Where were the mile markers?! I saw one marking four miles and I think another at seven, but no others, a bit odd for such a big race and a bit frustrating if you like to pick up the pace when you see a mile marker in sight. A minor niggle in an overall lovely race.
We set off on Friday on the Mega Bus. We used to catch the Mega Bus years ago and decided we could just about cope with the ordeal for the sake of a tight budget, but forgot to check where to catch the bus from…things have changed since we last caught it, so there we were, with a small child, our heavy bags and a massive car seat, legging it through Victoria with two minutes to spare until our bus was due to leave. Thank goodness Mega Bus is crap and the coach was delayed. So, three and a bit hours later we were over the ‘minty bridge’ and sipping refreshing drinks in Chapter with Jackie. I felt ever so grown up drinking cherry Timmerman’s on a Friday evening and chatting about art while Hector happily doodled and played and asked why the lady in the room was giving people hugs.
On Saturday, we headed over to Swansea where we played on a sunny and sandy beach, not at all what I expected.
We also went to see Jackie’s work at the Waterfront Museum, really worth a visit. The work was originally looking out to sea, but still works beautifully here in a slightly different setting. It was nice to watch people interacting with it, and children delighting in its playfulness.
When I booked my place in the Cardiff Half-Marathon, part of me was thinking mostly about the lovely weekend we would have with Ben and Jackie, and I didn’t really think through the practicalities of race-day morning. Fortunately, we have such amazing friends that they were happy(?) to get up at 6.30am to get us all safely and on time to the city centre, and to traipse around the city, hot on my trail to whoop and cheer for the few seconds that I spent passing them. I’m a lucky, lucky lady.
Brrrrr, it was cold on Sunday morning but, as I found my place in the crowds, we were so snuggly huddled together, that we kept each other warm. It’s a big race and I found myself standing very far away from the start line, but asked the tall man behind me if we had started yet. Eventually we did start moving, and were soon passing through the enthusiastic supporters and on our way towards the city centre. Shortly after I crossed the start line I thought my race was over: for no apparent reason, I went over on my ankle, twisting it painfully. ‘Shit, shit, shit!’ I said (I like to get it all out when I’m not with Hector), and I decided to just keep on running, hoping the next thirteen miles wouldn’t result in a huge, swollen ankle.
We had agreed that my support team would be around the three-four mile point, so I was surprised and delighted to spot them within the first mile, pausing before picking up some coffee and pastries to keep them going. The next section of the run headed into the beautiful Bute Park. It was here that I wondered what I had paid my entry fee for – I hadn’t seen a single mile marker yet and the crowd of runners just seemed to instinctively head in the right direction, with no apparent guidance from marshalls, in fact I only recall two marshalls during the whole race! Thank goodness it was crowded anyway.
I was glad that I had run through Cardiff previously, this gave me a sense of distance, and a feeling of enjoyment knowing when and where I would reach certain points in the race. My next big cheer came at about mile six where I saw a contented little boy persisting in trying to eat a chocolate muffin with woolly gloves on 🙂 Now we headed towards Penarth and a slightly less scenic section, improved by the jolly crowd of Ikea staff cheering from the roundabout in their yellow and blue uniforms. I was also distracted by the amazing new watersports centre with a group of young people screaming and shouting as they tried their hand at white water rafting.
A slight uphill challenge took us up and over towards the barrage (I wonder how many runners spotted this subtle artwork). It was a beautiful and bright day and my pace was lifted by the stunning view across the bay to the Millennium Centre, its copper roof sparkling in the distance. Here, of course, I was beginning to flag a little and it was not helped by a man who kept going: ‘argh, urgh’ in pain, I had to get away from his pain to deal with my own in peace! Having walked along this path before, I knew how long it would take to reach the home stretch, but what I hadn’t counted on was the nasty trawl towards a loop that took us to the finish line. We rounded the corner and could see the red finishing arch, but soon realised that we had to run a lot further than it seemed. I couldn’t see through the crowd where we would turn, but instead saw the runners on the other side of the road who were that bit further forward and were waving their hands in the air as they clocked their finishing times. Things slowed down a bit here. How cruel. I took the corner and picked up my feet, crossing the line in 2.12.
This is what the boys did when they weren’t cheering me on:
Time: 2 hours 12 minutes
Distance: 12.93 miles (my chip time is the same, and records 13.1)
Average Pace: 10.13
Best Pace: 7.24