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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

MK Half Marathon

The entire point of me entering this race again was to force me to run a half marathon between Boston Marathon and Guernsey Ultra 36. So in a way, this was like the first of two tapering runs from my long run at Boston, before my actual target race. With this in mind I didn't really have a target other than to finish the race. Ideally though, the time for doing so should be between 1hr30 and 1hr45 to know that my legs are recovering well and can cope with demands of them.

When we reached Milton Keynes there was traffic getting to the stadium and I wondered if this would be a repeat of the MK Winter Half and park up so late there’d be no time left. We did however get there in enough time for Carmen to head over to the VIP lounge to get briefed for the pacing, and I made my way to the hall to get my race number. Whilst waiting for the race to start I spotted Phil and talked to him briefly. He’d paced Rome, Manchester, and London, so he felt it was nice to be pacing a shorter distance today considering he also had a chest infection. I don't think I'd come across him since Big Half last year.

The race started about ten minutes late, but no idea why as from the red start pen (at the front of the race) we couldn’t really hear what was being said. I was also a little confused why most of the half marathon pacers were bunched together at the back of red pen when based on times I’d have expected them to be a bit more spread out. I positioned myself about ten metres behind the 1:35 pacer, knowing I wasn’t going to push it today.

Very soon after the start, I remembered that the start of this race is basically the Rocket 5K in reverse so is mostly up hill until you reach central Milton Keynes, and then you get to do a short downhill section before going back up the hill one block along, and then back down the hill towards the start. During the section I wondered why I bother with longer distances, as I was already fed up of this one. Having gone up and down some hills already I could still feel the marathon from last week in my legs, combined with 45 miles of cycling in the 3 days after that, and a relatively quick parkrun on Saturday. I had perhaps done a bit much in the last week.

I kept my eyes out for Carmen on the other side of the road, but by the time I’d gotten to the turning into Eaglestone I’d only seen as far as the 2:15 pacer. The bulk of the hills was at least over, and everything I could remember for the route after this would be easier. That kept me going until I reached the Redway and caught up with the 1:35 pacer.

I ran with the pacer for a couple of miles after that, going through at least one village I recognised. This section was definitely familiar from the winter half, and after a while I overtook the pacer for a mile before deciding the humidity was a bit too much, and slowed to a walk to wipe sweat from my eyes just after mile 7. Once I got going again I made the decision that I would walk for every ascent, no matter how small, just to get my head into the rhythm of constant stops and starts for Guernsey - at least that’s what I told myself, but I think I was feeling a little tired at this point too.

It wasn’t long before the 1:35 pacer overtook me again, but I stayed a relatively steady pace. When I got to about 11.5 miles I was in a bit I didn’t really recognise, and saw the hill that was ahead of me. So many people were already walking up it as it was a sudden steep hill. I decided I wasn’t even going to try it, I’d just walk to the top. There was one person I saw who just about ran to the top without massively dropping his speed, and he got a cheer from people for managing it. It was nice to see.

Not long after that I saw the 1:40 pacer and hadn’t realised I’d fallen that far behind, so I got running a little more consistently after that. On the approach to the stadium I started to walk and I could hear the pacer telling people to keep on going as they were almost there. At the top of the hill there’s a split - half marathon runners go left and do a short out and back, and the marathon runners go right to start their second lap. I was glad today to be doing just the one lap, even though I’d considered during Boston (UK) Marathon it would have been nice to have done the full today.

Once I got into the stadium car park I started to walk again, but the pacer was very encouraging and I figured I should probably try to keep it sub-1:40 if I could help it so I got running again, across the car park and down the ramp to the stadium and through the entrance onto the grass to do half a lap of the pitch around to where the finish line was inside the MK Dons stadium. I think I only ran all of that section because of the pacer to be honest.

I crossed the line in 1:39:58, in position 224 out of 2,139 finishers. At first I didn’t think I’d kept with the sub 1hr40, but when I got the SMS through from Resultsbase, it confirmed I had. Okay, not the best of times for me, and slower than last year by about 4 minutes (on a different course), but it was also faster than 3 out of the last 7 half marathons I'd done since I was last here. Whilst not a brilliant time, sneaking under that boundary does make it a little more pleasing even though the purpose of this race was just for training, and to keep my legs ticking over until Guernsey. I've got the summer now to try and be ready for a much faster time at Copenhagen in September.

Tags: 13point1 halfmarathon race running sports

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© David G. Paul