Reigate Half Marathon recap

I was both excited and anxious about the Reigate Half Marathon. I was excited because I it was a switch-up from the usual long run grind I’ve been doing week after week, but I was anxious because my runs lately haven’t felt amazing.img_5066I had a terrible run on the Thursday evening before that made me seriously doubt the sub 1:40 goal I had in my mind. Running at 8 minute miles for 6 miles that evening was a struggle. It was a really warm evening so this probably had an effect but it mentally knocked me. The parkrun on Saturday helped relieve some of my nerves but I still didn’t like going into a race without a real plan of attack.

Reigate is about an hour and a half away from my parent’s house, where I was staying the night before. My dad had kindly offered to drive me and support me and we planned to make it into a fun day with Nando’s afterwards. We left at 7am and I had my porridge and black coffee en route.

We were actually a little close to the mark of timings as we arrived and parked at 8.45am (the race began at 9.15am). Parking was easy to find and there were loads of car parks – and only £3! We then walked the short distance and got momentarily distracted by a very cool looking McLaren car. This was the lead vehicle! (Though my dad pointed out what a terrible journey that would be for the driver going less than 10mph for just over an hour).img_5062We arrived at 9am at the race village. It was quite chilly that morning so I was glad to have on my new Brooks leggings over my shorts and the Brooks long-sleeved top but I started panicking as I realised how little time I had to get into my running gear (take leggings off, put compression socks on and attach bib to top).reigate-half-marathon-race-villageIt was fairly overcast for which I was grateful for. A nice cool run, I was hoping. The race village was really quite impressive and set in the lovely Priory Park.

I quickly got myself in gear and said goodbye to my dad, who was on a mission to find some good spots to stand and cheer at over the course.img_5069Now it was 9:05am and I wasn’t even in the right wave yet, argghh. I quickly squirrelled my way through people past the different Xempo paces (saw Susie Chan pacing 2 hours, she was very friendly) and then spotted my friend, Matt who was pacing 1:45. It was a very quick hello as I was still needing to get a bit further forward.img_5078I also managed to fan girl a bit about Kelly Holmes being on stage literally right next to us.img_5075She was giving lots of encouragements and advice (and had done the warm-up, of which I’d missed of course).

And breathe. I was in the right spot, my phone was tucked into my armband holder and my music was ready to play (my playlist was basically three albums I’m enjoying at the moment, picked purely for enjoyment rather than to get me to run fast as I wasn’t sure if I would be running fast but didn’t want to listen to nothing or a podcast).

The race started with a rather long incline that I wasn’t expecting. I suppose it helped stop me begin like a bat out of hell (which I do so often and shoot myself in the foot). After the incline (not really a hill, but definitely an incline) there was a nice decline and then I settled into a solid rhythm. I saw my dad within the first mile and he said he’d see me at mile 10.

And then realised I needed to pee. I HADN’T HAD MY PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY WEE. And it definitely wasn’t a psychological one either. I knew I’d left drinking my coffee too late. I tried not to think about it but realised I was inadvertently looking at bushes considering my options. I decided to forget it but if a loo appeared then I’d stop. Happily at the first water station (mile 3?) there were a row of loos and I dashed inside.

Honestly, I’m amazed at how fast I was in and out of there. I spotted the girl I was running next to up the road (bright pink shorts) and aimed to get back there – not by sprinting but by running probably 15 seconds faster than I had been. I just fixated on those pink shorts (not in a weird way…) and got back to my original area of people.

At this point I was consistently running around 7.30min/miles. It felt fishy. This was a pace I’d been running at parkrun lately (my best times being around 22 minutes at the moment). And yet 7.30s were feeling comfortable (not a breeze, but comfortable). I was
wearing my Fitbit (I wear both my Fitbit and my Garmin when I run) and checked my heart rate. It was 170 which I didn’t think was too bad. I decided to keep at the pace I was at as it felt fine but I’d monitor my heart rate. If it went up I’d slow down.splits

Actually I did have to keep slowing myself down a few times, reminding myself I had a long way to go. In the back of my mind I wondered if the pace I was at was too fast and that I’d pay for it later but I thought, “what the hell, just embrace it”.

