You win some, you lose some-dealing with disappointment

Mynydd Moel from Coed y Foel near Brithdir
Mynydd Moel from Coed y Foel near Brithdir

I’m trying to stay positive, I’d had in my head a whole load of subjects to blog about, but today’s run went not quite to plan. That’s left me trying to juggle a positive.

This weekend I wanted to average a marathon a day. I wanted to prove to myself that back to back marathons were in my grasp. All part of building the mental game up for Marathon des Sable.

Saturday started well. Out the door at 0530, run down to Barmouth, over the wooden railway bridge, up to Cregennan, up high above the A470 to Cross Foxes, down to Brithdir and then back home, 42.7 km in a shade under 4 hours. Cold to start, but a stunningly bright day being beautiful to run in. A nice day with the family and a great BBQ with friends up in Coed y Brenin – I made the most of having some calories to consume.

Sunday, out the door at 0600. A run out the Wnion valley, then back round the ride of Rhobell Fawr, through Llanfachreth and back home down the Mawddach valley. 33.4 km feeling pretty strong. Get home, do jobs, cut the grass, chill out with tired kids. All really good stuff.

This morning, I planned to run 58 km. Bed early, alarm on for 0415. Up and out the door at 0445. Tired legs, slightly heavier pack, but everything ran off well as I headed up the Tabor road out of Dolgellau. Everything feeling loose and comfortable as I ran down the Tal y Llyn pass as the light improved. Into the Dysynni valley, starting to feel like I was going to smash the long run before the weather broke. Just near the junction with Llanfihangell y Pennant a really sharp twinge in my calf slowed me. A quick stretch, then walked on it as I drink and eat. A light run and the niggle is still there. That’s it. No point in pushing. I want to run Trail Marathon Wales in 4 weekends. I tap out a text message, tuck the phone away, knowing that the message will go somewhere down near Bird Rock-no signal here.

I complete 27.5 km by the time the Pyjama Pant Patrol arrive-it’s early and everyone is in PJ’s. Katie asking me whether I’ve hurt my head. I suppose Buff’s look like bandages to a three year old.

The positive, 100+ km run in three days. Enough to slide me up the May Massive on Strava, would have been in the top ten (out of 2400) in UK had I finished today run. But the damage is in my head mainly.

My calf is fine, it’s a minor strain. I had really wanted to change my belief of being able to back to back marathons into knowledge. A really, really powerful talisman to have. But instead, I’ve grown a bit of doubt. Not lots, but enough that I’m going to have to work actively to take to pieces.

I know the long run is fine, but that is not the challenge for me in a stage race like Marathon des Sable. “It’s not a race… it’s a war!” The YouTube clip beneath is a good example of what I’m looking to do. I want to be in great mental condition to win the war.

I’ve a number of blog subjects I want to cover – Cancer, Awareness of the work of Myfanwy Melanoma Research Trust, sponsorship and loads of other random things. My goal was achievable, and it’s gutting to miss it through minor injury. But it’s one small goal in a much bigger picture. The other subjects going to have to wait for me to just find the belief again. It’s just round the corner, but it’s a really annoying corner to have to go round!

Where did the time go?

My last blog was April 28th. Time seemed to do a Stephen Hawking stretchy, shrinky disappearing thing.

So, I meant to do a quick update on two things:

  1. Snowdonia Half, I finished 34th. I’m really pleased with that. Nice to know that I can run shorter distances at a reasonable pace. Also the sense of achievement has been a really good motivator for me.
  2. 2013 miles in 2013 April mileage got me another 382km, so switching into miles, at the end of April I’ve logged 930 miles. This puts me 259 miles ahead of schedule.

The May Massive on Strava started well, but I lost 4 days round the Tryweryn Festival so have slipped out of the top runners for mileage. I hope I’ll get that back a little way at least.

I heard that I didn’t make it into the TORQ Trail Team. Yes, I’m disappointed, but at least it means I’m in the UK for Trail Marathon Wales. So properly bittersweet. Running in Chamonix would have been brilliant, but I really like running in Coed y Brenin too.

GoPro on Go Pole for trail running
GoPro on Go Pole for trail running

I’d been hoping to get out and shoot some more footage in Coed y Brenin, play with some new angles and generally have another go of making a shorter, snappier video of trail running in the forest. 

I’d been playing around with a pole for the GoPro for a while and thought I might be able to get some interesting angles with it. It seems weird to set the camera up, upside down, but the results are pretty reasonable. I don’t think I can do away with a tripod completely, it’s a quick substitute  but there is some camera movement I don’t like. The best set up I can get is like this.

I was lucky enough to be joined by Arfon Hughes and Alex Lanz from Meirionnydd Running Club. This was great as it meant that I could slog round behind the guys, and get the footage rather than running twice as far, setting, filming, and then collecting the gear.

Arfon running in Coed y Brenin
Arfon running in Coed y Brenin

Both Alex and Arfon had been racing the day before. Alex had collected two medals, one Silver and one Gold and when we were filming he wasn’t quite sure what they were for. Turns out that one of them was where he had just won the title of Welsh Junior Trail Running Champion (U20). Alex has a really inspirational personality and his running style is effortless. It was a real pleasure to spend some time running with these guys, and a real honour to spend some time with an athlete who will no doubt collect more and more metalware as his running progresses.

Arfon is clearly passionate about the environment and his running. There is a lot of work that he puts into the running club, and as he also Wardens a big area of the Berwyn for Natural Resources Wales, he knows his onions (amongst other things) about the flora and fauna in the area.

So the video is beneath, it is shorter than the one I made before, I definitely want to get out onto some open trails in sunshine as I think the footage would be spectacular. I won’t leave the next update so long next time!

Trail Running in Coed y Brenin from Ashley Charlwood on Vimeo.