This was supposed to be Half-Marathon number 2, after the disastrous Royal Parks but I snuck in Brighton two weeks ago and came away feeling really good and ready to tackle the half marathon and make it my own.
Initially I wasn’t going to sign up for Silverstone as it’s pain in the rear to get to unless you can drive or pay £35 for a coach from Waterloo. I was very lucky to have Chris who I’d met previously at Royal Parks and was running for the same charity as me, offer me a lift if I could get to Hemel Hempstead for 9,30.
The past two weeks hadn’t gone exactly as I had planned. Started off with an awesome run at Brighton but with my hamstring having a wobble during the week meant I only managed a 5-miler mid week before 10k at Victoria Park the following Saturday. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have run Victoria Park, my hamstring was hurting just walking over to the start but hoped it would clear on the run – it didn’t. I rested and tried to run again Thursday before it flared up and only managing 2.5miles from Canary Wharf to Tower Bridge. At that stage I wasn’t even sure I’d make the start line at Silverstone.
We had a great journey for most of the way, listening to the hits of the 80’s / 90’s and chatting all the way to Northamptonshire. It should’ve taken us about an hour and we’d arrive about 10.30. As soon as we got close to the circuit, the traffic wasn’t moving – I thought it wouldn’t be so bad compared to the F1 event but it was probably worse. We arrived about 11 and still had a 20-odd minute walk over to the start/event village. We didn’t get much chance to meet up with many others because of the time – Chris has planned to put me in the middle of the village and let people come to me as according to Chris I am a “Minor Celebrity” in running terms now – seriously only minor??? He was giving me a lift so I let him off with that.
However, I was spotted by (in the loos of course) by JK & and walked over with JK & Clare to the start area together. Bag drop was really quick and easy and plenty of loo’s around to use with no queuing. I couldn’t find anywhere suitable to change however so ended up getting soaked (oh yeah it was tipping it down) changing up against one of the garages. The pens were divided into two – plus 2hr, under 2hrs – it worked really well, you basically organised yourself and I was underway within 8minutes.
The race was underway at it seemed like everyone had positioned themselves about right where I was, even the bloke in the 10foot Mr.Man costume and the four in the Monarch aeroplane outfit (some fab costumes).
I know Silverstone well – I am a big F1 fan and despite how long I’d tried to study the course map, it was just like a child had scribbled all over a map of Silverstone. The first lap was a lap of the international circuit, which is way longer than it appears on the TV.
My Targets for this race:
A) Finish – with my dodgy hamstring, this had to go back on the target board as it wasn’t guaranteed.
B) 3:20 – I just had a feeling it wasn’t going to be as quick as Brighton and this was my C target for Brighton
C) PB – Possible on a good day
D) An extra one just in case – 3:15
My aim was to run at 14:45 pace and stick it out as long as I could, that way if I finished at that pace I’d get 3:15, or if I dropped off a bit, I’d still have a good chance at a PB.
Like I said, I know Silverstone well, I know whether the next turn is a right or left, so I kept to the racing line as much as possible – a privilege of being near the back where it’s less busy. I did notice that the first mile marker came up a bit short, only because for the first 3miles I concentrate on not going too quickly and staying within a certain parameter of my target pace.
I was loving running round the F1 circuit and coming down the Wellington Straight I saw my friend Victoria and her brother who’d come out to see me race. A quick hug and a shake of hands with Richard and I was about to carry on, until Vicky said she’d run with me (not having seen each other for about a year we were due a catch up). Fair play she kept up with me in her knee high boots and jeans but talking ended up being a panted word or two. I left them behind and cracked on, running through the old F1 pit lane and into the in-field section. This is the bit mentally I wasn’t looking forward to: it was the middle miles, you couldn’t really follow where you were going and there was pretty much no support, unlike the first 3 mile.
Plus you could see people coming in the opposite direction and I think for the first time during a race I was actually jealous, I was thinking “I wish I was where they were at x miles”. What I will say is that the marshals were doing their best, although after standing there, in the rain for probably an hour waiting for the tail end to come through, I can see why they probably weren’t jumping up and down celebrating us coming through – they probably wanted to give up a kick up the arse and tell us to get moving more than anything. There was one marshal who was an angel offering a tub of mixed Jelly babies, wine gums and other assortments out at the end of the Silverstone Wing/New Pit Lane.
