Shabba adventures often start this way.
Ian "2015 is about the experiences. No more PB hunting. But I want one last crack at a sub 90 half marathon this year"
Sarah "Where are you looking at?"
Ian "Would it be Mad to drive 3 hours to Conwy?"
Sarah "No - and that sounds awesome!"
Ian "It looks amazing - watch the videos on the website"
Paul "I'm in!"
Sarah "Me too!"
Ian "Let's do it!"
Sarah "I'll make jaffa cakes!"
And all of a sudden we have a Shabba road trip.
So at 5.30am on Sunday 23rd November Sarah left the house, to meet Paul, and along the way, pick up Ian to travel to North Wales to run the Conwy Half Marathon. Here's their day in their own words....
So the point of me entering this race was to have one last crack for 2014 at a sub 90 min half marathon. I had a good run at the Chester marathon and I really wanted my training and running to kick on from there (3h18m if you’re interested). So me and fellow Shabbas Rossy and SJT entered one Saturday night whilst a bit tipsy.
BUT that didn’t happen, injury struck. It was my first injury in my 2 years of running and it hurt like hell. I had pulled my medial glute falling over the kitten 2 days after Chester (Arse – literally). I managed to get a few 8 mile runs in during the week before, but I was doing this race, it would be steady and it would be with great friends.
We had decided on a road trip and to all travel together, we all had an important role to play in the build up
Rossy – Driver/navigation
SJT – Baker/chatterbox
NM – Sweet provider/witty comments
The journey up was full of chat and sweet eating, and we were in Conwy in plenty of time. Much eating of cake and posting of photos ensued as the excitement at the route and the run reached fever pitch between us. There was much eeeekkkkkkking.
There were the usual pre-race formalities (pee and bag drop) and the obligatory pre-race team pic, which SJT very nearly asked the race starter and local major to take (much laughing ensued at this), and off to the start line we went. Me and Rossy had decided to run together at about 7:20- 7:30mm pace, so we left SJT at her race marker and we went further near the front.
We were tightly packed in which I didn’t mind to be honest, it was the warmest I had been since arriving in ‘sunny’ Wales. And we were off…..
I was very conscious of pace early on, I was scared of feeling the injury again as I had only had 1 truly pain free run in the build-up. I say I was conscious the pace was around the 7:10mm mark, steady my arse.
Up to mile 4 we knew was flat and easy and we pressed along at a decent pace, my conversation wasn’t the greatest as breathing was my first priority, but the views and local support made it a great first 4 miles. At this point we hit a hard left and there it was, what I thought was the huge hill we had to run up (my arse it was). We got up this one without losing too much pace, but the views, oh wow the views, steep cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. The air at this point smelt fantastic, when you run and train on busy A roads being in this environment feels so special. We rounded a few corners as the road levelled out a bit, then up we went again. The hill went on and on and on, you could see it snaking up the cliffs in front.
It was at this point that I could hardly breathe and had stopped looking at my pace, Rossy was 10 yards in front looking frankly bored, this guy has got some serious fitness. He waited for me at the top and shouted at me to pick my knees and pace up now it had levelled. I tried to up the pace but over the next mile and a half I didn’t need to try, it was like falling off the end of the earth. One seriously long downhill, I looked at my watch again and it was 6:20mm, at mile 9 for gods sake.
One of my big worries was dying at mile 11 due to lack of any long runs during training, but this wasn’t happening. At this point Rossy took off to give his shins a good test, he had been a great pacemaker up that huge hill. I managed to maintain the pace for the last 2 miles and crossed the line in 1h35:30. I was over the moon with that, anything sub 1h40 was my goal and I had smashed that. Big congratulatory man hugs were had with Rossy who had put in 2 blistering 6:22mm at the end.
We were then off to get hoodies from bags and to grab a drink and then off back down the course to find SJT, we had promised her a guard of honour and she was gonna get one. Now as we jogged down the road we discussed how hard the course was and how tough SJT may have found that hill, we were thinking she would be a while yet after the energy sapping climb.
Oh yeah well we were wrong, striding round the corner purple boosts a blur was SJT. Some cheering from me and Rossy and we joined her on the road. At this point I looked at my watch and was calculating times from the gun, and bloody hell was she on for a huge pb. I did mention this and was told to shut up ‘I’m focussed’ haha. The run back across the bridge with the three of us was special, the atmosphere, the 13 pain free miles from the casualty dept (me and Rossy) and the huge pb SJT was running. She wiped 5 mins off her old pb on a course that was a toughie.
We milled around at the finish soaking up the atmosphere and talking about the course, I don’t think any of us really wanted to leave the finish area or Wales. We had a moment of fame recording a bit for the race video, though none of us could remember the lines we asked to say…..I blame the emotion.
We headed back for more cake and a journey home filled with sweets and constant chatter. A fantastic day, thank you both for allowing me to be a part of it.
