Monday 24th June 2019 (1143am)
It is the day after doing one of those things where you run 13.1 miles with lots of other random people for a t-shirt and a medal. Yep, yesterday, I completed Swansea half marathon for the second time after doing it back in 2017
It was not on my list of events to do at the beginning of the year, and I ended up entering it quite late on knowing many people who had entered. The flat, scenic route of the Mumbles and Swansea seafront is always an attraction (providing no head wind or rain) so I stuck it on the calendar as a training run in preparation for the Wales Marathon as part of Tenby Long course weekend in 2 weeks time.
Taking it seriously, and not changing my diet, my Saturday night food consisted of burgers and sausages done on the BBQ followed by ice cream, chocolate and half a tube of pringles. I pinned my number (3372) on my shirt, got the rest of my clothes ready, put my daps by the back door and cola power shots in my pouch and that was me ready to get up and go in the morning.
Olly was excited by the 6.20 am alarm, looking at me somewhat surprised or bemused as to why (a) I had an alarm and (b) what the hell was I doing up that early. Anyhow, he scoffed down his breakfast in one lump as I shovelled in my pre match breakfast (1 x chocolate brioche). I have never been a breakfast eater and I find it hard to poke down lumpy porridge early in the morning so I am able to run for a few hours on very little. I have trained this and so I am used to it.
I hate any sort of rushing and have to be early to places, especially when there is any sort of faff with parking. The race started at 10am, the pens opened at 0930 so as planned, myself, partner and Olly arrived at 8am. I had not looked at the route but knew that there was a different finish area than 2 years ago. I didn’t realise that the start had also changed but by following other runners and supporters we managed to get to the start in plenty of time. Olly’s excitement continued as he had to sniff and wee on every bit of grass, tree, or wall along the way so by the time I was in the pen my feet had already covered 2 miles.
Pre run fun
I do not get nervous, I do not have 19 pre match toilet stops (just in case), I just turn up and run. My Pen, C, was for runners who would finish within two hours, so I parked myself next to two friends from run club. We chatted, took selfies, listened to the Welsh National anthem and laughed about random sh*t.
Crossing the start line and the first mile or two is always difficult as you get swept up in the atmosphere and the fast pace of the run. I had to reign my pace in, be sensible and just get the job done with no injury. It took me until about mile 3 to settle as the runners spread out and I got into the rhythm I wanted to be in. It was a cloudy day but it was extremely warm and humid. Not ideal, but again it was about being sensible and taking in the right amount of fluid.
My support crew were at mile 3 (Olly missed me as he was too busy sniffing) but it was good to get a wave and some encouragement.
A wave to my support at mile 3
The route took us West of Swansea to the Mumbles along the main road before turning around at 7 miles to head back along the coast path. As it got hotter, I resorted to chucking water over my head, as well as drinking what I could. The cola power shots gave me an extra burst as I went into the last third of the run. I started to struggle around mile 8 with a headache, more than likely down to dehydration and I felt sick. I was grateful of the water station not long after to get me back on track. I knew that I just had to dig in. A few times I looked down at my Ironman tattoo to give myself a reminder of what I could do and to just get on with it. This gave me the proverbial telling off when my head started to wander.
Feeling the heat between mile 6-7
There was no point thinking how many miles I had to go, my plan was to tick off each mile one by one. It is funny how your brain thinks and how you play with time and miles. At mile 10, I told myself that it was only a parkrun left (but if anything like my local park run then that would be hell). I was happy to reach mile 11, as I formulated how far that would be to and how long it would take on one of my local training runs. By the time I had played stupid mind games I had reached mile 11. A good distraction technique maybe, and what else was there to think about anyway?
Relieved to see mile 12 and ecstatic to see mile 13 (and my support crew. Olly saw me this time as he barked at me) I headed down the finish line. Time 1:58:00. In 2016 my time was 2:03:13. An improvement is an improvement. I then followed all of the other runners to pick up water, a t-shirt (rhubarb and custard sweet colour) and my medal.
Finish line in sight An excited Olly with flappy ears
Meeting back up with my partner and still a very excited Olly it was time to head home, but firstly it was a stop at McDonalds for a well deserved hot chocolate.
Reflecting on yesterday I was happy with how things went under the warm conditions. My knees held up with no significant pain. I am not quite in the form or shape I want to be but that is work in progress. There are certain things which I need to change and work on but I will get there with discipline and determination.
One tired half marathon pup
Today, I have done a mile swim as a recovery to rid of any stiffness and aches. I do not have time to do nothing, with a marathon coming up in 13 days. It is time to gather thoughts and concentrate on a long run later in the week prior to the all important taper.
To all of you runners who took on Swansea yesterday, well done and congratulations.
Human v Pup