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

 

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

Manchester Marathon

Well done to all today’s Marathoners. Here are a few of the many photos taken today. PB or a good story to tell? Then please drop us a report so we can share. A glorious turn out of so many black and red vests is worth shouting about!

 

Sandbaggers on tour (Certificate 18)

SANDBAGGERS ON TOUR/MY RUNNING STAG DO

If your reading this be prepared to have a box of tissues at the ready, because if this race report does not have you in tears of laughter I don’t know what will.

It all started when I went shopping with Emma the week before when Katie Green served us as she usually does. The next words that came out of her mouth was ‘I’m really worried about what’s going to happen with you idiots when you go away next week. Her intuition was right, everything she thought would happen basically did.

4.45am on Saturday Morning on the 8th of December, the alarm went off and it was time to go to the Airport wondering what the next three days would have in store for me, an hour later I met up with the other Sandbaggers of Chris Green, Jonathan Kearsley, Kyle Hazelaar and we were dropped off at the Airport whilst taking bets on the way that either myself or Kyle would get stopped at Airport security due to our ethnicity. We took a picture at the Arabic and Chinese board for a laugh and also I couldn’t read the English one very well so it was a good thing it was there. The bags went through and the three Sandbaggers luggage went through without a problem apart from you guessed it mine. My heart sank and the laughter rose from Kyle, Jonny and Chris as they cottoned on what had happened. ‘why me, why now! I thought, as I managed a nervous giggle. The security guy opened my bag and did a search with a swab stick to where Chris said that the security guy had detected various sexual infections on the swab, much to the sandbaggers and the security guys amusement, after the I got the all clear, a bit of breakfast and Kyle spending at least 30 minutes on the toilet for some reason we finally got on the flight to Malaga, where the banter continued.

On the flight, I was sat in the middle of Chris and Jonny and I know now that if I was to go away with them again, I’ll book to sit somewhere else or make sure I have the strongest coffee to stay awake because the banter was relentless. Kyle who sat next to us across the aisle fell asleep 20 minutes into the flight, and Jonny with a bottle of water wet his crotch. I knew both Jonny and Chris were up to something with me as well and I tried my hardest to stay awake, I managed to get a bit of sleep before waking back up because I needed the toilet that’s when Jonny struck with the water bottle with me and I had to do the walk of shame down the plane with Jonny shouting ‘are you a nervous flyer Rayford.’ In the middle of the flight the lads had agreed to reveal what I’d be wearing for the marathon and Chris pulled out the worst thing I could wear possible, a Manchester City and have Liverpool top with Steven Gerrard on the back, I wanted to projectile vomit and have the ground swallow me up, I’d never seen something so filthy in my life and I had no other option but to wear it now. Jonny decided to wet me again before we were due to land and I walked onto Spanish soil with a wet crotch and disgusted locals glaring at me. A few hours in, I knew this Stag do was going ruthless.

After arriving at the apartment, collecting our numbers from the Marathon expo and doing a bit of sight seeing it turned into early evening and we all decided after Chris suggested on having a meal and a FEW drinks and getting back for a reasonable time. We all decided on pizza but Kyle decided on a tuna Pizza and how he was made to pay for the consequences later on. One alcoholic drink turned into another then into stronger alcoholic, the crazy suggestions of going out all night and then running the marathon straight after was flying about. I ended up breaking a chair due to my excessive winter weight. Jonny and Kyle couldn’t wait to pass on the opportunity to get out their phones and take photos of me and post it on Facebook instantly even the Spanish in the square where we were eating were in tears of laughter. A little afterwards Chris broke Jonny’s dreams after he suggested he reckoned he could run sub 3 in the marathon the next day and he replied bluntly and a with a laugh of ‘no you can’t’, and to end it all I had to get pulled out of the bar by Kyle and Chris because we were absolutely ring bolted and it was descending into chaos. We staggered back to the apartment where reality hit Kyle and said ‘F#%* me Rayf’, we’re running a marathon tomorrow. What are we doing?’ I just laughed in a drunken state and fell asleep. What happened next I’ll never forget.

The morning of the Marathon I woke up to a noise, it wasn’t my alarm and I noticed it was still pitch black outside. It was a noise I can best describe as a whale dying, it was Kyle and he was being violently sick. The tuna pizza had caught up with him and he woke up the whole apartment with his vomiting. He knew at the moment he f&@ked up! as he crawled back to bed I noticed myself that the room was spinning and I had only a few hours before I had to run a Marathon. The next time I woke up it was to the sound of Chris Green shouting ONNNNNN! Oh dear, the room was still spinning and I had a massive headache, Kyle just get going I’m still spinning and ohhhhhh, whilst both Jonny and Chris slowly made there way to have breakfast and I had to put that wretched shirt on, I never felt so dirty in my life. We only had 45 minutes to get the start and we were a state.

