Race: Manchester Half Marathon
Distance: Half marathon(+some)
Date: 14th October
Supporting Runners: Jemma Love, Rachel McCourty, Nanci Henderson, Stuart McGuire, David Adams, Nicola Deeran
Fundraising to date: £6,550
Finishing Time: 00:02:07:07
The finish line is in sight – we fly to New York a week today to get ready for the grand finale.
Last week, 3 out of 4 of the NY marathon team took on the Manchester Half Marathon for race number 28 and had a little taste of what it’d be like to all line up together, waiting to embark on a lot of mileage.
If running a half marathon wasn’t enough, Jemma and I opted to run to the start line for 7miles to make this the biggest marathon training run of 20 miles…
This has been the plan for a long time, so the countdown to this race almost seemed as huge as the countdown to the marathon. When I was on holiday last month, poorly and not running, I had this race in my mind more than the marathon. I needed to do 20miles that date if I wanted to stick to my plan 🙄
The lead up
I did what I typically do in these situations and avoided looking at the timings of the race until the very last min. If I am not looking forward to something, I don’t like to face it.
It was the Friday before when Jemma told me that the race started at 9:00am. Oh great. Another well early start on a weekend.
My friend Nicola kindly offered to run to the start line with me (despite not even doing the half marathon). She obviously doesn’t hate early starts on Sundays as much as I do.
I was up at 6:30am to eat a carby breakfast and sat there for an hour watching the season finale of Killing Eve, waiting for Nicola to arrive at 7:30… I need to wait an hour after eating before going for a run due to stitches and things…
In that time of boredom and waiting, I found a MCR half marathon transfer that I decided to put on my face which I instantly regretted.
Nicola arrived and off we went on the 7mile plod to the start line.
It seemed like forever until I would stop running that day, but it was nice to know that the next time I would take on a run that big would be the NY marathon.
The start line.
I knew there were a few other 30for30 runners that I wanted to catch up with but it would be hard work. I was planning on getting there with as little break as possible before the start time, which gave about 10mins to find everyone.
Stuart, Nanci, Jemma, Rachel and my long lost family member David (more on that later) would be there at the start – and I wanted to say hello and good luck to all. Something that seemed pretty impossible.
First of all I bumped into Stuart’s girlfriend Rachel who said he had gone to line up – she told us of her plans to head to Chorlton for a coffee and I longed to join her…
I don’t know how it happened but after saying my goodbye’s to Nicola, I managed to find Jemma. I then told Nanci that I was ‘near the F flag’, and she then magically appeared. This is great – I didn’t think I would see anyone at all.
I was then keeping an eye out for David who Mum and Andy had met through new family tree findings (I wont even try to explain how we are related as I still don’t know). Thinking it was near impossible to recognise someone that I have never met before, I had almost given up…but then he showed up!
Weirder still: Nanci and David actually work together and David had discovered this through reading my blog! Small world.
I thought this was it. There was nearly a full house. How did we do this?! It is ridiculous to think you’d find anyone with 16k people at the start line. Then I heard a little “Emma” in the distance…
It was Rachel – glued next to the 2hour15 pacer, ready to go! Amazing.
So unfortunately, the only person I didn’t manage to see was Stuart – but I saw his girlfriend so I can pretty much count that to make the full squad.
Manchester lived up to its stereotypical climate with grey and drizzle the whole way round (chucking it down by the end).
We dispersed early – apart from David and I. David wanted to run a few miles with me to support one of my races as my new cousin (of sorts) which was lovely.
As a runner himself, David has actually ran many of the races on the 30for30 list and we were discussing how mad it was that we had no idea about each other. I personally think that Adam would have found this “incredible”.
David can run a half marathon a lot faster than me (especially after 7 additional miles) but he was happy to plod on and keep chatting to/motivating me.
We saw Mum and Andy at mile 5 and then Darren at around mile 7 & 9. Legs were beginning to go at this point, and if I were on my own, there definitely would have been signs of giving up. David kept pushing me on though and listened to a lot of me moaning about my hands becoming swollen(?!)
Out of nowhere, my friend Tom’s Mum & Dad shouted me from the crowds and I was so delighted to see more familiar faces – the support for this race was amazing.
From this point on, I knew I had got this. The weather wasn’t great, it was hard work and all I could think about were the others. I hoped that Stuart and Nanci had finished in times that they were proud of, but most of all – I hoped that Jemma and Rachel were feeling good and not somewhere on the course thinking “how on earth am I going to do the full marathon” (which is often my thought process).
To David’s surprise, I found a little sprint finish in me for the last 100m and was chuffed to not only have done the half marathon, but also tick off that 20mile training run. That was it now – Next long run was the biggie.
It was tipping it down and we were freezing – we gathered our medals and finisher bags which contained some tinfoil to keep us warm and dry (it didn’t). We tried to find a beer stall but could only find alcohol free (?!) so sacked it off.
The look of exhaustion
We found Mum and Andy and said our goodbyes and thank yous to David. I spoke to Nanci and Stuart who were buzzing with their times – Stuart with under 2hours and Nanci not far behind him!
I then began to wait for the others. I managed to see Jemma, who was thankfully also in good spirits, before I had to call it a day and go and warm up with a shower before meeting everyone for lunch. The MCR weather really did do me over at that point.
With race 28 done and Rachel and Jemma’s official first half marathon race complete – we had to go and celebrate. Rachel was also beaming with her achievement and time and, celebratory drinks in hand, we debriefed on the emotional side of running and finishing a race. Honestly, it is so overwhelming, I just think NYC marathon will be a huge sob fest.
We celebrated with a massive roast dinner and lots of wine (sorry sober October).
Roast dinner of dreams
So no hidden message behind this blog unfortunately – just a big race round up of happiness.
It makes me emotional to write this, thinking about how good the whole day was. From the support of spectators and Nicola running to the start line – to the achievements of Stuart, Nanci, Rachel, Jemma, David and I – and of course the evening after. I am definitely going to miss this running thing.
So many people have asked what I will do after the 30for30 challenge. Well for one I won’t do anything for sponsorship again, but I definitely want to keep on running races… Maybe I just won’t go on about it as much…
But whilst I am still going on about it and gaining sponsorship… what next?
This Saturday is the Glow in the Park 5k for race 29 and then incase you didn’t know…the New York Marathon!!
Work are kindly hosting a charity day in the office this Friday to raise final bits of cash which I will blog about also 🙂
All will be over in a coupe of weeks – please spread the word far and wide and donate here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EmmaBramwell2
Rafa Benitez Love showing support