If You Want To Know a City, Run A City.

lastCDF

My last run in Cardiff with CDF runners :'[

May, 2017. I’m teetering on the edge of moving 400 miles away to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Emotions right now- kind of shitting it frankly. Things I’ve been doing this week: packing up (well, putting off packing up) my things; selling furniture to friends and randoms on the internet; getting ghosted by unreliable flakes on Gumtree, and worrying about being murdered by said flakes in the unlikely event they do show up. There’s been a million trips to the charity shop. I’ve made pilgrimages to the tip to jettison the old broken computers and dusty duvets that have amassed in my flat. If you have ever moved, you know the struggle.

I’ve been in Cardiff, intermittently, for about four years, and it’s a city I know well. The third time I arrived in Cardiff I had just come from London. By comparison Cardiff seemed the chill, walk-able city I was needing after the never ending hustle of the big smoke. I was working from home and needed to exercise. I started running and started this blog.

So, back to the present. Before I get the 11.30 flight from Cardiff to Belfast, and say goodbye, here’s a retrospective. A wistful remembering of the locations of Cardiff I’ve had the pleasure of clomping around. From the joyful sight of the ducklings and goslings in Roath Park to several near leg breaks on the slippery wooden slats of Cardiff Bay.

The most excellent photos in this blog are provided by Amy Genders. The less good photos are by me.

-Cardiff City Centre-

I’ve always enjoyed running right in the heart of the city. It’s a great way to see what’s going on, what the city is about. You have to nip between traffic, depending on how adventurous and fast you’re feeling. Cardiff is flat so your only challenge is the crowds on St Mary’s or Queen Street, just pick your time when the crowds are low. I was too scared to run down the posh arcades but I wanted to. The very few times I managed to get out of the door before 7 a.m., I enjoyed seeing the city wake up. People are always around- Queen Street was always surprisingly busy with rubbish collectors and store deliveries. The smell of rubbish mixed with kick-starting coffee. Sometimes, an occasional glimpse of a rat or fox skulking in the dawn light. And the other guaranteed early riser- the runners diligently following their training plans.

CDF‘s Monday routes ended right in the centre near the Nike Store. Jamie’s Italian and the John Batchelor statue, the summer and winter end points. I remember gasping to the finish line whilst people sat, smoked and sipped coffee outside Starbucks. One of my favourite things- the cheers directed at other, non-CDF runners at the finish line. Seeing their confused faces as they went on by. Don’t be bamboozled folks, just take the applause! You’re out running in the centre. Good on you.

The city’s constantly changing, and runners find the news. Bill Bailey jokes that he doesn’t trust us because we’re always the ones that find the bodies. Occasionally, my normal route was interrupted by something out of turn. Once it was police tape cordoning off a crime scene, another time I ran past the blackened burnt out shell of a bus that had caught fire.

When you run a city, you get all of the city- the good, the bad. You log the landmarks, you discover secret parts. Little-known routes that spiderweb outwards and connect the big locations up together. You cross fellow runners and get the wave/nod of acceptance, you see some really great dogs. Unfortunately, you get the street harassment. I’ve learnt my in-built politeness filter is severely impeded on long runs, and anyone who catcalls me gets slurred expletives served right back before I can stop myself. The responses I give are never clever. After 9 miles, my only response to comments on my arse is a slurred ffffuuuuckkkkk youuuuuu before I’m gone, a mad echo of an angry woman just trying to run in public. But off-putting  as the comments get (and maybe others have had different experiences), Cardiff has never felt unsafe to me, regardless of the time of day I chose to get out there.

-Bute Park-

What’s not to love about Bwte Parc? It’s big, it’s shady, it’s leafy, it’s where CDF host their summer runs. It’s like the green heart of the city. A big event scheduled? Chances are you’ll find it here, interrupting our normal running schedule: football championships, flower shows, food festivals, even races you haven’t signed up for are taking up space in Bute Park and only serving to clog up your route. One time I gate crashed an Alfie’s Angels training run in the park that was being filmed for broadcast and the crew applauded me. I waved back and hoped for TV fame. Alfie himself ran past me. I felt secretly superior as they were running a 10k and I was finishing a 10 miler. HA.

I remember Bute Park in the summer, the hottest day of 2016. I ran the sweatiest 3k of my life, and secretly hated all the couples lounging on the grass and the students with their illegal BBQs. In the winter the park shuts early so you have to escape through the gap in the hedge near Castle Mews. (Or walk round to the 24 hour entrance, but who’s got time for that?)

The park’s got a lot of variety. I really liked the off road bit underneath the trees alongside the river and the sport pitches. I always worried for the kids who launched themselves off Blackweir Bridge into the water.

– Lloyd George Avenue-

LGA01

It goes by many names. Lloyd George Avenue. Lloyd George. LGA. Llolly Jezzer. The Straight Up n’ Down Menace.

If you’re part of CDF you know the route well. The out and back, the flatness, surviving the first straight of LGA, the pretty run along the twinkly bay side and restaurants, past Techniquest and then back on LGA for more straight road punishment. At the bottom of LGA, whisper a silent prayer to the running gods to switch the traffic lights. Green if you’re going for a fast time. Red if you’re dying and you need a legitimate reason to stop.

