Greater Manchester Marathon 2013Ryan Phillips Tuesday, 14 May, 2013
So…. This is it, this was what 6 months training had all been geared towards. As I stood on the start line of the Greater Manchester marathon I had mixed feelings of excitement, anticipation and slight trepidation. I knew I had trained well but I think there is always that nagging feeling of “Have I done enough?”….. With the support team of Nick, Saucony, High5, Garmin and Paul Hobrough, how could I not have done. My pre-race preparation had gone well… we’d managed to book into a hotel adjacent to Old Trafford stadium which was where the race village was situated so the morning of the big day would be a relaxed affair as opposed to rushing and having to rely on public transport etc. I had my tried and tested breakfast of Muesli with pumpkin seeds, toast & honey and 500ml of High5 energy source and was raring to go!
I made my way out of the hotel with Jemma and the kids in tow and wondered around the race village for a while taking in the atmosphere and trying to warm up. I bumped into Hollie from the Women’s Running project and we wished each other luck before we made our way to the start line. We were greeted to a short speech from the legendary Ron Hill, who also ran the first 8 miles with us and had a 26 second silence followed by a 26 applause for the people affected by the atrocities in Boston. Before I knew the gun had sounded and we were off….. My first ever marathon and I was off!
My strategy from Nick was to ease into the first 10k, hit the middle 20k bang on MP and then really attack the final 12k. I found the first bit a struggle as I was carried along with the atmosphere and the fast starters and had to really tell myself to hold back on occasion as my legs threatened to carry me away at a pace I wouldn’t be able to sustain. There was one particular incident that springs to mind when people talk about going out too fast, at about 3 miles this guy absolutely flew past me at some speed, he had what looked like brand new running gear and I assumed that he was one of the elites that had missed the start or something, he was overtaking everyone with ease and within seconds he had disappeared far up the road. I encountered that same gentleman at around mile 6 bent over at the side of the road gasping for air…. I’m guessing he had a bit of a Mo Farah moment before reality set in. My own race at that point was going very well, I’d hit a comfortable pace and was feeling strong, I caught up with Hollie at around mile 8 as she’d started in the pen in front of mine and she too was looking good, we had a brief chat about the lack of mile markers before we went our separate ways. I started to up the pace a bit now and was running at around 7:20 miles which felt great, this was until mile 22-23 when my body started to rebel. My right hip started seizing up which made it painful to run and equally uncomfortable to walk so I had a sort of shuffle going on…not pretty I can tell you! At that point all notions of finishing between 3:15-3:20 were out of the window and my focus was just getting to that finish line. I have to say the support from the crowd during those final miles was amazing ands they really kept me going. Those last 2 were amongst the hardest things I’ve ever done, and that includes tour’s in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan during my military career. When I spotted Old Trafford in the distance it was like I’d been given a shot of adrenaline and I picked up my pace to come home in a time of 3:26:24!
I was initially disappointed as I wanted sub 3:20 but as Nick pointed out my original target was 3:30 and for my first marathon I’ve got to be happy with it….. And you know what….. I’m ecstatic with it. What I didn’t plan for was the sudden rush of emotion that flooded over me when I crossed the finish. Perhaps it was seeing Jemma and the kids as I came down the home straight, sheer exhaustion or just the emotion of finishing my first marathon but I could honestly have stood there and cried…… luckily I didn’t… instead I collected my medal (which is HUGE by the way) and took myself off my a post race massage. So that was it…done and dusted! My immediate thoughts were “That’s number 1 out of the way….. When’s number 2?”….. Well hopefully its going to be Frankfurt in October with Nick, Mark and some athletes from Running With Us.
I’m going to leave all my thank you’s for my next blog as I’ve rambled on for far too long already….. For the time being I’m going to enjoy resting and a few more days then hit the pavements again for ‘Operation 3:15’
Until next time!
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