“Voted in the top 5 most scenic Half Marathons in the UK by Readers of Runners World, This GREAT Half Marathon now in its 14th year is a classic race on the calendar. Has a start & finish near the quayside in front of the 700+ year old Conwy Castle.”
I last did the Conwy Half Marathon in 2019 before the world went to pot! The weather was much more pleasant this year. I’ll be honest and on Saturday I replayed the wind and rain from 2019 in my head and decided three times to not go on Sunday… and three times I convinced myself to go. I’m honestly not a fair weather runner, I just know half marathons are a challenge for me. If I run them alone I tend to be ok, but every HM race I’ve entered I’ve suffered in the later stages whereas running the distance alone for training I’ve always been fine. Maybe it’s the pressure or added effort, or probably when in race mode I neglect taking onboard nutrition!
Anyway, turned up and it was sunny but brisk, I ended up being bullied into taking off my coat and baselayer, and shivered in my vest along the bridge at Conwy Castle. The race started further up this year for unknown reasons, I positioned myself by the 2:20 pacer… I was expecting to be closer to the 2:30 pacer but I couldn’t see him and figured I would at some point so not to worry about it. I won’t lie, I find the start a bit of a slog through Deganwy, but I was brightened up by a marshall shouting “Go on Ashley’s Mum!”, it turned out to be my daughters teacher at Ysgol Bryn Collen last year, Miss Cartmill! I had a brief exchange with her and knuckled down to the job at hand.
The nice thing about running races over triathlon was I had my headphones on. Bone conducting headphones are allowed in most running races whereas in triathlon no headphones are allowed. In truth I saw many runners with buds and nobody said anything, but I like the bone conducting ones, you can still have a good ear for your surroundings whereas my buds silence all outside noise. There’s nothing better than some good tunes to keep you focused and going when things get tough!
Getting into Llandudno, the hills began to slip in and I threw an ice cold bottle of water over me at the aid station, it felt so good and I was glad I had left the baselayer at the start! The 2:20 pacer disappeared up the Great Orme when we reached it. I had expected him to, he was holding a pretty solid pace and I knew that hill would slow me down. Last time I did Conwy my plan was to walk the Orme as soon as my calfs began to burn and this time was no exception. It can be more energy efficient to walk rather than run if the incline is really steep. However my calfs didn’t burn, so I kept going. It was only towards the top and my hip flexors were burning and my extensors didn’t want to work anymore, which is when I saw the 2:30 pacer pass me. I kept going, determined not to let him out my sight and get past him on the downhill, then he ran to the side of the cliff and relieved himself. I laughed but then wondered where that had left me with my pacing, had he hurried up to get his toilet break, or was he planning on picking up the pace after?
I planned to not see him again anyway, and the plan worked. Coming down the Orme I noticed my left shoe had worked a little loose, I debated tightening it (Salomon quicklaces) but didn’t dare stop to bend down! Another lady was retying her shoe lace a few minutes later and I didn’t envy her at all! I carried on, and when I saw the 11 mile marker I picked up the pace… before realising there was no way of sustaining that additional effort so I backed off and had a giggle to myself. My music stopped working, it kept restarting the same song and I couldn’t work out why, so the final mile was hard going and I’d crashed. I saw Miss Cartmill and without saying a word I grabbed my phone and took a picture of us both to show Ashley when I got home. I’d gone into a bit of a run/walk, mostly run, but getting running again after that little walk would be horrendous.
I ran the whole bloody Orme, something I hadn’t intended to do at all. I had ran pretty much the whole race and only suffered that final mile (and the hour afterwards)! And I had got the sub 2:30 I knew I was capable of but never seemed to deliver… and in fairness all my long run training had been messing up with ZRL taking over, so I wasn’t as trained as I should have been, and I got lazy with the nutrition so will learn to eat properly when running for the next one which will be the final Village Bakery Half Marathon in Wrexham in February! Thank you for reading 🙂