Monday, 11 March 2013

Silverstone Half Marathon Report

Sorry for the lack of blogging. It has gone the way of my training of late. Jan and Feb have been record low mileage months compared to the previous 3 years a combined mileage of just 64 miles. With this inadequate prep my expectations headed into the Silverstone Half Marathon were low. I wasn't quite sure where to set my targets off that training but after a gentle 10 miler with Luke and Pete the week previously at around 9 minute miles I felt sub 2hours was the slowest I should go with a target of 1:50 being my ideal.

Lauren and I set off at around half 7 only for Lauren to realise she had forgotten her phone and so we did a quick about turn to retrieve it. This was a first for me and Lauren, I was driving myself to a race! With the added bonus that Lauren would drive back post-race when my legs were shredded. The trip up there was easy with it being so early there wasn't a huge amount of traffic and we arrived at half 9 ready for our 12 O'clock race, another very unwanted record, 2 and a half hours early takes some beating!

We met up with Luke and Amber who had set off even earlier than us for their longer journey. It was good to have some company and the girls got coffees as Luke and I tried to stay warm. There was plenty going on as we prepared for the start but not a lot that Luke and I could enjoy with just a few hours to the race. The beers and hot dogs would have to wait.

The time went pretty quickly as we chatted away, and with race time approaching we headed over to the spectator area to drop the girls off. There was a rather odd Marshall there who seemed to panic when we told him we were racing, and that we had to get over to the red balloons and the start immediately. There was still over half an hour till the race start and there were loads of runners all around us. We said our goodbyes though and then dutifully headed for the start. Luke and I got into the start area with plenty of time to spare and so had a walk around and found our way to the 1:30 and 1:45 pacers. Luke had his eyes on the 1:30 pacer and me on the 1:45. We talked running and were then spotted by an organiser of the Southend Parkrun and so had a good chat with him.

The sun threatened to come out as we began the race, and conditions were pretty much perfect for a good time. The race started and I was over the line quickly and into my stride. The race track was nice and wide and so there was no fear of congestion. Some runners were keen to hunt the inside line but I was happy to take it easy and so found open space when I could. My early pace was around 4:30 minute km way in excess of my 5:10ish km splits for 1:50. I felt comfortable and tried to slow the pace gradually.

In my wisdom I decided to wear a base layer under my running shirt as there was a bit of a chill in the air when we set off at half 7 but I soon realised I was going to get far too hot. So for a few lucky runners they got a strip show from me half way round the lap as I took both shirt and base layer off, put the shirt back on and tied the base layer round my waist all whilst running at my race pace.

I went through 5km on my Garmin in 23minutes dead, and it was only a few weeks ago that I run that in a stand alone 5km. It was still going well at 10km as I went through in 47 minutes exactly, again only 30 seconds slower than the last 10km race that I ran in November. It was at this point that it really began to get difficult. My pace was slowing, and I was settling into around 5min km and so my chances of the 1:40/1:42 that I thought might have been on early in the race now changed to holding it together and finishing in under 1:45. I had seen Lauren and Amber a few times already and they had given me a real boost. The race was good but there were definitely quiet spots out on the course. As I went through 10 miles I saw the girls a final time and gave them a smile, a wave and a sweaty base layer and got myself ready for the final stretch.

The last 5Km of the race were a real drag, quite literally. My feet that had been so light and bouncy in the first half of the race were now heavy and I was in a shuffle to the finish. I had done the 3rd 5km in just over 25 minutes so at least my fade was consistent, a minute every 5km to that point. The next 5km I managed in 25:45 and that just left the 1.1km to go. I was overtaken coming down the finishing straight by the 1:45 bus and it was then that I saw Luke, Amber and Lauren cheering me on and I tried to give them a final push. I managed to get past the pacer who was easing down to hit his target time and I went over the line in time to hit my revised 1:45 target. Official time 1:44:31. Really pleased!

It was great to be doing a proper race, and Lauren really enjoyed herself after our break from serious racing. Silverstone had its faults but it is definitely a race I will return to. I was pleased with how I gutsed it out, as I really was hanging on for much of the second half of the race and had ample opportunity to walk but didn't. My lack of training in January and February may have robbed me of a lot of my fitness but the more often I am racing the more I see improvements in my mental toughness which was definitely a weakness of mine. My biggest weakness at present is my inability to motivate myself for training particularly the long runs necessary for races over 10km. I'm not sure exactly what the answer is to remedy it.

One trend that I have blogged about previously, but I noticed again on Fetch for this race is how I perform well relative to my level of training. In the 10 weeks leading up to the race I ran a touch under 90miles a pathetic 9 miles a week. Fetch has some great data, and based on 539 race results the average 10 week mileage to achieve a 1:44:31 Half Marathon time is 225 miles and the bottom 10%, most work shy runners manage 126 miles on average. So I’m on the low side even for the slackers. In one sense I think it’s quite an impressive stat, and in another it’s a waste. Distance running is something that I have some natural ability, and so I am keen to do myself justice. Those are sentiments that I am sure you will find in previous blogs I have written and so I just need to apply myself to training in the hopes of doing myself justice in 2013.

A big thanks to Lauren and Amber for being such great supporters and a big well done to Luke on a great time managing sub 1:33, well deserved. Thanks for reading my lengthily race report, and if you come back soon there should be a blog on my plans to reach the magical 100 race mark by the summer of 2014.

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