The Super Silverstone Half

Sunday 12th March saw the arrival of my third race of twelve for St Clare Hospice – the Silverstone Half. So far I have ticked off my list the Benfleet 15 in January and the Winter Run last month. The Silverstone Half is my last race before the London Marathon in April and I can already feel the nerves kicking in! Training has been going well and I have gradually increased my mileage since January to 16.5 miles. Silverstone Half would be a good test for me to see how my legs would hold up in race conditions.

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The Silverstone Half was also to be my first race with JK (@kennedy107) pacing me. JK and I had met at the Benfleet 15 in January and have since become a couple. I have been known to swear a little as I get closer to the end of a race so I did advise JK not to take it personally and I may become a little grumpy! This was going to be a test of our new relationship, would we last the whole 13.1 miles?

The race started at 12noon at the Silverstone race circuit, this is later than most of the races that I have taken part in so it meant that I didn’t have to rush the yucky porridge and could enjoy my cup of tea. The weatherman said the weather was going to be a bit temperamental with rain forecast until 12 and then becoming dry but cloudy.

On race day we left for Silverstone at 9:15am with the SatNav telling us we would arrive at 10:30am, perfect timing! Except….we got caught in traffic and spent the last 10 miles travelling at a snails pace, in fact, it probably would have been quicker to park the car and run there. We eventually pulled in to the car park at about 11am, 30 minutes later than we had hoped, but we had arrived! As we headed towards to the start we bumped into Carl (@BigCarlRunning) so we had a catch-up whilst walking to the event village.

By the time we had walked the 20 minutes to the event village it was getting closer to the start time. We said our goodbyes and good lucks to Carl, I put my bag in the bag drop area and we headed out to the start. The entrance to the start had been separated into two sections Sub 2 hours and over 2 hours, JK is a much faster runner than me so when he looked longingly at the Sub 2 area I laughed ‘As if!’ I said ‘Are you trying to kill me!’ and carried on to the over 2 hours entrance.

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Considering how many people were taking part in the race everything moved nicely and we were out at the start in no time. We moved through the crowd to position ourselves between the 2:15/2:30 area with the 2:14 pacer just in sight, My instructions from the boss: keep the 2:14 pacer flag in sight. We had a small stretch followed by an obligatory selfie and within a few minutes the crowd was excitedly moving forward toward the start line. Garmin watch started, we were off and the pacer flag was already out of sight! Unbeknownst to me JK had a plan, 10-minute miles was the way forward! This for me is quicker than my normal pace of around 11-minute miles, keeping 10-minute mile pace going for 13 miles was going to be tough but I was up for a challenge. There was a good feel around us and the atmosphere was great, lots of fancy dress costumes and smiling faces. I noticed pretty quickly that we were overtaking and weaving through the runners, my legs were working as they should be and my breathing wasn’t too heavy, which was a bonus. By the time we got to mile 4 we were still hitting the right pace and JK informed me that we were heading for a PB if we carried on at this pace…yippie. As we got to mile five the track was becoming a little crowded, this is where things get a little interesting, JK sprints forward darting between runners, I then played catch-up. I then sprint on and JK follows. This was fun, I was pushing the pace a little more and having a giggle at the same time. We carried on this way for about a mile and then the dancing and singing began as we entered the pits, Tom Jones’s Delilah and Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, who wouldn’t sing to these classics?….well apparently not many people as it seemed to be just me and JK singing. I think people were even giving us a wide-berth…is our singing really that bad?!

Then wham, mile 9…I started to get tired, my pace was slowing and I was getting grumpy. I wasn’t feeling the love anymore and Tom Jones could do one! I was enjoying the race but now I just wanted it to end. Mile 9 was a nightmare mile with a toilet break and walk included, a 12-minute mile. I was beginning to question why I was running and if I would ever actually get around Silverstone, let alone the London Marathon next month. JK knew I was struggling, he handed me a Shot Blok and told me that I was still on track for a PB so we picked up the pace again, now I was running closer to my usual pace of 11 minute miles. My legs were tired and were starting to feel like lead. We pushed through the final 3 miles, at one point I tried to hide from JK and sneak in a quick walk….it didn’t work! He quickly noticed I had stopped running and I was off running again. I knew that the end was in sight and that it wouldn’t be long before we would cross the finish line. I desperately wanted that PB and knew that although I hadn’t caught up with the 2:14 pacer I wasn’t far behind him. I wasn’t up for the sprint finish so we ran at a comfortable pace to the finish. I was so relieved to finally cross the finish line and after a quick check of my watch I could see that I had got my PB, 2:18:14 a PB of 5 minutes. I was very happy, the endorphins were kicking in and I knew that London was in my sights. April 23rd I will be there on the start line and I cannot wait!

It was now time for a drink! We met with Rachel (@RacheeVee) and her husband, who had just run his first half marathon. Then along with her lovely family we headed for the nearest pub….after queuing for ages to get out of the car park!

Silverstone for me was a great race, the course was good fun, it shows on the race map that there would be 3 laps around the track but I never felt like I was running laps. The atmosphere was fantastic, it was nice to be running with people in fancy dress and a lot of people were going to be running the London Marathon too.

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My only issue was the traffic in and out, it was frustrating, especially when I really needed the toilet and after parking had to run to the nearest bush or risk wetting myself!

As for myself….well Silverstone took it out of me – by Tuesday my hamstrings were aching and I had to book a physio appointment – 2 weeks off running and instructed to come back slowly. I managed to clock 2 miles last weekend and so far this week I have run 10km. This weekend will be my final long run before London so keep your fingers crossed for me people, I will be at the start line no matter what. I just have to take it slowly for the next few weeks and wrap my legs in bubble wrap!

In regards to my relationship…well I didn’t scare JK off, I did swear at him a couple of times, not very lady like, but after running a half marathon with me he hasn’t run for the hills.

London here I come!

Clare

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You can sponsor me at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/claregallagher1

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