Six months in the making, over in 03.40.28.
Back in October I signed up to run the Manchester marathon. It would be my second marathon, but my first where I really, really wanted to achieve something. A time. Good For Age.
Unlike my first marathon, I told myself I’d have a good three month training block, starting 2nd January (let’s face it, the 1st is always a hungover write-off).
My body had other ideas. A grade two hamstring tear meant I couldn’t really start training until the end of January. Bouncing back from that I managed a solid eight(ish) weeks of training, before pulling my groin 12 days before the race. Clearly I got a bit cocky with being able to run properly again. Throw in a blister, inflamed lymph nodes and the physio telling me I have barely any muscle around my left hip, and one might question why I was even standing on the start line.
But there I was, at 9am on 2nd April, standing in the middle of a road in Manchester, ready to start my second marathon – or, “Sunday long run with a sh*t tonne of people” (how I phrased it to calm my nerves).
The race promised to be Fast, Flat and Friendly, and it didn’t disappoint. Sure there were places where crowd support dwindled (namely miles 18 – 21 running through the countryside and happen to spot a group of Alpacas. Am I still in Manchester!?) but on the whole the locals came out, cheered and gave it their all. I’m pretty sure I’ve now high fived every child in Manchester.
People have asked me how I compare Manchester to Berlin for PB setting, having now run both. Probably sticking my neck out a bit here but I’d say Manchester trumps Berlin as the one to get a PB. Berlin is busy, there are more people to weave between, and trying to stick to the blue line is basically impossible. In Manchester there are much fewer people so there’s less weaving and you can find your groove much easier. You do however, need to mind out for the potholes. This is England afterall.
Back to my race experience itself and I honestly don’t think I’d do anything differently. The first thing to note is I ran with my good friend Heidi. We had the same goal, the same dream. We’d spent weeks training together, pushing and supporting each other. Having her next to me made the miles fly and gave me an extra boost I didn’t have in Berlin.
Pace-wise I kept a good pace during the early miles (maybe a little too fast but that gave me time to play with later). I timed my fuel well, taking a Clif Blok at 15km and then every 5-7km after that. At mile 19 my quads started to ache, but a few strides and a positive mind got me through. By the time I hit mile 22 I was in a good place. Mentally I knew there wasn’t long left, physically I’d smashed down the wall and consequently managed negative splits.
At 12.48pm a dream came true. My dream. Flying across the finish line in 03.40.28 meant I’d qualified for London 2018 with Good For Age. Box ticked. Release the pressure? For now, yes. I’ll enjoy a few weeks faffing about enjoying my running again. But deep down I know it’s time to start chasing that unicorn.