On 9th October 2011 I ran the Liverpool Marathon for the RNLI. It was an experience like no other. If you’ve been following my progress over the past few months you will know that it hasn’t been easy.
After my first 15 mile run I could hardly walk. I had breathing issues due to a lack of electrolytes and I threw up. Right there and then I was ready to quit. I felt that my body was at its limit and I had made a stupid arrogant decision by entering the marathon. I spoke to the doctor and she knew exactly what was wrong with my breathing. I added electrolyte based drinks to my training and carried on. The next run was so much better and I felt like I could do the marathon.
Over the next few months my long runs were tough and I pushed my body on each one. I came back thinking “That was agony and I have to do so much more!” It was just a tough long slog. Weekends became all about one thing, the long steady run. I’d carb load on Saturday and run on Sunday. My diet was marathon focused, my reading was marathon focused, and my stress levels were constantly high due to not knowing if I was doing the right thing. I had guidance from friends but every long run made me think I wasn’t doing enough of something to make it easier.
Eventually though I resigned myself to the fact that 26.2 miles is an incredibly long way and well it’s going to hurt. Once I accepted that I kept plodding on. Mile after mile. Every time I passed 13 miles my legs started to ache and then hurt. Almost every long run resulted in me throwing up after. Eventually I hit 20 miles and that was the longest I would have to run in my training. I was happy… sort of. I could run 20 so if I needed to I could walk 6 miles of the marathon and be done. I wanted to do it in under 4 hours 30 minutes but after training I wanted to do it in under 5 hours. After a while I was happy with the idea of just doing it.
9th October. Marathon day. Oddly I wasn’t massively nervous. I had a good nights sleep, nice breakfast of bacon and pancakes and felt ok. I spent 4 months training for this day. Here it was. We arrived an hour early, just like the half marathon, but found it was so much busier than the half. I was never the sporty type in school and I was thinking “If only the kids from school could see me now.” Incredibly I bumped into one, who was the sporty type at school. We had a quick chat and wished each other good luck.
After a 50 minute delay we were off. I was running a marathon. It took a while to find my pace due to a huge amount of people running at various speeds but I settled into a grove. I’d set my watch for a time of 4hrs 55 mins which meant a pace of 11 minutes 15 seconds per mile. I could handle that, and I did for a while. The course took us through Birkenhead towards Seacombe where my girlfriend, Sam, had ran from the start to meet me. That was an amazing sight. After I settled in for the long run towards New Brighton. It was a strange run. Random people I had never met before were calling my name, saying “G’wan Pete.” and cheering me on. It was incredibly uplifting. Every other minute someone would personally cheer me on. Kids, parents, old people, cliched tracksuit wearing youths, everyone. Amazing! Along the way I saw Kay and her family and Richard from Fab Collective. I ran past the New Brighton RNLI station and waved to the people I was raising money for. I felt proud to be wearing a RNLI top. Onto New Brighton prom and I ran past Mark & family and again Sam :) Next stop the Birkenhead tunnel.
2 miles underground with no-one cheering you on. Hard work. But as they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Heading towards the Liver Building exit I could hear the Batala drummers getting louder and louder. Shades back on, bright light, lots of cheering and I was back riding a high. On to Castle Street with huge crowds, people cheering my name and again I see Sam waving. Yeah! Half way through.
Upper Parliament Street. I run a bit then walk it. I want to finish so I accept there are times when I have to walk. At the top I run again happy that the hardest climb is over. Sefton Park was very very very long. It felt like I was in there for hours and it rained. I was glad to be out. By this point I was tired and walked miles 22 and 23. I wanted to run to the finish so I needed that break.
Princes Avenue, mile 24. I could feel the finish line. 2 more miles, just 20 something minutes left to run. I could run that no problem. I’ve ran for 20 minutes before now. It’s easy. I ignored the fact that I’d just ran 24 miles, picked my legs up and ran. I ran down Upper Parliament Street with people cheering and calling my name. “Go on Pete!” Mile marker 25 and I nearly burst into tears. The final mile. Onto the home straight. I can see Liverpool One, the Albert Dock and the crowds became thicker. “Nearly home now Pete!” I was so incredibly moved by the support from strangers. It really carried me home. I get to Mann Island and see Tracy & Matt cheering me on, and also a photographer I know working for the event. I turn the corner to the finish line hoping to see Sam. The crowds were so thick it was hard to see her. I see her just before the finish line. Best feeling ever.
Across the line in 5 hours and 27 minutes. Under 5 and a half hours. I was happy with that. I had just ran a marathon. I wasn’t in pain. I hadn’t thrown up. Ok so I was a little stiff and finding it tough to walk but oddly running a marathon had been easier, or at least less painful than any of my long runs during training. I was riding such a high from finishing. Amazing.
So in total I raised Â£1,260.00 for the RNLI. Thank you all for your support. I couldn’t have done this without your donations, your cheers and without the amazing support from my girlfriend Sam.