Posted April 12, 2019
Office Manager from Accountants in Leeds runs Manchester Marathon
By Adam Fox – Office Manager/Marathon Runner
Following on from the success we had last year as a team running the Leeds 10k in July raising over £700 for Haven Breast Cancer, I decide to challenge myself even further this year and take part in the Manchester Marathon on 7th April 2019, selected specifically for it’s reputation as being the UK’s flattest marathon to be easy on the legs…..or so I thought! I once again decided to run for charity, but this year chose Martin House Children’s Hospice which is an amazing charity who do a wonderful job supporting children with life limiting conditions and their families, a charity that is very close to our family’s heart.
After completing the Leeds 10k I began planning what my training plan would be, having done a bit of research into different methods and I decided to base my plan on the Bupa 16 week beginner marathon programme with a few little tweaks of my own, thinking I’m a little higher than a beginner but not quite at the advanced stage. So I aimed to run 4 times per week, one long run at the weekend, then 3 shorter runs during the week, a recovery run (slow – following long run 6 min per km), a tempo/interval run (faster than expected marathon pace i.e. 5 min per km) and a ‘normal’ paced run (5:40 min per km).
It became clear that training for an endurance event is a massive commitment, not that I thought it would be a walk in the park, but an early morning 3 hours run unfortunately doesn’t take just 3 hours. And as I found out needs to be respected a little more as you have to warm up before (which I never used to do really), cool down with some static stretching (around 10/15 mins) and also a bit later in the day foam roll to stop muscle soreness, which I have started doing on most evenings now while watching the TV so I can kill two birds effectively.
Expectation & Further Preparations
Obviously, 2020 Olympic qualification was out of the question, 2 hours 11 mins and 30 seconds was rather ambitious, I was also running with a friend, Nick, and his brother Peter who both completed the race last year which added to the pressure. So I decided that I wanted to, if possible, complete the following:
- Finish without stopping/walking at any point
- Beat Nick & Peter on the day
- Beat Peter’s last year finish time of 4 hours 15 mins
- Find a pacer at the start and stick with them to finish in 4 hours (or just under)
- Win the race
- Qualify for the Olympics
- Break the World Record
In December 2018 my Wife gave birth to our son a month earlier than expected, and meant that my training plan became a lower priority, and with motivation for running and energy at an all time low, combined with darkness, cold and sleep deprivation throughout January and February I knew I needed a serious kick up the bum to get going otherwise I feared I’d be getting overtaken on race day by Teletubbies, Stormtroopers and panto Horses.
So for the month of March I signed up for Race at Your Pace which is a great motivator for upping your mileage as you commit to a certain amount of miles for the month, pay £10 and once you’ve submitted your evidence at the end of the month you get a certificate and a medal. I decided to go for the 75 mile challenge, and made an excellent start racking up 25 miles in the first week, but then picked up the dreaded man flu! Which resulted in me only being able to run 3 times in the next 17 days (very bad for my training plan!). Leaving me just 7 days to make up just over 30 miles which I finished on the 31st to just make it over the line for the medal (left) and certificate, just in time!
In the week leading up to the race I did a couple of short runs just to stay loose and enjoyed carb loading which was a different experience for anyone who knows me and the healthy balance diet I usually eat. The night before I had a good hour sorting out all my gear, equipment and running related fuel for the day, checked, double checked, packed and re-packed ready for the morning.
It was an early start on Sunday up at 5:30am to get some breakfast on-board with overnight oats the food of choice, a nice slow release energy source, and a coffee which is required every day! We then jumped in the car around 6:30am and onto the M62 to Manchester, which surprisingly didn’t take too long, parking up in our pre-paid space at the Manchester United football ground (Pictured left). We began our final preparations before a 10 minute walk down to the start line along with the other 14,000 starters, some looking very serious with fancy watches, head bands and very short shorts and then some people looking less serious, including a man dressed as a rhino, Superman and a couple of the Wombles.
It was clear from the start line that the support and atmosphere on the day was going to be great! With runners family and friends all there cheering them on but also the local community giving out jelly babies, Haribo sweets and fresh fruit!
As I searched for my starting wave I stumbled across the 3 hours 58 mins pacer, I knew pacers were provided as certain time points but I had no idea where they would be so I considered myself to be very lucky to find one so easily. And having found her I decided to stick to her like glue for the whole race, or as long as physically possible anyway.
Around the course lots of people had signs and were shouting motivation which was brilliant, there were also plenty of high fives to be had which were always a welcome moral boost! I’m sure I didn’t see every sign, but I have compiled a list of my top 5 favourites:
- Keep going, you’re running better than the government!
- Toenails are overrated anyway
- Tap for a power boost (I saw several of these and tapped each one!)
- Run for cake
- Last one to finish has to sort Brexit
Unfortunately, I lost the pacer around 35km, and I’m still not 100% sure how, but you can see from the table at the bottom of the page that after that point my splits slowed and I knew I’d never catch her up and probably not manage to break the 4 hour time.
Finally!!! After 25 and a bit miles I turned onto the final straight which is about 900m long and you can see the finish line, but my word that stretch of road feels like the longest bit. I put a ‘sprint’ on knowing I was almost at the end but after what felt like 15 minutes later I’d still not got to the end of the seemingly endless tarmacked track of pain. Not wanting to check my phone too far from the line and risk dropping it with sweaty hands, I had a quick look with 200m to go to see the clock tick just over my rough 4 hour goal, but I couldn’t bring myself to be even slightly disappointed!
I crossed the line and the official time was 4 hours and 58 seconds, but at the end of the day was absolutely chuffed to bits and completely exhausted!
After collecting my medal and finishers T-shirt I ventured into the sponsors area to get my hands on as many freebies as I could, a snack sized malt loaf, bottled water, chocolate recovery protein drinks and a foil blanket (which was a great way to warm up/cool down). My personal favourite was the alcohol free isotonic Erdinger lager, and to quote from their website “the sporty thirst-quencher” is absolutely spot on! I enjoyed it very much, so much I had two!
My initial reaction was “that’s it, my first and last marathon” but being a tight Yorkshireman, when the email came out on Tuesday with the first 2020 places released for next years event at a discounted rate is signed straight up! (What a plonker!) But next year I will be running alongside my Wife, Stacey, who had to defer from this year after giving birth to our son, and won’t be looking to beat my time, but to support her, enjoy the atmosphere and take in the sights as the route in incorporating the city centre too!
In summary, it was a fantastic experience, it’s a massive commitment in time and strain on the body but the enjoyment and sense of achievement from completing it has been absolutely worth it, but also in raising over £300 for my charity is brilliant! Next up for me is a couple of weeks rest, which I’d say is well earned, but then to find a race either 10km or half marathon somewhere between August and September to complete and try beat my PB but not take up too much of my free time.
Race Split Times (Green within target, red slower than planned):