You don’t always get the medal!

Manchester Marathon by Lisa Heyes

Rain, wind, constant dark nights, the training companions of a spring marathon. I racked up over 600 miles during my training plan. My mantra was ‘follow the plan’, I lived and breathed running for over 4 months, as did everyone else in the Heyes household. This isn’t a personal pity party, I actually enjoyed the training, yes sometimes I was knackered and yes the disastrous dark run in Haigh Hall frightened the life out of me and who wants to be called a ‘F***ing Running W***er’ whilst minding their own business running through Hindley, but, the rest was actually great and very enjoyable. Training had been going really well. I’d come through the ‘tired all the time’ stage and was starting to grow in confidence. That was until 2 weeks before Manchester when we went down to London for the London Landmarks half. To be honest a great, well organised race, but for me this race started with a slight niggle and ended at 13.1 miles with excruciating pains shooting down my leg and a broken medal! The next 2 weeks were spent in constant fear, trying to protect my injury, whilst stupidly trying to run the taper miles (well it’s on the plan) what a novice I am!

Sunday I woke up early, kit was out but I was still not sure whether to run, I’d had lots of lovely good luck messages and John brought me my race day breakfast of porridge and a cup of tea, he’s a keeper! I made the decision to go and give it my best shot. Then came the most hilarious car journey curtesy of Paul Fitzsimmons with entertainment provided by ‘Simmo’ so I arrived very chilled out and not my usual nervous wreck. There was time for a quick toilet stop, club photo and the runners ‘magic banana breakfast’ top up. I then made my way, with some fellow Harriers, to my start pen and waited for 10 agonising minutes until we could begin.

Gun went off, wished good luck to my fellow team mates and I set of running only to pass ‘Dubai Jayne’ in the toilet queue! The first 5 miles felt fine, I found myself running with Dave and Lee, we were chatting and keeping a good pace, though as usual at the start we felt we’d gone off too fast! We went through a water station and seemed to come out the other end without Lee.


Mile 6 to 7 my hip started to give me some jip, but nothing major, so on I went, still with Dave.

Mile 8, pain is getting worse and now it’s in my hip and knee, it’s sore and really uncomfortable, but not unbearable, so being the novice I am, onwards I go!

Mile 9, Dave has pulled away slightly, he keeps checking behind for me, I tell him I’m ok (I’m not really) and to keep going, he’s running really well and had a cracking first marathon with a brilliant finish time. Around here is where I see Dave and Jacqui, cheering me on, I should have stopped here as it is really hurting now, which I shout to them, Jacqui makes signals for me to stop and I do think I’m going to but the stupid devil on my back urges me to try a bit further, you never know it might stop hurting, as if?

Mile 10, yes I’m still going! I see Julie’s Joggers shouting and jumping around enthusiastically. I tell Julie I think I’m going to have to stop but they’re so enthusiastic and seem to think I’m just having a wobble and they are so encouraging, so I just carry on past.

Miles 10 – 12, I’m now having to run, walk. The pain is excruciating and shooting all the way down my leg every time my foot strikes the floor. I need to stop and I start looking around for anyone I know or a marshal. Runners are a great bunch and I’m constantly being asked am I ok, do I need help. At this point I see Paul Carter then Alex Roberts on the switch back, they are both looking really strong and in front of the 3:29 pacer, I shout encouragement and hobble on.

Mile 12, I round on to the main street in Altringham. There on the corner is the best sight ever, the Harriers flag! I burst in to tears. Jonathan scoops me in to his coat as I sob my disappointment out. Mike, Katherine, Serena, Rayford and Jonathan were brilliant with me, offering comfort and invaluable advice as even at this point I was still questioning myself and wrestling with carrying on and walking the last 14 or so miles, luckily Mr Harris put his foot down and told me this was not happening! Now this will tell all you runners the state I was in, I still hadn’t stopped my Garmin!


It was decided the best course of action would be for me to go back to the start with Serena, Jonathan and Rayford. Jonathan then carries me to the tram stop, one of them commented it was like the scene from ‘Officer and a Gentleman’, it really wasn’t, it’s him carrying a crying, snotty, middle aged women, poor Jonathan, he’s a good ‘un, my hero for the day. My 3 RACE ANGELS then got me to mile 25, luckily we got there just in time for me to see John well on the way to his sub 3 hour marathon and cheer him and others on. John you did amazingly well and I’m really proud of you.

So, there you go, my experience of this years Manchester marathon, very different to last years euphoric experience. It’s hard to put in hours and months of winter training, then not finish a race you put your heart and soul in to. I really struggled for the first few days after the race with the disappointment I felt in myself and the ‘what ifs’. All the messages I had off you lovely bunch meant I was never far from tears. Family Heyes spent 24 walking on eggshells and poor John had to try and keep the sub 3 smile hidden!

So no ‘meggal’ or t-shirt for me, gutted! But I won’t be the first or last person this happens to.

Moving forward the 4 week ‘lay off’ I’ve had to endure so far has been far worse than the DNF. I have missed being out in the fresh air just putting one foot in front of the other, pain free, with likeminded people, who support each other and who I’m lucky enough to call friends.

