by Sarah Wymer
As we basked in late summer sunshine, I made my preparations for the Cardiff 10k: kit ready (including my lovely new WRP running vest), lift to the starting point arranged, carbo loading evening meal planned, and checked that all important weather forecast for race day…. Oh no, that can’t be right, heavy rain forecast for 10.00 am, i.e. start time! Ever the optimist I was sure it would turn out fine on the day…but yes, you’ve guessed already, they were right and I was wrong! So, Sunday morning found me making my way into the city under a steely grey sky and steadily increasing rain. As I dropped off my bag, squelched through wet grass and donned my fetching bin liner waterproof I have to confess to feeling well and truly fed up!! The weather really was awful but my sprits soon lifted as I joined my fellow WRP runners for the obligatory pre run photo and chat. Suddenly the weather just didn’t matter at all. We were soon chatting and laughing, sharing tips and race stories. I think we came with a mixture of emotions (excited /apprehensive) and experience: for some it was the first time while others had done this a few times before.
We set off at 10.00 am from the impressive surroundings of City Hall. Running past the museum and university buildings we headed out of the city past the cemetery, round pretty Roath Park finally retracing our steps to the start /finish line. There were a few cheeky hills along the way but us women of Penarth are strong and it was nothing I couldn’t handle – all those hills round here have prepared us well! For me, running for an hour is quite a long time but there was plenty to keep my mind busy and the time passed in a moment. Here are some of the things that got me round: focusing on the tips from our leaders at the weekly training session (keep your head up to help with breathing, use your arms and run on the balls of your feet up hill), feeling my body (a little bit tired but strong and feeling so alive), the chat of the people around me, the cheers of the spectators and observing the surroundings as we ran by. As a relative newcomer to the area (we moved here a year ago from Surrey) I loved getting a glimpse of a part of Cardiff that I’d not been to before, seeing the lyrical Welsh street names and signs, hearing the lilting accents and feeling my roots in our lovely city getting a little bit stronger. As we reached the halfway point my confidence grew and I knew I could do this. I felt myself pick up the pace a bit and I ran a slightly faster second half than the first. I’m told by a running friend that this is known as a negative split. I have to say that the last mile or so was a bit of a stretch – the finish line seemed a long time coming. But finally it hove into view and I remembered one final tip from Erika for a strong finish: “visualise a crocodile snapping at your heels as you sprint for the finish”.
I’ve run in a handful of events over the years but mostly on my own or with a friend rather than as part of a club. And for me that’s what made this one quite special: it really was lovely being part of a team, supporting one another as we set off and meeting up at the end to swap stories and pose with our medals. In the end it didn’t matter about the times. You do the best you can do at that time and we were all buzzing with excitement for ourselves and one another. Well done to all my fellow runners!
(Main pic: Bin bags at the ready – WRP braving the weather before the start.)