Club member Richard McCarthy reports from his home town half marathon event.
Cardiff Half Marathon: 6th October 2013
The self-proclaimed “Europe’s Finest Half Marathon” was one race I wasn’t going to miss this year. Running an event back in my home town, and now in a club vest, this was going to be the highlight of my running calendar. I first ran this race as a “fun runner” back in 2009 (and much fatter) so I couldn’t wait to see how I have improved with a big helping hand from TBH.
A chilly but sunny morning, I waited for my mate Kev outside Burger King (without quarter pounder). A bit of banter, the obligatory wee, and we bid each other good luck and went to our coloured sections. I was eager to start just to warm up. A nice touch was to have a rendition of the Welsh national anthem just before the gun. All 19,000 runners lined up outside Cardiff Castle looked great.
The route took you straight over the River Taff past the Millennium Stadium and towards the hallowed turf of the Cardiff City Stadium. The first two miles I felt like I was flying, and this was to be my downfall later on. Trying to keep up with the faster club runners around me I realised that I was averaging 7 min/miles – way too fast for me! After a cheeky little climb at mile 3 the route dropped into Penarth Marina (apparently Tom Jones has a boat here), which is nice and flat as you cross the picturesque Barrage. Great support lined the route at this point and I tried to pick the pace up once more.
The route then cut through Cardiff Bay, past the Welsh Assembly building, down a ramp into Roald Dahl Plass (which you Torchwood fans will recognise), then past the Millennium Centre and straight down Lloyd George Avenue. Helped by the sunshine, this was the best section of an already attractive route through Cardiff. I felt I was getting tired already, so I tried to take my mind off this by looking for people in the crowd that I might know – and quickly spotted Kev’s family – a welcome boost.
The route then sends you down around the Magic Roundabout, past Cardiff Prison then out towards Albany Road (a busy high street full of shops). The support down here was fantastic, plenty of cheers and it really did make a difference. At one point it seemed that the crowd were encroaching on the runners and it felt like a stage at the Tour de France (well to me anyway!). From here, past Roath Recreational Ground, you then run one lap of Roath Park Lake before heading for the finish. At Mile 10 I found my pace dropping off significantly. All I could think about on my way around was my target of sub 1hr 40, and I had already broken my 10k PB and I was well on my way. However, I just didn’t have enough left in the tank, possibly because I pushed myself too hard at the start (and shouldn’t have had those few beers on Friday night). After the lake the support started to increase again, and I noticed a number of students in their pyjamas lining one section of the road, nice of them to get out of bed and show support!
A final kick for the finish line (and a shout from Maire and my mum) and I crossed in 1:42:29 – a new PB so I’ve got to be happy with that! The biggest lesson for me is to run my own race in the first 3 miles, and in hindsight I wish I had queued for my free photo with Colin Jackson at the finish! But the important point is that I beat my GNR time from 3 weeks ago and gained some more valuable race experience.
I could happily skip the GNR next year, but I won’t miss this one. Europe’s finest? Well absolutely!