Following a glorious morning at parkrun we packed the car and headed over to Wales for a short stay. The girls incredibly excited to be visiting Wales, J excited that he was coming too and Little Man just generally excited. Our stay was short and sweet, the reason was for the Conwy half marathon and not wanting a very early start on Sunday morning.
As it happened we had a rather rushed morning. Car parking was beautifully organised and I need not have worried about anywhere to park. We parked with ease, £2 for the day, and made a short walk over to the start area to register for the fun run. It was then onwards to locate breakfast, which I was still drinking hot tea as the fun run began. Never mind always up for a challenge. I pushed Little Man in his pushchair, carried tea in the other hand and ran with my eldest over the bridge and back in to the castle. A nice warm up run before the half marathon started.
Once again a race I got stuck in a rather long toilet queue, which meant the race had started by the time I arrived at the pens so I started from the back with the 3hour predicted times. I quite enjoyed starting here and I eased into the race.
The first mile is over the bridges and out towards Deganwy. A few undulations but nothing too major. The marshal just passed the 1 mile maker rang her bell too enthusiastically and it shot into the runners, always good for a giggle. Continued running, legs felt good, breathing felt good and the two mile marker went passed. The next marshal was dancing to keep herself warm, plenty of crowd support and it felt comfortable. The undulations began to increase as we went past Maesdu Golf club and onwards to Llandudno.
The road to Llandudno was beautiful, simply picturesque. A little hill, followed by a gorgeous down hill to the sea. The sea glistened with the winter sun and it was just stunning. A runner behind me shouted to the crowd, 'It's all flat now, right?' The crowd laughed, a rather evil laugh. The Great Orme was in front of us.
The first part from the pier to the headland wasn't that bad. I had a joke with some other runners who were chanting, 'We are from Yorkshire this is not a hill' all the way up, it gave a good giggle and before I knew it I was turning the corner. It looked pretty flat for a moment, so I regathered my composure and my breath and continued. Mile 6 went passed and I was feeling good, half way done. I knew in my head that there was only 1 mile of hill left, I had checked the route before. I could see a slight incline in front and then it looked flat, well flat ish, as it went around the corner. Yeah right. Round the corner was the most evil little kick I have ever seen. Not one runner was running. Even the 2hr15 pacer in front of me was walking. I focused and went for it. My word my legs burnt. Every part of me burnt. Breathing was difficult and I needed to refuel. I grabbed my sweet from my pocket, walked whilst I unwrapped it and the burning eased off. I pushed onwards to the top. Never have I been so grateful to see the top.
Mile 7 saw the most spectacular views I have ever seen, and I even thought I need to walk back up here with the kids to show them this. People were stopping to take selfies, it was amazing. The top also saw a dedicated jelly baby station and a water station. Much needed jelly baby and then it was onwards to a rewarding downhill.
I wanted to stay at the top and take in the views but instead let gravity take over whilst my legs recovered before pushing down the hill. I didn't see the 8 mile marker, I am assuming it was there. Instead I was far too busy shouting 'weeeeeeeee' in my head all the way down the hill. I looked at the pace on my watch 4.07min/km I almost died, and then continued to run.
The route back was now the same as the out but in reverse. Passing the golf club and onwards to Deganwy. Those little undulations now hurt, but I wasn't stopping. I had 30minutes to get back for a sub 2hr and 4 miles to go. I simply pushed and ran as hard as my legs could go. I was seeking the 2hr pacer, trying to find them in the crowd but couldn't see them. A parkrun I kept saying, and in my head picturing my home parkrun route as I pushed up another hill.
10 mile marker went past, legs beginning to feel a bit tired and I wondered if I had pushed too hard. I wasn't stopping now. I calculated if I continued I would finish at 2hr6secs, a PB, but I wasn't settling for that. I ran harder.
11 miles and I could see the castle. We had driven this road earlier, I had run this way on the out. I was nearly there now. I maintained pace, saving something for the last mile in.
12 miles. Race Angels started appearing. What a great idea, runners who come to support you for that last push home. Loved it. I turned the corner to the bridges and began to push home. They didn't feel this far on the fun run, or on the way out but my word they felt far now. First bridge down, last to go. I wish I had kicked a little sooner, I had misjudged the bend after bridge and the rather fast downhill finish. I saw the clock 2.10.59 and knew I had over 6 minutes to deduct from that. Happy with a new PB. Happy I had pushed at the end to finish within the 2hr6 I had calculated, but still a little disappointed it isn't a sub 2hr. It will come I know it but I really wanted to get there before the year was out.
Would I do it again? In a heart beat. Even with that mega hill in the middle, the views more than made up for it. Running that downhill was phenomenal and it is such a beautiful course. The girls have asked when they can run it again.
After the run we had a walk round Conwy and explored the castle before heading home. A very short but sweet trip to Wales and one I hope to repeat next year!