#15in15 has begun and I am very excited by this!
In the days leading up to race day I started to feel a few nerves, I haven’t done enough training…this is a tough course…the weather will be against me. There is only one way to deal with this RUN! On the whole I am excited by nerves, for me it’s my bodies way of telling me ‘this means something’, unless you’ve run the same course before you can never be sure how you will cope, so I don’t pay too much attention to working out race strategies. Even if you have run the course in previous years or in training you can be sure the weather, people and your own condition will be different and in the case of trail runs, the course altered. In the week leading up to Saturday, I noticed on the Endurance Life website the average finish time at last years marathon was in excess of five hours, with this in mind the aim of the game was to simply make the finish line.
I set off for Wales on Friday, arriving in the afternoon to glorious weather. I had decided to camp in mid January, yes camp! This was a combination of leaving it late to book a bed, an adventurous mindset and my thinking of testing my body to see whether a king size in a five star is really needed pre and post marathon. Note, I have never previously used a five star for marathons!
Saturday morning, waking to my 05:30 alarm I had the ‘this is it’ moment. Whatever I had dreamt about left a tank of adrenaline in me! I grabbed my ipod, hit shuffle and Chemical Brothers ‘Hey girls, hey boys, superstar djs…HERE WE GO!!!’ came on. I jumped out my sleeping bag, got the marathon kit on, smashed in a few prepared peanut butter & jam bagels, a few bars, a little leftover pasta, got the trail runners on and burst out my tent. Still dark mind you I found my way to the self catering kitchen and lounge and nabbed a cheeky porridge. Whilst waking up to the realisation of what lay ahead and talking to the other runners, I was lucky enough to be able to hitch a ride to the start which was three miles away (thanks Michelle!) I’m also gonna add that only at a runner’s breakfast do you have ‘toenail talk’, turns out my toenails are in a pretty healthy ccondition if you were interested.
On to the race village, we all went through registration, where for once not only were we collecting our numbers, but also a cliff bar for the run and our commemorative shirts pre race. Bag drop, briefing and then the start at 09:00!
I remember the moment standing here, unbelievably excited, something I decided to do in August last year and had talked about for months, had come to fruition. There is a long way to go but everything has to start somewhere and for me this was it.
Now we had the joys of daylight, we also had the pleasure of being treated to some stunning scenery. I had told myself a few days before, if nothing else I enjoy the outdoors and the views will keep me motivated. It wasn’t long before we were welcomed on to the coastal path with some Welsh winds and a very choppy looking Irish sea, this of course isn’t but part of the journey for trail runners and when signing up for the ‘Coastal Trail Series’ to be expected! I recall everyone calling out to each other in enthusiasm, how beautiful it was and how we were ‘lucky’ to be out there running a marathon (we were still in the first few miles)
By the first check point just after four miles, the fairly small field of just over one hundred runners had spread out . That is another joy of trail running, the organisers entry limits are much lower than road events, so as long as you get in it’s a bonus! Once you do get your breathing space (glorious fresh sea air at that!) it is time to really take in the landscape as you feel alive and in the moment. For me running distance is about where your mind is at, if you set out with belief and determination you will more than likely make it there. Check point two was around the nine mile mark, perfect time to grab a handful of sweets. Everything was seeming pretty good at this point. I then started to hit that point where you realise you’re not halfway yet and this marathon distance still holds some mystery around it. I was running in a jacket which covered my running watch, so hadn’t checked my time or distance once, I even forgot to check the distance at the check points! Eventually I gave into increasing temptation to discover I was at exactly thirteen miles and keeping a decent time. I guess this was the little pick me up I needed and reminded myself of the lovely location and to enjoy the race.
With not seeing so many runner’s out there any more, you make a point to talk to each and everyone you see; to act as encouragement for each other, see how their races are going, share a joke or just to pace each other for a while. It certainly helped me when someone shouted you’re a ‘GREEN MACHINE’ (I was wearing my green Macmillan tee and long green compression socks) Maybe this was me not looking at my watch every five minutes as I sometimes fall into the trap of doing. Maybe it was that I wasn’t listening to music and saying ‘get this far by the end of this song’. Running on feeling is great and enhanced on trail as you really feel your body and nature on a collision course of productivity! I rarely run with music now as I much prefer to use my sense of hearing to experience the environment which I’m running through.
As I was feeling fairly good, I gave myself a little target. As I mentioned, last years average was just over five hours, at the last check point, mile twenty-one if I recall correctly, a sub five was within my grasp barring a bad case of cramp or worse. I didn’t go into road race mode, time watching, but just upped the ante a little to see where my body was at. Having pushed on, I started to feel my left hamstring was on the verge of screaming in agony from aforementioned cramp if I carried on like this. I wisely eased off, well Endurance Life made that decision for me; at mile twenty-four what we had been running towards for miles stood in front of us. Holyhead mountain! Standing at 220M not monumental, but we were at sea level previously on the course, this was mile twenty-four and the ascent was to be made in just one mile! I managed to run the first third, then broke into a long stride rhythm. Got my legs going again but the final ascent was made with the long stride technique. Upon reaching the summit I quickly took the view in, turned and saw the ‘ONE MILE TO GO’ sign, this meant a rapid descent! Mentally I had won the battle, the steepness was the only test left, I haven’t a vast experience on mountains, especially running them, so my eagerness nearly cost me a fall, it was a real tester for watching my footing, adrenaline pumping through me I was loving it. The course levelled out on the home straight, with a crowd of well wishes cheering all the competitors in. I crossed the finish line and clocked in at 4hr 56min. That was the cherry on the top to an enjoyable race! It felt great to cross the marathon finish line for the first time since October 2012 and in a Macmillan top.
Date: Saturday 17th January
Location: Holy Island, Anglesey, North West Wales
Weather: 4-6 °C, Sunny start, partly cloudy mid-finish
Terrain: Fell 15%, Trail 50%, Road 35%
Time: 4 hours 56 minutes
Nationalities I observed (other than UK): Norwegian, Danish, French, German, American & URUGUAYAN!
This race was organised by Endurance Life I was very happy with my race experience and would thoroughly recommend you sign up to one of their races!
Across my races this year I have a few little side projects; I plan to make videos for them all, I have footage for this one and hope to edit it and post it soon. I’m also going to take photos at the finish line in three different tees, these are those and the reasons:
1. I will take a photo in the finishers tee to remember the race – Endurance Life – ‘Never Give Up’
2. I will take a photo in my Macmillan Cancer Support running tee to show my support for the cause I’m running for
Hopefully at the end of the year these photos will also look cool in some sort of slideshow or short video.
What’s next for #15in15? Saturday 28th February – Endurance Life Northumberland Coastal Marathon
What’s next for Adventure Adam? Sunday 25th Januray – London ‘FUN-RUN’ Series – Olympic Park 10K – Join me, ALL proceeds go to Macmillan! Olympic Park 10K
Thanks for reading and if you would like to contribute to my fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support which is the main reason #15in15 is happening then I thank you even more! You can donate here JustGiving