Breaking 3: The Manchester Marathon 2021

In May 2008 I ran my first timed event, the Great Manchester Run 10k, in 41:14. Literally since that day I’ve wondered if I had a sub three marathon in me, and my first half marathon in 2009 coming in under an hour and half made me think even more that I might have a chance. That was, however, until I ran my debut marathon in 2011 and struggled to even hit my loose 3:15 target, staggering over the line in 3:19:07.

A decade on from that first marathon, and three and a half years on from the immortal words “no more marathons”, it was time to attempt to run my best. A final attempt at the challenge that had been hanging over me for pretty much my entire running life.

The Final Countdown

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.

Tuning up: The Wilmslow Half Marathon 2021

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.

Halftime

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.

One last hurrah

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.

9 mile

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.