The course runs through beautiful country roads. There are a few undulations, but after every incline there was always a decline. Along the way clusters of people were
standing on the sides cheering or handing out jelly babies and it felt very friendly. The marshals were all lovely and it just felt like a nice race, you know? A lovely run through the countryside ticking off the miles.

The sun did come out though and this made things all a bit sweaty but it wasn’t humid or overbearing. It also wasn’t crowded but there were enough people that you were usually running alongside two or three people at all times.splits2It was nice knowing my dad was at mile 10 so it broke the race up nicely.img_5103It’s always nice knowing where your supporters are roughly going to be as it meant from mile nine I could start looking around and this took my mind of running.img_5108I spotted him literally under the mile 10 sign and we smiled and waved and I shouted, “just a parkrun to go!”.img_5102I then switched my music to my parkrun/speed-workout playlist as I was ready to go-go-go. Sadly the course wasn’t quite optimal to put the hammer down as some rolling inclines increased in frequency and the most horrific hill appeared at mile 12.reigate-half-elevationIt was a BEAST. A few people walked it and fared the same as me running it (I say “running”, the motions were there but the speed was not). Then there was another equally sharp hill afterwards. A lovely marshal shouted “it’s a short one!” which really helped to know. Then a sign saying “Caution Steep Decline” appeared and it was like party-time for my legs to speed up and goooo!splits3(Well, in my head I was going speedy!) I kept pushing and finally reached the race village area and knew it would be over soon. A marshal shouted at me that I was in the top ten females and that pushed me on faster. I smiled all the way to the finish and was greeted by lots of people cheering and shouting us in. It was a fantastic finish line.img_5081My time was 1:37:45; I was not in fact in the top ten females ( was 14th (or possible 13th if Matthew made a mistake…) as it’s chip-timed of course so I might have been top ten gun time but not chip time – hey, I’ll take 14/13th position! I was SO pleased. Yes I’m like three minutes off my PB and over a minute off Weymouth Half earlier in the year but  honestly I was so chuffed. I felt in control of the race (besides the hill) and comfortable. I wasn’t dying at the end either. It really has given me a HUGE boost of confidence exactly when I needed it. I was floating along happily, getting my medal, water, banana and perfectly fitting technical t-shirt.img_5089Happy days indeed!reigateBy now it was very warm though! It gave me a good excuse to show off my lovely Brooks sports bra which by the way is fantastic. Do you know why? Because you can undo it from the back exactly like a normal bra. This means no sweaty-almost-getting-stuck-horrific sports bra removal process. It’s just a quick unclasp and boom, done. It’s also very comfy and supportive (though I’m hardly the most blessed in this department to be the best judge).

I also nipped into the massage tent and a truly fabulous 10 minute FREE massage as well.img_5090I was still sweating as I laid on the bed which was, erm, pleasant.

My dad and me had a wander round the village and saw loads of amazing food tents offering loads of different foods, like Indian cuisine, burgers, Italian food, etc.reigate-half-race-villageIt was a great atmosphere. I also bumped into fellow blogger,Beki (aka Miss Wheezy). She’d run the 10k earlier. We had a nice little natter and it was lovely to meet her in person!img_5097Then my dad and me headed off to refuel, Nando’s-style.img_5115Standard whole chicken with a side salad and endless Diet Coke. I was heaven.

I thoroughly enjoyed this race. It was well organised and good fun. It had the feels of a big half, like Reading, but with a better and more picturesque course (and not as crowded). I went away with a smile on my face.img_5119And what was lovely was that the design of the medal had been done by a clearly very talented five year old boy. Lovely touch!

What makes a race a good one for you?

How do you know a race is going well for you?

Do you like to travel out for races or prefer to stick to nearby ones? I love going to different and far-away places for races as I get to see other parts of the UK (and the world!).

