Category Archives: Running

New Zealand

Ok. Now, I understand that my last post involved my reporting on the awesomeness that was South Africa. So why exactly am I now writing a new post entitled New Zealand? Well, as it turns out, I am going to New Zealand! (You’d already got that, hadn’t you?)

You can stop being jealous now. Actually, after the holiday I shall have no money and only 18 days leave to last me until next December, so it’s not all good news!

After the South African holiday which was faily meticulously planned, we’re pretty much winging this one! So far we’ve booked the flights, a hotel for the first 2 nights, a campervan and tickets for 2 rugby matches! I have been looking at our map of New Zealand for a bit, but that may just have been due to my unhealthy obsession with maps.

So. Vague plan:

  • Fly into Wellington.
  • Pick up Rugby tickets.
  • Watch Wales beat South Africa in our opening World Cup match (optimistic but not fantastical!)
  • Get campervan
  • Drive through the North Island
  • Maybe catch another match at some point, if our route coincides with any others
  • Get to Hamilton
  • Watch Wales beat Samoa (realistic)
  • Go to Auckland for a few days
  • Fly home

Also I’ll have to go for a few runs whilst we are there (I know it didn’t happen in South Africa, but I’ve got the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest race a week after we get back and the Cardiff Half Marathon 2 weeks after that, so I have to do something over there!). We are also going to visit a few of the Lord of the Rings sites including, possibly, camping at the foot of Mount Doom! Awesome!

So two more sleeps (possibly filled with dreams of hobbits playing rugby in a campervan) and we’ll be off!


South Africa!

In 4 days time I will be flying to South Africa!

Excited? Moi?

Things I am hoping to do:

  • Go to my friends’ wedding. Which is technically the reason we’re going to South Africa in the first place! They’re getting married on a lodge (safari, not masonic) on which we’ll be staying for a few nights. Amazing.
  • See some wild animals. Proper ones, not just stray cats. Some lions and tigers and bears (Oh my!). Well, maybe not bears. I’m not sure they have them in Africa.
  • Climb Table Mountain. This is something I really, really, really, really want to do! But it is dependent on: a) other people wanting to do it with me as it may not be safe as an individual and b) the weather being nice. Apparently, if the cable car runs, then it’s ok to walk.
  • Relax
  • Go for a couple of runs. Seriously, how awesome would that sound, ‘Yeah, I went to South Africa, went for a run on the beach, I’m cool like that…’? Three of us (who are all doing the Cardiff Half Marathon in the Autumn) are taking our gear with us. We will have to run at the slowest person’s pace though (i.e. me).

Things I am hoping not to do:

  • Get mugged/killed/eaten by said wild animals. Or mugged/killed/eaten by anything else, come to think of it.

We’re flying overnight, so I should be able to sleep and then wake up fresh in Cape Town. However, I do tend to get rather excited on planes (Free food! Films! A MAP!), so I’ll have to be disciplined and make sure I get some sleep on the way over.

Anyone been? Any tips/advice?

Time off

Today is my last day in work before I get 11 days off. There’s lovely, eh? Especially as I’ve actually only had to take 2 leave days to get it. Good ol’ Royal Weddings.

My plans, should you wish to know, are to:

·         Watch some rugby

·         Fell some trees

·         Play football in the park

·         Do some running – I have a 5 mile race coming up on the Bank Holiday for which I am woefully underprepared.

·         Drink beer – I gave it up (under duress) for ‘lent’. I also gave up cheese with my wife, which was far more difficult for her as she is a vegetarian (albeit one that eats fish). I’ve missed pizza.

·         Meet up with friends

·         Do some ‘sorting out of stuff’ that I’ve been putting off for ages – boring paperwork, etc.

·         Wait, as patiently as possible, for the BT man to finally fix our broadband. We’ve had internet access in our new house for 1 night out of the last 4 months.

So there we have it. Not thrilling, but hopefully relaxing. How about you?

Cardiff Half Marathon

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!

Half Marathon

This Sunday is the Cardiff Half Marathon, which I am running in aid of The British Heart Foundation (you can sponsor me here!). I’ve never run 13.1 miles before, so this is really exciting!

I started out with the sole aim of being able to complete the race. That is obviously still my base aim! When I signed up, after being inspired by two close friends who ran it last year, it asked for a predicted time. I put 2 hours 45 minutes. After training for a bit, being able to string more than 1 mile together, and figuring out how to run ‘properly’, I adjusted this to 2 hours 15 minutes. My last big run was 12.6 miles and took me 1 hour 59 minutes. So now, of course, my aim is 2 hours (chip time – start to finish, not race time – gun time to finish). I haven’t really told anyone this and, believe me, I will not be disappointed if it takes longer than this! It’s going to be really difficult to tell how the race is going to go on the day. I still can’t figure out how they are planning on getting 15,000 (I know!) people round Cardiff! So I’m hoping that the adrenalin on the day will balance out the slow start & jostling and I won’t be far off. I think, realistically, that I should be done somewhere in the 2 hours – 2 hours 10 minutes region.

