Paul’s Blog

Despite the seemingly constant rain which has affected us but thankfully not as devastatingly as it has to many, time seems to be flying by & the potential for ‘good’ blogs have come & gone simply washed away by other ‘priorities’ or lack effort. I’ll try to make amends here by briefly highlighting a few things from recent weeks as best as my memory can, apologies for the many things I’ll inevitably miss out.

By any measures the weekend of 1st & 2nd February was a pretty good one to say the least. The Saturday got underway with my third Dolgellau Park Run & I lined up with excited expectation & plenty of ‘admiring’ smiles from many of the women present. I’ll come clean though those smiles had nothing to do with my ageing looks & everything to do with the pinkness of my footwear. A couple of weeks earlier Brian Wills had entered the Café beaming from ear to ear & began to tell me of his new Nike Vaporfly Next % shoes & a 10K pb. My attention was grabbed & soon led to ‘Angel (Dorina not Brian), you’ve got to get me a pair, London Marathon, London….!’

It took longer than hoped but 12 days later my parcel arrived & my eyes beheld my new pink wonder ‘drugs’, speed more important than waiting for the next more manly colour range.

Breakfast before the Park Run was spent listening to the latest news, my ears pricked up as the News Reader announced ‘Nike shoes officially Banned’ only to sigh in relief that it was their Kipchogi version & not my new Vaporfly’s which had in turn been declared legal. 

So I lined up with not a single thought of ‘cheat’ crossing my mind, ‘come on pink boy lets see what you can do?’ The first 500 metres or so were weird, my feet seem to move faster than my legs could follow making a fall seem inevitable. Thankfully I came to terms with it & before long began to relax & close the gap on the guy in 2nd place taking him just before the halfway turn around point only then to turn round & see the rather attractive ‘Birthday Girl’ (sorry can’t remember your name & it might have been your birthday but you are not having my Nike’s) closing in on me. It was a no contest, she eased past me but I finished still bouncing with joy in a respectable 3rd place.

The main story though is that I smashed my pb from the week before by 1 minute 15 seconds to record 20:21 & at least a minute of that was simply down to the shoes. Maths began circling my brain, Marathon – that means 10 minutes potentially to be saved, with a lot of hard work & looking after my footwear is my sub 3 hour dream of 2016 about to come real? Cheat or no cheat I simply don’t care it just feels very, very exciting.

Later that day Paul Tierney arrived at the Café & soon joined me in leading an Inov 8 test run around Capel with 15 other enthusiastic runners. This was followed by our hosting the North Wales premiere of the film documenting his record breaking run over the 214 Wainwright’s in just 6 Days & 6 Hours. Toughness, true grit & humility are only a few ways to sum up how Paul came across both on film & in person & I have to admit despite me showing him my Nike’s I don’t see him buying them any time soon, a real runner indeed, simply amazing achievement & very motivational. Also of note was how the Fellrunning community came out to support & cheer Paul as his week progressed, a true community to be prod of.

Sunday 2nd February dawned & soon tried to outdo the Saturday. In bad weather I joined the Eryri Sunday Morning Run led by Tamsin Fretwell. We were a small group of one bloke, five women & 4 children. Soon one mum & son split off for a smaller loop whilst those who remained began to climb into the gloom. Not long after this initial hard climb Tamsin asked if I wouldn’t mind leading the way (in truth her plan was to run a similar route to one I had led some years ago so it was a sensible delegation despite a mild castigation she meted out for me finding an extra hill). The rest of the run saw Jenny Hemming & I ‘testing’ each other & then waiting in the ever improving weather for the others to catch us. What had started as ‘do I really want to go out in that’ had trned into ‘what a lovely run, I’m so glad I did it’.

Back in the Café where prior to the run Dorina had said the unusual words ‘yesterday Jed (from OVMRO) had asked her ‘will Paul be in the Café tomorrow between twelve & two?” I was soon showered & joining John & Marion for lunch. Suitably refuelled a massive & very pleasant surprise began to un-furl.

It began (J & M were in on this) with numerous (lets say a dozen) OVMRO guys arriving in the car park & making a beeline for our counter all immaculately dressed in their Mountain Rescue kit (uniform). They all smiled at me & said hello (even some whose name I am too old to remember), a bit odd I thought, did I even sense a hint of a smirk or three?

Orders promptly placed Jed & a few others exchanged conversations with us before taking their leave to tables in the middle of the Café. Soon Simona was supplying them with their pre-meal drinks & then as she returned to the Café counter said to me ‘the Ogwen guys want your attention’. I stood up & began a meek shuffle towards them only to be met with ‘sit down Paul we are coming over to you’. Now here I must digress so bear with me:-

Earlier whilst out on the run Jenny & I had stopped at the top of the steepest & longest hill to wait for the others. Our resting place was only 10 metres away from two female runners who had just stopped to study their map. Thinking they might be trying to follow one of our Café routes I said ‘can I help you?’ Being ladies (i.e. generally more willing to admit when needs must) they said yes & I soon explained, down there, 1K, then left….. they were indeed on one of ‘our’ routes & were soon running into the distance. Moments later two male walkers came into view stopped to study a map (a little beyond our helping range) & I turned to Jenny & muttered ‘Deja vu’ before turning around & calling ‘can I help’. They found their feminine sides & caved into the inevitable, showed me there map ‘we want this path’ ‘yes it’s the one that goes down there’ I replied & they walked on. I mention all of this because as the Ogwen guys made their approach sat on the table next to mine was one of the female runners I’d given route advice to (she had thanked me before taking her seat), so of course my protective retort to the Oggie boys’ ‘you sit down Paul WE ARE COMING TO YOU!!’ was a whimpering ‘well I didn’t get the ladies lost but I’m not sure about the two guys’ some quick witted retort came back ‘yes it’s them we want to talk to you about’.

By now the dozen or so menacing Mountain Rescuers had encircled our table I re-stood in self defence as Andy Harbach came to the fore & then proceeded to take my breath away. Andy delivered a short speech & we were soon shaking hands & being photographed as he presented me with a plaque thanking the Café for all the support we have given them over the years. Dorina was ordered to join me for photo’s, handshakes & kisses all round (yes, yes Dorina did the kissing), what a wonderful & un-expected surprise. Amongst all of this I did manage to splutter something like ‘support you, well what else would we do?’ In truth in front of a packed Café it was a very special moment for us so let me repay them again by spelling it out, for all the great work you do Mr. & Mrs. OVMRO, SUPPORT YOU, WELL WHAT ELSE WOULD WE DO! Thank you for the plaque, it was erected prominently before the day was out, it means an awful lot to us.

When starting this blog I intended to catch up on other more recent things but it’s clear to me that the weekend above needs to stand alone & by itself, to all involved in helping to give me such a wonderful weekend I apologise for not going to print earlier. It was indeed a very exciting calm before the storms.

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