With Chicago Marathon firmly behind me and NYC Marathon sending me a ballot rejection, all eyes were on my next race; a dip back into 13.1 miles. Not such a long haul of a journey this time, more of a road trip to Wales and the city of Cardiff – my first race in Wales and in the IAAF World Half Marathon Champs.
With no Spring marathon entered for the first time in four years my training had been a much lesser commitment. Still feeling fit from Chicago I mixed up my training a bit more, with 2-3 runs per week, cycling and weight sessions. The one thing missing was the mileage. I was no longer needing to put in the 18-20 mile long Sunday run, which, to be honest, was a nice change and something my body was thankful for.
With Easter falling early this year, the race was on the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend, meaning I had Friday off to prepare and Monday off to recover. A long day ahead, we set off from Dorking just after 7am to reach the race expo by the 11am cut-off.
Making it into Cardiff by 10am we now just had four hours to kill before the 2.10pm race start time. Why so late in the day to start a race I don’t know?
The expo was small with the usual nutrition and apparel stands. However there were one or two which we had not seen at an before – Wetherspoons pub for instance, had a stand, pushing the post celebration side of running.
The weather was not exactly Spring-like and with the clouds building and wind picking up it was starting to get cold, gloomy and not ideal running conditions.
In my starting corral outside Cardiff Castle, with flames burning, a Welsh choir singing and Rhydian from X Factor belting out a very good version of Elbow’s One Day Like This, I couldn’t wait to get started. Professional athletes introduced, including Mo Farah, and 90 seconds later we were over the line.
Very busy for the first 3-5 km I found it hard to get into a good rhythm as the roads did not seem wide enough for the amount of runners. A quick loo stop at 6 km and there was daylight and room to get into stride.
The weather started to turn quite stormy so it was a case of head down and battle on through. Support was good to start with however, as we made our way further into the race, it became much more sporadic. Where there was support however, it was very good. Cheering, handing out of drinks/sweets and the cry of ‘Go Dayno’. Water stations seemed to be every 4-5 km.
Of all the days/races this was when I needed gadgets the most however I had left my music with Ro at the start line and the strap on my Garmin was broken. Alongside this the drawstring of my compression shorts had disappeared and more so than anything else I had lost part of the soles on both my running trainers.
Hanging in there and trying to keep positive I managed to keep a decent pace and felt pretty good. Wind howling as we went across Cardiff Bay we were then treated to a several minute blast of rain which was monsoon-esque and came with a flurry of hail.
To describe the wonderful delights/scenery on offer would be hard, I could barely take in the views due to the weather conditions and just fixed my eye line on the road ahead. I am sure on a less stormy day Cardiff is a beautiful place.
A fairly flat course, there was the odd incline. One just after 5 km, a decent hill just after 10 km and probably the biggest inclince at 12 miles which was not ideal. Circling a park was the final big loop and it was then onto the last kilometre and the big finish.
Coming down the finish straight, support was good, the MC was loud and the rain was falling but there in the distance I saw my ever present wing lady Ro cheering me on looking like a drowned rat. She is always there and is what drives me to many a finish line.
Finish line crossed, the coldness quickly kicked in and walking slowly through the finish process in singlet and compression shorts I was becoming very cold. For what seemed like the longest walk through with no real goodies to collect other than a banana, more water, and the souvenir t-shirt I was out.
Meeting up with Ro shortly afterwards, we both said WTF is going on with the weather and headed as quick as possible back to the car and straight out of Cardiff to be home to watch Germany v England in the football. The conditions were so bad, we didn’t even stop for the obligatory post-race photo.
All in all it was one hell of a long day and a shame the weather ruined it to a certain degree but I was glad to have ran the World Half Marathon Championships.