So Sunday was my second race on the road to Bolton.
As a Welshman the weekend didn't start too well with an awful game against the old enemy that would normally leave me having a copious amount of alcohol, but with a half marathon less than 24 hours away that was not to be... No Matter how much I tried to convince myself that it could count towards the carb loading
Anyway... That's the rugby dealt with... Now back to the running.. Silverstone is a Half Marathon that I have signed up for before but was unable to due it do to spending the day and night before throwing up! This time there was no stopping me!
After an early alarm and some breakfast (a high shake with bananas, peanut butter and oats) which granted probably wasn't the most ideal meal but it worked, I looked out the window and couldn't see anything! I had checked the weather the day before and it was supposed to be 11 degrees and sunny, I think someone forgot to tell Mother Nature what the weather was supposed to be as I couldn't see a thing! I was seriously reconsidering re packing my race bag but decided to trust the weather report! Plus it couldn't really be colder than the Winter 10k in January could it?
So off we went, for that long boring drive down the M40 such a boring road which we regularly use, although this time we couldn't see much as this weather didn't seem to want to clear, and the car decided to remind us that it was cold outside when it gave a little beep for an ice warning. Kind of the point in which I might have started to regret not packing long running trousers, but hey ho, too late to do anything about that now!
As we got closer to Silverstone, a place that I have loved ever since I started watching F1 when I was 9 years old, the excitement started to build, but the worry about the fog seemed to be getting thicker as we came off the M40 onto the dual carriageway. As we came around on of the many many roundabouts on the road, there were some bricks lying next to the built up round about, as we came off the roundabout there were two cars in a ditch both on their roof. The copper side in my brain kicked in, there were two cars on their roof and no signs of any police tape... a quick detour at the next round about and quickly back down to check that there was no one still in the car.. Not ideal when your getting yourself ready for your first half marathon of the year! So many things suddenly started to fill my mind, where was I? What was the name of the round about? How many people were in the cars? What injuries would they have? I don't have a first aid kit in the car (not my car!) Where am I going to get a first aid kit from? Not the sort of things that would normally start going through your heard when you would be getting yourself ready for a 13 mile run! Thankfully as I got out of my car and ran towards where the accident had been a recovery truck turned up and confirmed that it was an accident earlier in the morning. With a massive sigh of relief it was back to the car, back to getting ready for the race.
As we approached the circuit, the nerves and anticipation started to build, the need for a pee grew stronger and stronger as we were sitting in the traffic, waiting to get into the car park, visibility still shocking! As we pulled into the car park I realized we were parking behind the International Pit Straights... although you couldn't tell that from looking!
From the car park it was a long, cold walk into the center of the circuit and into the race village. The garages were being used as pop up stores for the merchandise, the charity village and bag drop. Most people seemed to be making their way into the garages to try and stay out of the cold! SO we went over to the charity village where we met the CF Trust stall, and after a nice chat, and a new running vest we went for a wonder to get our bearings. I even somehow manage to get the organisers to play Be-Witched, blame it on the weather man (Sorry everyone I didn't actually think they would do it!) I then finally got to meet the one and only Alex! We had known that we were both racing this race and Slateman so arranged to meet up! We spoke plans for the race, what we were hoping to get out of it, and I even got to try some of the famous Magic Berries! (@curraNZ). As Alex was aiming for Sub 2 hours we said our goodbyes and arranged to speak later to see how each other got on!
Vicky and I then made our way back towards the over 2 hour start area and I went for another pee... God only knows how many I had been for that morning already but thought I better make the most of the opportunity!It was then time to de-layer and say goodbye to Vick as I made my way onto the famous track itself! Of course, taking the opportunity to make another pit stop!
When I got out onto the track, the weather and cleared, the sun was out and I realised that I was standing there grinning like a school boy... I was actually standing on the famous Silverstone Tarmac! Like I said, this place has been hallowed since I was 9.. 21 years of watching the likes of Hill, Schumacher, Coulthard and Button racing around and I was standing on the same track! This was why I wanted to do this race. This feeling of being HERE!!
