Having done the Chester marathon last October I thought it would have been a good race to try running round pleasant Chester. But with injuries since January – and having been unable to give away place – I thought I’d try and run it to see how bad my right leg was. I had made it just through training on Tuesday which was 9.8k for me. So I thought 10k would be achievable. However the leg felt really sore afterwards and though I skipped Thursday training and parkrun I thought I’d see whether the Manchester Marathon opportunity had a better than 30-70 chance of happening.
Sunday: Up early, porridge and off. Rain. Cold. Sleety on the way to Chester – not looking forward to it. Evaluated options: go back, try and finish under 60 minutes. Under 50 would be a success.
Traffic busy on M56. Found my car park easily and it wasn’t too bad a walk into town time-wise. Leg still feeling sore. Toilet, bag drop and huddle in a large hall until it was suggested we make our way to the start. Still raining – but slower. Still cold. The start line road was fairly long with really big signs [at least 75x60cm] high up on lamp posts with the runners anticipated run times on. Much bigger than ours at WilmslowHM. Would that help our HM? Surprisingly not many runners were pushing forward and I stopped at the 45:00 sign with acres of space around me. That just meant no shelter from rain and wind! The guy next to me from Tamworth was doing Manchester Marathon and about to start his taper after today. A guy from Chorlton was there too. Unfortunately he told me about the course having done it before. It wasn’t flat. Long down hill start then undulations turning round and back again. Then after long climb we’d veer off downhill to come uphill into town and a straight to the finish. Visualise a lollipop [P shaped] with a dribble running off at the bottom. Oh dear, having set my watch to race 48:00 to see when I’d tire wasn’t a sensible option now. Nothing could be done as we were off!
Across the start in less than 30 seconds. Along a few streets and then right downhill. Not inspired by watch telling me I was already off the pace after about 800m. Runners passing me easily. Leg achy. New target: don’t let the leaders pass me when the loop back at the 4k/6.5k road junction. Got a good pace going and was ignoring passing runners. Not very scenic this main road! I’d imagine I’d be running round the town and walls. Oh well, concentrate on my shape and pace. The sun is out now. I pass the returning junction and nobody had passed me coming in the other direction. Target achieved. What little pleasure that gave me was soon ruined soon after, turning right off the main road towards the half way marker, when my watch began urging me to ‘give it a go’ and to ‘push on to catch up!’ Hah! My leg was now sore. Though I actually seemed to be passing people as we approached the 6k marker.
A new target came into view. A gentleman slightly older than me was now just in front. It would take my mind off my leg. I kept my pace going and went past him. Forty seconds later I heard him and he passed me. Damn. I kept him in sight as we slowly overtook runners and others overtook us. I thought the long hill towards the end would benefit me – but I only halved the distance he led by. Leg really sore now. The last 1k is when we hit the ‘dribble’. We went right at the top of the hill then a down hill. My target extended his lead as downhill wasn’t good for me. A sharp uphill and I began to close again. Into the final straight. Through the arches into the old city. Lots of supporters both sides of the street. Couldn’t see much as the sun was directly into my eyes. My normal strong finish was missing. Leg too sore and I couldn’t close the gap. Saw the clock was on 51 something so kicked to get a chip time of 50:56. Through the finish line 4 seconds behind him. I congratulated my ‘young’ V75. He thanked me for the ‘tussle’ we’d been having.
I realised now that I’d stopped running I had a pronounced limp!! Oh well. T-shirt, medal, goody-bag picked up. How to get back to the leisure centre? There were barriers both sides of the street past the finish. We had to walk past them. It felt like a 200m walk down to the end of the street and round the corner before we could get onto the path and go back the way I’d just limped. Manoeuvring through the spectators past the finish line all the way through the city wall to the other end of the street I began noticing that the finishers now -over the hour run time – were running to the finish much quicker than I probably did!! Perhaps this tactic might be a better way to extend my running career – slow start and fast finish. Then another thought occurred – if I’d latched onto my targets back and not passed him I’d have been able to surge the last 70 metres and catch him unaware in a slower time.
No sympathy for me then from other younger runners who were happy to push and jostle past a limping veteran to the leisure centre. Nor the woman with the dog pooing on the bit of pavement between the supporters and shoppers, who the scooped up the soft mass it had done – but left a large smear across in front of me to limp and jump across to avoid.
Out of the city walls and downhill to the underpass. Just coped with stairs down. But the stairs up the other side. Owwh! Into the great hall and hobble to the charity massage. 5 runners in front of me – 35 minutes wait time or so. Time to get my bag, go to the café and have a latte and sausage bap, and get back to the bench where to queue for the massage. Do I sit down? That bit would be easy – but getting up again? Sat down. A minute later stood up and massage my right quad! Did this a few times before the young lady came got me.
I told her my main problem was the right upper leg – everywhere! She was god at finding the knots and releasing them. Mentioned I might see a chiropractor as I thought it might be a hip problem causing me my grief which needed looking at. The senior physio on the next bed laughed at me!! Can’t be your hip he said. I needed a physio. I pointed out this was the advice of a physio. More laughter. Get yourself a better physio he said. I kept quiet. After my physio I changed and limped much more easily back to the car and home by 1:15! The results were in. The finish had been tremendous the winner just pipping a youngster by 1 second.
This race was a qualification race for runners who would like to represent England in the 10k at Birmingham in May. I’d have to run an unachievable 42:00 to have qualified! But Tony and Nicky had they been there would have qualified easily. Perhaps other Wilmslow runners might have done in their category.
1st M Thomas Roberts Meirionydd RC 31:49
1st L Faye Lightowler Pontefract AC 36:49
1st LV60 Jacqueline Cordingley Sale Harriers 45:00
1st MV70 John Wright Chorlton 45:06
1st MV75 Brian Symonds Wye Valley 50:26
767 MV65 Patrick Grannan Wilmslow RC 50:56
Brian must have started behind me!!