When we all talked about entering Conwy half I was knackered with the shin splints, so when Ian and Sarah had entered one drunken night I only had one mission "get half fit to do this race" and join them. Four weeks later and I was in half decent shape to do this, pain free.
A 6 am road trip to Wales in two and half hours with Sarah and Ian eating sweets singing Barry Manilow songs (I was joking about the Barry Manilow songs!). Everyone was in good spirit and looking forward to tackling this Great Orme.
Here we go first 3 mile very straightforward then the Orme was in sight. This was gonna be a hard few mile but the sights were amazing so the pain from the lungs bursting wasn't that bad. At the top finally, we was heading down and down it was for a mile and half "fast and furious" .
11 mile and I was feeling pretty fresh so I looked back to check Ian was OK then I went for it, just to see how much I could give for the last two miles. I was very surprised to clock up 2 x 6.22 minute miles finishing the race in 1.33.44 (anything under 1.40 would have been happy with).
Ian came in just behind me. We collected our medals and headed back for Sarah. To our amazement we saw her a lot quicker than we thought so we hooked up and ran the last 0.75 of the mile home. Job done and a massive PB for Sarah on a hard course.
This is by far the hardest half marathon I have done but the best. Sometimes it's not about times and flat races, it's all about the people you are with and the great running environment and I'll pick people and environment any day.
Conwy half is my most favourite half marathon because of these two things. Definitely on my list for 2015 and with some luck sub 90 (if fit).
Thank you Ian and Sarah for a brilliant day.
When it comes to races I've become a bit of an addict. From running my first ever non-stop 5k on 23rd November 2013, I was about to run my third half marathon 12 months on. And the chance to do it in the company of Paul and Ian, who (among the fabulous Shabba family) have become incredible friends was a chance not to miss - never mind the fact that I'm known as a bit of a freak for liking hills - and the Great Orme would be a hill to make or break me!
As is becoming a bit of a tradition, I baked some supplies - banana bread and jaffa cakes, and fuelled up on my ham sandwich for breakfast, and set off for Captain Rossy's for our road trip.
5 weeks previously, I'd run the Great Birmingham Half Marathon and taken 12 minutes of my time for Shrewsbury Half, going from 2:33 to 2:21 - but I'd not enjoyed the race despite this due to some issues at work, so this was all about enjoying the day - not time. All I wanted was to finish under 2:30 and to run with a smile.
We picked Ian up, who had brought the supplies of sweets, including Cola Cubes, Cough Candy Twists, Pear Drops and Blackcurrant and Liquorice and we chattered and laughed all the way through the rain till we reached Conwy.
We took some pictures - and yes, I almost asked the Mayor to take our photo - somehow I missed the massive chain of office round her neck - I'm not very observant! Glad I provided amusement for the boys though!
The route was incredible, there was a moment about 4 miles where you emerge from a street to be greeted by a view of pure blue sea and Llandudno opens up around you. It's breathtaking. and then you turn left and at mile 5, the Great Orme begins.
Up you go. In front of you, you can see a corner, and a stream of hi-vis t-shirts heading for it. You turn the corner, there's a short down hill, and then you are going up and up and up. To another corner. And you're still going up. Just as we were halfway up, the Sea Rescue helicopter took off right in front of us - which just added another layer of drama to a jaw dropping view. I loved the climb. I had one 30 second walk (and yes, I timed it!) when I lost my rhythm but otherwise I ran the whole thing. The race photographer was strategically placed half way up to get pictures of pain. Mine is a massive grin and thumbs up!
You get to the drinks station at the 'top' by the lighthouse and the marshals were cheering saying 'you're at the top! well done!'
They lied. There's another short uphill, then it's down hill. The temptation to just let fly is strong, but you still have a 10k to go. I found myself the whole way round humming the same 4 bars of a song to keep my leg turnover steady. It took me till mile 10 to work out that it was 'Going Underground'!
Around mile 12 I started looking for Ian and Paul as they'd said they would come and run the last stretch with me. No sign. Where were they?
With 0.75 miles to go I spotted them walking my way, Ian faffing on his phone and Paul chatting away. Clearly they hadn't expected to see me - I nearly yelled 'Pay Attention!' - but I didn't have the breath for it. I was so glad to see them, knowing they were at my side for that last stretch. I felt myself relax, and find a new stride. Paul asked me what my watch had me at. I muttered 2:11 - and noticed them look at each other - I didn't really click that I was on for a PB until we got to the 400m to go sign and Paul asked me what my 400m sprint time was. I vaguely remember saying not a clue and making a crack about 'someone's marathon training plan banning me from intervals'. But at the same time realised I was going to PB!
The boys left me for the sprint finish - and yes I did sprint - as my horrendous effort face finish picture shows.
I finished in 2:16:56 - 5 minutes faster than Birmingham. And more importantly I LOVED every moment of the race.
The location, the company and just running because I can. What a way to celebrate my first year as a runner and my last race of the year. Ian and Paul - thank you for making a great race a fantastic race.