From there on the only notable things were the rather steep bridge to get over the track and then the desolate running around the outside of the circuit grounds – it was pretty dire, few marshals dotted here and there so you didn’t take a short cut and that was about it. I did get myself confused at Stowe Corner thinking we were at Copse and we’d be getting back on the track soon – we weren’t. I’d managed to keep my pace, fairly consistent up to that point doing 2-5min run 2mins walk unless I saw a photographer then of course I’d run and try to smile – more grimace.
At 10.5 miles you were back on the track and I knew where we were heading, I was determined to keep my pace up and I did get a bit of a second wind knowing where we were and how far was left. But coming up to 11 my watch ticked over, but I could see the 11mile marker way off in the distance – I was hoping and praying that somehow the last two miles would then be short.
Then a bit of a surprise, just approaching 11 miles, the music stopped, we couldn’t hear the MC and it was just you, the wind and a bloke huffing and puffing to catch you up behind. That was really disappointing, it was almost as if the MC had just got bored and buggered off for his dinner. Without the music is was desolate, you could literally hear the wind and each others footsteps. In the guide it says that if you finish before 3:30 you will get home to full support, banners flying etc – however this was only 3hrs in!. At least at the finish the MC has stuck around and there was bit more of an atmosphere.
EDIT: Just read some of the reviews on Race Check – where were the bands that were promised? A Land Rover with speakers on the back playing music & MC from the start line does not constitute a band. At Brighton we had a Scottish Marching BAND, Steel Drum BAND and a Choir BA..oh, you get my drift!
I tried to hard to keep running up the hanger straight, even counting to 100 then walking for 20 and running again. I was so happy to see the finish come into sight, but I was keeping an eye on the watch to see when 13.1 ticked over just in case I needed to get a wiggle on – I didn’t and actually got a unofficial PB by 9seconds!.
Crossed the finish and it was all was good until I was stood at the XL goody bag drop to find there were no bags, nor anyone to give them out. I asked at the next one down to be told “We’ve run out of XL but you can have a large – they’re pretty big for size”, yeah they’d better be. Medal round the neck and a nice touch that they had a photo wall/poster thing with an official photographer – that is if you don’t mind paying the £50 for you race photos from the rip off merchants (or money grabbing gits as Ash put it) MarathonFoto. The pity is, I am actually liking the new me in race photos, but I don’t spend that much on food shopping for two weeks! God bless RunThrough, Market Drayton 10k and Virgin Sport (don’t have a go!) I say – and yes on the Virgin Sport thing, I would rather pay an extra £10 on my entry for decent pics rather than be shafted for twice my race entry fee.
Overall, I was a little disappointed, not in my time, I was pretty happy with that. However nowadays, I know I can get round 13.1 miles, so for me it’s all about how I feel after and during the race. I felt so much better and ran tons more at Brighton than Silverstone – maybe my Brighton pace was on the bubble and I’d got it spot on, but it was worth giving a bit quicker a go just so I could assess where I am. I had quite a bit left at Brighton so was hoping I could push a bit harder at Silverstone. Although like I said my preparation hasn’t been perfect and I think there is opportunity later in the year to go quite a bit quicker,(someone did say sub-3) especially once I’m in the full flow of Marathon training.
Post race in the village I met back up with Chris and other half, had my bag brought to me (personal service for minor celebrity) and went off to get changed, take a few selfies and walk the mile back to the car park, passing all sorts of wobbly and limping legs along the way, I am always happy if I can walk away fairly normally from an event!
To be honest the traffic getting away wasn’t as bad as expected, I assume as most had already packed up and gone. I did have a little nap in the back of the car – like being a kid again and soon I was back in Hemel and on the train home wearing my medal all the way.
Would I do it again? – Unless someone said they wanted to do it and wanted me to join them, probably not. It’s a bit of a hassle to get to, and the course is ok, but it lacks a lot of what road races get – support, etc. It is a bargain at £23 though, you get a decent goody bag and it’s an experience to run round the F1 circuit.
Would I recommend it? – this was the third/fourth time for some people, if you’re an F1 fan and you live fairly close, go for it, you’ll love it.
What would I improve? – I would much rather do x laps of the big circuit rather than the outside loop, it’s more entertaining and you’ll get spectators round much of the circuit and I’d prefer it to looking at fields and maintenance areas. Bin MarathonFoto and get someone to do it for cheaper or add a few £ on the entry fee. One good thing, was the number of toilets around the course and post race village – i’ll give you a big thumbs up on that one.
Next Race: RunThrough Wimbledon Half (2nd April)