Where do I start with this one? I was PB chasing on this one. The timings I had run in training had me at an estimated 4.17 – I was hoping for 4.20-4.25 time or just to beat my previous time of 4.29. And then I got ill during the taper – see here.
Annoyed and upset I couldn’t let all those weeks of training go to waste. I’d still run it, but it would be slower. The morning of the race I was still popping cold and flu tablets, I was achy and headachy before I even made the start line. I also had a deaf right ear. Determined to carry on and not be defeated I got up at 4.30am to head to Manchester.
I don’t know the area at all – it starts and ends at Old Trafford taking you out into Sale and Altrincham. It goes through a lot of residential areas which means lots of people are out on the course and it’s a fab atmosphere. The event village buzzed with activity, featuring the familiar scent of deep heat and the usual long toilet queues. The race zones were well-marked, making it easy for me to find my designated starting area. I was in zone G – I heard a man next to me say he was aiming for 5.45 so I moved forward and positioned myself between the 4.30 and the 4.45 pacer. Waiting around at the start is the worst bit – there was a lot of runners taking part in this I think I got over the start line around 20 minutes after the gun went off.
During the Race
The first part of the course loops you back around to Old Trafford. With people shouting your name and cheering I soon made it to mile 9 at a comfortable pace by this point the front runners were coming back towards us. It was nice to see a few people I knew heading towards me – they hadn’t even broken a sweat, why can’t I be that fast? The out and back seemed to go on forever, I don’t remember it being that long last year. I kept thinking ‘we will turn back soon’ but oh no, down another road we went.
My pacings to mile 13 were spot on – I couldn’t have done it any better. This was when I started to feel really hungry. On race week I’d usually make sure to have plenty of protein Mon / Tue / Wed then plenty of carbs Thur / Fri / Sat but when your throat is so sore you can only eat soup and ice cream it’s a real struggle.
By the time I got back round to 15, where the out and back started I was greeted by the fancy dress runners making their way back on the opposite side, infusing even more energy into the event.
When the going gets tough
Mile 16: I was sick. Under-fuelled with just gels inside me – a bad combination. It was quite a warm day too so I made sure to drink plenty. I was struggling to breathe and the hotter I got the snottier I was getting and the more this cough started bothering me.
Mile 18: I took the last of my Beecham’s – still coughing up all sorts and having got through 2 packets of tissues already I decided to be sensible, walk the first 0.2 of the mile to try to get my breathing back to normal and then run the remaining 0.8. In a way, it helped count down the miles but I could see the time going up on my watch and I was getting more and more annoyed with myself because my legs felt fine.
Mile 19: My headphones broke. To be fair I couldn’t hear anything in my right ear anyway!
Mile 20: I was bored. I just felt sick and wanted this to be over. I opened my third packet of tissues. These were the menthol ones…. fancy!
Mile 23: Everyone saying ‘come on, just a parkrun to go’… behave – it seemed like the longest parkrun ever! Thank you to the blonde lady runner for her words of encouragement ‘come on, we can do this last bit together’ <3
Mile 24: Some overly shouty lady in the crowd telling us to ‘keep going, you’re almost there.’ Listen, love, unless you are stood at mile 26 I’m not ‘almost there’.
Mile 25: Cramp in both calves. This is all I need. Got talking to a man, he had been aiming for 4.30 but had also come down with flu 2 weeks ago. I don’t feel as alone anymore.
The finishing straight: People are shouting ‘come on you can see the finish line’ yes I can I’m heading towards it but it doesn’t seem to be getting any closer….
As I approached the finish line, the crowd’s cheers motivated me to finish strong. My finishing time was 4 hours, 41 minutes, and 52 seconds, leaving me with mixed feelings but relieved the race was over.
Entry Cost: £35.00 (discounted entry due to baggage problems last year)
Water stations: Around every 2-3 miles (sports bottles). Beer at the finish.
Parking: Plenty and good transport links
Baggage Facilities: Didn’t use this year
Post-Race Goodies: Goody-bag / t-shirt / medal / water / protein bar / finish line pint
Highlights: The atmosphere – it really was incredible
Low points: Feeling poorly