When I signed up to Manchester Marathon I knew that I’d need to complete a half marathon beforehand, so when I saw one was held at the home of formula 1 I was ecstatic! Needless to say I booked myself in and got a couple of friends on board as well.
Unfortunately my couple of friends got injured, one with runners knee and the other plantar fasciatis so I had to go it alone 😦.
Now it’s obvious that Realbuzz know how to organise a running event, afterall they organise London Marathon. I can not fault their pre pre-race preparation, my race pack with number and chip arrived well within time and the magazine with race details was excellent in informing you of exactly what to do and when to do it.
So I headed off from home at 7:30 as strictly instructed by the magazine to be parked prior to 10:30. I thought the parking was excellently organised with sub 1:35 runners directed to a separate car park to manage the outgoing transport. This worked really well at the end as I was back on the A43 in about 10 minutes. I arrived at 10:00 and walked to the race village, which is about a 15-20 minute walk from the entry gates.
Now to have a little moan, baring in mind that we were instructed to be there so early, it would have been nice to have some entertainment in the race village to take our minds off just standing around. There was a DJ over the tannoy system but he had to stop playing songs as there was a service at the local church. We weren’t allowed on track till 11:15 so I had about an hour to kill on my lonesome…what to do….oh there’s an Adidas shop I’ll go in there and look at trainers and Silverstone merchandise …..oh….. no trainers just London Marathon merchandise, which I’m not running, but wait this is Silverstone Half surely there must be some merchandise for this race…..nope, oh well that killed 5 minutes!!
So 11:15 finally came and I gave my bag in to the drop off, again brilliantly organised for drop off and collection, and headed on to the track for a warm up.
I did a gentle jog and then followed this with some dynamic stretches as per my normal routine. Again I thought this part could of been improved, the only big race I’ve done is the Great South Run when I was a complete beginner. In this race they had a coach who got everyone moving and warming up in sync (if you wished) and really added to the atmosphere and got everyone excited and warmed up.
I lined up just in front of 1:30 pacer, knowing I’d be sub 1:25 (all going well) I wouldn’t normally do this but this is prep for Manchester and I need to get used to being congested at the start and learning to deal with it.
So the formula 1 tune started. . . butterflies. . .and we were off!!
Unlike Bournemouth 10 I didn’t panic at the start about being being penned in, I remained relaxed and after the first 200 yds, because of the sheer width of the track, it thinned out really quick. It starts on a slight downhill gradient and I quickly found my stride and felt really comfortable. Now being an F1 fan I absolutely loved running on the track. You start at Copse, run down Maggots, through the Becketts chicane to Hangar Straight, around Stowe corner (sat here for the British Grand Prix), down through Vale before taking Club corner and then through the Pits!!!! To say I absolutely loved this bit is an understatement and I tried to take this in as much as possible.
Before I knew it I was at mile 2 and running behind a guy in the most outlandish tights you will ever see!!! I was pleased with my early pace recording the first 2 mile splits at 6:07 and 6:09, just under my aim pace of 6:10.
It was now that you move into the inner track and by about 2.5 miles you can look to the left and see the sheer number of runners, which is an inspiring sight. Just before mile 3 you hit the first water station which I ran through, it was warm but there was no fear of dehydration. Between miles 5 and 6 is the first lucozade station, again I ran through instead taking a gel. It’s in this part of the track you run towards, under, around and out of the Wing building. This is a really great bit of architecture and I enjoyed seeing it up close.
I was able to maintain steady splits to about mile 7 where you face an incline leading into the first of two bridges, I hit the decline hard on both of these and was able to take some runners and close the gap on the next pack of runners also neutralising the lost time on the mile before. There were some spectators at this point and they really pushed me on, giving high fives to some young kids….thank you spectators you really make a difference!
I decided to take some water on between miles 7 and 8 which was in my race plan and it was beginning to get quite warm, I made the mistake of squeezing the bottle a bit too hard, shot an almighty gush of water down my throat causing me to cough and splutter….not what you need!
There was a slight incline between miles 8 and 10 which included another Lucozade station. I didn’t deal with this one very well either as took in too much drink, couldn’t swallow and had to spit it out and gasp for air!! Note to self learn to drink from a sports bottle!!! Coupled with my legs beginning to tire I struggled here dropping about 25 seconds over these two miles, it was here I was overtaken for the first time.
When I hit mile 10 I just said to myself right it’s just a 5K now let’s hit it hard and that’s exactly what I did hitting mile 11 at 6:04, 12 at 6:09. I saw a fellow club runner up ahead and he became the target, why I do this I dont know but the competitiveness in me drives me in hard times. I felt a little guilty as I passed two charity runners who had been running fantastically and were now starting to really struggle, so I uttered words of praise and encouragement to them hoping to give them a little lift.
Then I hit mile 13, oh mile 13 you cruel beast!! Now remember at the start I said you run down a slight gradient, well when you run it the other way on tired legs it seems the longest uphill gradient you’ve ever run and it was here I got passed for the 2nd time. The good news is that I closed in on the club runner who had been in my sights. I looked after at the results after and he was from a club called Serpentine, so if by any chance you read this thank you for driving me on in this stage and I think I did the same for you when you look at the photos.
So when you hit the crest of the incline I saw the finish and I was happy to just maintain pace to the finish, well right up until a pack caught me and another runner passed me, well my inner competitive demon kicked in and I said no, not now, not on the finishing straight…..cue me breaking into a Usain Bolt sprint to the finish line passing the 2nd runner that passed me first and then just edging the 3rd runner who passed to the finish line, I later saw that the Serpentine runner had the same idea and was by my side as we crossed!!! He thanked me for driving him at the end but I had no air to explain he did the same for me.
I had done it, I had conquered Silverstone Half Marathon and without doubt ran my best race to date mentally and physically. I finished 42nd overall, finishing in 1:21:38, beating my PB of 1:30:39 set in August.
So after the race you’re shepherded to the goody bag, photos and then pack out to the race village. I really liked the medal and wore it all the way home with a big grin on my race. Slightly disappointed with the t-shirt although nice, I would have preferred a technical top.
I walked back to the car and clapped the runners still out on the track as I went along. It was here that I thought how much these guys inspire me, it must be a little disheartening to see runners leaving when you’ve got X amount of miles still to run. But each and everyone still out on the track has their own journey or reason to be running and they keep going with a smile or grimace on their face, their inner determination driving them on to complete what they started. This is why I love running, because it’s not about how good you are, it’s about getting out and enjoying the sights and sounds and improving your overall health. When it comes to races while its nice to finish 42nd to be honest it doesn’t matter, what matters is the accomplishment of all the hard work you’ve put in to achieve your own target whatever that is and some one finishing 6734 accomplishment is probably greater than my own so big respect to you all.
The last moan!
So I left this race on a high and would recommend it to all, although probably wouldn’t do it again for the simple reason of travel and liking to support local clubs. Again this is a very enjoyable race especially if you’re a motor racing fan. I enjoyed it so much that I thought do you know what I’m going to buy a photo or two…..cue rant!
So I went on to marathonfoto.com and there were two or three photos I really liked…..right up until I saw the price!!!!!!
Now for local races I pay about £5 for a digital download however marathonfoto.com wanted £20 each!!! This for me left a very sour taste in my mouth and I of course refused to buy one, hence the photos all having Proof on them in this blog. Seriously if they priced them reasonably they’d probably sell a lot more but instead they penalise runners who want a token from the day, well not me I’ll just keep the find memories!