Race Report: Stanford Hall Half Marathon 2014

MCKEP’s resident Sicknote had a strange week by recent standards. After a pleasing effort at last weekend’s road relays, Simkiss was out of action by Tuesday with ankle trouble, once again waving the white flag. A few frantic phone calls by MCKEP backroom staff, one emergency physio appointment, and another therapeutic kitchen installation later and it was business as usual by Thursday. Simkiss all set for a good weekend of training whilst everyone else in the world competed in either the Coventry Half Marathon, or Warwick Half Marathon.

As talk of Half Marathons filled t’interwebs of Warwickshire on Saturday evening, Simkiss found himself drowning his race envy sorrows by coiffing a variety of Gins. Having not entered either of the ‘local’ half marathons, and completely forgotten that Elite Project counterpart McCarthy was himself racing a half marathon ‘oop North, Simkiss was left facing a 20mile training run all on his lonesome.

As the alcohol flowed further, enough was enough Simkiss could not bare the thought of his solo 20 miler anymore and had to find a race to do as part of his 20miler. A half marathon would’ve been ideal, but alas, no ‘on the day entry’ at Warwick or Coventry. The joys of Fetcheveryone, in all it’s “masses of data but ugly as f#ck” website glory, could provide the ideal tool for finding a suitable race and indeed it delivered. The Stanford Hall 10k and Half Marathon, on the day entries… £23… ouch. 10:15am start gave an extra bit of much needed sleep time.

The original session plan of 20mi with a fast finish (5:32/mi for last 3miles) was abandoned in favour of 20mi including half marathon at Marathon Pace – giving a good quality training session with some company along the route, and everyone knows training is easier when you’re wearing a number. After a further few G&T’s it didn’t take long for the mind to wander onto thoughts of podium finishes and lifting the winners trophy, and if that failed, who cares, it was only a training run anyway. Being a training run Simkiss would run in full training attire – garmin, heart rate monitor and compression wanker socks.

Wanker socks FTW

Wanker socks FTW!

After a 3mi (ish) warmup, Simkiss joined the start area with a couple of minutes to spare – sized up the opposition and the podium finish was in the bag. Confidently settling onto the front line of the race for the starter’s horn, the race was underway, and within the space of 30 metres, Simkiss was 10m adrift from first place, and 5m adrift from 2nd place. as the opening charge settled, Simkiss found himself lay in 3rd, losing ground to the front two runners (who looked comfy at that pace), but already gapping the runners behind. That was it… 3rd place decided… race over.

That is, other than the 12.5miles that were still left to run.

Struggling to slow the pace beyond 5:20/mi in the early stages, mile 1 was completed ahead of target at what felt like easy run pace and so began arrogant claims of “I could have them if I was racing… probably”. Simkiss eventually got back in his box and dropped to nearer his target 5:40/mi and maintained a constant gap to the leading duo.

It only took until around the 2mi marker for one of the leading pair to blow up spectacularly, he fell away from the leader who seemed to step on the gas and it wasn’t long before Simkiss trotted past comfortably with a wry smile on his face. With a lead extended up to around 100m, the first place runner, also sporting wanker socks (in McCarthy white, in contrast to the Simkiss Black) continued his way up the relentless climb to the course peak after 4mi.

The gap remained the same until around 7.5mi where Simkiss could sense the gap closing ever so slightly, and as a long descent turned into ANOTHER climb at 8mi, the gap was rapidly reducing. A strong legged Simkiss, feeling comfortable having stuck to his planned marathon pace caught the lead running and in an act of cruelty and tactical genius turned to look at the former race leader (who appeared to be foaming at the mouth) and casually remarked with a smile “they weren’t joking when they said the course is undulating”, which was followed by the audible sound of now 2nd place runner’s anchor hitting the floor and him seeming to stop dead on the spot.

Simkiss could now recover from his apparent composure, gasp for air, and then begin to push on – f#ck the marathon pace training session… he was going to win, even if it cost him the next week’s training. The pace increased, legs became tired, but the experience was enjoyable.

Final Sprint  Finish (finish line on the right hand side)

Final Sprint Finish (finish line on the right hand side)

Despite the organisers best efforts to destroy runners by routing the final half mile over a stoney farmers track, with twists and turns, adding in a switchback around a traffic cone for good measure, a plywood trip hazard over a cattle grid and final 180 degree bend akin to a childs go-karting circuit on gravel all of 10 metres from the finish line, Simkiss was able to finish – time 73:18.

A ~4mi cooldown completed the 20mi session in under 2hrs. With our athlete reporting “it felt a lot more comfortable than the blast time I did this session”, although that could simply be as a result of him namby-pamby’ing around on two wheels the day before rather than doing some proper training.

Over 3 hours after the race start, the race results were sorted and every man and his dog had been given a trophy, including 2 for our man Simkiss and he was on his way home… job done.

Recouping the £23 entry fee

Recouping the £23 entry fee

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