I'd fancied doing this HM simply because it looked so scenic but I couldn't afford to go and stay overnight or to travel by train and I knew I'd be too tired to drive back safely afterwards so when, a couple of weeks ago, a lift became available, I jumped at the chance and signed up. I'll admit I've been a bit worried about it as I've been feeling worn out recently and fighting off the first signs of a cold. I also haven't run more than about 7 miles since doing the Birmingham HM last month. To try and counteract these worries, I bought some effervescent Echinacea tablets from Holland and Barratt earlier in the week and have been dosing up on those, vitamins and iron tablets and they seemed to be effective in fighting off the germs. I also indulged myself with a lie-in yesterday morning.
I felt weary when the alarm went off at 6:15 this morning but my Beloved had got up early to make me a flask of fresh home-made soup so I could have a hot snack after the race - how spoilt am I ? A nice soak in a hot bath, some dithering about what to wear, some more dithering about how many energy gels to take and what to take as a pre-race snack, changing my mind about what to wear, then I was ready for the journey. I drove to my friend's house, then she drove us both to Shrewsbury, from where we had a lift all the way to Conwy. The journey was trouble free and scenic and the parking was easy to find and just a short distance from the start point at Conwy Castle. Even better, we found a lovely tea/coffee shop that served over-size cups of tea and had clean toilets so we were warm and refreshed before starting.
There was light cloud and sunshine and it was about 8 degrees so shorts, t-shirt and arm warmers seemed a reasonable state of dress - I knew I'd soon be warm and glowing I'm not keen on the crowds at the beginning of races and people were so loud that we couldn't hear the announcements on the loud speaker but the race started bang on time and was timed using chips built into the number we were wearing - all nice and hassle free. The first few miles of the route are flat, a mixture of pavement and sandy footpaths and I surprised myself by running just above 9 minute miles along this stretch. I wondered if I should slow down but I felt comfortable so I decided to risk carrying on at this speed as long as I could. I was a bit disappointed to be overtaken by a giant panda on the first uphill stretch but I passed him later on on the loooonnnnngggg big hill that took us around the Orme with stunning views of the sea. This stretch was really quite challenging - you could see a long way ahead and watch the runners in front in a long undulating trail around the headland and there were several points where it looked as if it was levelling out, then you'd turn the corner and find another hill. I was disappointed to have to walk a stretch of this and watched my average pace slowing to about 10:30 or so. I decided to make a huge effort to regain some time on the downhill stretch of about two miles. I'd had a little practice last weekend at not "putting on the brakes" on the sharper downhills and I almost let gravity pull me down the hill - it felt almost out of control at times but I kept passing people, weaving in and out of them a bit and by the time I was at the bottom of the hill I was back to an average pace of 10:02. (I later found I'd run this stretch at a 8 minute mile pace). I was also feeling quite weary and couldn't go any quicker and my average pace gradually fell to about 10:09. I had a sore blister on my right foot but just ignored it and focused on maintaining a reasonably steady pace. The last few miles were mentally tough, in spite of being fairly flat, because we could see the finish line in the distance which made each mile feel much longer. When I could see the bridge over to the castle I decided I would aim for a short sprint finish from the apex of the bridge (ie the downhill part!). The crowds were encouraging the runners by name, as we all had our first names on our number bib, and that was a huge boost to morale. I ran as quickly as I could over the finish line and my legs wanted to give way once I tried to stop but I was thrilled to see my Garmin showed a time of 2:13. Shortly afterwards a text message told me I had finished in a time of 2:13:20.
This was my 3rd HM. In July I completed the Black Country HM in 2:36:32 (and was really happy with that) then last month I finished Birmingham in 2:18:58. My boss told me I should aim for 2:15 this time so 2:13:20 was very pleasing.
I was so sore when I started to move again - my back was killing me ! I hadn't noticed that while running. My blister was also very painful. When I finally got home and looked at my foot I was amazed I hadn't finished the race limping and crying - I've got a very impressive big blood blister on my foot !
Last year I went for a very long time without seeing any sign of improvement and having to cut back my running due to getting injuries the first two times I aimed for a HM. After the 5x50 challenge this year, I found myself improving - it has been hard work but I'm so thrilled with this bit of progress. My first 3 miles today were sub-30 minutes and the first 6 miles were sub-60 minutes so that was a 6mile PB as well. It does beg the question why do I find a sub-30 minute parkrun so tough (it makes me feel ill) !
I'd highly recommend this HM to anyone - the scenery was simply stunning and the support from the crowds was brilliant. It would have been pretty grim in wind and rain though - we were very lucky with the weather !
Not sure if you can see my Garmin data but here's the link: connect.garmin.com/activity...