15 months after giving birth to my second rainbow, 3 years since my last 10k race, and over 5 years after losing Ewan, I woke up last Sunday morning bright and early and ready to embark on the Great Manchester Run. Late last year I set my sights on running the Great North Run for SANDS which will take place in September 2016. To help myself prepare, I signed up to 2 x 10k races (I’m considering a third too!). The race in Manchester was the first of the challenges.
As well as raising money, specifically earmarked for research in stillbirth and neonatal deaths, my aim is to continue keeping Ewan’s memory alive. I was delighted to receive in my race pack a few weeks prior to the event a plain bib which could be personalised to wear on my back. On Saturday night I fished out my black marker pen and then, in the absence of coloured felt tip pens, I grabbed Dylan’s box of crayons to brighten it up. I was pretty chuffed with the end result. What do you think?
I drove myself to Manchester which only takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately Adam had to work so couldn’t come and watch with the boys. I met up with a couple of people from work beforehand, but because we all started at varying times, as much as two hours for some people, we didn’t all manage to get to run together. My ‘wave’ started at 12.25pm. Because I had arrived early, I managed to watch the elite runners get underway. Firstly the wheelchair athletes, the women and finally the men. I watched the first wave of the ‘non-elites’ go and managed to spot a few SANDS runners and one of my college team members. I decided not to wait any longer and headed towards the holding area for the blue wave.
With over 35,000 people taking part, an event such as this needs military organisation. and it worked. It was the first time I had taken part in this event and was easily able to find where I should congregate for the start. I turned up just before the mass warm up which was handy to get the blood pumping and muscles ready. A few more announcements and then we were off!
Well, almost! It took about 7 minutes of shuffling before I actually crossed the start line. But then I really was off.
So what was it like? A few words spring to mind. Hot, busy, fun, busy, tiring, busy, memorable, busy, hot! Ok so a few are repeated. But that is because it really was very busy … and very hot! The weather did eventually break and the rain was pretty heavy, however that was about 5 minutes after I finished!
I really enjoyed myself for the majority of the time. The course felt pretty flat compared to what I was used to training in hilly Lancashire. I had set myself a target of trying to complete it within an hour. It was pretty ambitious given that my longest training run was 9.7 km completed in nearly 1 hr 1 minute. Still, I figured that the flat course would help. We ran all the way out to Old Trafford , Salford Quays and back from the city centre. Annoyingly, just as I was well in my stride by the time we got to Old Trafford, the running mass slowed down. I saw people taking photos and and even stopping to pose. Argh, it’s just a football stadium!!
There was a stretch of a couple of kilometres which were two-way. This meant that as I was starting out, I could look for my Nelson and Colne College team-mates who had started in the waves before me and hopefully cheer them on. We had our college logo on our t-shirts so they were easy to spot. I managed to see 2 staff members, but my brain just couldn’t work quickly enough. By the time I had got their names ready to shout encouragement, they had run past. Still, it helped to pre-occupy my mind for 15 minutes on the way out to Old Trafford and then on the way back too.
I knew I need to work on an average of 6 minutes per km. I clocked myself as I went over the start line and then at each km marker would check to see how I was faring. I was on track for the first half but it was between 5 and 8 km that I slowed down. At one point I was tempted to run with guy who had a portable speaker attached to his waist. He wasn’t just keeping himself going but entertaining everyone else around him too. As I passed, the speaker was playing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ by Meat Loaf, one of my all-time favourites (and although he wouldn’t like to admit it, the first song Adam and I danced together to!). It gave me a welcome lift as a trudged on.
Checking my split times on the website, I completed the last 2 km in 12 minutes and 2 seconds, which in retrospect was pretty good for me given it was the end of the race. I know I pushed myself hard on the last kilometre (I’d love to know that split time), and probably looked horrendous on the last stretch. Although there are plenty of official photos, I haven’t bothered to look at them. I’m not the prettiest runner in town.
I finished though. And although I just missed out on going under that hour mark by 6 seconds (damn Old Trafford!) I was elated to complete my first challenge of the year. I collected my goody pack and started to devour the obligatory free food. I managed a few selfies to send to Adam (and upload to Facebook) before the rain started. I decided I deserved a Starbucks hot chocolate (with whipped cream) before heading home, proudly sporting my medal in the car!
Running for Ewan really pushed me to complete this, and finish it in the best time I could. I was proud to wear his name on my back and hope I will be able to for future races. A huge thank you to my work colleagues who also ran for SANDS and to everyone who sponsored me (and the rest of the team).
My next event is just 5 days away – the Run For All Burnley 10K. Adam and I completed this 3 years ago when it was held for the first time, so I am really excited to take part again. We both raised £400+ for SANDS back then. I am also looking forward to Adam and the boys being able to watch me seeing as it is so close to home. Anyone in the Burnley area, make sure you are en route cheering and supporting. You’ll need to be up early as it starts at 9.30am. I hope to see you there.
If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page. All amounts are gratefully received, however big or small.