MK Festival of Running Half Marathon 9th March 2014


A little bit of history on this event.  For the last two years this event has had the most bitter weather.  Snow, hail, rain and freezing temperatures.  This year – 2014 – Sunshine and blue skies, couldn’t believe the car thermometer reading 19c when I got back to it after the event. 

I was not interested in repeating last week’s effort at Silverstone Half Marathon.  I wanted to enjoy today.  Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the effort but not to destroy myself just for a decent time.  I know I can go faster, I know I can push myself to the limits but I don’t enjoy it when I do.  What I do enjoy is the company because today I had two lovely companions keeping me company and then it’s enjoying the time out on my feet.  No rush, no push, no time just running along enjoying it all.

I was nervous about today.  My left knee was hurting from last weeks efforts and I hadn’t been able to get out for a run all week.  The only leg stretch I did was some hill sprint training with beginners the day before – Saturday.  Probably not a wise move but my knee did feel a lot better after the hill sprints and the massage cushion afterwards.

My plans to run home afterwards, which would have been another 10 miles on top of the half marathon, were quickly shelved down to my knee niggle.  I managed to run home last year and really enjoyed the adventure home.  No pressure to get anywhere fast but still going as fast as I could.  I really wanted to repeat that experience and it was very good distance training but I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea as I was not sure if my knee could handle the distance.  Oh well.  I have a few more weeks before Brighton Marathon then London Marathon.

I couldn’t even decide on what to wear! The morning weather could be so fickle and there I was, kit laid out on the bed.  Long sleeve top, compression top, vest, club vest, lycra shorts, winter tights.  I could put on everything and decide when I get there.  No – compression top, club vest, shorts and joggers, t-shirt and sweat shirt in a bag if I need to keep warm before or after.  There.  Sorted.  Or so I thought!!

I met up with Julia and Kelly at the Xscape and I had ditz brain in gear already.  I blame my purple tutu.  Yes, I was wearing a tutu.  Long story!!  As we got ourselves to the start line I was reminded by Julia to start my Garmin.  Yes, that would have been a great idea if it was on my wrist!!  A quick run back to the car and Garmin retrieved.  Then it wouldn’t start properly, oh dear! Well, I wasn’t out for a fast run so it wouldn’t matter not recording anything would it. Grrrrrr

It was now starting to feel very warm.  I had too much kit on.

First couple miles – keeping ourselves at a slow pace and my Garmin decides “oh, you’re running, here you go then”.  At least it didn’t crash completely for me.

First water station was a welcome relief to the heat we were starting to feel.  Why was I wearing so many layers??

Counting down the miles – is this a good habit or a bad habit.  Hmmmmm.  Mathematician Kelly was working out our pace = finish times.  I was enjoying working out how many different variations on a theme “miles to finish” we could do.  3 park runs, two 5 milers, two evening workouts.

Another self entertaining tactic was warning others of objects in the path – fore-mostly, bollards or “POST” that was shouted around a lot.  Or nearer mile 8 onwards was more “FAX”, “EMAIL”, “PARCEL”.  My brain was melting, that’s my excuse!

HAM AND EGGS!! Perfect moment of cheers from some strange guy with horns on his head brandishing a vacuum cleaner. Yes it sounds like a hallucination at this point in the run but what made it more entertaining was – Why was he shouting “HAM AND EGGS” at me? Julia and Kelly found it funny so I roared back “HAM AND EGGS YEAH!!!”.  Wait for it……  I pondered a little about why he was shouting such an odd phrase then Kelly said “it’s on you” OOOOHHHHH!!!!!! My vest.  My club vest has my initials on it which is “HAM”.  Yup, there it is.  Blonde moment.  D’oh!

Striptease just before mile 10.  Lessons on how to remove a compression top underneath a running vest whilst continuing to run.  Support crew required for keeping hold of extra items like running belt and water bottle holding duties.  Look outs for lampposts and emails in the way.  That would be just painful as well as embarrassing.  Kelly soon followed suit only she was braver than me and took her vest off as well to get her long sleeve top off.  A few metres later and we realise she’d stripped in front of some police officers.  Brilliant timing!

It’s nearing mile 11 and Kelly is really struggling at this point with pain in her toes.  Now this is were I like the idea of running with people in an event.  If Kelly had been alone with this pain, there would have been no entertainment to distract her from the pain and the thought of pushing through the pain to the finish would have been a mammoth task alone.  The fact that Kelly kept going and kept pushing herself, even with support, was amazing.  This is where my running mojo was hiding!!! Boom! It’s back and I know why I love running all over again.

Swan lake moment.  Remember I was wearing a purple tutu with a purple running vest and grey lycra running shorts.  We where heading back towards the city centre on the redway (path) alongside one of the main dual carriageways in Milton Keynes and I noticed some cars had stopped.  Getting closer we could see a great big huge swan in the middle of the road.  Yes.  A swan.  Me – I decide that the swan needs to move and I’m not scared of them.  Plus I know they’re fairly okay if they’re not injured and there are no chicks around.  See a swan with chicks – move out of the way or get nipped!! Now picture the scene – runner with purple tutu jogs into road waving her arms around and clapping hands to shoo the swan onto the path.  Swan gives me the look of “WTF!!!!!” and moves.  Runners on the path start moving out of the way of the swan.  I turn to catch up with my friends.  Swan decides the path is too crowded and turns back to the road.  I turn and start jumping and prancing towards the swan.  Yep.  It was a proper swan lake moment.  All I needed was to put my hands above my head and do a twirl.  Swan saved I returned to Kelly and Julia who then said “Swan Lake” to me and that’s it.  I couldn’t breath for laughing.

We’re now running along the canal and Kelly is hitting the wall.  Her reserves are bottoming out and it’s very apparent that she was at the verge of quitting.  Oh hell no!!.  Pushing – come on, you can do it, it’s only a couple miles, move those legs – resulted in swearing, despondency and the look of “I’ll push you in the canal in a minute!!”.  I’ve seen this so many times.  So I switch to “Short Targeting”.  Setting Kelly’s sights on something visible, short term achievable and most importantly breaking down the BIG distance into something much shorter.  Run to the bridge then walk, walk over the bridge and then on the downhill run to the trees, walk from the trees to the bench, walk up the big hill then run at the top, walk to the fountain then run to the yellow sign, walk to the next yellow sign then run, walk up this last hill and you can sprint to the finish “YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT!!”.  Trust me, you’ll sprint, you can do it.  Keep walking, not yet, nearly there, this is it GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOOOOOOOO.  The last sprint to the finish was amazing.

Thank you Julia for being a bonkers runner like me.  Swan Lake!  Thank you Kelly for bringing back my running mojo.  Thank you MK Half marshals for cheering on the 2tutu girls.  I may just wear this purple tutu more often if it gets more cheers, haha!

My next event is Oakley 20 – I’m hoping the weather will be just as kind as this weekend.  Last year was cancelled due to freezing temperatures and snow!! Eek!

Happy running


One comment

  1. This is brilliant and sounds like you really did have great fun! I measured out the Brighton Half in parkruns, it made it feel so much more achievable! Love the tutu addition too! Some of my fellow club runners ran the Beachy Head marathon in tutu’s last year and I’m hoping to do the same this year. I will never think of Swan Lake in the same way now!! 🙂

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