ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon

The one where I am second place to carrot sticks and hummus!

I had planned the weekend to precision.  I had even booked our holidays so that it wouldn’t interfere with the big marathon weekend.  We were to travel to Manchester on Saturday morning, go for a wander, go out for dinner and then chill in the hotel before having an early night.

But as always in our household, plans quickly go awry and we didn’t set off until sometime in the afternoon.  So instead of a walk round Manchester we went to The Trafford Centre and spent the best part of an hour in Build-A-Bear Workshop so the youngest could choose her own teddy.

It was getting close to 6 so after searching for a restaurant that had seats available, we foolishly chose Zizzi’s.  I say foolishly as although it was quiet when we sat down they seemed to forget about us and took orders and served food to everyone who came in after us. It was close to an hour’s wait for a bowl of pasta, a calzone and two kids pizzas and it may well have been longer had we not asked how much longer it would be!  Not quite the chilled out evening I had planned.

We then headed to the hotel in Salford to settle down for the night.  But my two girls had other plans … I forgot how exciting four of us in one cheap  Travelodge room could be!  After trying out each bed, looking out of the window and swapping beds again the girls finally fell asleep with loud snores.  Again, it wasn’t quite the chilled evening I was hoping for.

The alarm went off at 6:15 but I had already been awake for several hours worried that I would sleep through my alarm, and the race.  I forced a couple of pots of porridge down my neck, drank coffee and water, and got myself ready. I was stupidly nervous.
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I made the decision not to take a bag (something I would be glad about later when runners had to wait up to two hours to get their bag back) and I set off to the start. I didn’t really know where I was going but just followed the people in Lycra and the smell of deep heat!

I was in the pink start (at the back) so loitered about waiting for the start. Luckily someone I knew was also running so I had someone to chat to while we waited … it also kept my nerves in check.

I don’t remember anything like a starting gun, or announcement that we had started … there was just a slow walk to the starting arch and then we were off. My plan was to start slow and keep a 09:30 to 11:00 minute mile. I know this is quite a big range but my aim was to try and stay about 10 minute miles. The first nine miles felt good.
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I was trotting along at a relatively consistent pace. The sun was shining, I was happy as I had managed a holler and a wave to the family at mile 3 (they were on their way to the Imperial War Museum) and I wasn’t at the back being chased by the sweeper bus (as I had in all my dreams).

The next 11 miles went at a similar pace, but slowly and steadily I started to slow.
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I was determined I wasn’t going to walk and I was keeping within my range. Mile 20 was tough but I kept repeating to myself that I had run this far before and I could do it again.

The crowds were amazing. People shouting my name (it was on my number), handing out jelly babies and generally being very supportive. And it was after mile 20 that I needed the support.
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By mile 22 I was ready to walk. As I got to the water station I thought it would be the right time but my legs felt wobbly beneath me. So … it was better to keep ‘running’.

At around mile 24 I started talking to another runner who really helped me focus on the end. It was a great distraction and before I knew it I could see the finish line.
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The last kilometre felt like an eternity … But as I got closer I could see the family. They had a great vantage point and as I got closer I started waving … But they weren’t looking!!!  They were too busy looking through their bags to find some food.
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I crossed the line and then ran over to the barriers shouting their names. After a bit of a nudge from another spectator they looked up in surprise that I had finished. My moment of glory usurped by some carrot sticks and hummus!!!!

After collecting my medal, goody bag and t-shirt I hugged the lady who had helped me at mile 24 and met the hubby and girls.

I had done it … I had run a marathon. And after checking my official time I had done it in 4:30:09! 11 months earlier I would have been elated with this time (I had assumed it would take me 5 hours plus), but I was 10 seconds away from being sub 4:30. If I had known I wouldn’t have waved to the family and pushed harder.

But as much as those few seconds irritate me … I am actually amazed that I managed to get round and that I enjoyed it. Roll on the next one!

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