As I started at 8:15am, it was very early. I didn’t get chance for pre-race porridge (as I hardly slept the night before anyway!!).
I got to the tram stop for 7am. I had a bit of a chat with Bryan Potts at the tram stop and we boarded the tram to the Old Trafford stop, and walked up past the cricket ground towards the athletes village.
I dropped the bags where needed – quick visit to the portaloos for a “nervous pre-race wee” (which happens on EVERY race I do!) and a walk down to the start line. Lots of people, little social distancing.
Start time. Off went the “gun” (cannon?) I gave my Sarah Watson a kiss, said “Love you” and moved with the crowd slowly towards the start line. Spread out a bit when passing the start line and away we go. First mile I looked down at my watch as it buzzed – 8:49 it said… I said to myself “That’s too fast”. By mile 4, I found myself chatting to a few – mainly about those nasty little hills. Only a hundred yards or so each, but they were still there! And by mile 4, there had been 4 of them!! (letter of complaint to the Manchester Half team who literally said “Fast and Flat”)??
My watch was ticking over at around the 9 minute mile mark. The pace I had planned on to break my 2 hour “race” barrier (as I ran a number of sub 2 hour halves last year but none in race conditions).
There was a young gentleman I was talking to who kept going past me and then me going past him. Chatted for almost all of mile 4 and his plan was to keep up with me as his targets were similar to mine.
Miles 5-7 were lovely and flat. At the start of mile 5, I overheard someone say “The next 3 are completely flat” so I pushed a little. Ran 3 good miles and was feeling in good condition – so much so that I decided to keep going. Miles 8-11 were my fastest 4 of the run, all well below the 9 minute mile mark and putting me in a great place for a sub 2 hour half.
I then got hit with that tired feeling. I started to feel fatigue in my legs and had to ease off for 12 and 13. I knew I had this due to my current pace and average keeping me well so I backed (what I thought was) right off – expecting 10 minute miles (which would’ve left me 2 minutes to do the last 0.1 miles).
Turns out that 12 and 13 were 9:11 and 9:02 respectively. Leaving me with loads of time to break 2 hours.
Onto the finishing straight. I often get asked “are you racing anybody” and my answer is always the same – I am only racing myself – until I get to the finishing straight when I am racing everyone else on it! Proud to say that my sprint finishes are pretty good. Not a single person overtook me on the straight – and I overtook at least 10 others. Thanks to my biggest supporter Sarah for cheering me in to the finish (and the fab flying feet photo she took).
Comfortably below the 2 hour mark with 1:56:52 – including another long run finished with negative splits.
Medal around my neck, obligatory selfie posed for (filter applied to make me look ruggedly handsome – oh – I don’t need a filter for that…). Striders vest on show of course and post run stretches done (thanks Michael Littlewood, Stephen Jackson, Fiona Brannan, Fiona Kinghorn Jones and all other coaches for getting me to do this – would never have thought about it or its benefits in the past).
All in all it was a fantastic route and course. It was basically flat – there are a few very small hills – similar incline to the one up to Framwellgate Moor from Pity Me but a lot shorter, but nothing nasty.
I preferred the Great North Run atmosphere, but for pace, this was fantastic.
I have completely regained my running mojo which I had lost for quite some time and am glad I still have my lovely Strider friends to call on for help and support (for which I thank each and every one of you). Recovery 4 miles last night and legs feeling great today. Nice long walk with the dog tonight and be ready for another adventure in the near future.