“if you want to experience something run a marathon…” I think this chap was talking about Marathon Eryri, you know.
Snowdon is special: I had the most fabulous day on Saturday.
It’s a marathon that reminds you why you love running, and what a special community we are in as runners. From exchanging ‘what are we doing?!’ looks in the toilet queue in a giant, soaking wet, see-through poncho, to exchanging groans as the hill goes on forever, to exchanging tired, happy nods as you limp through the streets of Llanberis, Snowdon made me feel lucky to be a runner. It made me feel lucky to have found something that makes me want to push myself and test myself and see the most beautiful and awesome places. I felt luckier than ever to have friends I’ve made through running who are happy to travel up to Wales and stand on a hill in the pouring rain to cheer me on as I splashed my way down a slippery hill, and will carb load in solidarity.
It had its ups and downs – metaphorically, as well as literally. I got cross with myself and with Wales – I didn’t train hard for 18 weeks to walk up a hill. For most of the race, my feet hurt and were soaking wet, my legs hurt everywhere, my shorts were rubbing and I knew that despite my best efforts, it was going to take ages to brush out the knots in my hair. And yet I had the most wonderful time. It showed me I was tough, I ran pretty much the whole thing with a grin on my face.
It’s always hard to look back on a race that didn’t go 100% the way you planned and not be a bit negative. For me, reflection on the race has delivered lots of ‘shoulds’ – I should have pushed myself more throughout the race. I’ve learnt that I need to stop holding back and just give everything at that moment in time. I was too easy on the first hills; waiting and holding on for what was to come. I was far too easy on the downhills; too careful and worried about falling, when I should have just let myself go and flown down like Phoebe. I shouldn’t have stopped and walked at the water stations. I should have worn different shorts. BUT I still enjoyed it so much: so well done, Snowdon.
What made the race even better was that the weekend in Llanberis was perfect. Mark and I stayed at Dol Peris guesthouse, which is in the village itself, just a short walk from the start and – even better – an even shorter walk from the finish. Lisa, the owner, was so welcoming, and she had the perfect set up for pre and post marathoners. There is a large communal kitchen with plenty of porridge bowls and coffee mugs, and was ideal for Saturday morning. She’s got a designated drying ‘shed’ in the garden, which was awesome for post race soaking wet EVERYTHING. If you’re thinking about doing Snowdon next year, try and get to stay with her – it really is a brilliant little place. We ate out in the village too: dinner at Gallt y Glyn – pizza and a pint for about £12, and… gluten free pizza! It was the best. Post race, we hung out at The Heights (which is handily opposite Dol Peris!), and dined on gin, chips, crisps and some things that weren’t carbs too. The winner of the race, John Gilbert, also chose The Heights as his post race watering hole, so it must be a good place. It was, of course, made even better by being there with friends, and it’s a lovely race to go along and support if you don’t mind the (potentially) long journey and inclement weather. Everything about doing the race was made easy by the organisers: from registering to starting to finishing. It was just the bit between starting and finishing that was hard… The ‘medal’ was great – it is a slate coaster, that’ll go perfectly with our new grey and charcoal living room.
Snowdon is special because you have to put your ego aside and just run. It’s the kind of race that you can’t put expectations on yourself. I’m glad I trained for 3.20, as it meant I was pushing myself constantly over the past 18 weeks, and I know that it is something I am capable of reaching at Brighton in 2016. But time seemed immaterial here very quickly, and so I stopped looking at my Garmin. I just ran on feel, and remembered that I properly love running.
“The shadows lift through darkness
As the sun begins to shine,
And valleys dressed in violet veils
Then meet the emerald pine,
Its peacefulness befalls me
As I breathe the mountain air,
And gaze with deepest awe upon
This land beyond compare”.
- An extract from ‘Snowdon’ by Andrew Blakemore