Posts Tagged With: Milton Keynes Marathon

Milton Keynes Half Marathon – Race Report

I was looking forward to this run, first time I’ve actually really looked forward to a running race in a long while. My training for the Outlaw Half on June 1st has been going well and my long runs have been much quicker than anything I’ve done in the past, and all done on tired legs following a long ride the day before.

So, with a day’s rest before the race I knew this could be a PB potential race! My current PB for a half is a touch under 1:46 and based on what I’ve done in training I knew that was a good realistic target.

As always the day started with a team photo. DLRR met outside McDonald’s at Stadium MK, home of the MK Dons although without our revered leader (he was managing the marshals today) it was a somewhat less formal affair – no idea who actually took the photo, but it appeared on Facebook during the event so the result was there!

The Milton Keynes Marathon is now in its third year. After marshalling the first year in torrential rain, running the marathon in a heat wave last year, I jumped at the chance to run the half when they introduced it this year. You get all the camaraderie of a major marathon, but only half the distance to run – what more could you ask for? The course for the half followed the same route as the marathon until just before the 10 mile mark when the marathon runners turned off to continue along the city redways  while we continued to the stadium to finish.

Stadium MK is a great venue to start and finish an event – plenty of parking, as many toilets as you could want (all very clean!) and loads of space for runners and supporters.

The start was a short walk away from the stadium on one of the main roads heading towards the city centre. There were no waves this year so runners were free to start wherever they wished. This was good news for me as I was keen to run with the 3:30 marathon pacer (8 min miles). I headed to the start and tried to look the pacer out – all the pacers had big blue balloons  so they could be spotted easily, except I could only find the 3:45 guy – there were two other pacers near the front that I could see but hadn’t got a hope in hell of getting near enough to find out whether that was the one I was looking for. I decided to just pace myself and see if I could stumble across the pacer early on in the race. With the course doubling back quite a bit in the early miles I knew I should be able to spot him.

The first couple of miles follows one of the main city roads up towards the City Centre. It’s a gradual climb so it’s good for keeping the pace in check early on. The first of the loop back sections came just before we entered the City Centre and was a good chance to check where I was in the scheme of things – plus I spotted the 8 min pacer – he was quite some way ahead of me so I doubted at that point I’d be able to catch up so I decided to carry on as I was. Miles 3-7 consisted of loops of the City Centre grid square. It sounds bad on paper but in reality it was great – the terrain is undulating – we entered the City at almost its highest point and ran down almost to the station before running back up and looping around the various boulevards. For a club like DLRR it’s a bit like a normal Sunday run – we loopback to the slowest runner to keep the group together – it’s a very social format and I spent most of that 5 miles waving and shouting at fellow runners as we spotted each other across the carriageway!

All this joviality meant I wasn’t clock watching too much which is no bad thing as the undulations meant my mile times varied by over 30 seconds but I was making good time as we left the City Centre and headed back down the main road towards the stadium. The road out of the city was a nice long downhill and gave me a chance to stretch my legs a bit and see how I felt – still plenty of running there – I could also see the 8 min pacer getting nearer – I was averaging well under 8 min miles and even by mile 8 I hadn’t caught him so not sure how far under he was!

At the roundabout before the stadium the course turns left and heads along the V9 Groveway – a road I know well as I drive along it every day on my way to work at the Open University. It starts nice and flat then as you approach the river Ouzel it swings down before sweeping back up past the OU. We had to run the length of it as far as the roundabout before taking a U-turn and running all the way back again. It was a great opportunity to see other runners coming the other way – I could see the top end of  the half marathon race heading back towards the stadium. At about 8 1/2 miles I finally caught up with the 8 minute pacer. I was actually travelling faster than 8 minute pace now so swung straight past his group – best laid plans and all that!

About half a mile after the U-turn the marathon and half marathon split with the long haul guys heading off onto the redways and the half marathon continuing back towards the stadium. Once the split occurred the road suddenly thinned out and first time I ran on my own for a bit. We climbed back up the road and headed towards the stadium but as we’d only reached 11 miles we had to run back past the stadium and round a small lake before running back up to the stadium again.

