Rumours of my sub 4 hour marathon are greatly exaggerated!
I wasn’t planning on writing a race report for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Running weekend but after seeing social media posts about my time I felt I must set the record straight!
The reason I have put down running weekend is that Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool offers something for everyone; Saturday a 5km, Sunday Full & Half Marathon as well as a mile race. Back in May last year, I thought I had signed Mary and I up for a 5km and Marathon each, however it turned out that I had only managed to sign Mary up to the Full, I was down for a half! Even after sending a query last May when I thought it was sorted I only found out that I was still in the half marathon when I printed out my collection pick up. No one had queried my 4:59 estimated finish time for the half – despite it having a 3:30 cut off! This was all sorted out after spending 45mins queuing and paying an extra £15 at the expo on the Saturday!
As some people will know I love parkrun tourism, but I sacrificed Princes parkrun in Liverpool for the 5km race as it offered an officially measured course that would go on the Power of 10 – and having done it last year when I set my all time PB (as parkruns don’t really count 🙁 ) I knew it to be a fast course. It also had the lure of an extra medal on the Sunday for doing a two race weekend!
Using last years’ finish times as an estimate Mary and I ended up in different corrals for the start. I was off in Corral 3 a little after 9:30. Mary was in Corral 1 with a 10am start time – her recent run of form meant her estimate of 30mins was going to be well out – but at least being at the front of the Corral 1 would mean she would have an empty road ahead of her.
With a race number pinned to my front and blood flowing fast, and listening to the comments of others in the pen (‘I put down 25mins so I would have an early start so I had more time to get back to the hotel for breakfast!’) I positioned myself just behind the front row of the Corral feeling that my estimated time of 25.xx mins was going to be broken.
At the G of GO, I was off down the road – secretly I have been training for this… Yes, it is sad I know but I have been doing reps, and hill work in an attempt to get a 5km PB at Liverpool. At each of my many different parkruns I have been practising running at the pace I need to maintain and how I would feel at different stages. I know that running a marathon the next day and going eyeballs out for a 5km isn’t sensible but once I have a race number pinned on being sensible goes totally out the window!
I quickly chased down the back of the Corral 2 and made my way around the docks following runners and marshals directions. At 1km I was spot on pace, my training was paying off. I missed the 2nd km marker, I put this down to being in the zone, 3km came around quickly, my Garmin distance not matching the sign (300m out – yes for a 5km race I have my distance set to km!) but I was feeling strong. At 4km I was starting to burn but with less than 5mins less I pushed on. Entering the dark of the Echo arena I saw 25mins on the red digital display! Despite starting 2 minutes later I was well under my estimate. Clicking my watch as I crossed the line I saw 22:53. For the briefest of time I was amazed and elated. Then I checked my watch 4.7km… The run was 300m short! Surely not! I was expecting a PB, but only by 1minute not 2! So I knew the route had to be short!
I was still grumbling about this as I met up with Stuart and Darren across the line. Someone even suggested that I had cut corners! I knew I had run the racing line along the roads and followed the route as directed I was adamant that the route was wrongly measured; I even tried to speak to the Race Director, Race Referee and even to see the courses UKA certificate just so I could verify that the route was measured and was the route we had run! Unfortunately I was unable to do this.
Later in McDonalds, Mary, who ran a PB, complained about a hill and a dead wind that she was sure cost her the 12 seconds that she was over 27minutes. I was puzzled as I didn’t remember a hill at all… I wondered if different start times ran different routes, so sat about comparing our Garmin traces. Reviewing the maps I discovered I had missed a loop!
Thanks to Twitter and Facebook I found out that the first few corrals had been taken the wrong way by the lead cyclist! So John Alymer please don’t record my time as a seasons best 5km as I only did 4.7km and I have contacted R ‘n’ R organisers to have my time removed as it is wrong! This has rather taken the sparkle off the bling for me! As I haven’t earned it.
Sunday – Different day, Different race… Trying to forget the previous day I focused on the positives – A dry day, slightly cooler than Thursday and Friday and no bright sun predicted.
After a brief chat with Hughie who was running his first marathon, Mary and I made our way to Pen 9 and the 5hr pacers. As we slowly made our collective way to the start line we chatted to the pacers who had over 200 marathons between them (for one this was to be a training run before Comrades!) I was hopeful that I could stick with them for most of the run. After Mary’s surprise PB at Worcester last week she wanted that sub 5!
Chatting away the first 3 miles went along smoothly, keeping in time with the pacers but then the route had a downhill and we found ourselves drifting away from the pack around the 5hr team. Even going up the next hill and towards Goodison Park the gap grew larger as we maintained our quicker pace. As the route doubled back we gave a shout out to Lisa who ran past looking fresh and we kept on chatting as we ran. At five miles we passed Dave Phillips. Feeling strong we ran on. At 7miles Mary made a pit stop at one of the many portaloos on route – if only all marathons had such excellent toilet facilities on route loss of buffs would be a thing of the past! The stop allowed the 5hr pacers to catch up, but once off we once again moved away.
