By rights I should have had a better time. All the conditions were good. I’d purposefully left myself a bit dehydrated so I wouldn’t have to go for a slash right out of the gate, so I was cautiously optimistic about getting a new PB in Sunday’s Cardiff half marathon.
It’s my tenth? The only way I could know for certain is if I counted the amount of Cardiff half medals I have, and I don’t want to do that. I was a bit nervous. I hadn’t really got the required pace in my training runs, and I should have left more time to taper my training. ASICS have stopped doing their bespoke online running plan, so I thought I’d do my training ad hoc, having done enough of these. In the last four weeks I’ve also had a fair amount of lower back pain. On the day I slathered so much Ibuprofen gel and Deep Heat on my back that I probably created my own back brace.
I was running this year to raise funds for the wonderful local charity The Wallich which helps rough sleepers and prevent homelessness. One of the benefits was that they had a room in the City Hall to store bags and stay warm. It was a sunny if cold start. I set off for the start line at 9:30 for the 10am start. That side of things was a bit chaotic and at the end of Queen St, by the old Barfly. It was gridlocked with supporters. Can’t moan too much cause I was in the White Pen with 15 minutes to spare and in time to see the now traditional huge flames fire up vertically in front of the Castle.
And we were off!
Yes! I didn’t need a slash so I was off to a very quick start running the first mile in 6:33. The miles just flew by and I remember thinking ‘This pace isn’t too bad, if I dig in I might be able to do this.’ However things started to go to shit between miles 3 and 4 when take the hill from Penarth road up towards Barry and Penarth. I never really regained my pace after that. I needed an average pace of 6:50 and I was hitting around 7:20. So I knew by the time I got to the barrage I wasn’t on for a sub 1:30. The trick is then to keep going at a good pace and not just to kick back. I did get a pick-me-up when I saw The Wallich supporters at Richmond Rd. They cheered me on and I briefly hit the 6:40 pace again only to lose it again by the time I got to Albany Rd. So I kept on grinding the miles, I only stopped at one water station and I actually felt pretty strong running, especially when it came to Roath Park Lake, which is around mile 10 when you start to really feel it.
Although nothing really hurt and I felt strong I never got the ‘race high’ that I normally get around mile 8 fueled by lovely lovely endorphins. As I closed in on the end and killer hill as you coming into Cathays at mile 12 the closer I could get to 1:30 the better. I sprinted but still only got in at a disappointing 1:35.
Now, I don’t want to be a prick about this cause I know in the greater scheme of things that it’s a good time. If you’d said to me at the start of the year would I prefer a PB in a marathon or a half marathon I’d have chose the marathon, and I did get a PB in Newport in April, but still…I can’t help be disappointed. I should have trained more, and I should have followed a plan. As it turned out I was actually 2 minutes quicker than last year, and I know what I’ve got to do for next year. Also I raised money for a great charity, which is the the most important thing. I suppose.