The urge to find new places to run and new sights to see seems to ever increase, and a family holiday in Cardiff was the perfect scratcher for that itch. I spent weeks building up to the holiday by logging into my Great Run Training account and hastily planning my four routes for the week. Despite being new to half marathon distance, I’m following their challenger programme, and its paying dividends, so I saw no reason to let up on holiday.
My week began with a brief sortie through Cathays and back into the city. Nothing extraordinary, dead simple and purposefully not too strenuous. It was the following day’s longer run that was to become the defining run of my holiday. I attempted to circle Cardiff Bay via Taff Embankment and the bridge into Cogan, grazing past Penarth Marina and back through the Barrage, Porth Teigr and eventually the city. I was just over halfway through the run, having crossed the bridge into Cogan and heading along Penarth Portway that I realised my hotel keycard wasn’t in my shorts. As in, the shorts with the pocket with the broken zip, that I told my wife I’d never lost anything from before and that there was no chance I’d lose a keycard from. Panic setting in unnecessarily, egg well and truly on face, I decided I’d come too far to turn back to scour for it and that I should carry out the route as intended.
As I crossed the Cardiff Bay Barrage and passed the Wetland Reserve, I noticed the sun rising in the distance. Should I stop and take a photo of it, I thought to myself? At first I didn’t see the point of affecting my stats further, and was about to carry on when I suddenly said to myself ‘ah go on then’. And so I quickly whipped my phone out, straight into camera mode, and snap. All done within 10 seconds. I continued the course. A slight wrong turn at Porth Teigr, and then a meander across the city back towards the hotel instead of High Street, and I finished five minutes later than planned, all due to losing a keycard that was replaced kindheartedly by the Premier Inn staff and at no extra cost. And so, I went back up to my family’s room lamenting how this run was one mishap to another. Then I looked at the photo:
And I was awestruck. I don’t think I ever took a photo of a natural event as beautiful as this one. As far as capturing the natural world, landscapes, etc. on a camera goes, this was a gamechanger for me.
My remaining runs over the holiday yearned some more excellent shots, and indeed varying results. My run the other way along the Taff Trail, passing Glamorgan CCC’s stadium along the way, went awry when I tried to go through the Blackweir Woodland Trail – I arrived to see it gated up when doubling back along the other side of the Taff and ended up having to cross a bridge to retread my steps, with a finish back at the Millennium Stadium, my hip now giving me a little bother thanks to my misadventure. I was then fit and ready to carry out an intense interval session at Roath Park, catching the train up to Heath High Level station to start from the top of the park looping clockwise around the park for a good 40 minutes or so. That should have been my last run of the holiday. But that view from Cardiff Bay Barrage had me thinking all week.
So I got myself out of bed very early on Friday 19th July, quickly got my gear on and headed out for one last look across the Barrage and the Bristol Channel. For now at least. I spent the first five minutes constructing an appropriate playlist, both reflective and triumphant in nature. Once ready, I refocused on the road. Down Stryd Bute. Around the Bay, clockwise this time. And eventually I arrived, only slightly late for the sunrise, but about to witness its splendour once again. And so, for the first time on a run, I didn’t just stop, but I sat down, and stared across the water.
I rarely stop to reflect, or appreciate. Life is so fast these days. Work, kids, life itself is a race. Rarely does it allow you to slow down. On the rare occasions it does slow down for you, you really must grasp the opportunity while it breathes. And granted, a sunrise happens everyday. It just doesn’t look that great in the middle of a cul-de-sac. And with hours ticking down before the long journey home, it was worth taking in the sight of the sunrise from Cardiff Bay once more, if just to forever engrave that image in my head.
Eventually I decided to do a couple of stretches on the rocks, just to ensure my muscles didn’t seize up, and checked out the Bay itself, its expansiveness a beautiful sight in itself. Eventually the sun got a little too bright and I decided it was right to head off back to the hotel. It wasn’t my quickest run. It was never intended to be. It will almost certainly be one of the most memorable.
And so that was my holiday over. And by the time I arrived back home, I was already checking out the Cardiff 10K and the Cardiff Half Marathon routes. Not this year for sure. But I suspect it won’t be long before I commit myself to a return to the Welsh capital. Even if it’s just for the view.