Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Snowdonia Marathon Eryri

Back in July I quietly embarked upon a training schedule. I kept my regular Tuesday and Thursday  running activities whilst adding a longer run into the mix. Each week this longer run would gradually become longer and more challenging occasionally adding in some hill training.

Doing laps of Llandudno's Marina Drive became great preparation (and education) ahead of the toughest marathon in Europe. Marina Drive runs along the cliffs of the Great Orme; a huge limestone headland that towers more than 200 metres over the Irish Sea. One lap of the Great Orme is around 5 and a third miles with a climb of 120 metres.

The final training run was a gruelling four laps. This left me with a crippling injury to my right knee at only three weeks before the marathon. There was a real possibility that after all the training I might not be able to take part in the marathon.

After a week of little recovery I went to see a physiotherapist. I was half expecting to be told that I would not be fit for the marathon. To my surprise, I was told quite the opposite. Although painful, the injury is quite common to long distance runners and easily rectified with a good dose of massage and carefully targeted exercises and stretches.

So, on the day, I stuck to my plan and started at a relaxed and steady pace. Along with my work colleague Tina, I was enjoying the running, the scenery and the occasion. My name was printed just above my race number and it gave me an amazing morale boost to hear spectators call out, "Come on Jim!"

Photo: Claire Bishop
The first climb up to Pen-y-Pass was straight forward. The second climb was more difficult and I resorted to walking when I found it difficult to overtake those who were walking. By the time I reached the village of Waunfawr and the final climb, I began to feel a little pain in my injured right knee. Once again I (along with most others) resorted to walking. This preserved my energy and protected the knee, but the downside was it allowed me to get cold. Stiffness and cramp began to set in. It took a great effort to get going again but the last mile and a half was all down hill. The steep descent was painful but short lived and 5 hours and 19 minutes after crossing the start line I reached the finish. It was over. I'd done it... and now I could stop running.

However, the marathon is not quite over. At the time of writing I'm still hobbling around on stiff legs with a sore right knee and a troublesome left Achilles. The question is, as the aches and pains melt away, how long will it take for me to consider doing something like this again?