After my epic run of 19 miles a few weeks ago my legs had been suffering with the return of shin splints. The pain was not as severe as last year but was enough for me to take a step back from running and look to other exercise for a week. I had the Milton Keynes half and I really wanted to get round that without more issues. This also meant that I missed the last few key training sessions and the knock on effect would be a knock to the confidence I may have had leading up to it and on the day.
After arriving at Milton Keynes off the M1 we easily found the MK Dons stadium, many roundabouts in Milton Keynes but all very well signposted.
We parked up, a 5 minute walk away from the stadium, we had not pre booked parking, had we had done so we would have been even nearer.
Grabbing our bags we headed over to the entrance. A quick comfort break, time to sort ourselves out in space and relative comfort and a very swift and easy bag drop meant that heading to the start was stress free.
The marathon and half were going off at the same time, but hubby and his running buddy moved to the front of their pens whilst my friend and I stayed back.
The race started in stages so it was a good 15 minutes before it was my turn, although I had warmed up I was now chilly and stiff so getting going was difficult. About a mile into the run my calves cramped and I had no choice but to stop and stretch by the kerb, it was ok as the pace was slightly quicker than I wanted and therefore it made me ease off a bit.
I felt good for the first 5 miles a steady jog but then I started to fall apart, hamstring was making itself known to me, my shin was aching from the shin splints, it was warm and my focus was lost. I had called out to a club mate who I spotted at the side of the road with her shoes off, she was surprised to see me but joined us for a few miles.
The next 5 miles was a blur, I plodded on but it was difficult. We had helped another runner to an aid tent, so that took my mind off things somewhat. With just 3 miles left I really wobbled, I had taken a gel at mile 6 but nothing since and I felt shaky, panicking I asked my mate for a jelly shot block and quickly ate it. I had left my energy intake too late but there was not much I could do about it. A walk run meant that I had a chance to calm myself and within minutes the stadium loomed in front of us. Other club members then spotted me and cheered us in. With 200 meters to go I once again had a panic, I knew I had to get into the stadium and run a bit around the pitch, this was in front of those seated in there, my private running journey was to be a public spectacle. My mate grabbed me by the hand and pulled me on. The noise was like a wall, whistles shouts, cheers were booming and echoing, people up in the stands shouting for their friends. Some of the marathoners were also coming in at this point and they were still racing round.
The finish line beckoned and I crossed it relieved to get in under a target time but disappointed that I did not meet my other target time.
Medals were handed out along with a bottle of water, a guy in front wobbled and looked as if he was going to faint, I shoved my opened bottle at him and told him to drink.
We walked round and collected our goodie bag and our bags from the bag drop. A few moments later hubby came in, disappointed with his time (I would have been ecstatic if I could get anywhere near a marathon time like that) he joined us and sat down. We all stretched and got changed ready to shout in the last of our last friends from the stands.
Bad points from the event:
- The waiting in the pens, seizing up as a result.
- Although others got a text with their time, I didn’t but that could be user error from me.
- Bag drop swift and easy. Easy to drop and easy to collect and in a building so if the weather was against you at least your stuff would be dry.
- Goodie bag was one of the best I have had from an event like this.
- The finishers t-shirt was really nice, was already in the goodie bag with plenty available in my size, take note Thorpe Park half.
- The medal was fab, take note Thorpe Park half.
- The route was lovely, take note Thorpe Park half.
- The number of water stations, every 3 miles perfect.
- Plenty of first aid if it was needed.
- Plenty of toilets, they were clean and you were able to get changed in them with no issues. This is a huge benefit from having the event in a stadium. However, the Newham 10k have a lot to learn from this as they have the stadium but would not allow people in at the start or linger at the end.
- Merchandise available to purchase before and after the event.
- Parking could be booked for peace of mind.
Would I do it again? When does it open for 2018?