It was as a native Mancunian that I was requested to report on this race I was running, my latest attempt to break 3:30 over the marathon distance. It was however, as a non-native Mancunian that I ran it, what with being from Blackpool (sort of). Still, it is Lancashire and whilst the locals might not agree, it is the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club and therefore part of God’s own county that is Lancs.
I digress but the familiar grey skies of the North West were a key factor in my decision to run Manchester, along with the VLM rejection letter which is surely the main reason other spring marathons exist? And it was with this in mind that we set off, our fingers crossed for a bit of drizzle.
Aside from a last minute accommodation scare, the build up went pretty smoothly. All training runs completed and major injuries avoided. I used Coach Jon’s now (in) famous 10 week marathon training plan with a few subtle tweaks where I believe I may have learned from previous race preparations.
For those who may be interested, I ran all of my long runs carb depleted (basically, first thing before eating breakfast) while increasing the length of the long runs slightly up to a final long run of 22 miles. This final long run was used to replicate race day as best I could. In this case, I ate breakfast and ran at marathon pace using gels and water to keep myself topped up in the latter half of the run. This certainly helped my frame of mind on the day, where confidence in my ability to complete 22 miles at my goal pace meant that I didn’t even consider the final few miles until I got there. From thereon in the plan was just to grimace and bear it, something that the race day pictures will bear testament to.
So, to the race. Great conditions, a flat course and while I can’t be 100% sure I’d say pretty close to the 26.2 miles required. In terms of support, it’s no London marathon but where is…and don’t say London. At times the support thinned out but there were plenty of people out on the course – probably making the most of the balmy 8 degree heat. There was plenty of entertainment en route too; gospel choirs, live bands and as we went through Frank Sidebottom’s home of Timperley, plenty of paper mache massive heads. Make of that what you will.
As I said, it all went pretty smoothly. I did suffer a little bit in the last couple of miles but mainly due to cramping in the calves rather than any dead legs/wall issues. At this point though, the end was in sight. Unfortunately for me the end in this case, the light at the end of the tunnel was Old Trafford, where apparently Manchester United used to play football. As a fan of the (once) Mighty LFC I felt slightly dirty and compromised and so grasped this opportunity to hold five fingers aloft as I crossed the line just to remind them who the real champions of Europe are. In reality and once again as the pictures will attest to, instead I rather looked like a slightly haunted, carb depleted fool bashing himself on his head. That said, I was happy and I didn’t really care. I had a new PB. 3:24:12.
I wasn’t the only one. The long suffering Naomi also ran a great race and took a good chunk out of her PB too, to record 4:41:10. All in all, it was a grand day out and a race I would recommend to anyone. As advertised, it is flat and it is friendly and it does give you a genuine chance to run a PB.
Splendid work Manchester (in Lancashire). Thank you.