This is a little disheartening as you can see the finish area and people already running towards it, but you have to run right on past it…it was at this point that I could feel my calf and achilles getting really tight – almost cramp like. I felt like I had loads left in the tank but couldn’t up my pace too much for fear of doing some damage. This isn’t my A race of the year and I couldn’t afford to take  the risk. It got to the stage where almost every step sent a pain up my leg, made even worse when we left the road to run round the lake. This was on footpaths that weren’t in the best condition, not good when your leg is on the verge of cramping up. Nevertheless I stuck with it, I knew I was on for a PB, but not sure how much.  Somehow I managed to  churn out a 7:30 mile just before the end and held on.

The run out into the stadium is magnificent – for a reasonably small club the stadium is large – Rugby World Cup matches will be held here in 2015 so it holds a fair few people. Nowhere near full today but enough to make a noise to get the heart pumping. We had to run around three sides of the pitch to finish – never has a football pitch seemed so big – but I managed to step up a gear and cross the line in 1:42:18 – a new PB by well over 3 minutes!

I was so pleased with my run, everything went to plan, apart from the calf/achilles issue and I know I had more to come. It means I go into Outlaw knowing I’ve got a good half under my belt but also know 1:40 is there for the taking later in the year…

I must add that the marshals and volunteers out on the course and at the stadium were amazing. There were loads of them and were all very vocal – although it helps that a lot of them were from DLRR! Having marshalled a few years ago, I know what a long day it can be and they did a sterling job. Some of the best in the business – and I’ve run a lot of races over the years to know that!

It does go to show that you can still run well off the back of triathlon training – I’m only really running twice a week properly under my GreenlightPT with an interval session and a long run but it seems to be working for me…

 

MK Half medal

The medal – one of the best I’ve got in terms of design!

Milton Keynes Marathon Half Marathon Route

 

 

 

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Categories: Injury, Outlaw, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Milton Keynes Marathon – Race Report

Monday 6th May was the second running of the Milton Keynes Marathon. In the scheme of things there aren’t masses of marathons around and to have one in my home town was too good an opportunity to miss. Despite only running the London Marathon 14 days previously I felt good about this one and had my eye on sub 4 – preferably sub 3:50. I felt I did get held up in London quite significantly in places and ignoring my meltdown at mile 23 – mental, not physical – deep down I know there’s a decent marathon in there dying to get out. Where better to do this than the local marathon on a route I’ve trained on for the last two years with loads of local support, plus with so many club mates from DLRR running there was bound to be someone to run with.

Little did we know that Monday would prove to be one of the hottest days of the year so far. In real terms it wasn’t excessively hot, but when you’ve trained around zero degrees for nearly four months, high teens centigrade feels a bit furnace like!

I met my other team mates outside a well known burger chain at StadiumMK and there was a really relaxed atmosphere, lots of picture taking and group shots for the local paper and radio station. Most of us had trained together since the start of the year, mainly on the long Sunday runs and in a way it was just like another long Sunday run, just a bit more popular than usual!

I made my way to the start not really sure where abouts we were supposed to be. There were two waves, red and green – I assumed green was the slower wave as I was in it but there did seem to be a real mix of people in there including most of the official pacers. I started the race with a fellow DLRR team mate who runs a similar pace as me and we agreed to go for 8:50-9 min miles and see how things panned out. Both of us were keen to beat the 4 hour barrier with pbs just outside and I suppose the safe option would have been to run with the sub 4 pacer, but deep down I think we both wanted a bit more than just under fours so felt the 8:50 option was better.

The first 7 miles were on roads and included some loops of the city centre. This was a really nice way to start as there were lots of points when we past runners coming the other direction so there was plenty of opportunities to cheer fellow team mates on both ahead of us and behind – a really nice atmosphere abounded. It was hard to spot everyone as not all of us were in green. Many, including myself were running for local charities so plenty of concentration was needed in that section to spot people. It really made the first 7 miles or so fly. On leaving the city centre there was a good few miles downhill as we headed towards Simpson and Walton Park. The mile times had been a bit quick, partly with excitement (a hometown marathon gets the blood pumping) and partly because there were a fair few downhill sections. I was a bit concerned I’d gone off too fast, but in reality it was probably only 5 second a mile quicker overall so not really an issue. I tried to reign it in a bit between 7 and 10 miles and those splits were just about bang on.

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There were so many people out watching and it was great to see loads of people I knew as well. People had come out in their droves with deckchairs on the sides of roads, picnics in the parks and just generally giving the whole day a real carnival atmosphere.

