A couple weeks before this event I had decided that a reccie across the lake district was a really really good idea. It was only 14 miles or so from Ambleside to Coniston. Nothing could go wrong, could it. Well, in true form, something did go wrong. My left knee to be exact. The Lake District is no walk in the park and the route I was taking should never have been done alone. Two very valuable lessons learnt that day. Strength training is all important for hill events and when attempting a difficult trail, try your hardest to drag along a willing participant. All this before I tackle my second marathon. Plus it was not only my second marathon but the toughest marathon I could find before the Lakeland 50 event. A good training marathon. That was my thought. So, did I do it? Did I make it to the finish? Did I quit?
I travelled to Porthmadog on Friday, the day before the marathon. I had everything I could think of packed - or so I thought!! - what I didn't expect was the sights going through the park and the hills I would be tackling the next day. I nearly turned the car around right there and then. I've never run around hills like this. The nearest I have is running the route for the Dunstable Downs marathon and those hills are mere bumps compared to what I was seeing. How am I going to run this? I'll get up that first hill but it will sap all my energy and that will be that. All this way to quit. What was I thinking! Why am I doing this? Oh lord this is going to hurt! Damn it damn it damn it damn it!!! I'm here. I've planned this. The weather IS going to be okay and I AM going to get to the start and damn well TRY!!!! Blimey I feel queasy!
A very good 6 hours sleep later and I'm all showered, Lycra clad and ready to rock it on those hills. Blergh, I simply can't do this. The weather out there is lashing down with rain and it's only 7am. What is it going to be like at 9am! Oh no no no no no........ There's something to be said about going to an event like this with someone. Anyone. Friend, family or another runner who's just as bonkers as yourself. I felt like the weather - downright miserable. But I'd planned this. I got to Porthmadog all on my lonesome. I had peeps on spacebook wishing me well. I can't quit now. Right.... last minute kit check. Where's the bug spray..... Oh yes. It's sitting at home all safe and snug and obvious on the shelf in the lounge. Yep. Put there by me so I wouldn't forget it. Yep - I forgot it. So what about everything else. It's all there - waterproofs, gps 310xt and etrex, dextrose tabs, gingerbread men (oh yes!!), first aid kit, spare socks and spare socks, spare compression wrap, phone, emergency foil blanket and lastly...... the emergency poncho. Oh yes. I have my emergency poncho so everything will be okay. Right, lets rock....
I get to the Coed Y Brenin park in good time. Nice and early but the weather is still not looking good. Time to break out the emergency poncho and grab a cuppa before the race. Not so many people around at the moment at 7:30am. Its early so I can relax and look at those absolutely enormous hills staring back at me, daring me to quit, whispering at me to just go home. But they also look so lovely and inviting. Oh, okay. I'll get out to that start line and get over at least a couple of those hills and then think about quiting.
9am rolls around far to quickly for me. The weather has improved. It's all dry and blustery now so I pack away my lovely, lovely emergency poncho (my good luck charm). Lock up the car and get out to that start line. A quick pre race briefing and we're of. I thought they said the first three miles would be fairly flat along the track in the park!! It was up hill right from the start and amazingly I was still running near the top! Where was all this strength coming from?? Who cares, lets go go go......
It took a while before we left the track and got into the trails in the woods. Oh dear, the trails. They were almost constant, non stop hills that almost had me climbing with my hands. At this point I was rather pleased with myself for getting this far and still having the energy to tackle these trails. Surely this is the toughest part and it's all over? Please! Oh, it isn't. There's more!! Oh, okay then. One more hill and I'll quit. WOW, look at those views. Oh I've got to see more of this. A little bit of road, a little bit of farm land fields and sheep, quite a bit of rough stone track road but mostly single track trails that take you higher and higher and higher and when is this ever going to stop, lung burning, jelly leg inducing hills!!! I'm sure I'd enjoy more of the views if I wasn't watching every single step I took with great care. One slip and I'll be rolling down one hell of a steep hill.
So what kept me from quiting? I did keep up my mantra, I'll quit after the next hill...... but at about mile 12 or so I met the most bonkers pair of runners. Had me nearly dying with laughter whilst I'm trying to breathe whilst running. The distraction these two runners had on my negative thoughts were amazing. Denzil - stir crazy bonkers on Red Bull and 9 bars and Claire who was just as stir crazy on Red Bull as Denzil. This double act were a blessing for me. Can't thank these two enough. And I'm still not sure what was captured on camera by Denzil but I'm sure the whole discussion of FF or DD or GGG's will be in there somewhere. Thank you. And I still think they should hire themselves out as a double act on tough ultra type races.
Did I finish. YES, yes I did. It took me a whole 6 hours and 39 minutes. My left knee was pure agony from just before the last hill. Oh that last hill was pure evil. EVIL!!!! I am so please with myself.
My left knee is now a shambles but I'm confident I'll get it back to working order very soon. My ultra spirit is now stronger than ever. I went to Wales feeling sick to my stomach that I was tackling this giant of a race alone. I've yet again gone way past what I thought I could do. Fear and doubt have been in my life for so long but I'm now finding that I can still be afraid and still doubt myself but it doesn't stop me from achieving my goals.
Bring it on!!!!