Plans for the Liverpool Marathon took an unexpected change as issues relating to Ady’s bad back caused us to change our plans for a ‘relaxing’ couple of days in Liverpool.
Dorina fell on her mixer & it was with some loneliness that I set off late Saturday afternoon arriving in Liverpool at about 7 pm. Check in was followed by a 15 minute walk to check out the start & finish area before returning to the hotel, time to read a book with a bottle of wine in the room before an early retirement to bed.
Sunday dawned & once again I showed my ability to make a Schoolboy error by changing my long fixed decision to run the race with my Salomon bag, a litre of electrolite & four gels. The route would have plenty of feed stations, I don’t need all that do I!
Light breakfast already consumed followed by two banana’s, I know what I’ll do, drink an extra half litre of that electrolite stuff, gulp down two Gels & run light & free.
Worked like a treat for 16 miles, running Kilometre splits between 4:21 & 4:47 I was well ahead of my 3 Hour 15 target, spent 10 miles of this chatting with a chap from Runcorn (think his name was Lee) & took a drink at each feed station, that was the good bit! Foolishly a Gel I picked up at around halfway was discarded in frustration at being difficult to open. The next one I picked up was sensibly ripped open by my teeth & then stupidly discarded after I’d only consumed half of it’s contents. Soon after this Lee fell away for a toilet break & I was on my own. Despite beginning to pass people regularly the WALL appeared from nowhere & I hit it full on.
Somehow I continued to gain places but knew that I too was slowing & at the 2 Hour 35 minute mark with 9 Kilometres still to go the reality hit & hit hard. I wasn’t going to do sub 3:15, it was going to be bloody hard just to keep running, I’m beginning to fall physically & mentally apart!
Finally the last of the ‘hills’ (relative of course but by now even the slightest incline was met with dread) & we hit the final flat 5 Kilometres along the banks of the Mersey. Now I’d originally thought this bit would be a doddle, wrong, you could see a long, long, way ahead, runners in various states of exhaustion seemed miles in front & to cap it all a frustratingly stiff & constant headwind. Now I was being passed as often as I was passing, don’t walk Paul, please don’t walk!! At about 3 K out with me still managing to thumbs up & thank the cheering spectators I heard one of them say ‘Paul looks tired’, think I knew that but thanks for spotting my name on my race number & stating the bleedin’ obvious.
In the end I somehow did avoid walking but it must have been the hardest fight of my short running career, surprisingly I didn’t collapse as I crossed the line & was soon greeted with a more familiar shout of ‘Paul’, I turned around to see Fraser’s beaming smile greeting me.
My time of 3:17:36 was a bit disappointing but I had no one to blame other than Myself, I had failed to taper & then changed a normal routine & had come justly un-stuck. My feet had like me also suffered, numerous blisters including a particularly scary one on my left big toe mean I now have no options other than rest for several days.
What a difference a day makes, with Fraser & I showing an impressive ability to lose each other, twice, in the post race hours I awoke Monday morning & googled the results to find I’d come in 176th out of 2,479 finishers, that felt better, maybe I’ll do another road Marathon but I’ll keep that little idea a secret from my big toe for now.
Looking ahead the Wales Trail Half Marathon is looming this weekend with the following weekend being the charity ‘Siabod Summit Challenge’ as part of our ‘Reach out for Nepal’ day. Could be time to be sensible, pull out of the Half Marathon & let my body & feet recover for the greater cause, dare I ask ‘Go on Dorina give me your Mixer’?, knowing me probably not!
Finally a thank you to the cheering crowds & high fives, you helped me get to the finish & were much appreciated by us all.