Greater Manchester Marathon 2017
This is my experience of the 2017 Greater Manchester Marathon. This was my first marathon and I was following the BUPA marathon plan. I really enjoyed the structure and focus the plan gave me and I found the way the miles built up more achievable. It also encouraged me to try other forms of exercise such as spinning and strength work which was totally new to me but I felt really helped get me marathon ready.
I was running the marathon alongside my pal Laura (or Lozzer as she now affectionally called) Higson, it was also her first marathon. We hadn’t covered many miles together due to colliding schedules but we had kept each other updated on progress over the weeks.
We picked Laura up on the way to town at 8am where we were getting the tram, to say that we were delirious was an understatement, like two giggly toddlers exposed to too much sugar we constantly erupted into laughter for most of the early morning. The slightest thing was enough to start us off, which was a blessing as it distracted us from what we were about to undertake. We were supposed to meeting up with Steve (The Wizard as he is now affectionally called) Bassam, but he was having car parking issues so we made our way to the start, this was unnerving as we were hoping to have him with us to keep us from losing our minds. Just then, like a vision in the distance we saw The Wizard strolling calm as anything towards us – our marathon gang complete!!
I was expecting pens of runners at the start but it was simply a melee of people all setting off so that was a bit of a let-down as we were expecting a gun going off but we set off steady, got our rhythm right and off we went. We went out a bit too strong for Steve who wanted to knock his heart rate down so at about mile 6 it was just Lozzer and I. We’d previously agreed that we would take it steady around 11 minute miles pace but feeling strong we ate up the first half of the race in 2 hours 19 minutes, ahead of our schedule. The crowds on the course we simply amazing. I had never experienced such an atmosphere, at one point we ran past a stage with music pumping out the Jackson Fives’ Blame it on the Boogie and I started dancing to the actions, on a bloody marathon course, what was I thinking!?! We had been running alongside the 4:45 pacing team for a while but felt that their pace was annoyingly slow, with hindsight we maybe should have stayed with them, but to be fair I hadn’t anticipated what came next for me….
I had a niggling feeling that there was a blister developing on the pad of my foot and as we ran through Timperley I spotted a podiatrist that was open, I decided to pop in on the return way past and see if they could stick a plaster on it, otherwise I was going to struggle to complete the rest of the distance, by the time we hit that point again it was mile 16 and I was really starting to feel the blister. I hadn’t really mentioned anything to Laura about this until about 14 miles but when we were in sight of the shop I announced that I was going to have to nip in for treatment and that she should crack on. I bazzed into the shop and begged the lady to fix me up, which she very graciously did but it wasted valuable minutes as I had to take my trainer and sock off, get plastered up and get on the road again, by this point Laura was a dot on the horizon, I found some ungodly strength to get me up the hill and when she was in sight I started shouting “LOZZZZZZZZZER!!!!”, amazingly I caught her back up. I admit that took some doing and it sapped me of energy and unnerved me in the process.
Mile 19 onwards took us out into Flixton and into the countryside, that’s where I think the wall kicked in. I struggled mentally to concentrate, I was tired and bored and just wanted it to be over. I plodded on, stopping occasionally to walk a bit then running on. At this point Laura and I had pretty much stopped running side by side and were just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. We both found that when we slowed to a walk it actually made us feel queasy so although it was getting unpleasant and painful it was better to run but it hurt our mile splits.
I’d hoped that getting back onto the streets with spectators would raise our spirits but it really was in the mind zone now, all I could think about was if I was going to be able to do this and it consumed all my thoughts. My body was really starting to break down, I felt woozy and spaced, irritated and irrationally emotional, I realised that I was really dehydrated so I made sure that I took some water on. The Royton Road Runners water station at mile 23 was a sight to behold and I took 2 bottles of water and a gel. I reasoned with myself that I had 3 short miles left, one Parkrun, the equivalent of running from my house, through Alky and back home, I COULD DO THIS!!! I mentally made the decision to smash the rest of this marathon in the face and somehow, I just started to run.
