After the Donington Park HM I’d planned to have a break from running for a few weeks before starting on training for the London Marathon. This didn’t quite happen and instead I found myself working on an Advent running streak instead – this streak consisted of 24 runs in 24 days with none of them less than 4 miles, but some being around 13 miles. I then took about a week off from running over Christmas and New Year before starting training for the London Marathon, the Silverstone Half Marathon forming part of the training for this.
When I ran the Leicester Marathon (at this point, my only marathon) I used Bupa’s training plan; this time I was using the “My Asics” custom training plan, though this race did not quite fit in. The main reason for me entering this one though was that the medal from the previous year had looked quite cool, so hoped they’d do something similar for this year. The week before this run I’d done an 18 mile run, and had set a new PB for a Half during that too, so I hadn’t really made any attempt to taper.
By the time of race day I’d done a few runs that were further than a half marathon so felt I was ready. I’d got a rough race plan too, but didn’t expect to stick to it – things always change on the day and you have to race based on how you feel and what the conditions are like. The day before the race I had serious doubts about how I’d do with the half marathon – my last half race (which was my second) had included some walking, and the weather forecast wasn’t looking pleasant. It was forecast to be cold, wet, and with strong winds. Great. So to make sure I got at least one pleasant run in over the weekend I went for a short 4 mile run the day before the event.
As it was a midday start it meant there wasn’t really much rushing around required in the morning. I hadn’t slept that well, but I still didn’t bother to get up until 07:00. Usually I’d set out my racing kit the night before, but I hadn’t even done that so I casually got everything together, and after a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes I set off on the road to Silverstone. Although I’d expected it to take around 1h30 due to roadworks, I got there in only an hour so I spent the next 1hr30 sitting in my car at the front of the car park. As it turned out it was probably a good thing I sat in the car that long as the weather outside really was chilly!
The organisers had requested everyone arrives by 10:30 despite the 12:00noon start, and it was only about 15 minutes from my car to the paddocks so I ended up wandering around for over an hour – eventually physically shaking from how cold I was. The weather app on my phone said the outside temperature was 5C, but underneath, due to windchill, it said that it felt like -2C.
It seems Marathon Photos are quite eager to get photos of everyone as I had 4 photos taken before the race had even started. To pass the time I wandered around the paddocks seeing what there was before wandering into the adidas store for about 30 minutes whilst trying to get Twitter working on my phone. I’d hoped to meet up with a few fellow runners from #ukrunchat but sadly without access to Twitter I couldn’t get in touch with them (sorry @SezSaysStuff!). With only 30 minutes to go I made my way over to the starting area.
Once the race started I was starting to feel comfortably warm again before I’d even done a mile, which was probably the best point in the whole race – that feeling of warmth again. After feeling like I’d never be warm again (should have listened to @amy__everett’s advice! – sorry!) it was a relief. From the start I tried to keep at around 07:00 min/mile pace – that was what my plan was, to keep that up for as long as I could (which I imagined to be around 5 miles as it was in training), and to then drop the pace to around 07:20 min/mile once I needed to. As always, the start was a little chaotic trying to find a route through the crowds that will allow you to keep your target pace – though quite a few times had people run out straight in front of me which meant I had to either slow down or dodge to the side if I could to avoid running into them.
Just after the first mile, at Stowe corner there was some live Indian music playing – it was nice to have some live music on a run! Though for the entire run there was also a DJ playing music which could be heard over most of the course. There were some pretty good choices too, such as “Uptown Funk”, though sadly there was the odd bad choice too – such as “Bob the Builder”, but overall the music was good! After I’d finished the race I even saw some ladies dancing along (whilst they were running) to S Club 7’s “Reach”. At some points the music really helped to keep me going.
The first few miles passed by fairly quickly, and I’d maintained a pace I was pretty happy with. The only thing I was really thinking about was how far there was left to go, and rationalised it as only being 10 miles left, so I wasn’t that far off a quarter of the way around. I kept that sort of thinking for quite a bit of the race. For some of it I was also looking around a little to see what was about, and remembering my previous visit there for the Renault World Series a few years previous, and thinking back to that weekend of camping, food, and watching motor racing.
For those that need to take on fluids during a race there was a good selection of Lucozade and water stations, though I didn’t bother with water or fuel for this race as I usually run this sort of distance in training without bothering (though admittedly if it had been warm I might have needed to). I did hear though that they’d unscrewed the tops ready, so that would be a big help for those that were wanted them!
It was a relatively flat circuit, though there were a couple of points where there are sudden inclines as you go up over the bridges that cross the circuit. I wasn’t quite prepared for those as I’d assumed the course would be relatively flat. There were a few areas that were considerably windy too, but the 15mph wind didn’t really feel that bad, especially compared to what we’d had at the Brass Monkey 10K. Despite my reservations the race was going far better than I’d dared to hope and despite it being a bit of a “dull” course I was kind of enjoying it – the atmosphere was really great.
By the time I got to 10 miles, around the back of the stands on Copse Corner, I found that my Garmin watch was showing a little more than 10 miles which meant that I hadn’t taken the best line around the course, so I tried where possible to keep as tight to the corners as I could to try and avoid increasing it any more. I realised by this point that I’d held my pace steady for pretty much the entire race, I hadn’t had to slow down as I thought I would. This left me thinking that if I could stay below 07:30min/mile for the last 3 miles I would set a new PB. Sure enough I held at around 07:10min/mile for some time after this. By the time I got to mile 11 I was thinking I really needed to slow down though, but tried to hold the speed as best as I could. By mile 12 I somehow managed to increase pace a little, or at least for a good portion of the mile anyway, so that by the time I crossed the mile 13 marker I was ready to sprint.
This was the first time I’ve ever heard a crowd at the finish line cheer for me, with a few comments of “look at him go!”. By the time I crossed the finish line I’d made it up to a pace of 03:43min/mile, though my eyes were watering so I could barely see, and my ears had popped (something they’ve done when running in the cold without earphones before).
As I crossed the finish line my Garmin watch recorded 13.2 miles with a time of 1:32:23 (so an average of around 07:00min/mile) – comfortably a new personal best for a half marathon! Later when I checked online I found that it had also shaved 12 seconds off my 10K PB as well, setting that to 43:19. Uploading the result to Strava, it indicated my 13.1 time was 1:31:56, though it’s not the course’s fault I ran more. Once over the finish line they then cut the timing chip off your shoe and then they hand you over a goodie bag based on your requested t-shirt size. I was amazed at how much it included!
- 2015 Finishers medal
- 2015 Finishers tee
- Bottle of water
- Bottle of Luvozade
- 3 bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk Lu chocolate
- £25 gift card for HelloFresh
- PolarFrost Pain Relief gel
- Drumstick “squashies” sweets
- AlfaOne Rice Bran Oil (no idea what this is)
- Rebel Kitchen Chai Mylk
- Go Coco Coconut Water
- On the go Lizi’s Granola
My official time was 1:32:17, in a total position of 396 out of 6696 runners – putting me in the top 6%. I’m happy with the result, I did better than I thought I could, and I think this puts me on target for doing the London Marathon this year in the 3hr30 time I’d hoped for. If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Marathon there’s still time! Check out my Virgin Money page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidGPaul