The build up to one of my favourite races started off really well. I’d been back and forward to the gym as well as doing hill work and track sessions with my personal trainer and I felt fitter than I had done for a long time. I was really looking forward to the run in Manchester as I’d posted a time of just over the hour last year and I really wanted to get in under the hour this time.
Upon planning the best course of action I’d decided to get myself a hotel as close to the race as possible which ended up being The Mercure (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-8325-mercure-manchester-piccadilly-hotel/index.shtml). The hotel itself was great and I thought I was on to a bonus when I was upgraded to an executive suite and given a loyalty card for future visits. However, my positive frame of mind was soon shattered when I realised that my room was opposite the lifts and then further dented when I heard the people in the room next to me and realised it was a hen party. Upon asking the reception staff if I could move I was informed that the hotel was full (which was fair enough as there were thousands of people around preparing for the run or nights out etc.)
I was wary of the potential of sleep being disturbed so decided that the best thing to do was try to take my mind off it. Rather than sit in the hotel and watch tv on the night (which I’d originally planned to do) I went to the pictures to see American Pie Reunion (http://www.americanpiereunion.com/) which I was pleasantly surprised with. I didn’t expect much considering the series had been diluted by recent attempts which went straight to dvd but the return of the original cast and a tight script really seemed to work (at least for me it did). On return to the hotel and finding out that Chelsea had won the Champions League I decided it was time to get my head down for the night. I was fairly tired as it came up to midnight and drifted off quite quickly but the sandman soon disappeared around 2am when the hen party arrived back from their night out and mistakenly thought that my room was theirs. Usually it wouldn’t be an issue when 12+ girls are trying to break into your room but I was more than a little upset to be startled from my slumber. The next half an hour was a mixture of loud talking and music being played to the point where I felt it was necessary to ring the reception to ask them to sort it out. The night manager was brilliant to be fair he was straight up and asked them to disperse to their separate rooms and I found out later that they’d had two other complaints from the other rooms in the vicinity so I didn’t feel too bad about spoiling someone’s party. I eventually revisited sleep again around 4am and when I woke up at 8am I felt a little wrecked and thankful that my wave didn’t start until 12:10 so I had plenty of time to chill.
After breakfast I thought that I would sit and watch the elite runners start the race as they were showing this live on BBC 2. Haile Gebrselassie was racing in the mens elite and ended up finishing in 27 minutes and he looked comfortable. I was in awe to be honest as I knew that I was looking at a time of around 55 minutes and here was this dude smashing through the race in nearly half the time.
11:30 was my warm up time so I thought, come 11:15, it was time to leave the hotel. The hotel staff were again fantastic as they told me, as I checked out, I could leave my bags and they would accommodate somewhere for me to get changed on my return. On leaving the hotel I was amazed to find that I literally had to walk a minute down the road and I was in my warm up area. This worked out well as when we were ushered to the start line I ended up being at the front which meant less people to navigate around when the wave started. Haile Gebreselassie was due to start our wave off and he had a quick interaction with some of the runners before he went up to the podium, I even managed to get a cheeky hug off the guy when I told him that I thought he was amazing.
So, onto the race, Krypton Factor legend Gordon Burns said a few things to the crowd before we got off but to be honest, with the amount of people around me and the fact I already had my headphones in I couldn’t hear what he was saying.
For this run the track list contained Manraze (http://www.manraze.com/), Howard Jones (http://www.howardjones.com/), Def Leppard (http://www.defleppard.com/) and Steel Panther (http://www.steelpantherrocks.co.uk/).
Once the race started I managed to get into a comfortable rhythm and from the start to the 2k mark I felt really good. I was checking my timing as I passed the markers and if I managed to keep that pace I was on for a 48 minute run. However, as I crossed the 3k marker (at 15 minutes) something in my calf went pop and I knew it was trouble. I had a choice to make, do I plough on for the next 7k on a bad wheel and deal with the consequences later or do I stop now just 3k into the race? I decided that the best course of action would be to give myself 1 or 2k and see how I felt but I knew it was going to be a struggle. Once I got to the 5k mark I was still in a lot of pain but now that I was halfway through I thought that I would give myself at least another 2k before I made a decision. By the time I got to 7k I must’ve looked in a right state to onlookers and other racers as I was arguing with myself for at least five minutes. My mind was trying to make me give up but the rest of my body was telling me that I was ¾’s of the way through now and it would be madness to give up. It was time to man up and give the last 2k everything I had and try and get in under that hour. Passing the 8k marker I knew I was around 45 minutes so I had to run the next 2k in around 12-13 minutes to do what I wanted to do. I pressed on and stepped it up as much as my legs (and right calf) would let me and crossed the finish line at:
Steve Claringbold bib number 27907 position 12074 finish time 00:56:31
If you go to the following website address http://www.greatrun.org/photos/photos.aspx?ref=greatrun&event=Sports/GRUK/2012/Bupa%20Great%20Manchester%20Run&bib= and type in my surname you can see pictures and videos of the run that are specific to me.
Overall, I was happy with a time of 56:31 because I’d beaten my original goal of coming in under the hour. Yes, I was on for 48 minutes at one point but that’s another goal for another day and I couldn’t let myself get too downhearted about it. It was now time to rest up for a bit and let the calf heal and then hit the training again as the next few months would see a lot of runs in aid of my chosen charity Families Against Neuroblastoma (http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/) and a 50k walk in aid of Children with Cancer (http://www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk/).
If you wish to donate to future runs then please go to my fundraising pages at (http://www.justgiving.com/STEVE-CLARINGBOLD-RUN-RUN-RUN and http://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Claringbold-WALK-WALK-WALK) all donations would be gratefully accepted.