CARDIFF HALF MARATHON 2016!

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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!

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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:

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

Grumpy Kate x

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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

Running in Annecy!

I went to the Annecy International Animation Film Festival recently, oh my it was good. If this was an animation blog I would write pages and pages on the films I saw, the people I met, the sneaky bits of films in progress I glimpsed and the inspiring talks I heard. But I’m just going to write about the bit of running I did during my week over there instead.


Annecy is a lovely little town on the edge of a humongous freshwater lake, so I was looking forward to some very picturesque outings. Sadly, the weather was VERY rainy and crappy for the time of year, but whenever there was a sneaky bit of respite from the rain I tried to go out for a jog. There was one sunny day, but it was super hot and muggy and stormed almost immediately after I got home.  I also managed to bully Rob out for one run, but he got ill the very next day. (He’s trying to convince me he’s allergic to running.)

The most important thing I learnt about running on holiday is this: don’t expect a good time. After all the bread, meat, cheese, boozy late nights and ill-advised, drunkenly bought packs of cigarettes none of my run outings were anything more than ‘whoa-there-let’s-take-it-steady’ endeavours. But I still got out and ran! The backdrop was stunning, and  it was nice to see a whole bunch of people in Annecy go running everyday- from athletes in training to steady plodders to whole families with young children on little push scooters.

I miss Annecy a lot. =[
Running in France was cool.

Avant mes vacances…

11/06/16

I’M GOING TO FRANCE TOMORROW AND I AM VERY EXCITED! Excited to visit the town of Annecy and check out the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, excited to go on holiday with a wonderful collection of people I know and work/have worked with, and excited to get some grumpy jogs done on foreign soil! I wonder if I can find anyone who can translate “Grumpy Jogger” for me.

A Run Story About France:

A few years ago I went on holiday to Ventron. My parents, some friends and I went to a tiny skiing town in the mountains, in the summer, so no snow or skis but plenty of picturesque villages and great weather. I was running a fair bit in uni and wanted to keep up my fitness regime, so every morning at 7am I would get up before everyone else and go for a one or two mile run before it got too hot. (It was hitting just under 30 degrees most days.) It was an awesome holiday. Beautiful surroundings, pine trees, mountains, crisp blue skies… I spent the first few days just running around the tiny village where we were staying at.

On the penultimate day of the holiday, I fancied a bit of a challenge, so I thought I would run to the next teeny town over ( a journey we had made by car many times by then). In my head, this journey took about five seconds, the town wasn’t far away, the route was a nice easy one and I’d be back before breakfast. Right?

Nope.

The next village over turned out to be 5k away. I didn’t really register this until I jogged there, turned around and saw a sign saying that my little holiday village was 5k away. Despite this, I felt fresh, buzzing even. The first part of the run had flown by, I felt like it hadn’t cost me much effort and that I could keep running forever. You know that runner’s high thing they talk about? I was totally tripping balls on runner’s high. Another 5k back home you say? of course! It would be my pleasure! …But what I hadn’t really clocked was that the entire route so far had been DOWNHILL and now the sun was getting higher in the sky, things were heating up, and I had a good three miles of uphill ahead of me before I could eat breakfast.

To this day, that second half of that run is something I will remember as the grossest, sweatiest, thirstiest five kilometres I have ever run. No sunscreen, no sunglasses, no water. My previous effortless feeling was demolished by the feeling of running in 2x gravity. It just seemed to go on forever. I remember a lethal cocktail of short, steep hills followed by just as nasty, never ending gradual slopes. I had to run on the left side of the road to face oncoming traffic which was confusing my dehydrated brain. I passed a few Lycra-clad cyclists who must’ve thought it very unusual to see a red-faced tourist slowly puffing up a mountain. I vividly remember the very steepest hill being right at the end, leading up the steps to our rented house. I had nothing left at that point, my face red from running half a 10k uphill and mid-morning sunburn. What had meant to be a half hour run had turned into about an hour and a half saga of resilience in the French mountains.

Everyone was up when I got back, so we ate breakfast and then proceeded to go on a five mile walk and play a few rounds of tennis. I was so tired that day. So very very tired.


Grangemoor Park Run Meetup!

Back to the present! Today I forced my boyfriend Rob out to the Grangemoor Park run and met up with Jake and Christina, who have all been drawn by me into little Paper Joggers! Here we are as an awesome Paper Grumpy Jogger team:

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It was SO MUGGY today. For me, it was not an enjoyable run. I set out a bit too fast and boy did I pay for it later in the second half.

Rob made me laugh just as we passed the half mile mark by asking me a question about Spotify:

“How long do the adverts normally last?”

“Like, 30 seconds? Then you get a bunch of uninterrupted music.”

“Oh. Well it’s been five minutes and all I’ve heard is an advert about a chef talking about burgers.”

Not the best inspirational material to listen to really. And mile 1 did turn out to be his slowest mile.

Rob also made me laugh by giving me the unhappiest face I’ve ever seen as he turned the 180 degree corner on the last leg of the run. I’m sorry I forced this on you Rob, but I’m super proud of you.

GOOD THINGS!

I did get to high five a little kid about half a mile from the finish, which totally made my day and gave me a speed boost for about ten seconds before I settled back into the wheezy spluttery mess I had been for most of the run.

I got to meet @therunningyogi IRL and she is the best ever! Really hope we can meet again for Park runs and other training runs too! 😉

Grabbed a drink after in the nearby Starbucks. Very nice to have a chat after a park run, and a well deserved beverage as well.

I SAW A BUNNY.

