It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, don’t wanna over saturate people with information and in reality, nothing notable has really happened in the last few month. So kept it on the back burner, been working a lot and digging the miles in. As per usual!
Anyway. They’ve started coming round now, 5th appearances at races. 5 is a minor milestone isn’t it? This fifth appearance is to be the Manchester Marathon. One of my favourites. One of my main events of the year. Signifying the beginning of marathons generally for the year. Signifying the beginning really of the 2018 running ‘season’. Where all races and runs are in the build up and all races and runs afterwards are in the recovery.
Manchester Marathon is a beauty of a race.
2014/15 measured up ‘short’ and 2017 I ran with one leg, safety pins in my trainers and generally worn down! So I’ve set my stall, my baseline goal is to beat last years time. But we will see what happens!
Have I changed a bit since then? Manchester 2014.
Training in the build up over the last few months, has been fairly consistent, hovering around 100 mile weeks. With speed work thrown in and the aim of 3/4 quality runs/races in as well. A little different to 2017 where I had 150-170 mile weeks. But off the back of that, found myself turning up on the start line injured. No point in that. So my aim at the minute, is to turn up not injured. Training has progressed through the motions as all build up to marathons should. Halted momentarily by a chest infection in February, finding myself on antibiotics. Setting me down and back. But I seem to have shaken it finally out my system. The snow came, went, came again and went and tried again. And went. I’ve tried to not let it scupper my plans. But some adaptations and alternatives were made at stages to fit everything in. Mainly just wrapping up, sticking the trail shoes on and knocking out a few miles. A few runs transferred to the dreadmill to help me hit pace. But the snow made a nice alternative approach for training and helped iron out any niggles by forcibly slowing me down. I’ve not managed to get a 20 mile race in, as usual. With Trimpell falling on a weekend where we had snow and made the route over too stupid to travel. And then the back up of East Hull being rearranged and falling on the 12 stage relay weekend. But I’ve run and I’ve put the miles in, and I’ve raced. I’ve recovered, then run, and then raced again. I’ve also been banking some miles with David Hanks a new neighbour, ish. They’ve reaffirmed some sort of fitness and the chasing of distance. The chats with him and seeing his progress towards his London Marathon goal, as also helped reaffirm, that surely, I’ve made some progress.
A chat a while back with David was to put Manchester to one side and set my focus elsewhere, after the chest infection, I haven’t felt quite as confident as usual and felt like top end speed hasn’t come easy. I’ve had to work harder for it and squeeze the extra few seconds out. I was going to just take Manchester as a steady run and enjoy it more than you should enjoy any marathon. He set me back in line, told me to book my ideas up and that I’d be stupid to do such a thing. That’s what friends are for, aren’t they? From then on in, and further forward I started believing a little more everyday. The first trick to success is to never believe you will fail. This in my 5/6 years of running was the first time, I think, that I’ve believed I might fail. It’s been in the back of my mind, but not the forefront.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve done my usual and not really tapered, running my highest mileage week of 115 the week before. And after the marathon a 115 week again was on the finish line. Only short races lately, my last long race being the Retford Half Marathon the week after the chest infection. The super fast Salford 10k didn’t bring a PB but 9 seconds shy of one, I ran a good race at the 12 stage relays. The road league started at Brodsworth and the Spencer’s Dash was muddy! But brought a win and a comfortable sub 22 minutes for the 6k. Not too bad. I’ve started to hit a bit of a purple patch, where training runs have felt easy and the miles haven’t been too slow. Ticking under 7 minute miles often. Sleep hasn’t been great, but I’ve had it and all this week tried for a good 8-9 hours a night. Which is a luxury. If it can ever actually happen. The main thing is I’ve just kept running.
The days in the build up to the marathon, I’ve tried a bit of carb loading, so all that means is eating lots of pasta, potatoes and rice isn’t it? I’ve done that and developed a bit of a carb belly in the process. It’ll have gone after marathon day, be right! I went to bed relatively early on Saturday night got enough sleep and woke up in good time for the marathon. Rammed my porridge down my neck and showered, 2nd load of porridge and managed to set off at 8 o’clock for the start. A 0.7 mile walk from where the car was left.
Made it in 15 minutes, at a steady walk. Bet you that’s slower later! Loitering around the starting area now. Seeing some familiar faces, chatting and then popping off to take my last wee. Returning to chat with Tom Halloway.
And then leaving my Mum and Dad so they can get in a good enough position to get away for the tram.
Last photo stop and made my way to the ‘pen.’ Sticking my Jakemans, Honey and Lemon in, in the process. Buzz around the marathon start as ever, seeing Scott Harrington again, familiar face at marathons! Chatting and then catching a glimpse of the legend that is Ron Hill. Chatting around about goals and times with other fellow runners, experienced and non experienced.
