Half dead at Milton Keynes

I was 50:50 right up to the night before as to whether I was going to run the Milton Keynes half. I knew that I had lost quite a bit of my fitness over the last couple of months because of various injuries. In the end I decided to run as much as anything because the entry fee was steep and I didn't want to not get my monies worth!

I got to the land of the roundabouts ok and the weather was surprisingly sunny, about 18 degrees and quite humid. In fact the humidity made things feel uncomfortably warm. As I knew that I was nowhere near pb form (1.22) I decided to try and get round in about 1.30. The first mile I somehow did in 6.00 which was way too fast (though didn't feel so) and then settled down into race pace. The first three miles I did in 19.15 (6.25 av.). It was at this point that I knew my legs were not right - they just felt like lead. I knew that if they were bad then things were just going to get a whole lot harder. The strange thing was that my lungs for the main part felt fine but the legs were unresponsive, I suppose a bit like a car stuck in third gear.

Although people had been overtaking me pretty much since the start it was just getting worse and I really couldn't latch onto anyone either as the pace was just too fast. One thing I noted early on was that I've decided that I don't like the plastic cups of water in a race. For a start half of it comes out when you first grab the cup, followed by slopping it over your face as you cant take the water on board easily, followed by choking on the remaining third that you are able to get in your mouth. There were only water stations every three miles in this race which was never really enough.

For the first time in a race I was wearing my HRM. Although I knew my body didn't feel great the watch confirmed my suspicions with my heart rate around the 175 mark after the first couple of miles. Things then gradually deteriorated - I started running 6.30min miles which slowed to 7 mins, which turned to 7.30 and at its worst got to 8.75 min miles such was the drop off. As a result I was losing places hand over fist. This never really bothers me, but its demoralising all the same and I wasn't able to latch onto anyone. Having now had the benefit of downloading the data from my HRM it seems that the deterioration was almost linear between the first and tenth mile when my pace was at its worst. Not only was I physically suffering but the dreaded curse of my blistering had returned and from the third mile onwards the burning sensation was evident.

The course in the main part was fairly flat but with a quite a lot of short, sharp ascents climbing out of underpasses and the like as the race was run almost entirely off road (but still on a sort of loose bound gravelly tarmac). After 10 miles there were two runners who I decided to latch onto as I could no longer suffer running by myself anymore. I had to increase my pace a fair bit but managed to run the last three miles in an average of 7.15 which was a considerable improvement.

In the end I finished in 1.35.45 which is miles off my pb (literally), and I have to say that was the worst I have felt in a race. Ever...

To give some idea of the suffering I hit 175bpm after only 2 and a bit miles, 180bpm after 4.3miles, 185bpm at 10.8 miles and 190bpm at 12.7miles. Very briefly I hit 203bpm which is supposedly 112% of my maximum intensity! I've attached the graph below - the blue line going downwards is my speed, whilst the red line going upwards is my heart rate (note it goes off the chart after 10 miles as I exceeded my maximum intensity and went beyond the red zone!). The browny coloured chart is the elevation.


After finishing I was very close to keeling over and things were becoming a bit blurry. I think it took me about 25 mins to do the one mile back to the car. So why did it go so badly wrong? Well I think my fitness was a lot worse that I realised and this accounted for the majority of the problem. The blister on my right foot made running torture which didn't help things along with the heat, dehydration and my start which was too fast. The one positive was that although my body was screaming to stop I somehow managed to carry on which is something. I suppose the second positive is that I don't feel any immediate niggles but we'll see tomorrow once the legs have stiffened up. As a result I'm fairly certain that I'm going to give the Capricorn a miss next week - and instead will try to restart training again.

EDIT: 132nd in 1.35.47 out of 1,179 runners. PB pace would have been good enough for 16th! D'oh!

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