Well it’s exactly 24 hours since I crossed the finish line of the Cardiff Half Marathon 2012 in the Civic Centre of Cardiff to crowds of thousands!
What an achievement and what a day!
It all began with an early night on the Saturday before having to get up at 06:45 and taking onboard all the important fuel ready for the 13.1 mile route. (I had Weetabix, a banana and a Starbucks double shot espresso!)
A brief walk via a very crisp and cold Bute Park (in my running shorts and tshirt) so it was rather nippy to say the least. We arrived at the athletes village outside Cardiff’s City Hall where there was food and drink stalls, charity stalls and people from other sport and fitness organisations.
I’m sure I saw one of the stalls serving beer at 8am in the morning….tempted?
Members of our running team began to arrive and we swiftly attatched our numbers to tshirts and then checked our bags into the luggage drop areas (i’m sure I had done a mile just in the drop off!)
And so after a quick dash to the toilets we made our way over to the start line and joined the other 18,000 people who had also signed up for the run.
We had a mixture of pink and white numbers in our team but as it was getting quite late and all the pens already seemed particularly full we opted to join the white pen. (In hindsight maybe this wasn’t the best decision.)
And so we all counted down to 9am, a big cheer went up and the front of the runners were off. It took us around ten minutes before we actually got to the front and began the official race and passed the clock tower at Cardiff Castle.
We began our run into Canton, past the Cardiff City Stadium and then the part I had dreaded the most – a very long, straight and boring Penarth Road followed by the biggest incline on the route. To pass the time we chatted on this part quite a bit. Before we knew it this part had already passed and we made it to Cardiff Bay where the smell of freshly cooked bacon rolls drafted out from Penarth Marina.
One team mate checked his watch and it seemed we were only running on average each kilometer at 6:30! This was a really poor start to the race and concerned me a bit as I like to start quite fast and then drop to a more comfortable pace for the middle part of a run. I think there was a non-verbal agreement to stop chatting and up the pace a bit.
This seemed to be more difficult than anticipated as we had started possibly in the wrong pen and felt like we were just constantly zig-zagging between competitors to get ahead. We seemed to pass everyone else with not too many people actually passing us!
Crossing over the Cardiff Bay Barrage it dawned on me how lucky we were with the weather, it was bright and sunny, no rain and very little wind. We couldn’t have wished for better conditions.
And so we continued our tour of Cardiff – everywhere looked so beautiful in the beaming sunlight as we headed towards the Roath/Cathays part of the City.
This part of the route was supported particularly well with all the streets packed with people cheering the runners on. I was particularly surprised to see so many students up so early on a Sunday morning supporting everyone aswell.
Some of the tunes they were playing from their houses were really apt (Think Kate Bush-Running up that hill, Europe-The final countdown etc) and really helped us along. I was quite surprised to smell certain aromatic smelling cigarettes being smoked in this area too!
12 miles in and at the top of that hill climb and a stitch kicked in! (grrrr – that’ll teach me to fly up an incline) I carried on running whilst trying to massage and get rid of that stitch.
It was great seeing so many friends and relatives on the route and seeing one just by The Woodville pub gave me that last burst to keep on for the last half a mile.
Turning into the Civic Centre and I didn’t realise how long that last road was going to be! A bit of a last minute burst and I had made it! I had just run 13.1miles without stopping for the first time ever!
I’d hoped I had broken the 2 hour mark but the official time came back as 02:00:34 – so just 34 seconds!!!
There were small queues to pick up your medal and goody bag and then my family greeted me at the finish – they said I didn’t look like I had just run 13.1 miles at all. But my legs were telling me something different!
Time for a quick stretch off and time to find the rest of the running team for a celebratory drink and some food. And the best part of the day? Knowing that we had raised around £1,500 for a local cancer charity Tenovus. This made the whole day (and ordeal) worthwhile. Here’s to next year!
PS You can still sponsor and help raise for Tenovus via the following links:-