On the way to the Start line, Chris, Jonny and Kyle were singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone. These were the songs I heard repeatedly for the four hours. On the Start line all four of us were stood there just staring into the abyss, Kyle repeating saying ‘What the F&@k are we doing’. It all seemed a dream but it wasn’t we were still leathered and we faced a nightmare scenario. The gun went and we all agreed previously that Jonny should go for it with the shape he’s currently in. He weaved through the ground and off he went which left myself, Chris and Kyle to slog it out, across the start line with all three of us shouting ONNNN! The Marathon started.

Mile 1 had passed and Kyle asked when the first Water Station was, Chris said there’s one a 5k, Kyle groaned followed by his 202nd ‘Feck’, of that morning, Chris followed UP with but Kylie in 2.4km we’ll have 8 parkraces left. Kyle groaned again. Mile 3 and Chris’s shoelace decided to come undone, the amount of runners that told him his shoelace was undone from mile 3 to mile 23 must of been in the hundreds but his responses changed from ‘yes thank you, yes I know to feck off I know’. I find amusing. We came up to 10 km along the pier and we saw Jonny going the other way coming up to 12 km shouting ‘Golly gosh boys it’s on!’, and off he flew. At 11Km the first spectator shouted Go on City at me, Chris and Kyle burst in laughter and started singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone again much to my joy.
As we ran up to Marbella and back down again, Kyle was struggling but Chris positivity kept us both going and coming up to halfway we saw Kelly Withers looking rather weary going the other way and we gave the best encourage we could as she was on her own. We passed Kelly’s parents before we ran back into the City centre to a rapturous ovation. They loved Chris’s pink hair the shouts of Vamos, Allez and something that sounded like Animal pushed us on into the second part of the race. We got passed 14 miles and Chris’s persistent singing of You’ll never walk alone and ‘Kylie you’ve only got 5 more parkraces kept us going, the song choices changed from You’ll never walk alone to Rhythm is a Dancer as Kyle was continue to struggle and he wanted to hear some 90’s dance songs. The 25 km marker came and Chris decides to run backwards through it. Myself and Kyle are looking at each other thinking how has he got this much energy.

At 16 miles is something that will I never forget, Chris started singing You’ll walk alone again as we passed them and they started singing it, my pace increased dramatically then. At 17 miles still running 8 minute miling, Kyle say’s ‘He’s suffering’, Chris then says to Kyle not mentioning names but along these lines ‘think of a certain female at home in high heels and something else’. Kyle’s pace increased at that moment that quickly even Eliud Kipchoge wouldn’t of got near him. We got to mile 19 and stadium section where Chris decides to sprint on the track and then run back for us and then decides to run backwards again. The next four miles after that I can describe the worst I’ve ever ran, the heat was getting up, the banter and chit chat had become brief apart from Chris saying ‘are you ok Rayford’, I’d reply with ‘I’m good’, he’d reply again with ‘you’re talking b#llocks, why are you lying to me,’ I wanted to laugh but I was too tired to and at Mile 23 and half, all three of us decided to stop and walk for half a mile to compose ourselves again. We got to mile 24, near Malaga’s football ground and decided right it’s the last two mile lets finish it off. We pulled our pace back down again and through the City centre at Mile 25 Chris and I started to belt out I’m feeling good by MUSE.

We swung around the City Centre under the Christmas lights and there was the finish not before I was heckled by a Manchester United fan saying ‘feck off City,’ as we ran down the road to see Jonny beaming after he ran a 3.05, we finished arm in arm, we completely winged a Marathon, a true test of what teamwork was.

On the Beach after the Marathon, we had to ‘GET IN THE SEA’, to help our legs recover and we decided to bury Kyle alive, the poor man was practically dead, as we left the beach literally we found that Kelly had finished and we were all made for her. She ran a marathon by herself in some severe heat, she showed she has some serious bottle.

After a Nap we heading out on the town, we were sat relaxing in the Irish bar and Kyle introduced us to Creepy Crawford, a randomer and then Kelly eventually joined us. I don’t remember much of that night after that apart from drinking a awful cocktail, sitting on Picasso’s statue, Kyle making Crawford cry after he said we’re moving on from you and shouting ONNNN, so we could sprint away from him through the streets of Malaga and then myself getting lost only to be found by the lads hearing my vomiting noises from down the Street. We at 3am decided to call it a night, it really had be some day.

All I can say is Malaga was of the best weekends I’ve ever had and said this before but thank you to the Lads and Kelly for making my stag do what it was.

RAYFORD


 

Can you wing a marathon?

Berlin Marathon by Katie Green

It’s safe to say that me and marathons don’t have the best of relationships. I have just completed my third one and for all three of them I had every intention of getting the training in and doing myself and the club proud, yet for all three something has gone tits up in the run up and messed up the training! This time round was a combination of trying to get the time to do the long runs and having the god awful luck of waking up the day after a physio session and sports massage to find the nerve in my knee was trapped making it nearly impossible to walk as I couldn’t bear weight on my leg. It’s hard enough trying to work full-time time and train as most of us know but when you add in two kids and a husband who works nights its takes stupid amounts of planning to try to get training in for either of us. One day I’ll actually get to a marathon start line and feel confident because the training is there and I know I’ll get round because it’s beyond frustrating when you feel like you keep failing at something that you should be capable of doing better.