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a free entry into the race as well as further products to help with my training and racing. All opinions are my own honest ones. I fully recommend this race and would happily enter it myself another year**

How to survive a long run

One of the main differences between marathon/half marathon training and training for a shorter distance, such as a 10k, is the long run. For half marathon training this is usually 10-12 miles. For the marathon, it’s 18-24 miles.

You don’t normally run the entire distance mainly because the recovery time usually outweighs the necessity. You don’t want to blitz the next week’s training because you’re still getting over the long run. If you’re quite a seasoned runner who’s run a few half marathons, or indeed full marathons, then when training for a half marathon this isn’t as risky. But certainly you wouldn’t usually go over 24 miles when training for a marathon. Personally if I get to 18 miles I’m quite happy.

There is the genuine fear that you don’t know if you’ll be able to “make it” in the actual race, but usually, as long as your training has been reasonably good, this is unfounded because on race day you’re tapered, fuelled and have weeks of training behind you. Plus you’ll have the adrenaline and crowd that will help push you along.

But during those weeks leading up to the race day, those long runs can feel really tough. You’re reaching distances you might not have reached before, or haven’t been around for weeks. Your body isn’t used to it. You’re not as fresh because you’re deep into training and the mental fatigue of, “here we go again” is strong.

*Waves* that’s where I’m at. Mental fatigue. Dreading the long runs. De-motivated. Tired.

IMG_4268The struggle is real (God I hate that phrase)

I’ve learnt from experience though that this is all part and parcel of the marathon (and half marathon) game. Even if I wasn’t doing Chester, I’d still be training for the Reigate Half and the long runs would still be hanging around each weekend, waiting to be ticked off my training plan. So how do you survive the long run?

It’s all about preparation and mental trickery. Preparation is fairly simple (for those of us who don’t have children, of course). Get enough sleep, eat enough good food, drink enough water before, during and after. OK a lot more goes into it than that quick sentence but for this post I want to focus on the mental trickery. It might not work for you, but here’s what works for me:

Using the same route

For each long run I pretty much have the exact same eight mile base. From there I can turn around and go home (10-12 miles) or carry on (15 miles plus). This might sound counterintuitive, but I often find that by running this same route each week can really help make things fly by.

I guess this is because I’m so used to the route that my brain just switches off. I don’t have to think about where I’m going, how to get the miles or do any mental calculations. I just go through the motions. The route is so familiar to me that my brain doesn’t really process it anymore and I can zone out.

IMG_4144

Switching up your route

And entirely different to the first point, perhaps choosing a completely new and different route will help you get through. If the same old route just seems so boring to do again, perhaps you need a change of scenery. Choose a route that has interesting features and things to look at. This doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful views or nature though. For example, there’s one road I love to run down because the houses are huge. I love being nosy and looking at them and just marvelling at how much they must cost. This takes my mind of the run entirely. But make sure you have your route planned out so you can just follow it without having to think, “where can I go now to make up the miles I need?” as this can be frustrating and exhausting when running.

Keep close to home

I find that if I choose a route that goes so far away from home it feels so much longer, whereas if I do a winding route closer to home it doesn’t feel as bad. It’s like psychologically I know at any point I can just go home. If I’m miles and miles away from home it feels like such a journey to get back. The distance literally stretching out ahead of me.

Special long run playlists or podcasts

I have a special “Running Playlist” on my phone. I won’t listen to any of the songs on that list other than when I’m running. If one of those songs comes on the radio, I turn it off. Yes, it’s that strict. I find I’ve associated ‘magical running powers’ to these songs that I don’t want to waste on a non-running scenario. Though this sounds like fluff science, it’s not. Association is a powerful psychological tool. I’ve associated speed and hard efforts with those songs that I don’t want to mess with.

I also only ever listen to the BBC 5 Live Film Review podcast when I’m on a long run. I won’t play that podcast any other time. It’s one of my favourite podcasts to listen to and I look forward to each episode. So by using that happy association it helps me get over the dread of the long run. Instead of thinking “urgh I have 15 miles to run” I can swing it around and think “but at least I get to listen to the new podcast”.

