Manchester Marathon 2023

Good luck card and a packet of Jelly babies

Surprisingly, I managed to sleep for most of the night before the race. A family wedding in Knutsford the previous day had had a free bar and a superb band on, and I was a little bit gutted that I couldn’t partake of either, other than having the odd bottle of Peroni 0.0. Instead, I remained sensibly seated for as much of the day as possible, but still managed to chat away to various family members. The sun, that had come out for Parkrun that morning, stayed shining for most of the afternoon and it was a beautiful ceremony, with the whole Cunningham clan present, including all eleven of Shirley’s (Anne’s mum) great-grandchildren. When we got home, there was a wonderful ‘Good Luck’ card and a bag of Jelly Babies for me from our lovely neighbour Bev and family. One of these days, I will persuade her to get back out running with me.

I’m really glad I had done Parkrun, as although my stomach was still doing backflips sometimes at the start of this big one, my legs felt less antsy and jittery. John had some spare Imodium instants that he kindly gave me, and I popped these down my gullet as a just-in-case. It will probably mean that I don’t ‘go’ for the next two days but that was a small price to pay for any unfortunate moments during the marathon. Saturday’s sunshine had kindly disappeared and it remained a nice coolish temperature throughout the day, with the odd drizzle. Perfect running weather.

It was great to have John’s company. We had travelled in together, and chatting away with someone made those first few miles go by effortlessly. I thought it would only be for the start, as he’d only done Brighton a fortnight before, and that he’d fade back later on.

We began with the 5.15 pacer. It’s possible that if we had stayed with them, I would have got around a little quicker. But when John said we were going steady at the 5 hour pace, I wanted to explore how long we could keep it going for. I knew it couldn’t last after all the March niggles, but it was really good to know that the pace we managed, for about the first 15 miles, felt pretty comfortable mostly. In the midst of this section, at around mile 11 ish, I heard a loud ‘Rita!’ with a Lancashire twang. My mate Gail, originally from Duckinfield, popped up to cheer me on and take a few snaps. It was a good time as I was feeling fresh and bouncy still.

‘Keep to the middle’. John had to remind of this several times, and it was very good advice, as the camber in the roads meant that, if we didn’t, our legs would be landing unevenly. Why give one leg more pain, when if you run right, you can give them both equal amounts. This first half was looking good though, with the music blaring out periodically from speakers. ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis was early on, so I still had enough energy to caterwaul along. In the city centre, there were huge screens on every few corners so we could watch ourselves go by, and we all, weirdly, waved to ourselves!

Manchester is not the most scenic of routes, but what it did have was concentrated areas of really excellent support. Not continuously, like London, but I preferred that because there is really nowhere to hide in London, apart from the underground bit. When you’re losing steam and things are beginning to hurt, roaring crowds are not necessarily what you want to hear all the time. And things began to hurt somewhere between 15 and 20, before I had expected it to. Instead of leaving John behind, he went on ahead while I had more and more walk breaks.

By mile 21, my left hip was feeling rather sore, and it seemed as if hills had grown into this flat route at every turn. But getting into the twenties felt good, because I had started to question my life choices before this. Despite how positive you try and be, pain and tiredness does tend to get you down some. My gel choices were okay I think, four in total, and I had used two sachets of dioralyte which did look a bit dodgy as I poured the white powder into my water bottle but at least I didn’t have any ‘bonk’ as such, and remained fairly compos mentis. I had a second pit stop in the loos at around mile 23, because sadly the Imodium doesn’t stop the need to pee and a short while later, to my enormous surprise, John suddenly came from behind me. He confessed to having walked a bit himself. But that didn’t matter at all. It was a fantastic boost to my spirits to see him, and although he sped off ahead again like an absolute machine, I was buoyed enough to get running more. In the last mile and a bit, I stayed running, and for the final straight, I felt like I actually sped up. That last section was filled with people cheering everybody on, which almost made me cry, as I was getting a little emotional by this stage. I raised my arms aloft at the end and felt like a champion.

A 12 minute PB, 5:26:53, which isn’t bad given I’m eight years older than the last time and perimenopausal. It’s a good benchmark, and one I can definitely improve on. Of course it really helped to have a running buddy, so if you fancy booking yourself into the Yorkshire marathon this October John, so we could run together again, that would be great! The nutter is running London (virtually) this coming weekend to complete his 3 marathons in a month challenge, raising money for Macmillan’s Nurses. I couldn’t contemplate walking to the shops for a month as I had some serious Monday legs yesterday, hobbling everywhere. I’ve tested out my Tuesday legs by carrying a tray up the stairs this morning, and surprisingly managed it, slowly. At this rate, I may be on for Parkrun at the end of the week.

8 thoughts on “Manchester Marathon 2023”

  1. Well done Rita, I think a sub-5 marathon is realistic. My thighs always started to complain at around mile 18 and I think it is because you always run a bit quicker in the race than in training. Your legs are now telling you that you put in a great effort so give them a couple of days off but get back running as soon as you can to get rid of the tiredness.

  2. Im absolutely beaming reading this Rita. You are an inspiration – Unfortunately for me my left foot is still not fully recovered as I am reminded every few weeks when I forget about it and don’t look after myself and try and do too much. I will get back out with you one day as I would LOVE to do a marathon – Id settle for a half but doing it together would be awesome.
    Congratulations once again us all at No17 are extremely proud of you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s