I can easily say that out of the three marathons I’ve dragged my ass round so far Berlin has been the best one. The expo was the most random one we’ve been too and they definitely have the strictest protocols on place to make sure there’s no cheating or number swapping. To get into the athletes are you have to present a QR code marathon pass that you get emailed along with a valid form of id, you then have a wristband heat sealed onto you, so there’s no way you’re getting it off without scissors, and then you’re allowed to go get your race number where you need to show another guy your race pass and id. It’s a bit off a ball ache but it does work and keeps things fair! If you go around the city on the Saturday you can watch the first day of the marathon which is a bit nuts and its people doing it on roller blades, these are serious athletes in speed suits with thighs that could kill you, they make it look effortless but I think I’d die on wheels about 5 miles in. It was when we came across the finish village watching this that it all hit home to me what I was attempting to do the day after and I came very close to breaking down, who doesn’t love crying in front of a couple of thousand Germans and tourists :/

Chris is the only reason I made it round this marathon, one because he’s a stubborn muppet who was adamant he was getting me round and two because he gave up his fast race to get me over the finish because he saw how much I was freaking out before we’d even got to race day morning and I can’t thank him enough for that. The night before race day was methodical checking of kit and race belts and obsessively checking the weather reports to see if the temperature was due to cool down any and to keep things fun of course it didn’t. He did his best to calm me down but a broken night’s sleep led to a stupidly early start to the day on Sunday as there was no way I was getting back to sleep. Races away from home can always be tricky, especially when in another country, as you can struggle to do your normal race morning routine but having an apartment made it a lot easier than London or Amsterdam as we had bought stuff in for breakfast so I would be able to eat properly. I am an odd runner as I can’t go out unless I’ve eaten properly, cereal, toast, fruit and a nature valley bar before the race meant I was feeling pretty good for a change. We set off from the apartment towards the race start which was only a mile walk away finding plenty of other runners along the way, I think we got 5 minutes away from the apartment before the first person stopped Chris to ask for a picture ha ha, this continued on through the whole of the race!

This is definitely one of the best starts to a race I have experienced! Who doesn’t love a warm up to some euro trance with a few thousand excited people, they get you really excited and in a good mood to race (even if it’s already 10am and getting warmer by the minute with no clouds in site). We set off at a pretty steady pace though it was a bit cramped for the first 3 miles with lots of weaving around those at a slower pace. Our first experience of the water station points was a little bit of a shock too. They are big on reducing waste so they promote the use of reusable cups or your own bottles but the station was just carnage with plastic cups everywhere and trying not to get elbowed out the way or go flying on a discarded cup! Chris was taking control of the pace as I’d already said I trusted him to get me round so I didn’t have to focus too much on what my watch was saying and I could just feel the pace and decide if it was comfortable or if I needed to slow down a bit. The support during the course was pretty consistent and really gave a boost, there were people cheering everywhere, bands dotted about the course and of course kids ready and waiting to give high 5’s (Chris was definitely targeted by the kids more than the other runners), one of the best atmospheres I’ve experienced at a race so far except for maybe iron-man.

We were pretty steady on pace up till mile 14 even including a pee break, though my hamstrings on my right leg had been tight since the start of the race and they just weren’t letting up. About mile 15 the tightness had managed to creep up into my glute and spread round to my quad and the pace started to drop. Chris was trying his best to coach me through the pain but stopping to stretch off just wasn’t making a dent in it so I ended up taking advantage of the on course massage though it would only help for about 3 miles. After that everything just fell apart for me really, I was hot, queasy and dizzy and my muscles were screaming at me. Being stupid and stop starting meant that they were seizing up and making the pain even worse. I felt so crap and knew that my actions were causing Chris’s legs to start seizing up too which was just making me feel worse. I had tried to make sure I had kept well hydrated and I took my salt sticks with me as these are amazing at keeping away muscle cramp but if you don’t do decent training for a marathon it will all fall apart at some point. I’d had to walk as I felt that bad even with Chris jogging backwards to wind me up and distract me I just couldn’t bring myself to get back into a stride. I stopped again at another massage point hoping to get some life back in my legs.

