Saturday, March 7, 2009

St. David's Day 5k Race

Back in January, I was hunting around for a 5k race to run this spring, and there were none to be found in my neck of Scotland. But I really, really wanted to find a race to run in, so I started looking farther afield, and stumbled across the St. David’s Day 5k and 10k races in Cardiff, Wales. Hmmmm…Wales…I’d never been to Wales. I emailed my friend Xenia and she was all for the idea of a weekend in Cardiff, including the race. So last Friday, I was on my way to Wales!

It's a long train ride down to south-east Wales, 8+ hours if you go through London. They do have a more direct train route, but the London route was actually cheaper, even if it took a bit longer. The train from Edinburgh arrived in King's Cross Station, and it only took a short hop on the Underground to get to Paddington Station, where I would get the train to Cardiff. Finally, about 10:30pm I rolled into Cardiff -- I'd left Edinburgh at 2pm.

Paddington Station

On Saturday, Xenia and I saw some of the sights within driving distance of Cardiff. (Thanks for driving, Xenia!) More on those in another post. And, Sunday, it was race day!

It was terrific weather for a race, around 50 F, and Bute Park, where the race was being held, was a very pretty place to run.

Bute Park is right by Cardiff Castle.

According to Wikipedia, it was landscaped in the 18th century by Capability Brown. I wonder what he'd think of this pig in his park.

Oh yes, this is supposed to be a race report. My goals for the race were very low. Run the 5k (3.1 miles) in under 39 minutes and no walking. I'm happy to say that I did meet both of these goals! My watch time for the race was 37:12 (12 min/mile on the dot!), and the official clock time was 37:36. There was no chip timing, only a starting gun time to mark the start of the race. Since I'm slow, I positioned myself at the back of the starting pack, so it took a just a bit to get across the starting line. Either way, well under 39 minutes!

At times during the race, I was a bit demoralized by the kiddies who were beating me. And yes, I do mean kiddies. One boy was running with his mum, I'm guessing he was no more than 6 or maybe 7. And then there were the two girls that I'm guessing couldn't be older than 4 or 5 (ok, maybe the younger of the two got a couple piggyback rides, but still). These two were particularly annoying because at the start of the race, they were weaving back and forth in front of me along the path, making it impossible to pass them or anyone else. And then there was the chicken, or rather someone running in a chicken suit. I kept the chicken in my sights through most of the race, but was never quite able to catch up.

In spite of the fact that I'm slower than a 5 year old and a chicken, I was still really happy with myself at the end of the race. I'd picked a pace that I was pretty sure I could keep for the full 5k, and I did! And then, right after I crossed the finish line, something really cool happened. The woman who crossed the finish line right after me (I didn't even know she was there), came up to me and thanked me for my steady pace and not stopping to walk! I vaguely remember passing her in the first kilometer or so. Aparently after that, she just stuck to me, and used me to pace her through the race. It was a really good feeling, knowing that I was able to help someone. I wonder now if it was her first race.

After that, it was back to the B&B to grab a quick shower, while Xenia went on to run the 10k race as well. And after lunch, back to the train station to catch our train. It was another long train ride back to Edinburgh, but I at least got to see this fellow on the way.