Milestones

Give yourself some milestones to look forward to and break the monotony that’s going on. I don’t use gels when I’m training, but during a marathon I’ll look forward to mile eight because that’s when I get to have a gel. It’s not exactly party-time but it’s something different from what’s been happening. Choose a gel (or whatever fuel source you might be using) that you actually enjoy. There’s a Salted Caramel flavoured Mulebar gel which literally rocks my world (similarly a Clif one too) and it’s like liquid caramel. That can really improve my mood when times are tough.

MuleBarGels

Add a parkrun or race

Merging a long run with a race or a parkrun can definitely help as well. It breaks up the long run nicely. I did this last year for the Southampton Half where I ran 5 miles beforehand, the Netley 10k where I ran 12 miles beforehand and the Winchester parkrun where I ran 15 miles beforehand. Instead of thinking, right time to knock out X number of miles it reframes the run to two separate events. It also means you can enjoy running with other people or, in a race scenario, have a catered long run with the drink stations (and a medal at the end!).

11217539_10100737112240197_8860621521021948690_n

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m really feeling the long run drudgery. I have 18 miles to conquer this weekend and I decided instead of cracking that out myself, I’m going to run 15 miles Saturday morning and then do Fareham parkrun. It means I’ll be forced to get up early (parkrun starts at 9am) so I’ll beat the heat and the rest of the weekend (hello Bank Holiday!) is stress-free and I can relax. I already feel so much better about the run!

Likewise, adding in a race to my diary in the near horizon has meant I have a mini-goal to head to as well. Doing the Reigate Half will keep me on my toes and break the normality up. Eating the right food the night before, getting up early and eating breakfast then heading to the race start. It’s all part of the fun and adventure that you don’t always get with “just another long run”.

How do you survive hard workouts?

What distances do you get up to when training for either a half marathon or a marathon?

Do you use the same routes to run or like different ones each week?

I also have some more long run help HERE.

Training currently

I’m six weeks away from my seventh marathon, Chester. I’m not going to lie, it’s been really tough.

Since my annoying hamstring niggle since the Boston marathon I wasn’t able to begin my training as early as I’d hoped nor was I going into it with any sort of running base having not run over 10 miles a week for eight weeks.

This meant that each long run has jumped quite sharply. I much prefer to gradually build up the mileage, e.g. 9 miles one week, 10 the next, then 12, then 14, then 15 etc. But I didn’t have that luxury this time around. I only had 12 weeks from starting running again to the big day. So each long run has felt really tough because my body’s not had the time to properly adapt.

The hot weather hasn’t helped either. All in all, I’m finding things tough and less enjoyable than I usually would. That’s not to say I’m not excited or not looking forward to the marathon, it’s just harder to get my head in the game on a Sunday morning just before I head out to run for hours on end.

IMG_4268

Last week’s long run was my longest yet, 17 miles, and it literally drained me dry. I struggled pretty much from mile six all the way to the end. It was very warm and my legs were fatigued from walking around London all day the day before. My long runs had also jumped 12, 15, to 17 miles quite sharply. Maybe for some people this is no issue but for me I found it tough.

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These runs are such a difference to last year’s long runs which seemed to go a lot smoother and I was constantly having to slow myself down. I was also running a good 30 seconds per mile faster. This time around is clearly a lot different! At mile 14 I stopped and had a little word with myself. I was lagging and wanted to give up. I switched my podcast to music which helped immensely and got on with it.

This week I was thankful for the temperature to have dropped. Because I’d found last week’s 17 miler so tough I decided to go out with the intention of running only 12 miles. That didn’t sound too bad at all and gave me a positive outlook to the run rather than dreading it. It was windy but cool so I was happy with that trade off. As I got to around seven miles, at the point where I’d make the turn to head back for 12 miles, I decided to push on straight with the aim of 15 miles. It helped that the wind was behind me which made things feel a bit easier (though I knew it would be against me on the final three miles).

Each mile over 12 miles felt like a bonus and I told myself I could stop at any point. Even when I got to 15 miles I decided to push on for another one. Mentally and physically I felt stronger than last week though it was still a grind at times.

