Posts Tagged ‘Running’

On Saturday (19th) I, and several other Penarth & Dinas Runners club members, drove a couple of hours up to the Elan Valley in mid-Wales to compete in the Elan Valley 10 mile race. The previous Sunday (13th), I had run a 10k race in Bute Park in Cardiff, and had got (back) under 45 minutes, my target for 2011. The Elan Valley race was a different story.

Elan Valley is home to a series of reservoirs which were built in the 1893-1904 period. The reservoirs are Craig Goch, Pen-y-Garreg, Garreg Ddu and Caban Coch. Claerwen reservoir was added in 1946-1952.

Elan Valley reservoirs

The start of the race was next to Caban Coch reservoir, about 10 minutes walk from the visitor centre. This is a photograph my 13-year old daughter took with my iPhone near the start of the race. As you can see, the autumn colours were beautiful, making this one of the most scenic races I have done.

Caban Coch

Caban Coch reservoir, Elan Valley

There were about 120 or so runners doing the race, and as I looked around at the start I could see there were very few younger (under 30) runners. This is usually a sign that the course is going to be tough, and in fact our Club captain Clem and his wife Janice had warned us of a nasty hill at 2 miles. We had a good turnout from Penarth & Dinas, in addition to myself there was Paul W, Paul F, Malcolm, Yvonne, Sara, Clem and Michelle. Steve H and Janice came up too to support us (shout at us).

The race started at 1pm, with the mayor of Rhayader setting us off on our way. The first mile was downhill, and when I checked my time at the first mile marker and saw it reading 6 minutes 45 seconds, I told myself to slow down! The course was then flat for the best part of a mile, but just approaching the two mile marker a local (who looked like a farmer) told those of us bothering to listen that a “short, sharp hill” was approaching. He was right about it being a hill, and it was sharp in places, but there was nothing short about it. It carried on for a good mile, with numerous false “peaks” where one thought one had reached the end of it. From the top of that (never-ending) hill through to the end the course was undulating, with hardly any flat stretches.

Elan Valley 10 mile race

The route of the Elan Valley 10 mile race

This was the 3rd ten mile race I have done this year, with my previous best being the 2nd one at Brecon, where I did 1 hour 21 minutes 13 seconds. I was aiming for a time of 1 hour 20 minutes, and went through halfway in 38 minutes 40 seconds feeling fine. But, after mile 6, my lack of distance runs of late took their toll. I have concentrated my training since the Swansea Bay 10k on speed work to get my 10k time down, and have not done many runs longer than 6-7 miles. From 6 miles onwards my legs turned to lead, and it seemed everyone who was behind me started going past, including Paul F from our Club.

I ran with Paul for about half a mile, but could not keep up with him as my legs tired more and more. By 8 miles I knew I was going to miss my target time, and in the last mile (which was slightly downhill), I could only muster a time of 8 minutes 3 seconds, pretty pathetic for the last mile of a race, and a sure sign of how tired my legs were. I finished in 1 hour 21 minutes 53 seconds, nearly 2 minutes outside my target time, and a terrible second half to the race after going through the first 5 miles well under my target time.

I was very disappointed to miss my target time, but did feel a little better when other members of the Club who had done the Brecon 10 mile race told me how much slower they were in this race. I was only 40 seconds slower, several who had done the Brecon 10 were 2 or 3 minutes slower. Also, it was good to cheer in the (few) Club members who came in after me.

After the race, we all retired to the visitor centre for the prize giving. I’m delighted to say that our Club chairman Clem won the male 50-60 category, with an amazing time of just over 1 hour 5 minutes. Here he is receiving his prize.

Clem receiving his 50-60 category prize

So, the previous weekend I do my season’s best for 10k, this weekend I was disappointed to not beat 1 hour 20 minutes for a 10 mile race. The ups and downs of running. But I, and all the other Club members who ran this race, need to remind ourselves just how tough a course it was. We should be pleased with ourselves we actually competed in it and completed it!

Our next Club championshp race is this Sunday, the Drovers run, an “off road odyssey” which I am sure will be equally as challenging at the Elan Valley 10.

Read Full Post »

The Cardiff half marathon on Sunday seemed to be a big success. It was a beautiful sunny day. In fact, a little too warm for my liking; even though the race started at 9am on a mid-October day, by 10am it was feeling quite warm.

