Monday, 2 March 2009

Double Race Report: St David's Day 5K and 10K

Wales is incredible. Not only is there a castle everywhere you look, but the Welsh people are also super nice. Seriously, they put the stodgy English to shame.

A little of this...
Saturday was sightseeing day, so I drove the rental car while Theresa navigated. Getting out of Cardiff took forever and a day (come on, people, put some goddamn signs up on the roundabouts...preferably not in Welsh), but then we got to visit Caerleon, Raglan Castle and Tintern Abbey.

Caerleon has the remains of a Roman legionary fortress. The bits you can currently see are part of the bath complex, the barracks and the amphitheater. The amphitheater was awesome! But then again that’s the assessment of an ancient architecture nerd, so take that as you will. The only thing that affected our enjoyment of the site was that right next door behind a line of trees was a cow farm. The tractor noises and wild bovine cries sounded like a cross between Caerleon’s own version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jurassic Park. Basically, it was kind of amusing in a very creepy, deeply disturbing way.

Caerleon amphitheater - none of my ground level photos did the structure any justice so I stole borrowed this aerial shot from the interwebs. Note aforementioned cow farm in lower right corner.

Contributing artists in the Caerleon amphitheater soundtrack

Raglan Castle and Tintern Abbey were simply a-freaking-mazing. We got to run all around the ruins and explore every nook and cranny. I took more photos of Raglan than any of the Roman stuff in Caerleon. I just love me some crenellation.

Raglan Castle

Tintern Abbey

inside central nave

All we got to see was a small corner of southwest Wales, but it was enough to make me want to go back as soon as possible. All I need to do is find myself some willing navigators because this weekend made it quite clear that I cannot drive and direct myself at the same time. I urge you all to spend what little you have in your savings and retirement funds to go to Wales immediately. It’s just too beautiful a place to pass up.

A little of that...
Sunday was race day. All the walking and stair-action on Saturday had me waking with sore legs on race day. Not the best beginning, but eh, it was worth it. To soothe all you worry-warts, I did promise Theresa that if my legs hurt at all during the 5K, I would DNS the 10K. Thankfully, there was no pain, so I got to run both. As per all your advice, I ran the 5K as a race and treated the 10K as a regular training run.

The races were held in Bute Park which is essentially the grounds of Cardiff Castle.

side view of Cardiff Castle

The park land was very tranquil and the day ended up being gorgeous with a temperature of about 50 F and sunny skies. The only two things to mar the perfection of race day were the lack of ladies toilets (Seriously, only three for a couple hundred women? You can so tell men organized this race) and no chip timing. We’re stuck with gun times which is a bit of a bummer but whatcha gonna do, huh.

All right, here’s how the races went down.

The entire time I felt like I was going so incredibly slow. It didn’t help that after the 1 km mark, I got prammed. That would translate to strollered for you North Americans. A guy about my age was pushing a baby no more than a few months old in a tricked-out pram. As he came level with me, he turned to me and smiled. I smiled back and then proceeded to laugh at the absurdity of my situation. Eh, it could have been worse. At least I wasn’t midgeted.

Halfway through the 5K, I was debating whether or not to even attempt the 10K mostly because my lungs were working like bellows on speed and I wasn’t liking it. At this point I even started to consider pulling out of my half marathon in two weeks. My mental state was pretty sad to say the least. I was just hoping for a 32 minute finish time by this point. After the 3 km mark, I started to feel a bit better and promised myself to pick up the pace at the 4 km mark. It was taking me so long to reach the 4 km sign that I was beginning to really worry about my pace. That’s when I turned a corner and noticed the finish line only about 300 meters away. I later found out there wasn’t a 4 km sign for some reason. Strange.

Anyhoo, when I saw the finish in the distance, I busted ass. According to the official clock, I crossed the finish at about 30:31, but my watch read 30:16. Either way, it’s a PR. Yay!

I totally took this easy. I made sure to stay in the back and take my time. Sadly, the 5K took a lot out of me, so this wasn’t a problem. The lazy pace allowed me to take in the scenery and enjoy the day. The race organizers had some great volunteers who made sure I never went off course which would have been so easy for me to do had they not been there. I could have done without all the other non-runners on the path (it wasn’t a closed course), but all in all, it was a great run. There was still enough left in my tank for a strong kick to the finish too which made me happy.

All in all it was not only a great day, but a fabulous weekend. I don't think I want to run two races in the same day again (I was freaking exhausted the rest of the day), but I’ll definitely look into more destination runs in the UK in future. It’s well worth it.

As for the train ride home....well, no one seemed to be bothered or aroused by my stanky sweaty self, but we did end up seeing a young guy wearing only a pink tutu, torn fishnet stockings and a smile walking through the carriages. They have some interesting people over here, let me tell you.

