Greater Manchester Marathon 2014

There’s a lot of things you can do in 40 minutes…

Complete a quick lap of the Tate Modern
Have two-thirds of your lunch break
Bake a hilariously bad banana bread

It’s hard to believe that’s the amount of time I knocked off my marathon from last year. Pretty cool ey.

The weekend before last was the 39th Manchester marathon, or so it says on the back of the medal that was placed around my neck by a kind volunteer, whilst I staggered around trying to find a soft bit of concrete to die on. The infamous no. 39 is unlikely to be remembered by many aside from those who ran it, but it will go down in the history of Polly Farrington as my second marathon and the race where I managed to just keep running.

I haven’t written about my training at all this time round, so to give you a quick round up: For the first six weeks it was amazing, I was flying. Then cleat-gate happened. Walking down some concrete stairs in my cycling shoes something in my knee went. I cycled home in the lowest possible gear but every pedal turn was agony. Having visited the wonderful Simon Lamb on the Monday in perfect condition I was back limping through his door two days later.

“Don’t panic” he said.

After almost three weeks of missed runs, lots of treatment, and plenty of hot water bottle time I was running again with 5 weeks till the big day. Its safe to say I wouldn’t have made it round the marathon without Simon’s help so really he deserves all the credit for this one.

Race day had conveniently fallen on the same weekend that my two sisters were breaking up from Uni for the Easter holidays. This was good for me as it meant not only could I sneak a lift up tut north but I got to have my entire family there supporting.

G-money sympathy carb loading

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The five of us piled into the car and made it to Old Trafford to join the thousands of runners getting ready to take a turn round the villages of Greater Manchester.

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It was cool and dry, perfect conditions really and after Ron Hill fired the starting gun, it was off down the motorway. There’s not a huge amount to be said about the course, its pretty dull, unless running down suburban A-roads is your thing, in which case you are in for a treat!

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Saying that definitely don’t write Manchester off, what it lacks in scenery it more than makes up for in brilliant crowds, plenty of space, superb organisation and a flat/fast route.

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It’s all a bit of a blur but my key memories of the race were:

  • Miles 1 – 10: The 10 mile stitch. Nothing like a 10 mile stitch to kick off your marathon! There’s only one way I know of relieving a stitch and that’s to run bent over at 90 degrees, needless to say I looked like a proper peanut
  • Miles 11 – 16: This section was part of  a six mile out and back from mile 9 to 16. There were several towns, bands and loads of awesome kids lined up for high fives. Its been said before but the local support really makes this race. 100 x cool points for the Manchester locals.
  • Miles 17 – 20: Keep going, just keep going, all you have to do is not stop running. No minimum speed, just keep running. Seriously everything hurt, I thought my right leg might drop off.
  • Miles 20 – 23: Passing the 20 mile marker I knew one way or another I would get to the end and as long as I didn’t stop running I would go under four hours. That would be awesome. I was screaming in my head DON’T STOP RUNNING POLLY, JUST DON’T STOP RUNNING
  • Mile 24 – 26.2: At 25 miles my family popped up out of nowhere, seeing them was fantastic. One last push back to the stadium and over the finishing line. A new marathon PB of 3.52!

I crossed the line and just wanted to lie down, my dodgy right leg felt like it was finally going to give way. At Edinburgh there was lots of soft grass perfect for this but Manchester was concrete car park. Hobbling over to the women’s changing tent I managed to find a corner to collapse in.

My entire face was encrusted in salt and I could feel it burning my eyes, this is my Mum trying to get some of it off with a baby wipe. It really reminds me of the David Bowie clip Adam Buxton plays in his live show, where he’s asking for ‘a tissue for my eyes’ (you probably need to see it)

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I’m super chuffed with my time and and my family were brilliant, ultimate supporters. Now the marathons over I can’t wait to spend more time running with my mum/sisters and cycling with my Dad. My turn to help them out.

During the race I remember thinking it was funny to put in sixteen weeks hard training, risking injury and burn out, purely to spend just under four hours in the pain cave running down a flat main road. You really have to remind yourself that this is where you want to be, you do this for fun.

Everyone who runs marathons is a rock star, no matter what time you do it in, really who cares. You ran 26.2 miles! That’s amazing. Now I’ve put some of the demons hanging around from Edinburgh behind me I think I might have a little break from road marathons.

Time for some new challenges, I’m starting a super exciting new job, my new bike arrives soon and I’m part of the Write This Run – Enduro 12 hour race in June (then the 24 hour Thunder Run in July). So much to look forward too.

Ahh lovely trails.

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