‘It's been quite a few years since I posted a personal best at any distance, so I was delighted to do just that at the Manchester Marathon.
I was even more relieved as I'd had what must be the longest taper in history - about six weeks - due to pain in my left knee, which thankfully didn't trouble me at all on the day.
When you're lining up with thousands of strangers many miles from home, it's always good to see a familiar face, but I wasn't expecting one right in front of me!
But it was great to catch up with fellow BRC runner Andrew Constantinou on the start line.
We were both aiming to finish under four hours, and wished each other good luck.
As it was my first real big city marathon - and even though I'd read the pre-race information - it still came as a surprise just how long it took to walk to the start.
As part of a huge, snaking mass of runners, it was 9.50am before I crossed the start line, 50 minutes after the fastest 'wave', even though that was 10 minutes earlier than our 'wave' was predicted to start. The time flies though as you go through your mental checklist to see if you have all you need.
I couldn't help but feel nervous as I lined up as the enormity of what I'd taken on suddenly hit me - 26.2 miles lay in front of me and my first time running that distance in five years.
But once I started, I was too busy concentrating on staying upright and moving at a reasonable pace to worry about anything else.
Relieved to see I was running 8.20-8.30 minutes per mile, the miles soon began to pass. But talking of things passing, I couldn't avoid a toilet stop about seven miles!
It wasn't long before I caught the 3:45 pacers however and I decided to try to stay with them for as long as I could.
People ask how you avoid boredom but I was so consumed with remembering when to have gels, caffeine tabs and drinks and the accompanying maths of when to take them that the time was flying by.
A pleasant distraction was the support from the crowds lining the streets - thousands several deep virtually everywhere en route, many with coloured signs and banners.
Still feeling good at mile 16 - by which time we were scaling the so-called 'hill' in Altrincham town centre - I noticed I'd moved beyond the pacing group I was in.
This really inspired me to push on and, as I was feeling good, managed to increase my pace slightly to around 8.10-8.20 for as long as I could.
There were bands and singers everywhere - mostly belting out Oasis songs it seemed - but I was relieved yet a bit 'pumped' to pass the deafening echo of techno music banging out under a flyover bridge as we made our way back towards the city centre.
Desperate to avoid previous hydration marathon failures, I gulped down a full bottle of water at every drinks station after halfway.
This stood me in good stead and it wasn't until about 24 miles that I started to feel really tired and I had to dig in.
This is where the crowds helped and with dozens of strangers yelling your name (as it's on your number) you couldn't help but feel something of a gladiator! Award for the best banner must go to this one 'If you faint, I'll stop your Strava!'
By this time my legs were so tired and I'd started slowing up, so I was desperate to see the finish line. Soon it was there and I was done.
Within minutes, fellow BRC member Mike Timmington had spotted me and we chatted about our experiences.
Mine was unforgettable and will live long in the memory. I think I'll do another marathon - you never know, I might get a pb!’
‘Manchester was my 3rd marathon but my first standalone one. My other 2 were in Ironman and Long Course events. I had hoped to prepare for a pb as it is a pretty flat course. Unfortunately training in February and March was affected by injuries so I nearly never turned up. My mate Dan who had entered also, persuaded me to go and treat it as a training run. We did but as true competitors right from the start we knew we were running too fast. We both felt good and passed the time with idle chit chat. We passed halfway in 1hr 44m. A great time but I knew I was going to pay for it later due to the lack of training. It hit me at about 30km. Now having to break into short walks to allow the legs to recover. At 35km I was in agony from the waist down. I couldn't lift my legs and every step was a massive effort. Head down and I was still in touch with my mate who was equally suffering. The last 3km was my hardest ever but the crowds were awesome and so many saw me suffering and shouted encouragement at me which really kept me going. I caught Dan with 400m to go and we crossed the line together in 3hr 52mins. Only 4mins off my pb so I know I have more to give with better preparation. Really great event and would recommend especially for a first one.’
‘So, after thinking about the challenge of a marathon for some time, a year of running with BRC gave me the confidence to enter the Manchester Marathon. So I mapped out a 20 week training program and all was going well when unfortunately the wheels came off in January when emergency surgery on a detached retina meant I had 6 pretty sedentary weeks and the thought of completing the marathon seemed highly unlikely. However, after resuming training I felt like I was back on track, albeit trying to make-up for lost time. So, with plenty of sage words of advice from lots of friends I lined up at the start looking forward to the challenge ahead. As I stood at the start line, I saw the familiar face of Tim Nash to my left - we had a good chat and to be fair that was the last I saw of Tim as he raced to a new PB! The atmosphere was great, the crowds enthusiastic and the weather kind. I ran very consistently for the first 19 miles and felt strong and felt that I was likely to hit a great time - probably relaxing too much as from mile 20 the legs got heavier and heavier and I finished in 4:01 better than I had expected but a little slower than I had hoped. It was a fantastic experience - I even enjoyed the training, and I’m looking forward to organising my next race!’
