Happy St. Davids day readers! Living in Wales, St. Davids day is widely celebrated around here; with Welsh cakes, daffodils and dressing your children (if you have them) in traditional Welsh outfits (can’t say i’m upset about the fact that I’m English and so never got to experience that particular joy)!!!
Anyway, we celebrated St. Davids day in our own little way (2 days early) by running a 5k! The St. Davids Day races have been held in Cardiff on the weekend closest to St Davids day for the last 13 years. Originally it was just a 5k and a 1k race, but in 2009 they added a 10k due to the distances growing popularity. This was our first St Davids day race, and we opted for the 5k because – well it just seemed like it would be more ‘fun’ 4 weeks before a half marathon than a 10k.
So if you have been reading this blog regularly you will probably know that the day before race day we ran a 10 mile training run in prep for this months (eek) half marathon. This left my feet a little worse for wear. BLISTERS – A runners nightmare! I managed to rub one on each foot right on the soles of my feet, so even stepping was mildly painful, let alone running. After our 10 miles it was off to the shops to get blister plasters in an attempt to patch them up enough to run the 5k the next day. Generally though, besides my blisters both Gideon and myself were feeling pretty good – a little achy in the knees upon standing up after a prolonged period and walking up/down stairs but otherwise pretty good, and we were both looking forward to a no-pressure little race around the park the next day.
We woke up on Sunday morning feeling reasonably good. The aching legs had subsided well over night. We had toast and coffee and then left the house at about 8:15 in order to drive to Cardiff and park in time for the 10am start. The race was taking place in Sophia Gardens/Bute Park which we vaguely knew the location of and the sat-nav helped us find the carpark without any problems so we arrived in plenty of time. We sat in the car for a good 20 minutes whilst I re-plastered my blisters and ate a banana. It was a pretty cold morning – about 3-4°C if I remember correctly – but the sun was trying to poke through the clouds and it wasn’t windy or rainy for once! We had layered up – I was wearing my running jacket, 2 layers underneath and my headband and gloves. I do not like to be cold.
At just past 9:30 we thought it was probably time to leave the warmth of the car and make our way over to where the action was happening. The race is organised in part by the military prep college so there were lots of cadets out entertaining everyone with tug-of-wars and other fitness related activities. There were lots of runners around already (about 650 for the 5k) and spectators. The 10k wouldn’t start until midday so it was mostly just those like us who were doing the 5k who were already here.
We used the porta potties and then located the start line (which took us ages because it was behind all the promo/baggage tents).Then it was time for the warmup which was fun, although the bouncing up and down soon alerted me to the fact that my feet were not going to enjoy this race. Stoopid blisters!
Then it was off to the start with the other 650 participants, bang went the gun and we shuffled off on our way. The first half a mile or so was very slow – slower than I would have liked because it was just too congested with people and the path was quite narrow until you got to the edge of the park and it began to spread out. I don’t think it was a bad thing though for me because I didn’t want to start out too fast and this basically prevented me from doing so. However if I were trying to get a fast time I may have been more frustrated by this (but then again I probably would have tried to start a little further towards the front).
As soon as we started I knew my feet were not going to thank me for putting them through another 3 miles of running. I felt the blister on my left foot pop quite early on in the race and just hoped that the plaster would stay in place until it was over. Gideon bounded off shortly after this (we had been running together) my feet were hurting far too much to bother chasing him and I soon lost site of him and resolved myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be catching back up.
The course started to spread out as we ran past the football fields in the park. I told myself I’d run until my Garmin beeped for 1 mile and then that it would be ok to walk, but when it beeped I’d got a bit more space around me so I decided to just keep on running even though the blisters on my feet were stinging with each step. The problem was, that although it was painful, I’d kind of got into a rhythm despite the pain and I was worried that if I stopped to walk it would become too much and I wouldn’t be able to start running again and get back into that rhythm.
So I didn’t walk, I just carried on. 1.5 miles went by and I kept on plodding. Then came 2 miles and I thought I can probably live with the pain for another 10 minutes so I just kept going. It was nice and scenic, we were running by the river and there was lots to look at which took my mind off the pain. And I was passing people! Lots of people! Which doesn’t usually happen to me! Normally I’m the one being passed, but there were lots of people who had stopped to walk in this race and I was still plodding past them which made me feel pretty good really!
The only other annoying thing (besides my feet) was that the sun had decided to come out. Normally I would love this on such a cold day, but i’d pinned my race bib right over the zip of my jacket so I couldn’t take my jacket off and I was getting warm with the sun out and too many layers. It was annoying, but thankfully not terrible enough to stop me running.
Anyway, we crossed back over the river bridge for the final little stretch back to the finish line, and before I knew it i’d crossed through, stopped my Garmin, got my medal, got my bottle of water, found Gideon and de-layered. My feet were burning with pain and I literally had to hobble back to the car (thank goodness I didn’t stop running in the race because i’d never have started again) but I was pretty proud of my efforts!
Overall I finished with a time of 34 minutes and 34 seconds. Gideon was slightly faster than me at 32 minutes 48 seconds (chip times). I’m pretty pleased with my time considering the pain in my feet and the 10 miles the previous day. Plus actually when I looked at the Garmin properly it showed something pretty cool – i’d done negative splits!!! My first mile according to my Garmin was 12 minutes, my second mile was 11 minutes 1 second and my third was 10 minutes 49 seconds!! Negative splits on blisters! That’s something to be proud of!
Once i’d hobbled back to the car I was able to inspect the damage to my feet. Lets just leave it as i’m really glad my husband had a first aid kit in the car because the anti-septic wipes and bandages came in very handy! I’m pretty sure I won’t be running again till at least the weekend! Stoopid blisters!
Despite the feet, I really really enjoyed the St Davids Day 5k. It was a well organised and fun race that was in a lovely (flat) location around the park with good marshals and crowd support and nice views of the park/river to keep your mind off the running. It felt like a race that would be perfect for beginners and seasoned runners alike and had a really friendly atmosphere. The only downside was the medal could have been slightly better quality (you know I love a medal), and i’ve seen on Facebook that people were saying the Welsh translation is incorrect (not that i’d know), so hopefully they’ll take that feedback on board and fix it for next year. I’d definitely consider doing this race again though – maybe even the 10k!
And afterwards, I just about managed to hobble from the car to reward myself with my favourite Cardiff lunch – a Magic Wrap! Totally worth the blisters!