The Annual Cardiff Half Marathon

The Cardiff Half Marathon is one of the most anticipated races of the year. Thousands come to the city of Cardiff to either watch or compete, and it’s a huge occasion for first time runners, PB chasers and the elite athletes, of course.

The atmosphere around the city got into full flow, boosted by street entertainers in costumes, volunteer bands, buskers, choirs and more. Street decorations dressed the city to add to the fun for runners and spectators.

25,000 runners in total were signed up for this years race. I’d never raced with that many people before, having previously only been involved in the Swansea Half Marathon, where the number of competitors had been in the low thousands. So this experience was something new for me.

My training had been a mixture of good and bad runs. Following weeks of mountain walks, and by increasing mileage and allowing myself less recovery time, I felt I could run a half marathon. Or, at least I thought I could.

As I got in to the starting pen, the crowds were filling up. The pens were jam-packed to capacity with runners. As I looked ahead and behind, all I could see was a sea of bright high visibility clothing.

The siren went off for the first pen, then for the second pen, and then the pen I was in. It was a slow start, as you can imagine. With thousands running on a road, the space is limited. Taking it slowly was my best option as I knew sprinting for space would be a bad idea, as I’d learned from other races

The weather was a great surprise from what was expected. It didn’t pour down with rain as forecasted, it just drizzled slightly throughout, and the sky was grey and calm.

After about four miles my head started pounding, my stomach was in bits, and I felt sick. I had never pulled out from a half marathon before, and had no intention of doing so now.

After approximately eight miles of running, my legs, ankles and  stomach were really feeling the strain. The constant excess of running, and my recent climb of Ben Nevis, had provided me with  little rest, and was now really taking its toll.

At ten miles I really started to struggle, for my head was still pounding. There was this feeling of unease in my stomach and I felt positively sick. Also,running with so many people felt claustrophobic, as if I couldn’t breathe or escape sometimes.

I pulled in to a water station and drank as much water as possible. I also had a Lucozade drink from the previous station to hand, sipping ever so slowly throughout. The stop took about 10 seconds, during which time the following thoughts went through my head.

‘I’ve come this far…Why stop?’ ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ ‘ I’m nearly there!’ ‘ There are so many people… it’s embarrassing if I pull out now.’ ‘ I can do it!’ ‘Only three miles left.’

I pulled myself together and carried on very slowly. All I needed to do was just not give up. I had never given up and didn’t intend to. This race was tough mentally. I just had to think positively.

Then Hell Hill came. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it. It was  just mental pressure, as it had to be run after already racing for ten miles or so. It all felt as though I was running into the sky, and the climb uphill would last forever.

As I got towards the last mile marker, I was ecstatic and relieved at being so close to the finishing line. I’m sure many others felt the same.

My time at the finishing line was 2:25:56. It was not one of my best times, but I had, after all, completed the course. I was happy to have completed the course, having managed to deal with the mental challenges the race had presented to me.

Another race finished and another challenge done for charity.

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