Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Sunday Silverstone success!

Following on from my last post, Sunday was the day of my first half marathon race, held on the Silverstone Grand Prix track. Overall, I would say it was a big success all around, and I finished in 2:08:15, placing me 3,286 out of almost 6,000 runners. Another way of thinking about this is that I beat 42% of the field, which I find rather surprising!

So, what was it like to haul my 95 kilograms around the course?

In a word, shattering...

The day started well. One of my friends was also running the race, and we planned to meet at the car park, but to go the 'back road' to Silverstone (I'm not giving away the route!) which probably saved us about 20 minutes in the queue to get into the car park.

Once in, we walked over to the paddock area where there were plenty of toilets (apparently not always provided at every race...) and a few trade stands, but we just headed for the cafe to have a drink, pin our numbers on and clip our timing tags to our shoes.

Before long, it was time to head out to the track. One last "pit stop" and then we head out onto the start/finish straight of one of the oldest motor racing venues in the world. My friend went through the "less than 2 hours" entrance and I went into the "greater than 2 hours" entrance.

Only another 15 minutes to wait and the race was underway! Well, actually it was a bit of a walk to the start line - I eventually crossed it about 4 minutes later, but not to worry because the timing tag would give me my own personal time...

The first few miles went rather well, other than having to overtake a lot of people who either (a) had overestimated their speed, so lined up closer to the front than they should have done, (b) didn't understand where they should have started given their speed, or (c) simply didn't care that they were a mobile road block in front of faster runners.

Funnily enough, down the first straight there were quite a few men standing against the crash barriers "lightening the load" if you know what I mean... I waited for a few more miles and then ran past a toilet block just off the track which I dashed into (all the time looking at my watch and saying to myself "pee faster!").

Things seemed to be going well until about 10 miles in when I started to slow and eventually put in a couple of walk breaks before crossing the line a few miles later...

Once my timing chip had been taken off, I felt broken. There was no other word to describe it. My knees, legs and hips were screaming in unison. Loudly.

I hobbled back to the exit of the track and walked through the tunnel where a very large crowd of supporters were welcoming their friends and loved ones. I now understand why people cry when they finish marathons - it was all extremely emotional and I wished that my wife had been able to make it.

The drive home was also painful, with my right leg in a constant cramp - I now know to take a lot more salt/electrolytes through a race like that (and afterwards).

Just a quick note on the organisation of the race. If you're in the UK and interested in doing a half-marathon, I can't recommend the Silverstone half marathon strongly enough. It's cheap (£15), has accurate timing, an iconic traffic free (and flat) course, a "big event" feel, lots of water and sports drink around the course, and a pretty good finishers bag (water, sports drink, chocolate milk, medal, t-shirt and a few other bits and bobs).

Okay, now I've done it, one final request for you to dig your hands into your pockets and sponsor me. I went through huge amounts of pain on Sunday. I'm also doubling the sponsorship of anyone that has already sponsored me (and will also double new sponsorship for a limited time) out of my own pocket. This is all worthwhile because I throughly believe in the work that my chosen charity (Save the Children) does, and the way it does it - it's one of the most efficient charities at making sure that the maximum proportion of donations goes directly to improving lives. That's why I ran, and that's why I'm doubling your sponsorship. Please do something great today and help the world's most vulnerable children.


Paul Rhodes said...

well done!!! me and my running group (five of us) have been training for our first half, Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon with a camelpack full of 1 litre gatorade, really helped with hydration......have u tried this ?