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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.