It’s that time again where Simkiss struggles to write a race report in third person and attempts to conjure up some form of humour to not look out of place on the McCarkiss site.
Following discussion within the McCarkiss training group over the validity / stupidity of running a half marathon at marathon pace as part of a long run, Simkiss ultimately decided that since training had been going well, he would race the half marathon all out in an attempt to run a PB. The venue would be Long Marston Airfield, and the event, “The Summer Shakespeare Half Marathon”. The airfield has hosted McCarkiss athletes on a number of occasions (that number being 2), from the first meeting of McCarthy of Tipton Harriers and Simkiss of Kenilworth Runners (where Simkiss was on 75min pacing duties for his Captain Phil Gould, finishing in 75:00… damn he’s good), to their spring 2015 (failed) marathon paced effort, targeting 75mins, running 77mins (full McCarkiss flashback report can be found here: http://mccarkissenduranceproject.co.uk/shakespeare-raceways-spring-half-marathon-training-run-summary/). 75mins would’ve been the target once again if it were a marathon pace run, instead, sub 72min was the minimum requirement, though sub 71 was the real target.
The 4 and a bit lap course is virtually pancake flat, with about 15ft of difference in elevation between its highest and lowest points, arguably the perfect course were it not for the total of 33 switchbacks (or otherwise inconveniently tight bends), or the near 200 runners from the 5k & 10k using the same course at the same time.
While the day was warm, clouds shielded the runners on the start line from the sun looming above, and quite surprisingly there was an absence of the strong wind usually found on such exposed courses. Fortunately, Simkiss lined up uncharacteristically early with 8mins to go before the 10am race start… as 4 minutes later the race was underway.
Simkiss formed 60% of a lead group of 2, sitting in second place for the 1.2km opening loop. Now moving alongside the leader (Peter Middleton) a brief conversation was started and the finishing order was agreed – with Middleton declaring his 75minute intention Simkiss moved ahead and away, ready to start making his way through the 5k & 10k backmarkers whom had started on their way shortly after the half marathon, (but weren’t required to complete the 1.2km mini loop that the half marathoners did, and thus were ahead on the main course loop… make sense?!)
The human traffic served as a useful distraction from the difficulty of the task at hand as the 5k & 10k field were progressively picked off one after another. Glances at the watch regularly showing a pace of 5:23-24/mi and things were looking promising for a projected sub 71min finish – even the parting of the clouds to unleash a blazing sun didn’t seem to be slowing the pace… yet.
With all but a handful of 5/10k runners caught, the pace was now slowing ever so slightly and Simkiss completed his 2nd large lap as the 10k runners peeled off to the finish. He was now firmly on his own for the final 10k and with nobody to chase he became all too aware of how much the early exertions had taken out of him. The pace was dropping and he was digging deep just to hit ‘marathon pace’. The wheels were falling off and probably the most positive thing that can be said is that it was good mental preparation for September’s marathon.
Opening 1.2km ‘Mini-loop’: 3:37
Main Lap 1 (5km): 17:08
Main Lap 2 (5km): 17:28
Main Lap 3 (5km): 17:53
Main Lap 4 (5km): 17:47
The 73:53 finish time was well off target… half marathon PB pace had been maintained until around 10k, which is meaningless really, that should be achievable on almost any day of the week (except Monday’s). It was sufficient to secure a 3minute win over second place Middleton, and almost 10 minutes to 3rd place Tom Mitchell, again, this is meaningless.
Disappointed with his race time, Simkiss set off on an extended cool down to total 20 miles for the day, thus enabling him to pass it off in his mind as an acceptable training run. Running on empty and cooking in the sun it reduced Simkiss to a stumbling mess, needing to spend the rest of the day on the sofa eating Haribo. Does training get any more elite than this?
Due to the current Simkiss photo embargo, fans will have to settle for this riveting race video footage:
Video Key Highlights:
End of Lap 1 @ 7:35
End of Lap 2 @ 25:17
End of Lap 3 @ 43:10
Race Finish @ 1:00:50
Video Footage Courtesy of Stuweb Race Timing