When I mapped out my plan for 2021 I decided a practice race before the Manchester Marathon would be a good idea just to reacquaint myself with the old routine after close to two years away from racing. And very well it all went over at Wilmslow last month, but what I didn’t expect was to get a second bite at the cherry a fortnight later, with a last minute charity entry in the Great Manchester Half Marathon.
No matter how many virtual challenges I’ve taken part in over the past 18 months, even though some of them were amongst the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, there’s nothing quite like taking part in a real race with real people. The adrenaline on the day just isn’t there when you’re starting and finishing solo on your own drive.
So, after the longest break I’ve had from an actual event probably since I became a runner all the way back in 2007, it was nice to finally have something in the calendar: The Wilmslow Half Marathon 2021.
Last Sunday marked the halfway point of my third round of marathon training in 18 months, ideally this time with an actual race at the end of it.
Nine weeks down, nine to go. Over 450 miles in the bank already. So I thought I would be a good opportunity to report where I’m up to as I build up to what could be (but almost definitely won’t be) my final effort at the full distance.
I’ve not properly pushed myself at the full marathon distance since my massive 2016 effort, with Londons 2017 & 18 all being about savouring the day, and I was never going to attempt anything mad for my virtual one last October.
So now it’s time to see what I’ve still got in me. A real race with real people for the first time since late 2019, on the flattest marathon course in the country, an opportunity to aim for that PB and see what happens.
There’s been no races so far in 2021, virtual or otherwise. One little challenge that did materialise though was one of those that came about more by chance than anything, and then as is often my way subsequently became something to obsess over for a bit.
That was until I eventually achieved it.
Anyone who’s read more than a couple of my blogs will know that I have a pretty familiar autumn routine, hitting one or two of the same races almost every year going as far back as 2008. This year things were a bit different but I’m still delighted with what I managed to achieve, including my first ever solo marathon two and a half years after the immortal “no more marathons”.
With the official announcement postponing the 2020 Manchester Marathon coming relatively close to the intended event date I was just going over the very top of the peak of my training plan and so I began to moot ideas to try and still mark the occasion in some way and not let it all go to waste.
The result of all this was the findarace.com Plan B Virtual Half Marathon; a chance to stretch my legs at race pace, earn a cool little medal and raise a bit of money.
After posting my “I’ve signed up for a marathon” blog back in February, it’s safe to say there has been a somewhat significant turn of global events which far, far overshadow whatever little nonsense I was planning on doing this year.
With this coming Sunday’s Marathon For The Christie long since postponed, I’ve gone and signed up for a virtual half to mark the occasion, and by officially registering through Find A Race I still get a cool little medal and all the race proceeds going to the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Stay safe everyone. x
Those of you who caught my last blog will be aware that another marathon was all coming, but what I didn’t mention was that my return to action will be fundraising one, aiming to (hopefully) raise a nice big total for The Christie.
And this is why.
Only around 5,000 people on this earth have earned the Six Star marathon medal for completing all six World Marathon Majors, which puts it roughly on a par with climbing Mount Everest in terms of human achievement. It’s a bold and ridiculous idea and if I’m being honest I’m not sure it’s actually doable.
But sod it, let’s have a go eh.