Cardiff was the place I felt in love with racing again. I had never felt out of love with running. After training more or less consistently for more than 20 years it is a vital part of my well-being by now.
However, after my back injury which led to a long-term hamstring injury last year (through bad mechanics all around) it just felt painful to run at faster speeds for at least a year. I just couldn’t lift my left knee high enough to push forward.
Back in September of 2015, with my amazing coach Dimitris Theodorides, we talked about how I would start running again very slowly and training gradually and see where it takes us… And slowly did we start…
Well, at Cardiff I got my knee lift back! I wasn’t prepared for this, but I felt good from the start of the race and after the first kilometre, I quickly revised my race plans and thought I’d give it a bit of a go, i.e. push the pace a little bit, rather than use this as a long training run.
I knew I had to go to work straight after and the weather was pretty horrible, scary even with the constant rain and wind throughout even the elite runners over, and I was pretty conservative all the way through, slowing down when I drifted more towards a (current) 10k pace for me.
The gale at 12Km was a pretty unforgettable experience, I was literally thrown over and remember thinking ‘OK I really don’t want to be here right now!’. But of course we had to keep on going and hope that that too would pass (just like in life I guess, and that is the beauty of racing, so many things can happen in just a short period of time).
The nutrition did not go exactly as planned, as my tummy didn’t seem to tolarate the assorted flavor of my favorite sport jelly beans as well as the lemon/lime ones and I then missed a sponsor gel that was being handed out. In the end, around the 17 Km I really felt I could use an additional gel, as Ii felt I was running out of steam a bit.
But with the half, once you are there, you know you only have 4km to finish, 4km is a warm-up for God’s sake!, I kept saying to myself, and tried to lift the pace to my target 5min/km.
Those two last hills in the final kilometre were a killer for my quads, really what were they thinking?
But at least I knew/hoped that it must be downhill from there and I ended up strong, the last time I glanced at my Garmin after crossing the finish line it read 4.20min/Km. I was relieved to have finished, and happy!
I had mild hypothermia and it took me a good 2 hours after changing into dry clothes to feel like I was OK again. I wish they had given us space blankets at the finish line because I was shivering all the way through to the bag pick-up tent and there was a queue there too. It was raining and I was so cold!
The route especially running around Cardiff Bay and especially over the Barrage was spectacular and that view of the sea from the barrage will stay with me for a long time, I was so happy just to be there!
I was fortunate to be accredited for Runner magazine and runnermagazine.gr (my favourite running publication all around) and I could then go in the warm press room and reflect on the race and write about the elite race, Kamworor’s spectacular fall and rise to World Champion, Farah’s amazing sprint finish, and the Kenyan women’s domination (once again). Seriously these runners are beasts, running at near world record speeds in such weather conditions!
This is a link of my story (sorry it is in Greek!):
Less than a week after the race, and I have already signed up for another half, the Oxford half in October. The half is such a good distance, challenging but doable, and I feel training with a long-term goal might be able to help over the warm summer months.
Of course secretly I would love to at some point be able to maintain this pace for a whole marathon, not just a half, so we will see what the future brings…