Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon Race Recap
It was a bracing day to be running in Northamptonshire. Ominous grey clouds built as myself and running buddy Ryan drove up the M1 towards Silverstone racecourse, the little hire car being rocked by gusts of wind. The weather forecast was also getting worse by the hour, predicting rain and strong winds for the race. Upon arrival at the racecourse the wind chill was extreme, so we kept on all our layers and decided to change at the last minute to avoid turning into icicles before the race started. We also realised we needed to visit the Adidas expo shop. Me to get a running cap, my running buddy to get a running belt to hold his phone – both items having been forgotten from the race packing…
As we’d arrived over an hour before the start we had time to continue our pre-race fuelling, get a coffee and for me to endure an almost interminable wait for a stall in the toilets. It turned out that the long queue was caused by lots of people using the stalls as changing rooms instead of braving the elements outside. ‘Tut, tut’ say I. Everyone else was braving the elements and changing outside. “You are going to race in it. Better get used to it.” is my motto.
Onto the race-track about 10 minutes before the start and despite a lack of fixed corrals most people were ordering themselves into the signposted pace groups and didn’t push forward until invited by the race director. ‘Thumbs up’ fellow racers! This is one of the few races I’ve run where I wasn’t left ducking and weaving around slower runners who had set off way ahead of their pace group.
The race started on time and without too much fanfare we were off. I ran the first few kilometres pretty much to plan. I say ‘pretty much’ because the wind, when behind me on a downhill provided such a push that I was able to drop almost 15 seconds off my lap pace without increasing my heart rate. I realised that the into-the-wind sections would be tougher so I decided to race by heart rate, rather than just pace, making up time on the wind assisted parts and losing it on the wind affected parts.
The first five kilometres went past pretty quickly and without fuss, there was a brief patch of drizzle but nothing substantive, and while the wind didn’t let up, it was mainly from behind or the side so didn’t have a negative impact on me. My paces were good, if a little faster than expected, but my heart rate was good so I went with it, keeping to the plan to pace myself well for the first half of the race before ramping up for the second half.
At about the 11km mark there is a bit of a hill where the road goes over the race track. I pushed up it strongly and used this as my impetus to take a few seconds off my pace and start the acceleration towards the finish. The second half of the race was pretty good for me. It loops around the out-field and while it was quite exposed to the winds there were only a few sections where buildings or stands didn’t block the gale. At the 15km aid station I figured out I was on target to get a PB so I just kept slowly increasing the pace while keeping an eye on my heart rate.
With 3km left to go I turned off the high heart rate alert on my watch, swapped the screen to only display heart rate (didn’t want to see pace) and slowly opened the throttle, to immediately get hit by the the wind full-force as I rounded the corner to take on the last hill. I pushed up the hill and once at the top I turned onto the main straight to find the wind to my side and a realisation that a PB was certain if I kept up my current pace. A quick calculation told me that there was even the outside chance I could break the 1:45 barrier if I could just push. I immediately tried to kick on but found nothing in the tank. The hill into the wind had taxed me too much to be able to keep accelerating. I kept pushing and was able to recover a bit for the last kilometre. The final turn came and the wind was at my back, helping me pick up the pace and sprint to the finish. I managed to come in position 1364 of 6778 overall, just outside the top 20% of runners, and while I missed the 1:45 mark by 32 seconds, I managed to take just over five minutes off my PB (also set at Silverstone), so I’m very happy with that.
My running buddy Ryan came in about seven minutes later, managing to complete his first half-marathon with a sub-two hour time. I’m really stoked for him and the effort he put in to not only beat, but smash, his goal of two-hours!
All in all a good day, and the weather turned out to be more than manageable for the race compared to what we thought we were in for. I found the wind was pretty even, there were bits where it was head-on and slowing me down, but there were also bits where it was assisting from behind. The race is a loop course so I figure it would have all worked out at the end. The finishers pack was good, with the usual snacks, sports drink and energy bar, finishing shirt (albeit cotton, not technical) and a pretty cool medal. It may be an overly literal representation of the fact the race is on the course of the British Grand Prix, but I think it’s pretty unique to have a race medal in the shape of an F1 tyre. Or maybe it’s just because I’m also a bit of a petrol head…
Onwards and upwards they say. I’m recovering pretty well, although I do have bit of a niggle in my right glute/hamstring (the problem one), which I’m going to see my physio about tomorrow.
For now my immediate plan is recovery and hopefully have a recovery jog on Wednesday before getting back on the horse for the final preparation for Paris. 5 weeks and counting…
Happy running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!