Slow Sprint and Steady Plod
On Friday we went over to Llanberis for the Slateman Sprint. The journey was very slow with big queues of traffic and no chances to overtake. We arrived at Glyn Afon which had changed hands since last year. Initially worried as the young man took us through the kitchen where there was a huge mess of unwashed crockery, dog food etc. However, tea and an excellent piece of bread pudding allayed some of our fears. A snooze and then along to Pete’s Eats for macaroni cheese and chips. Although I was slightly disappointed that it did not come in a pint cup the quality was very good and the Welsh cider very palatable.
On Saturday morning I was the first to put my bike into the transition area and there was the usual Alway Aim High quality of organisation. I then went back to the guest house for breakfast but had a bit of a wobble over the late running breakfast and nearly withdrew from the event. Thanks to Sue for her reassurance and support. Although I often think I am over the main impact of my mental difficulties they are always there lurking and ready to pounce. “The Black Dog” still dwells within.
So I made it to the start and got into Lyn Padarn. It was cold but not as cold as it has been in the past when they have even shortened the swim. I made my way to the left hand buoy so that my natural “drift” to the right would take me to the first marker. I had decided to swim front crawl as it was only a 400m swim. The countdown came and I started. After what I thought was about 200 strokes I looked up to find that I had been swimming remarkably straight and the marker was still to my right. Decided to change to breast-stroke so that at least I could see where I was going! I was worried it would make my knee worse but this did not happen and I mixed strokes to emerge at the end of the swim. Press Lap button on Forerunner! 10mins 20sec - all ok so far.
Problem number 1. I reached behind as i was jogging to pull down my wet suit string. Couldn't find it. Frantic scrabbling and had to slow to a walk. Eventually released it as I got to the bike. Then couldn’t get the wetsuit off. Finally after what seemed to be an age I got the leg of the wet-suit over the timing chip. I remembered to put my cycling top on before I put my helmet on. Pushed the bike towards the mount line while remembering to switch on my bike computer. Got onto the bike and avoided the girl in front who wobbled into my line. Then off up the road to Pen Y Pass with a sneaking suspicion that I had forgotten something??
I realised very early on that only 50 miles cycling this year (mainly on a trainer) was not the best preparation for this infamous climb. I spent the next 35 minutes looking at people’s names as they went past me and struggling to overtake people taking advantage of the closed road and walking up to the start of the Snowdon trails. A couple of times I considered walking but managed to drive myself past the cafe and car park. An all too brief descent to XXX and then started back up again. The view going up was spectacular as i saw groups below me on the footpaths beginning their climb.
Last year it literally poured with rain on the descent and I had to take it very steady. This year I was able to take advantage of great conditions and even overtook a couple of those who had gone past me on the way up. One advantage of carrying extra weight! As can be seen on Strava I achieved a couple of personal best times on some of the segments before the final slight uphill before the village. Off the bike before the transition area and stopped the bike computer and pressed the lap on my Forerunner.
Transition 2 was a bit quicker as I had put my socks on before embarking on the bike leg and then I was off on the run.
Remembered to press the lap button on the Forerunner. Sue encouraged me as I ran(??) past and I was on my way. Last year with over 400 miles of running and the London marathon in my legs I managed to run all the road up to the start of the steep footpath. This year I was walking within 1/4 mile. As I climbed I checked my progress. Oh bugger! According to the Forerunner i was now in transition 2. That’s what I had forgotten - to press lap as i started the bike leg and now I had a T1 of over an hour and a very short bike leg!! Much swearing and frantic pressing of buttons!. Finally ended that activity and started recording the run properly. A classic case of “all the gear, no idea”!
By this stage I was labouring up the very steep path through the woods making way to allow thinner faster people to pass me. Lots of heavy breathing. Then reached the top and could begin to jog down. I had a good chat with a young man from St Asaph while walking the steep bit up to the drinks station and then jogged most of the downhill to the river crossing. Heavy breathing and plodding on the climb through the woods and then jog/walk past the old hospital and down the road before seeing the finish in sight. One of the great things about Always Aim High events is that they put your name on your number and it is always moving to hear complete strangers shouting encouragement. Crossed the finish line in 2:20(ish). I was so pleased to have done the event on very very little training and not to have had great difficulties with my knee(s).
I did my first Slateman in 2012 and every year since then I have been awarded a small “coaster” of slate with the name of the event. I had only persisted in doing the event this year so that I could maintain the sequence on the study window sill. So they gave me a medal!! A very nice medal but not a slate!! I need not have bothered.
Despite this I was very pleased and almost envious that I was not going to take part in the main event on the Sunday. Off to Pete’s Eats for more macaroni cheese and cider before heading home, a bit achy and tired but quite happy.
Later that evening I checked my times etc on the TDL site and uploaded to Strava. I was 15 minutes slower than last year - 5 mins on the bike and 10 mins on the run. I had however set a new bike power threshold which means I shall now have to work harder for the rest of the year!
I was last of the 60+ men on the day although not last overall. Had I taken part on the Sunday I would have repeated my achievement of last year in being first (and only) in my age group. A target for 2019 and something to think about when tempted with cider and crisps.
After a rest and a little bit of gardening on Sunday I did my longest walk to date on Monday. I made a time-lapse of the early part of the walk before my battery ran out.
I walked all the way and only two remarkable things happened.
I was attacked(?) by a herd of very interested and insistent cows in a filed between Pontesbury and Longden. I got really worried as they kept getting very close and the only way I could keep them away was to bang my Nordic poles together - at least until I hit one so hard it broke!! I managed eventually to escape.
The second remarkable thing was that on Sunday I had planned a route using Viewranger on the computer and transferred it to my GPS (not the easiest process but I did it). But on Monday, for the first time Was able to use the GPS to navigate between waypoints. Finally after many years I am slightly less all the gear, no idea!!
The walk from home to Bannatynes was 19.2 miles and I did it in just over 6 hours so happy with this too,
We are away at the weekend to North Yorkshire where I hope to walk with John Jones and the Reluctant Ramblers as well as a concert so I should be able to update on Wednesday of next week,