On Saturday the 26th of March I took part in the Cardiff World Half Marathon. This was my first big race of 2016, one that I had marked as an A race and wanted to finish in a certain time. I wanted to run sub 1:15. The main reason being this gets you championship entry for the London Marathon (and other races). Having completed the Old Deer Park Half Marathon and the Colchester Half Marathon in the 1:16s I was feeling confident going in to the race.
The Saturday before the Cardiff Half Lorna and I did our last long run in training for Paris Marathon. We ran 20 miles at around 5 min/km pace along the river to Greenwich and back. Having done the Colchester Half marathon the previous weekend and with track on Tuesday I was feeling pretty knackered but it was good to get another long run under the race belt. Due to feeling tired after the long run I took it easy for the rest of the weekend and it made me realise my week long taper needed to include more rest days (no running at all) than running days. However, I found it good to run with The Running Works Run Club a couple of days to keep the legs ticking over. I also ran with the Nike lot on Wednesday night.
After getting through the taper without going crazy I travelled to Keynsham (between Bristol and Bath, where my sister lives). With it being a bank holiday weekend and having the race in Cardiff we thought it would be a good chance to catch up and splitting the journey into smaller chunks would be better for me. On Friday night Sarah cooked us an awesome meal, we had a chicken carbonara concoction with Rice. It was a perfect pre-race meal. I got an early night as we had to be up relatively early on the Saturday morning to get the train to Cardiff. We arrived in plenty of time, the expo hadn’t even opened and there weren’t many other people around. Dean and his crew were there though, just chilling in the short queue to get in. I collected my race number with no fuss, had a little look round the expo area, caught up with a few of the Adidas tech reps and chatted with Dean and Alan.
Due to the race not starting until 2 o’clock we had a fair bit of time to kill. I’ve never been that great with hanging around before races but it’s much better when you have someone there with you so you’re not just thinking about the race constantly. It can be tiring thinking about all of the various outcomes and things that can go right or wrong. We found a nice little coffee shop and just chilled in there for a couple of hours. Normally before races I don’t eat a lot, maybe just some cereal, but due to the late start I had a tuna baguette. In an interview last year, around the London Marathon time when Jo Pavey joined Adidas, she said she wakes up really early the morning of a race and has a tuna sandwich. I thought if it works for her I’ll give that a go ha. Suitably fuelled up my sister and I wandered around Cardiff for a bit before heading to the bag drop.
I carried out the normal pre-race procedure of warm clothes off, race kit on, race number pinned on. With the weather taking a turn for the worse (typical as the weather was ok all morning when we would normally be racing) I poncho’d up and headed for the start line.
I ran up and down the start pen a couple of times; my legs were feeling good due to the week-long taper. The elite women sped off and then it was just a short wait until start time. It was cool to see the elite runners coming out of the castle and onto the line. After the contenders had been introduced we were off. I was approximately 100 metres back from Mo and co on the start, therefore there was a bit of a delay crossing the line due to the slight pile up caused by Kamworor tripping on the line. Once across the line the pack spread out pretty quickly, it was always going to be a competitive field being the World Half Championships. I quickly settled into the pace I needed to run to achieve the sub 1:15 half. There was a large group of runners on this pace to begin with.
I knew that I had to run on average 3:33 min/km. I went out a little quicker than required but wanted to bank a decent amount of time so that I wouldn’t be sprinting for the line to finish in the 74s. I’d done a little bit of course research and knew that there were a couple small hills; this is another reason I wanted to do a few kilometres at quicker than 3:33 min/km. The first hill was around the 5k point, still feeling good and on pace I overtook a fair few runners. I carried on at closer to 3:25 min/km for a few kilometres and went through 10k in 35 something. The first 10k was good, the weather was cold (probably not used to racing in a vest and split shorts! Ha) and the wind wasn’t too noticeable. It had rained briefly when we were on the start line but up until about 11k it was relatively dry. This soon changed dramatically, it started tipping it down. Despite the rain the crowds were out in force and the atmosphere was awesome.
With 10k or so to go I started thinking about the runner in front and was aiming to chase down as many people as I could. I also started thinking about the amount of time I had left a) to suffer and b) to go sub 75 minutes.
I was racing the clock. Over the last 5k the wind had picked up, or at least it felt like it had. At points throughout the race I could feel that the wind was strong but it varied a lot. At certain points it was right behind me pushing me along but the last 2k it was horrendous, holding me back. With 2k to go I had 10 minutes or so to make sub 1:15. I knew I had it in the bag; I maintained my pace and crossed the line in 1:13:22. I’d managed a pretty big new PB and most importantly London Marathon championship entry. I was relieved that the race went to plan. After crossing the line I bumped into Emily, she wasn’t running because she has been suffering with a niggle/injury and has the Paris Marathon coming up. She was carrying bags for Jonny and Andy (Jonnys boss) and therefore was waiting for them to fly through the line. Due to the woeful weather I shuffled my way straight to the bag drop to collect my stuff and then meet up with my sister again. It was great to have her there, I saw her out on the course around midway and it gave me a big lift. I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere at the London Marathon and have a good amount of family there cheering me on.
We went back to the coffee shop that we were chilling in in the morning and had a coffee to warm up. Then we met up with Jonny, Dean, Emily and Andy in Slug and Lettuce for a drink to celebrate before heading to L&R for food. As is pretty standard after finishing a race I went with the high protein option of buttermilk fried chicken burger and sweet potato fries, it tasted like the best thing ever after being out in the cold and rain all afternoon. L&R was that nice we got a bit too comfortable meaning we had to run to catch our train back to London. A shakeout run was just what I needed after pushing myself in the race ha. We had to change trains a couple times meaning we didn’t get back in to London until around 11, it was a long day. Luckily I could lie in on Sunday morning before heading to Colchester for housewarming drinks at Alex’s (Lorna’s brother) new pad. Before that we went for pub grub with Rob where I had a massive chicken and leek pie, recovery food done the right way. On the Monday we had Sheila’s awesome roast and Lorna and I made an awesome (If I do say so myself) Easter cheesecake.
Overall it was a great Easter weekend. Well done to everyone that raced over the weekend. I’m travelling to Paris tomorrow ahead of the marathon on Sunday. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend. See a lot of you soon.