ABOUT THE CARDIFF HALF
The Cardiff Half Marathon is one of Cardiff’s biggest races of the year. It’s been running for 16 years and has hosted the world and commonwealth half marathon. The flat route follows Cardiff’s most iconic landmarks including Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium, Civic Centre and stunning Cardiff Bay.
Before the race I met up with the amazing club which is the ‘Llantwit Major Milers’ running club of Llantwit Major. We got our pre-race photo shoot done and made our way to the start line. For once I actually ate well and hydrated enough that I didn’t feel dehydrated as I waited the 30 minutes for the race to start (first time for everything!). I had a few of the club members starting in my pen with me, which again is a rare occurrence, so more snaps taken and motivational words spoken to each other.
The start was incredible as always male voice choirs, fires burning and a great atmosphere from the 27,000 other runners. I kept telling myself that as great as it is, and as pumped as I am, I need to keep the pace steady. Which really was the plan. This was supposed to be a training run rather than a race. I think we can all guess how it went.
My first mile was steady as it always is due to the crowds, you just tend to go with the flow for the first mile and try and get ahead of those who are slower than you until the crowds separate. I then got into the second mile and the plan of going steady went out the window. I was averaging 7:30 to 8:00 minutes per mile. Oops. I felt great at this pace and surprisingly didn’t feel too out of breath with no part of my body was struggling. I should have known it was too good to be true.
It started with a slight stinging, turned into burning and then turned into stabbing pains. My knee was in agony and this pain then went into my hip because I was running with a slight limp. I managed to run slowly through mile 4 and then my knee could not hack it anymore. I decided to walk for a little but even that was hurting. My thoughts at this point were heading towards a DNF (Did Not Finish – for those non-runners).
I’m used to being in this position now so it would have been the easy option for me. As I thought about it I realised I would have to walk to equivalent distance to the finish anyway, so why would I DNF when I’ll get to the finish in the same amount of time? Also my mind went to all the amazing people who were walking the half marathon anyway. Those people who did not care that they weren’t running it and were just enjoying the experience. I couldn’t give up now.
I pushed on and walked for the majority of the race. I jogged when my knee felt to some extent ‘OK’ but this was in 30 second spurts. I decided on 4 minutes of walking then 30 seconds of running for 9 miles. It was hard. More mentally than physically. The crowds were amazing but as they spurred me on and told me to keep running, the more it got to me that I couldn’t fulfil this. However, I stayed strong and stuck with the plan to only run when I felt I could, and to not let peer pressure get to me. I needed to at least not cause any more damage than I felt there was already.
Once I reached the last mile of the race, I could feel myself welling up. I’d made it. I hadn’t given up. The crowds got louder and more enthusiastic, so I ran it home (by ran, I mean a jog that felt fast considering my race pace). I crossed that line proud but for completely different reasons to what I would usually be proud of. I actually think I gained more from this experience than any race I’ve done before
I’m obviously very upset over a poorly knee which means a break from my 100 mile training plan BUT I won’t let it stop me. I’m going to look after it, rest, rehab and recover and get myself in a good position to train again. I’m still staying strong, not pushing through anything I shouldn’t and work with what I can each week.
HIGHLIGHT: Breaking the DNF mindset. I’ve DNF so many races within the past 2 years and it becomes easier just to give up with every race. During this race I managed to put my pride aside and finish a not so perfect race and be proud of what I did achieve.
LOWLIGHT: Being injured (Booo). I now have to deal with a poorly knee and put my 100 mile ultra marathon training plan on hold for a while.