Perfect PBs in the Puddles

MK Winter Half – 11th December 2016

by Maria Williams and Stuart Read


My worst nightmare occurred the night before when I began to get a sore throat, dosed up with sudafed I went to bed hoping that I would wake up in the morning recovered. “Well?” I hear you ask and the answer is I woke up thinking I’d swallowed a razor blade, my throat was raw. I assembled my kit scoffed my race breakfast of 2 Babybel and a brioche roll then headed out. Outside the cold breeze began to make me gag, I was doubting if I would even make the start line, but Richard told me to do what you can and at least just try. So we arrived with minutes to spare, squeezed into the pen at the 1.40 space, I thought, “should I be here?”

I’d trained for this and after my Leeds 10k I knew I could at least hold the pace for 6 miles and everything after was all in my head, well as long as my throat didn’t get the better of me. I saw Mr Inchley as he squeezed in with us, there was a few minutes of waiting and away we went. The plan went like this: approx 8 min miles give or take 10 secs either way. I went off  a bit too quick but felt really comfortable so went with it.

Maria gearing herself up for that final little hill!

Richard was great and kept telling what a great pace I was doing and how relaxed I looked, I was relaxed and felt comfy with my breathing. This continued for a good few miles and the course was wide enough to spread out and still feel together, if you get what I mean. Richard chatted to me and before I knew it we up on railway walk, slightly slippy in places due to old leaves, spoke to few other fellow runners as we over took and then boom. The lake, river or whatever it was had burst, runners were panicking and tried to run around it, but it was a mud slip, so the only thing left to do was run through it. Wow that was cold,  possibly the wrong choice, at first it felt good cooling down my legs, then the cramps started so I slowed down drank some water and pulled my socks down. Richard was politely smiling at me, he was thinking, “Come on, let’s get the PB you came here for.” The next few miles I had to fight with myself as I thought I’ve lost it now I’ll never get my pace back, so I plodded on. It hurt. It was hard and I wanted to cry. I had trained for this. OK, only up to 6 miles left at pace, but I didn’t want to let myself down.

I sucked it up as I approached teardrops with loads of cheering going on, but I couldn’t focus on anything except knowing I had 4 miles to go, if I kept an 8 min mile I would make it under 1.45. So I went up the long climb up towards Woughton campus, I shouted to Richard something about the hill had grown since I was a child, it couldn’t have been this big! People must have thought I was crazy. Well then the down hill bit Ah it was lush! I stretched out the legs and it felt awesome. Back on it sub 1.45 now I thought. I don’t remember much after that except seeing the little hill at the finish I ran up it so hard I think my heart nearly popped and boom. I think I over took at least 3 people on the finishing straight, I heard them say my name as I stopped…

Smiling from ear to ear as I finished, Richard kissed me and put my medal round my neck, I thanked him and realised I had not only beaten my PB I had smashed it, Blackpool half was my PB at 1.47 and my winter half course PB was 1.59, I came in on my Garmin at 1.42.04. Official time was 1.41.58. Lots of lovely faces at the finish line new tech t-shirt that could have done with x small, loads and loads of sweets and water. Perfect race and great medal, would I do it again? Oh yes sub 1.40 next year, we will see.


I had heard mixed reports about the route but with a reccie in hand (thanks to Elliott and Tim for being a tour guide) and with an expected 30+ LBAC members going to be out in force I was feeling confident and looking forward to race day.

My race plan had changed following a little arm twisting/encourage from our excellent team captain Mr Bell and I set my sights on a 6:30 per mile pace. Overall this would give me a time of just over 1:25.

This would be a big PB, but having increased my mileage over the last 10 weeks in preparation for the London marathon, I was hoping for a good run.

The start was fairly narrow and congested but I’d squeezed in the front pen and managed not to get caught up. I’d recently read an article on half marathon pacing which suggested slightly holding back on your target for the first 3 miles which in theory should give you strength in the second half of the race.  This turned out to be more difficult than it sounded with people flying past and my watch seeming to be all over the place, however I managed to be not too far off track when the 3 mile marker came.

The torrential rain the previous day had made the course slippery in places and in preparation for Keysoe cross country next month we even had our own water feature,  ‘fuddle’ as named by Kas to swim through.  The mile markers were coming though steadily, if a little different to what my watch was telling me but I reach 8 miles and was feeling ok.

It was in Teardrops park that I was started to have a sinking feeling, no pun instead, especially as I didn’t have people around me, but I did my best to try and dig in get over the hill and onto the slightly more downhill parts of the route back home.

This part of the course I’ve done a few times and it takes you through some nice parts of Milton Keynes and soon I was back on the canal path and could see the Gulliver’s rides in the distance. The positioning of the finish straight make for a good run home and I crossed the line in a time of 1:25:29 which I was delighted with.

The club had an excellent turnout which always make for a great team experience. Plus there were some great achievements with a podium position, a new club record and plenty of PB’s.

Roll on Jan cross country.


Stuart’s pre-run lunge obviously paid off!