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t feel quite as destroyed by the end either. Finger’s crossed this is my body adapting! Next week the plan is 18 miles…

IMG_4373

parkrun on Saturday was a toughie and gave me a horrible reminder of things to come in the winter… I went to Netley and helped set-up and it was horrendously windy.

IMG_4351

As we set up all the signs and flags we were getting blown all over the place. Then it started raining. As it turned into a full-on downpour we ran and hid under the trees for a bit to shade from the worst of it.

IMG_4352

It was cold and miserable. And I was soaked even before we began running. I decided to keep my jacket on as I was so chilly.

IMG_4353

As it was so windy I knew that I wouldn’t be that speedy and settled with the goal of 25 minutes. My friend Chris (who’s a good minute faster than me at the moment) said he was aiming for 23 minutes. Everyone was re-adjusting their goals.IMG_4354

After the first mile though the sun broke out and it started to heat up. We were all pretty much steaming then with the sudden hit of heat. I took my jacket off as I felt so warm. In the end I managed a nice negative split and a time of 23:07.

image

 

 

 

I was really happy with that. Chris achieved a course PB of 21:24 and my friend Mike, coming back from injury, wiped a minute off his time from last week. Smiles all round Smile Especially when our friend, Kate, who was celebrating her 100th parkrun whipped out her DELICIOUS chocolate tiffin.

IMG_4355

I could have easily eaten about five pieces… I settled with one (only because they disappeared so quickly!).

Going back to my training as a whole, I think what will help is mixing things up to stop myself getting into a rut of “oh God, here we go again”. I’m not sure what to do about this weekend. I was considering doing 15 miles to parkrun then do parkrun but I’m not sure. It helps that I have the Reigate half in the horizon as well – and no I’m not just saying that because I have a free entry! At one point I wondered if I should just give up on Chester and stick with training for the half in a down de-motivated moment, but the 16 more positive miles helped squash that thought. I haven’t done a race in ages and I wonder if that’s causing me to lose a bit of focus and motivation? Who knows! I just hope I survive the 18 miler!

How do you invigorate some motivation into yourself?

How do you cope running/working out in the heat?

Are you looking forward to the autumn?

Marathon Training and Reigate Half

So my next marathon is the Chester marathon. Obviously nothing is a given with my track record for injuries, but I’m hopeful as ever Winking smile

IMG_4084

Ideally I was going to really go for it and aim to get near my PB from Liverpool marathon (3:24:06) but after the hamstring debacle and only recently getting back into some normal running I think it might be wise to just give it my best with no pressures (I think this is my mantra for most races if I’m honest). I don’t want to plod around it easily but I don’t want to kill myself in training or in the race. So we’ll see.

In terms of the details of my training… Well, nothing much will really change compared to previous marathon cycles. Four days of running: one speed session (hills/fartleks/tempos/intervals), one easy run (for mental sanity), parkrun and a long run. Ideally I want to get to 18 miles and do that distance twice.

I also only have one race in the lead-up to the marathon, a half marathon (my second favourite distance to run). A half marathon race is usually quite standard in the lead-up to a marathon so I’m always happy to schedule one in. I’m taking part in the Reigate Half Marathon which is two weeks before Chester (18th September). So, depending on how my training is going, it will be a nice one to blast out some speed or test out my marathon pacing.

imageSource

The course is a good one in that it’s one lap of a fully closed route that goes through some nice rural countryside and picturesque country lanes and it’s relatively flat. It’s chip-timed with a technical t-shirt and medal. Yep, sounds good to me!

Intersport Run Reigate organise both a 10k and a half marathon and has raised over £150,000 for charity since 2014 which is pretty fantastic, right? It’s also achieved silver in the UK’s best half marathon category in The 2015 Running Awards. Pretty cool.