GO TEAM HARRIERS

 

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A first Marathon

My First Marathon – Manchester

Someone once told me you can’t do a Marathon and for a long time, I started to believe them, which made my confidence go so low. This was not long before and after my injury and I then was told by a Chiropractor you should never attempt one either. From the injury, I had been seeing him over in which I picked up from the 401 (My own fault completely and not Ian Yates as much as I wind him up over it). Well two and bit years after that and working so hard to build back up the miles again, I felt great and even though my times where never the way they were prior to injury. At this point I settled for that and still do. I now don’t chase PB’s and I enjoy every race I entre, take it all in and get to the end. At the end of the day I still get the same medal as everyone and I see it as a plus I haven’t broken myself again on the race.

After gaining a little bit of confidence, getting over some personal issues, I thought “sod this let’s do it”. So, April 2018 I clicked the enter button on Manchester Marathon page and I was in!! Looking back, I was excited and knew I have a whole year ahead of me to process what I had done. Well a few months went by and it didn’t sink in or anything. Well that soon changed come November and the training was just around the corner. I went to the long runs with the DHR, not only are they the most amazing people, I know and ran with before, but I knew that the Sunday long runs would be slightly easier knowing I was with people in the same boat as me. I knew if I did my long runs with them, I would get it done, as no way I would do it on my own. I really can’t thank them enough.

My training was bob on and enjoying it in a weird way, but I managed to pick up an injury. This wasn’t great especially as it wasn’t running related. I had managed to pull a nerve in the lower of my back and for two weeks I could barely sit, move, walk, never mind run. Doctor advised me to not do the marathon and defer it and rest the back. Sadly, I had missed the deferral point. So, I had to bare the pain, take a lot of pain relief and get on with it. So, at points when some of you might have seen I was going a lot slower than planned, I was battling this back pain. Pain killer was my best friend for a month or so that’s for sure.

So, the big day came, I was running this not only for me but for my Dad. Manchester was his home town and was only fitting to do my only marathon there. Also, I decided to run for Sepsis Trust, as sadly, Sepsis took my Dad’s life at the age of 56. I raised over my target, currently at the £400 mark and still getting donations in, so I’m happy. The day started great all packed into the car and parked at Old Trafford. Enough time to get to the finish line to see some of the other fellow harriers, wish them well and move into our allocated pens. I went with James and Emma, it was Emma’s first marathon too. Won’t lie I was nervous and think it’s only right, no matter how many races you do. I was freezing and I realised I should have brought an old jumper to keep me warm. The race started and we watched them on the big screen then we moved to the start ourselves. Then next thing was we were off. We placed ourselves with 5:30 pacer and I was comfy. I know at one point I must have picked up some speed without knowing and didn’t see James or Emma. But at mile 6 I needed a loo stop and then they caught me up and we ran a fair whack after together.

My problem was about mile 15 and that’s when I felt the knee. Not my bad knee with my old injury the good one of all things. I was annoyed and worried about all the other injuries, like my back, this came out the blue. I told them to go don’t wait for me, go and make yourself proud. I walked/ran for two miles. But I ended up walking in too much pain, cold and on the verge of crying. Then this lady came to me, her name was Sam and asked if I was ok, well then that was it the floods opened and she gave me a hug and said she’s hurt to and will run walk with me. I felt happy to have company. We got to mile 22, power walking and chatting away, the time flew. We then bumped into another runner, Karen, who was struggling, and she joined us. At this point Sam said she’ll go a little fast if that was ok which we were happy to let her go and see her husband who had already finished. She said she’ll wait at the end for us.

Me and Karen did the last few miles together chatting and getting though it together. We got to the mile 25 mark and we knew we were at the end and a marshal told us to keep going there’s crowds waiting for us still and cheering. We were happy to hear this as we kind of thought we were last! I spotted my bro just a bit away from the finish line who shouted: “Run Sarah Run, go it’s nearly done, goooooo!!”. This was 400 yards to the end, I said to Karen “come on let’s run this last bit, we are in pain but we can do it”. Then I heard this voice from the crowds shouting “Go Sazzle, go!” and knew it was my boyfriend seeing me in. I won’t lie that 400 yards was so hard with the pain, but I was so happy to see that finish line.

Both of us got our picture taken together, collected our medals and walked through the village to collect our t-shirts. Low and behold we saw Sam, she was there with her husband and she did wait for us. She gave us both a massive hug, well done and left us to meet our supporters. Since the day, me and Karen have become friends and follow each other’s progress on our running.

I found my two supporters and they gave me a massive hug; little cry as was happy I did it and we walked back to the car. Well I say walk, it was more of a ‘John Wayne walk!’ Managed to get home, shower, food and a well-earned early night was needed. I took the day off work the next day which I think was wise. I had no issues with stairs like everyone seemed to have, it was more the general walking flats which I found odd. I took three weeks off running and just focused on swimming, cycling which has helped but I still have knee issues, which I think it mainly due to a tight ITB. Doing stretches and exercises to loosen it will get me back on track in no time. I have learnt to listen to my body.

The whole experience was a mix of emotions from before, the day and after. My head wants to hit another one but sadly my body is so broken it can’t take any more and I will have to stick to half’s from now on. If anyone thinks they can’t do it my words are “YES YOU CAN!”. If I can overcome being told no you can’t, an injury and manage to complete one, then you certainly can. I am happy to tick this off my bucket list and say “I AM A MARATHON RUNNER”.

Sarah-Elizabeth Coates