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James Thomas 496 challenge, January 2021 | Her 496 James Thomas, Ionawr 2021

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This January I was inspired by a Facebook post from Sean Conway online to join him in a #496challenge as part of his #whenyoureoutyourein campaign He was suggesting people do 2k per day, whilst he (as a seasoned ultra-distance athlete) would do 496km in a month. I decided to give his version a go!

Here’s how it worked...

The 496 CHALLENGE starts with 1km on the 1st of January, 2km on the 2nd etc... up to a 31km run on the 31st January. No rest days. Just increasing distances every day!

I have been posting my progress on my personal Facebook page and Cerist Page throughout, along with the mental and physical challenges I have been facing as I go along. I did not initially appreciate how hard it was going to get in the final weeks. Back to back half marathons or more for 2 weeks solid! a total of 496km throughout January. I have nearly given up on quite a few occasions!  By the beginning final week I had already climbed the height of Everest! Oh the challenge of living in Wales!

I decided (after a few people suggested it) that I could do with another source of motivation to get it done and not back out early. So I chose to raise money for the Corris Nursery School who get very little funding. They are wanting to build an outdoor sheltered space which is so important right now. I managed to raise over £2000, everyone was so generous and I had over 100 sponsors in the end.

The support of my fellow club members and friends was fantastic. The words of encouragement and advice kept me going. “Most often it is not the workout that gets us out of bed in the morning. It is the friendships and unspoken bonds of those counting on us to show up. And of course, the miles don’t seem as long when you’ve got a friend by your side”

Here is an extract from one of my posts on “the hardest day” day 29.

Be not afraid of moving slowly, be afraid of standing still”. How true this was, sent to me by a friend this afternoon.

I did it, 29km today with over 2,500ft of climbing (my watch was a bit inaccurate as it lost signal in the forest) It took me over 4 hours but I got it done. However, I very nearly didn’t. This is what happened.....

I left the house feeling ok. A bit sore but in good spirits, hoping that the knee pains yesterday were just a freak cramping type thing. Turns out I was wrong.

I jogged up the first hill and boom there were the shooting pains in my quad again. I could have cried right then as I knew it might all be over. I pushed on, then there were the pains again and again. I was upset, tears were shed, I was frustrated and I walked slowly the rest of the way up, even walking hurt. After realising it wasn’t going to go away I decided to turn towards home just 9km in. Going downhill was the worst as I couldn’t put weight through my leg when it was bent.

I decided to take the fire road back down which was a bit less steep and I changed my walking gait so that I only stood on my leg when it was straight. It felt good. So I walked a bit faster. No pain! Ok, this was interesting! I then broke into a speed/race walk. You know the one where the athletes wiggle their butts and pump their arms like mad! I was now travelling faster than I had been running for days. And I had next to no pain! I roared with excitement and the adrenaline just kicked in. I shouted and whooped at the top of my voice. “I can do this!!” “Yes!”

Off I stride, walking at 8km/hour! This was insane! How am I doing this?!?

I kept going and going, I made it to 20km, then 25, and then I was heading home. I had just completed 29km of trail hill walking in under 4 1/2 hours! That’s some serious pace for a walk! So happy, so elated, so amazed at what I had just done. And to think 3 hours earlier I had thrown in the towel and started to head home"

Then the following day…. Day 30.. 30km

"Thank goodness they changed the rules for today. I just couldn’t have done it without the help of my two buddies working in shifts to spur me on and chat about anything and everything through hours of pain one step at a time. I promised them tears, swearing, chest pumps and shouting. They saw it all!

I tried to run again today but could only manage it in short bouts before the pain in my leg was too much. The race walking worked well though it was at an interestingly consistent pace. On the uphills, my buddies were out of breath running to keep up but on the downs, I was a fair bit slower than them running. My pace seemed the same up or down. I learned a lot about the benefits of hiking steep hills and will be using that technique in the future as it’s a really really efficient use of energy without much loss in speed.

I completed the 30km in just over 4 hours. It would have taken me 3 1/2 even if I was fit and running normally. I was astonished. I am well happy!

I now can’t walk up or downstairs but hey. Only one more day to go!