All right, that’s more than enough from me. Hope you all have a great week. Catch you later.


joyRuN said...

YEAY for the 5K PR!

And great job on going for the 10K after your PR with your bellowing lungs and all.

I get strollered AND chicked all the time on the boards. Ah well.

Love the pics.

Melanie said...

Wales looks stunning! Congrats on your PR! :D

Marci said...

Great job on your 5K! Thanks for sharing those pictures.:)Have a good Monday.

Carly said...

Nice job on the PR! I love the photos.

The Laminator said...

Wow, great trip and awesome photos, Xenia. Thanks for sharing.

I ran a 5K too this weekend, but you had the better scenery and also ran a 10K afterwards, so I think you win! Awesome. Races, no matter how long or short, take ALOT out of you so the fact that you did two is really great.

I'm so jealous right now. Hope you don't get too bummed out now that you have to head back to the Nerditorium!

Cowboy Hazel said...

That's a hell of a lot cooler than running a 5K in Washington Heights. I'm jealous! Congrats on the P.R.!

Marcy said...

Ohhhhh it looks lovely! You lucky B!

And I am sooo LMAO at your "I haven't been running" nonsense! A PR even without chiptime! Very nice ;D ;D

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

@$$ Raping job on the PR, Sister X! (I think I'm gonna retire "ass raping" as adjective after this comment, so foax don't get the right-, I mean wrong - idea about me.)

Teh 'Bride and I never miss the Brit equivalent of "Pimp My Stroller" on BBC America: "Harlot My Pram". It's capital, capital, my dear!

Getting prammed! HAHAHA!! I can actually beat that. A year ago in a 5k, I got prammed TWICE - by the same dude! He passed me once, and was a little ahead of me, when the baby in the stroller got fussy and he had to pull over to the side of the path to take care of it. Then I passed him and left him in the dust!

But like a mile later he passed me again and ended up handing me my @$$, finishing way before me.

But I PR'd that race (my second ever), so It's all good.

If I'd known then what I know now, I'd've Marcy'd the guy with the stroller - viz., as he passed, I'd've punched the baby in the face! But in those daze, there was no Marcy to give sage advice. At least not that I knew of.

Wales, as I suspected, is beautiful. When I was in the UK 19 years ago, we went through the middle of Wales and there a whole lotta nuthin' in THAT part.

What you saw is what I'd hoped to see, but didn't.

Good on you, X! Great day!

Mel said...

Great job on the PR! Now you have made me want to give up my savings and go sight seeing.

Roisin said...

Yeah PR baby!!!

I love Wales grandfather had great stories about working there back in the day.

RunnerGirl said...

Congrats on the PR!!!

Merry said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all... well, except for the cows.

Nitmos said...

Congrats on the PR! Nice job.

Jamie said...

Sounds like a great weekend! Congrats on your PR!

MCM Mama said...

Great job on the 5K! Wales does look gorgeous. Some day we'll get to travel again. Sigh.

What I hate is getting strollered by a double stroller. Yeah, that's fun.

RazZDoodle said...

Nicely done on the PR!

tfh said...

Very, very cool photos. I've always thought, if I should have children, I would name my daughter Tintern Abbey. Perhaps a sign I'm not ready.

Great 5k PR, and hurrah for no leg pain.

aron said...

YAY congrats on the 5k PR and for both finishes!!!!

Heather said...

Great job on the 5K PR and for running two races in one day!

Anonymous said...

Very cool race(s)! Great job on the PR for the 5K.

Being prammed must have been hillarious?!
It must be great to see all the funky runners (you won't see them in NL).

The pics are great. Wales is awesome.

(ps. no hidden msg in word verification ;-))

Meg said...

Great pictures!!
Nice job completing both and getting a PR!

Blyfinn said...

Great job with the PR! There are not much better feelings then setting a PR.

Anonymous said...

YAY for the new PR!

Mike Antonucci said...

Congrats on the PR! Wouldn't it be cool to run a race with a life-like doll in a stroller, and then in the middle of a crowd of runners, dump the "kid" and go tearing away while it bounced around?

No? OK, never mind.

copia verborum said...

I LOVE destination races! They are great! Congrats on the 5k PR! Well done. Don't worry about the 10k. Two races in one day is insane!

Oh, and good use of the word crenallation. ;)

Christy said...

Congrats on the PR! I love it when that happens.

I just came across your blog (love it!)and hope it's okay if I add it to the link list on my blog. (

If not, too bad, I'm adding it anyway. That's just how I roll...

Run For Life said...

Yay for PR's!! That's awesome you did two races in a day, congrats! Wales looks and sounds fantastic. I will definitely put it on my "to visit at some point in my life" list.