The hills are alive… with the sound of Betsis!

A few weeks ago, during a Wednesday club session, the idea of entering Deiniolen 10km was put on the table by Claire. We spent the session chatting about marathons and how the Deiniolen race would be a good indicator of the challenge of the Eryri course. It was during this run that I had my wobble and got a tad overwhelmed by the road that lay ahead. I mentioned this in my a blog update just before doing the Abersoch 10km and decided that the best way to conquer the demons was to put an entry in and see what happened.

Fast forward to last week and our purple fam decided to turn out in force for the Llanrug 5km. Off we set and it wasn’t long before I was trailing at the back of pack; however, I was lucky enough to have Hannah for company and the promise of a burger and a pint to keep me going. Hannah’s company managed to pace me to a 5k PB! I was chuffed to bits with this and will continue to give thanks to Han for sticking with me especially given the fact she had completed her own epic challenge only days before.

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And then came this week’s fun…

Fair play to everyone that knows the race, there was absolutely no beating about the bush in terms of how tough the course was going to be and I was absolutely okay with this. What got me in a panic was the fact that I didn’t want to make a fool of myself or, if I am completely honest, show up the club! I could see the list of runners and the clubs involved and I started to think that this was not going to be my finest hour. In the midst of this panic what did I do?! I went and messaged the event organisers to ask how slow their slowest runner usually is – WHY??? That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done and the response set me on edge even more. In my hour of panic the thing I needed was some sensible advice and guidance from the Boss who gave me a stern talking to and put me back on track. That said, the nerves were real by the time we got to the start line and I did the most awful job of keeping it hidden. Thank you to all those people for their friendly, smiling faces and support before the race, I promise it was helping even if I couldn’t show it!

7.15pm came round and off we set. Once again, I quickly found my spot at the back of the pack and met my first hill. I had decided to keep Chris’ words in my head “hills are my friends” and was trying to channel my inner Maria as I plodded my way up. Glancing ahead I could see that some folk had started to walk and figured that it was okay to do it too, this was, after all, one of the big slogs. If I could just keep one front in front of the other, I would get this course done. I was really shocked to see my watch buzz at the first mile marker in a time of 11:36 – that’s only a smidge slower than my usual pace!

The next couple of miles were a bit of a blur or, more accurately, a battle against the wind and rain that had decided to grace us with its presence. I was desperately trying to enjoy my surroundings and take in the view but it was as much as I could do to keep moving forward, never mind anything else. Luckily, the course marshals and supporters were fantastic and it’s down to those people that you survive these parts. I can’t even remember the order I saw folk but I could have gladly given Becs, Menna and Fiona big hugs when I saw them! Fighting against the wind, I did start to think I wasn’t going to have the strength to continue but their words were exactly what I needed to plod on. Not long after that I turned a corner, the wind was no longer beasting me and then I saw Jack at the half way point and it was like I had absorbed the strength from that horrible wind and used it to my advantage flying down the next few kilometres – I love gravity! Another group of my purple fam were waiting at the bottom of the beastly hill that starts at 7.5km and I knew I wasn’t far off getting this event done.

That last hill is mean. I needed to walk quite early on but rather than resigning myself to walking the whole climb I tried to mix up a funny sort of shuffle with a walk until I got to the top. Then it was down hill all the way, baby! My long suffering husband found himself a spot at the last junction and shouted his encouragement and then I clocked the Betsi flag and started to hear those final cheers. I’m not going to lie, I could have balled my eyes out. So many lovely people there and not only had they all bothered to stick around and wait for me but they were standing in the cold cheering my name. I had to give it a strong finish, for them. Crossing that line was awesome and having Jayne at my side moments later was just lush. Then came the rest of the gang and I found myself, once again, feeling so incredibly grateful to be part of this running family. Everyone celebrated something yesterday evening and the joy we all had for each other is something very, very special. I want to make sure that every single one of the purple gang know how grateful I am for all the support that they continue to give me. I think I would have given up by now if it wasn’t for you all!

Race round up… I crossed the line in 68:29, faster than Abersoch and well ahead of the time I thought I would be! It’s hard and hilly but actually such good fun in places! I fear Jayne may be on to something when she says hills are for me… Same time next year?!

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Pain in the groyne

The day finally arrived and the alarm was set ready to gather the troops and get to Abersoch. Having checked the forecast we knew we were in for cloud but the rain looked like it might hold off so Owen decided to join us and walk the dog whilst Alison and I were running.

We arrived with enough time to queue for our race numbers and then again for the toilet facilities and we made our way down to the start line.

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To be fair, the atmosphere was fantastic at the start and it was good to get in to the race spirit with some of the other runners. Then comes the tannoy announcement that this is one of the hardest 10k routes around and I’m not going to lie, that was a bit of a shock. How am I going to get anywhere near a PB on a hard route? By this point, the fact that my Garmin is currently still away getting repaired I just thought stuff it. I am going to have no clue of my pacing so I might as well go and enjoy a lovely run in this pretty sea-side town so that’s exactly what I did!

The route from the start line was already on a bit of an incline and the heat was already being felt. I said goodbye to Alison once the race had officially begun as I knew I would be finishing after her and I set about getting in to my rhythm.

I was finding things manageable for the first 3km though I was absolutely boiling and starting to focus on the 5km water station when we reached a bottleneck in the path that forced everyone to a walk and even queue to get through (how terribly British). I did giggle to myself when hearing mutters of “ugh, this will affect my time” whilst I was thinking “excellent, an enforced walking break”. There were moments on the early route that were pretty tight to be fair but that’s country lanes for you… After the bottleneck came the warning of the “brutal” incline and given the heat I just decided to walk it. After all, everything that goes up must come down so I planned to make up time on the decent. Next came the water station and I grabbed a bottle threw some down my throat and over the back of my neck and the clutched the bottle for a bit longer as I cannot bear to throw rubbish. By this point my grand idea of picking my pace up and getting a bit quicker had gone by the wayside as I was actually really struggling with the heat but was actually enjoying taking in the sites. I decided to stick with this plan and continued to high-five any spectators who offered to do so, take up any spray with a water pistol that came my way and have a chat with anyone about. I always find this a much more fun way to finish an event. We came down on to the beach via the golf course (where Owen and Ella had stopped to cheer me on) for the final straight where you’re faced with that moment of being so close, yet so far from the finish line and there, as promised, were the groynes. The first two definitely lulled you in to a false sense of security as you could just take those in your stride but some of the others were more of an effort which is just a bit cruel after running that distance. The final groyne over come and the finish clock now in sight and I knew I was on for a personal worst when it comes to road races and I was flabbergasted to find that this did not bother me one bit. The final push was on soft sand (!) so a sprint finish was out of the question but I did throw my hands up in victory as I crossed that finish line!

I love how the marshals at finish lines get the priorities spot on, medal first, water and food second. I grabbed my Mars bar and headed to find Alison and my cheer squad! Noticing the hoards of runners cooling in the sea we too decided to ditch the trainers and get in for a paddle which was sheer bliss. After a quick photo stop with fellow Betsi, Ellie (who I had clean forgotten was also running and hadn’t seen up to this point) we decided to make our escape, stopping at the Cwrw Llyn en route home for a well deserved pint!

Next up… Deiniolen 10k!