Today I failed quite spectacularly - so I guess that makes me Super human. Um, I’m not sure that’s quite right... Failure doesn't have to be all bad. Let's face it, it ain't never gonna be a success but you can learn lessons. In fact you really should learn lessons or else the failure is total. At this stage I'm not quite sure what I should learn from today's flop but I know somewhere in amongst it all there is something to learn - and from it, I will. The other point to note about failure is that it deepens the joy of success - and mark my words, there will be success. I don’t do failure and I ain’t starting now.
Before I get any further I must thank Pat Wooddisse for getting me off to the perfect start, the pace was spot on and Dick Finch, Matt Reid and Mike Wood for being there in my hour of need. It just saddens me I couldn’t hold up my side of the bargain. And thanks ma and pa for getting up in the middle of the night to get us over to the start on time. Right, onto the story...
The forecast, first thing, was still showing a wet start and clearing - it lied. There wasn’t a f*%king hint of any 'clearing' going on. The heavy rain and strong winds were in for the day. And it was cold. Bastard weathermen - and weatherwomen.
We got to the start slightly ahead of time and waited for the weather to clear - it didn't - so we set out anyway. We took things real steady. I didn't intend to gain much on the schedule during the early stages - and, as was written in the prophecy, that held true. We summitted Garreg-Lwyd in 15:10 - 50s ahead of the schedule (16:00) - perfick. Then, following my modifed route to Garreg-Las, which we hit it in 48:48 - a further gain of 72s but to all intents and purposes damn near spot on the schedule and we hardly expanded any energy. Conditions and visibility were still, for want of a more technical term, shit.
Across to Bannau Sir Gaer we gained a little too much but not unwieldy so, six minutes to summit in 41 minutes. Bannau Brycheiniog - I’m not even going to try and pronounce that - was clocked up in 15:42 and a further three minute gain but we were only walking easy on the climb so I reckon the schedule is a little pessimistic. To this point it was all very easy and in reality the gains weren’t great so relatively speaking we were on the schedule give or take (we took).
We lost two minutes across to Fan Hir on account of a jacket change, 11:23. The rain was still pissing down and I upgraded from my lightweight jacket to the full gortex affair - if I get my hands on the bloody weather-people, grrrrrhh.
We lost a further 51s down to the Tawe Valley Road, 20:51 but the schedule is a bit wonky, to which I will amend, because we gained three and a half minutes up the other side to the A4067, 22:28. So Stage 1 was complete in 2hr55:27. A meagre gain of just over fifteen minutes on the schedule but close enough to it that I wasn't concerned we were going too fast. I was, however, concerned by the bloody rain - oh, and the wind. And the cold, yes, definitely the cold. I was aware that I was burning extra calories on generating body heat - I can think of better ways for that - but not with Pat (no disrespect intended Pat). As to the nutrition schedule that was going to plan. I had quenched my thirst by just about my planned amount and eaten the allotted energy gels and the like and I didn’t feel tired at all. Onto Stage 2...
My recce of the ascent to Fan Gihirych had set in my mind to take it very steady - and we did - reaching the summit 99s down on the schedule in 29:39. As we ran off Gihirych, picking the pace a little due to the gentle down slope, not more than a couple of minutes out, disaster struck - 'Pat can you stop, we have an issue', came a little voice, floating across the mountain - that would be me.
Pain crescendoed forth from both sides of my groin - ooh matron. I took the lead and took it steady, hoping the pain would sub-side - it didn’t. As we hit the track I had to stop and stretched a little. Increasing my stride along the track, I hoped to stretch things out. It helped a little but by the time we headed off Fan Nedd (40:14, 14s down) it came back on all the more.
I was hoping to run on the drop from Nedd but I couldn't. It was too painful. The descent was woefully slow going. The climb up the other side was altogether better and gave me a little hope but I still had a terribly feeling in the pit of my stomach - and no, that wasn't just wind. Suffice to say on reaching Fan Llia we'd lost five minutes, 37:04. It was now make or break. Either I could run this thing off or it was all over - I broke.
Five minutes out from Llia my run was over. I knew it. Pat knew it - and so did those god damn weather-people, grrrrrrrh. Being stuck pretty much out in the middle of nowhere we had to make a decision on what to do next - and make the decision quick. With the rain still pounding and the wind still chilling we needed to get off the mountain sharpish. It was either me back to the road and Pat over to the Storey Arms to come back and get me in the car or get over to Storey by the quickest route possible. I didn't want to be stuck down on the road waiting maybe an hour for Pat - a man catch his death of cold - so under Pat's masterful guidance we took a direct route across the void to the Arms.
At this point I could hardly move for the pain in my groin - too much information? Normally I grin and bear it, which to be fair, I did on this occasion as well, but by f*%k it was painful and I couldn't go quicker than a snails pace. Inwardly I was worried by my speed - or lack of it - and I know Pat was. We were getting colder by the minute but at the rate we were going our destination was over an hour away - and that wasn’t a good proposition. We just had to keep going, turning back to option A was no longer viable. On the up side, the Live Location seems to have worked so at least my frozen body could have been located easily - JOKING. I don't do 'not making it back'.
Fortunately, and rather bizzarly, once we hit a section of ascent I was able to move along at normal pace, almost pain free. In fact, not being tired at all, I felt I could actually have run up the gentle climb - but I didn’t as I think Pat would have told me off for being, again without being too technical, a bloody nobber. We made good progress and the increased pace warmed our cockles a little - and they needed warming, well mine did, it was bloody tiny by that stage.
Finally the end came into view - although being in view and getting there quickly were mutually exclusive it seemed. Time seemed to stop or perhaps the distance increase but eventually, now moving, once again, at the painful - on account of heading down - snails pace we were met by Dick, Matt and Mike who helped us off the mountain - or rather more honestly, me, off the mountain - to the relative warmth of Dick’s car. Stripped naked and re-clothed I soon began to warm up but for this day my challenge was over...
PS, thanks also to Matthew Lawson, who was going to run but was required for some strange reason...