Cancer Care Cymru 5k

There seems to be a 5k every couple of weeks in Cardiff at the moment - this one just came on the right weekend for me to test myself in a short road race, so I got my entry in a few weeks in advance. I must admit to a certain ambivalence regarding races held to raise funds like this - the cause is a good one obviously and desperately needs to be funded somehow. The trouble seems to be not any individual race, but the sheer dominance of "charity running" in road races. I think that while each event is a good thing and supports a worthy cause, the other reasons for running are starting to get eclipsed. Many people consider marathon running and charity fundraising to be inextricably linked now in our culture, while for me the act of running a marathon has a wonderful meaning of its own, related to personal fulfilment and even personal transformation. I just hope that significant side of running isn't forgotten at the expense of the financial side. OK, so now I've got that off my chest I should say that Cancer Care Cymru did everything right here, especially by enlisting Les Croupiers to marshal and organise on the day - it was "for runners, by runners" which is as it should always be.

Warming up was a nervy affair - my knee was sore just walking and only eased slightly when I jogged on it. The race was as much a knee-testing event as anything for me, to see if I'm really going to be able to race through this summer or if I should just forget it. Anyhow, after half an hour of walking, jogging and nervously standing around in the cold breeze behind Cardiff Castle, the hooter went rather suddenly and over 200 runners were off through Bute Park. It was a truly gorgeous day, bright and clear, surprisingly cool in all but the most sheltered corners of the park. I went off at a moderate pace - or so it seemed - with my watch set for laps of 3.48 for a 19 minute finish. I was just a couple of seconds ahead at the first km marker, heading north on the main driveway alongside the Taff, with a bunch of Les Croups and others up ahead of me and a bit of a gap behind between me and the main crowd. I stayed pretty much on pace, tiring slightly on the long section back down by North Road where I passed the also-injured Andy Cleves marshalling on the bend. Then it was a case of digging in and trying not to lose it as we retraced our steps back down by the river.

I realised I was not going to crack 19 as I approached the castle with only twenty seconds to go. As I came in through the gate into the grassy, walled enclosure I could hear Mick McGeoch calling all the runners home over the PA - as promised he gave me a mention and mentioned Run and Become too as I finished in a breathless 19.10 ish (20th place out of some 250 ish runners). Well, the knee was sore all through the race but recovered quickly, only to gradually worsen over the next week or so - it became evident by mid April that I was going to ahve to rest up completely from running for a month or three and dedicate myself to rehab exercises to get the knee back on track. Looking back, I had to test the knee and see if the recovery was genuine or not, and a 5k was a reasonable enough test. The race was great fun, but it's back to the swimming pool for a while now, and I guess no racing until 2008 if I'm serrious about a full recovery. That's going to be an exercise in patience!


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