By mile 10 it was about 11:30 am and the sun was beating down pretty hard by then. My team mate asked me how I was feeling and although I answered ok, deep down I wasn’t actually feeling too good at all. My legs felt fine but inside I could just feel myself burning up and getting hotter and hotter. Similar feeling that you get when you know you’re about to go down with a bad cold/flu. I stuck with it for a few more miles but at about 12 I started to put the brakes on a bit. I let my team mate go on her way and thought a few slower miles might make me feel a bit better. I reached halfway in a respectable 1:55 which was bang on pace but I knew that my race for a pb was probably over. Shortly after that I pretty much threw in the towel and resigned myself to getting round as comfortably as possible. By this point I had already passed other team mates who I would have expected to be ahead of me and loads of other runners were walking.

It never crossed my mind to quit the race itself. I don’t drop out of races, in fact I’m not sure I can remember ever having a DNF. I’ll drag my sorry arse around to the end every time. This particular marathon was as important to finish as London was. I was running for Henry and it’s time like this when you remember the bigger picture and forget your own unimportant issues and just get on with the job in hand. He’s depending on people like me to raise money for his appeal and I was going to flipping finish this marathon one way or another! Although when you have your first walk at 14 miles with another 12 to go I had to dig deep…

Miles 9-17 were marshalled by DLRR and it didn’t half keep me going. I was dying to walk but with someone you know every 100m or so it was pretty hard – although I managed it ;-). My best bud and her family popped up at mile 18 and I was pretty broken by then. I actually stopped and had a hug from her, I can’t even remember what we said to each other but it got me going again for a bit.

I knew once we came off the canal at Great Linford it was the turn back to the finish with just six miles left. It was a long slog with a climb up to Campbell Park. I set myself a target of 5 mins run to 1 min walk and it seemed to work ok. My running must have still been near normal pace as even with walking I was keeping the times under 10:50 min per mile.

Once I reached Campbell Park I knew I was on the way home. It’s a reasonably nice run down towards the hospital although by this point there was more walking and less running going on. Casualties were increasing the nearer we got to the finish and the paramedics and marshals on duty that day were amazing. People were just running out of steam in the heat and each water station was like a little reward for getting that bit further. With two miles to go there is a nasty climb behind the hospital. Within the running community in MK it is a well known hill training spot and the last thing you need at 24 miles in a marathon. But, head down and up it I went. I managed to run most of it and wasn’t put off by the sight of yet another casualty getting loaded onto a trolley by paramedics – to be fair it was probably the best spot to go down – A&E was literally 100m’s from that bit of the route!

The last two miles I got a bit of a second wind and felt like I ran most of it. Coming out of the final underpass and up the hill towards the stadium was great. There was a bit of a loop of the car park before entering StadiumMK itself but the whole route was lined with people which was fantastic. Through the tunnel and round the perimeter of the pitch I got a bit of a spurt on and passed quite a few people before I finally crossed over the line. 4:16 dead. Nearly quarter of an hour slower than London but I made it in one piece!

So two marathons in 15 days off the back of around 8 weeks nearly full training. I think my work here is done – for a bit anyway!

http://www.thehenryallenappeal.com/index.html

The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

Categories: Races | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

VLM 2013 – Race Report

Well, there you have it, it’s all over. To be perfectly honest with you I never thought I’d even get to run London this year, let alone write this post but as I type, I have London completed with a PB to boot and am now resting in readiness for the Milton Keynes Marathon a week on Monday!

I woke up on Sunday to beautiful sunshine which kind of made up for the awful nights sleep I’d had. I normally sleep like a log, but even though I was in bed by 11pm I woke at 1am, 3am, 5am (because a coach was trying to get out of the hotel car park before the road was closed – our hotel was on mile 14/21 on the Highway) until eventually at 6:15am I gave it up as a bad job and got up. Good job really as my watch battery died so my alarm wouldn’t have gone off anyway!

