I think that this must be the first race report I have ever written sprawled across a hotel bed on a mobile phone.
Following today’s jaunt around the City of Liverpool, I can barely hold the phone and tap on the touch scream but I am eager to share what is quickly becoming a bit of a Massey tradition. Not sprawling over my hotel room bed, but the drive up the M6 to Liverpool, to enjoy a weekend of racing, live music and a free beer.
The reason for my reports title is that this Rock ‘n’ Roll event has a little of everything… Saturday sees a flat 5km around the docks with a finish running into Echo Arena, whereas Sunday sees the choice of 1/2 or Full marathon. Doing multiple events means multiple medals and as we all know… it is all about the bling.
Anybody who has read any of my previous marathon race reports will realise when it comes to this distance I am a disaster! Normally resulting in a trip into the woods and the loss of a buff!
Having trained with Dave Goodwin last year, on a 15m run around Draycote he told me of a theory of how you need a Bronze, Silver and Gold target for your ‘A’ race. So it was, between bouts of trying to tempt Mary to do the full – rather than a 1/2 and continue on her road to fill recovery in a sensible (ie not a Daniel method) way, I set my targets.
BRONZE – Finish (within the cut off).
SILVER – Finish (within the cut off) without any portiloo issues!
GOLD -PB of 1 second / no portiloo issues – which would be with 17 mins of cut off time.
With these in place I approached the Saturday 5km (medal 1) with a slightly unique (but approved by the wife) plan. Run for a 5km PB – really go for it. The thought being… I might get the need for speed out of my system and therefore actual use some common sense and pace the marathon to my actual training and ability!
As Mary and I basked in the sun like lizards, we meet the rest of the advanced party of Massey (aka Magpies – others that like shiny things in the form of medals) also running the 5km. After deserting Mary at pen 7 leaving Nicky, Darren, Anne-Marie at pen 6 (Dave Goodwin took the role as official spectator saving his energy for the following day) I moved to the very front of pen 4, then sneaked into Pen 3 😉
The pen/wave start really helps spread out runners and it very much for their safety… no faster bloke accidentally flying into the back of you. However some not so sensible runners and some with younger children (11yo age limit!?) started further up than I did but all that dodging from parkrun taught me how to move around people or even hurdle them when they slip over and there is no way I can stop.
1 linen lorry collision later (me running into it not vice versa!) And I was soon running into the Echo Arena – if John Grady is reading this I was dead slow… I didn’t get a PB by 9 seconds – so don’t alter my handicap time.
Due to starting delays I actually finished before Mary had started!
From that run I made the decision I was running the Full – I could cope with the sun with suncream, my new Tribesport hat and some sunglasses – cue a daft car journey to buy some!
Sunday quickly came and lots of Massey runners turned up to run various distances. The half runners start from 9am had a little drift from that as with 19 pens of caged runners to release onto the streets in 2 minute intervals it took a while!
As I had previously wished everyone all the best, rather than see people off, I used my time productively by queing for the facilities, then due to prerace nerves I decided a revisit was necessary but after a long wait – no it wasn’t… All my time faffing around meant I missed the pre race picture for the marathon group.
My race tactics – Yes, I do try to think about my races although with all the silly errors I have you would be forgiven for doubting that fact! – were governed by the weather… Sunny + hot + Daniel = Roasting like a suckling pig on a spit !
- I generously basted myself in P20 factor 30 – good for 10hours – I might need that.
- New Hat and glasses – never try new stuff in races – what do those experienced run writers know!
- Nutrition – White Chocolate, Haribos and a rushed McDonald’s bagel and jam.
Most importantly PACE – I decided on Saturday Night at the Massey prerace meal – stick with Dave Philips as he has such a consistent finish time and with 476 marathons knows what he is doing.
My plan fell apart in the pen at the start… Dave moved forward, I stayed in pen 9 with the 5:30 pacer chatting to him and Katy. I decided if he was as good at pacing as the Massey team at the Coventry 1/2 I would crack my PB.
Starting at 12:30 min miles is something I have never done before. But chatting away to Katy and a Marathon Virgin that pace was loat as we had quickly sped up and caught the Blackburn Road Runners 5:15 pacer but feeling comfortable we stayed with him for a few miles. This was still far slower than I normally start… Maybe I am learning?
On the approach to Goodison park, I fell in step with an Everton fan and soon found I had left the pacer behind as I discovered all about how Everton isn’t really in Everton at all but Walton, and… I could bore most of you (Marie excluded) with all the fasinating facts I was told over those long 6 miles but I sure that you want to spend less time reading this report than I did in running my race.
Mile after mile passed me by, as I stuck to my three sips, spit and splash water stop plan, I ran on. In my head I had my mini goal… Fudge at the hill on mile 19/20.
Now loyal reader… after battling this far you must be loyal or possibly as daft as I… I have some words of wisdom relating to running.
White Chocolate Fudge is amazing but it isn’t suitable as a running fuel.
It is far to clingy to the roof of the mouth and has you gasping for water. Thankfully, a well stocked water station was close.
After that cheeky hill at mile 20 the course finishes with a run along the Mersey into a cooling but brisk head wind.
At this point my legs fell off. Well they felt like that as I realised that I could run no more, and needed a break – my training wasn’t enough. After walking a 1/2 the previous week I was confident I would complete so started the trudge for the feris wheel in the distance.
At 23 miles I passed Marie who after her half had come out on course to cheer fellow Massey runners home. At this point I was far from my most erudite and barely managed a grunt before I walked on.
At the 40km sign I glanced down at my watch, a fraction over 5hrs… my walk had slowed me right down. Looking again and some basic maths told me if I started running again I could sneak under 5:15 – a time beyond my wildest imagination!
With that tiny seed planted my legs took over…
One in front of the other. One in front of the other. Became my mantra and on I went.
Turning the last corner, 500m away I knew I needed just a little more to make my dream target.
Having passed the pub, The 12th Man en route, the Massey 12th Man (and ladies) came into play as above the roar, I heard the 1/2 marathoners bellowing me home just what you need for that last boost to cross the line.
My latest running magazine says we shouldn’t focus on times but I’m the experience and the event and score them out of 10. So rather than list times – Those that curious can Google them anyway! – I will rate these races.
My score – 7.43 (sorry Anne-Marie I know you like round numbers for running!)
Course was great, nice mix of parks and places of interest. Water stops and on route facilities great. In course support / music – limited to sparce. Marshals highly variable from great to bored! Expo small but useful and number collection organisation badly thought out. Price high! But book for the next 10 days to bag a bargain £35.
T-shirt, intriguing colour, but a technical fibre and the fit this year HUGE… my XXL was the size of a marque!
Massey meal and contingent really added to the event definately makes it one for the diary in 2017
Lastly Medals… well why don’t you be the judge…8