“Unfinished Business” was a phrase I used in the immediate aftermath of this years Silverstone Half Marathon. “Disappointing” was another. “Excellent” was yet another. Looking back it was all of that and more. Unfortunate. A missed opportunity. Thrilling. Memorable. I could pick a thousand individual words and they’d all be relevant to some bit of the race.
Looking back now on the Monday following the race I now have had some time to process it all, but will need more.
So let’s retrace steps. Before the race was great. The drive to the circuit was very chilled out and we did get to explore the circuit at least a little before the main event.
In my previous post I said “I know I have it in me to run faster than last year so it’s about the body holding up and just getting it done on the day” and during the hours leading up to the race my body felt better than it had in weeks. Great, I was ready.
We took an unexpectedly long time to cross the start line but got going well. Jean and I set a slightly faster pace than planned and separated sooner too. The atmosphere out on course was fantastic. I loved it. They had added a live band and two DJs to the route which really did help build a good positive vibe.
Nothing remarkable stands out for the first 8 miles or so. I was running at a reasonable pace that I was content with. I did 10km at a passable 57mins. Through 12 of the 21-ish kilometres I was at (by my GPS timing) around 1:08:54. Throughout the first half of the race I was doing rough calculations of what sort of finish time I was heading for. It was around 2:00 maybe 2:01. Not quite my two-hour target but perfectly acceptable.
It went wrong in the thirteenth kilometre. Very wrong. I had managed the fitness in my left knee perfectly well all race long but around this time pain started in my right knee. A fair amount of pain. First I thought about stopping running to just walk a bit. I quickly dismissed the thought and accelerated back to normal pace again. My right knee had other ideas though. So before long I accepted that this race wasn’t going to see a repeat of last year’s running-the-whole-way effort. A bit of walking then another drive at running. Repeat. Pretty much all the way until the last mile marker. By about 18k both of my calf muscles were painfully protesting at what was probably a large amount of extra strain being put on them because of the knees not really working.
The rest of the race was just a tug-of-war between pain and resolve and I think that battle ended in a draw. I finished but not in a time I’m all that happy with.
But I DID FINISH and no one can take that away from me. But I know I can not just run a half-marathon in under two hours but I will run THIS half in under two hours. We will undoubtedly be back. The organisation was excellent. The marshals encouraging. The journey great fun. Even the training by-and-large was enjoyable. I will be back because I have unfinished business with this race. As I write this I see that the race web site has already moved on to the 2016 event next March. Bring it on!
So, the Garmin link at the top of this post shows my race progress. If you use the map screen on Satellite view mode, ignore it. The satellite image is well out-of-date and doesn’t have the new Wing pit complex showing, nor half of the Stowe circuit (the one I drove on last summer). The image makes it look like most of the race was off-road which it wasn’t.
My official race time was 2:20:39. Eleven minutes outside my best, but under the circumstances I must be happy. It was the best I had on the day. There’ll be better days. I’ll make sure of it!