I spent the last 10k of the race desperately trying to run/shuffle/ hobble anything that wasn’t walking and it took everything I had to keep going but I still felt like I had failed as I caved in yet again and had to walk. We were so close to getting me a pb but I just let myself down in the end, I came so close to crying out of frustration and exhaustion but managed to sort of hold it together thanks to Chris just hugging me and keeping his arm around me while walking. There are points during a race where you usually see a loved one or family and those happy tears just force their way out, you can’t stop it it’s like sheer relief at seeing them and you usually look like a complete tit but its going to happen and in those last two miles it happened for me. Walking hand in hand with my husband who had tried his best to get me round a marathon I was petrified of, him trying his best to cheer me up and convince me I hadn’t failed or let him down after he gave up his chance at a good time to help me and I just couldn’t help it. Its points like this, especially if you’re a couple who both run and don’t usually run together because one of you is a bit crap and the others a speedy bugger, that you realise how much they really do love and support you. As we rounded the last corner and could see Brandenburg Gate I decided I had to have that one last push as I had never walked over a finish line yet and I wasn’t starting then, it was slow and hurt like hell but it was just so nice coming up to the finish line with Chris holding my hand making sure we finished together. I’m looking forward to seeing the race pictures when they finally come through as it will either look really sweet and romantic or really stupid with us holding hands during a marathon, no matter what though I finished the damn thing.

I can safely say I still feel like I let myself down massively with this race but my mentality is getting better, I had originally set out with the intention of not having a pb as my main goal ( it would be awesome if it happened but not the most important thing). The main thing I wanted was to get through a marathon and not have my knee give out on me or for it to go tits up. Well, it did go a bit tits up as I just fall apart in the heat and my poor training led to my muscles rebelling against me but at least my knee held up!! The physio exercises are definitely helping and I have one more marathon left to go next year at Manchester and god help me I will get round it, and train properly even if I have to give the sandbaggers permission to bully the crap out of me into going out for the long runs!

 

Amsterdam Marathon by Katie Green

For most people, going to Amsterdam for a birthday weekend away would mean drinks, food and relaxing. That doesn’t happen when your stupid enough to marry a runner. Chris thought it would be a great idea to sign me up to Amsterdam marathon for my 30th birthday present and make it really memorable, he has a lot more faith in me than I do.

Bricking it would be a complete understatement of how nervous I was on race day morning. I had Chris being his annoyingly perky race day self bouncing around and telling me I’ll be fine and a mile and a half walk from the hotel to the start of the race to carry on freaking out. Turning up at an Olympic stadium surrounded by a couple of thousand people really doesn’t help settle your nerves, thank god for all the portaloos outside the stadium. We found Cath and Pete not long after we arrived then made our way into the stadium, still petrified at this point, I got a kiss and a hug off Chris then we went to our waiting areas and waited anxiously for it to all start. I had Cath and Pete trying to chill me out a bit saying it will be fine and I was trying to remind myself that I know I’m capable of at least 18 miles so even if I have to walk after that I should be able to do it.

The starting gun went and the elites set off, followed by the other stupidly fast idiots who can somehow run this thing in 3 hours. It only took ten minutes between the starting gun going off and our coral crossing the start line and then it got very real very fast. I knew I wanted to try and aim for 4 hours hours so all I had to for was 9 minute miles but that’s a lot easier to maintain when not surrounded by daft amounts of runners from around 110 countries. The first 3 miles were spent trying to avoid being tripped up by people cutting across without warning, some serious bottle necking on corners and not breaking an ankle running over tram lines. I had some wonderful man crack his elbow into my arm so hard my Garmin paused because it thought I fell but luckily I noticed and started it again (though may as well have not bothered as it rebelled later on). I was feeling pretty comfortable for a bit from mile 5, there were fewer runners trying to take me out and my legs felt pretty happy but I was very aware of how warm it was getting and how few clouds there were. I hate running when its hot, I avoid the sun at most costs even when just out and about and I have stupid running vest shaped sunburn now to back up why I hate running in heat. I was getting to the point where your trying to spot a portaloo or a bush just so you can pee before you get desperate and run the risk of wetting yourself, because no one really wants that to happen, and resources were few and far between. Luckily around mile 8 at the refueling station I saw my chance but this is where things started to go a bit tits up.

I managed to pee during a race and keep my dignity but my Garmin decided to go screw you. Looking at the screen and there was a lovely little black square covering the centre of the face and nothing was playing. It wouldn’t reset, turn off or even beep annoyingly at me, bollocks was the overwhelming train of thought. I knew I was going to have to run blind and try and use my best judgement as to what pace I was doing. I took a risk and started the Strava on my phone just so I could have a record of my run but I knew it would drain battery so may not last the distance. I had to rely on the race markers that were laid out but I always run in miles trying to gauge things in kilometres was a bit odd. I made sure I took my blocks at regular intervals and started having the banana at the rest stops. I managed to find some English runners after spotting them laughing at me calling a french runner a knob for nearly tripping me up and they were kind enough to let me know I was still on pace for 4 hours. My brain was starting to think this could happen but then my leg had other ideas.

