“Excuse me mate, you’re pissing on my trainers.”
“It’s only piss, get over it.”
Awesome…there really is no come back to that.
This was the start of my 15th marathon experience. I’d come a long way since my first back in Chester in 2013. Back then I finished in a respectable 4:20.47. Sure, it wasn’t the sub 4 hours that I had trained for but I wasn’t sure what to expect on the day so it was a massive learning curve. I also hadn’t gone past 20 miles in training and that extra 6.2 miles on the day is effectively where the race begins. Add into that the fact that the main aim was finishing and I know for a fact that I slowed myself down on the day to ensure that goal was achieved. The last thing I wanted in my first marathon was to DNF.
Here I was 6 years later, 14 marathons in the bag and a lot of lessons learned and a guy had just squat down in front of me and pissed on my trainers. This…was a first.
To be fair, at first I thought he was just tying his lace. But I very quickly realised that he wasn’t doing that at all as it soon became obvious when he pulled his shorts to one side and let his Johnson flop out and promptly warmed my feet up.
The lead up to Manchester had started back in December and training hadn’t gone well at all. Many runs were missed due to weather, illness, injury, kids being ill, family members going into hospital, breathing issues, exams, studying, taking on another job and taking on more nutrition and PT clients.
Time was suddenly at a premium and I was stretching myself thin. This ultimately led to me sitting down in early February and deciding that Manchester wasn’t going to be a time goal after all. There was no way I was going to be in 3:10 shape by the time the marathon rolled around. The goal now was to hit as many training runs as possible between now and the start of the race and use it as a training race towards Comrades, much like last year.
As it was then, when I took to the start line I was feeling fairly confident that as long as I was steady away I’d come in under 3:30 and have plenty of time to get back to the hotel to grab my bags and get over to The Lowry for An Afternoon with Brian Blessed.
The race started at 9am with my wave, Wave B, setting off three minutes after the first. Manchester is notoriously a fast start and I knew for a fact that I’d set off too fast as I’d gotten dragged along with the pack for the first two miles, stupidly knocking out a sub seven in the third mile. As the pack started to disperse somewhat I’d managed to start to bring my pace down a bit. I had no real plan of attack other than to stick around sub 8’s for as long as possible.
I was hovering between 7:15 and 7:30 right up to 16 mile but felt ok so stuck with it. Even though I knew I should have been slowing down and sticking closer to 7:50-7:55.
20 miles saw the sun start beating down and this is pretty much where the wheels started to come off for me.
I managed another couple of miles at sub 8 then started to flag so pulled back a touch. I wasn’t looking to beat any PB’s today after all, it was just meant to be a training run.
The final couple of miles were a leisurely 8:45 as I took in the crowds and pulled alongside a runner who was struggling and encouraged them on.
Having taken the last couple of miles easy I had enough left in me for a quarter of a mile sprint for the finish crossing the line in 3:19.11.
I was happy with that. It was quicker than the year before and I still finished fresh.
Now it was just a case of grabbing my medal and goody bag and pegging it back to the hotel and then over to The Lowry for an Afternoon with Brian Blessed. The show was fantastic and I ended up sitting next, and chatting, to a guy who used to be a competitive GB marathon runner back in the day.
Training began in earnest for Comrades the week after. Long weekends of 40-60 mile running. I’m looking forward to attempting my second Comrades, The Up Run, and getting my back to back medal. Once that’s done I’ll leave Comrades on the backburner for a bit as I attempt new and exciting challenges.
It’s all fun and games…until someone pisses on your trainers.