I’ll be running as part of the Run Reigate blogger team, which is fairly exciting as you can imagine. The half is about five weeks away which is nice as it means I can continue to get in some good solid training and be more than ready. As part of the blogger team I get a very nice goodie bag to help me with my training which includes:

  • A Fitbit Surge (super excited about this as I’ve previously had a Fitbit but they’ve since hugely upgraded them. I love that it has an in-built HR monitor and gives phone notifications)
  • Brooks running top and shorts
  • Brooks trainers
  • A spa day at Nutfield Priory (including spa treatment, use of facilities / gym / pool / sauna and lunch) – because that’d be very much needed during marathon training!

I also get to write a few blogs over on their blogging page.

This is obviously all amazing in itself but I’m actually really excited to have a half marathon in my diary as I haven’t done one in a while now, and especially one I’ve never done before. I’ll be about three weeks out from Chester so it’ll be really good to see where I’m at with my training and test out things like nutritional decisions (number of gels) and what I’m going to wear (i.e. avoid the dreaded chafe or over-heating).

I’ll continue to keep you guys updated with my training as always and also if you fancy reading my posts over at Run Reigate I’ll let you know when they’re up Open-mouthed smile

What’s your favourite distance to race?

Do you like to plan in certain races as part of your training?

Do you use a fitness tracker?

**Full disclosure: Run Reigate have offered me free entry into the race with the goodie bag in exchange for writing about my training on my blog and their blog. All opinions and training decisions are my own.**

IAAF Cardiff Half Marathon 2016

Cardiff has such a special place for me in my heart because of the three years I spent there at university. I met some of my best friends there and we have such good memories of our time (amongst the ridiculous hard work and stress, of course). So running a half marathon there just made sense to me. I was never a runner at uni so it was strange going back for a race.

So carrying on from my last post…

The wind was picking up and the rain was just starting as I clustered together in the starting pens with my running club buddies (though some had gone to the super speedy pens – sub 1:30!). I’d lost Matt after seeing my running club and it was difficult to spot anyone when we were all wearing our ridiculous white ponchos (ridiculous perhaps, but definitely grateful for!)

IMG_9522

As we stood waiting we heard the male elites announced (big cheer for Mo Farah of course) and after each name huge bursts of fire were sent up next to the castle. For those brief seconds we were warmed by the flames. I had a moment of panic when I realised I needed a wee…but thought “just hold it”.IMG_9523

We jostled about (took a selfie, of course) and then finally we were off! The wind was against us from the start but I didn’t feel it too much. I found a comfortable pace and decided to keep that feeling of effort, regardless of what my watch told me.

20x30-WHMK0329

I’d separated from my running club buddies but was happy to run at my own pace. I had a brief moment of “damn I wish I had music or something” as I soon found myself a little bored and demotivated. I had a weird moment where I suddenly felt a bit tired and “can I do this?”. I have no idea what came over me but I just felt a bit mentally exhausted, without that actually translating to my body. I gave myself a shake and got on with it though.

image(Photo credit: http://www.cardiff2016.co.uk/)

We began running through an area of Cardiff I’d never been before (out of my student bubble I suppose) and it reminded me so much of the Reading Half Marathon. There were residential areas and also industrial bits that just reminded me of the monotony of the Reading course, and the fact that there were always people around me as the entry size was about the same. And similar to Reading, despite the weather, there were a good number of supporters all along the course shouting and cheering. It had a great atmosphere. But every single loo I saw made me want the loo more but I couldn’t bare to stop and faff about.

Before the race, Matt and me had discussed the course and where we thought the wind would be the worst and both agreed it would be around the Bay where there was so much exposure. As I got closer to that area I found the wind was actually behind me, pushing me along. It was amazing! OK it was annoying having my ponytail flap me in my face and it being so gusty but it was great having it behind us. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, when’s it going to turn…

20x30-WHMN2189Going through the Cardiff Bay area and past the Wales Millennium Centre

[I bit the bullet and bought my race photos as they weren’t that bad – plus my mum wants some nice ones for her conservatory…haha]

I let my pace increase as the wind pushed me along (it would be silly not to take advantage!). At around seven miles it suddenly (and I mean suddenly) down-poured. Within seconds everyone was drenched. I was actually a bit worried about my contact lenses! I remember hearing people around me swearing and then this Welsh guy goes “come on guys, what did you expect – it’s Wales! This is our summer!” which was funny.

image

A couple of times during the race my tummy went funny and I had some regrets about the rather large pre-race breakfast. I definitely did not need any gels during that run!

