After the debacle of the St Valentine 30K, the 2017 edition of the Silverstone half-marathon was an important event for my running in general and as a milestone towards the London2Brigthon. Last year’s edition was great, with a fantastic atmosphere, nice weather, and personal best for my daughter and I. One does not change a winning formula and this year’s edition was was not very different, with a similar course, similar village, similar aid stations etc.
The first difference was the weather. While Saturday was quite nice, we traveled to the site under heavy rain. It progressively abated, but the last hour, waiting for the start was still quite chilly and wet. We started to wonder if coming back to run 21K on a circuit devoid of protections against elements was a good idea (after all, one reason why Silverstone is a great F1 circuit is that one can see almost the entire track from several of the grand-stands, which in turn means no obstacle against wind). We therefore decided to put on several layers of clothing.
The rain stopped just at the start of the race, and it felt a bit warm initially. However, we appreciated the protection towards the end, when soaked in sweat we had to face a few gusts of wind.
When it came to running, I had a plan. My average pace at the 2016 Great Eastern Run, my previous PB, was 5:27 per km. My daughter’s PB was about 3 min off, and I decided to trick her into a new one. I therefore proposed to run between 5:25 and 5:30 until 13-14K and then see how we would feel. The plan was accepted and we followed it. We tried to be strict about it, catching up after the slowing down at the aid stations. As you can see on the trace below, we succeeded perfectly. I think this was the most consistent race I ran so far. Until 7-8K, we were both fine, then my daughter started to suffer a bit because of lack of training. But age prevailed and she soldiered on. The running crowd was quite large, about 6700 runners. As a result, we had to overtake often, which was tiring. As with cars, in order to overtake without problem, one needs to accelerate above our normal pace, to slow down afterward, while watching around to avoid collision.
My turn to struggle arrived at km 15. However, the atmosphere in Silverstone is great, with motivational music on different points of the course, and a fantastic crowd of supporters. If anything, it was hard not to get carried away by their enthusiasm and run too fast.
One good aspect of the race, which turned to be a problem, is the hydration. Aid stations are frequent, and alternatively offer small bottles of water or large bottles of Lucozade. We initially took only one bottle at each aid station, to share until the next one. However, the water bottles were too small, and the Lucozade too sweet, which made me very thirsty. At the end, we decided to only take water, and to take one bottle each.
At 18K, we knew we would get a good time, probably a PB. We were tired but nowhere close to bonking. And we started to accelerate. This is when we overtook huge swats of runners, who were where I was in previous half-marathons, suffering from tiredness and pain, after a race sub-optimally managed. The last km, we gave everything, and I am very happy to see that we were actually able to increase our pace significantly. We still had juice in the tank and this is encouraging for the forthcoming marathons and ultras.
This was a great event, with a nice medal, and a nice goodie bag, including a comfy t-shirt, various drinks and food, plus products such as antiperspirant, suncream, cream to help with muscle soreness etc. and a great atmosphere. Even the sun came out at the end. We will be back!