World Half Marathon Championships - Cardiff

28 Mar 2016

I sit here, one day post half marathon and my whole body is aching, I can’t sit down on the toilet without having to lower myself as my thighs hurt so much, I am walking down the stairs one step at a time, and I am pretty sure I have a trapped nerve in my shoulder - should probably get that checked out tomorrow….Anyways, here is my experience from the day;
2pm - I am ready and waiting in Red Pen, the pen for those that are expected to run sub 2 hours 15 minutes. The elite women started fifteen minutes ago, the elite men and mass race is due to start in ten minutes. Everyone else around me seems to have their Adidas macs on keeping them warm, I’m stood there with a bin bag on as mine wasn’t packed in my goodie bag - just my luck. My watch is set (I use the Garmin Forerunner 10), music is ready (I use an Apple iPod nano), and I’m thinking I need a last minute wee, eeek!
2.10pm - The elite men and white pen are off, and I have managed to get back into the pen after my last minute wee!
2.20pm - Takes ten minutes for our pen to cross the start line, but I am off! I start at a good pace and feel good. The route is lined with supporters and feels so good running past Cardiff Castle. I clock my first mile at 8:03 (the quickest of the race), so I slow my pace down and try not to burn myself out with 12 miles left to go.
I've lost track of my timings by now, so Mile 3 - slight incline but I finish my third mile in 8:50, pace has definitely slowed and I don’t plan on it becoming any slower.
Mile 5 to 6 — The weather wasn’t the best, the wind, rain and hail starts coming in sideways, f**k my life I am thinking right now as my feet are soaked through! Still happy that I'm running sub 9 minute miles though. I grab an energy gel around mile six and feel like I have had a new burst of energy.
Mile 7 - My slowest mile, 8:56, and I am thinking Mo Farrah has finished by now, lucky bugger! Six miles left to go….
Route is lined all the way back into the City which is brilliant morale as the rain is still coming down.
I keep ticking off the miles and I am thinking I am on for a new personal best, just need to keep the pace and not get any slower.
Mile 10 - This was my own checkpoint as such, two weeks previous I ran Salisbury 10 mile road race and came in at a surprising 1 hour 22 minutes, so I passed 10 miles in 1 hour 27 minutes, I was running five minutes slower but the weather conditions weren’t the best so I am happy with my pace and keep going.
Mile 10 to 12 - I don’t really remember a lot of this, I remember the supporters and I am pretty sure I was one of those people running with their eyes shut and singing out loud - I hope there are no photos of me out there….
Mile 12 - So those that have run this route before, know they are greeted with a lovely hill, probably no more than 50 metres, but steeper than you would like when your legs are feeling like lead. Head down, I shuffle up it on my toes and tell myself it’s 30 seconds hard work.

I make it up the hill and know I am on the home stretch, I’m on time for smashing a new personal best, my toes hurt though, my shoulder hurts, my fingers have swollen and I’m starting to feel the cold!
Mile 13 - Aggghhh I am nearly finished! The crowd are shouting with support at everyone running down the home straight, I open my stride (as much as my little legs allow) and try to up my pace as much as I can for the last 100 metres, I cross the line in 1 hour 54 minutes 44 seconds. A whole EIGHT minutes off my personal best I set five years ago!!
I’m ecstatic, but as I knew it would though, the pain I feel as soon as I stop running hits me! MEH!!
I collect my medal, my t-shirt, a banana and energy gel and head for the massage tent to meet my sister.
She takes a picture of me smiling, but I am so cold, I’m soaked to the bone and my legs hurt to walk. I get a much needed ten minute post race massage.

School boy error - I haven’t packed any clean dry post race clothes, so any excuse to buy more activewear, I head to New Look and pick up new everything, including socks and pants, and get changed in the changing room, taking my tags to the till to purchase….
Time for post workout food - Nandos, you see other race participants, each wearing their medals proudly and walking uncomfortably. You give each other a knowing nod, knowing you have shared the whole experience and smile at one another.
So why do I plan on putting my body through all of this pain again in October for the regular Cardiff Half Marathon? For all the reasons above believe it or not. The pain afterwards equals a sense of achievement, it means I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, it means that for those two hours I am focusing on nothing else except myself, and for those reasons it is totally worth it!