Monday, 26 October 2009

Snowdonia Marathon 26.2mi. 24/10/2009

Pre-race fuelling - one of the by-pleasures of all this exercise.

Snowdonia Marathon
We're seeing a familiar pattern for the Snowdonia Marathon - wind and rain for three consecutive years now, so this had to be the weekend to end the long run of amazing weather just to keep the 'SNOD' weather tradition alive. I certainly didn't envy the people doing the OMM in mid Wales at the same time.

After last weekend's 'pleasures' my legs were feeling heavy and laboured on the runs into work, so much so that I cycled in on Thursday instead. By Friday my legs felt just about normal and 'ready to do their thing' again at the weekend.

The driving rain before the start didn't bother me too much because I walked from Llanberis up to the start, which just about kept me warm. I figured that would be much better than joining the LONG queue for one of the free buses. I met a couple of people from the Runner's World forum (the SNOD thread has to be the best and most lively thread going), including one who was going to act as sub-4-hour pacer. I intended to run with the sub-4hr group. Once in the starting pack there was just enough shelter and warmth from the surrounding bodies to keep the worst of the shivers at bay until the start. Also, the very mild temperature in the low teens Centigrade (mid to high 50s F) eased the chill factor. We were about 20 minutes late setting off because of the delayed buses.

As soon as we had set off and before we had reached the road proper, I had already lost the pacer - he was behind somewhere - so I just decided to run my own race like I always do. He overtook me some way down the first descent. I asked him how his 4hr pacing was going. I always like to look on the positive side and fondly imagined he might have been 5 minutes ahead of schedule, but when he said he was 1 minute down I knew a 4hr finish was beyond me. My hip flexors had already stiffened and I was pushing hard through the discomfort, so I told him a 4hr finish was beyond me this year as he slowly pulled away.

I passed the halfway point in 2:02. "I wonder if I can run a negative split and still get close to 4 hours?" I thought to myself. "Not unless a miracle happens" came the quick subconscious answer. "I've never run negative splits in my life, but considering I set off slower, I'll give it a damn good try." I amused myself watching the aerodynamic antics of, and trying to race, the polystyrene cups that were getting blown at high speed away from the drink stations. The wind was very strong and the cups always won. What a hideous litter problem.

I ran more of the race than I have ever run before, including most (but not quite all) of the final climb at Waunfawr, but my time of 4:15 turned out to be a personal worst for this event (4:13 in 2006, 4:06 in 2007 and 4:00 in 2008). I'm not at all disappointed with this result. It's hardly surprising under the circumstances. I know I pushed myself to my limits at the time, I had a fantastic day and I met some fantastic people.

It was a shame about the lack of electricity at the sports hall at the finish. A lack of warm restorative drinks meant an early exit to the car to get changed and warm before going to Pete's Eats for a few pints of tea, an enormous carrot soup + bread roll and a gigantic chilli-con-carne. Later on I joined other RW forumites, knocking back the drinks until midnight. I was very tempted by the Karaoke when it started up but I just resisted the urge to get up and warble.

I WILL be back next year, if not to run the marathon, to get up on that stage in the Padarn Lake Hotel bar and show them how it's done. I think a Neil Diamond number might be in order ;-)

I didn't take any pictures on the run because this is an eyeballs out road race and there was no time, and my camera remained sealed in a waterproof bag anyway. There are just a few before and after pictures.


  1. nick..see you there in sing neil diamond and i'll follow with alive and

  2. You're on Dave. I must get my SNOD entry in before it gets booked up ;-)

  3. What a race eh? This year was my first but I'm sure not my last. I was way off my target but happy just to finish considering the conditions and that final brutal hill which made me succumb to cramp for the first time ever!

    Get some lightweight racers and sub 4 is yours next year!!


  4. Hi Anonymous, not sure which Dave you are, but well done for pushing through the cramp to your first finish.
    If Round Rotherham is two weekends before instead of 1 weekend, I might just go sub 4 in 2010. A PB could even be mine. I'm already entered for next year in anticipation.

  5. hi nick, just veiwed my photo's and there's one or two with me running next to you up the pass. I am the one you were talking to for the first mile or two. Thanks for the words of encouragement to get under four hours,managed 4 hrs 2mins, i would of got under 4 if i had pushed a little harder. cheers

  6. Hi Andrew,
    It was great to talk to you briefly near the top of the first climb. Well done with your time - so close to my prediction. You obviously slowed down far less than I did.
    You mention pictures. Where are they? I haven't seen any so far.