Cardiff Half Marathon Part 2 #cardiffhalf

4:45 AM.
I think I’ve had about five hours sleep. At least I am waking up of my own accord and not because of dogs barking or the cats howling in the night. After less than five hours sleep I could really do without having to empty the cat litter tray.

This is a long one folks to might want to take this moment to put the kettle on.

I can understand keeping the cats indoor in a busy town or city but in a rural location?

Time to load up the car, going to pick up Emma and make our merry way to Cardiff.

5:30 AM.
On the road. At least at this time of the morning the traffic is minimal. It’s taking a little bit of getting used to having everything so dark in the mornings. Winter is coming John Snow.

7:30 AM
time for a toilet break stop. Trying to go to the bathroom in Cardiff on the morning of the half marathon is nigh on impossible. As we are both running late this seems like a good tactical manoeuvre. It’s going to be very tight getting to the start line on time.

8:25 AM.
Arrived in the car park, get changed and start the one-mile walk to the start finish line.

8:45 AM.
start line it absolutely rammed packed full of spectators making progress incredibly slow. It takes 10 minutes just to get past the crowds watching the elite athletes.

9 AM. Bang.
The starter’s gun fires sending the elite athletes on their way. This gives us about 20 minutes to get to our starting positions. I made the decision to bring along a rucksack of close to get changed into after the race. After what happened at the great North run I thought this was a sensible idea. The only problem is that the baggage drop area is some distance away from Emma start position.

She needs the bathroom so we decide to split up and I attempt to run the quarter of the mile to the baggage drop area and get back to the start and hopefully not be right at the back.

9:07 AM.
Oh my god. Running this short distance has almost damn near killed me, how the hell am I supposed to do 13. 1 miles?.

9:15 AM.
Managed to rejoin the crowd. Didn’t get into the right starting position so I’m with the group which is aiming for a two hour 30 minutes finish time or faster. Suits me down to the ground as I’ve had very little in the way of preparation or sleep for this.

9:24 AM.
Well, here we go. I’ve just crossed the start line what makes this event nicer than the great North run is the fact that as there is less competitors it means that there is more space on the road. This means I can run at my proper striding length rather than the endless hundreds upon hundreds baby steps.

It’s quite a weird and surreal feeling knowing that for the next 2 1/2 hours you’re going to be running. The atmosphere isn’t too bad if a little more sedated than the great North run.

As I have no idea of the timings in which I covered the distances or continue the rest of this post in terms of distance instead of time.

Mile two.
Trying not to get caught up in court up in the moment and keep my adrenaline levels down I take it easy. For some reason I always think a half marathon is 12.1 miles instead of the 13.1 miles.

Actually it’s a little bit more than that and normally ends up being 13.5 miles as you don’t run in a straight line. You end up doing a lot of going side to side just to get around people.

Nearly end of my to I catch up with Emma and we have a little bit of a run and a chat, well I chat to her until she is fed up of my overbearing perkiness and tells me to run on ahead.

Mile 3.
There’s a little bit of a hill which is almost the same gradient as the Hill that I ran on Friday. It sounds strange to say this but I’m mentally prepared for any hills or gradients and it’s amazing to see how many people walk at the slightest incline. I’m not showing off but sometimes running is just about as much of a mental battle as it is physical.

Mile 6.
My ever present running companion, keeper, informs me that I’ve done 6 miles in one hour six minutes. I try not to be disappointed remembering that I haven’t done any training in the last three weeks. In my head I’m working out the mental arithmetic to ensure that at least come under the two hours 30 minute mark.

I fail at working out the simple equation. After the run I learnt that in order to run a sub- two hour half marathon you need to average around about nine minutes 17 seconds per mile.

Mile six is always a strange one for me. Is the furthest I’ve ever run and it’s sort of like looking out at the sea and not knowing what’s out there beyond the great beyond.

I know I’ve done this distance once before but never under circumstances of not trained or even worse not slept or eaten properly in the last week.

To distract myself from my mental overthinking I invoke the right of every male runner on the planets to look at women’s bottoms in figure hugging Lycra.

Mile 7
This is a strange one, 1 mile past the magical 6 mile barrier. Once again I forget that I have to run 13.1 miles not 12.1 miles and realised I’ve only just hit the halfway point realistically. Going through my head is the fact I have to do what I’ve just done in the last one hour eight minutes all over again.

My thoughts then start to drift towards my new nemesis, it was at the great North run but the lack of distance training really started to take effect on me. Previously my legs started to turn to jelly, my breathing was way too fast and shallow and my hips weren’t in the best of shape for running on the pavements and jumping up and down from them.

