Sunday, 4 March 2012

Milton Keynes Half Marathon 2012

Wet Wet Wet
Extreme Shelter
Having reflected on my recent half marathon times I was a bit disappointed. I had a look through my records and noticed my half marathon pb was at Wilmslow in 2002 in a time of 1:23:15. I did run a half marathon in 1:21:55 during the Tour of Tameside in 2003 but its generally accepted that the distance was questionable, so for me, it doesn't count. My half marathon times have generally been between 1:27 and 1:30. My most recent results are Sleaford 1:32:27, Worksop 1:29:59, Redcar 1:29:08 and Belvoir 1:29:01. It has become increasingly difficult to keep the right side of 1:30 I've questioned whether Grandfather time has come knocking on my shoulder. I decided as I should now be relatively fit after bouts of 'terrible speed work', a commitment to training, a healthy diet and a sacrificed social scene that it was time to try harder and see what I could do. I took myself off to a big city half marathon courtesy of the new town, Milton Keynes. It was an expensive race to enter but if i could do a good time and get back on track with a decent time, it would be worth it. 
 The weather forecast predicted an end to the spell of good sunny whether that had graced Linconshire for a good part of the preceding week. Strong rain and cold temperatures were set to batter parts of the country. Tomasz Shafernaker's weather map on Saturday evening had the epicentre somewhere near Milton Keynes. As we pulled into the Xscape centre the storm alarm on my watch sounded to signify a drop in air pressure. It was a bit late because Shafernaker's rain had already set in, the temperature had dropped and I knew I was in for nasty conditions. 

It would be easy to do a post about heroic ventures through extreme conditions but in reality, although it rained very hard throughout and it was fairly cold, the rain was refreshing and wet weather usually suits my race. The Milton Keynes race has previously had a few iffy reviews but I experienced a well organised start, plenty of accessible WC's, baggage drops a wide start funnel etc. There were two thousand plus runners racing the half marathon. there was also a 5k and 10k race started which started some 20 minutes ahead. I stayed in the car as long as possible before warming up some ten minutes before the race start after which I jumped the barrier to get near the start of the field. 

The course route started well along one side of a closed dual carriageway. There was plenty of room to run and I got my head down into a slightly faster than comfortable pace. I took a different strategy today. Previously I've been running easy through the first 9 miles before laying it down on the last four miles. Today I wanted to test myself and tried to push all the way without blowing up. The Milton Keynes race runs along roads before turning to cycle paths. It was a bit unfortunate that the 5 and 10k courses run along much of the same route because just as the half marathon field spreads out and you find room to run, you then come upon the shorter distance runners in front and there follows a couple of miles weaving before the 5k and 10k routes separate from the half marathon. I ran strong to a lake at about 7 miles. I could see the dark silhouettes of perhaps five members of the leading group at the other side of the lake and I wondered how long it would take me to get to the same place. I glanced at my watch shortly after half way and noticed I had run 45 mins. I was a bit dejected knowing that 2 x 45 = 1:30:00 but I wasn't quite sure how far after half way I had run. I managed to keep a strong pace through to ten miles.
50 m from the finish - phew...
The final two-three miles of the Milton Keynes race was up hill, one part involved a steep climb to a footbridge over the dual carriageway. I staggered up that bit, I was spent and was willing the end to come into sight. I had glanced at my watch again and was thrilled to notice that I was running close to 1:24/1:25, which psyched me through the final mile. I managed a fast pace to the line and just held of the runner behind finishing in 1:25:07 I was happy to have recorded a good time to signify the London Marathon training is progressing as it should. A couple of tough weeks now follow, first the Stafford 20 then an 18 mile race in Cambridge because the Ashby 20 was full.

 The Milton Keynes race was a good big city half marathon, it wasn't cheap to enter but it did have a big race atmosphere which would suit first timers or charity runners. Post race I retired to dry out whilst watching the dry slope skiers in the Xscape centre before walking round the soulless adjacent shopping centre. Rabbit pie and bread and butter pudding at the Anchor in Little Paxton (a good tip if your ever that way) on the way back topped a satisfying day out. Official results here.                  


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