Monday, October 18, 2010

And I Ra-a-an...

Thank you Flock of Seagulls for providing me with the only title could come up with today.
Well, my 2010 half marathons are all done and dusted...unless I come across another one before the weather turns absolutely miserable. I have to say, this last one yesterday in Cardiff was my least favourite but in all fairness it did produce my best time.  

The course itself was beautiful, but the 14,999 other runners trying to race through the fairly narrow streets and park pathways of Cardiff were not. The race officially started at 9am, but it took close to 7 minutes before I crossed the start line. We wove our way through central Cardiff, cheek by jowl into Bute Park along what was a walking path that would normally fit four people walking side by side, not rows of runners, elbows up, jostling for a better position. Fortunately the grass was soft in most places so we could spill over on to it. How I didn’t end up with a shiner from a rogue elbow or a rolled ankle is beyond me. There were also a lot of slower runners who placed themselves at the front of the pack, which was frustrating given the fact that it was far too crowded to pass people easily. It’s called race etiquette people.  

There were a couple of cool views of the masses of runners, such as when we came around a bend and followed a football field. I could see the 5,500 runners in front of me snaking along the path at a steady cadence. It made me think of what it must have looked like to be inside the ranks of an infantry marching to battle. That was the only novelty of the crowd. There were simply too many people to make it enjoyable.

The other cruel factor of the race was the misleading finish line. After running our way though beautiful Caridiff bay we passed the 11 mile mark. I looked at my watch and saw my time so far was 1hour 40 minutes, so I knew if I just kept up my pace I’d finish in under 2 hours, which was my ultimate goal. Rounding a curve I could see the Millennium Centre in its splendid glory standing right by where the finish line was. As we approached I could see the inflated red arch of the finish growing larger as I approached. I pushed myself as hard as I could. My legs were heavy, my left  IT band felt like snapping, my stomach felt like heaving, my airways were constricting, but the finish line was so close! Then the course took us straight past the finish line on the opposite side of the road and onwards for what seemed like an eternity (probably about ½ a mile) before we finally u-turned and ran back up to the finish. I think I swore under my breath about 5 times. Whoever thought that up must not be a runner.

After the finish line I sucked on my inhaler until my airways opened enough for me to inhale properly, and I grabbed my medal, cried a little and drank a latte...the caffeine is good for preventing lactic acid build up. It works. Trust me. 

I think the moral of the story is, run a race that’s not fun to run. The Calgary half was nice because I enjoyed running through the familiar streets of my childhood home, which I see less and less of each year. Time: 2 hours 15 minutes, with an injury. The Wales half took me through stunning coastal scenery, ancient villages and beautiful, bucolic farmland. Time: 2 hours 10 minutes. I couldn’t wait for the Cardiff half to be over. Time: 1 hour 57 minutes and 46 seconds.  

Thank you to Dad, Gwion, Llinos, Gruff, Marni, Iris & William, Rhian, Sean, Katerina and Pete for sponsoring me!

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