A week ago today, probably around this time, I was huffing and puffing my way around the Manchester Half marathon. The blisters are, thankfully, now more or less gone, the medal is perched on my book shelf and I’m back to being able to walk up and down stairs normally.
The build up
We were up at 6 and out of the door where my grandparents live in Manchester at 7am with us then driving to the park and ride to get on the tram. Waiting for the tram, slowly more and more people started gathering with bum bags, head bands, bin bags and everything else you can imagine. The tram arrived and we jumped on into the sardine-like cabin to Trafford Bar. Once there, everyone piled off the tram and the snake of people walking towards the race start went further than the eye could see. Eventually we were getting closer, we passed the seemingly endless line of porteloosand saw the start pens.
Once getting me to my pen (G) my support team -my grandad, mum and sister- headed off to another part of the track near the 2 mile (3.2km) mark to see me pass by. Once they’d left, there I was in my black bin bag contemplating what I’d signed myself up for. The waiting was actually one of the worst parts, it took me 40 minutes until it was my time to cross the start line and by that point it was pretty cold and damp. Nevertheless, I was excited to get started and on my way.
Having been placed in the last pen I was determined not to get lost within the 2500 people in my group so wiggled my way right to the front with my toes kissing the start line until the gun went off for us to start. All of a sudden it was time to go! The first part of the race was great, the rain had started to calm down and the streets were lined with crowds. At the 2 mile mark, as planned, I saw my family and then carried on on my way.
The first 10.5km
Half way! Already! After my first 10.5km (6.5 miles) I was feeling really upbeat. Things had gone really well, I was on track for a really good time and I felt like I was flying along. The first part of the race was all the way down one big, long, wide road. There was so much space that you could do whatever pace you wanted and very rarely was someone in your path. Happy days!
The last 10.5km
My difficult patch came around km 12-16. I had expected that more around 18km would have been when I started to feel my legs but the long, nice road was now behind us and we were circling back via lots of little side streets. This meant that there were a lot of people in a small area, we were all going slower, it was still rainy and I was starting to feel the blisters on both little toes. I went a lot slower in the latter half of the race which was pretty frustrating, by the time I got to the finish I’d missed my conservative aim time by 10 seconds which was pretty gutting but I’d done it, got there and was still living, if panting, to tell the tale.
I’m really glad I did it, and I’ll definitely be doing it again. For the most part, I enjoyed the race and it was a really valuable experience. I’m gutted that in the end I got over the line about 15 mins after I’d planned but there’ll be a next time! It’s definitely not dissuaded me from doing more in the future! For someone who couldn’t do a 5k a year ago I’d say overall…not bad!