Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cardiff 10k - how it went for me

I did what I haven't done for 18months and had a cup and a half of black coffee though it was in the name of running. Having read articles in running magazines and health magazines about the benefits of caffeine to sporting endeavour I gave it a go - though as an experiment I have no way of knowing how it would have gone without (I don't have an identical me around to run the control experiment for me). Needless to say it is my last cup unless, and until, I decide it might be useful for another race event.

Everything went well, I got my food right, I got my kit right, and even timed my arrival at the portaloo start area just right as well. I cycled into the city centre so I had a nice gentle warm up on the way in enjoying the near perfect weather on Sunday morning.
Pre-race during an early dog walk to get moving
- note I already made sure I would find my race number pins later :-)
The race
I had no goal in mind really, I knew my PB was not going to be in any danger but I didn't want it to be my worst time either. Within the start zone I worked out roughly where to put myself in the field, and on purpose choose the outside of the masses on the side of the first major bend. My primary aim was to go out at a pace that felt right, not too fast and not too slow - Goldilocks speed! Through the first mile I felt that I had found the pace I was looking for and began to feel out what could be possible for the miles that followed.

The second mile goes up a the gentlest of inclines along a nice wide street, and here I opted to hold a rhythm rather than try much with pacing. I had figured after the third mile was the place to enjoy the very slight decline and try to move on. My Garmin was telling me good things so I wanted to keep a flow. The support along the route was great, and there was a nice atmosphere amongst the runners. For a change there were not too many latecomers (or nutters) deciding to sprint through the crowds chasing their times, a lot of the runners seemed to be in training for the Cardiff half marathon in a months time so perhaps this helped to make a settled pack of runners.

Through the second half of the race I focused more on maintaining a sensible pace instead of my plan to push along harder. I was not sure what I had in terms of a pace lift, and didn't want to push in any way that might set back my training again. It became clearer to me that I was 'feeling' my way through the thing with the biggest fear being a new injury. Happily my watch was reassuring me that things were steadily moving toward a decent time.

Within the last half a mile I did step on a little and down the final straight-away I strode out without full on sprinting. In the final GPS analysis I managed a happy even pacing and even a negative split (albeit small) for the race. My official finish time was 54min 37sec, my third fastest 10k only a minute slower than the same race last year (which had a much much better preparation phase).
SportsTracks plot of my 2km split times for the Cardiff 10K
I collected my race medal, a very nice little number, that made me smile a nice cheesy "thank you" grin at the volunteer handing them out. Afterwards I collect a free bottle of water then strolled through the athletes village (which was very well appointed with some very tempting shop stands!). On the bike ride home I saw some of the rest of the field coming in and again broke into a cheesy grin or ten at the looks of joy on their faces as the finish line appeared before them. The ride home was good for my legs, which I treated to an ice shower to help any yet to develop aches. Already in my head I was throwing forward to the Swansea 10k and Cardiff Half with excitement having gotten the autumn races off to a good solid start :-)
My fab Cardiff10K completion medal
(that now hangs with my small but growing running medal collection)
Post post-race
Two days on and I am still happy with how it went, the aches developed in a good way (if that is ever possible!) in that I felt mild un-troubling aches in the 'right' places. After a couple of days recovery I now hope to put a good block in before the next race arrives.

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