The first big hurdle in my journey to Berlin was the little matter of a half marathon. It mean, if I couldn’t takle half the distance what hope did I have in a few months time when I lined up on the start line in Germany.
After a quick chat with Sean, my Step Up To Half coach, I had a plan. No need to carb load (although a good excuse) and keep hydrated. One out of two isn’t bad.
On the Saturday night before the race we travelled to Manchester and checked-in to out hotel. Now it was time for a bit of a walk around and to see if I could get any sense of the route. Turns out, it’s surprisingly hard, even with a background in scouting, to look at an interactive map on a small phone and relate it to the unnamed streets you are standing on. Needless to say I was non-the-wiser about where I would be running.
It’s only another race…I kept telling myself as my nerves increased minute on minute as we found somewhere to eat and bought a few final bits for the next day.
Top Tip: This about what you are going to eat for breakfast before your are supposed to be going to bed.
Not surprisingly, I woke up even earlier than my 5:45am alarm. I’m always an early riser but this was ridiculous even by my standards. My wave wasn’t due to start until 10:10am. Ah well, no one likes to be late.
A quick porridge pot, and a lot of getting nervous looking at Instagram, later and it was time to leave the hotel. One last banana for nerves and I was making my way to the start line.
In all honesty, in the month prior to the race I hadn’t even thought about a time. All I wanted was to finish. By the race week, despite not feeling very confident, I had set myself the ambitious target of 2 hrs 20 minutes. This was in no small part due to having a chat on Instagram with Stuart, the official 2:20 pacer for the event. So, I diligently found him in the masses (the giant flag helped) and nervously lined up next to him.
What about the final 3.1 miles? This was the final thought that ran through my head before setting off on my first ever half marathon. I had been reliably informed by my group that you were only supposed to train up to 10 miles. This could end badly.
And we’re off
The race it’s self was surprisingly straight forward. Running with the 2:20 Funbus was great fun. Stuart had explained before we started he would run 10 minute miles and walk for 30 seconds. I wasn’t going to walk!
5km and 10km came round in a flash. Weaving through the streets of Manchester taking in the both Old Trafford and the Ethihad Stadium.
15km came along pretty quickly too. I could honestly say I was enjoying this. It wasn’t until KM 18 that things felt hard. My energy was fast depleating and it was time to dig deep. Thankfully a quick wave from Alex (thanks for the awful photos) spurred me on.
The final 1km was great. Busy crowds, cheering and whooping. What’s not to love? With 400m left I decided it was time to sprint for home. What felt like a sprint will have inevitably looked more like a Baywatch style slow-mo run but I didn’t care.
Running across the finishing line at the Great Manchester Run was by far the biggest running achievement of my, admittedly rather short, running journey. I had done it. Now it was time to eat anything and everything and bask in the glory.