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Manchester Marathon 2023: Stephen's story for the 26.2

Stephen, Up & Running Manchester

From start to finish and everything inbetween

Firstly, Thank you to Adidas for the opportunity to run the race, the footwear and apparel to do that. Secondly, this is a perk to the job of working for Up & Running, so thank you to them as well.

I crossed the finish line disappointed (and happy)!

Rewind 4 months to the start of training and the previous comment sounds silly. I was at my heaviest weight for years; I’ve lost that weight and I’ve managed a PB in a marathon - that’s all that should matter. But you are never going to be 100% happy with a performance. A couple of days have passed, I’ve had time to reflect and realise that I am happy, and I did great. But also know that I can do better.

Jarrod, one of the staff members in the shop and a PT who designs training plans for runners, kindly set me a programme that was tailored to my needs, the needs of 5 days a week and no strength work (I hate strength work). The programme was brilliant for what I wanted.

Every week I felt stronger, and the only pressure was what I put on myself. I used a mix of trainers for my sessions, intervals, and hills, I used faster shoes. For the longer runs I used my Solar Glides and for race day I used the Adizero PRIME X. Not technically legal, but for me that’s okay as I wasn’t going to be winning anything.

At first, I used them for an easy 5k, then 8k. Then I used them for my last longer runs. 14.5 mile and a 9 miler. As with most racing shoes, usual issues with little blisters, but breaking them in meant for race day they were perfect.

The night before...

 I checked into the hotel that Adidas had arranged. Dinner was booked for 6pm and it was a chance to speak to different retailers around a table about the race, training, and experiences in our areas. It’s great hearing everyone’s different ideas of what works for them in training, nutrition, and tactics. An early night was on the cards.

The day you've been training for...

Race day was here and so were the nerves. Have I carb loaded enough/too much? Have I forgotten anything? Should I have a shower? What time should I leave the hotel?  Millions of questions and what ifs! To be honest, for me, I get most nervous about the toilet situation. In training, I must go to the loo the last second before leaving, but it’s not always that easy on race day. I was lucky, and the toilets were next to the start and the queues were small.

A quick stretch on the line and the gun goes and we are away! I settled into my race pace well (faster than I initially wanted). The first 13 miles felt pretty easy (that’s how it should feel they tell you). Family cheering, which is the best part, and lots of other people I knew on the course, and people you don’t know shouting your name (You forget your name is on your number!).

Mile 14 is when the tiredness creeps in and doubts start eating away at your confidence. I needed to push harder to keep up the pace, and I did. It wasn’t until mile 22 when my legs started slowing down and my pace dropped.

The last 4 miles were all about not stopping and hoping that every time I looked at my watch, I was closer to the end. I wanted to up the pace in the last mile but there was nothing left in the tank, no sprint finish for the crowds. But seeing family at the end gives you the biggest smile and boost of energy to cross the finish line.

A treat from Adidas, was being able to visit the VIP area. Sports massage and food were waiting which was needed to start recovery.

So, what's next?

Four weeks and it’s the Rob Burrows Leeds marathon. A hilly course with not a chance of a PB. But I lived and worked in Leeds for many years, so it’s going be exciting to run on the roads I once did again.



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