My friends have lent me a massage gun for my aching muscles and I’m going to tuck into the ibuprofen for dinner.

What an amazing day I’ve had with friends. I’ve enjoyed every second.”

I hope I can also inspire others to get out and do amazing things, helping to keep their lives balanced, healthy and happy.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ym mis Ionawr, cefais fy ysbrydoli gan eitem ar facebook gan Sean Conway i ymuno â fo yn y #496challenge fel rhan o’i ymgyrch #whenyoureoutyourein. Roedd yn awgrymu y gallai pobl wneud 2k y dydd, tra byddai o (fel athletwr pellter ultra profiadol) yn gwneud 496km mewn mis. Penderfynais roi tro ar ei fersiwn o!

Dyma sut roedd yn gweithio...

Roedd yr HER 496 yn dechrau gyda 1km ar 1 Ionawr, 2km ar yr 2il ac ati... hyd at redeg 31km ar 31 Ionawr. Dim diwrnodau gorffwys. Dim ond cynyddu’r pellter bob dydd!

Rydw i wedi bod yn rhoi negeseuon am sut roedd pethau’n mynd ar fy nhudalen Facebook bersonol a thudalen Cerist trwy gydol yr her, ac am yr heriau meddyliol a chorfforol rydw i wedi’u wynebu wrth ymgymryd â’r her. Ar y dechrau, doedd gen i ddim syniad pa mor anodd fyddai hi yn yr wythnosau olaf. Hanner marathon gefn wrth gefn am dros bythefnos! Cyfanswm o 496km ym mis Ionawr. Bu bron i mi roi fyny lawer gwaith!  Erbyn dechrau’r wythnos olaf, roeddwn wedi dringo uchder Everest yn barod! Yr her o fyw yng Nghymru!

Penderfynais (ar ôl i ambell un arall awgrymu) y byddai’n werth cael rhywbeth arall i fy ysgogi i wneud yr her, a pheidio rhoi fyny cyn diwedd. Felly penderfynais godi arian tuag at Gylch Meithrin Corris, sy’n derbyn ychydig iawn o gyllid. Roeddent eisiau adeiladu cysgodfan y tu allan i’r Cylch, sydd mor bwysig ar hyn o bryd. Llwyddais i godi dros £2000, roedd pawb mor hael, ac fe wnaeth dros 100 o bobl fy noddi yn y diwedd.

Roedd cefnogaeth aelodau’r clwb a fy nghyfeillion yn arbennig. Roedd yr anogaeth a’r cyngor yn fy nghadw i fynd. “Yn amlach na pheidio, dim yr ymarfer sy’n ein cael o’r gwely yn y bore, ond y cyfeillgarwch a’r ymrwymiad tawel i’r rhai sy’n dibynnu arnom i droi fyny. Ac wrth gwrs, dydi’r milltiroedd ddim i weld mor hir pan fydd gennych gyfaill wrth eich ochr”

 

Dyma ddarn o un o fy negeseuon ar “y diwrnod anoddaf” – diwrnod 29.

Paid ofni symud yn araf, ofna aros yn llonydd”. Pa mor wir oedd hyn – neges gan ffrind i mi y p’nawn yma.

Mi lwyddais, 29km heddiw gyda dros 2,500tr o ddringo (doedd yr oriawr ddim yn hollol gywir, gan i mi golli signal yn y coed) Cymrodd dros 4 awr, ond dwi wedi gorffen. Ond bron i mi beidio. Dyma beth ddigwyddodd.....

Ro’n i’n teimlo’n iawn yn gadael y tŷ. Chydig yn ddolurus, ond mewn hwyliau da, gan obeithio fod y poen pen-glin ddoe yn ddim mwy nag ychydig o gramp. Roeddwn i’n anghywir.

