I woke up at 6 am and was already feeling the nerves. My stomach was turning which is a first. Probably due to recent PBs at 10k, 15k and half marathon distances, along with a good set of training behind me, a week away in Cyprus to recharge, and a trip to DR Herbs for some acupuncture / back and neck massage after tweaking them Friday.
I also had to get back to the DW to watch Wigan v Wakefield, I felt some pressure to perform.
Mel was doing her support role (and its probably a good job that Julie, Jackie et-al were not there to pull out a kit to encourage her to run). We arrived at the car park 1 hr 15 mins before the start. Plenty of time I though but then saw the queue for the Ticket machine! I left Mel, as she was supporting, in the queue and picked up my number from Bloomfield Road. Nerves were really kicking in and as a result I want to the loo no fewer than 5 times in 45 mins. (Incidentally this is a new pre-race PB for toilet trips).
Eventually it was time to go to the start and find Darren and Barry.
I arrived at the start and due to it being a narrow funnel went close to the start. This didn’t do my nerves any good as everyone around me was talking about sub 3 hr 30 runs!
After a dodgy DJ set, a speech from Ron Hill and the all clear from the Police on the Promenade, the race began.
Darren disappeared into the distance and as predicted with me starting near the front, I spent the first 4 miles watching people pass me as I settled into a steady 9 min mile pace, give or take. This continued until mile 11. Mel was constantly popping up at regular intervals like a Tabloid journalist to take pictures of me.
After the first turn around and run down to complete lap 1, my pace picked up due to the half marathoners eyeing the finish. It dragged me along and my pace quickened to 8 min 35 or so miles. Happy with my pace, I ploughed on. From here until mile 21 along the coast and lower path I overtook runner after runner after runner. It also helped Barry joining me at mile 14 for a few mins for a pep talk of: “You look fine, your running well!”
Also it helped seeing Darren passing on the other side of the road waving. And no forgetting the other half of Team Wane egging me on at regular intervals of the course.
So I hit the turn around and then the fun really started. We went up an incline to the top path of the promenade and I felt a wobble in my thighs. Then at mile 22 near the water station after a swift left and tight right, along with the the paths camber, my legs became jelly and my rhythm went. My mins per mile dropped to 9 mins 30. At mile 25 it dropped further to 9 mins 48 and I was struggling with the demons setting in. Luckily, the crowds were thicker on the section and lots of clapping and whooping inspired me to pick it up again and finish at my original pace.
The final 100m was a great run in into the stadium in front of rows of cheering spectators. So, Marathon finished in a time of 3 hrs 54 mins and 52 secs, a new PB by 36 mins. However, I was hanging onto the hoardings after the finish line trying not to throw up onto the Blackpool FC pitch in front of a few hundred onlookers. However, the medal was well earned. I even managed to get to the DW just 15 mins late to see Wigan Warriors beat Wakefield ( even though I was fighting back the impulse to throw up on a 6 year old in front of us and his parents) and then home after to see Lactics earn a last gasp draw at QPR.
All in all a great day.
A massive thanks to Mel for turning up and cheering me on, and Darren got his cheers too, being photographer and waiting around for 4 hours for me. Next up, a 5k to complete the PB collection. Should be able to manage a sub 22 min run, shouldn’t I?