A massive rat died on Lloyd George and its body stayed there for a little over a week. Being basically outside my house, I ran past it quite a lot, keeping an eye on it. It got more rancid and mysteriously kept subtly altering its location, as if it was picked up by seagulls but was too far gone even for them. Other fellow runners noticed it too. We bonded over it. We named him Old Lloyd. Then one day he was gone, carried off into the night or resurrected, we’ll never know. I miss him.

– Cardiff Bay and Penarth-

I was so lucky to be living close to the Barrage. I had a real feeling of achievement when I first ran all the way around it. Completing that loop. I remember Pokemon GO: there were a lot of rare Pokemon to be caught along the barrage. (Remember that fad?) I’ll admit I planned my running route to go out and catch ’em all.

The bay is so scenic, it changes quickly, from Doctor Who to sea front to pretty boats to new apartment buildings and back to town. When the weather changes, as it does very often in Cardiff, these views change too, so it’s hard to get bored. When I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon, a helicopter flew overhead as I was crossing the barrage. I imagined sweeping camera angles and  pretended I was in a movie.

Once you’ve gone round the barrage you’ll find Penarth and some hills. Finding a hill in Cardiff is tricky but they’re there. Oh, they’re there. Waiting patiently for you. I actually secretly enjoy hill sessions, everyone works hard and stays together as you all run up and down the same incline like maniacs. There’s a good winding path off of Terra Nova Way where we had some solid hill sessions. Amy took a cool photo:

penarthhillghibli

It was like a Ghibli movie, sparkly and magical but with hill repeats. Then we ran back home across the barrage in the dark like badasses. The barrage is pretty brutal in the dark, by the way. The roar of the sea in your ears and very little street lighting in your eyes. If that doesn’t get you up to tempo pace then I don’t know what will.

There’s so much more in this city. I could waffle on more but I won’t. Snapshots of Roath Park, where I ran in my uni days with my friend Nicky whilst we talked about boys. Running up the hills near Penylan Library with the Moti run club.  Cosmeston Lake, taking things off road- the medieval village there and the mud and the RAIN. So great. Running to work, running to choir, running for the sole reason of buying Magnum ice creams and running back with the box in my bare hands. People laughing at the lady who literally ran for ice cream. I let them laugh. Magnums are fucking great.

So, what now? I’m about to move somewhere I have never set foot before. So many new parks and roads and places to explore. New Parkruns with new course PBs to set. New runners to meet. I feel there’s a lot Belfast has to offer to a runner. Honestly, it feels daunting to be starting all over again. But I know the best way to find my feet, as it were. Shoes beating a fresh tattoo onto the city streets, marking routes onto the weathered skin of the pavement. Hop up the steps, alongside the river Lagan, out on an adventure. Time to run the city.

2016: my 1st year of running!

img_3328

Well, I was supposed to write this post before the end of 2016, but life, eh?  It gets in the way. I also knew I would find writing this difficult as it’s going to be reflective and congratulatory, and I always have trouble when it comes to saying ‘Well done!’ to myself. But I’m going to force it out in the name of self improvement. Heck.

So here’s a recap of the running bits and bobs I’ve done this year. I feel like I’ve completed a nice mix of things, achieved a bunch of goals and PBs, and most importantly been left with the desire to do MORE. A great first year, though I still feel I’m a long way away from becoming the accomplished runner I wish to be. Things like sitting at a computer all day and eating mountainous piles of crisps keep getting in the way. Let’s rewind to the start of 2016, when this Grumpy Jogger adventure began…

Nike+ and the Blog:

I started running again, (if we’re going to be super honest, in the winter of 2015, shh) to get me out of the house when I was working from home. I got into a routine: wake up, and instead of commuting, run before work. I started this blog at the start of January 2016 as a way of documenting my progress and the first posts were often written after each run I completed. They were mostly about whatever weather or running hazards I had encountered on that outing (ice, sickness, poor fitness levels.) I signed up to Nike+ and started to name my runs with funny names, and found some buddies on there. Nike+ was cool as it tracked my pace and I could see evidence that although each run felt the same I was progressing, however slowly. The running habit was forming.

Then one evening, I drew this:

The first Grumpy Jogger.

kategrumpyjoger

A little doodle of me in my ancient running top and leggings, looking suitably mad, and for some reason running past an AT-ST. I thought it would be cool to draw other runners I knew. I drew them looking mad as hell. People seemed to dig my doodlings, so I drew more.

Although I’ve been drawing for much of my life, the last few years it has become less and less of a habit. Suddenly I had an urge to draw again, and people sending in their run photos was a great source of inspiration, for keeping me both running and drawing. I’m now up to number 41, with a cap at 50 (which turned into 55 because I can’t say no to people.) Now I have a little running army, or as I call it, my living room Park Run. I hope everyone has enjoyed my drawings. I’ll do a bigger drawing-specific blog post when I bring the art project to a close (I can’t draw people running forever!) with a gallery of highlights.

