Yesterday I tripped upto Manchester to see Oi Poloi to show them the new Spring/Summer range for 2011.
I had 3 huge bags to show them so it was a driving mission, but this means passing up through North Wales and mountains.
Which also means Cader Idris on the way home. The run is from 300ft to 2854ft and back in 7 miles.
4pm I parked up, hid all my stuff round the car. Put on shorts, shoes and merino, stretched and plodded off to the steps.
The first few hundred feet are steps and stones that need a slow constant warming pace.
By the top of these I am drenched in sweat, breathing to the bottom of my lungs and my legs are burning.
The steps stop, the mountain still climbs on rocks, gravel and grass. The sun is in my eyes, my shades are off as the lenses are already sweat stained. I tap out a constant pace. I pass all the walkers coming off the hill to go home.
I try to thank them for moving aside but my breathing is too hard and I am beginning to descend into that level of concentration you need when pushing beyond.
I reach the lake and decide that today is the day to go right to the top, round and down. But I have bought no water or food.
The climb from the lake really kick. I can run short sections and then others it's marching pushing on my legs. I pass another set of walkers who look at me with questioning faces.
The trail flattens for a short spell and I calm my breathing and concentrate hard on a smooth pace.
I run, march, run, march up and up feeling the onset of dehydration. When I look back this was the toughest bit. I run a sentence through my head over and over asking the next walkers if I can have some of their water. Will I ask, won't I ask? The last people thought I was mad. Who wants to speak to a sweating runner in the wilds.
No one comes along. I see bilberry bushes along the trail that all seem bare. I search harder and find that bushes in the shade of rocks have fruit. I eat every one I find no matter how ripe. 50 berries kick in. Pace rises.
I see the top with a ladder over a fence where I stop and look at the view. 44 minutes. I look down to the lake and rejoice.
I then look along the ridge and see I still have a decent and another climb. A big climb. To higher than where I am.
I am not at the top.
I am super hot, vision is blurred and my hands feel tight and cramp like. And I am not at the top. I am a long way off and this knocks me.
I have a very long steep decent followed by a sharp climb. People are coming down and I can only just see them. Should I continue. Will going on be harder than going back. I can't get this far and not do this. Now or never.
Top off, volume up, wipe face and down the slope. It is really steep and loose and I have trouble slowing down. I am worrying about injury and my ability to get round and I am making mistakes.
I meet the walkers at the bottom of the climb. They all smile and say hi and I cannot bring myself to ask for water. Am I embarrassed about being so far out and so unprepared?
I start the last climb. I can't run, but I maintain my fast march. I look for bilberries but up this high there is nothing but rock. I look for pools of water, but the only ones are peaty.
Then there is the last gully to the trig point. It's looks like a greek mountain. And then I am up.
I spend 10 minutes at the top. Absolute silence. Birds are on the floor resting. No wind. The Irish sea to the fore and North Wales behind. There is a rock shelter.
It all come back. My legs. My breath. My confidence. I have done it and now I just have to get back.
I hear voices and decide to descend.
The fist section is over grass. Steep and fast. Rocks appear. Picking a line has to be fast and acurate.
I then enter back into rocks and gravel and the perfect hip hip mix enters the head phones. I pick up the pace across the rocks despite the gradient feeling like vertical and relax into the tune. I dance down the boulders. The more I relax the faster I can be.
There is nothing right now but the rhythm and my rhythm. I am now flying along and I have shoved the fear of falling away.
I join the path I climbed up on and know it's steps all the way to the car. I pass all the walkers I passed on the climb. I replay the last track and dance the last decent to the car.
On the very last step I stop and whoop.
I am soaked, boiling hot, my knees and ankles are painful, my shoulders and back are stiff but I feel like I won.Further, higher, longer and faster.
And I beat my head.