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Saturday 26 March 2016

World Half Marathon Championships

The first of our two part holiday consisted of three nights in Cardiff where we were running in the World Half Marathon Championships. Yes, fame at last.

We headed over in the car on Good Friday listening to ‘Career of Evil’. I had secured camping in the city centre at Pontcanna Fields right behind Glamorgan’s Cricket Ground which is a stone’s throw from Cardiff Castle and therefore the start of the race. In fact it’s a stone throw from almost everywhere, the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff City’s Stadium... Cardiff seems to be a very compact place.

After arriving we wandered over to the Expo at the Cardiff Arena to collect our race numbers and size up the opposition. There is no sign of Mo though, who has clearly already done his sizing up.

Part of the race pack is a rain cape, which is a nice touch from the most expensive race I’ve ever entered, but we won’t be needing that we think on what is a gloriously sunny day. Well, that was Friday, Saturday (race day) was a different universe entirely consisting of leaden skies, rain and near gale force gusts of wind. So yes that rain cape came in very useful.

With a 2.10pm start (for TV one imagines), this was one of those races where you really don’t know what to do with yourself beforehand with far too much morning to play with and no idea what to eat or not eat. We get the campsite cafĂ© to do us a bacon sandwich rather than a full breakfast baguette.

Then we stash the dogs in the car, put the rain capes on and walk to the start across Sophia Gardens where we could see some the elite teams warming up. In fact Doggo had tried to leg one of them up on his walk earlier. Bless him, always trying to help out.

The race started on time without incident unless of course you count Rhydian Roberts murdering Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ or you were eventual winner Geoffrey Kamworor who fell on the start line. Then there is a mass rustling of rain capes being removed as we all run off in pursuit and straight into a head wind. I’m sure none of us got anywhere near Geoff.

My physio has told me to start slowly to preserve my dodgy calves. She suggested nine minute miles, L protested that was a sprint and suggested something unprintably slower. First mile 8:10, damn. Second mile 8:00, damn. Then the 1:45 pacer chap overtook me. Third mile 7:54. I trust my legs that they know what they’re doing and just roll with it.

By now we are approaching with some trepidation the exposed Cardiff Bay Barrage given the increasingly strong wind and the rather large black cloud overhead. It is a time to start drafting behind others, so I find the taller runner I can and slot in behind him. Even he doesn’t shelter me much when the heavens open and we are all attacked by a horizontal rain storm propelled on gale force winds.

Thankfully it is brief and the weather soon returns to being simply miserable. I actually quite enjoy it, not getting injured yet is also a bit of a bonus. Each mile ticked off is greeted with glee as it’s one less to walk when the calves inevitably go. Not that it’s easy to see the miles markers to tick them off as the wind has flattened a fair few of them.

At eleven miles I realise that the calves perhaps aren’t going to go after all and it is also at this point that I can no longer hold on to the 1:45 pacer but he has done me a sterling job as I cross the line uninjured and happy in 1:46:20.

Having actually got quite warm on the run it is only now that I’ve finished that I discover how cold and wet it actually is. Thankfully they were belatedly handing out foil blankets, which they hadn’t initially been doing at the finish line. I could have done with another rain cape!

I start to head back to the car for warm clothes but realise that I have no chance of making it there and back before L finishes. I should probably have left a bag at the finish so I do what most people seemed to be doing, sheltering from the elements in the City Hall against the wishes of the doormen but who seemed to have given up trying to stop people.

I had arranged to meet L at meeting point ‘Z’ but they had only put ‘A’ to ‘E’ up, which wasn’t very helpful. Eventually though we are reunited and we hobble back to the campsite together.

In the evening (which is actually as soon as we get back to site) we sit in our Adidas race technical t-shirts in the local pub ‘Y Mochyn Du’ on Sophia Close, where we also were last night. They have a decent selection of Welsh ales and reasonable food. On Sunday we couldn’t get any food there and headed into the town centre instead to some Wetherspoons clone type of place.

We stay until Monday but don’t get up to much on the Sunday, gentle walls with the dogs around Cardiff and swapping race\injury stories with our neighbours on the campsite. One of our neighbours walked the whole thing due to injury and regularly does much longer\madder distances.

Monday we head home for a night before heading off for holiday part two on Tuesday.

(Saturday 26th March) 

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