia Marathon 2017.  That’s ten years since he passed away.  Yes.  That’s the plan.

That was my thought process at the time.  And I had my goal.  Snowdonia Marathon 2017.  I decided this shouldn’t be my first marathon and thought my first goal will be to get through one marathon.  A flat one.  Know the distance.  And also do one before I hit 30.  Milton Keynes Marathon 2016 was the month before my birthday.  That’s the one.  My first marathon!

Training for Milton Keynes was a struggle.  As you may already know from reading my blog, I am a big drinker...was a big drinker.  I also suffer from depression and anxiety.  It was all particularly bad in 2015/2016.  I had started counselling.  Was continuing this up until the marathon, but then stopped as it just wasn’t for me. The antidepressants came later and are keeping me upright at the moment.
I would go out on my training runs and just panic.  Constantly.  I remember throwing my water bottle to the ground in frustration countless times.  Then it’d be muddy and I would be annoyed.  The longest training run I did before Milton Keynes was 25km.  15.5 miles.  The week before.  Not great!  But I did it.  Got to MK.  And I did that to.  Couldn’t believe it.  I wasn’t fast.  I walked more than I should have.  But it was a marathon.  I did it.  Proud.

I had a break after that.  A blow out of sorts until September.  Started running again.  Got injured.  Really bad hip.  That continued up until Christmas 2016, but saw an amazing sports therapy lady who fixed me right up.  I still had the goal.  Snowdonia Marathon was my plan.  2017 was coming round quick and I had to start training soon.

Following New Year’s Eve, I  prepared a training plan.  I worked out the other events I wanted to enter, entered them.  Right, let’s do this.  New Year’s training started ok in January, but had disappeared by February.  I was still drinking far too much, to the point of no return.  You’ll know this from my previous blog post when I first jumped on the wagon (See 50 Days Alcohol Free).

After struggling so much I looked into joining a running club.  I figured if I joined a club, I could go out on their club runs, try things out, get myself out there and keep running.  It would make sure I was going out for a run.  So I joined a club.  A few clicks online and that was it.  I was a Leighton Fun Runner.  Now what?

I went out on my first run with the club on Pancake Day.  I was on day 2 of my first alcohol free stint.  This would be a new Jen.  I kept going out with the club.  Kept myself running.  And then began documenting my running and my drinking in this very blog.  The rest...well you can read my previous posts!

Joining the club was probably one of the greatest things I’ve done.  I’ve met some great people, great friends, who are all just so supportive.  I don’t think I’d have made it to Snowdonia without any of them.

And then I was there. BANG. Let’s go!  I’ve written about Snowdonia in a blog for the club which you can read here: Snowdonia Marathon by Jen Garner.

Snowdonia was tough.  I travelled up to Wales with JB and another friend, Robbie.  We were meeting Dando up there.  All of us running.  The only one of us fully prepared was JB.  He had a month or so of less training due to a niggling knee injury and life getting in the way, but overall, he was ready.  The rest of us?  Not so much.  

Robbie decided he would run round with me.  He’s run Snowdonia before, four years ago.  His training this time round was akin to my training for Milton Keynes last year.  His longest run was 23km.  Oh dear.  I love Robbie.  He’s a faster runner.  Has it in him to do more.  But he stayed with me.  The whole time.  He says I helped him, but I couldn’t have done it without him.  The hills. The never-ending hills.  The long stretch when you don’t know what’s coming.  The orange segments!  The climb to the top. The mist.  The mud.   The down.  I was naughty though.  You’ll see from my other blog that I had a bit of a sprint on the final descent.  Robbie couldn’t stay with me...he’d cramped up.  I didn’t realise!  So I finished without him!  Whoops.  Still...26 miles with an incredible human.  Thank you, Robbie.

Dando was running his first marathon.  Madness!  He did brilliantly.  

And JB. Oh JB.  JB is a modest fellow.  He often doesn’t like to talk of his achievements.  He kept saying before the race, “oh I’ll not be sub four hours now, not at all, this last month has killed me”.  Well how wrong he was.  When JB first completed Snowdonia in 2013 his time was 03:56 - which is amazing anyway.  This time round?  03:52! 03:52 at Snowdonia!  I am so so proud of him.  He’s put up with so much with me even during his own struggles this year.  He stays strong.  He pushes through.  He trains hard.  He is an inspiration to me.  I am so thankful to him for all he does.  He is my reason.

Throughout the race, I felt good.  When I had to walk, I walked.  I struggled from miles 13 to 18.  I was very emotional. But snapped out of it and carried on.  I thought about Dad the whole way round.  Thought about him running this.  Most people who met my dad only saw him towards the end.  To see him like that, you wouldn’t have thought he could ever have run a mile, let alone a marathon.  How did he do it?  Dad was strong.  The alcohol and addiction caused him suffering and distress.  But he was strong.  He was there.  If he could do this.  I can do this.

I also thought about my fundraising and Addaction and everyone suffering with addiction.  They won’t know me.  But me doing this, to raise money to help them.  I just want everyone to have access to the help they need if they are suffering.  It can happen to anyone. And I hope by raising the money I have, this will help in some small way.  At the time of writing, the figure stands at £1,500.  That’s mad!  I really thought I’d struggle to reach my target of £500 so to triple it is just wonderful.  I am so overwhelmed with the support from everyone to this cause.  

When I saw the finish line, I just couldn’t stop.  I got there and was so relieved.  I did it!  I finished!  I completed Snowdonia!  I really couldn’t believe it.  I thought I’d burst into tears as soon as I crossed the line, but no.  Not at all.  I was so happy to finish.  I saw some of the club who had also taken part and finished before me (two of the chaps so much before me, they had already changed!).  I saw the girls on the way round which was such a boost and to see them all at the finish. I couldn’t stop smiling.

And that’s it.  My goal is complete.  What do I do now?

 I’ve had two weeks of doing nothing.  I’ve been eating everything in sight and yes I have been drinking.  Not every day.  I did have a particularly heavy night last Friday and again this week, but I’ve thought as long as I don’t go downhill from there, I’ll be ok.  This may sound like an excuse, but I don’t want to have a drink right now.  I don’t want to jump out of the window.  This is progress.  I’m at a wedding reception tonight and I’ve decided already...I’m not drinking.  This is also a message to anyone I see, don’t let me have a drink!  Becks Blue all night!

My legs were fine after Snowdonia.  Two days of tight quads, but that’s it (much better than when I did MK or even that very first 10K!).  I have had some foot trouble in both feet and wondering if they’re broken - I’m sure they’re not, but I can't run right now. Two (maybe three) half marathons left for 2017 if my feet are ok and  then it’s 2018…

I have been chosen as an ambassador for the Milton Keynes Marathon in 2018.  My very first marathon I did in 2016, I’m heading back for some more!  I am excited, check out these medals:

I’d love for more people to join me on this one. They also have a half marathon or a marathon relay.  Check it out here: MK Marathon   And don’t forget to enter the Rocket 5K the day before.  Three medals for two days of running.  What’s not to love?!

I’ve also entered the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September.  Really looking forward to that one.

And Snowdonia? To anyone thinking about doing Snowdonia, or a marathon, I would say do it.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  But it’s beautiful.  It’s happy.  It’s probably the best event I’ve ever taken part in (and there have been a fair few now!).  The challenge.  The climbs.  Truly wonderful.  I enjoyed it so much, yes, it’s in my diary for 2018!  I would recommend this to every runner.  They have moved the entry date to 1st December 2017 at 7am.  It will sell out straight away.  Get in there!

You’ll see I have updated the name of my blog.

My running journey has not finished.

I’m not finished.


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