Manchester Marathon fell slap bang in the middle of the Easter holidays. This was good from the perspective of having some time to rest, get some sleep and to fully embrace what it is to taper. I ran just over 6.5 miles on the Sunday prior to the big day, 3 steady miles on Tuesday followed by 5 slightly faster ones on Wednesday, then a steady 5k on the Friday. I largely stuck to my plan as I knew my legs needed to be rested and healed that week. I also went for a sports massage – my first ever proper one. I had experienced a bit of tightness in the back of my knee since Hull, but other than that my legs had been feeling mostly ok. The physio focussed on my achilles, which I was surprised to find went right up the back of my calves. The massage was slightly uncomfortable, which I anticipated, but I was relieved to hear that my legs were in good shape for someone who had been training for a marathon. Yes, there was a little tightness with my hamstring but only as would be expected for someone who had been running as much as me. This definitely made me feel better but also caused me some concern. If my legs were ok, and I knew I hadn’t been aware of any injuries, perhaps it was because I hadn’t trained enough? Should my legs be feeling ok or was that a symptom of inadequate preparation? Cue maranoia – obsessing about all things marathon related.
I tried to push my worries to the back of my mind. I knew I had done the training, the long runs, the advised frequency, (albeit not the variety,) the distance. Even the bad weather that plagued the start of 2018 hadn’t prevented my long runs, but I lamented not having conquered 22 or 24 miles. Twenty was my top distance, so that final 10k loomed ahead and waited for me at Manchester.
The holidays were both a blessing and a curse that final week. More down time = more time to contemplate what lay ahead. I tried to compartmentalise 26 miles into manageable chunks. I failed. Not content with containing my concerns to daylight hours, I even dreamed about Manchester, apparently asking my husband if he was happy? With his position in the race…? In the middle of some restless stupor.
As the week progressed I was cautious about every move I made – what I ate, how much I walked/ran, how much sleep I was getting. I checked the weather for Manchester several times a day, which went from sunny and 15 degrees to rainy and 11, finally settling on 10-12 degrees and cloudy. I knew from Hull full sun was the last thing I wanted, so was pleased when the sunshine was replaced by rain clouds. I decided to run in shorts, which I had trialled at Hull, plus my compression socks that I had grown to love and rely on over the winter. Rather than my club vest and t-shirt/long sleeved top, I’d purchased a short sleeved club tshirt and, whilst I had worn it only once, was confident this would be comfortable enough to get me through 26 miles. I’ve had tops previously that have rubbed in all kinds of areas, which is enough to drive you to distraction on long distances. Finally, I had to consider how to carry my gels and phone. How many gels? Would the ones provided on the course be ok? What if I had too many and had stomach troubles? Did I mention that training for a marathon is far from glamorous?
My final run was a 5k, with Wilf, in the fields and woods where I run most often. It was normal, it was ordinary, it was low key. It was slightly faster than my plan stated but I took it easy. I walked the last stretch home, so as not to overdo it. The next day was Saturday, which meant traversing the peaks and heading to Manchester.