Monday, 15 October 2012

Thoughts on a half marathon

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...


  1. Congratulations, Mags! Hugely, hugely well done - I felt so emotional (not to mention wistful) just reading your post - you did brilliantly

    1. Thanks Chris, I did badly not brilliantly but I still got my medal (just call me Muttley!)

  2. Mags - you dug deep and carried on after a collision which would have finished a lot of runners off that late in the race when it's so tough - that's brilliant in my book! S*d the time - you've got the medal!
    HOpe the legs aren't too bad today.

    1. Yes s*d the time! It actually only matters for a day or so. As for the legs, well let's just say that stairs are a little tricky today!

  3. Well done. S*d everything. You did it.

    I'd secretly like to do something like that too but am fairly certain it will never happen - so shall get vicarious pleasure from your achievement.

    1. Thank you - and secretly wanting to is probably enough to get you round a half marathon. Just a little extra running practice needed on top of your dog walking! It is worth it for the sense of achievement at the end. I said I'd only do one, now I've done four and am planning the fifth! Honestly if I can do it with my dodgy back and wobbly pelvis, anyone can!

  4. Well done on the race and a fab race report! I did the Cardiff Half too, it was my first half ever! The miles were a blur but I remember doing the first 6 miles too fast then panicking and slowing up far too much. The stream of people passing me was embarrasing! Then at about mile 10 a spectator said only 5k to go and this gave me a massive boost cos I knew I could do that. Oh and the gel I'd just had helped and I'd spotted someone who I really wanted to beat, lol. I completed it in 2:27 and I'm dead chuffed with it. Oh and I did beat my friend ;o)

    1. Oh well done! That's brilliant for a first half! It's a good feeling getting that medal isn't it?! I hope that has spurred you on to do another next year. I won't be there but I'll definitely be doing it again - in 2016 to celebrate my 50th birthday!

    2. You deserve a few races off after competing for so many consecutive years. It was enough if an effort for me to compete once!

  5. Oh, well done, Maggie! Not your best time, but you finished. And lived to tell the tale. I could never do that. (Can you even imagine a Bear running a half marathon?)

    And now you can go into retirement — until the next time.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

    1. Thank you Mr Bear and I'm only temporarily retired - I've decided a half marathon will be the perfect way to celebrate my half century!

  6. Well done. I would be extremely pleased with that time these days. SPD is nasty - friend of ours had it badly and was hospitalised for last 3 months of pregnancy. Mind you, did you know that SPD is also the name of a the most popular type of cycle peddle!


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