Just after the half way point my usual issue cropped up, the right side of my hip and backside started to go tight and I knew this was going to go downhill fast. Arguing with myself I knew this was going to turn into a walk/ run race and I really didn’t want that to happen. We were starting on the longest out and back section of the course down the canal, very little shade and hot sun sun and soooo hard. I spent the next few miles alternating between slowing my pace, stopping to stretch, having to walk and arguing with my leg that it was a git who I wasn’t happy with. I told myself if I could get to 35k without dying I could finish this and at 32k I came very close to having a bit of a break down. I was walking again as my right thigh was just cramping up and all around my knee was spasming. I tried ringing Chris figuring he would have finished but his phone was still off so I just text him to let him know I was in a bad way. Hobbling along trying my best not to cry and having complete strangers cheer you on while passing runners patted me on the back for encouragement was very surreal. I was in a beautiful city on a gorgeous day and if I wasn’t in so much pain running a stupid marathon I would have been very happy but I just wanted to lie down on the floor and have someone bring me ice cream.

I managed to tell myself off enough to start shuffling again as I passed the 33k marker but I was very aware that this was the hardest 10k I would ever run, everything in me wanted to stop but as Chris likes to point out I’m a stubborn git and I had come too far to quit. It was a shuffle/ jog/ walk race from this point but I knew I had to do it, I couldn’t sit on the floor and cry in front of this many strangers it would definitely end up being filmed. I got past the Duracell bunny cheering us on with 5k to then I found another broken runner who helped get me to the end. A lovely girl called Kaitlin was talking to a dutch guy about how she had injured her hamstring around the 28k mark and had been told not to carry on but she had trained too hard not to finish. She was asking if this guy would run with her so I turned round and said i would get her to the finish. It was odd being as broken as I was and telling this girl I would get her round the last of a marathon seeing as I had never done one before. She was so grateful and we kept chatting to distract ourselves from the pain while counting down the markers. She kept apologizing for needing to walk as we reached Vondel park but I told her she was getting me round as much as I was getting her round. We were happily calling the other runners gits that had finished and were walking eating ice cream and we were both cursing our partners who were both capable of sub 3:30 marathons. She was so perky even in agony and she made that last bit bearable. We were both saying that it doesn’t matter if were not running were moving forward and that’s all that matters. I’ve never been do happy to have someone shout out that there’s only 800m left to go. I may have squealed at the sight of the stadium and I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the only picture of me during the race where I look happy. We both hobbled into the stadium and onto the running track with a feeling of pure relief that we could stop in just a few feet. We both got our asses over that finish line! I had Chris come straight over and give me a massive hug, and I held it together and didn’t cry, then me and my running buddy gave each other a hug and thanks for getting each other through it.

Everything from my hips down was in agony. I could barely walk and just wanted to lie down but I did it. Chris and Cath were telling me how proud they were and all I could do was be angry with myself. I knew I was capable of better and was just going over all the what if’s in my head. I’m still doing it now. I know when I stop feeling annoyed with myself I will probably be proud of myself but I think the leg pain and sunburn will have gone before that happens. The main positive I’m taking from this run is that I managed to cover the distance even though I wanted to give up and I managed to help another runner finish something she trained so hard for.

Well done Katie – apologies it took a couple of weeks to publish!

Windermere Marathon success!

Windermere Marathon 22nd May 2016 by Tracey Dutton

I only decided to enter Windermere Marathon about a month ago. I thought as I had done 4 marathons with Ben Smith and had been helping Susan train for Manchester Marathon, that with the mileage in my legs I should give it a go. So I entered myself into the Marathon and Hubby into half marathon. Windermere Marathon has a special place in my heart, it was mine and Jayne Taylor’s first marathon back in 2007. I ran Windermere again in 2009.

The weeks leading up to the marathon I listened to Jayne’s training advice and used Andy Eccles taper plan, which works everytime for me and carbo loaded. On the Saturday morning I had 2 breakfasts before we set off to Ambleside stopping at Leighton Moss for coffee and cake on the way before checking into our accommodation for the night. We walked 1 mile to Brathay Lodge to get our goody bags and our race numbers. I got all my kit ready for the next day. I had an evening meal with a small glass of red wine to relax me as I was bag of nerves before having a early night. I woke up at 4am, couldn’t sleep just kept thinking of the course. Got dressed and put loads of deep heat on my legs. Had small bowl of porridge and a toasted gluten free bun for breakfast, still felt sick with nerves. We parked the car up on field at Brathay Lodge. As I was waiting for the portaloo I heard someone shouting Tracey, I looked round and it was Karen from Eden Runners, we have been friends since 2007 at our first marathon. I ran and gave her a big hug and all my nerves disappeared.

