So, it turns out that I didn’t blog about the half marathon!
I did it! Took me 2 hours 12 minutes and 39 seconds according to the timing chip. Not as quick as I’d expected, but I got round!
I was very excited before it began. Here I am with my wife sporting her rather fetching ‘Team Aled’ hoodie:
She even manages to make that look hot!
Being as I’d never run a race with this many people before (around 12,500!), I had no idea what to expect at the start. It turns out that people start queuing for the start early! I was well behind where people who run at ‘my pace’ should have started. I knew then, that I was going out to enjoy it, rather than go for a time.
The first few miles were a lot slower than I wanted to do, but there were a lot of people to get round! The trouble was that I was then running at other people’s pace, rather than my own. This, in turn, made me run slower and more flat-footed.
I got into my stride around the 4 mile mark, having already seen my parents and my sister cheering along in the Hayes. This was where I first spotted my friend who was going to try and see me in a few places (he’d brought his bike along!). As we ran down through Bute Park, past Sophia Gardens, I felt really good. Thoroughly enjoying running through town, with plenty of people lining the roads to cheer us all on.
As I passed the halfway point, I spotted a big group of my friends who had got out of bed uncharactaristically early for a Sunday to watch. They’d even made a banner!
I made a brief detour to give them all High Fives!
It was after this that I realised that not keeping my form and pace from the start was going to hurt. My little bursts of speed as I went past people I knew started to twinge at my calves. But I figured if I was sensible and stopped to stretch I’d be ok.
The other problem I’d envisioned before the race also came to the fore. Toilet break. I’d been ignoring it since mile 3! As we got past 8 miles I spotted portaloos. Brilliant. There were even ‘porta-urinals’ (this is a word I may have made up, but they were excellent. No doors to slow you down, run in one end, do your business in the trough, and run out the other end! I’d never seen such an invention before, but they’re a great idea!
Penarth passed really quickly, despite having to stop to stretch. I also saw another banner up for me (I’d had a text the night before from a friend saying that she probably wouldn’t be up in time to watch as she’d had a few drinks, but they’d made a poster and put it up in the window of their kitchen which I was to run past!). This made me smile as I went by, and I could see people looking at me as if I was special, running past apartment blocks and grinning!
I got to the barrage and, thankfully, it wasn’t too windy! I donated my half-eaten bag of haribo to a lady who was telling her friend next to her that she was struggling. She seemed to appreciate it!
Miles 11 and 12 went by. Then came Lloyd George Avenue. From the route beforehand it looked as if we went almost halfway up, then doubled back to the finish. But we had to go almost all of the way up! I could hear people panting, swearing, asking where the turning point was!
Here I am heading AWAY from the finish line!
My legs were permanently cramped by this point, but I’d promised myself a good ‘sprint’ finish! So I locked my ankles and gave it my best. I was pumping my fists and grinning like a nutter! I was so happy. I’d finished my first half-marathon!
P.s. It turns out that the actual distance of the race was 211 yards short of a half marathon due to a last minute change of route because of scaffolding. It did annoy some people, but I know I started much further back than that behind the start line, so I definitely covered the distance! And I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway!