Monday, 17 October 2011

Post Race Report: Cardiff Half Marathon 2011

I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon on October 16th for Tenovus Cancer charity, inspired by my amazing friend Hywel Jones, who is a cancer patient and Tenovus supporter.

The big day began gloomily, with grey clouds above and drizzle in the air, but by the time I force fed early morning carbs and sports drinks, and made my way over to the race start the clouds had cleared and the sun emerged. There was a huge queue to begin the run, with sections of people staggered according to predicted finish times. If I'm honest, I just squeezed into the portion closest to the portaloos, which happened to be near the two hour fifteen minute marker man. It took seventeen minutes to actually step over the starting mat such was the volume of people ahead - which was actually a welcome slow start as it gave me chance to savour the anticipation and build up.

Once we were running rather than walking, lots of weaving in and out of people was necessary to establish a comfortable pace and avoid tripping over the person ahead. My parents and sister were cheering on around the two mile mark which was an early boost, and I particularly enjoyed the surrealness of running down a blocked off Castle Street at four miles. I felt ok, my breathing was comfortable and my legs pretty light - as this was both my first half marathon and race of any kind, I kept wondering whether a terrible fate awaited me such as the infamous and feared runner's wall. Luckily, such a fate did not arise, although running uphill along the A232 slip road just past Cardiff City Stadium, toward Cardiff Bay was a tough point as the sun was beating down, and as I've since discovered, burning my face! Another tricky factor at this point was being able to see the faster runners spilling down the opposite side of the A232, having already covered the roundabout we were heading for. I resisted the temptation to scale the middling barrier or catch a bus (joke!) and kept going!

Getting to the downhill stretch myself was a lovely feeling. Even lovelier, was reaching the section of the race along the flat waterside of Penarth, toward Cardiff Bay barrage as I knew the finishing line was near. I still had some energy left in my legs and thoroughly enjoyed picking up the pace as much as is possible for me along that final stretch and crossing the finishing line, with another welcome sighting of my family supporters along the way.

I was pleased to beat the man carrying a gigantic cross on wheels, and also the man running the race backwards, although I'm afraid to say I was pipped to the post by a speedy giraffe.

The crowd who'd come along to watch were fantastic, at many points during the race I felt bolstered by cheers and claps, and whilst I inwardly cursed the sun at points, a bright day did in fact add to the already cheery atmosphere. The organisation of the event was spot on, and I'll definitely be signing up again - once my legs are working - as I loved the experience, and the wonderful feeling of wellbeing the finish provides. My finishing (chip) time was 2:10:14, with a placing of 6531 out of approximately 15000. I'm really pleased, and hope to improve on this in future.

A big huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me. Fundraising allows Tenovus to carry on with their work, supporting cancer patients and their families across Wales. If you haven't sponsored me and would like to, my page is open for another three months so you can still do so - I'll be really grateful.  Also, it would be great if you could continue to read Hywel's blog about his experiences and share with your friends, he's aiming for weekly updates very soon.

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