My only previous trip to Cardiff city centre was in 2003 when I was asked to shoot a number of rubbish bins at the recently completed Millennium Stadium (don’t let anyone tell you the life of a professional photographer isn’t glamorous…)
So I was doubly pleased to win a last minute place to the World Half Marathon Championships (many, many thanks to Advent Running) this year being held in the Welsh capital.
As it was a last minute place I was going to struggle to get accommodation but luckily one of my club mates was going and had booked an apartment. All I needed was a sleeping bag and roll mat and I was sorted. Friday afternoon saw Gareth and I crawling down the M4 getting into Cardiff 2 hours later than expected but still with plenty of time to meet up with another Handy Cross Runner, Soraya, pick up our race numbers and get to our pre-booked restaurant. It was a good job Gareth had reserved a table as, when we arrived for our 7.30 slot, people were being told the next table available would be 10pm!
Two and a half hours later we left feeling stuffed, and not feeling in any way like athletes!
The race wasn’t going to start until 2.10 on Saturday so I thought I would have a trot around Cardiff parkrun in the morning. Luckily a friend who I’d met at the Marathon Talk run camp a couple of years ago (and again earlier this year) had the same idea so I arranged to meet Anna there. She is training for Boston marathon in late April and wanted to get a few miles in either side of parkrun. This was supposed to be my first week of taper but I figured a few more, slow,miles wouldn’t do me any harm.
The apartment was at the other end of the park so I had a pleasant run towards the start of parkrun; until I realised I didn’t have my barcode, sprinted back to the room and legged it back again to where I was meeting Anna. We then did 2.5 miles around the park before the start.
As we were running we met Mark, one of Anna’s club mates who had also run down to get some extra miles and had the obligatory selfie, all resplendent in red.
I had been checking the weather constantly the day before as it wasn’t looking too friendly but it stayed dry and, down in the park, hardly windy at all. Hopefully this would set the tone for the day as the forecast was for 40mph winds at around 2pm.
It’s a nice flat out and back (ish) course on tarmac paths and probably a quick one. However, having just done 4 miles beforehand, and having 13.1 to do in the afternoon I took it fairly easy. I’d love to come back and have a proper go at another time.
As a parkrun geek I really liked the way they organised the barcode scanners by extending the finish funnel and having a scanner at the end of each exit. So naturally I got a few shots and have fed them back to my local run.
Once parkrun was finished we still had over four hours til the race so there was only one sensible thing to do. Eat a full English (Welsh) breakfast.
We went back to the apartment to get changed and then off to a little cafe Anna had been told about. Full monty breakfasts all round. Happy boy.
We managed to spend a good hour and a half over breakfast then a bit of a wander around town before finally plucking up the courage to take off the warm clothes and don the oh-so-flattering but very welcome ponchos.
Anna went to meet her club mates and I wandered down to the start line to find my starting pen. I bumped into Soraya there and as she was going to run 7.25 minute miles we thought we’d run at least the first part together. I still wasn’t sure whether to go for a good time or just enjoy it but thought a 7.25 pace for the first mile would let me figure out how I was feeling.
But that’s for a later blog.