Winter Half (Take 2)
by Coralie Anderson
It was the morning of the MK Winter Half and I won’t lie, it didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm! Like many other runners, I felt quite frustrated the event had been postponed in December (but understandably due to the adverse weather conditions). The back end of last year I had been running really well and on track for a PB. However since the winter months had kicked in I’d really been struggling to get motivated. To be perfectly honest I’d fallen out of love with running and what I use to enjoy had become chore! I knew today was going to be tough as I’d barely run over the last few weeks.
After nursing a hangover most of Saturday and not really eaten much, this was probably the worst prep for a half marathon!
We parked up and made our way over the new start venue at Willen Lake. It was foggy, damp and blooming freezing! A few minutes later a few other club members had congregated as we stood in the cold chatting. I pulled on an extra pair of gloves as I was unable to feel my fingers at this point and wishing I’d put my fleece lined base layer on! It was 3 degrees…EEK!!! I delayed my bag drop as long as possible just so I could leave my jacket on in the attempt to stay warm.
There was a tannoy announcement asking runners to make their way to the start line and there respective pacing groups. I was torn between which pace group to follow so positioned myself somewhere between 1:40 and 1:50 although couldn’t actually see any pacemakers anywhere. We lined up like sheep crammed in a pen and waited for the start gun.
Almost immediately after leaving Willen Lake there was a bottle neck of runners which I had to weave in and out of. As usual I had set off way too fast and took a while before I could settle into a comfortable pace. By mile 4 I was feeling grateful that I didn’t opt for the fleece base layer after all. I was even regretting the extra pair of gloves! The sun had made an appearance and it was actually warm, in fact really warm! I was starting to feel over dressed and hot in all my layers!
Although the route had slightly changed this year, I remember running it is 2016 and really enjoying it. The course is a pretty route which winds along the canal, through the back of housing estates and across park land and footbridges over streams. Part of the course runs through Teardrop Lake which many of you will recognise from Chiltern League Cross Country. It was here where I was met by some friendly club faces cheering me on.
By mile 10 it was the uphill climb back toward the City Centre. I had completely forgotten about this hill and was starting to get quite tired…probably due to lack of fuel by not eating the day before and my legs were starting to feel heavy. Several runners were walking at this point and as much as I wanted to walk too I was determined to keep running. I spotted a lady I had been running with neck and neck for most of the course but she had managed to slip ahead of me at mile 8. I could see her on the hill and was gaining on her. Her pace was faster than what naturally felt comfortable but I was trying to keep her well within my sights. After the uphill slog to the City Centre it was a welcome relief that what goes up must come down – a nice long downhill stretch lay out in front of me before we turned off to pick up the canal again. At this point we were neck and neck again, it was a bit like a game of tag – I would gain on her and overtake then she would overtake me. This carried on for about a mile until we turned off the canal on the home stretch back towards Willen Lake. She was starting to make a break and I wasn’t sure if I could hold on to her. I’m not usually a competitive person by nature but as we came round the corner towards the finish something kicked in and I gave it everything I had. I was determined to throw myself over the finish before her! I literally overtook a meter before the line! That was such a great feeling….AND on top of that I even bagged myself a PB of 1:40:01! I was more than happy with that.
This still remains my favourite half marathon course. It’s a great atmosphere and really well organised event with great marshalling too. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is thinking of taking on a half. It’s a lovely scenic route away from the main roads and lots of local support along the way. No doubt I’ll be back again in December and who knows maybe a new PB is on the horizon!