Mile 9
The runner’s high has taken effect. It seemed to take an eternity to complete the last 2 miles.Now have an interesting decision to make. I’ve been taking my sports gel pack every 3 miles on the dot. Do I take one more would do I take the chance that I have enough left in me to run the race without one more.

Not entirely sure what to do as the energy levels will get me through the race but then I run the risk of being wired for the rest of the evening and getting little sleep. Not that I think the dogs are going to give me any peace when I get back anyways.

As I try to open up the gel pack it leaks on my hand, again, and of course this would have to be one of the mile markers without any water stops. It’s a little bit like running with treacle all over your knuckles and I will leave that one to your imagination.

Mile 10.
At this point things are still going surprisingly well. My nemesis, mile n was relatively easy all things considered and as the end starts to get ever closer the crowds are starting to come back out onto the streets of more. This certainly isn’t the crowd support of the great North run but it’s not bad.

At the halfway point to reaching mine 11 my legs are suddenly start to feel it. A couple of times I slowed my pace down to a walk but that presents its own problems. Going from walking pace back up to jogging pace might only normally take a little bit of energy but after the distance it becomes somewhat of an effort.

On one of the hills of fellow runner takes a tumble in front of me. It looks like somebody ran in front of her and she unintentionally caught the back of his shoe and went flying to the ground.

It wasn’t the most graceful or lightest of falls to the floor and she did cut her head open a little bit but fair place to her. She doubted the blood says “it’s only a small cut” and carries on running. Kudos to you good lady, kudos.

Mile 11.
I hear a couple of people in the crowd shows that this is the last hill before the end. Thank God. For about a third time in as many miles I take a brief walking break only to get mad at myself are coming so far and being so close but still feeling the need to walk.

I slap both find a couple of times in an effort well I guess to try and wake them up and gets any remaining energy that might be in their out of them. Once again I find myself considering whether or not to have a sports gel pack.

In my head I say it’s only about 3 miles to go so surely it can’t be that hard to run for about another 25 minutes. Run keeper is reporting that I’m on for another nine minutes 41 seconds mile which is good considering I have done a small amount of walking in the last couple of miles.

Instead I opt to pray on the generosity of others. People are now lining the streets with wine gums and jelly babies. You would honestly be amazed at how much good a small sugary treat can do for you after all this exertion.

Mile 12
I wish I could remember more about this segment. I remember running down a very big road with people lining either side of the streets and seeing a supporter who I’m sure I saw back on the bridge over at mile 5.

With my energy levels really are an all-time low this is becoming more the mental marathon than a running marathon. Walking at any point now for the last 2.1 miles would feel like a failure.

Once again my running companion, run keeper, informs me that my pace is still surprisingly brisk even if it has dropped to 9 minutes 48 seconds per mile.

By now the running crowds have thinned out. Head in the distance I saw a shimmering light, well not really I could see them while 13 marker. Best of all it was at the bottom of a gradual slope. This is it, all you have to do now is keep on running. I remember my face wincing in pain pretty much with every step down as my legs really were starting to say to me “this is getting a bit silly now we need to take a break”.

I slap my spies as hard as I possibly can just to try and get something to move within them, I don’t actually know what trying to achieve at this point right now the mile 13 marker is right in front of me.

Mile 13.
Here we go, just .1 of a mile left to go. Even though run keeper has said I’m there bouts on the 13.47 mile stretch of this half marathon.

The final roundabout is insight and everyone is taking the inside line to try and make things easier for themselves. Me being me I take the outside line and in my head I pace a mental picture of looking like a soul solitary runner making his way to the end of an epic quest.

Coming out of the roundabout I see the thing I be longing for for the last half an hour. The finish line. There it is in all of its resplendent glory with the timer clicking away and so now it’s time to dig deep, really deep and try sprint finish.

In reality that .1 mile is actually a lot further than you imagine in your head the problem I have now is that I’ve already upped my pace to try and have a grand photo finish. Not like there’s ever been a decent picture of me at an event because either looks like not moving or I have the world’s most stupid expression on my face.

I was close to sprinting as I can possibly be at this point in time given what I’ve just done for the last two hours 30 minutes. Every time I liks for it really does feel like it’s about to give way but I know that I can’t slow down, walk or anything as all of the crowds are obviously looking at me and would laugh at me if I slowed down. Running for the sort of distances does a funny thing to your mental mindset.

200 yards to go.
One, final, push!

100 yards to go.
Legs aren’t screaming at me but I know that on the limits of turning to jelly. For the last couple of miles it’s been in my head that if I crossed the finish line there is a high probability of collapsing.

10 yards to go.
I spot the event photographer and tried on my most serious running face. God I hope I don’t look like an idiot, again.

The finish line!
For the last five or six legs strides I increase my leg striding distance and am proud to say that I actually ran over the start finish line and heard the beeping of my timing chip being recognised.