At 9:45am we were drummed all the way down the hill from the Lodge to the main road to the start line. A guy dressed in tweed fired a rifle and off we went. I had forgotten how undulating the course was. After Hawkshead there was a very steep climb at 7.5 miles, my legs were burning, I told my legs come on we can get up this hill. I was thinking I have gone off too quick and reminded myself it’s a marathon you’re doing not a 10k, but my legs said you’re not slowing down. Half way up the hill I over took 2 guys and I could hear bag pipes, I thought that’s strange we are in middle of nowhere with just woods either side of the road, but as I got to top of the hill there was 2 bag pipers, which made me smile. I took energy gels on board every 5 miles just like Andy Eccles once told me. I was really pleased with my time at half way, which was 1:31. I carried on to Newby Bridge then on to Bowness were I over took a few more guys and the 10 in 10 runners. Before this it was a very lonely race, it was nice to see people cheering you on through Bowness and then on to Windermere, but it was a bit of hard work trying to dodge members of the public who were blocking the pavement. The hill at mile 20, which I had been dreading (this is the point I hit the wall on the first Windermere Marathon), was a doddle to the hills before this. We were then on our way to Ambleside along a busy road this was quite undulating as well. I over took a guy when we had 3 miles to go and remember saying to him “come on there’s only 3 miles to go” (I bet he wanted to tell me where to go). I got to Ambleside and thought I have got to give all my energy now to get up the big hill to the hall. It’s about 1/2 mile long, its such a cruel finish when you have no energy, but I found it just about. I was dying but as I saw the finish line I quicken my step and finished 3:08:53 (chip time), came first lady and 15th overall out of 526 runners. I was in total shock at my time, I just couldn’t believe it, I was hoping to get around 3:20. All round the course I had to work extra hard as I knew I was first lady from about 3 mile mark. I burst into tears when I saw hubby I was so emotional. I went to get changed, had a protein shake as I couldn’t face eating anything, went to get a coffee and had a good stretch. I had a chat to Jos (the famous fell runner) who gave me lots of advice, told me to lengthen my stride.

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I have to do the race again next year now as I’ve got to give the trophy back, unless I do the half marathon.

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We will see, at the moment my legs are saying never again.

Manchester Marathon by Mel Wane

I never thought I would run a marathon, especially not after having my little girl just over 2 years ago. Then a disappointing summer of running, coupled with the fact that even though I still had almost a stone of baby weight to lose, the baby that caused it was fast becoming a little girl led to me entering the Manchester Marathon.

After four months of hard training, usually accompanied by Becki and Mandy, I arrived in Manchester on Sunday a bag of nerves in a Harriers vest, with Mr W having agreed at the last minute to run with me. We found some of our fellow Harriers in the event village and marvelled at the queues for the bag drop before heading off to the starting pens quarter to 9. Safely in position for the start, there was time for a few quick pre-race selfies before the crowd started to move forward. 10 minutes later,with the start line in sight, our group started to split up. At this point I felt a bit panicked that I wasn’t going fast enough, but my conscience (Gary) told me to hold back and take my time. The first few miles around Trafford were great, the winding course meant that it was easy to spot other Harriers and everyone was still alert enough to cheer each other on. As we made our way past Old Trafford, passing the start again, the music and the crowds gave us a great lift but again my conscience told me not to get carried away.

From there, the road straightened out and we were into the serious miles and the very serious business of running them. Those early miles from Stretford to Sale ticked quietly and easily by. Mr W and I rarely get to run together these days and it was nice to run and chat and enjoy the sunshine. On 8 miles we entered Sale where we saw Julie and Darren cheering us on. The crowds were out in force and we barely went more than 50 metres or so without someone offering us jelly babies or haribos or wine gums…It was amazing – although it does go against the mantra of not trying anything new on race day!

As we headed through mile 9 our paths crossed once more with the runners at the front of the pack and, for the next few miles, Gaz and I played a game of Spot the Harrier that carried us all the way through Timperly.

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After what seemed like a lifetime (it had actually only been just over 2 hours) we were in sight of Altrincham and the halfway point (and some cheering Harriers who had decided that a hill was the best place to get photos of us all – You know who you are!) In all honesty, I started to feel a bit emotional about it all and overcome by how far we still had to go. I was really thankful to have Gaz at my side helping me to re-focus and keep my pace going.

Soon we had passed the halfway point and were making our way back through Timperly, with the sun high in the sky I was glad of the shade provided by the trees and even gladder of the flapjacks in my running belt. Mr W, having stepped in at the last minute, was less well prepared so I sent him of to forage for his lunch amongst well wishers and he returned moments later with some jaffa cakes for himself.

Before too much longer we had hit the 16 mile marker – the mental halfway point according to Gaz. I still didn’t feel too bad and by this point my legs were doing their own thing so I just left them to it. As mile 16 turned into mile 17 we saw Jacqui and Dave – or rather they saw us and shouted and cheered and shouted some more and then it registered that we knew them and I gave them a wave and, before I had really acknowledged them, they were gone.

At mile 18 I was hurting so I decided that painkillers where the order of the day. Over the next two miles they got to work and I arrived at mile 20 feeling relatively fresh and able to enjoy the country air as we made our way out to Carrington. A lot of people have said to me that a marathon is a 20 mile warm up with a 10k race at the end and, somewhere along the way, I must have taken it to heart because something in me started to push on, for the first time I felt like the finish was in sight. For the last 6 miles Gaz steered me round runner after runner and kept me on the racing line.

