Since the start of the year I had one main goal. Run Cardiff half with a 7 min mile average. I’d worked this out to be 1:31:42. So that was it, mind focused and what I wanted to achieve. In the nearing months I upped my mileage, started doing longer cool downs after parkrun. Sometimes 9 or 10 miles. Everything seemed to be going well and confidence was growing. Then a bit of advice said “to race 13.1 you have to be able to run 15” so training changed slightly and got my longer run upto 15.4, even managed one of them at 7:50 pace. Then with the last few weeks pressure grew and so did tiredness. I felt my last few runs were really laboured and each time I attempted goal pace it felt my limit to do it for a single mile, let alone 13 and a bit extra. I tried not to panick, I knew I was more prepared than ever to run this race. On the day I was a bag of nerves. Luckily a gathering of the other BAC runners was near a hotel at the start and loo breaks were without huge queues. After a last dash and a battle through crowds, a nipped into my pen with a barrier climb. I’d wanted to be near back of pen to give me space from faster runners and allow me to distance myself from people I knew. Having dived in last minute, that was gone. First few miles seemed to zip by. I was running ahead of goal by a few seconds. I knew 4:20 a km was ideal for what I wanted. I always try to run as even as possible in races. Approaching the 6 mile mark I started to think of gels. I’d gambled on one being enough, again at the last minute, I’d actually brought two with me to the race. Gel gone and Mile 10 approaching feeling tough but ok. Then hitting mile 11 I was struggling. Pace was slowing and crowds were stopping me walking. It was like someone had switched the tap off. I knew it was going to be hard from here in. This year I was lucky to have faces waiting for me and seeing these boosted my morale. Approaching the hill of death (fairoak road) I was on empty: I made it up without stopping, first time in 4 attempts. An achievement in itself I felt. Eventually the downhill came and I trundled on down. At last I could feel the finish buzz. The corner was fast approaching and I started to pick it up. I always get a strange excitement feeling at the end of a race, this was no different. I started to tell myself(out loud) to push, repeatedly saying “c’mon, what have you got left” weird I know, but has become a way to dragging everything that’s left out. It felt like I spent every last drop on that finish and I hit a pace of 2:31 per km.
On crossing the line I knew I had missed my target. The clock showing 1:32 something. It didn’t matter, 1:31:42 was the target. As I walked gathered my breath and my legs, I slowly made my way down the funnel to collect my medal and finishing goodies. Gutted that I hadn’t done it. 10 months of hoping and planning all wasted. Nick came over to chat about the race but I was just keen to get out of there. Walking back with Sarah I began to realise. Yes I’d missed a big target, but by 19 seconds. Only just, I’d come so close. And had run 6 minutes faster than the year before and 2:19 off my PB. Suddenly I was proud. That was my hardest goal yet and I was pleased to do the time I did. I’m not done with that one and in fact will go for a faster target next time. Often in running we are dissapointed to not get a time or a place that we wanted. But the really we forget where we started. Cardiff Half 2015, my 4th attempt at Cardiff and fastest yet. 2:11, 1:46, 1:38 and now 1:32:03. I’m never going to be as fast as I want, but that’s just going to make me try harder. Dissapointed to be 19 secs from a goal but can’t really complain on 39 minutes improvement.