My longest run has been the 12.6 miles one mentioned earlier. I wanted the race to be my first half marathon, so I haven’t covered the full distance yet. But I’m only half a mile short, so the distance shouldn’t be an issue.

I do have a few worries (not really worries, but things that are occupying my thoughts that I probably won’t know until race day):

  • How long will it take me to get accross the start line?! There are 14,999 other runners!
  • Will the drinks stations have cups or bottles?
  • What if I really need a wee (TMI?)?!
  • Should I wear a hat (pros – keeps sweat out of my eyes; cons – might be too warm)?
  • When should we leave the house? Sounds stupid, but last year it was bedlam in town and runners had to jump out of their car a mile from the start and run to get there in time!

along with various other silly things!

I’m figuring that the best thing will just be to enjoy it. Which is my motto for most things in life. So come Sunday morning, I shall put my running kit on, get into town, smile, and run!

Bleeding Love

Yesterday I encountered the most dreaded and feared of all ailments – Runner’s Nipple.

I’m not sure that this is an official term, but it does appear to be widely recognised! I ran 10.2 miles, which is the longest I’ve ever run. It was raining, to which I have attributed a large portion of the blame. I looked down after dashing through my imaginary finishing line to see a reddish circle beginning on my shirt. A bleeding nipple. I didn’t notice at the time as I was actually enjoying (I know!) the running. But as soon as I did it began to sting. Then hurt like buggery (not that I’d know) in the shower afterwards!

But regardless of me attaining this highly sought after emblem, I was very pleased with having run over 10 miles for the first time in my life. Ever. I appear to be on course to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in just under 6 weeks time. Barring injury, race-cancellation, or an escaped bear mauling me as I go through Bute Park, I should be ok to run it all.

This is no time for half-arsedness, dammit. I WILL do it!

A few question for you ‘runners’ out there:

1) Food. Should I be looking for some sort of energy thing to eat during the race? I felt quite hungry at about mile 7 yesterday, but I had only eaten 2 crumpets a couple of hours beforehand.

2) Does one’s nipple toughen up, or is it now a ‘weak spot’ that I need to take extra care with (as if I don’t take enough already!)?

3) There are apparently 15,000 people doing the race! How on earth does that work?!

Return to form

My training for the Cardiff Half Marathon has been rather intermittent so far. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it when I go running, or at least after I’ve done it, it’s just that things seem to get in the way. Nothing specific, just stuff.

I went for a 5 mile run today. I didn’t want to. I just wasn’t in the mood. But I read somewhere that the hardest part about running, especially training, is lacing up your shoes and getting out of the door. So whenever I feel like this, I resolve to do just that. Get outside and start running. I didn’t hold out much hope as I began, but the weather was just right – sunny, but not too hot; breezy, but not windy; cool, but not enough to deter one from wearing shorts! I started out, and began to think about how my speed has seemed to wane slightly from when I first got my running shoes. This struck me as odd. Surely I should be getting quicker, or at least not getting slower! Admittedly, my endurance has improved. Thinking about going for a 5 mile run doesn’t (usually!) fill me with dread that I might die halfway round anymore! However, according to my Nike+ device, I don’t appear to be getting quicker, and I’m struggling to reach the pace that I was at 4 months ago. By the way, I’m not aiming for a specific time at the half marathon. For a first timer, I think that getting round will be enough! I digress. As I thought about my speed deteriorating, I realised that my Nike+ device is (as wonderful and useful as it is) basically just a rather fancy pedometer. It is just measuring your steps based on how it had been calibrated to begin with. I have found previously, that when I run quicker, I tend to have to run further to cover the same distance, i.e. my stride must lengthen as I speed up. I also realised that my running style, if you can call it that, has altered, and that I used to run more on the balls of my feet than I do now. So I decided to go back and concentrate on form. I found that I was running quicker and with less effort. I also finished the 5 miles in less distance than I was covering when I ran ‘5 miles’ previously (that does make sense, honest!).

So it turns out that I’ve been running further than I thought, meaning that my speed hasn’t decreased particularly, I’ve just been running with longer strides. Now I know this, I just need to remember to maintain my form regularly.

Stupid mind & body not working together!