20x30-WHMH0218I have no idea where this photo was taken!

We headed back towards the city and still I felt the wind on my back. I kept a smile firmly plastered on my face as I found that more people cheered when you looked happy. I was genuinely happy though. The pace wasn’t easy but it wasn’t a sustained effort either. The wind was contributing to some easy and tricky moments but overall I felt it was helping rather than hindering.

image

 

 

We got to a lovely residential part of Cardiff that has a beautiful park and lake that, as a student, my friends and I used to walk around (Roath Park). I know I keep saying this, but it just felt so weird to be in such a huge race running those same streets again. I saw the coffee shops I’d been in, saw where the Woolworths used to be that we always went to to buy our cheap pick n mix for the cinema (we were that cheap)… it was just great. It kept me entertained. People cheered my name out as I had it on my vest and I just kept smiling.

20x30-WHMG0074

Then as we came around the lake the wind hit us in the face. The dream was over and the work was needed to be put in now. I tend to break half marathons into chunks: get to 5 miles, get to 8 miles, get to 10 miles (just a parkrun to go!) and then mile by mile until the end. The last three miles were tough. My legs were tired (mile 10 was actually almost mile 16 after my earlier run) but I kept going. I stuck with a girl who had “Elaine” on her vest and played the game in my head of who got more cheers, Elaine or me. It made me smile more and look at the crowd so I think I won Winking smile Elaine did well though, a worthy contender.

IMG_9585(Photo credit: @Dan_Nash94)

There was a steep incline at Mile 12 which was tough…but generally the course was flat.

Then the best, but hardest part, of the race. Running through the Cathays area. This is literally where I used to live. Despite feeling tired, I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face. A guy next to me turned to me and said “that’s not fair! You’re still smiling!”. And then I ran past the road I used to live on and, this will sound ridiculous, but I got a bit emotional. Must have been on those endorphins Winking smile I knew where we were finishing so I knew exactly how far we had to go, because I’d walked that way so many times during university. Past the Lidl I used to shop at, the pub I used to go to, over the bridge (what a bitch at these final stages of the race!) and then past the beautiful university buildings and all those crowds. It was a fantastic way to end the race.

image

 

 

I finished in 1:42:55 (chip time), 159th in my age/gender category and 2498th overall. For a training run as part of a longer run I’m over the moon with that! 7.47min/mile average is not too shabby!

IMG_9541

I finished the race and headed straight for the bag drop area as it was COLD. I was soaked through and got very cold very quickly. Luckily I bumped into Matt again as he was heading back from the bag drop (he did a very speedy 1:36 dead). Then we walked back to his hotel and where my car was parked. It was a good job I was with him as I wouldn’t have had a clue how to have gotten there again!

We said our goodbyes and I stripped off my wet vest right there in the street (I had a sports bra on it was fiiiine), got a dry layer on and got straight into the car and headed home. I stopped at the first services back in England after the bridge and dashed into the loo. Finally had that wee I needed!! I got a hot coffee and then back on the road again.IMG_9548

My heating was blasted on full, I had a post-race banana and I had my music up. I sang all the way home in a happy buzz of post-race euphoria. Despite the awful weather I got back to my parent’s in under three hours, but it seemed like no time at all. My dad had picked up a takeaway for me so I had that literally as I got in. Showers can wait!

And then I was completely wired for the rest of the night. The coffee, the food, the buzz… I just couldn’t relax. I was tired and my legs ached but I was buzzing. But I had no alarm set the next morning so I wasn’t worried Smile

So a fantastic race. I loved it and fully enjoyed it, despite the wind and rain! And an extra small ladies technical t-shirt that fits!!Cardiff Half Marathon Medal

Have you ever raced in a city that’s special to you?

Do you prefer the wind behind you or no wind at all?

What’s your perfect race start time?