I have been looking forward to this race for a while – a new experience, having never raced on a Grand Prix circuit before! Having fuelled on Pizza Hut pizza last night (possibly not the best preparation!), it was an unusually late race start (12.00), but in respect to parking, I left at 8.30, and arrived with a couple of hours to spare. The grounds at Silverstone are extensive; the place was huge! It was a big event too, the entry list was at 10,000 people I believe, but I was pleased to bump into Simon Newman, Anthony Stewart and Kevin Oakes (BRAT by design, but BVH in his core!) before the race, and join them for a warm up. The day itself was incredibly gloomy, cool (about 6 degree) and with a wind at about 10 mph, but it didn’t seem to damped spirits.
It was a slightly surreal experience! Heading out into the sub 1.35 pen, it wasn’t too crowded and the race track was wide. The camber on the grand prix circuit was springy, so great for running on, but getting used to trying to run a short line was difficult; after a couple of miles I’d already run about .2 miles too far! I settled into a decent rhythm while Simon, Kev and Sarah Rock sped ahead, as they were holding on to the sub 1.30 pacer. The atmosphere was great, good music at various parts of the course, and after 3 miles of snaking around the GP circuit we headed through a variety of pit lanes and took a tour of the other tracks, offices and inner and outer perimeters of Silverstone. I did my usual race break down (into 5km parts) and wasn’t blowing too hard at about 1.30 pace (6.45 – 6.50’s) for most of the run, although it definitely wasn’t as interesting after we’d left the main track. The race seem to pass by very quickly though, and although the pacer seemed to be pulling away into the distance, I seemed to be passing a lot of guys in the latter part of the race, as we headed back on to the main track for the final few miles.
I caught up with Kevin at about mile 11, and was feeling pretty good. It may have been that a number of people were starting to struggle around me, but I think with all the mileage of late, it actually felt that I was running at my best towards the end of the race, despite of running into a head wind. Anyhow, feeling strong down the home strait (literally!) I ended up running 13.3 miles, rather than the requisite 13.1, and touched down a fraction over 1.30. Having set a sub 1.35 goal at the start, this was great. Delighted for Simon – he ran his first sub 1.30, which in my opinion is a big running landmark, and both Sarah (5th lady overall) and Anthony (another big PB) ran great races too, as we all finished within a few minutes of each other.
Interesting goody bag – some rather dodgy Coconut ‘water’ and assorted oddities, good medal though (quite striking) and another pyjama T-Shirt for the collection. From a confidence perspective, I think this was a good choice pre-marathon to really test the legs for speed, now it’s just down to seeing if I have the endurance over the next few weeks. I can’t help but think though that I’m much fonder of this distance, over the marathon, and was delighted that the legs weren’t hurting too badly at the end. Interesting course and glad I’ve experienced it but not sure I’ll do it again – I think there are more interesting courses around in the Midlands; perhaps it was just too flat!