Marathon complete – a bigger challenge awaits.

4:25:45

That’s my finishing time from Manchester Marathon. A personal best (PB). Happy with that.

So how did the race go? The aim was to get under 4:20. The strategy was to set off at a decent pace, 9:40 ish, ultimately aiming for just under 10 minutes per mile.

I knew this was a potentially risky strategy, going well early on with the risk of burning out later.

The forecast was ideal, 12 degrees and raining.

With the forecast in mind I decided on a thin base layer and my club vest. The start time was 9:00. It started on time.

Within a mile of the start the base layer was off, ballast for the rest of the race .

The  early pace was quick, as expected. Somewhere around 9:30 per mile. Felt like I was bagging a bit of time for later in the race. Through 10km in about an hour. 10 miles in 1:36 and half marathon in 2:06. Well on target for 4:20. The next major checkpoint was 20 miles. My PB for a 20 mile race is 3:15, I went through in 3:14. I had one hour and 5 minutes to complete the marathon and achieve my goal.

A comment from a spectator “You from Wales?” yes I replied, “Well you’ve come a long way, get a bloody move on”

I had hit the wall. Mile 22 was 11:10, over a minute slower than I needed to be. It was going to be a desperate final 4 miles.

My early pace had brought me to a walk run pace. This was going to be it for the next 50 minutes or so. Legs so tired they wanted to stop. What made them continue? Well the comment from a spectator above is a starting point. Knowing my wife was at the finish line. The phone call I would make to my children at after the finish.

Somewhere around mile 25 the stadium came in to view, not far to go. My watch was showing it could be tight to achieve a PB. The sub 4:20 had gone. Now it was sub 4:28. The turn in to Sir Matt Busby Way was wonderful, the finish straight was slightly downhill, the opportunity to stride out after struggling for 4 miles was fantastic. Unfortunately I didn’t see Wendy on the finishing straight, even though she was shouting my name.

So, 4:25:45 wasn’t too bad after all. Part one complete. Part two is 31 miles, off road, 890m of ascent: a bigger challenge awaits.