I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon yesterday for the fourth time. The sun was smiling on Cardiff and the 18,000 runners started to the chimes of the Cardiff Castle clock.
These are some of my thoughts over the 13.1 miles:
STARTING PEN: I can see the start arch. I must be too far forward. Blimey that tannoy is so loud! Everyone around me looks a bit too fit. I might just try to edge back a bit... Oops, stepped on another runner. I'm stuck! I need a wee.
MILE 1: Must try to get rid of knackered old fleece that's keeping me warm without annihilating anyone in the cheering crowds. Bye bye fleece! Hello people waving from bedroom windows in fluffy pink dressing gowns.
MILE 2: This is LOVELY! Cheering crowds in Grangetown, decent pace, feeling GOOD! Ooh look, a gorilla!
MILE 3: Everyone is running past me. Apart from the ones who are walking. Overtaken by Yoda. Quite a fast runner, Yoda is. First water stop. Lovely.
MILE 4: Overtaken by Mr Potato Head, Buzz Lightyear and a bloke dressed as a lifeboat. It's a bit crowded but the pace is comfortable.
MILE 5: This is BRILLIANT! Runners around me are talking of 2:15 pace. I can't do that but they're overtaking me so that's okay. This is my favourite part - over Cardiff Bay Barrage. Overtaken by three blokes wearing Speedos. Just Speedos. Hello Dr Who Experience.
MILE 6: Straight down Lloyd George Avenue. This has been the start/finish in previous years. Hello air cadets, thank you for the gels. The road is sticky from discarded gel packets. It's like running on Velcro. Thank you lovely spectator person for the wine gums! Hello Senedd.
MILE 7: More friendly cheering crowds. This is like being in the Olympics! Is the the legacy that Lord Coe was talking about? I think so. Long may it last.
MILE 8: I'm running on the spot. And hallucinating. I'm pretty sure a tall pink furry thing has just overtaken me with an ironing board strapped to its back. Weird.
MILE 9: I'm running, facing forwards but going backwards. How is that possible? Overtaken by the Jamaican bobsleigh team carrying their bobsleigh and singing 'You've Lost That Loving Feelin'.
MILE 10: I can't feel my toes. Actually I can feel my toes and I wish I couldn't. Ow, ow, OW! The road is littered with the corpses of abandoned Mars Bars.
MILE 11: I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN THIS IS HELL! More water. Thank you. Morphine would have been better. I'll just have a little walk. I NEVER walk in half marathons. This is BAD. Feel better after a few moments and run again. Second wind. It hurts but I think I may finish in a reasonable time, if not my best.
MILE 12: Woman crossing the road with toddler in one hand and pushchair in the other clips my heel and sends me sprawling. I scream SH*T!!! in front of crowds of friendly spectators, while pushchair woman looks horrified. Gallant, chivalrous man puts out arms to catch should I fall. Luckily I stay upright by flailing arms and legs like a stranded starfish. Brave man had a lucky escape. I'd have flattened him and covered him in sweat. Surge of adrenaline speeds me away from embarrassing scene and up nasty bit of hill.
MILE 13: Pushchair incident has shocked all joints in legs and pelvis. Ankle feels awful. Can hardly walk, let alone run. Hobble along feeling sorry for self. Surrounded by other walkers. I've never been this far back in the field.
FINISH: Speedy expert runner, with medal already around neck, yells that we'll be able to see the finish around the next corner. Force body to run. I CAN SEE THE FINISH! Sprint for the line overtaking corpses on the way. Grab medal and say thankyouthankyouthankyou to all the stewards and volunteers at the finish. Hobble away carrying goodie bag and medal.
Cardiff Half Marathon history: 2009, 2 hours 25 mins; 2010, 2 hours 17 mins; 2011, 2 hours 25 mins; 2012, 2 hours 40 mins.
That's my last one for the time being. I've finally been forced to admit that the training required to get to 13.1 miles in exacerbating my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction - a condiditon I developed during pregnancy. It's difficult to run that far with a wobbly pelvis and I've found that my weekly limit is a maximum of 17 miles, not the 25 miles plus I need to be able to do. So it's strength training, shorter runs, cycling and 10ks for me for a bit.
As for half marathons, I know I said never, but...