Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Manchester Marathon - The day I joined the Sub 2:40 club!

You reach a point in your marathon build up when you know the work is done and you cant really do much more.  The miles have been logged and the preparation is done.  The start line cant come soon enough and the taper becomes a drag, every niggle is a race threatening injury, every sniffle is man flu and the doubts convince you that you are losing fitness every day and you just need one more run to be ready! 

Actually I felt some of the above but it wasn't over consuming.  There was an air of calmness in my taper.  The last week's runs were planned out and each run went to plan including a few short runs at marathon pace where I tuned in easily to the intended pace of 6-06 per mile (2:40 marathon pace!).

Manchester is a great marathon to do.  The location at Old Trafford was easy to get to and plenty of parking etc so all those pre race issues were easily dealt with.  To the start line.....

Today...we race!

The legendary Ron Hill started us off.  Ron has run 115 marathons.  112 of which have been under 2:50 and has a best of 2:10.  He is also famous for his long running streak of running every day since December 1964.  He is a true running hero and still looks amzingly fit!

I only came out for a paper!

The first 10km of the race went according to plan.  Holding myself back I completed the early miles in 6-01, 5-59, 5-59, 6-05, 6-02 and 6-02 clocking 37.41 for the first 10km going through in 39th place.  The race was going perfectly at this point and despite a headwind the times were going in my favour.
10 miles in 60-10 I had picked up 8 places into 31st.   It was a case now of keeping this pace going and counting down the miles.  I felt comfortable and had the leading lady in my sights.  Just before halfway I caught the leading lady Emily Wicks and we ran together then for the next 10/11 miles.  I seemed to have found someone who was banging out an even more consistent pace than I could and despite a "quick" 5-50 mile at Mile 14 we set a consistent pace around 6-05 minutes per mile.

20 miles was logged in 2 hours and 23 seconds.  Over a minute ahead of my recent pb over 20 at Locke Park.  Now it was down to the business end.  This is where the doubts can come in and you wonder at what point in the next six miles is it going to go from comfortable to not so comfortable down to downright horrible! 

Mile 21 - a solid 6-02 we were going well still and managed to gain a place or two.
Mile 22 - 6-12 and it was starting to get tough.
Mile 23 - 6-16 this was crunch time.  My running partner of the last 11 miles was pulling away from me.  She went onto win a a solid 2:38.21. 
Mile 24 - 6-21 starting to think about the finish.  This was getting hard!
Mile 25 - 6-24.   Legs were aching.   The stadium was just in sight!
Mile 26 - 6-35 and the slowest, hardest mile of the whole race....

Finish - 24th overall in 2 hours 39 minutes and 21 seconds.   In my pre-race vision I would savour this moment.....its been a long time coming. Ive put the work in now I'm going to enjoy it!     In reality my effort had been a real tightrope job...I wobbled as I crossed the line and spent the next ten minutes emptying the contents of stomach unable even to keep the bottle of water the finish marshall's gave me!   It was certainly the worst I had ever felt at the finish line of any race !

I might look like I'm smiling but I'm not!

Ian Bloomfield - Vet 60, 2-44 and UK Record holder!
Do I want a massage, a coffee or just a lie down!

So that's another marathon done and dusted.  The marathon is more than just a one off race.  The real battle is getting to the start line in one piece and not falling off the tightrope that is the high mileage.   Now the dust has settled I'm over the moon with my result and even more chuffed that at this moment In time my 2:39.21 sits pretty at the top of the UK rankings for Vet 40 to 44.    

Manchester - you were fab!  Highlight of the day was most definitely the youth choir who belted out... "I predict a Riot!....I predict a Riot!" as I ran past.   That was the most surreal and amazing experience of the day!   

I'll sit and enjoy watching Mo run next week at London but I'll be keeping an eye on those vet 40 to 44 times!