Giving Russell a lift back to civilisation had it’s pros. One of which was getting to sit on a comfy sofa and catch up with ‘shit on tv’ as we like to call it (because that is what it is). In the most recently aired episode of Game of Thrones, John Snow (no relation to the news reader I don’t think?), and his red-head girlfriend scale the perilous ice wall of The North. After improbably surviving certain death, they reach the summit to look in wonder at the dark, foreboding snow hills of the eternal wintery North. John Snow leads his girl to look over the other side of the wall to the opposite vista, where the black and white gives way to rolling sun-kissed hills of summer. Inspired, the young couple embrace, in their cumbersome outfits of thick furs and skins, to form what looks very much like a single Yeti. End of episode.
Driving back from London to Wales a few days later, I was struck dumb by the how the beautiful day had turned this awesome part of our island into the promised land of summer. The Jain monk interviewed earlier on Radio 4 had outlined how much easier it is to give than to receive. Receiving requires you to be truly humble. I had no problem receiving this day after the winter we’ve had. I hope that my feeling of having humbly earned it is not misplaced. I pulled over in the car and took in the warm sun and the real life epic vista, and felt a sense of euphoria.
But I guess that’s where my Game of Thrones analogy will have to end. The other half of my Yeti is staying in London to compete in the Track racing season. I will be staying in Snowdonia another 2 weeks to serve out notice at my job.
After the Derby 10km I (Russell) only had a week to enjoy the end of my reign over the hills of Snowdonia. Ofcourse the weather just had to be soooo sunny to make me miss the place before I had even left.
When Nina and I set out to start this 6 month adventure, I was really interested to see if the remote, harsh and simple way of life would take me to some new, higher plane of awareness and wonderfulness. Maybe it has, whatevs. I was more interested to see if my running would improve. I adopted a similar winter training schedule in Wales to that which I typically undertake in London, but with the added loading of doing practically all my mileage up and down hills. And also having to absorb the other physical tasks such as carrying shopping, coal, wood and gas up the hill, chopping and sawing wood, digging holes, and living in almost constant exposure to the cold. I can say conclusively that running 100 mile weeks on the hills of Snowdonia and then walking up a big hill every night to a house that is 2°C and has no light switch or hot shower has been an experience which I will never forget.
We have walked over 200 miles up and down the hill to Gelli during this 6 month period, which would total an elevation of 3xEverest. Sometimes it felt easy, most of the time it felt hard. Nearly every time I was carrying something bloody heavy (Record=2x20kg coal bags in rucksack + 14kg gas cannister on shoulder. 54kg Total). Sometimes I would run up (Record=7min 27sec). Sometimes I would have to sit down and rest on the way (Record=4 times. The walk took me 40 minutes and I wasn’t carrying anything). We have walked up in the middle of the night with no headtorches. We have walked up in trainers, wellies or barefoot, through rain, hail and snow. We have walked up it whilst chatting away, either to each other or on mobiles, or not talking at all, too tired or too cross! Once I even threw up before I started the climb. That hill was my nemesis, and my teacher. It broke me and it fixed me. My joints and muscles have never felt so strong and secure, it’s better for the legs than any weight training. But! Is all that extra work going to translate into some amazing running performances now the load is off? Or is there some dormant mental and physical exhaustion that has to come out? I really don’t know the answer, but I’m dying to find out!
I am feeling a mixture of guilt and jealousy over Nina as she remains in Gelli while I am back at home. I feel bad for her cos I know how much harder life is out there, but I also catch myself staring out the windows missing the hills of the Moelwyns. We are still going to be blogging for the next fortnight, and we are hoping to do a great finale post for you all!
And the end might just be the beginning…