Here we are looking all grump after the run:

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MISC RUN STUFF:

I feel like I’ve waffled on in this post, so here’s the rest of my running pics. I’ve really been feeling the heat the last few weeks. So very very sweaty due to the hot muggy weather we’ve been having:


Now off to France! Hopefully the runs I complete in Annecy this year will be a lot less traumatizing than that awful experience in Ventron!

GK.

 

The runstuff before the Bristol Great Run…

In the two weeks leading up to May 15th, I did a bunch of runs…

One more 10k, with a PB of 01’02’40”, and a mix of 5ks and speedy sessions/quick run homes from work. (these are the WORST.) And to finish, today I managed 2 miles that were horribly  sluggish. To be honest, it wasn’t the biggest confidence booster. We’ll call it “tapering.” ¬_¬

I keep getting alternating waves of excitement and fear about The Great Run. I’m excited to run around the lovely city of Bristol and to take in the atmosphere of a big event. But I’m scared my body is going to conk out around mile 2…

I’m just going to try to imagine it as a very busy, twice as long Parkrun. That’s all it is, right?

GK.

End of April Runstuff!

April’s been a joggy month. I’ve ran 48.3 miles in total!

24.04.16 -Sunday 5k

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This was supposed to be a 6 miler, but I couldn’t face it, so I opted for a 5k instead… I remember feeling very tired before I began… This run was awful actually. I remember tweeting about it. I called it a stinker. And boy did it stink the whole place out. I think that might actually be a genuine grumpy expression.

Bristol Great Run- Race Number acquired!

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I got my Great Run number through the post this week! I like my number. It has two “6’s” in it. I like the number 6. But the fear is growing. No backing out of it now…

26.04.16 – another 10k

So with the Great Run race number now in my house, a tangible, inescapable object blaring out reminders I need to run longer distances, I did another 10k on Tuesday. This was the second time doing this distance. I basically smooshed two of my normal 5k routes together and it was alright. A new PB of 01:04:56. The 1st mile was a warm up, mile 2 felt quite hard, then the 3rd and 4th mile hit me with that sneaky lying feeling of HEY I COULD DO THIS FOREVER COME AT ME 10K! BUT THEN…

Mile 5. The pain kicked in then. I was getting quite grumpy at this point, and unhelpful things like stairs and ramps and slopes were popping up in my route around the bay. At one point I told a flight of stairs to fuck off. (Luckily no one was around to think I was swearing at them. I promise it was just the thought of jogging up stairs after five miles of running!)

The last .22 miles I don’t remember, but I can best describe it as: F?”3HQ$TA!!TGRy78GEHNGGGgARGHHHHHHHHHHH

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29.04.16 -Speedy stuff.

Not much to report here. 1 mile warm up, 1 fast mile (new PB! 08’35”!) and then sprint/stop/sprint for the last mile. Pretty knackering.

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30.04.15 – Pontypridd Parkrun!

And finally, by far the most fun run of the whole week, I ran in the Pontypridd Parkrun!
My stalwart run buddies Kat and Jas accompanied me, although sadly J-man had to drop out a mile in due to knee probs. =[ (rest up and get well soon!)

The Ponty run has about 400 less runners in it than the Cardiff one, and although I do love the Cardiff Park run, it is nice to be in a slightly less massive crowd. I nearly fell over a speed bump checking the distance left on my phone, but apart from that it was good. A few of Kat & Jas’s friends ran it too, so we got an awesome post-run selfie together, and then hit up ‘Spoons for a massive well-deserved breakfast ;P

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SUCH PASSION! MANY GRUMP.

GK.

 

 

Catcalling and Zombies, Run! Two Joggy Villains.

03/04/16

Boo hiss boo Zombies, Run! And boo hiss boo Catcalling Boy.

This run was majorly grumpy. At less than half a mile in, some foolish boy shouted something degrading at me as he drove by. I was wearing headphones so I missed most of his MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE. I heard the word ‘sexy’ in there somewhere. Sigh. It made me mad and made that guy look like an idiot. I would like to think that one day he takes some time to work out why shouting sexual stuff at random strangers on the street is never a compliment. This has only happened to me a handful of times, but I really, really wish that I could go out for a run and be 100% assured I won’t get shouted at by someone who has no idea how wholly idiotic catcalling makes them look. THUMBS DOWN.

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Anyway. Back to why Zombies, Run! Is also a villain.

I wanted to go for a chill 5k today, with a few fast bits thrown in for good measure. Ooh, thinks I, that would make for a good mission on Zombies, Run! The app is ALL ABOUT jogging and then speeding up for short bursts to escape Zombies. ( Or Zoms, as they like to refer to them.)

I was coming up to the first mile mark and I noticed I had had no contact from the app in a while, and no time announcement for my first mile. I was confused. I stopped and checked my phone- the app had checked out. Nothing. Back to the home screen. Spotify was still doggedly playing away, but Zombies, Run! was nowhere to be seen. Ok. I thought maybe this was a fluke, I opened up the app again and thought maybe I’ll run a chill 4 miles so I can still listen to the whole mission. Alright. Off I go again, starting a 3 mile run but already a mile in.

The app played alright for a while, but then on my second Zombie Evasion it clocked out again, so actually left me hanging in speed up mode: NOT COOL. I was sprinting (well… not sprinting, just speeding up and not loving it) and I was going for it… only another 20 seconds right? Just keep moving those legs, maybe pump those arms, only another 10 seconds, gotta escape, gotta keep going, Zoms almost evaded… right? Another 2 seconds? Hello? I can’t keep running like this!?!? HELLO ZOMBIES?!!!? HAVE I BEEN EATEN OR NOT? HELL- Oh, it’s crashed again, back to the home screen. Great.

At that point I had run 5k. I’d had enough.

Boo hiss boo.

GK.