Our features writer and half-marathon participant, Ali Corless gives Quench his account of his impressive physical and mental journey.
It is now 10 days before the Cardiff half Marathon and I have mixed emotions. Whilst still recovering from another very draining yet enjoyable fresher’s week, the thought of running through Cardiff is, unsurprisingly, weighing heavily on my conscience. With the added distraction of lectures and my re-acclimatisation to the temperamental welsh weather; to say I’m apprehensive about the 14th of October is an understatement.
Although nervous, I am also extremely excited at the prospect of tackling the 13.1 mile course. I have never attempted a half marathon before and have yet to run anything near the distance, but am quietly confident that my training this summer will suffice in getting me around the course in a respectable time. Whilst I am in no doubt that making my way through countless miles in the Sussex countryside this summer will improve my half marathon-running ability, I also know that my chances of finishing the race in a good time have diminished as a result of too much Freshers’ fun. Although I have always run casually in the past, it has only been in the past year that I have run routinely. Going out for runs was a big part of my first year. For me, it was a means of getting into shape, but I also found that it was a great way to relieve stress. Running gave me a place to think away from the somewhat hectic lifestyle of halls. I would strongly recommend it to any fresher. Running can serve as a good constant in what is an incredible but very chaotic year. Plus, it is a surprising yet seriously effective hangover cure!
The marathon was allegedly created to commemorate a Greek messenger who ran 140 miles non-stop, over 2500 years ago to deliver a message, before promptly collapsing and dying. Naturally, the obvious way to show the guy respect was to replicate this event for years to come, with the slightly more realistic distance of 26.2 miles (hopefully without the dramatic ending). Unlike Ancient Greek tradition, you won’t get an olive olive wreath if you win, and would probably get arrested if you ran naked like the Greeks did, but you CAN raise a lot of money for charity whilst proving an impressive mark of dedication.
Fast forward 8 days and it is now only 48 hours before the race. After a monotonous week consisting of nothing more than pasta, sleep, and lectures, the idea of a Friday night at Glam became very appealing. After agreeing to go to pre-drinks with nothing stronger than Orange Lucozade, the temptation to drink became increasingly painful as I watched my housemates and friends get increasingly inebriated. I began to picture myself getting into the state that I am in on most Friday nights but then I stopped myself. Instead I began to think back to the innumerable running hours that I had put in over the summer. In the past I have not been able to say no to a night out and I was surprised by my own self-restraint. On this occasion I, tucked up in bed by 1.30 AM, was as sober as a judge.
Even though I was very self-disclipined with my training this summer, I can safely say that I was inspired by the sublime performances of team GB. I will unashamedly admit that I was completely drawn in by the Olympic fever and even found myself struggling to come to terms with going ‘Gold Cold Turkey’ following the end of the Olympic fortnight. I am a firm believer that the London Legacy will be an everlasting one. The abundance of new British sporting icons and talent that the Olympics delivered should inspire a generation of young British children to take up a whole range of sports. In the long run, this can only benefit sport in our country. Although it may not be any way near as enthralling as the Bolt versus Blake race, I am eagerly awaiting my own 100-metre final. At 9.00am on the 14th of October I will be attempting the Cardiff half marathon.
Marathons have become a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 500 held worldwide annually. With no sign of slowing down any time soon, events include The North Pole Marathon where participants run on ice, getting cheered on by Mickey Mouse in the Walt Disney World Marathon and The Big Five Marathon in South Africa where you run straight through a wildlife reserve -what could be better motivation than a tiger or two at your heels? Whilst the London 2012 marathon is the UKs most famous event, the half marathon is (excuse the pun) catching up, with over 18,000 runners for the tenth anniversary of the Cardiff Half Marathon.
The day of 14th of October has come and gone and I feel that I really gave the race my all. As I was overtaken during the race by what looked like Batman, along with a man in a Bear Suit, I really felt that October the 14th was not going to be my day. However, the sun was shining and I had just enough energy in my legs to muster a final sprint through Cathays Terrace. This would guarantee me a time that was far quicker than anything I had previously anticipated. To my great surprise, I was able to complete the distance in 1 hour and 34 minutes.
After running the Cardiff Half Marathon I have been motivated to carry on with my running, and to tackle longer distances in the future. First, I am planning to give my body a rest, but my eventual goal is to run a full marathon. Although I will be trotting around Bute Park rather than galloping down to Penarth like I did last Sunday, I can safely say that I will be attempting half Marathons and hopefully full Marathons for many years to come.