‘Manchester was my second ‘road marathon’ and a bit different for me as I class myself very much as a social runner (and really enjoy off road runs) and for Manchester Marathon I was going solo! I really enjoyed the first 15 miles and felt that I paced myself well, seeing my husband and sons at mile 20 also really helped! The last 10km I thought would be easy but I have to say, I had to dig deep! I had a stroke of luck just as the finish line came into sight, as ‘Eye of the tiger’ came on my playlist, which gave me the motivation I needed to speed up a bit and get a 4 minute PB - happy days!’
Newport Marathon 2023
‘After a enjoyable 16 week training plan tweeked with four 1/2's which included Wrexham kindly donated by Vicky Morris, I felt in a good place going into this Welsh Marathon in Newport, My fourth in all, albeit over many years. I had a plan to aim as close to 9 minute miles for as far as my 50 year old body would allow to try and get a sub 4. Initally I stuck to the 4 hour pacer but felt OK to push on from 3 miles. The course itself was predominantly flat and aided by generous water and gel stations throughout. The atmosphere was very good in places and quiet in others which I didn't mind as it helped me zone out and concentrate on the pace. My strategy was going really well until about Mile 20 when I had to start to really dig in. I think this is so mentally challenging at this point. It feels to me thats when the race really starts! Mile 23 onwards my pace really went haywire and it really felt like I was running in treacle. I knew I was getting slower but couldn't do anything about it except to just keep going. As soon as that finish line was in sight I somehow managed to find some extra energy desperately trying to avoid being overtaken by the 4 hour pacer - I got over the line in 3.56 which I was so happy with and I was so thankful to see Rachel Wilson at the finish with her support and a recovery food parcel and for then being my chauffeur drive back home to Bridgnorth as I couldn't walk!’
London Marathon 2023
‘After 16 weeks of solid training which began in January of this year, I took on the 2023 London Marathon for the second time. I previously ran this in 2018 in 27 degree heat and didn't have a particularly great time. I took a tumble 7 miles in and I didn't run well in warm conditions especially for 26 miles! I remember feeling I hated it and wanted it to end but after the event I decided I wanted to try again.
My first time it was a charity place, but this year I was lucky enough to receive a ballot place. Now 4 years older I started out steady and told myself I wanted to remain consistent. This year was very much the opposite to 2018 and wet! I had it in my head that I wanted a sub 5 hour marathon after a 5 hour 29 minute finish in 2018.
The 4 hour 30 minute pacer went past me but I kept calm and focussed. At mile 22 the pain kicked in but it wasn't a pain that got any worse so I pushed on. The crowds at London were incredible, they really kept me going. I think I ran the last 5k on adrenaline!
As I made my way past Big Ben, I knew I wasn't far away and my time was looking good. I crossed the line in 4 hour 41 minutes and was thrilled with that. A fabulous weekend and one I will never forget! I also had a very supportive group of friends who helped me train and to them I am grateful.'
‘I won a place in the ballot for the London Marathon, which completely amazed me, and decided to raise funds for Crohn’s and Colitis, a charity which is important to me, having had Crohn’s for over 30 years.
Very similar to Andrew’s post, you never stop learning about the impact of a marathon on the body. I thought I was really well prepared in terms of training runs, but on the day, things didn’t quite go to plan. Because of how quickly I digest food due to having a large part of my bowel removed in an operation years ago, the planning of eating food is a nightmare, especially as far as exercise is concerned. Starting in an early wave, and the travel across to the start line meant that I ran the marathon on an empty stomach. This probably accounts for me running my fastest ever mile, 5k, 10k, and half marathon, during the race!
But then the wheels came off at Mile 19. The lack of food and fluid left me flagging, with little energy for the last 7 miles. Without the amazing support of the incredible crowd and race Marshalls, who when you need to dig deep, act as a wave pushing you towards the beach, I wouldn’t have finished with a time of 4hours 5mins, which I was delighted with. However, the whole experience taught me some valuable lessons about fuelling up and pacing myself, which I need to put into place at future long runs - beginning with Edinburgh at the end of May.’