As some of you may know, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon last Sunday.
I hadn’t planned to do this at all. A few very good friends of mine decided to get a group together to run to help raise awareness for 24hrs4cf.
I was overwhelmed by their support and couldn’t ask for better friends, so how could I not join them?
We did start off with a few more but as with any fitness event, injuries happen and numbers inevitably drop.
It’s fair to say that John, Elliott and Lou were gunning for good times. Me, on the other hand, had a different idea.
I decided to turn the half marathon into half the height of Kilimanjaro, well almost.
As everyone was approaching the start line to get in their pens I grabbed my altitude mask, which was set to 9,000ft and had a few laughs.
Until people realised I was being serious
The boys were aiming to finish in 1.35-2.00. I was aiming for any time under 2.30.
At 9,000ft you have around 25% less oxygen so there was no way I was setting any PB’s.
As we set off, I said good luck and went on my way at a leisurely pace.
As you can see from my split times below, they were far from fast but felt comfortable.
After around 8-9 miles I started thinking, ‘This is actually surprisingly easy at this pace so I may need to speed up’.
See, here’s the thing. At 9,000ft you have around 15% oxygen. Anyone who took GCSE P.E or has any interest in training will know that during intense exercise, at some point, lactic acid will build up. With only 15% oxygen it becomes harder to break down and gets incredibly painful.
My legs started getting heavy and my lungs were ready to burst after around 11 miles.
Seeing family and friends in the crowd with the 24hrs4cf t-shirts kept me going. It reminded me why I was here, doing this bl**dy half marathon in an altitude mask.
There were plenty of people dressed up in fancy dress but I didn’t see anyone else in an altitude mask. The mask definitely raised a few eyebrows and I think everyone who overtook me (a lot of people), noticed the 24hrs4cf challenge printed on my back, raising awareness for this cause.
So, I finally see the 13 mile sign…
“Where the **** is the finish line?”
And yes, I forgot that this was 13.1 miles.
After 11 miles of low oxygen, your mind does weird things. You forget where you are, you start to focus on your breathing. You have to remember to drink at least double the amount of water, so I had to take the mask off whilst running passed every station grabbing a full bottle to drink.
The last 100 metres were the longest I’ve ever experienced. A little stumble across the line and check the watch.
2hrs 4 minutes… I’m pretty pleased with that.
My brother had to prop me up for a photo as soon as I’d had a drink and a bite of a chocolate bar
I managed to conjure up the energy to have a few photos before my legs seized up completely.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported on the day, especially the runners; John, Elliott, Lou, James Cutlan and his friends!