Well I knew it would be good race even if I hobbled over the finish line or didn’t even get to finish it. For those wondering I did cross the line and in a new PB, which considering the chances of getting a PB is below 50% and it was only my second half marathon, I would say I am very pleased with the result. To be honest I didn’t go out there to win, I just wanted to run another half marathon and test my self, and oh boy did this course test me.
I suppose I should also mention the amount of training I did. Well it didn’t amount to much. After the Great North Run I carried on running 8 or 10 miles and then did the 10K in Sheffield. I think had a week off from hitting the pavements. From October to the race day I had done speed work, and a lot of 10K’s but nowhere near the mileage I should have. I think I ran 10 miles once after Sheffield and that was a couple of weeks before this race. That did concern me slightly as to weather I would be fit enough but for some reason I was telling myself that I could run another half…. I did one a couple of months ago.
So it was with that I found my self in Wales with a 700-year-old castle standing tall at the start line. The race I was about to take part in was the Conwy Half. A small race, with 1600 people running and no road closures, instead there were people stopping the traffic as we ran past. All my other running events have been large organised races where they shut the roads and film it for telly. This however was small.
There was no mass warm up. You collected your number in the morning. There were no waves. Knowing that I didn’t want to be trying to push my way to the front of the pack, I got to the start line early and it was a good job. The race started on a hill, only about 100m and was quickly led out over the bridge to turn briskly onto a walking/cycling path. This was where overtaking became hard. We were like a herd of sheep jostling to get in front. I had some people from a running club who thought it was acceptable for all 3 of them to run together abreast preventing people behind from getting in front. That annoyed me. As members of a running club they should know the rules of running more than anyone. I eventually got past and found my self in a nice little housing estate running down a road, only to have to run round a traffic cone and head back and straight into an alley way.
Now at this point I was doing well, 8.30 a mile and we had already covered 2 miles. Out of the alley and we were now running along the coast. We could see the Great Orme peering at us. Inviting us to climb her. Along this path there were people walking their dogs who politely waited. In fact even the car drivers were polite and waited for the pack to pass. A good stretch of this mile to Llandudno was also covered in sand. It’s really quite strange running on this stuff after tarmac.
We had now arrived at Llandudno, and it was a small climb through the back streets to the roundabout on the sea front and onwards to the Great Orme. We were not going to run up the Orme but around it on the coastal road, and this was a steep climb. The Orme element would see the half waypoint, but would also be the majority of the run. I started the 5 mile trip climbing up slowing my pace. People had given up and started walking. I had started to feel it in my legs, my heart got faster but I refused to slow, I knew if I did I would carry on stopping till the finish line. I just had to go forward.
The breath taking size of the rock that stands over the road glistened in the sun as the different colours of this geological marvel kept you company on the climb. I should also add at this point that people out walking or cycling and rock climbing would encourage the pack with cheers and clapping. This was tuning out to be a good race.
Then I got to the top. It was now down hill for 2 miles. This hurt a lot more than the climb. I tried to go slow and steady, rather at full speed. I think I was doing about 7.10 mile on the way down, the pain in the legs were increasing with every stride and I just wanted to be on the flat. But as I approached the flat and final part of the course towards Conwy my legs had begun to turn to jelly.
The run back was painful, the pack in front of me had thinned out and I could see the castle standing erect guarding the town. By the time we reached the housing estate I was reading to throw in the towel, but seeing that there was only a mile left I carried on. By the time I had joined the road to cross the bridge and the sign that read ‘400 m to go’ I spurred myself on and sprinted to cross the finish line In a new PB taking 2 minutes of my Great North Run time, and coming 133rd in my category and 492nd in the race.
This was one of the best races I’ve done, one of the best runs even. The hill of the Great Orme is painful, and I’m glad that in my 10K training and normal running I included hills and hill sprints into my training, but nothing can compare you for the climb and slow steady incline as it got steeper. Like a snake it twists around and just when you think you can see the end the road bends inwards to reveal yet more climbing.
Despite that the race is now down as yearly activity in my running dairy. The atmosphere was better than the Great Run and views of the Irish Sea, castles, Snowdon in the far distance was stunning and the little breath I had left in my lungs was quickly snapped away by the wonderful welsh scenery.