Well didn’t I surprise myself yesterday. Having been struggling with motivation to get out and run lately, I managed a pretty long road run in windy and gloomy conditions; a real achievement for me at the moment.
This time of year in the UK (Autumn) it can get very miserable as far as the weather is concerned and if you’re lucky enough to live in the mountainous western part of the country, in my case North West Wales on the edge of Snowdonia, you are at the full mercy of all the encroaching weather systems being dragged in on the jetstream, predominantly from the south west; wet, mild and windy!
Naturally this can have a bit of an effect on motivation and coupled with my chronic depression, this is zero help. Those of you that may suffer with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) may understand something of what I mean. You look out the window and it’s another, grimy and gloomy day.
But then you say sod it. You love running so you get your gear on and lace up and steel yourself to get out the door because as soon as you get going, you know you’ll start to feel better. Plus you forced yourself out the door in crappy weather whilst others may be sat on their butts staring at the TV where the only exercise they’ll get is lifting the remote.
So give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
But I digress.
The route I ran yesterday was pretty lumpy with around 615 metres of ascent in 30 KM or 18.7 miles for those imperial folks out there. Unfortunately, any direction I head involves an uphill and the first one starts within the first 1.5 KM and looks something like this:
All roads lead to Mynydd, said nobody ever. I think it was Rome actually. There are about four choices of hill for me heading up to the village of Mynydd Llandegai and believe it or not, this is not the steepest. There’s no point complaining though; it’s a hill, get over it! 😉
Incidentally, all images have been processed in monotone due to the weather conditions; grey skies and flat light.
After this little hill pushed my heart rate up the route climbs gradually up to around 350 metres where I would be hit with the weather, but at least the views over the moor are always fantastic; even in dull conditions, North Wales still looks amazing:
At least most of the climbing was over for now and it was reasonably level, so I could get my rhythm back. On a long run I tend to run at a very steady pace, no more then say 5:40/km occasionally up to 5:00/km if I’m feeling ok. I was pretty much on the highest point on the run in the above image, as this road winds its way around the contours of the land in the most convenient way possible. Also, our roads, due to their nature are mercifully devoid of traffic; I think two vehicles passed me on this section of road. I drive over it myself if I want a change of scenery instead of driving the quicker, busier route home (it cuts over the ‘tops’ from one valley to another).
From here it was just a case of following the highest road that brings me out in the village of Dinorwic, where I would turn left to enjoy a long but steady downhill through Fachwen (pronounced vack-wen) to Brynrefail and the bridge at Pen Llyn. It was nice to pass the only other runner I saw on her way up Fachwen as she gave me a cheery smile. There are some lovely views that open out to your left as you descend this road:
I never bothered with a picture from Pen Llyn simply because although normally it’s a beautiful view and possibly the most photographed place in Wales, today the weather came in and all but obliterated everything. So I just carried on, still feeling nice and fresh. Terrain from here was generally rolling with a couple of steep ramps to contend with; thankfully I know every single road on the route so there’s no nasty surprises!
Another viewpoint I love looks south back towards the mountains, only spoilt by the presence of pylons, as I head east:
Still quite a way to go yet from the above viewpoint and I know also what is to come. At mile 13, I climb up steeply through the village of Rhiwlas to the hill of Moel y Ci (‘Hill of the Dog’). And trust me, it’s a dog to climb too (like, the bitch variety). Firstly on a tarmac road where I’m kissing my knees in places until it reaches a little house on the side of the hill, which has a fantastic view, where I double back onto a wet trail that takes me further uphill along a drystone wall. This, unfortunately at the half-marathon mark; bit of an arse really but it’s all character building stuff said only me ever. It is also the steepest road on the entire route taking me up to around 360 metres, but with a superb view.
From here I decided not to join the main track that directs me back to the road, instead I wanted to follow a fun bit of singletrack that takes me through heather and bilberry, downhill to the road that I came up on so many miles ago. I’ve bounced down this path many a time when running up and around Moel y Ci:
I was kind of glad to rejoin the road after the rough ground up the hill; luckily my long-distance road shoes are hybrids so they do okay off-road too (Skechers Ultra 2). I was also still feeling really good, even after the hard climb. So I ran down the road thinking of alternating the route home, which, like the glutton for punishment I am, involved more uphill. Why can I never just take the easy way home? Pfft, where’s the fun in that!?
I’d only planned on running 15 miles today, but wanted to take it up to 30 KM; as otherwise I would annoyingly get home with around 2 KM left to make it up. I was having none of that! Even if I was hanging out my ass I still would have taken the harder option to round up the distance. 25 KM is ok, but 28? No chance. 😀
So I honked my way up the last couple of hills, said hello to a mate in his car, and continued to run around the back of my village to make up the mileage. I’m going to have to make up a new word since I ‘converted’ to the religion of metric; how about ‘kilometre-eage’? But then surely I’d have to Americanise (or should that be Americanize?) to ‘kilometer’ for the word to look ok. I’ll stop now.
I reached my front door after a self-fist-pump upon hearing the Strava lady announce 30KM, whilst nobody was looking.
What an awesome run and I felt great to boot. Don’t ya just love those runs? And as I look out the window now at the biblical wind and rain lashing down on us (again), I’m feeling very glad to have pushed myself to get out yesterday and for running quite a bit further than planned. And to celebrate drily, here’s a picture of me in glorious technicolour with stats as well! :
I’m so good to you people.
Now, get your butt off the sofa and go run. And if you live somewhere sunny and warm, you’ve defnitely no excuse 😉
Ciao for now.