Then we didn’t have the best of mornings;
6.30am wake up and breakfast
7am leave the house
8.15am read the Silverstone booklet and discover race doesn’t start until noon
9-9.30am kill time in service station Starbucks
9.45-10.30am kill time in the car, reading magazine, going to the loo and bumping in to Lorna
So, not my smartest move- I assumed that the race started at 10am so we had a lot of time to wait around. The booklet said that we had to be parked by 10.30am; around that time we left the car park and made our way to the start area, about a 25min walk away from the car, and where I discovered my second mistake of the day. I’d just thrown my race kit into a bag the previous day as I was staying at my parents house, and hadn’t thought to look at the weather forecast. It was freezing and seriously windy, and my lulu skirt was just not going to cut it. We made a quick dash into the onsite Adidas shop (bumping in to Sian on the way) and my lovely mother bought me a new pair of leggings (also the last pair of small leggings in the shop- everyone else was also stocking up on warmer gear!)
Fully aware that you can see just how cold I was… (and apparently tired- hello bags under my eyes)
I made the way to the starting pens with a good 20mins to go, and tried to subtly huddle up to random strangers whilst looking out for Lorna and Sian (sadly I didn’t find them). I had decided to aim for a sub 2 hour finish, but not to worry too much about the time and to slow down if my hip or knee gave me too much bother. Becs zoomed past me about a mile or so in, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to her pace so I wished her well and let her do her own speedy thing.
After totally missing my Mum just before mile 1, this is the only photo she snapped of me at mile 4.
The race course itself I found to be similar in ways to the Olympic Park National Lottery run, really cool is some parts but pretty dull in others. It is also billed as being ‘very flat’ which I would have to disagree with, there are definitely some inclines, including one rather steep bridge that I saw one of the wheelchair racers struggling up.
My favourite parts of the race ran alongside the pit lanes and along the actual race track. There were quite a few corners, as you would imagine on the track, making it a little more interesting. Sadly it also meant that it felt like we were running into the very strong headwind for most of the race. There were times that I glanced down at my watch and felt like I was exerting far more effort for that pace than normal.
I had made a last minute decision not to run with my water bottle but hadn’t bothered to check out where the water stations would be along the course (mistake number 3), and ran straight through the first one, only to find that there wasn’t another until mile 8! I therefore had to change my fuelling for the race and only had one Gu gel around the 8 mile mark. Luckily I saw my Mum with my water after the 9 mile marker so could take a swig there too.
Miming that I wanted my water…
With no real goal pace in mind, I tried to break the race into 4 sections and run each 3.3 miles or so in under 30 mins. This kept me from focusing on my actual pace the whole time and obsessing over splits, plus it was something to look out for as we ran past the clocks at each of the mile markers.
You can sort of see from the craziness of my hair that the wind was seriously blowing during the race. My hair kept whipping me in the face which was irritating, as was the song that played over and over in my head whilst it did that; I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth.
Weirdest moment had to be when I ran past my mum around 12.5 miles, she asked me whether I wanted my coat? Apparently so that I didn’t get cold once I crossed the finish line, but I would have looked ridiculous carrying or wearing a coat whilst sprinting down the final straight!
The guy in the photo above actually came up to me at the end of the race and said that he had me in the corner of his eye for the whole race, and that I’d kept him going. He said that he was determined to beat me, but that I’d taken off for the finish line and pipped him to the post. He was such a nice runner- whilst we were running he asked every person who was walking or stopped at the side of the course if they were ok.
I finished in 1.55.06, with an average pace of 8.42 min miles; not quite a half PB but a pretty good effort especially in the windy conditions. I am really pleased with myself, and know that a sub 1.50 isn’t off the cards in the next few months (I hope). The medal for this race was awesome, one of the coolest I’ve ever got and definitely worth signing up for next year’s race for the medal alone. The organisation was actually really good for such a large race, and if I’d remembered to look it up, I would have appreciated the later start time. Just remember to bring a packed lunch, I inhaled mine as soon as I got in the car, and persuaded my Mum to stop off for another Starbucks to get the hot chocolate with whipped cream I’d been dreaming about all race. Worth it.
What’s the biggest race day mistake you’ve made before? I am going to try to be more organised before my next few races so that I don’t make the same mistakes I made at Silverstone!