2016 Races! cdfrunnersgrouphalfamara

I entered a bunch of races in 2016. I found them stressful at first… loud, noisy events, nerve-wracking waits at the start, impossibly long queues for the toilets for that one last nervous wee… but overall I think events are pretty fun and motivational, especially for the long races which mean you have to keep up your weekly mileage or risk certain death. Here’s my top three races of 2016.

#3- Cardiff 10k:
This year I completed a few 10k races, but this was the first time I got a sub 1 hour 10k: my current PB of 58:30. I was so pleased as I had been training and tried on a few occasions to get this sub hour goal, and it felt great to finally do it. The PB feeling really is a sweet one.

#2- Cardiff Bay 5k Run In The Dark:
This one is notable because I was the third lady finisher! Yeah, it was a small 5k race, my time was no great record, but shuttup. I never came third at any sporting thing in my whole life ever. I’ll take that victory.

#1- The Cardiff Half Marathon:
The best, and also worst, race of my year was the half marathon. I had to train for it as 13 miles was a distance I had never even thought about before. Going for two hour runs after work was a bit intense during the week when I had a busy weekend and couldn’t fit in a long run. Eating energy gels was an… experience. I got an amazing blister on my big toe after my first 8 mile run. It felt badass to say I’d finished my first ever continuous 10 mile run. 10 miles is a stupidly long way. 13 is even stupider.

The actual half marathon was a splendid mess of joy and misery. You can read the full blog post here. I paced myself badly and it was too hot and as I mentioned before 13 miles is a stupid distance. I was slightly disappointed with my time as I had had a much smoother training 12 mile run, but in the end getting it done was what counted. I also got to experience what being really dehydrated felt like, and there’s nothing like feeling wobbly and getting spotty vision after a race to make you feel like a ‘proper’ runner.

I feel ultimately it was a good experience to run a ‘bad’ race. It makes me want to run it again to finish stronger, and it feels good to know that even when everything hurts and you’re having a real bad time, it will eventually pass. Something about grit, you know? I wonder if this is one of the reasons why exercise is so good for depression, as well as the endorphins thing. It proves to you that bad times are transitory. If you can feel that awful and make it out the other side then it make life’s challenges feel that bit easier. (This blog post is going to get into the gooey, philosophical side of running, I can feel it. I’m not sorry.)

So basically despite my first half marathon experience not being the best, it taught me a lot, and I won’t forget the day.

Run Club:
Here’s a shout out to CDF Runners, the Cardiff Nike Store Run Club. They are super friendly, welcome all abilities, are obsessed with cake, have good twitter game… they are all the things a run club should be. They are the single reason I do any speed work. (Shudder.) They’ve helped me improve a lot and are a great bunch or people. GOOD JOB GUYS. Thank you.

What’s happening in 2017?
So what now? I posted my 2017 run goals in this handy tweet.

I’m a little afraid of the 5k and 10k times. But when I started running I thought I would never be able to get under 30 minutes for a 5k and now I did that at last week’s Park Run on icy paths with a hangover. So who knows. Maybe it’s doable.

I’m going to continue running, in a year it’s given me lots of new experiences and taught me a lot about both my body and mind. As I mentioned with the half marathon, in a weird way I like that running is something that is quite horrible and uncomfortable a lot of the time. There’s a great comic from The Oatmeal that explains why being ‘happy’ all the time isn’t really something that’s worth striving for, and how running can often fit into that: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/unhappy
It’s this quote I like the best:

“I run. When I do these things, I’m not smiling or beaming with joy. I’m not happy. In truth, when I do these things, I’m often suffering. But I do them because I find them meaningful. I find them compelling.” -The Oatmeal

Meaningful and compelling- aw yeah. Running for me is not a skill that comes naturally, but I embrace my average-ness and celebrate every hard-won victory. And it means I can eat all the cake.

Here’s to 2017! Thanks for reading.

Grumpy Kate x

Run In The Dark! 5k

16/11: Cardiff Run In The Dark!

dhanaruninthedark

the hi-vis CDF Runners group!

My first night race! Despite having a few issues, I really enjoyed this one!

Run In The Dark is a global race 5/10k with 5 official locations: Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London and Manchester, with many ‘pop-up’ locations worldwide. Proceeds from the race go to the Mark Pollock Trust, which is a charity set up for funding research to battle paralysis. There main website is here: https://www.runinthedark.org/

Cardiff was one of the mini pop-up events. I think this was the second time it had been held in the city. The run was not officially timed: it was a fun run, so chill out! The routes were either a little over or under, with the 5k measuring as 5.28k and the 10k as 9.65k. I think most people were running this mainly for the experience of running across the Cardiff Bay barrage in the dark, so the times and distances weren’t really an issue.

