Monday, December 22, 2014

Cardiff Half marathon 2014 - my race review

A much overdue race report that I found in my drafts folder during some pre-end of year housekeeping....

 Cardiff Half marathon 2014 
Cardiff city centre - October 5th 2014 - website

My impressions from the day -
Course: 10/10 - simple, flat, quick, well set out.
Marshalling: 6/10 - quality great, quantity not enough - particularly around the start area (more on that in my report below).
Facilities: N/A - as I work near the start / finish I used those facilities for baggage, toilets, and so forth.
Organisation: 10/10 - The start / finish area was fabulously laid out, and the facilities great.
Fellow runners: 6/10 - not a lot of care for fellow runners shown at times, otherwise a great atmosphere.
Crowd: 9/10 - brilliant and vocal support almost all the way round, obviously the barrage was a quiet spot but the city centre was packed.
My performance: 10/10 - given my lack of consistent training I couldn't not have asked much more of myself realistically.
My time: 2:05:41
Pic from the Cardiff Half facebook feed - I can find myself, I don't expect anyone else to ;-)
My race :
I got to the start right on time having cycled to work changed and walked down the the well organised start area. There were lots of signs in evidence and good numbers of marshals shepherding us towards our appropriate time bins in the start chute. The start in fact being right in front of Cardiff Castle was good and spacious, though it was very quiet when I arrived it filled up quickly. I hung out right at the back of the bin knowing that my injury hit preparation had not left me in the shape I had predicted way back when I entered.

Just before the start of the race as we moved toward the front of zone a woman came walking back and collapsed in front of us. I was saddened that so many simply turned their gaze away and carried on towards the start - everyone is chip timed a few moments to help would do nothing to their eventually run times. In the end a small group did congregate around to help her, I was stood nearer the barriers and so yelled will my not inconsiderably loud voice to the marshals who were a very long way in either direction. She was helped to the side as more and more people pushed passed desperately ignoring the situation in their lemming-like desire to get to the start line. In the end a marshal attended and I hope told her not to run. I set off feeling a bit dis-chuffed with my fellow runners.

First three miles - I spent my time trying to work out what pace my body might reasonably be able to hold for the distance and plumped initially for a just sub-2hr pace. As you can see from my GPS graph that ended up being a lofty goal. In mile 3 there is the only long hill of note, and it was there that I realised I needed to cool my pace a bit.

Mile 3 to 6 - keeping up the effort level became my goal, as I knew by then that sub-2hr was not on. From here I relaxed a bit more having had the distractions of the start area on my mind, and through half way a major pinch point on the course (as it enters the barrage) was negotiated with no mishaps.

I think my overall pace trend is fairly self evident
Miles 6 through to 9 - were where I started indulging in a fuel gel and the water stops, neither of which proved successful as I had not practiced either enough and I ended up with a bloated sore tummy for a couple of miles. It was around here that I began digging in to make sure of being around the 2:05 mark. The crowds really did begin to build through this section. It seems that I missed waving at my wife and kids because they were weigh-laid for a newspaper interview (about why daddy was running today) just as I went by. I didn't make it into the newspaper, but I did chuckle at the expert timing and was super pleased that they had made the effort to get out to the halfway mark to try and catch me.

Mile 9 until the end - this is where I had the most familiarity with the course as it was where I started running 'properly' many years ago. Especially the course went around the park that I had struggled to run/walk as a much lardier novice runner trying to get 10K fit. Knowing that the finish was coming and be able to picture every lump and bump in the road to get there helped no end. Feeling that my pace was really suffering through the 11th mile I focused on just letting my legs roll and being not too far from 2:05.

The finish line was right outside the Royal College of Welsh Music and Drama (which is a fantastically striking piece of architecture), and as usual I pulled out a last minute dash for the line. Happily this time being more careful and not clattering into anybody else. The area afterwards was brilliant, the best laid out of any welsh race I've attended and very much on keeping with Cardiff's ambitions to be a major UK half-marathon.

Overall I was very happy with my levels of efforts if not my base fitness, and aside from the start area misfortune was massively impressed with the race organisation. My cycle home with my medal was a good one, with the entire day topped by the delight on my kids faces when the saw my new metalwork - I still haven't the heart to really explain that everyone gets one not just the top three like in the Olympics!! ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trying to avoid the Christmas feast

Over the next few weeks I will mostly be trying to avoid the temptation to over indulge in Christmas feasting which is essentially an annual pitfall of mine. To achieve my food goals I am hoping the calorie counting approach combined with some regular turbo trainer sessions will see me through to January without extra poundage. Last week I suffered one of those Winter stomach bugs and found I over compensated when my stomach let me eat properly again.

The weekends parkrun went really well, I took it on feeling that a PB is in me waiting to get out. Unfortunately the stomach bug fatigue robbed me of the umph to go and get that quicker time, really happily though I did manage a consistent time that matched my last two parkruns. Perhaps Santa can drop a PB down the chimney for me over the Christmas and New Years period.

Over the next week I have to get myself into gear and get my Bath Half training on the road, so I am on the hunt for a good 11-12 week program. I'll thinking of a 'beginner' one so that I don't throw myself into it too hard as my main goal is Berlin and I am going to do all I can to avoid injury niggles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wittering on Wednesday - How to stick to a resolution

How? Well, it is simple really "Don't make a resolution at New Year's, make it when you want to".

There it is 'easy'.  To explain... well even the explanation is pretty straightforward, it seems to me that those resolutions that stick are invariably those made when it was "the right moment".

Sure a New Years resolution can work (don't let me put anyone off), but the 'stickability' comes down to factors like:-

  • mental preparedness - i.e. does it simply feel like the right time for action?
  • collection or body of information that will act as leverage
  • belief - do you really believe in the need for the change or does the fact everyone is doing it make it 'the thing to do'? Do you have as they say in some circles 'Buy-in'
  • life situation
  • other external stimuli (imminent event, new job, family changes, illness, etc.)

Whenever you make a change - "Make it for yourself and make it stick. Good luck!".

Monday, December 08, 2014

Things are taking shape

Things with my running are beginning to crystallise for 2015, I have signed up for three races (two halves and a full marathon) and I have a several plans in full swing. At the moment I have shifted 10 pounds (4+kg) in the last couple of months, I have brought my 5k parkrun PB down (I'm knocking on the door of sub-25mins now), and I have a roadmap set out to try and achieve a good PB in Berlin next autumn.

For the moment my biggest concern is getting in and out of Christmas with diet intact and waistline smaller than it is now. Due to having lost well recently I am hoping that the New Year can bring a new trousers mini-spending spree that will really be a marker of good progress.

I hope with the holidays coming I will have a little more time to write about progress. I am not making any New Years resolutions, I am only determined to meet my Berlin PB goal - have you set yourself any 2015 challenges?