Manchester Marathon was to be my third marathon.
This is coming from the guy who said he’d retire after one.
With that said, I’ve already signed up to be part of a relay team in the Lakesman Triathlon next year so I already know that I have another one in the pipeline as well. So much for one and out huh?
I hadn’t had the best run in during marathon training. I’d decided fairly late on to enter the marathon so I missed around six weeks of initial training. But with a good fitness base behind me already I thought I could overcome that. I wasn’t going to be setting any records on this one, I merely wanted to go out there and do the distance while representing Cure Rett. I had a feeling that I could still break 4 hours and that was the only target I had in mind.
After the Trimpell 20 miler I started to experience some discomfort in my left quad and knee and also a dull ache in my left shin which lasted for the better part of three weeks. For a few weeks it was touch and go whether I had a stress fracture in my shin but, thankfully, my osteopath realigned my hips and the pain went away after a couple of days.
So, it goes without saying that the few weeks building up to Manchester hadn’t been the greatest. But I’d had three twenty milers under the belt and I was happy enough that I had enough in the bag to get me to the finish line.
The week building up to Manchester was all about looking after my hips. Every night revolved around hip stretches and foam rolling.
I’d always had it in mind to do parkrun on the morning before the marathon and that’s exactly what I did. A slow jog round just to stretch the legs and before I knew it I was in a car on the way down to Manchester.
On arrival we got booked into The Hotel Football which just so happened to be a two minute walk to the start line the next morning. This was ideal as it meant I could stay in the hotel as long as possible and make use of the facilities until I didn’t need facilitated anymore. Great planning on my part for a change…
It wasn’t long until the group gathered together and we were heading down to invade Pizza Express en-masse to commence carb loading. Once the carbs had been loaded it was a case of heading back to the hotel and having a little dance before the serious work of foam rolling and stretching.
A terrible night’s sleep later and I was up and about and ready for the exertions of the day ahead.
Breakfast wasn’t great to be honest. The Hotel Football was doing its best to be a fancy hotel and providing a fancy breakfast but their full English was a measly offering for the price paid. This was not going to set me up for the day…more food was needed.
An hour to kick off and I was back in the hotel room doing my final checks, getting Kev to write some times and initials on my hand, nipping back and forth to the loo and listening to some tunes before heading downstairs and catching up with most of the DH crew for a pre-race photo.
A quick guide to the initials on my hand. CJA are the initials of my wife and children. NGU is Never Give Up and NBD is Never Back Down. The timings were my expected times at miles 7, 14 and 21.
Heading to the start line and I could not for the life of me find the area I was meant to start in. I looked around and saw a big group of people with green race bibs on and thought I must have ended up in the right place.
I was in the 3:15 pace start area.
We were off.
As the crowd was packed it would’ve been a nightmare to slow down initially so I ended up running far too fast for the first three miles.
My initial plan was to run the first half in just under 2 hours and then slow down a tad and run a steady second half.
My revised plan, which I don’t recall ever running past myself, saw me run the first half in 1:44:46. What an idiot. There was no way I could sustain this so I needed to slow down.
Upon hitting 16 miles I decided that I would bring my pace right back to nine minute miles for the next five miles and then ten minute miles for the last five mile.
I hit 20 miles at 2:47:59 and thought to myself then that I was totally going to achieve my aim of a sub four hour marathon.
Six miles to go and I was happy to run between 10 minute and 11 minute miles and take it fairly steady.
One mile to go and fellow DH Runner Ian caught up with me. He’d done amazing with all of his issues during training and he was totally going to beat his sub four goal as well. A brief thought of trying to keep up with him for the final mile was quickly discarded when I realised that he was running a seven minute mile. I eased back as I didn’t want to blow up in the last mile…that would’ve been a disaster.
Suddenly, the finish line was in sight.
And my sprinting legs were on.
I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:54:07.
Unconventional, but job done.
Next time I do a marathon I’m totally working on my pacing. Promise!!!
All the DH Runners had done fantastic on the day and it was great to catch up with everyone afterwards and find out what they’d achieved.
I quickly got changed and then went back to the finish line to see Sarah and Frances finish. It was so great to see them become marathon finishers after seeing where they’d started and where they were now on this day. Amazing.
Not long after we were on the motorway and I was tucking into a Burger King Chicken Sandwich. I’d deserved it after all that effort.
I thought that I’d probably leave it a few days before running.
But on Tuesday I ended up doing part of a training session…
Followed by a race in Keswick on the Wednesday…IDIOT (more on that later).
FUNDRAISING FOR CURE RETT CONTINUES – Please sponsor me here