Event #5 - RUN FORREEESSSSSTTTTT

So, normally, we give ourselves a couple of weeks after an event (to sleep and get over the trauma). For the marathon though, that didn’t seem quite enough – it was tough. So much has happened since then, we’ve completed 3 more events and planned even more, but it still sits fresh in my memory as THE hardest thing I have ever done. Ever.

The Main Event
None of these events have been what I would call easy, but for me, the marathon was always going to be the hardest event throughout the year (Subject to change - we are aiming to do the Yorkshire 3 peaks in 12 hours…). Through all the training and through all other events, the marathon has been on my mind and I knew completing it would mean I would be over a massive mental hurdle. It was definitely the most planned out event, I had my strategy for training and for running it on the day.

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail
Naive enthusiasm at the start line
The week building up to the run was a week of carbs – not the worst way to start something off – and with my biggest training run done; I was quite enjoying this part of marathon prep (the rest of it – ALL of the running – wasn’t as fun). I knew everything had to be right though, to give myself the best chance of keeping going for 26.2 miles.

Everything had been playing on my mind in the couple of weeks prior to the run. I was feeling strains and pains that were probably nothing, nervous that it was going to hinder my chance of running. As the event drew nearer, I was more and more aware that anything I did, was actually not going to make a huge difference. And, he closer it got to the run though, the more I relaxed and just wanted to get it started and get it done.

Rock ‘n’ Roll
On Sunday, 14th June, we were all set. Me, James, Ollie and Dan were ready to take on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I wasn't too sure whether being rock ‘n’ roll was going to be a good thing or not and after seeing the first band ukulele-ing for the half marathon (set off an hour before the marathon) the jury was definitely still out on whether it was a good thing. Once we got going though, the bands definitely made it more bare-able.

So, off we went, James and Dan both went solo whilst Ollie and I stuck together, just like the half marathon. James was keen to beat his PB of 3hrs 30mins, whilst the rest of us would be happy to complete the run and still be standing by the end of it.

Just after Ollie's dad had offered some
words of encouragement
The first few miles absolutely flew by. The pre-run nerves disappeared and it was the best feeling to just get going. One of the best things about doing these events is the support. From either our own, super dedicated group of supporters to the absolute strangers who come out, give up their time to cheer you on and drag you round whatever you're doing. The first half of the marathon definitely continued that trend. From the city centre, out to Goodison and Stanley Park, the streets were lined with people cheering you on, adding to the bands, it was really shaping up to be a special day.

As you would hope when tackling a run of this distance, the first 10k went swimmingly. No drama, just getting comfortable in our pace and eating up the miles, constantly thanking ourselves that we hadn't decided to run in fancy dress as we passed a gentleman in a 3 piece suit, Mr and Mrs Potato Head and a leprechaun. As me and Ollie were hitting the hour and a half mark, we were well on our way back into the city centre, feeling strong (we were running down hill), taking whatever was on offer from the feed stations; sampling a variety of energy gel flavours, taking on water and lucozade. The only problem with running through a city as opposed to the countryside is the issue of, shall we say, disposing of any excess liquid. Thankfully, everyone is in the same boat and just before we got to the inevitably crowded streets of the City Centre, numerous runners decided to take the opportunity to 'water' the roadside grass.

Phase 2
To break it down and make the prospect of a 4-5 hour run, I'd split the run into phases. We had the first phase of running out to Everton and Anfield and back, phase 2 was from the city out to Sefton Park and the final - most uncomfortable - phase brought us back to the echo arena and the finish line.

Dan looking fabulous in Sefton Park
We were just entering the second phase of the race and were welcomed by Ollie's dad bellowing at us, reminding us that the generous people of Liverpool had given up their city for us and it would be ever so considerate of us to speed up a little bit so that they could get back to normality! Perhaps foolishly, we obliged and the 2 miles through the city were 2 minutes faster than we were aiming for - we would pay for this later. It was hard not to get caught up with the adrenaline of seeing everyone again and everybody cheering you on.

After the all that excitement, we were back on more familiar territory, following a lot of the same route run on the half marathon. So, it was time to relax, settle back into the pace and crack on to the next milestone. That plan was going well until that bellowing voice was, again, reminding us that it would be nice of us to get a move on. A welcome surprise at that stage of the run. We knew that we would have quite a stretch now before seeing any of the Fifteen for '15 supporters.

Roving Support
Ste and Steph had planned to hire city bikes so that they could meet us on the way round and were aiming for Sefton Park, which is exactly were we saw them. And was exactly were the real pain began. It was at this point, we were hitting 16-17 miles which was, where I had been reliably informed, that the most difficult part of running a marathon would begin. Let me back that up by confirming that is indeed, where the pain begins.

You can reach some pretty
dark places running 26 miles,
see.
We looped in and out of Sefton park, doing 4 miles within quite a small space. Our roving support team managed to make it to a few different spots along the way, providing much required supplies of jelly babies. It was a real boost to see them at this time, I was in definite need of support, both verbal and sugar based.

We also saw Dan, as he ran with us for a few hundred yards before cracking on, chasing the best possible time.

It was just out of Sefton Park were the pace dropped and the mental struggle became much harder than the physical struggle.

Are We There Yet?
It's a question we've all asked, probably more so as an infant rather than an adult, but it is a question I visited over and over again in my head. I tried to block out the pain and was juts focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. I could no longer cope with support and was breaking down at the first sign of an encouraging comment.
video 
Blocked in an attempt to gain some jelly 
babies in the last 3 miles

Emotional embrace at the finish line
Going through all sorts of pain barriers
at an emotional end
One last surprise lay ahead as Ste and Steph managed to make another stop off along the front, inside the last 3 miles. It was another great boost, even if my jelly babies did get nicked by a fellow runner.

And so, with the support of a couple of runners of groups - one group who must be even madder than us as they tackle 12 marathons in 12 months and the 5 hour pace setters - we approached the finish line (very, very slowly). And, beyond all expectations, managed a sprint finish. I say sprint, I'm not sure how fast it was. Definitely faster than what we had been doing, but a sprint...maybe not. Facing a wall of noise, I could still pick out the Fifteen for '15 support crew, in great voice making all the difference. Predictably, crossing the line all got a bit too much for me and seeing everyone made it quite an emotional experience, which was ideal as photographers grabbed finishers for post race 'smiles'.

So, that was that. I could never have imagined that I would have run a marathon before this year, but with hard work, dedication and the support from you all, I managed it.

Congrats to the others as well, James ran 3hrs 19mins, Dan was around the 4hrs 45 mins mark and Ollie, the swine, beat me by 3 seconds.
video
Incredible vocal support from Ellen along at the
end

Thanks again to all who came out to support on the day, for once it didn't rain, in fact our vests were sunburnt onto our backs! And thank you to the runners, once again, putting themselves through hell for a wonderful cause.


www.justgiving.com/15for15

Sean



3/4 ain't bad. Think Dan had gone to get his beer




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