Unlike previous years the support on course was much better through the residential areas, loads of offers of Jelly Babies, haribos and even the most welcome Ice Pop! This wasn’t enough to make up for the absences of Lucazade Orange drink at all the water stations we passed or the one gel stop that had none left – they had run out! Unfortunately the evidence was all too clear for a few hundred metres after as the detritus of an aid station littered the side of the road! Luckily we had a few gels stashed away; probably not enough as it turned out! Although road runners are messy people throwing bottles and gel wrappers anywhere the teams of volunteers at these stations (especially the Air Cadets) were doing a fantastic job collecting up the waste so the route was as tidy as it was before the run.
Mile after mile passed – almost effortlessly just after 17miles before Penny Lane we saw Dave Goodwin and Anne-Marie on the opposite side of the road only 1 mile ahead. A little domestic and some choice scouse word choices occurred after the water station when trying to top up waist hydration packs with water and salt tablets, and a mile was spent running apart! However the hill at mile 20 soon had the pair of us back and running together!
At 21miles I had run out of energy (did I hit the wall?) and wasn’t feeling great – my body was telling me enough was enough. After proving last week at Worcester that I could be sensible and if feeling poorly I would take a walk break Mary needed very little encouragement, Mary ditched me in pursuit of her sub 5hr marathon.
All alone I walked on…
That last statement is a slight exaggeration as there were lots of other runners around me or passing me and just after 22miles the sub 5hr pacing group passed me.
Once onto the riverside with the cranes in sight I felt rested… glancing down at my watch I realised that I was still on for a PB. I decided that at mile 10 marker of the half (just after 23 of the full) I would have one parkrun to go… and enough time to squeeze under that dream 5hr mark.
You could almost hear the groans from my muscles and bones as I started to run again… Thinking of my Coaching course – I focused on technique and slowly I got back into it. Cheers from Marie who had come back onto the course after running the half marathon encouraged me to keep going. At the last water stop I wasn’t feeling great so I slowed once again to a walk. A few sips of water and the rest of the bottle washed down my neck and back cooled me off a little, I decided to resume running with 1 mile to go.
With the din from the bus band at 25 miles still ringing in my ears I pushed on. All I needed was a 10:30 minute mile. Even in my tired state I could do that.
I ran and ran. With a marshal telling me I had two turns left I drove my arms and ran on. Turning back onto the water front I could see the finish in front of me.
With my heart feeling as if it was pounding out of my chest I dug deeper. All I needed was one last surge a sprint finish.
Entering the shoot of spectators at the finish I glanced down at my watch only to see the 5hrs appear and I still had a hundred metres to go! As I write this I realised that although I ran a 10 minutes between 25 and 26… a marathon is 26.2 miles. I never had enough time.
As I looked up from my watch and resumed my trundle towards the finish arch I realised that I was struggling to see, my vision had narrowed and what I could see was a little blurry! Crossing the finish line I veered into the announcer and into the arms of a few very kind St John’s ambulance team.
I am delighted that I had properly completed the back of my race number as for a short while I was unable to answer many questions they asked me. But after being stripped off and towelled off having an ECG and being given dioralyte. I started to feel more in focus, and after 30minutes they agreed with me and allowed me to collect my medal and head into the arena.
In the Arena I had thought that Mary wouldn’t realise I had needed medical attention at the end of a race. Okay I was topless and carrying my sports boxers but It was warm. What I failed to realise is the four disposable ECG pads were stuck to my torso. So rather than being congratulated on a new PB by nearly 14 minutes, I spent the next 30 minutes being told off and lectured on the way to collect our additional medals!
Our medal haul wasn’t to be the massive swag bag of Darren who was to collect 6 medals for the weekend! But 4 medals isn’t to be sniffed at! Arriving at the tent outside the arena our Encore medal was awarded and marked off the race number but we were informed that the Remix medal – for running on Saturday and Sunday had just run out! We were the third and four names on the list of people missing that medal! So not only was my 5km race messed up the reward and reason for doing both was gone… I so wish I had done parkrun instead!
As a teetotaller I donated my free beer voucher to Mary who eagerly drank the two pints to celebrate breaking the 5hr mark and smashing her PB by 18 mins (2 marathon PBs in 8 days).
Even though I have written nearly over 2000 words I have yet to explain how I was reported to have run a sub 4hr marathon… Bizarrely there were two people called Daniel Connolly running Liverpool marathon, both exactly the same age! However as I changed from the ½ marathon to the full I also changed number and my details have yet to be updated, so on the tracker only the other Daniel Connolly appeared. So when someone searched by name only their details appeared!
Although I am a naturally modest person trust me that when I properly break the four hour barrier for a marathon I will let everyone know!
For me it was a shame a few things let down my Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Running weekend, as the support and atmosphere was far better than previous years. The question is will we take advantage of the cheap entry to 2018s events before 4th June?
Massey Marathon Times
Rachel Brock – 4:26:06
Lisa Young – 4:42:03
Anne-Marie Paszkiewicz – 4:45:03
Mary Connolly – 4:50:18
Dave Goodwin – 4:55:12
Hughie Miller – 4:55:46
Daniel Connolly – 5:01:35
Dave Phillips – 6:06:16