Couch to 5k and a Little Bit More

MK Half Marathon


by Susan Johnson


I don’t think there are too many youngsters who take up running at the age of 60 but yep, that’s me!  There I was approaching retirement with colleagues suggesting I would be able to find new hobbies and slow down.  Sounded good to me but where to start?  I’d heard about parkrun and decided to give it a go.  Run, walk was my first attempt (and a few more).  Now, less than three years later and 102 parkruns completed, along with other races in between, I was approaching the start line for my first half marathon at the MK Marathon Weekend.  This was kind of surreal, this was 13.1 miles!

So, perfect conditions – cloudy, not too warm and a cooling breeze.  The atmosphere was great, a happy expectant feel filled the start area.  Kate made friends with a bear, as you do, and familiar faces came to talk to us.

As Kate and I crossed the start line I kept reminding myself of one the most valuable lessons I’d learnt at the Beginners/Improvers group, courtesy of Dave Adams – don’t go out too fast!  Lots of people were lining the street and encouraging shouts filled the air.  The first three miles of the course takes you on a steady uphill climb towards the shopping centre and we settled into a solid pace.  Kate had said that I should just run at a pace I was comfortable with and she’d run with me.  We chatted, exchanged banter with other runners and we met the bear again – Kate showed her rich and varied skills in the art of selfie-taking while running.  We made friends with a lady running for Willen Hospice (Georgina) who saw the purple and gold; she was looking to join a club and was keen to find out about LBAC.  We sold it to her and off she went.  As we set about the steeper bit to the centre we saw Andy, Amy, Erin and Juliet Inchley who were there to cheer us on from the roadside.

The first water station at Mile 3 was welcome as was the downhill just past it but that was short-lived!  We turned the corner, a bit of flat and then yep, up Silbury Boulevard.  A bit of deja-vous  set in, we were here 24 hours earlier for the MK Rocket!  As we took on the incline and hit Mile 4 a cooling light rain shower helped us on.  A right turn at the top and the long  steady downhill we’d done the day before was in sight and then more cheers from the Inchley family greeted us at the bottom.

In no time here we were at Mile 5.  I was running steadily and enjoying this.  The months of meticulous training were coming good (BUPA training plan, LBAC website).  At five and a half miles we turned off the main road and ran through the streets of Eaglestone.  Residents had come out of their houses and clapped and cheered us on.  Still running a good steady pace we caught up with Georgina and soon we were out of Eaglestone running on the redway.  Under the much-talked-about flooded underpass at the MK Festival and into Woughton on the Green.  Mile 6 and another water station and just beyond that an underpass with disco music with a great running beat – loved it!  Shame it was short-lived.  Mile 7 took us through the pretty Ouzel Valley Park with lots of people out to encourage the runners on.

Just after Mile 7 the course split and there was no chance of going the wrong way, clear warning signage, lots of arrows, a funnelled divide and marshals checking the race bibs!  Oh yes, we went right.  On through the Ouzel Valley Park with some quite narrow pathways but very scenic.  We’d lost Georgina but caught up with her again along the riverside path.  We exchanged encouragement and continued on.

Keep running, keep smiling!

At Mile 8 we were still running steadily but the pace had dropped, that was fine, for me this was about completing the course, 13.1 miles. This was allowed; it was, after all my first half marathon.  Continuing through the Ouzel Valley Park on to Mile 9 the pace continued steady and the legs were still ok.  Into Woughton Park and Mile 10.  Mile 10!  Just a Parkrun left!  The pace continued steady but the legs were starting to tire.  On through Woughton Park to Mile 11 and two gentlemen playing banjos and singing Bad Moon Rising!

I see the bad moon arising

I see trouble on the way

I see earthquakes and lightnin’

I see those bad times today

Hmmm… not sure about the song choice but great of them to come out and ‘encourage’ us on.

The legs were not happy with the uphill incline as you come out of Woughton Park and I could feel the hamstring in my left leg starting to tighten.  This did not bode well – Bad Moon Rising???  Into Simpson and a downhill, yay!  At the bottom a ‘cheering station’ with our Aylesbury parkrun friends from On The Run.  Loads of loud encouragement from them and special jelly babies.

With tired legs and tightening muscles now but with loads of encouragement from Kate we were at Mile 12.  By now I really wanted to see the stadium, where was the finish?  Just where was the finish?  Onto Saxon Street and Kate excitedly shouting ‘There’s KFC, there’s KFC! I can see KFC!’  There were the Inchleys again shouting for a sprint finish, it made me smile and prompted an upping of the pace but the legs didn’t like it!  Was that early pace too fast?  On and finally the stadium loomed large in front of us. Still running, down into the stadium, the crowds in the stands cheering, a few high-fives and round the corner to the finish.  Kate and I held hands put our arms in the air (well I made a weary attempt) and crossed the finish line together in 2.36.39.  Job done!

Georgina safely finished ten minutes behind us. New recruit.  🙂

On reflection… Happy but tired.  This is a great event to run as a first half marathon.  Well-organised, well-marshalled, well-managed water stations, in all the right places, great atmosphere, a varied route with a great finish and super medals!

So, new hobby, definitely, but I’m not sure this is what my colleagues had in mind!

Other LBAC runners on the day were:


Stuart Blofeld – 4:11:00


Tim Inchley – 1:24:42

David Killick – 1:38:11

Lisa Bowyer – 1:47:49

Jenny Rawdon – 1:59:10

Susan shows off her hard-earned medals from the weekend