Ah spring time! The sun has started showing it's face around Snowdonia once again. The hills are getting greener, and the days are getting longer. It is my favourite time of year, especially to get out running. I do like training in winter-it's quite refreshing running in the wind and rain-but I soon get tired of soggy trainers and frozen cheeks.
Spring time changes everything for me, my energy is high again after resting at a very low level all winter. My mood is lifted and I start to get motivated to get out running again. I give my trainers a well needed scrub, and get back out on the trail. This time surrounded by the humming of bees, and the seas of Bluebells that flood parts of the Gwydir forest. It is definitely a more welcomed sight than gloomy rainclouds and slippery forestry tracks.
It was the 8th of May, and it was a glorious day here in Betws-y-coed. So glorious, I nearly decided not to go for my run up to Llyn Elsi and instead walk into the village to buy an ice cream, and sit on the playing field with everyone else and soak up some sun. But I was good. I told myself I will be glad that I've done it once I reach the lake. So I started up the hill behind St. Mary's Church, with a drink, spare jacket and camera in my backpack. I knew the views would be stunning up there on a day so clear, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some photos for our new Trail Betws website. But first, I needed to tackle the hill. Now, if you are familiar with the track leading up to Llyn Elsi from Betws, then you will know which hill I'm talking about. If you aren't familiar with it, then I think it's fair to say we have one of the steepest starts to a trail race in North Wales. It really puts the 'challenge' into Betws-y-coed Trail Challenge. But please do not let this put you off, reaching the top of that hill and feeling the track flatten under your feet, is such a great feeling. What's even better is looking up and realising it was most definitely worth it. The views up there are fantastic. Rain or shine, Llyn Elsi is a beautiful place.
So around 35 minutes after leaving the village, I had made it to the top. And I was so glad I had said no to the ice cream and yes to the trail. The sky was bright blue and the lake looked glittery in the sunshine. Moel Siabod in the background was so clear, it felt like it was only a few metres away. You could see right over to the Carneddau, and across stunning Snowdonia. I had a well deserved rest by the monument and looked over the lake. It was quiet, I was the only one around apart from the ducks cooling off in the water and the birds singing in the trees above my head. I could have spent all day there, but my run wasn't over yet. Once my legs had recovered from the climb up, it was time to head back down. So I took my time, taking some photos along the way. I then headed down the forestry track towards the Waterloo Hotel, which sits at the end of Betws-y-coed village. Heading down the hill from the lake, I felt refreshed and lighter on my feet. The hard part was over, and I was nearly at my finish line. I had a serious case of Jelly Legs when I reached the bottom, but I still felt good. All in under an hour, I had pushed myself up one of the hardest climbs I have done. I had sat in total peace and quiet in one of the best spots in Snowdonia. And I had taken some fabulous photos for our new website. Mission accomplished.
It's days like these that I will remember on those grey and drizzly evenings in winter, when I'm really not in the mood for getting up off my sofa and training in the cold. I'll think of the views, and the beautiful wildlife, and the amazing choice of trail routes I have right on my doorstep.
But most of all I'll remember how I felt reaching the top of that hill, knowing I did it by pushing myself just a little further each time, and how good I felt afterwards. I'll remember that I could have had a day of lazing around Betws-y-coed, but instead I set myself a target. And I did it!