Race report: Silverstone Half Marathon

Sunday 13th March marked the beginning of race season for many this year, as runners up and down the country headed to a start line on that crisp Spring morning.

For me, the day was extra special because I achieved my number one goal of 2016: taking part in my very first half marathon.

It was a cold, foggy morning when we headed to a different sort of race track. That is, the sort that Lewis Hamilton usually zips around. In a car. Yep, I'd be running the Silverstone Half, and with my friend Hazel by my side.

We'd raced together once before and I was glad she was with me to subdue my race day nerves. In fact, I've never felt so relaxed before a race, even though I still wasn't entirely convinced I'd make it round the course. My longest run was 9 miles and that alone felt like it may have pushed my legs to their limit. My goal, then, was simply to make it around the course, however long it took.

The beginning of my marathon-long packing session

Silverstone was the first race I'd done that involved travelling some distance and staying in a hotel the night before. Dinner and breakfast was an interesting challenge; poring over menus and weighing up what deviated the least from our pre-race diets. In my typical OCD preparation, I'd packed half my kitchen just in case...

Race day morning, we were both relieved to get stuck in traffic en route. The wind was bitterly cold and staying in a warm car for as long as possible wasn't a bad thing. Weather reports suggested the sun would burn off the fog to make it a pleasant, sunny day, but it wasn't until the race started that we began to feel the warm rays on our numb faces. (By the end of the race I was covered in freckles and had a perfect headband tan-line on my forehead that lasted a week).

Pre-race control

There's no two ways about it: running Silverstone with a friend made it infinitely more fun. The race did have a great atmosphere, I especially loved the music and the drummers, but I found it lacking in some ways. I wondered if Welsh folk are generally friendlier and more likely to strike up conversations with strangers. One guy made a cruel comment about someone's weight, which left a bitter taste in my mouth. Rule Number One of racing is to respect your fellow runners.

That aside, the crowd was fantastic and supportive, and the high I felt as a spectator told me I'd done ten miles will stay with me forever. Ten miles! An achievement in itself for me, and the first time I actually thought I could do this. With just three miles left, it's a walk in the park...

Running (backwards) through the Pits

Well, that last 5K did turn into a walk. My knee was asking me to take more frequent walking breaks. Then Hazel's lower back went and I panicked when I realised I'd lost her in a flurry of runners. I slowly headed back and found her. She kept apologising and urged me to go on, but I wasn't having it. I thought I'd be the one slowing us down and was counting on Hazel to stay by my side. There was no way I was leaving Hazel when she'd been so supportive for me.

It was at that moment I realised what was most important to me, after all that training, hard work and endless doubts: running this race with a dear friend, helping each other when we needed it, enjoying each other's company and having fun was why I was here. Neither of us had set a target finishing time, but were pleased when we calculated we'd finish in 2:30. Suddenly that didn't matter anymore. Instead, we walked, jogged, talked, laughed and danced to the YMCA in the finishing straight in 2:48. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the world of half marathons.

Race highs: Running on a Formula 1 circuit, especially thought the Pits (complete with commentary from Hazel). Even if you're not a big F1 fan, it's exciting to be on such an unusual race course.

Race lows: It's a bit boring on the outer lap behind the spectator stands, and the ground is a bit uneven round there.

Goodies: Awesome medal, decent snacks, water, Lucozade and, oddly, a can of men's deodorant (probably due to the unequal ratio of male to female runners).

Do this race: If you're looking for a mainly flat course with unique access to a world-famous location.

Mission complete


Popular Posts