Going to a gig the night before you’re running a half marathon is probably not the best pre-race preparation. My training for this year’s Cardiff Half hadn’t gone great, and it’s only recently that I've recovered from my reoccurring calf injury and have been able to get some of my pace back. I knew I wasn't going to get a PB so I thought 'Why not go see Micah P Hinson in the Globe?'. Great musician and playing just round the corner from me.
It wasn’t the best set I’ve ever seen Micah P do for a number of reasons. He was having sound problems which did hobble him for three or four songs. The other handicap were three people close to the front who were either pharmaceutically or alcoholically heroically fucked. Now that in itself isn’t a problem, it’s a Saturday night and however you want to enjoy it is up to you. However the Globe is a small venue, it was little under half full and Micah P is not a ‘Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care’ kinda act. The three well refreshed people were singing songs back to Micah P, clapping and generally being yahoos. This was not just my opinion, Micah P was clearly pissed off and it created a really horrible, awkward atmosphere. My mate Steve Ford had managed to get a night off looking after his new born son to come to the gig and he was squirming along with me at the tension in the room.
Thankfully it settled down after about six songs and he really took off. He was ostensibly playing his new album ‘Holy Strangers’ which is great but grim. Steve Ford ashen of face shook his head vigorously saying “That man knows what’s it’s about.” When Micah spoke about the slightly traumatic birth of his first son. He went off but came back on for an encore and much to my joy he played my favorite song 'The Day Texas Sank to the Bottom of the Sea'. In the 4 or 5 times I seen him I've never seen him do that song. Amazing! Except that the Fucked Three started singing along loudly, so loudly that Micah P stopped and said: "Please don't sing along. Do it in your car if you want, or in your bath, but not here." They did stop, but honestly, it's a very Cardiff think to get fucked up for a gig, regardless of the type of performer. It's a selfish idiotic thing to do and it's quite a blight at this particular venue.
Micah was signing albums after and I felt that I had to apologise for the crowd.
"Yeah it was a tough crowd." he said "But you need that sometimes to push you." He signed my album, I thanked him for the encore and he thanked me for coming and shook my hand. A great end to a patchy evening. I hope it doesn't put him off playing Cardiff.
The next morning I felt like death warmed up. I'd have prefered to have a bit more time to chill and drink coffee but I couldn't get out of bed and then the bath. I did get dressed and out and walked down to the Hilton. I always head to the Hilton to queue up for the toilets which are always preferable to the porto-loos and then to the running pen. I didn't leave it to the last moment, just about half an hour until the gun time to get a good place.
The countdown and then we were off. As per tradition I ran into one of the toilets in the first mile for a slash and then got running again. I felt pretty good, the pacewas okay if a little punishing. I'd set it to a sub-1:30 time just to push myself.
The good thing about the route is that there's long stretches of straight flat road, Penarth road from mile 2 to 3 and a bit is like that so you can chew the miles and focus on your pace. The only moderately hard part of the course is after mile 3 where you go up a hil toward Cardiff Marina, the support dies away and the only sound is the heavy breathing and heaving dap slapping of the runners. It last for - at most - a quarter of a mile and it's a nice slope towards mile 4 and 5 around Cardiff Barrage towards the Bay. The salty sea air across the Barrage was bracing and I shouted 'Future of the Left!" to Kelso the former bassist and current (?) of Truckers of Husk.
The Bay was just about chewing miles. I hadn't hit my pace since mile 3 but I was doing 7:15 miles which were decent. I didn't go for the water stations and felt pretty good. The injury wasn't flaring up so I just got into the rhythm. I yelled "Roath!" as I ran into my 'manor' around mile 9. I looked out for Sian (she later told me she didn't turn up) or friends but nuthin!
I did find the miles around Roath Park Lake a bit tough, They always seem to go on forever, but then weirdly after mile 10 the endorphins kicked in and I sped up. I actually enjoyed the last two miles and managed my customary sprint to the finish. I got in at 1:37 which was better than the 1:45 I thought I might get. Got my medal, the nice running shirt and filled my boots with free bananas (not literally...).
Sian and I had a full afternoon planned of drinks and friends so I was keen to get home. The sooner I got home the longer I could spend in the bath drinking the excellent Roath Brewery porter 'Death Junction'. Part of the route of the half is on the way back to my house, I was feeling pretty good, so yes, like a twat I rejoined the race for half a mile and ran with my medal. From the sidelines I heard people say: "He's running it again!"
Great day which shows Cardiff it a great light, with a truly world class course.