I turned up at 7.30 for an 8pm start, and darkness had already fallen. I signed up and picked up my flashing arm light and glowsticks, and tried to keep warm. The race fee also included a ‘Run In The Dark’ buff, which great for keeping my ears warm. (Side note: why are  they called ‘Buffs’? Seems an odd choice of name to me…)

I had signed up for the 5k race, many more runners had opted for the 10k. I’m glad I went for the shorter run as I had completed the Morunning 10k the Sunday before. The race organisers hadn’t specified the need to run with a head torch, but I was glad CDF Runner Stewart had lent me his. (I was glad for the buff too, it was a good head cushion for the torch straps.)

I didn’t take many photos, but here’s some snaps from me and CDF:

 

 

I really enjoyed the run. Once we were off, I was glad to get moving to get warm again. As it wasn’t a big group in the 5k I was on my own from about the half mile mark, but I enjoyed the solitude. (Running is possibly the only time I’m content to be alone…)

The 5k route was a simple out-and-back across the barrage. The barrage isn’t lit by street lamps, so when they say Run In The Dark, they ain’t kidding. The head torch came in handy. I found running in the dark to be very peaceful. The darkness makes you feel as though you’re running in a bubble, it’s just you, the sound of your breathing, the puff of your breath in the cold air. Once I was halfway across the barrage the sound of the sea permeated my bubble, and if I looked to my right the bright lights of the bay could be seen, mirrored in the water. It was tough work, but most of the run I was feeling good, concentrating on the even pace of my footfalls and deep but controlled breathing. I always wax poetic about that feeling in running when you feel your body is working hard, but in a good rhythm. As long as you keep that rhythm you can keep going. (You know, before the pain and grumpiness sets in.) I love that little window of feeling like your body is doing a good job of moving. I had that going across the barrage; it was nice.

The last half a mile was a bit more sticky and a lot less enlightened, but I managed to hang on until the end. some CDF runners had formed a little Cheer Squad near the Welsh Assembly. They clapped and hollered and rang a cow bell as I ran past.

There was no official finish line, so I ran down Roald Dahl Plas and asked the people at the registration tent “Is this the end?” to which they nodded and handed me a snack and a bottle of water. I went to meet the cheer squad and was delighted to find out I was the third lady back from the 5k. Another CDF runner had come in first lady, we’re such an awesome squad. I felt happy and cheered the other 5k-ers in, and waited a bit longer for the first of the 10k runners to arrive.

runinthedark

The 10k route was a full loop of the barrage, not an out-and-back, and reportedly had some problems. I’m not sure if it was down to lack of marshalls along the course or lack of high-vis signs, but the race organisers have noted this in the feedback of the race and I’m sure more will be done to signpost the route next year. However, it seems everyone made it back in one piece and for me it was one of the most enjoyable and unique races I’ve done this year.

Next time, I’ll take on the 10k.

GK.

MoRun 10k!

13/11/2016

Movember normally means two things: around the nation, dodgy moustaches are carefully being cultivated, and people gear up for a 5 or 10k Morun.

 

I do quite like race days now. They have a bubbly atmosphere which is quite infectious. This one was no different.

The Morun was my fouth 10k race since I started up as Grumpyjogger. I’d managed to hit my sub 1-hour goal during my previous race, the Cardiff 10k, so I wasn’t super anxious about trying to hit a time or anything like that. Also, I hadn’t run any distance above 5k since the half marathon, another reason to not put too much pressure on myself. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever been before a race…

I felt the Morun had a more chilled vibe to it compared to some other races. It’s not an officially measured 10k route so a lot of runners wouldn’t use it as a PB course. I’m no super athlete though, and I haven’t quite got sick of running around Bute Park just yet, so I was happy to give it a go. As well as an unusual curved ‘Mo’ medal, the race fee also included a bright orange headband, which would come in handy for a fairly sweaty runner like me. (No one likes sweat in the eyes. Sting-y.)

A sneaky email said the registration tent would close an hour before the race, so I turned up for 9.30, which was faaaar too early. I arrived like, before the toilets were forming queues early. I ended up waiting around. The registration didn’t close at 10.15, and I glared at the people who got an extra hour in bed before swanning over. A lesson learned for next time, don’t believe what emails tell you…

As it was Remembrance Sunday there was a 2 minute silence just before the runners set off. It was humbling to hear the hush fall quickly over the crowd of excited people and to pay our respects, only marred by the barking of a dog who got a bit weirded out by the sudden change in the crowd volume.

Then, the usual excited queuing at the start, bumping into people from the CDF run club, taking quick pre-race photos, and then OFF!

The 10k route was all within Bute Park, two laps which started near the Welsh Royal College of Music and Drama, then towards the castle, across the river and then up towards Blackweir. It was a very similar route to the Women’s Running 10k I did a few months earlier. As I was feeling chill about this race I started off near the back, and it took a few miles before I’d settled in with people who were running at roughly my pace.

I didn’t really mind about stopping for little walk breaks this time around, so when the crowd got too congested and slowed at the narrower parts of the course I was happy for a little breather.

I made sure to high five the kids who were out offering their adorable support, and I loved the kid who was complaining that his arm hurt around mile 5. High fives are powerful magic, you know, hang in there kid!