I began to plod rhythmically towards the finish, I think it was about here that I just started to pull away from Laura. I could see Old Trafford in the distance, my spirit began to rise and I refocused and pushed on. The spectators on the course were fantastic, literally willing us to make it to the end. I could see the finish line, it was 800m away… 2 laps of the track but as hard I as I tried it literally felt like it was moving further and further away. I then heard my support team shouting my name, I looked over and saw my lovely family and it gave me the boost I needed. I powered down the to the finish, my legs and hips screaming but I was finally confident that I was going to make it. I looked at my watched and it was 4:58, I dared to dream that I might get in under 5 hours and pushed a bit more but it wasn’t my day to break sub 5 as I got over in 5 hours and 22 seconds. I can’t be disappointed with this time as I’d initially said that I was aiming for 5 and a half hours so to come in where I did was a miracle.
So, I am now a proper marathoner, it’s something 4 years ago I never dreamed I would accomplish so I am amazingly proud of myself, not only for completing it but for committing to months of training beforehand. Now the question is do I sign up for it again next year to break the 5 hours’ time…..
Pennine39 (39ish mile race across the high parts of the Pennines) 18/6/16
The 39 mountain trail runs follow a classic section of The Pennine Way, in the Cumbrian/Durham Pennines. The route runs from Bowlees Visitor Centre in Middleton-in-Teesdale up glorious riverside trails, past Cauldron’s Snout. From here the route goes via High Cup Nick to Dufton, and then over Crossfell to Alston.
I arrived at the Alston Youth Hostel in good time Saturday morning, quick registration then a chat with fellow competitors. I was discussing which shoes to wear, nobody seem particularly familiar with the route, and I opted for a brand new pair of minimalist fell shoes, turned out to be a mistake…
There was then a very scenic coach ride to the start at Bowness and whilst on the coach I realise it was a really low key event with just 46 other runners planning to tackle the highest peaks of the Pennine Way.
I had a really strong start covering the first 5 or 6 miles with the fastest group, although the single leader was already heading off - never to be caught. The path became quite tricky along the river Tees and I was having to scramble over rocks using hands and feet. My problems soon begun as I hit a hard rock with the sole of my left foot and clearly bruised it through the incredibly thin sole of my Vivobarefoot shoes. The path then turned into an man-made rocky track that had obviously been built for some kind of 4 wheel drive vehicle. I now had pain every time I placed my left foot on the ground and I had only covered 10 miles and just reached the pinnacle of the first half of the race.
The next 8 miles were mostly down hill to Dufton. I was in quite a lot of pain arriving at this checkpoint and considered stopping at this point, but I figure I could walk the next section without losing too much time at it was all uphill. The climb to Knock Old Man was long and exhausting, and I was having to consider where I was placing my foot every step to try to minimise the pain. At this point I was being continually overtaken, but I was just focused on ignoring the pain and getting to the top. The next stretch across to Cross Fell was amazing the view was fantastic but unfortunately I was having to watch the ground far too closely to fully appreciate it. When I reached Cross Fell I was convinced the race would get easier, but there was another extremely rocky and therefore painful path that undulated for a great distance before it finally descended to Garrigil. I was still having to walk, a path that should have been very runnable, but fortunately, a fellow runner caught up with me, we began talking and I managed to keep pace with her for the next few miles. It was now a very fast walk interspersed with some light footed running until I reached the final checkpoint at Garrigil.
At the checkpoint I had a coffee and the caffeine burst enabled me to run the next two miles at a good pace as the path was now much smoother, and I was confident I could run without further damaging my foot. I slowed a bit on the last two miles and finally finished with a time at Alston of 8 hours 27 minutes. The food and general atmosphere after the race were fantastic (there was even free beer!) A few runner stayed overnight and we had a leisurely breakfast the next morning before going our separate ways.
For more information on this classic route visit http://www.nav4.co.uk/events/pennine39/
Malcolm from Cleveland (originally from Stretford) would like to thank those members of your club who assisted him during Saturday's Welsh Castles Relay. Having been left by my team at the end of leg 4 in a mobile free reception zone I flagged down your van and bummed a lift to Stage 8 on your van and transfer car. Thanks to Brian and Alison in the car and particularly to Julie who managed to get through stage 8 ( which is much harder than I let on!). All the best for the future to all your club members.
To all the members who ran in the Calderdale Way Relay a big thank you from the Committee for the work that you put in in the weeks leading up to the event. This work resulted in a great
performance from you all on the day which will be reflected in the results when they are available. The mixed team format appears to work well and is something to be considered for the
Karen Hallett says:
Can I say thank you also to all who helped with the recce of the various legs and a big thank you to Peter for ensuring we had transport at the end of the route. What a team!
It's an amazing event and a privilege to be part of this club experience.