But soon enough, the crowd started to move forward and we walked closer and closer to the start line. My bladder again seemed to need a break again. As we walked closer I made a dash for the toilets next to the start line (something I've had to do every long running race!) But this time I needed to pee forever! I god only knows where all the fluid had come from as I was sure I had already peed out everything I had drunk that morning. As I came out of the toilet and made my way back onto the track, I was pretty much right at the end of the crowd! I know I always joke about playing Tail-End Charlie at races (times arn't all the big of a deal to me as I'm never going to set the world on fire, I just need to make sure that I finish, and when I do I can say I gave it my all!) So we were off..
I am one of these people who will use the run/walk technique. I'm not the biggest fan of running, hence why I do triathlons, I much prefer the swimming and cycling aspect over the run, but its a necessary evil in the world of multi sport! But we were off. Plan was to go to 5km without walking and then from there, 250m walk.. 1.5km run which seemed to work well. I was running around corners that I have seen legends race around. Remembering certain overtakes or incident on a specific corner. This seemed to help the meters tick down as my fitbit was buzzing for each km that I hit! The run felt comfortable, pace was good at about 7.5km/h and the splits were pretty consistent. Part of my brain was wondering where this person had come from? When did I become someone who knew what was meant by splits, avg pace and measuring things in kilometers! I was now a runner, and I liked the feeling of it! I wasn't fast but I was running a half marathon! I actually felt like I belonged there, I was passing people and they wern't coming back to overtake me. It felt good.
I know that headphones arn't allowed in Triathlons and Ironman races but I'm still wearing them at the moment (I know I need to start training without them) but it was going to be an afternoon without the atmosphere of the London Marathon or other road races so put them in and plodded on. There are only 2 songs that I remember coming on during that afternoon, Mile 7, the Dropkick Murphies, "Out Of Our Heads" and the lyrics "We're out of our heads and its starting to show" sounded quite apt, but I think for the first time in a race like this I didn't feel out of place, I didn't feel like I was taking the place of someone else who deserved to be there but couldn't get in, I felt comfortable and just kept moving my feet.
Before I knew it I was at Mile 10.. and this was when it started to slow down, at this point we were running around the back of the stands along a service road and through the stands you could see and hear the runners coming up to the finish line. Oh what it would be like to be in that group, but I wasn't, I was running my own place and happy with where I was. It was a world away to where I have been before! Then out of no where it's back onto the track and the start of the last bit. It felt good to be back on the track, knowing that it was coming up to the last 2 miles. The home stretch and the finish line, a quick look at my watch and I knew I was going well. The pace had picked up again and was back towards the 8km/h pace which surprisingly felt comfortable considering I was nearing the end of a half marathon!
At mile 13, Eminem came into my ears, "Till I Collapse" and it was then time to push on, last stretch with the finish line in site.. It was time to try and pass that group of runners I had been chasing down since the start.. Time to pick up the pace and knocked them extra few seconds off the clock. Then before I know it, I'm over the line! Smiling at the photographers and walking towards the bridge to have the chip taken off my foot. I look at the watch and stop it. 2 hours 53 minutes! Speaking to Vicky and Alex before I set off I was hoping for sub 3. The cut off time officially was 3:30 So I suddenly had a massive grin on my face as I went to collect my finishers bag and bling! Then after a phone call to see where Vicky was I had a phone call off Alex to discuss how we got on. He did his PB, even with picking up and injury which while frustrating was awesome to still pick up his PB!
It was then onto a phone call to the family etc and a trip home. As I was in the car, it dawned on me, I did the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon last year in 3 hours 45 minutes and was dead last across the line. So this was a PB of my own, by about 50 minutes! This time it felt comfortable, and although not lightening quick I was more than happy with the time, and how I was feeling with the race and confident that I can do this.
And this is where the work from the super coach Blair really comes in. 3 of his other athletes this weekend ran a half marathon, and all picked up a PB. I don't know how he does it but that's got to show that the guy knows what he is doing!
So next up it's Slateman! Time to get back on the bike and some cold water when the lakes open! BRING IT ON!!