Some CDF Runners were positioned as Cheer Squad near the finish line, shouting, waving, taking photos. Below, please see the BEST run photo of me ever taken. Look at the pain and resentment etched in stone on my sweaty face:

grumpymoruncropped

(I like that you can see my Nike + clocking in at 6.11 miles in that photo. No fakin’.)

Once it was over, I got a medal and a mo, and my time was 59’01” , which I was happy with. My first ever 10k was around 1hr 12 minutes I think, so feels great to be able to get under an hour now without too much training beforehand. Next year’s goal will be a sub 56 minute… heck.

img_2806

GK.

CARDIFF HALF MARATHON 2016!

cdfrunnersgrouphalfamara

THE CARDIFF HALF. It had arrived. 13.1 miles, training done, no backing out now. Heck!

5k races, 10k races, done… The next goal was a half marathon. I remember the billboard advertisement at the end of Lloyd George nagging at me every time I walked past it earlier this year. Fear held me back for a while, then one payday I felt a bit blasé and booked it. My first half marathon. Heck.

I’d been training for this run, but maybe not as much as I would have liked. I had slowly been increasing my mileage on long runs, and had got up to 12 miles at my peak. I had never run the full distance, but didn’t mind that; I thought it would make race day more exciting and challenging to run the unknown 13th and a bit mile on the day.

THE ROUTE!

Like the Cardiff 10k, the half marathon route is described as a “predominately flat and fast course,” good for PB’s and beginners like myself.

Also like the 10k, the Runner’s Village and start line is situated near Cardiff Castle. The route heads out through Riverside and Grangetown, before sweeping towards the Penarth Marina. Then a lil’ hop over the barrage and down through Cardiff Bay, past my house on Lloyd George Avenue. That’s seven miles.

The second half of the course then heads north, looping round Roath Park Lake, snaking up a mean but thankfully short hill and then smashing back into the heart of the city where the finish line awaits.

The race goes through most of the run routes I’ve discovered in Cardiff. (Though missing out Bute Park for once!) Cardiff Bay and the Barrage are my main routes now, and I used to run around Roath all the time in uni, so I was looking forward to smooshing the two routes together to make a nice nostalgic run sandwich.

Cardiff Half is also the biggest race I’ve taken part in, with over 20,000 runners participating. The crowds were a little daunting. When you arrive at the Runner’s Village it’s like being dumped into a music festival where the majority of revellers are sober and in active wear. The bag drop seemed well-organised and well-crewed, with multiple baggage drop tents allocated to race numbers. I met up with the CDF Runners at 9 o’clock, (see group photo above) helped a friend with the bag drop and queued in line for a pre-race pee. Those little tasks took nearly an hour thanks to the crowds, so it didn’t feel long before I made my way to yellow race number pen and soaked up the excitement as everyone around me prepared to start.

I heard a commentator say on loudspeaker that the weather was “perfect” for today’s run, and I politely disagreed. It was too sunny, too hot! Maybe in the shade it was cool, but it felt hot to me in the direct sun, and I hadn’t started moving yet.

Before I go through my more in-depth race breakdown, here’s some pics from before and after the race!

Mile 1-3: Over the start line, I whooped, I cheered, I was excited. I started off with two friends, Rachel and Beth, and it was really nice to share the start line experience with them. The very start of the race was quite boring, scenery-wise. I remember straight roads, warehouses, garages, that sort of thing. I committed the number one rookie mistake and zigzagged past people for the first two miles. I should have been more chill and conserved energy, a lesson I learnt hard after mile 8.

There was a steady incline just before the 5k mark, but since I was still feeling fresh I kept pace and ran up it, stopping to grab water from the first water station and pouring most of it over my head. That felt great.

Mile 4-5: This was definitely my favourite part. I felt uplifted at the first glimpse of Penarth marina. The sun on the water, the pretty boats and the slight downhill incline made me feel glorious. I achieved that elusive zen feeling, where you’re feeling strong and as if you could run forever. I’ll remember that little section going down into Penarth for a long time.

As we were crossing over the barrage, a spectator yelled:

“Don’t look at your watch, look at the view!”

It was good advice. The bay is magical in good weather. With water either side of me, as I strode out along the small pathway, it really felt like an adventure. I can’t romanticise that part of the race enough.

Mile 6-7: GEL TIME. I brought my own SiS gel, as that’s what I trained with. It went down fine, washed down with my original water bottle from mile 3. Heading down Lloyd George I kept an eye out for my support crew, Rob and Christina, and sure enough I found them cheering me just outside my house. I stopped briefly for a quick hug, probably sweated gross amounts over both of them. Buoyed up, I set off. Second half of the race, begin!

Mile 8: This is where the Unfun began. The crowds were getting thicker now, and the cheering was helping.  But my pace was slowing.

Mile 9-11: Heck. This was plod central for me. The worst part. I couldn’t see the crowds much because of the sun. My knee started to ache. The zen feeling I had at mile 4, this was like the opposite of that. Roath park’s steady inclines had reduced me to walking speed, but I was stubborn and still kept plodding on. I saw lots of different spectators handing out jelly babies at this point, I took one for a sugar boost and kept on.

