Ok, so I was talked into the Wales half marathon by my cousin in Carmarthen who said she was going to do it as well. She didn’t enter and she didn’t run it. I was left to run it alone and didn’t really know what to expect as I couldn’t find a course profile showing me the elevation etc.. All I knew is that I hadn’t raced a half marathon for a while due to injury and wanted to try for a PB which would mean a sub 1hr 30 finish and an average mile of 6 mins and 45 secs.
The race starts from Pembroke castle and finishes in Tenby. You get free entry to the castle for yourself and whoever is with you as long as you remember to print off your vouchers. We walked about the castle on the hottest day of the year. We had a little bit of trouble getting there as they close off some of the roads for the race. The organisers claim that this is the only race in Wales with fully closed roads. The marathon starts at 10am but the half starts at midday and joins the second half of the marathon route. We were told to make our way to the start by exiting the castle and walking down the main road. I didn’t realise how far back I was in the line as I could see swarms of people ahead of me when walking down the hill. As we walked, some of the marathon runners passed us and we shouted words of encouragement. It seemed like a pretty long way to the start but we started running and I wasn’t even sure of where the start was but I started my watch on what I thought may have been the chip timing mat.
For the first two miles I was doing great with sub 7 minute miles but soon after that I had slowed down and by mile 3 was walking up a hill due to the heat and my body overheating. There goes my sub 1 hr 30! This was proving to be a really challenging course due to all the hills and the heat. I couldn’t wait to get to the water station for water to pour over my neck and shoulders as I was burning in the sun. There was little shade on these country lanes.
I had decided to walk up every hill and run on every down and what little flat there was. We ran through various little villages and the support from all the locals was overwhelming. Everyone came out of their houses to support and were either offering us food and drink or were offering to spray us with hosepipes whereas others had sprinkler systems going that we could run under for a brief and refreshing shower.
I really felt like quitting after 10k but this was solely due to the heat and the sun beating down and burning me. I thought about my welsh family and dad waiting for me at the finish line. I couldn’t let them down, they had travelled to watch me finish and had put in a lot of effort to be here. I had to finish but if they weren’t there I think I would have probably pulled out.
A bit later my spirits improved as we climbed more hills and got closer to the coastline. At last, there was a breeze and the sun was briefly obscured by the clouds.
I was now chatting to the occasional person and making the odd joke. I had this girl who ran past me on every hill I walked up but I always passed her on the flat and downhill, She made the comment that she was now getting used to the sound of my footsteps coming from behind her on the flats and downhill,
This was definitely no PB course but who cares. I think i valued the experience much more. In fact, I finished around 1hr 50 which is my worst half marathon time ever and that’s saying something if I finished the South Downs half 15 minutes quicker! The finish was brilliant as I ran into Tenby and the crowds cheered. I heard my name called as I tried to sprint for the finish on the red carpet. I was a little worried when I had finished as the marshals rushed over to me and asked if I was alright. I obviously wasn’t! I felt like headed and very dizzy. A bit disorientated in fact. I just had to keep walking. My dad was asking questions but I couldn’t really answer any of them. It was too hard to digest any sort of words. I walked to Tenby beach and walked into the sea to cool my feet down. Slight heat exhaustion I think. I said to myself that I would never run a race again in that kind of heat but we easy forget the pain and suffering afterwards. It was a great race with fantastic support and i’d happily do it again.