I did it! But I was beginning to wonder …. I realise marathons play havoc with your head!
Having been dead laid back about this for weeks the nerves kicked in when I got off the train in Manchester on Saturday. This was probably why I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and slipped off a very high kerb and jolted my back. It hurt! I spent the rest of the day worrying that I’d wake up in the morning unable to move.
The airbnb was OK and a lovely little Italian restaurant (just three tables) round the corner, so carb loading was sorted.
I think I managed about 2 hours sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about the following day, testing the back out etc, etc. It was up at 6.30, porridge and off at 7.30 to meet Paul at a Travelodge not far from the start. This was almost an absolute nightmare. The phone hadn’t charged over night and I had about 15%. I was using the satnav to find the way but what started as 35 minutes kept going up, not down. I was in an industrial area somewhere or other, nobody around and the phone died! I saw someone and asked them where Salford Quays was. He looked at me and said ‘it’s miles away!’ It was now approaching 7.45 and I’m getting a little concerned.
But eventually a taxi driver came to the rescue. He wasn’t a fan of the marathon. The air was blue as he told me how it would affect his trade that day, but he got me to the Travelodge in time and it was a short walk to the start with Paul and his buddy – who was a 300 marathon runner, just a few ahead of Paul.
Queuing up in my wave was such an exciting feeling and when we finally passed the start line I gave myself a good talking to and set off.
The first 10 miles were on schedule, sub 10mm each one. My legs were feeling really heavy but no sign of any injuries. Then at mile 11, my IT band on the right knee started to hurt. This got worse and worse and by mile 13 or 14 I had to start a ‘walk/run’ strategy. The pace suffered as a result and I even hit 14mm at mile 19.
But at around mile 17 a wonderful, wonderful woman came to my rescue. She could see I was in bother and gave me an ibuprofen tablet. By mile 20 I was able to put in some good sprints, before having to stop again when the pain was too much.
The benefit of the occasional walks was I didn’t suffer the wall at all and I knew I’d be able to run to the line rather than hobbling over on my last legs. And this I did in 4 hours 38 minutes.
The support I received from spectators and other runners was unbelievable. This sport really brings out the very best in people. There are so many I’d like to go back to and give them a big hug.
I was a bit disappointed with the time to be honest. It was about 20 minutes slower than I’d hoped for and I knew I had it in me to go faster, but the knee wouldn’t play ball. Still, the good thing about a slow time is I’ll have something to beat on the next one.
Thanks for spending your Sunday supporting your old dad Anna, and Tom too! I missed my brother looking out for me in Altrincham. I’m absolutely hopeless at noticing people when I’m running, and there were so many runners I know he would have found it a challenge spotting me.