Race for Life

My aim this year is to do more. Inspired by Lesley over at Bucket List Productions, I wrote a list of the things I wanted to achieve in 2013. One of those goals was to run a 5k, and I am very pleased to say that I have now ticked it off my list. On Sunday 30th June I joined about 2200 other women at the Cwmbran Race for Life.


A while back I told you about my 5k training and my general uselessness when it comes to running. I thought it would be funny to share with you the very first entry from the running diary that I kept when I began my training.

I can’t run half as far outdoors as I can on the treadmill in the gym. My lungs are burning, breathing outside is definitely the hardest part for me. Like in the gym, though, I’m sure if I keep training it will get easier. Need to improve my lung capacity.

Note for next time – take a tissue – my nose was running and my throat blocked.

Ran one lap of the park/rec with a lot of walking – 15 minutes.

Aim – to run outside at least twice a week.

When I think back to that first day, I can’t believe it was less than 7 months ago. A lap of the rec is nothing to me now.


When I first committed to running the 5k, my only aim was to complete it without stopping. As my training progressed and I got fitter, I set myself a target time. I wanted to finish in under 45 minutes, or even better under 40.


I decided to run in memory of my Aunty Marg, who died of lung cancer two years ago. The whole park was a sea of women in pink with the names of loved ones pinned to their backs. The atmosphere was incredible. I’ve not run in a race against other people since I was a kid, and I had no idea what effect the extra element of competitors would have on me.

I don’t think I’m competitive, but I know that I am claustrophobic. The need to get away from the other runners pushed me on and I kept a steady pace throughout the race.

As I came into the second to last field, I could hear one of the local radio DJs announcing finishing times as people crossed the line. I heard him say 29 minutes, and I realised that I was well under my goal time. I gave it one last push and couldn’t believe it when I finished in under 31 minutes!


My only goal was to complete a 5k without stopping, but now that I’ve achieved that I must admit I am more than a little tempted to go further and attempt a 10k or a half-marathon.


Roath Lake and my 5k training


I’m not going to lie, I’m terrible at running. I always have been. I used to dread cross-country at school. I had no stamina, and I would usually end up falling in a ditch (my old school is surrounded by them as our whole village is built on reclaimed marshland). Come to think of it, my form weren’t good at sport at all. Our form teacher was just glad if we turned up for sports day. The school had a rule that students could only compete in three events each, to give everyone a fair go at participating. They had to make an exception to the rule for our form, because we didn’t have enough girls willing to compete in anything. I remember one year when only three of us turned up on the day. One girl had to run the first and last legs of the 4x100m relay.

This year, my aim is to do more and one of the ambitions on my list is to run a 5k. I’m aware that 5k sounds like a pathetic distance to most people, but as you can see from my (non)athletic past, to me it is a challenge. Besides the fact that I am just plain terrible at running, I also have problems with my feet that cause me pain on a daily basis. I’m sure you don’t want to hear the details, but basically I have flat feet, short calf muscles and odd shaped bones. In most people, the bones in your feet slide past each other effortlessly without ever touching. In my feet, they scrape against each other and make it feel like someone is holding on to each end of my foot and twisting with all their might.

I’m not sure which 5k I’m going to do yet, or where, but I started training for it properly in January. I am incredibly lucky in that I have the perfect training ground right on my doorstep – Roath Park. Twice a week I run around the park – past the football and rugby pitches, the children’s playgrounds, the rose garden and the stunning Roath Lake.

Although I have to dodge the geese when I get to the lake (I had a bad experience with one that bit me at Lake Windermere when I was a child), there isn’t a ditch in sight for me to fall in.


The light house on the lake was built to commemorate Captain Scott’s ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910.


There are about 100 swans that live on the lake, plus lots of geese. I do my best to avoid them, including running off the path in big semi-circles. They also leave ‘deposits’ on the footpath that can make jogging interesting!


One of my favourite features of the park, and there are many, is the sculpture inspired by Roald Dahl’s The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me situated in one of the children’s play areas. Dahl is one of my favourite authors, and a local hero here in Cardiff.


A classic bit of British memorabilia. We don’t have much call for them anymore (excuse the pun), but I wouldn’t like to see them disappear from our landscape.



No pain no gain!

I am in pain today. I think I’ve bruised my ribs, or possibly worse. I wish I could tell you that I did it whilst trying a challenging problem on the climbing wall, or riding a massive wave on my bodyboard. Unfortunately, though, I fell on the treadmill at the gym. I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d been running at the time, but I was wiping the machine down ready for the next user when my foot slipped off the side. I feel such a fool!

So no working out for me for a few days! I never thought I’d say this, but I miss not going to the gym. This reminded me of a post I wrote on another blog of mine thetravelbug, so I thought I’d reblog it for you:

I Can’t Believe I’m a Gym Bunny

‘I’ve surprised myself once again with my latest passion. I never thought I’d say this, but I love going to the gym. Until a couple of months ago, I’d only worked out in a gym once before in my life. Whilst working my very first summer season as a rep in Austria, one of my colleagues had persuaded me to go with him to the gym at one of our hotels. I found it too repetitive at the time, and I soon got bored and distracted. Plus, the cross-trainer put me off because I looked like a frog in a blender.
So what made me give it another go? I hear you ask. Well, since my vow to try at least one new activity every year, I’ve found myself doing things that I never thought I would and revisiting some activities that I didn’t get off to the best start with first time round. Although I’ve been a lot fitter the past couple of years, my stamina is something that I still really struggle with. I’ve tried taking up running (I have the most beautiful park right on my doorstep), but I have problems with my feet and so training can be hit and miss. Even on days when my feet don’t hurt too bad, I have to be careful where I’m running in case I fall over and hurt them even more. I also wanted to build up my strength to help improve my rock climbing.
As I was already using the local sports and community centres for swimming and exercise classes, I’d heard about the Cardiff Active card. For a monthly fee, you get unlimited access to all Cardiff Council gyms, exercise classes and swimming pools. Plus you get a gym induction included. When I found out that I get a further 25% discount as an employee of the company that I work for, I went straight to get my application form.
I’m getting my moneys worth using my Active card for all the activities at the centres, but what I love most at the moment is the gym. I usually work out there two or three times a week, and I’ve overcome my distraction problem by taking along my MP3 player to listen to. The weights have been great to build up my strength and help me to climb better, and I can tell that my stamina has improved greatly already. The best thing is that I can run really easily on the treadmill because it’s a smooth surface and I don’t have to worry about doing further damage to my feet. So far I’ve worked up to running for 10 minutes straight, which for me is a huge achievement. My goal is to run the Cardiff 5k Race for Life, and I hope to be able to sign up for it next year. Wish me luck x’

Author’s note: Since I first wrote this post I’ve improved my running even more (apart from when I fall off the treadmill). I now run 2.5km as a warm up, and I’m well on my way to being ready for the 5k next year.