9 o’clock came around pretty swiftly and we were off. Underway and into the motions of the marathon, very easy to set off too quick here. Tried to keep discipline and stick to my race. That I did and set in at 5:50’s. Well tried to anyway. Very quickly getting caught by Ed Hyland of Stainland Lions, a quick chat identified we had the same time in mind. So to stick around him would be a good idea. 2 miles in and feeling strong, but somehow a stitch and pain came on. On my right hand side, just below my ribs. Not a comfortable at all. The feeling of should I stop here? But knowing if I start that process of quitting, the next time will make it easier to quit. So don’t ever quit. Even if it’s not your race. That’s a belief I have anyway. No matter what, always finish. Going through the 10k point in 30th place and 36:14. Ticking miles away and the Jakemans still survives. First water station I managed to catch a fair group of 5 or 6 runners, all running strong and looking comfortable. So I tagged on the back of the them and sat in for a little bit. Before I knew it, I was taking lead and averaging 5:48’s per mile. I didn’t mind taking lead, I felt strong enough and was pulling the pace of the group along. I’d take a breather every now and then and sit in and back. But mainly taking point. Feeling really comfortable and pressure free at this point. Making it through to Brooklands 8.5 mile point and seeing all the familiar Barnsley faces on the sides supporting. Seeing my Mum and Dad, and then a Team Barnsley shirt! Won’t be returning there for another 8 mile. Still in the pack and still moving.
‘Saluting’ John! Still moving forward and doing alright. A chat in the pack made out that we was on for 2:30, I doubted it, mainly due to the fact we hadn’t beaten a 5:40 minute mile. Maybe in a few years! Would you believe me if I said my Honey and Lemon, Jakemans, still survives at the 9 mile mark? It’s some way to go yet! Next destination was Timperley and then Altrincham at 13 mile. Keeping my head up and still in the pack. Knowing we’ve got to return on this road in 4/5 Miles time. It’ll have a different scene then, with all the runners out on their journey. And the disposed water bottles! Clocking in through the Half Way point at Altrincham in 1:16:52, 27th position. Double it and 2:34 isn’t a bad dream for an end goal! Today wasn’t to be a negative split though. Catching my first glimpse of the runners going out on their journey it wasn’t long before I saw Scott Briggs on his charge, and the Fowler’s in front of the 3:30 pacer! On for a fantastic time. Brooklands came around pretty quick and I was still hitting a sub 5:50 pace. Feeling pretty good and mile 16 the sweet still survives! It’s magic! Calculating in my head, roughly 58 minutes of running to go, an hour tops! Even if I blow up, an hour and 15 tops. It would still land me at a sub 3 hour. Be right! Gritted my teeth and went through Brooklands. Clocking my slowest mile so far. 5:58. Pick it up.
The pack started splitting after Brooklands. Thinning and not working together like we was. It became a race to 20 mile for me then and then just hoping I hold on. I broke away with the front of the group and still kicked strong enough, despite it being my slowest mile. I knew I had more in the tank. A 5:48, at mile 17, followed and the flow came back for a bit. Feeling strong. Pushing onwards. I felt strong until mile 20 still clocking a sub 6 minute mile and passing people who had set off way too quick. Passing Ben Parkes, a runner who is massive instagram. I went into mile 20, and felt really good. In fact, would have been a club record at what I went through mile 20 at. Beating last years 2:02 at East Hull. 1:57:42 today. Last 10k and as David Tune said at mile 18, my territory this, it’s where the race begins. It’s where any marathon begins. Keep strong and hold on there. Today I didn’t really fade until mile 22. Where pace dropped at I hit a 6:14. It was right at this point my honey and lemon Jakemans died a death and I didn’t bother putting another in. Running on though and I’d blame the fade due to my sweet dying. Even though I faded, they were still consistent 6:14 minute miles. Seeing the Briggs support crew on the turn to the longest Finish line in the world. The right turn towards the cricket club.
In truth right from the word go, it’s a pretty long way to the finish line anyway! Couple of minutes of hard work that’s it, I muttered to the runner next to me. Kicking and pushing towards the line. Nearly home.
A PB by 1 minute and 27 seconds. Beating my York Marathon surprise last year and beating last years Manchester by roughly 5 minutes! It’s becoming a bit of a theme. I loved the marathon today. But looking at it, I still think I can go faster, I’ve got faster in me.
I was happy today with how controlled the pace seemed and how many places I gained, rather than lost. Must mean I did something right. I felt strong and given the fact I’ve not really done a particularly ‘long’ run then it’s no wonder I managed to fade. But on finishing, I managed to shake hands with the legend that is Ron Hill and stole a minute of his time for a chat. Icon, legend, role model!
22nd marathon done. 5th Marathon at Manchester. Here’s to the next!
Split times looked a bit like this.
I’ve a few more things in the pipeline this year. We’ll see what 2018 brings.
In the mean time.
Just Keep Running.