I've never done London and I imagine the crowds there are another level but yesterday the support blew me away. I got carried away as I was enjoying it so much and in the last half mile I tried to pick up the pace and in doing so beckoned the crowds to make more noise. The shouts and increased noise from the support when I did this will stay me for a long time, it was brilliant and contributed to me being a bit of an emotional wreck when I finished and telephoning my wife to let her know how I had got on.
I ran pretty consistently and only really struggled around mile 23 when I had to just dig in and tell myself to keep going and even if nine minute miles from here to the finish I'd still reach the holy grail of sub 3:30. I kept going and bagged a 3:22:46. a PB by 15 minutes or so.
Today I am sore, stiff and extremely satisfied with my effort and the training that went into it but most of all I am so happy and thrilled to have had such a fantastic experience on the streets of Manchester.
My day started at 6:00am when my phone alarm went off, normally I would fumble around to try and put it in snooze mode however on this occasion I was laid there in a fog of anticipation, excitement and gut wrenching nerves. It only sounded once. I had been very organised the day before and packed my kit bag and laid out all my kit and tracksuit ready to just slip into without disturbing the rest of the house. After a breakfast of porridge and banana I went through the usual routine of tying and retying my laces (runners OCD) until they felt right.
So feeling fuelled up, kit bag zipped and drink in hand I was ready to go, I nipped upstairs to say goodbye to my wife and I was on my way. After scraping a heavy frost of the windscreen I felt rather smug at being so organised a I gently drove through the quiet country lanes around Alderley Edge and then onto the deserted A34 heading towards the M60. As I neared the traffic light intersection before picking up the M60 i was going through in my mind what was in my kit bag and what i needed to change into and when, as I was doing this I realised I’d forgotten to bring an old t-shirt/jumper to wear until the race started after I checked in my bag, ok a small inconvenience but nothing too drastic, I'll make do.
And then it hit me like a train, a cold shuddering streak of panic, I'd forgotten my Garmin AHHHHHHHHHH! Can I run naked, yes, no, yes, NO! Made a quick U turn and drove back down the A34 and what were quiet country lanes before in manner that most rally drivers would tip their hat to. Got home, picked up watch, explained to wife, hug, kiss, exit. Back in the car now feeling happy, not panicking. I've got my watch everything is ok. Back on the A34... why didn't I grab an old t shirt at the same time...ARGHH...minor inconvenience I can do without, again.
The rest was easy and uneventful and I parked at Old Trafford with loads of time to spare.
The preamble in the reach village was as follows, wander round, toilet x 3, get changed, make way to start.
I found my way to the front of the orange pen trying to spot the 3:29 pace team, I didn't spot them until about two minutes before the start by which time they were a good 20 metres back with a sea of nervous, adrenaline fuelled marathoners in front of them. I decided to stay put. The gun went bang and we began the shuffle to the starting mat, synchronised Garmin beeps and I'm off.
Lets get the bad out of the way first, the mile markers were shocking. In races I always manually set my splits based when I hit the mile markers, so I turn off the auto lap on my Garmin. So things didn't bode well when I hit the first marker which was short, either a tired race official or late night reveller had turned the marker to face the other way on the first out and back loop. From then the mile markers were hit and miss with the 25 marker measuring about 1.4 miles from the 24 maker! Just the sort of mind games you need when you doing everything you can to keep on top of the demons in your head telling you that legs hurt and you really should just stop.
Now the good and there was so much; the fantastic crowds and support throughout the route just blew me away. So many kids and grown ups with sweets, cake, water etc. cheering and name checking as many as they possibly could as we all weaved our way round the posh burbs of Manchester. The volunteers and marshals at aid stations and along the route were first class, supportive and ensured those that wanted a drink got one. Being a dad of three and not having my own there to support me (rugby festival) the children that lined the course wanting to high five kept my spirits up throughout. Loads of high fives and even a superman style one for a little lad who was dressed as the caped crusader. I've never done London and I imagi