I slowed down to a walk and then just like that my mind turns to jelly. I really am in a dazed state of confusion and to be honest feeling a bit emotional.

One of the event organisers asks if I’m okay I’m not, he then asks again just to double check and I managed to utter in a breathless state “I’m grand thanks”.

Right now I don’t actually know what to do by did have a little bit of sense to say let’s get out of the way of the finishing athletes and find a nice railing to rest on. I want to cry but I don’t but the waves of emotion keep hitting me.

Learning from the great North run I make my way down the finish line and do something I haven’t done since I was a small lad. I ate a whole banana. Granted at some point it did take a little bit of choking down but nonetheless I ate a whole a whole banana. Almost as proud of doing that as I am running a half marathon LOL.

Unlike last year’s Cardiff half Marathon you don’t get all of your goodies in one go. First of all you get a banana, then a T-shirt, then you get the bagful of promotional goodies and finally your medal.

By the way just in case you didn’t know it is the aperture law after running a half marathon you are allowed to wear your medal all day.

Now all I have to do is wait for Emma, collect the bag which caused us so much grief earlier on in the day and then indulge in a couple of celebratory drinks.

This might sound incredibly middle-aged but nothing beats a glass of prosecco after a good randomly I bumped into one of the girls from the cycling club I go to on a Sunday. Turns out she was on the roundabout and have cheered me on.

I apologise to her as I was really concentrating on trying to find a finish and she did say that I looked “in the zone”. I’m also completely disorientated at this point. It takes me about 30 minutes to work out where I am to get to the baggage drop. Once I know where I am I start making my way to the baggage drop and on the final stretch decide that I should have a cheeky little warmdown jog instead of just stopping dead.

If anything you have to admire my enthusiasm to attempt something like this as my legs really didn’t. After 30 seconds I give up on this idea and settle for a walk instead.

Not long afterward Emma text me to say that she is finished. Even though there is 30,000+ people there we still managed to find each other, compare times and gets both a bit caught up being all emotional.

Emma is a type of woman who normally likes to make all of the decisions and decides to do this or do that and generally takes control however on this occasion it’s all left to me. There are two things I want right now, number one is a decent cup of coffee and number two is going to the Apple Store.

After that is all I want to do is use the vouchers that we got given as part of our race pack so that we can get a couple of free drink.

We make our way back into Cardiff city centre, have a quick walk round and find a cafe that serves coffee that actually tastes far from reasonable. I’m no coffee connoisseur I can’t stand things like Starbucks or Costa coffee.

I shan’t bore you with the Apple Store details however I will say that retina screens are the future.

After Run Drinks

We had into a place called “the yard” without medals proudly on display. The waitress at the bar is incredibly friendly which is odd given the fact it’s a city and normally everyone is a miserable so and so. we has to have the free drinks as part of a spark, she gives us a bit of a strange look and then produces two forms to fill out.

Chatting with her a little more and thanking her for putting up with our babbling because we aren’t still quite with it we enjoy our free glasses of sparkling fizzy wine.

We know there’s a pub on the way back is also part of this promotion but this time it’s an entirely different story. In this part they want the piece of paper that is contained within the race pack to say we are entitled to the free drinks.

Remember that quizzical look from the waitress in “the yard” W? Will it turns out she had the foresight to photo copy and absolute shed load of these for just such an occasion. The two guys that were working in this particular pub were basically just complete arses. Kind of get the feeling that they didn’t want to be a part of this promotion or dealing with the pub being so busy this early on Sunday.

It’s my turn to drive home which is only fair. The good news is is that where we parked near Cardiff’s football stadium there was a KFC so, guess what we had the dinner.

The journey home seems to take an absolute eternity. I drop Emma back it home, grab a quick shower and then I go back to the house of doom.

It’s about 7 PM now and it’s strange to think I’ve been up since 4:45 AM. All I have to read in the house is a couple of slices of pizza from the previous night and a can of cider.

Am tired but relaxed. Must double even got a couple of messages from the no checking on my position in the half marathon. I joke to her that I’m chasing her sub two hour half marathon.

Anyways, this is a pretty epic length posting for me and it’s taken the best part of two days to get all this down. A little bit of that comes laziness mainly because the last two days I’ve been surrounded by dogs trying to drive me absolutely insane. Follow the hashtag #barkingandpissing for the full diary on that one.

also don’t forget that I’m adding blog posts from the past in the future. You might want to check back on previous posts just to see if there’s anything that you’ve missed.

Granted this probably only applies to one person who is not looking at my entry of Jennifer Aniston’s being topless LOL.

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Cardiff Half Marathon Part 2 #cardiffhalf

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