Mile 12: Mile 12 gets a special mention for that hill after Roath park. Ugh.

Mile 13: THE UNKNOWN! THE LAST STRETCH! I tried to pick up the pace  as I entered the last part of the race. When I saw that finish line it was much easier to do so, and Rob and Christina had made their way here to cheer me though the last 100 metres. The later miles of this race had felt like a slog but the finishing part felt real good. I got a time of 2 hours 31 minutes.

I  was handed my race-booty: water, a banana, a finisher’s pack, a race tee and of course a medal. I was feeling tired, thirsty, but also a new thing: wobbly. As I headed to meet my cheer crew my vision was starting to blink out a bit and I felt lightheaded. It was a new sensation so I was mildly vexed, but since I didn’t feel like I wanted to throw up I was also strangely calm. When they found me by the museum they said I was really pale, and we headed promptly to Sainsbury’s where Christina prescribed the best post-race potion: a massive bottle of cold water with added Dioralyte. I don’t know what’s in those magic sachets- salt? Sugar? Electrolytes? Whatever is was, it really helped and stopped the weird vision thing. Now I could head to the Gatekeeper for a beer or two. Huzzah!

img_2391

 

My first half marathon was a tough one. Looking over my mile splits, it was obvious I started out too fast. I felt I was crawling from mile 8 onwards, and didn’t enjoy the parts around Roath park because of this. It’s made me doubly, triply, infinitely more in awe of people who run marathons. I think I would have died if I had attempted that route twice.

I am super up for another half though. I want to get stronger, more experienced, so I’m ready to take on another 13 miles and beat my time. (I think this is where the runner addiction really grabs you.)

When I got home, after much food, I felt inspired to draw:

3_collect

My knee is sore as heck today, and running is bullshit! I still love it though.

Grumpy Kate x

MINI PAPER GRUMP DUMP! #24-30!

Well I hope you’re ready for drawings of angry people because I’m a bit behind and I got a whole bunch of ’em done this weekend. I’m now up to number THIRTY! Thirty people who have run with me/ been inspired to run because of this blog/ found me through Twitter and sent in a grumpy photo. I think that’s pretty neat. They are really starting to look like quite a crowd, aren’t they?

fullsizerender

And without further ado, here are the new members of the Grumpy Jogger club…
#24! Gregg G! 

Gregg was part of the Butetown Mile crew and busted out a 6 minute-something mile like  he was just going to the shops.

fullsizerender_5

 

#25! Krystal G!

Part of the Pembrokeshire run crew! Krystal has been mixing up running with Pokemon Go (would recommend, good for hatching those pesky 10k eggs.)

img_2249

#26! Miriam G!

Pembrokeshire crew! Mim went for a run wearing wellies because she didn’t give a flip what the shoe experts said.

FullSizeRender_1.jpg

#27! Nicky R!

Pembrokeshire crew! Nickynoo also used to run with me around Roath park back in uni. She was my first regular run bud. * high five *

fullsizerender_6

#28! Ryan N!

Pembrokeshire Crew! Ryan tried to get me to draw him before as a “Grumpy Rambler” but I straight up refused until he came for a run with me on holiday. I got my principles.

fullsizerender_2

#29! Kate D! (And no, not me! Another Kate D…)

Kate sent me a particularly epic grumpy pic after getting absolutely drenched on a run. Great work Spinks! 😀

fullsizerender_3

#30! Sam E (a.k.a Deano the Dementiasaurus)

Sam is a fellow member of CDF Runners. He’s running the Cardiff Half Marathon soon, which would be impressive enough except that he’s doing it in this MASSIVE DINOSAUR COSTUME. I can barely get my head around covering 13 miles without contending with this cap-wielding, tongue-lolling, tail-wagging costume, so respect where it’s due. He’s raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, so dig deep and throw some money at his Just Giving page.

DONATE to Sam’s Just Giving Page here! 

fullsizerender_4

As always, if you want to be drawn into the coolest 2D run club, send me a pic on twitter: @grumpyjogger

PEACE!

Grumpykate x

Cardiff 10k Race Report!

The Cardiff 10k: 11/09/2016

The Cardiff 10k was a race I entered way back, when I first saw a banner pop up for it somewhere around Cardiff. After having a great time at the Bristol 10k, I was really looking forward to another big (ish) event, and as 10ks are still quite a new experience for me, I was excited and nervous leading up to race day.

kategrump10k

My Bristol Great Run time was 1 hr 4 mins. My Women’s Running 10k time was 1 hr 3 mins. My goal was set for a sub 1 hour 10k. I was hoping after the recent Bute Town mile race I had proved to myself I could speed up my overall mile time quite a bit and more importantly hang on when things started to get painful.

On the lead up to this 10k I had been going to the CDF Runners Speed sessions, and also completed some longer (6+ mile) runs as part of the Cardiff Half Marathon training. I felt like I had more fitness since the Women’s Running 10k, however anxiety, hot weather and overthinking things had been my enemies before.