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The walk up to Blackheath

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The Blue Start

My other half and one of our friends came with me to the start which was nice. They got to see Blackheath in all its glory and the mass of people milling around taking photos and making small talk. I was in pen 5, the same as last year. The whistles sounded for the start of the silence for Boston. After a few seconds of shushing silence descended. It seemed a lot longer that the 30 seconds advertised but gave a good few moments to think about those affected by events in Boston last week and to allow London to pay their respects. A rousing applause greeted the end of it and we were then on our way. Within three minutes I had crossed the line and was running, as always though I was down to a walk within a couple of hundred metres. It was slow going for the first six or so miles. I planned on 9 minute miles so when the RW pacers came past me at mile two I latched on the back of them. There were a few boos at mile three as the red and blue starts merged which was fun. By mile 6 the pacer I was following just stopped. I’m not sure what the problem was but he disappeared from view completely. The 3:45 pacer then came past me – I was running just about on schedule so it shows how different the two starts are in crossing the line. I resigned myself to the fact that the 3:56 pacer would not be back and then got on with the task in hand.

It was hot so I made sure I took on water. I had put some Zero tablets in my gel belt so made sure I put half a tablet in my water. One of the funniest sights of the day was a group of lads, sat on a leather sofa, beer in hand on the path with a BBQ on the go! Nice touch I thought. I saw the DLRR gang at mile 7 – just! Did my usual trick of being on the wrong side of the road but just saw them in time although to wave at them it meant a bit of backwards running, no mean feat with that volume of people. The next few miles were comfortable. I passed the former Olympian Kelly Sotherton – I felt a lot better than she looked, which gave me a boost! Not everyday you leave an Olympic medalist standing! My achilles had been tight for the first few miles but by now I couldn’t feel any issues at all. I reached 10 miles bang on 1:30 and felt great.

Tower Bridge was as special as I remembered. You turn a corner and climb up and over it. The wall of noise is loud the whole way round but on here it is almost overwhelming. We were over it all too quickly and off down the Highway towards my hotel. At halfway I spotted some DLRR supporters (the orange Oakley hoodies are so clear in the crowd!) and then a bit further on was my husband and friends. I made sure I was smiling for the photograph and plodded on. By 16 I was feeling really good – this was the point last year I started to implode so psychologically I was all over Docklands. The only problem was the course narrows considerably and it was difficult to keep an even pace going. Round past Canary Wharf I was picking people off but was starting to really feel the heat. A group of fireman at mile 19 had the hoses on which was great although it wasn’t quite a trickle of water…more like a deluge!

I hit 20 miles bang on three hours, which if I’m honest I was a little disappointed with, I’d have preferred a few minutes under, but the two or three miles where I’d been held up really seem to have made a difference. But I was now into the final 10k. I’d run out of Zero tablets by this point so was cautious about taking too much water on but got stuck into my gels. I passed a fellow DLRR runner at 21. We exchanged pleasantries, or as much as you can after 21 miles and I carried on my way. Back down on the Highway I started to feel good – I had an urge to push on but a little voice inside me told me to hang  back as there was still a way to go yet. As those final miles came it was getting harder and harder, my legs felt fine but my head was starting to go. I reached 23 still bang on pace in 3:27 and then boom! Something clicked and I stopped. I’ve no idea why, but the tunnel just after the 23 mile mark just made me stop. I carried on walking and managed to break back into a jog but the rhythm was broken. Normally I can have a word with myself and get back on it, but not this time. I had sub four laid out in front of me and I walked along while it slipped away. I pulled it back together a bit towards 25. Mainly I think because I knew both the DLRR supporters and my husband and friends would be along there somewhere – I managed a rather feeble high five with one of the DLRR lads when I saw them but didn’t even see my other half – he saw me though!

Somewhere in that final two miles a bloke grabbed my hand and made me run with him for a good half a mile. I’ve no idea who he was but thank you! We finally reached Big Ben and turned towards Birdcage Walk. I was shuffling along by now but as we turned at Buckingham Palace I suddenly remembered how to run and put in a good spurt down the finishing straight. I’d realised that I’d missed a sub-four time but I was buggered if it was going to be by much. I crossed in 4:02:53 and despite the self destruction in the last few miles, I was actually pretty pleased with myself. At the end of February I limped home after only four miles of a club run after my achilles had flared back up again. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact it was over, but through some very careful slow running, physio and lots of stretching I somehow have managed to pull off a 14 minute PB in around seven weeks training – what might have been eh!

I’m now going to run the Milton Keynes Marathon on 6th May and if someone could pop up between 24 and 26 miles to give me a big kick up the a*se when I throw my toys out of the pram again that would be rather grand!

London Marathon 2013 by nicchip at Garmin Connect – Details.

Quite fitting that this should be my 100th post!

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The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

www.justgiving.com/nicole-clarke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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