Lonciais i fyny’r bryn cyntaf a bŵm, dyna’r poen i fyny’r cwad eto. Mi allwn fod wedi crio yn y fan a’r lle, gan bo fi’n gwybod y gallai fod ar ben. Mi es yn fy mlaen, ond daeth y boen yn ôl eto ac eto. Roeddwn yn ypset, daeth ambell ddeigryn, roeddwn i’n rhwystredig ac mi gerddais yn araf weddill y ffordd i fyny. Roedd hyd yn oed cerdded yn brifo. Ar ôl sylweddoli fod o boen yn mynd i nunlle, penderfynais droi am adref ar ôl dim ond 9km. Roedd mynd i lawr rhiw yn waeth, gan na allwn roi pwysau ar fy nghoes pan oeddwn yn ei phlygu.

Penderfynais fynd nôl i lawr ar ffordd y goedwig, oedd yn llai serth, a newid fy nghamau i roi’r pwysau ar y goes pan oedd yn syth. Roedd yn teimlo’n dda. Cerddais ychydig yn gynt. Dim poen! Iawn, mae hyn yn ddiddorol! Yna dechreuais rasio cerdded. Chi’n gwybod, yr un lle mae’r athletwyr yn wiglo’u penolau a phwmpio’u breichiau’n gyflymRoeddwn yn mynd yn gynt rŵan nag oeddwn i wedi rhedeg ers dyddiau. A gyda bron i ddim poen! Rhuais mewn cyffro, a chefais hwb gan yr adrenalin. Gweiddais ar dop fy llais. “Allai wneud hyn!!” “Ies!”

I ffwrdd â fi, yn cerdded ar 8km yr awr! Mae hyn yn wallgof! Sut ydw i’n gwneud hyn?!?

 Cadwais i fynd, cyrhaeddais yr 20km, yna 25, ac yna, roeddwn yn mynd tuag adref. Roeddwn i wedi gwneud 29km o gerdded mynyddoedd mewn llai na 4 1/2 awr! Eithaf cyflym yn cerdded! Mor hapus, cymaint o ryddhad, ac yn rhyfeddu at be oeddwn i wedi’i wneud. Ac i feddwl, 3 awr yn gynt, fy mod wedi rhoi i fyny a’i throi hi am adref 

Yna’r diwrnod wedyn …. Diwrnod 30.. 30km

Diolch byth fod y rheolau wedi newid heddiw. Fyddwn i ddim wedi llwyddo heb help dau gyfaill yn gweithio shifftiau yn fy annog ymlaen a siarad am unrhyw beth a phopeth trwy’r oriau o boen, un cam ar y tro. Fe wnes i addo dagrau, rhegi, taro mrest a gweiddi. Cafodd y ddau weld y cwbl!

Triais redeg eto heddiw, ond dim ond ambell bwt ar y tro cyn bod y boen yn fy nghoes yn ormod. Ond roedd y cerdded cyflym yn gweithio, ac yn cadw at gyflymder cyson. Wrth fynd fyny rhiw, roedd fy ffrindiau’n colli eu gwynt wrth gadw i fyny, ond ar y ffordd lawr, roeddwn i dipyn yn arafach na nhw’n rhedeg. Roedd fy nghyflymder i yr un peth fyny neu lawr. Rydw i wedi dysgu llawer am fanteision cerdded bryniau serth ac mi fydda i’n defnyddio’r dechneg yna yn y dyfodol, gan ei bod yn defnyddio ynni’n effeithiol heb golli llawer o gyflymder.

Llwyddais i gwblhau’r 30km mewn ychydig dros 4 awr. Byddai wedi cymryd 3 1/2 hyd yn oed petawn yn ffit ac yn rhedeg yn normal. Roeddwn i wedi rhyfeddu. Dwi’n hapus iawn!

Alla i ddim mynd i fyny nac i lawr y grisiau erbyn hyn, ond hei, dim ond diwrnod i fynd!

Mae fy ffrindiau wedi gyrru gwn ‘massage’ ar gyfer y cyhyrau dolurus, a dwi’n mynd i gael ibuprofen i swper.

Dyna ddiwrnod anhygoel dwi wedi’i gael gyda ffrindiau. Dwi wedi mwynhau pob eiliad.”

Gobeithio y galla i ysbrydoli eraill i fynd allan a gwneud pethau anhygoel, gan eu helpu i gadw eu bywydau’n gytbwys, yn iach ac yn hapus.

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