As it was a “club championship” race for the Penarth and Dinas running club, there were several of us from the club doing the race. The start and finish were just next to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay

Even with 15,000 or so people running, I was pleasantly surprised by how little congestion there was in the first few miles. Congratulations to Phil Cook the race course director (of Les Croupiers running club) on this. The course took in the Cardiff Civic Centre, the castle, the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff City stadium and the Leckwith athletics stadium.

Unfortunately I got my pacing completely wrong. I will put it down to not having done a half marathon in some 25 years, but I went off too quickly and paid for it. At just past 2 miles I passed Lisa Cleary and Andrea Hurman of P&D, and caught a brief glimpse of our club’s “super vet” Malcolm Bradley in the distance. Up to 6 miles I was feeling really good, but I should have realised when I passed Lisa and Andrea that I had gone off too fast.

Miles 6 to 8 weren’t too bad, even though I slowed a bit. But from miles 8 to 12 I felt like I was going backwards. My pace dropped badly, and my legs felt like mush. I managed to find something for the last mile and a bit, but annoyingly I missed my target time by 1 minute and 20 seconds.

To add insult to injury, Andrea and Lisa passed me between miles 8 and 9; and I even got beaten by a giraffe.

A giraffe running the Cardiff Half Marathon

At least I now have a target time for next year, so hopefully I will pace myself better. I hope the race organisers keep the course the same, I think it was ideal for such a large field of runners.

Read Full Post »

Just a quick post before I bury myself in some work. Later today I will be tutoring a student about Special Relativity, one of my favourite topics in Physics. I’m going to try and give the student an historical introduction to the subject, so maybe that will form a blog later this week.

My quick post is about a story which I saw on Facebook yesterday, that a man finished a marathon in third place, but later admitted to having cheated by hopping on a bus!

Apparently, the man was spotted hopping on a bus at about the 20 mile (32km) stage, and hopped off just before the end to come third! Of course, the people who came behind him quickly complained that they had no recollection of his having passed them. Initially, like most cheats, he denied any wrongdoing; but when presented with enough evidence he finally admitted to cheating. With the Cardiff half marathon on Sunday, maybe I should make sure I have my bus pass on me!

Read Full Post »

Half measures

This Sunday, the 16th of October, sees Cardiff hosting its annual half marathon. I haven’t run a half marathon in over 20 years, but on Sunday I will be lining up along with thousands of other excited, apprehensive runners.

I first started running after seeing the 1981 New York City marathon on TV. The following year I ran the inaugural Cardiff marathon, finishing in a quite respectable 3 hours 24 minutes, and beating my school friend Mark Hughes by 2-3 minutes to boot.

I gained a place in the 1983 London marathon, queuing all night outside a post office just off Sloan Square, the nearest post office accepting entries to Imperial College, where I was studying. However, about 4 weeks before the marathon I had to drop out with painful shin splints, probably due to overtraining as I was putting in 60-70 miles a week. I gave my place to another school friend, David Walters, and he successfully completed it in under 3 hours.

My enthusiasm for running marathons waned after this. Between 1983 and 1992 I ran more half marathons and 10km races than I can count, but have never been tempted to attempt a second full marathon.

That is, until this year. 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of my one and only marathon. So I’ve decided to run one next year. I haven’t decided which one yet, but it will definitely be an autumn, rather than spring, marathon. I just find it so much more pleasant doing my early morning runs during the summer months when it is light. At this time of the year, and for the next 4 months, my 6am runs feel like I’m running in the middle of the night.

At the moment I am leaning most strongly towards either the Berlin marathon at the end of September, or the Dublin marathon at the end of October. I’ve never been to either city, so it would be a great way to combine a visit with doing my second marathon. One day I’d like to run the marathon that inspired me in the first place way back in 1981 – the NYC marathon.

But back to Sunday’s Cardiff half marathon My best half marathon time is 1 hour 24 minutes, set back in 1985. On Sunday I will be happy if I break 1 hour 50, and ecstatic if I get under 1 hour 45. The ravages of time have slowed me, and although my times this year have been getting steadily better (after a 7 year break from running 2002-2010), I am sadly slower than 25 years ago. No amount of training can change that. I don’t know how Sunday will go, all I do know is that I will set a Season’s best, but not a Personal best.

Read Full Post »