The Cardiff 10k has been going for 30 years, and is described as a flat, fast course perfect for achieving new PB’s. I didn’t know about fast, but I could get onboard with flat. It had sold out a few weeks prior to the event- 6000 runners total. The race pack arrived within two weeks of the race date, and although at first I was a bit skeptical of the white technical tee design I decided the black and red motif worked well on it. Some people have commented the tees were too short, but the Medium size fit me okay, if a little bit baggy.

There was one thing about the race that was filling me with dread though. A ruling that had been announced a few weeks before:

NO HEADPHONES.

No music? NO MUSIC?!? No steady paced, calmly assured Clubbed To Death by Rob Dougan? No unapologetic cheese Try Everything from Zootopia? NO ROCKY 2 THEME TUNE?!?!?!

My run training was now No Headphones Training. I went out and ran a 10k in 1hour 5 minutes. Alright, but no closer to my goal. I started running all run club sessions without headphones. I soon learnt that listening to fellow runners conversations on steady runs is just as good as music, even better if I had enough breath to join in. Headphones are pointless on the speed sessions. I couldn’t register music or much of anything else after 200m sprints.

Race Day

The start of the race was outside the museum, an easy walk from my house, so I showed up, dropped my bag off and posed with CDF for this great photo:

cdf10kgroup

It was very crowded, so I found a small side street around the back of the museum to warm up before the race. I learnt a powerful lesson that day.

Don’t run races in new untested clothing.

I had bought some new, colourful leggings on sale, and whilst I had run in them before, never a 10k, and more pressingly, I hadn’t worn them since their first wash. I remember the horror, the drop of cold dead weight in my stomach when I started doing some high knees during my warm up and the leggings immediately started sinking to the floor. I hitched them up, I did more high knees, they fell. I sprinted to one end of the street, they nearly took my pants with them. Less than 10 minutes before the race. Oh shit. I wildly searched around for a pair of running tights that someone might have casually discarded nearby, of course there were none. The thought of trying to do a 10k race whilst continuously holding up my waistband was scaring me. Was getting a new PB out the window now? Should I call it a day? Should I just let them fall down and penguin waddle the whole damn thing?

No. Of course not. I hitched them up HIGH, I folded the waist band DOWN, I peeled the bottom part of the leggings up over my knees. I warmed up. I got sweaty. They started to stick to the sweat glue, the folded over waistband acted like a kind of belt. That seemed to be holding them in place. Time was up anyway. It was time to run!

The waiting in line bit just before a race is always exciting, nerve-wracking and pee-needing. Luckily after the legging debacle there wasn’t much time to process all of that before the klaxon had sounded. I was much positioned quite near the front and it didn’t seem long before I was over the start line and off.

The first 2k I let the excitement get the better of me, and I set off too fast. But once I was out of the main crowd I felt myself slow down, and I concentrated on running at  pace where my breathing wasn’t getting ahead of me. One of the CDF runners had told me for races she uses a trick borrowed from Paula Radcliffe: Count to 100, not in time with your breathing or anything, just count, and when you get there, start from 0 and count up to 100 again. I started counting at around the 4k mark, although I wasn’t feeling too bad I welcomed something to focus on.

The route was flat, as promised, and the crowds were spread pretty evenly throughout the whole race. I was so focused on the counting that I didn’t really register much of the crowd encouragement, though of course it was very appreciated. A runner behind me was whooping and yelling and cheering much more than the crowd, almost bullying them if she spotted anyone not clapping. It made me smile and kept my spirits up.

I started to hate running about 7k in. 7k is when it gets tough for me. We went past the castle, and although the spectator crowd was thickening on the way to the end of the race, so was the pain. (Pain thickening? I don’t know, go with it.) Once we got back into Bute Park for the last 2k I was holding on to the count-to-100 method for dear life, but messing it up and forgetting how to count a lot.

The last stretch I hoped I would have some gas left in the tank to go full speed over the finish line, but when I turned the corner the finish line was SO far away. I had started speeding up but soon pulled back a bit, so I could get a good speed across the finish line later down the road.

As I entered that last jubliant 0.10k of the race, my face fell ever so slightly as I saw the clock as I passed the finish line. 1:00:20 . So close, yet so far! Still, a new 10k record, and without the mental buoyancy aid of music.

Here’s some photos of the race, courtesy of me and fellow CDF runners:

 

I headed off with my goody bag, ate a massive burrito, and gave myself a well done.

Then:

A few hours later, the race results were published and I gave a whoop: I’d got a chip time of 00:58:20 !

My first sub hour after all! I’ll take that. I was super happy. 😀

Thanks Cardiff 10k! I had a great run, despite the wardrobe malfunction at the start.

GK.

 

The Butetown Mile Race Report!

IMG_2127

28/08- The Butetown mile! 

It’s only a mile, right? How hard can one mile be? Answer: really darn hard…

Hasty research: The Butetown Mile started in the 1980s but stopped in the ’90s. It started up again in 2014 as a way to raise money for Cancer Research UK. It is one of only three places in the world to host a straight mile road race alongside Fifth Avenue, New York and the Champs-Élysées, Paris! Isn’t that awesome? NEW YORK! PARIS! CARDIFF!

