Thursday, 29 March 2012

Marathon Countdown Weeks 6 – 3

Sunday April 1st will mark three weeks until the London Marathon, and also the date of a gig organised as part of my fundraising for Tenovus Cancer Charity. I’ll describe that in more detail a little later on.

The last few weeks have been a bit busy with life, fundraising and running. I’ll split these into sections for any readers who don’t want to read the lot!

Life: I had an MA assignment due mid March. My day job has been especially busy. There were Mother’s Day festivities. I went to see Wild Beasts and Alt-J for Plugged In Magazine in The Coal Exchange, as well as The Jayhawks and Richmond Fontaine in The 02 Academy. I met up with friends as much as possible. My poor car LUI (as named by the number plate) ended up in scrapped car heaven.

Fundraising: There were several fundraising events this month. Firstly, a stall in Roath Craft Market with my friend Laura. We sold bags and earrings, and made £45. Lots of friends visited us, including the very cute newborn Bill, his parents Nicola and Gareth, my mam, Jonny, and Pete. It was a lovely way to spend a morning whilst supporting a great cause. Thanks guys for buying our wares and big thanks to Laura for making lots and booking the stall!

Laura (right) and me (left) on our craft stall

Magda, Mair, Margaret and Me! 

I held a jewellery making lesson for my mother’s friends and colleagues, and also sold a few pairs of earrings. It was a really fun night full of cake and wine (water for me!) which raised £74. Diolch mam for being a great host and to your friends for being brilliant students!

Headlining act Everything Burns

Saturday March 17th saw a gig in The New Crown Inn, Merthyr Tydfil. I’d booked the date to hold a Tenovus event, and my Merthyr College lecturer friend Mike told me his students needed to hold a gig as part of their music tech degree – so, we joined forces. The students did an amazing job of booking bands, promoting the event and making sure things ran smoothly on the day. Every act was talented and full of passion for their music, and generously gave their time for the cause. The venue helped out by letting us play there for free, and The Welsh rugby team kindly achieved their Grand Slam on that day, increasing the number of merry gig-goers through the door! We raised a staggering £820.56 and I’d like to say a big huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in the day.

My justgiving page has been visited lots this month, and I really appreciate every penny so thanks lots to folks who have donated here. As I write it is at a huge total of £1594.44!

There are more thanks to come as so many people are helping out with Do Good at Gwdihw, the April 1st event. Four fantastic bands are playing: Kymo, Jam with Robina, The Word Virus Essay and Under the Driftwood Tree. Matt Jarrett of Cardiff indie night Punks in the Beerlight is DJ-ing. Lisa Heledd-Jones of Scrabble Sunday will be bringing her boards along. Laura will be running the craft and sweet stalls. Mike and Merthyr College students will be manning the door. Gwdihw have kindly donated the venue for free and helped lots with the organisation. Dan designed the super cool poster. Jonny, Sarah, Laura, the bands and the guys from Tenovus have promoted lots. In short, it is going to be great, and all of the people helping are too. Please come along and join us for a fab afternoon! 

Running: There has of course, also been some running in the last few weeks. I’ve been surprised by how exhausted I’ve felt following the long runs, but reassured by chats with experienced distance runners as to how this is a normal part of the body’s adjustment and repair work. Therefore, I’ve been making an effort to get more sleep than usual...particularly since taking part in the San Domenico 20 on March 25th! It’s a race organised by the Cardiff running club of the same name, and involves a run along the Taff and Trevithick Trails from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon and back. It was a beautifully sunny, and therefore hotter-than-the-fires-of-hell kind of day, and this coupled with some serious inclines, deep stone steps, and steep downhill stretches equalled something of a challenge! I got a bit carried away with the excitement and took off too quickly, meaning by mile fourteen my gas had dwindled and I plodded along for a while before picking up again. I finished in 3 hours 20 minutes which I felt a bit disappointed by, but I’ve also since reflected on this as an achievement – my first race of any kind was just six months ago so I’ve made some decent progress since then! Geeky details of my run can be found here for those interested. The event was loads of fun in a this-is-horrible-I-want-to-stop sort of way, and a great education in pacing. I now realise I need to keep an eye on my speed in the first half of the London Marathon, to hopefully leave me with enough energy to run rather than crawl over the finish line!

Happy to have completed the San Domenico 20!

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!