Bank holiday weekend has been spent having fun in Liverpool and the surrounding area. This was my first experience of the Rock and Roll marathon series. Although I have been eyeing up their races for many years. These events are known for their bling and party atmosphere. On offer on day one was a 5k race, and day two you could run a mile, half marathon or marathon. There were bonus medals on offer for running both days (remix medal); if you ran in 2016 (encore medal); and if you have ran another event in the series this year (world rocker).
This is the sort of haul that some could collect. All marathon and half marathon runners got the great tee, the only medals missing here are the marathon and encore (2016-2017) which I will show later.
I ran the marathon, and paced it as the #sub4funbus driver. This was my 26th marathon, 30th for the 100 marathon club (including 3 x100k and 1 x ironman). This is the first time I have paced this event, but it is the 32nd official event I have paced.
Our journey started with bib collection on Saturday. We parked at the Waterfront Carpark which was on site and perfect. We got there early, as Kirsty ran the 5k, I would have ran it too but I was looking after the children. We spent the time in the expo which was small but nice. Kirsty did a fantastic job and said she enjoyed the event that stayed around the waterfront and centre. One great touch was the finish inside the areana.
Next up it was my turn to talk on stage. I have never done anything like this before, but a few months ago I was approached by RNR marathon series asking if I would talk about pacing. I arranged to do it after the 5k so I could then get away with my family. I think it went well, and I enjoyed talking to people about the importance of pacing and the role pacers play. I also took a few questions and hope I was able to help ease some nerves.
Before I get on to talking about my marathon, one of the best things about these big events is catching up with lots of #ukrunchat members. It’s great to see people in person. I’m not going to start listing anyone here, as I’ve met so many and the blog would be so big, and I am bound to miss someone. Although I need to give a big shout out to Garry who started and finished with me, great job mate.
It wouldn’t be a race day without a race kit essentials shot, and the night before I got all my kit together. Usual kit with race tee from RnR marathon series; asics trainers; CEP socks; Racecheck visor; pacepocket. With pre and post nutrition: Grub; meatsnacks; and high 5.
As a pacer we got there early so had a lot of time to kill. It was particularly busy as the half marathon started at 09:00 followed by the marathon at 10:00. Both races were actually delayed by 15 minutes and I guess this was owing to delays in processing the sheer numbers at bag drop. Everything was slowed down this weekend, with increased security measures in place following the tragedy at Manchester earlier in the week #westandtogethermanchester
Getting there early meant there was plenty of time to have a catch up with the other pacers and take lots of pictures before the start.
I was supposed to be running with someone else in the #sub4funbus but he didn’t show up. This is why we run in pairs in case something goes wrong with one, but immediately I started alone. But it’s ok, as I’ve done this plenty of times before, and I didn’t remain alone for long as I started to take passengers at the start.
We had a moment of silence before the start for Manchester, which I know everyone appreciated. Most people also wore a yellow ribbon, myself included. And then we were off… after a lot of hot days I had posted a blog about staying hydrated in the heat. As it happens it turned into perfect running weather. The event was well marshalled and well organised. It is certainly a challenging route with a few cheeky hills. And there were winding sections with lots of obstacles such as bollards and pot holes. This however didn’t detract from a great little course.
After leaving the city centre the first main attraction was a lap around Everton’s stadium. We then spent a couple of miles around parks before then running alongside the home of Liverpool. #YNWA
Where there were spectators they were great. However, a lot of the course was quiet without anyone around. There were frequent music stations with live bands or DJ’s which created a good atmosphere, but these did feel a bit far at times. But many of these quiet sections were in parks and were very peaceful. I kept the motivation flowing in the #sub4funbus.
The aid stations were well stocked and provided water and lucazade in bottles and gels. At some stations it was difficult to get water and could have done with a couple of extra volunteers, but most were fine and it didn’t really matter. One thing that was a little annoying, but done with good intentions, was that at a couple of stations the marshals removed the lids. Now this would usually be seen as a helpful thing, accept the water bottles had sports caps, so not needed. This was not too bad but they did the same with the lucazade. The sports caps make it easier to drink without mess and mean you can run with the bottle. Because the lid was removed we couldn’t. Again this was clearly done to help, but really wish they didn’t.
Most of the second half was in parks and there were some beautiful areas. There were a few issues with some of the mile markers being in the wrong place or missing, which makes my life more difficult. But that’s why I’m there, to take the stress away from those running with me. I knew when the markers were out, and after a couple of miles they evened back out. I adjusted my pace each time just in case they didn’t even out, as I would rather come in a little fast than risk coming in late. At about mile 22-23 we turned in to the straight along the docks. This went on for miles, and was a little tough. The wind was against us, but it was flat so this balanced it out. I picked a lot of people up along this stretch who had slowed or started walking and I managed to get them ahead of me.
The finish was lovely and was great to run through. It was great having so many at the end wait for me for a hug, and there was a lot of emotions from people who had managed to smash 4 hours for the first time. I had a number stick with me who achieved sub 4 for their first marathon. I came in with a time of 3:59:34 and lots of people ahead of me. Afterwards it was time for my free beer, fun on the wheel and lots of refuelling at Pizza Express. I received the marathon medal, and also got my hands on the encore medal, bling…