By the time we had covered 24 miles every step was hurting and every inch of me wanted to stop, but I kept telling myself that the only way I could do that was to get to the finish line so I pushed on. As we passed the 25 mile marker I was really struggling; Mr W, having done well so far, encouraged me to keep going – You’ll see Imogen soon. – of course he underestimated the high levels of emotion that I was experiencing and earned himself a few choice curses while I wiped my face and tried not to cry all the way to the finish.

Before, After and later! 😊

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As we powered through Stretford (no really, it just didn’t look like it from the sidelines) Rachel and Paul were there again cheering us onwards and taking yet more flattering pictures. Then it was round the corner and the finish line was in sight. As my watch beeped to say that I had covered 26 miles I suddenly felt like I was running through sand and burning sand at that. It seemed like rather than getting closer, the finish line was moving further away. Luckily at this point the crowd’s cheering carried me on, I put in a last burst and crossed the line. Staggering down the finish chute and back into the village Gaz – who had very gallantly crossed the line a second after me – caught up and together we looked at my watch…I had hoped to go under 5 hours and possibly even – if I was very lucky – 4:50…With a watch time of 4:45:18 and an almost matching chip time of 4:45:17, I am over the moon with my marathon result. I am officially a better runner now than before having Imogen – something that 2 years ago – as I struggled to finish a 5k in 37 minutes – I never would have thought possible. So I’d like to thank all the Harriers that have cheered me on, and encouraged me and run with me over the last 2 years – especially those times when I didn’t feel good enough or fit enough – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Gary smiling so worth showing again. 😄

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Bristol to Bath Marathon

Many moons ago I had signed up for this marathon in a moment of panic / reflection writes Gary Wane. I’d finished the Lakeland 50 and felt like my running future was uncertain. A now what moment. I entered this in the hope to keep the running fire simmering and not ebb away. It gave me something to aim for. My training was hit and miss trying to fit 3-4 runs a week in-between family life and a 60+hr working week. I managed some long weekend runs and even a few 3 run weeks. Then out of nowhere, it was the week before.

I travelled down to Bristol on the Saturday and booked into our nice farmhouse B+B. It turns out it’s haunted and guests have told of strange noises in the night. The only strange noises I heard was Imogen’s snoring and complaining of sleeping on a frozen air bed. She ended up in bed with us so I had a night of snoring in my ear (Imogen not Mel…) and elbows to the head as she does not stay still, even when asleep. The next morning we travelled to Bristol on the park and ride bus and at 9am I was off. The first thing that struck me was unfamiliar running tops. I was a long way from home.

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The first few miles were OK running through Bristol, a nice out and back along the river Avon (I think?) but on 7 miles I saw runners on the road above me. Everyone was still in high spirits though and chatting about all sorts from the Rugby World cup to car buying. There was a sharp uphill onto a bypass. I was up it easily enough and feeling fine. I got to half way in high spirits thinking I may push on a bit here. Famous last words.

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On 14miles we hit a steep uphill. The pace slowed dramatically and I saw many walking around me. There were supporters on each side of the road geeing everybody on. From here on in,the atmosphere of the run changed. It was very quiet. The conversations had stopped. The general chats around me disappeared and became encouragement for each other. The support stepped up a notch though. On every hill people were outside their houses banging drums, waving flags, shouting encouragement, giving out jelly babies and some even had cowbells. Ever incline from here to the finish was either, “100m and you’re there!” or even, “Just around that corner!” Problem was 100m up the road or around the corner, they were saying the same thing!! However, atmosphere wise, It’s probably the closest I’ll get to being at the Tour De France. At times there was barely room for 2-3 runners to run alongside with supporters on each side. For the next few miles there were up hills and downs and I gave up on any sort of time. I looked at the runners around me, saw their gurns and realised I was passing them. I decided to use them as my pace guide. Lots passing me, try and speed up, no-one passing me, try and hold that pace. And that’s what I did. Then mile 20 arrived.

A brutal hill. Very steep. I saw a couple of girls walking and crying. I saw another runner pull up with cramp. 200ft of climbing altogether at a crucial point of the race. I passed a man at the top lying on the road attached to an ECG monitor, 2-3 paramedics around him. A man with his arm around his friend supporting him up the hill. It was hard to keep my focus. What made it worse was the sharp dip after. My quads and calves were on fire. Moral going. I needed to give my head a wobble. I picked a spot in the distance and ran towards it.

Soon I was running another sharp uphill on around 23 miles. Many people were walking at this point, so I kept my head down, arms pumping and feet moving. “Do not walk!” was my new mantra. I probably would have been quicker walking but it was about pride. About not stopping. About finishing and not having regrets. About the fact I’d set out to run a marathon and I was going to do just that. I saw 2 more runners crying, others saying that they couldn’t make it. I just kept moving, blanking everything around me. I dug deep.

