And just like that the four day Bank holiday Easter weekend is over… But it was a pretty good one!
I didn’t do that much on Friday as I was driving up to Cardiff to see some friends and also to do the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff on the Saturday (sounds way more exciting than just saying the Cardiff Half Marathon). From Southampton to Cardiff it’s about three hours and as one of my friends and her husband lives there I went and stayed over on the Friday night so it wouldn’t be as stressful getting up there in the morning.
It was really nice to see them and they cooked an amazing chicken chorizo meal that evening (I stole the recipe, a Hairy Biker’s one, and will be recreating!) They even got slices of cake from a bakery as pudding – now that is good hospitality!
The next morning I’d planned on getting up and doing the Cardiff parkrun in the morning as the half marathon didn’t actually start until 2.10pm (which I assume is so they could get optimum TV coverage). As I raced my last weekend’s half marathon I wasn’t intending on racing this one and wanted to try and get to around 18 miles for the day, though it would obviously be a bit disjointed as parkrun starts at 9am.
I went to Cardiff University so it was such a blast from the past to be back again. Though I have obviously been back since, just not for a while and usually just to visit my friends who live in the suburbs. I love the city and have such great memories so this was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the race (and the parkrun).
The parkrun is right next to a huge Tesco so they’d advised parking there, which was very handy as I knew exactly where that was. I got there just before 8.30am. I was meeting up with my friend, Matt (a good running friend who went to the MT running camp weekend). A few of my running club were doing the Half but most of them wouldn’t be up until later and Matt was happy to run a couple of miles before parkrun with me to get my mileage up.
One half of a running club couple, Mark, who had also stayed in Cardiff on the Friday night joined as well and ran down from the hotel (another marathoner in training) so it was nice to catch him too there.
Matt, Mark and me resplendent in red!
Matt and me ran 2.5 miles nice and easily and quite close to the parkrun starting time so there wasn’t much of a gap. The parkrun course was super flat and followed the Taf Trail. It was such a walk (or run!) down memory lane as I used to live in the student flats literally five minutes away and we’d often come down to the park. I wasn’t a runner back then so it was quite surreal.
I ran with Mark and we both decided to keep it easy… though this didn’t exactly work out that way as we were both enjoying the flatness and also both being too polite to the other person to slow down in case the other person didn’t want to.
(Photo credit: Danothy Bennett)
So in the end we went faster than we’d intended and tried not to worry what that would mean for the half later on!
The above splits include the 2.5 miles at the start (obviously). My parkrun time was 22:59. I’m really chuffed with the royal flush negative split for the entire run – not too shabby! (Though it was entirely unplanned).
Mark ran back to his hotel (hardcore), and Matt graciously invited me back to his hotel (wahay! Joke) so I could freshen up and get changed before the next run. I packed so much kit as I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like. I really didn’t want it to rain at parkrun and then for me to be soaked for the rest of the day. Luckily parkrun was lovely and pleasant and rain-free. I sensibly brought some warm trousers and a good coat to put on over my shorts and vest this time. We now had a long time to kill before 2.10pm!
After changing we walked into the centre of town (so handy for me to leave me car outside his hotel as it meant I could avoid ridiculously expensive car parks and could get home quickly at the end without getting stuck in traffic coming out – thanks Matt!).
The city was buzzing with excitement for the upcoming race. Runners were walking round everywhere, brandishing coffees and bananas looking at maps and carrying their race packs.
The sky was looking more and more ominous as the time ticked by. There had been weather warnings for Wales and the chance of rain was now almost guaranteed.
To fuel up, keep warm and pass the time, Matt and me headed to a Welsh cafe for breakfast, though really brunch at this point. My friends the night before had recommended this place to me the evening before saying they did great breakfasts and it was just slightly off the beaten trail down one of the boutiquey alleyways.
It was called Garlands Eatery and it was a lovely quaint cafe with beautiful, random decor (lots of old pictures all over the walls). We both saw the ‘Full Meaty’ English breakfast (Welsh breakfast I suppose!) and ordered that with some coffee and some added black pudding for me – I love the stuff!
It was about 10.30-11ish by the time we were eating and I thought this was pretty safe for such a big meal before a race. I’m too greedy to resist a Full English and it was a training run (these were the arguments I told myself as I tucked into that epic meal). It was, as you can imagine, delicious.
To pass some more time we had another coffee and just chilled out chatting. Then we left for a wander around and to help digestion!
We checked out the bag drop area and race centre which was packed already full of people and good atmosphere. Matt then indulged me by walking with me to my old psychology building where I used to go to lectures etc. Compared to the beautiful Hogwarts-style university building nearby, the psychology building is so ugly!
A 12-floor tower block of ugliness. But it brought back good memories nonetheless. At just after 1pm we headed to the bag drop again as the race drew closer. The race pack came with ponchos so we quickly put those on after de-robing. It was windy and chilly but nothing as bad as I’d felt in Weymouth the week before. The rain was just about holding off…for now.
This obviously required a poncho selfie I then met up with my running club mates who were equally attired in the latest look.
Hedge End Running Club (Photo credit: Andy Cockerell)
I’ll recap the race in full in another post as this will be far too long otherwise.
So skipping instead to Sunday… I had a terrible night sleep on the Saturday. I think the combination of the later than normal race, a Costa coffee late afternoon on the journey home, aching legs from a big mileage day and just general excitement and buzzy-ness from a good day meant I was a bit wired. I didn’t fall asleep until about 1am, and then woke up around 7am (though because of the clock changes it was actually 8am now). I was at my parent’s house so I did have the absolute bliss of laying in bed and watching stuff on my iPad for a couple of hours as Alfie could just go out in their back-garden with the other dogs so I had no reason to have to get up straight away.
I also had no long run as I’d done it the day before! I did want to have a 3 mile recovery run though to shake my legs out as they felt pretty terrible (especially after the three hour car journey home). I was a bit dubious to go for a run after such a hard day the day before but in the end it was the best thing I could have done.
The weather was sunny and the temperature cool, though it was still so gusty. Surprisingly my legs felt OK. I thought they’d be niggling and heavy but they felt good. I just ran comfortably and went with it, listening to the radio (Radio 1 had a requests show all weekend so there were some great and random songs being planned, not just the top 40). Then at around two miles it suddenly went really dark and the heavens opened up. A ridiculous amount of rain and hail descended upon me and I was literally drenched. This sped me up somewhat as I ran back to the warm and dry. My dad found it hilarious when he opened the door for me.
But I’m glad I got it done as my legs felt a lot better afterwards. I’ve never really been fully on-board with recovery runs as I always fear the pounding will only make things worse for me and my injury prone body…but actually it worked nicely.
A hot shower felt so good after that run!! After breakfast my parents gave me my Easter egg. I realise this makes me sound about 12 with that sentence but I’m doing my parents a favour in a few weeks and I jokingly said they could repay me with an expensive Easter egg… They thought it a great idea and who am I to disagree?? Especially when it’s a Hotel Chocolat THICK chocolate egg (£25!).
It’s a ridiculously thick egg (as you bloody well should expect for that price!). One half of the egg is packed full of cookie and puff rice pieces and the other half with caramel pieces. Inside the egg it’s full of different chocolates. Best. Egg. Ever.
The rest of the Easter break was full of a) lots more food with my family and enjoying some film-time and walks, b) lots more chocolate, and c) lots of chilling out and a bit of shopping! I did manage to get the gym on the Monday but it was heaving with people. Not a fun experience! Clarifying why I prefer to go so ridiculously early normally! Everyone clearly had some calories to burn
What did you do over the Easter weekend?
Did you get any Easter eggs?
Thoughts on recovery runs?