Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Marathon Countdown - Weeks 8 & 7

On Saturday 25th I ran over 19 miles, my longest distance yet. I started out in Roath, Cardiff, and my route went a bit like this around the city:

1. Newport Road
2. Lloyd George Avenue
3. Cardiff Bay Barrage
4. Penarth Marina
5. Around the Ice Rink, Morrisons Supermarket, Whitewater Rafting Centre
6. Taff Embankment
7. Bute Park
8. Western Avenue
9. Whitchurch, Crwys, Albany Road
10. A couple of laps around Roath park, and then home

En route I photographed the sunrise in Cardiff Bay...

And some local wildlife...

The following Sunday, March 4th meant Llanelli Half Marathon time.  I set the alarm for 5.30am to be greeted by the sound of heavy rain falling from Hirwaun skies. My parents had kindly agreed to accompany me, despite the extra early Sunday start, and we hoped for sunshine further West as we left their house. Our wish was granted, and by the time we reached the race location, bits of blue sky were appearing between the grey clouds. It was freezing though, with icy winds whipping around the lycra clad crowds who had gathered. I'm glad I gritted my teeth and stuck with wearing just my Tenovus vest and leggings as I was soon my trademark beetroot running shade after we'd taken off. The folks who had opted for bobble hats, bodywarmers and hoodies looked even hotter!

The race involed two out and back sections, the first of which was along a path, past some grassy banks, over a bridge, a roundabout, and into a culdesac within an industrial estate. Not the most inspiring route ever - particularly when it offered a view of all the faster runners sprinting their way past in the opposite direction. Big thanks to the single spectator who ventured into this out-of-the-way half of the run and seemed to clap all 1,600 people who took part (out of a registered 2,500)! The middle bit was full of encouragement as we ran past the carpark where everybody's parents, partners, children, grans and dogs were hanging out. Next, the more interesting coastal section with hi-fives from Mr & Mrs Derrick, glimpses of sea and sand, but also the dreaded faster racers flaunting their sub-1.45 times in my face (not bitter). Mile 11 onwards was quite tough as the sun was beating down at this point and we were running into the wind. There was also a hill at mile 12 which felt a bit cruel. But I got up it and down it again and finished feeling tired but not collapsy in 1:59:56. That's 10 minutes faster than my Cardiff half time in October which hopefully means my training is paying off. Not enough to beat Cookie Monster and Big Bird from Sesame Street sadly, but Postman Pat and his black and white cat were no match for me. Probably as I wasn't carrying a cardboard van like they were!

I really enjoyed the race and I'm glad I did it as I feel more confident about April 22nd now. It 's also really nice to participate in this type of event and feel part of something fun and positive.

After the race, with my Llanelli Half Golden Trainer!

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