Miles 24(ish) to 25 were downhill. A relief but hard work at the same time. I was now in the centre of Bath. The support was immense. Crowds lining both sides to cheer everyone home. I lifted and felt better. The last half mile or so is uphill and hard work but I just kept going. Look ahead, catch the person in front, pass them. Repeat. That’s all I kept doing. Some I never caught but I gave it a good go. I turned a corner 400m or so from home. I saw another man unconscious attached to an ECG. So close to the end. Keep moving. Look ahead, catch the person in front, pass them. Repeat. It’s all I could do.

I turned into the park, I could hear the finish line announcer. Another uphill. Just 5-10m incline in 100m or so but so close to the finish was cruel. I saw Mel and Imogen and knew I was nearly finished. Soon I was up and could see the finish. It seemed miles away. It wasn’t, I was being soft, it was 100m. “Sort it out Gaz!” I said aloud and had a reply, “Yeah mate, we made it!” Instinct took over, I kicked. “BEAT HIM!!!!” I did. I had finished and run the whole route (just about although if there were any officials on the route would have debated it at times). 4hrs 3mins and 30 seconds. 1615th place out of 4205 runners. I’ll take that. My proudest stat. In the 2nd half of the run when it had got tougher, I made up over 300 places.

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My time, not great, but I never do well on Marathons. But a race I’m glad I did. The fire is back and burning bright. 2016, I’m hoping to put my marathon ghosts to bed. In fact, I’ll send them to the B+B we stayed in.

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Wigan Harriers Marathon Blitz!

With May drawing to a close it’s time to take stock of how the Club has fared in the spring marathons. An incredible 23 runners competed in four different events – Paris, Manchester, Blackpool and of course London.

PB’s were blown to smithereens, 3 hour barriers broken, Good for age & Championship qualifications for London were all just part of the story.

 

Paris

First up was our solo warrior Paul Platt who flew with the family to Paris for the first marathon. Read Paul’s fantastic report here….Paul Platt

03:24:14 Paul Platt

Although not what he wanted Paul stuck with it and ground out a great 3:24, his first Marathon in a Harriers vest.

 

Manchester

Next up were an incredible 11 runners at Manchester with magnificent entourage of supporters!

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The ladies….

03:10:35 Jayne Taylor V50
03:15:33 April Morgan V45
03:44:00 Annemarie Craven V40

The men….

02:57:06 Howard John Morton Avery
02:58:41 Tony Morgan V45
03:03:18 David Collins V50
03:11:22 Tim Pilkington V40
03:14:45 Mike Harris V40
03:35:27 Stuart Hamilton
03:35:47 Chris Green
04:47:48 Stuart Gibson

I’ve added links below to the brilliant write ups some of the runners compiled.

Tony & April Morgan

Chris Green

Stuart Gibson

Mike Harris & Dave Collins

Howard Avery led the team home with a superlative 2:57:06, not bad considered he was pointing the wrong way at the start. He was chased home by Tony Morgan in an excellent 2:58:41.

There were sparkling PB’s for Howard, Mike Harris, Stuart Hamilton, Chris Green & Stuart Gibson. Tim managed a lie down in his race but still managed to get up again and run home in 3.11 – fantastic!

Tony Morgan, Dave Collins, Tim Pilkington & Mike Harris from the Men all achieved GFA for London if they want it. Whilst with the women both April Morgan & Annemarie Craven managed superb GFA ‘s and Jayne Taylor managed an amazing Championship qualifying 3:10:35. Time will tell whether everyone who qualified for London chooses to take up the option.

 

Blackpool

Whilst his colleagues were in London, Andy crept off to breezy Blackpool and attempted to blast his way into the prizes. Unfortunately some poor marshaling and strong winds scuppered Andy’s chances but he still walked away with an impressive 3:11 & GFA.

AndyRatcliffe

03:11:19 Andy Ratcliffe V45

 

London

Finally watched by many on the television and an impressive number out on the course, ten runners took on the challenge of the London Marathon.

The ladies…

03:14:00 Julie Platt V40
03:41:46 Nina Fisher V35

The men…

02:57:30 Mark Glynn V45
03:02:03 Chris Smullen V40
03:04:25 Chris Burgess
03:08:55 Barry Abram V50
03:17:21 Paul Bryers V35
03:36:22 Colin McEvoy V35
03:41:44 Jonathan Blackburn
04:06:26 Tony Foster V50

The reports….

Nina Fisher

Mark Glynn

Chris Burgess

Chris Smullen

Paul Bryers

All 10 runners acquitted themselves brilliantly. There were a healthy 5 PB’s for the men with a further PB for Nina. Julie Platt managed to achieve a superb championship entry time of 3.14. Nina, Mark, Chris S, Chris B & Barry all achieved GFA. Storming his way up the club records was Mark Glynn, now holding sub three hour marathon times in both the V40 & V45 categories.

It certainly looks likely that 2016 will see another bumper entry into both Manchester & London Marathons. They are both excellent events so whichever you are in you won’t be short of Harriers for company!

A few of my favourite marathon season pictures…

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So how does this leaves the club records for this year..

Club records 2015

 

And very importantly the all time records!

All time records