Monday, 17 April 2017

Manchester Marathon.

It would be so easy to write about my day, about how the weather conditions were perfect for running a marathon. To tell you all about how I still don't remember most of the route, apart from certain parts on the course - the part where I chatted with Fi  in 2015, the part where I met Sarah in 2015... and we had a realllllly long walk full of chats and smiles.

I remembered the out and back.
But it was shorter than I remember.
The whole thing was shorter than I remember.

That will happen when you run the course a whopping 47 minutes faster than your previous effort on the same route.
I finished in 4.52 - which was an 18 minute PB on Paris last spring.
In 2015 I had run, walked, shuffled, crawled Manchester in 5.35 adjusted to 5.39 when they realised that they couldn't measure properly.

I could tell you about how utterly AMAZING Mel and Bedders were in keeping me on track and sane - ok so all three of us spent 13 miles saying we were going too fast - but we all fell into that pace and it came good in the end.
I blame Allan and his singing.
We were about 20 seconds per mile too fast for the first half - which eventually added up and meant we were approx 25 seconds slower per mile in the second half.

We managed to come in on target though.
I am giving that credit to the ladies.
I just put one foot in front of the other.
Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat

My head went when we went past the cemetery - I don't know at what point that was. Mile 14 maybe.
I was busy wondering how many people had committed suicide that were buried there? How they had all died?
Mel and Bedders brought me back.
I convinced myself that emotional pain, marathon pain, leg pain.... was all the same.
It was just pain and I knew how to manage that.
Most of the time at least.

All I had to do on 2nd April was manage my pain and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
So that's what I did and I got a PB and a new shiny at the end of it.

But I don't want to blog about me.
I didn't enter Manchester for me - I entered it to support Cathy in her first marathon.

How I didn't burst with pride or into tears on race morning I will never know.
I did have eye leak.
More than Cathy was aware of.
I didn't want to set her off.
So I hid it as best I could.

When I first met Cathy in September 2014, she had run one 10km event and had another lined up.
In April 2015, she cheered like a loon when I ran my first marathon.
It was only in May 2016 did she run her first half marathon.

And here she was, toeing the start line of her first full marathon.
With 365 miles in her legs since 1st Jan 2017.
It was quite the leap.

Training had been challenging - she has 3 boys, works full time in a demanding role, has a husband who works full time and who is also training for his first 70.3.
Yet she boshed out a December run streak..... which then continued to become a 100 day run streak.

In the early stages of training, her dad had a hip replacement (as well as deteriorating Alzheimer's).
This had complications (2 broken arms and rapidly decreasing weight) and meant he was hospitalised for longer than originally anticipated.
Training involved planning to run to and from the hospital.
As well as feeding the family.....And laundry..... and cleaning..... and Christmas..... and the puppies.....
And still she ran.

I have seen video's, at the end of long runs, of an exhausted Cathy, too tired to eat.
Dave cut her chicken for her that night, such was the exhaustion.
And still she ran.

When race day rolled around, there was giddy anticipation.
'I'm never doing this again' had turned into, 'I might do this again'.

As we ran, Dave brought news from around the course - Cathy was behind us, she was smiling and enjoying. She was on target.

That'll do.

I saw Helen, Cathy's sister at about mile 21.
Helen would run the last miles with Cathy.
Full of proud.
It was shining from her as she waved us on.

*MUST. NOT. CRY.*

Cathy lives about 12 houses from the Mile 24 marker.
As I ran past her front door and my car parked in the drive, I wondered how she was doing.
I wondered how hard it would be for her to run past her home?

As we hit mile 25, Dave appeared and ran with us to the finish line - we had just enough time to get back to where he had dropped the car before Cathy came past with Helen.
Both of them were beaming.
Dave ran on with them.
My eyes leaked again.

She had done it
(there was NEVER any doubt)
She was going to make 5.30 - and make it look like the easiest thing in the world.

Cathy ran every step of her marathon - something I still can't work out how to do, 3 marathons later.
Her pacing was spot on - it dropped gradually, but was sustained and consistent.
She said it was easier than she thought it would be.

Train hard, race easy.
In practice, right there.
Proof it works.
I am so fucking proud.

We had run a half marathon 2 weeks out, working out pacing.
She ran a PB.
Double it and add a bit.
5.30 was properly achievable for the marathon.
Cathy had planned to run 2 x 8 miles and 2 x 5 miles.
She knew she could run 2 lots of 8 miles and 2 lots of 5.
Even if she had to run 8 miles, 3 lots of 5 miles followed by a park run, she knew she could do that.

When she had entered, her A goal was to finish, her B goal was to finish before the roads re-opened.
Time had never been on the agenda.

I could learn a lot from my friend.....No - I *have* learned a lot from my friend.
About being determined and driven.
About consistency and getting it done. Regardless of the obstacles.
About pushing beyond limits and trusting the plan.
Especially if an idiot like me writes the plan.
About being strong.
So very strong and so very brave.

Throughout all of this, she has supported me through my bouts of immense sadness.
She has been one of my biggest fans, has picked me up, dusted me off, made me laugh and held my hand on more occasions than I care to think about.

I am so very proud and so very lucky to call Cathy my friend.
She is more than a friend.
She has welcomed me into her family and allowed me to find a space that feels like home.

You know when you meet someone and just fit?
Without effort and exactly as you are?
It is unconditional and full of all the good stuff.

I can't wait to plot the next marathon and look forward to all the adventures we have lined up.... and all the ones we haven't yet imagined!
I'm sure they will be many and awesome.

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