Paul’s Blog – Posted 01/02/16 – A runners’ cautionary tale!

With my goals set for the year ahead my training began to temporarily look more focused. After an enjoyable but stiff 10 miler as part of Matt Ward’s Thursday evening Coed y Brenin training run I headed out on Friday afternoon to the pancake flat Mawdach Trail to focus on speed despite the likelihood of serious headwinds which didn’t let me down. A 5K blast into them later it was time to turn round & turn them into a tailwind. In all the first 10K took me 44:29, that’s about 3:08 for a Marathon if I could keep it up, I then eased down with another more relaxed 6K, a lot to think about if 3 Hours for a Marathon is really going to be achievable at some point in the year ahead.

Saturday came & it was time to recce more of the Cafe’s walks which I plan to run in June, it all started so well & yet ended up disastrously.

First up Walk 5, a nice little 8 mile jog over to Crafnant & back despite a biting wind. Mostly it went to plan although deciding to run the steep hill on the way back just to prove to a group of teenagers & their teacher that I could (sure they couldn’t have cared less so why Paul?) wasn’t needed & may have been the first seed of my later travails. Despite this I passed Paul of OVMRO walking the other way soon afterwards with a smile on my face.

Back at the Cafe, time for a quick coffee (should have been an energy drink) & chat to John & Marion for 15 minutes.

Next up Walk 7, a short 2 miler along the banks of the Afon Llugwy, no trouble there then but that cold wind persisted.

Back at the Cafe once again, do I or don’t I want to go out again? Another coffee (why), a Banana, change into dry socks & trainers & a VAT return (yes really) later I was setting off again with an additional buff to keep my neck warm but why didn’t I take that intended bag with energy drink & Gels I’d been planning to?

So to Walk 8, a rather more grueling 11 miler around Geirionnydd & Crafnant with over 2,000′ of ascent. It all started so well, initial steep climb felt easy the jog onto the forest was relaxed but then, what’s that, I feel hungry! First reaction ‘why didn’t I eat two Banana’s instead of one. Second reaction, yes I know I decided not to carry a bag but why didn’t I put two Gels in my jacket pocket like I’d intended to? Third reaction, there’s a long way to go (9 miles to be precise) this is going to hurt! You guessed it I did the only un-sensible thing I could & carried on!

By Geirionnydd my head & my body began to feel separated, this feels a blood sugary type of thing, I’m finding it hard to concentrate, shit! Having run around the lake I decided to ease off, walk the climb over to Crafnant (truth was I didn’t have much choice the condition I was now in) & decide whether to cut the ‘run’ a couple of miles short.

At the top of the climb I was feeling distinctly unwell the dark forest ahead felt like no place to collapse but then a ray of light, a couple sat down having lunch, if I fall down they’ll find me. What of course I should have done was to ask them for some food but of course pride comes before………. That said their re-assuring presence seemed to lift me & my spirits as I ran down the descent to Crafnant & then set off around the lake forsaking the shorter bale out option I’d been thinking off. Whatever I’d been thinking it was clear it made no sense whatsoever but at this stage I’m pretty sure hunger & lack of energy were my only concerns.

Two thirds round the lake I began to tire once again & more rapidly, as two Ultra runners (with bags) came past the other way all I had to do was beg a Gel but I didn’t simply just trundling on to that monster climb that I’d so ‘successfully’ run up early in the day.

There was of course no running it this time, fast walk yes but very un-steady feet, I wanted to stop but all of a sudden I’m getting very cold in that fiercely biting headwind, mind & feet were not communicating, I’m not sure I can run the descent after this god I’m going to get cold if I can’t. At the top I passed a group who’d been in the Cafe earlier doing their nav. exercises guess they thought I looked O.K. but I was anything but, the moorland stretched ahead of me & Capel & the Cafe, both out of sight, felt a long, long way away. Stumbling trots & walks followed as my condition worsened by the minute, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so worried in the Welsh hills (I was less than a 1,000′ up but that was irrelevant, my condition I knew was serious). Hands in pockets having miserably failed in an attempt to pull my jacket hood over my double buffed head I finally reached the penultimate style with it’s view of the Cafe, even then safety looked a long way away & I was seriously doubting whether I could make it.

My recovery in the Cafe was a slow & painful one spent huddled next to the main cooker with it’s door opened, Dorina, Ady & Titi took it in turns to remove damp clothes & replace them with Down Jackets wrapped around various parts of me, two small bowls of Gaby’s Goulash were eeked down my throat by an unsteady spoon but thankfully I had the wherewithal to refuse repeated offers of coffee, at least I remembered how dangerous that can be to a Hypothermic case & that is exactly what I was. I’ve read enough about the symptoms & effects to know that I’d had the early stages of Hypothermia & they were very very un-pleasant. My recovery (today I am left simply with a cold) took more than an hour before I was able to stand up, most of this time I was simply too cold to shiver.

Lessons learned, well yes I hope so, despite being relatively adequately dressed for a Fellrunner what began as a simple failure to take on enough fuel was then added to by my complete failure to take even one correct decision, no bag, no Gels, no retreat, no requests for help……….. Can I pull any positives out of this troubled escapade, well I suppose I did at least keep moving & I did finally reject those later Coffees, but just as importantly I am going to learn from the experience.

I was out again yesterday leading the clubs Sunday Morning Training Run, this time only shortly after a good breakfast & with an extra jacket on & of course in the company of others, a run too far, in this case no in the day’s before, YES!

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