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Let’s round of this week with a running review. Not one of mine. I have only managed one solitary mile this week. Just as well we have a whole heap of awesome plus size runners waiting in the wings, training, racing and generally just being brilliant. Here is clubhouse member Lou (Laura) Stevens with her review of the Milton Keynes Running Festival

Hi I’m Lou, I have been a member of The Clubhouse for over a year, and have been running since June 2014. I live in Twickenham which is on the edge of London and I juggle running alongside my job working backstage in the theatre business, touring the country. I am also one of the lucky ladies who have a place at the Virgin London Marathon through Too Fat To Run and the Ron Pickering Foundation.

logo-1As someone training for the London marathon, the timing of the Milton Keynes festival of running fitted well with my training programme, a week or two ahead of when I would have liked to do 20 miles, but hay better to do it for a medal, that to try and motivated myself to stay out that long with no shiny reward.

I left my house at 7am, full of dread, to make my way to the MK. The event itself consisted of 4 different distances 5km, 10km, half and 20 miles. I myself was wishing id signed up to the half instead, the dread that I for mentioned, was relating to the strict cut of time that I hadn’t noticed till I was reading the event info the night before. The race was starting at 9:45am and you had to be finished by 2pm giving you just over 4 hours to get around on an average pace of 12:30minute miles. I’d had a rubbish run the weekend before and my training has been more laxed than I would hope so it was feeling the pressure from the get go, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in my worry.

There was no real ‘start’ now by this I mean of course there was a start line, but there was no music, I don’t even recall an arch way to run under, however the signage for where each distance of race should start was very clear. There was a bag drop area with some other tents/info station that I didn’t use, as we had been advised as most people would have driven to the event to leave stuff in our cars. There were ample toilets and changing space as the start and finish were outside the Escape centre, with all of the pre/post food and coffee you could have wanted.

Bibs were sorted by colour, my colour being in the 20mile race was black, we were told that when out running we would see mile markers that coincided with our bibs… I spent ages looking for mile markers on black background only to realise at mile 3 the 20 miles signs were actually pink, when I ran past the 3, 10 & 17 all at the same time, didn’t I feel silly, many my nerve made me mishear the initial instructions.

Unknown-4The course was nice enough, however very undulating and with a killer hill which seemed to last for the whole of mile 19. As a 20miler runner you had to do two laps of a segments of the course which was about 7 miles long, so at least on lap two you knew what was coming. However, with that brought the fact that you knew that there was going to be little support out there. There was one cheer station at mile 10 belonging to the local running club (Thank you Redway Runners) The water stations were a pick me up as you had your name on your bib, the ladies at mile 15 were a god sent shouting my name, but past that there was nothing. A few small clumps of spectators now and then (mine included who had worked out their route so I saw them at 4, 6, 11, 13, 17 and the finish – by god did they keep me motivated) Some of the marshalling points were very lonely so thank you to everyone who was out there making sure we all got around safely. I haven’t run with headphones/ personal music at all for about the last two year’s but I felt I needed it to get me round so I was glad I decided to take them with me.

The finish line did have an archway and a man calling out the names of who was finishing and which event they had completed, the guys heading out medals had different ones depending on your distance and as you crossed the finish you could have water and a banana to take with you.

As an opportunity for training this was great, cause the going got very tough out there and I managed to finish within the cut off despite struggling with the conditions.

Would I run here again? The 20 miles probably not, one of the shorter distances I’d consider. Don’t get me wrong, it was brilliantly executed, but maybe because it was a smaller scale event it missed some things I have become accustomed too with the larger races. 939 people ran the 20miles and I came in 875 in a time of 03:54:38.

Good effort Lou, I know how tough these smaller races can be for your confidence. There really is nowhere to hide, and a lot of the atmosphere which gets you round the big races simply isn’t there to spur you on. Great that you have that mileage in your legs now…you can relax (well kind of) and enjoy your taper. I still have big ig runs to come. See you at the startline.

If you would like to join Lou in the Clubhouse click here

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