I bought my ticket for this race way back in April. Then life happened and I couldn’t make it, so I gave my ticket to run bud Jake, and then life happened again and I was suddenly free so I bought another ticket. (This did mean I was entered into the race twice with wildly varying times…)

I also managed to convince run buds Christina, Rob and Gregg to come along too! A whole Grump Team! (See above pic.)

I’d not really given the mile distance much thought before, either opting for 5k/10k runs or speed sessions which never went over 500m. The Thursday before Rob and I went out for a test run, a mile lap of Atlantic Wharf to see how it would be. It wasn’t fun, but doable; uncomfortable but over fairly quickly. We ran past some bemused fishermen, then got drenched in a downpour. I missed my mile PB by 10 seconds, but I figured Race Day would sort that out.

RACE DAY. I both nervous and excited. We arrived at the tent and signed in without hassle. I think about 200 people took part in the race. A few of the lovely folks from my run club- CDF Runners– were there, some in the Elite (sub 7 minute) race and some in the Fun Run race.

I warmed up more than my practice mile on Thursday, a half mile jog, some squats/lunges, and lots of stretching. I remember it being muggy so I was sweating a lot. (An awkward moment when I didn’t shake someone’s hand because I had just run it through my very sweaty hair…)

We watched the elites start and quickly disappear down Bute Street, then nervously waited for the start of our race.

Things I remember from the mile:

  • A klaxon noise started the race
  • A poor girl took a tumble at the start of the race (an adult was there immediately to assist)
  • Lots of cheering along Bute Street (I couldn’t remember anything they said but I assume it was all good)
  • Mile breakdown: 0.25 miles felt great, 0.5 miles felt challenged, 0.75 miles deeply, deeply upset

Then just as I was starting to hate the whole business of running the finish line was upon me and it was over, thank goodness. That last bit of a mile race really slaps you in the face and legs and lungs. I couldn’t summon much up for a sprint finish. Still my hard work paid off and I was rewarded with a mile PB of 7’48”! I was over the moon, as I was hoping to beat my 8’24” time, I had no idea I would have the beans to get under 8 minutes! Running elevation swept over me, once I could breathe properly again.

With all of us over the finish line, Jake was suddenly accosted by a BBC news reporter and had to be a talking head about an issue about the Welsh Assembly. I really hope he answered all the questions with metaphors about his mile race. That would have been awesome. (“Yeah I’m really happy with it…Started out strong… Put in the training… Pushed through the pain at the end… Breathing felt steady…I’m sorry, what about the government!?”)

We all got a coveted Bute Town Mile tee and posed for a grumpy post-race photo. Can you see the contrast from the Before photo?

IMG_2118IMG_2119

CDF Runner @stukulele also filmed the whole thing on a go pro- so you can see the whole race in speedy glory HERE! 

Overall it was an awesome event. It was cheap, fun (well…) and most importantly right outside my house. I will definitely be back to beat my time next year.

GK.

July/August Runs!

Prepare for bullet points and a dump of post-run photos. Here’s a bunch of run stuff I got done these last two months:

  • New 10k PB! 1’00″58 – getting closer to under an hour, my current goal.
  • CELEBRITY HILL DEATHMATCH – the name my run bud Kat has given her hellish hilly/step-filled 5k route in Pontypridd. It’s truly horrible. We ran past some kind of obelisk, looked down upon Ponty, and Rob hurt his knee. (Poor Rob.)
  • Half marathon training progresses! My longest run is currently 7.75 miles. I ran it with run bud Jake the day after I went to a wedding. I learnt champagne and wine are not good pre-run fuel, but at least I made it through despite the pain. (Let’s ignore the times of the last two miles…)
  • I have now survived the last few Wednesday Speed Run sessions with CDF Runners. Last week was 20 minutes of Burpee-tastic circuits and it took my arms about 4 days to recover.
  • My uni friends and I went camping! It was super wet and windy, but the second there was a break in the weather I dragged them all out for a 2.5 mile run in lovely scenic Pembrokeshire.

 

I have a few races coming up! The Butetown Mile on Aug 28th & The Cardiff 10k on Sep 11th. Wish me luck!

GK x

Grumpy Joggers #21 #22 & #23!Phil, Stu & Deb!

Some new additions to the Mini Grump Club! Here they are:

#21: Phil P!

Phil’s photo was sent in by bro-in-law Chris W, so I haven’t actually met him or know much about him. He’s a trail runner who was competing in Grindleford Fell Race in the photo, and this year is a new Dad. Congrats Phil!

phil

#22: Stu H!

This is Twitterbud and fellow CDF runner, Stu! Is currently using his grump pic as his twitter avatar, which makes me happy.  😀

IMG_2076

#23: Deborah G!

Deborah’s photo was sent in by a pal, she is currently training for a 10k and nailing it!

IMG_2066

I’ve got a few more people to draw up, but keep the photos coming! just follow @grumpyjogger and send me a post-run grumpy pic!

GK x