The Liverpool RocknRoll Marathon is a weekend of fun. With the option of a 1 Mile, 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon there is something for everyone. This is a very blingtastic weekend, and it is possible to walk away with up to 8 (yes 8) medals. I walked away with 4. This is the second time I have taken part in this weekend, after pacing Sub4 in 2017 (you can read more about it HERE). This year I decided to take part in the 5k on the Saturday, followed by the Marathon on the Sunday.
Saturday- 5k and Expo Talk.
The Saturday started off early with bib collection, before a 09:30 start for the 5k. Fortunately I was in the first start wave, as this 5k was busy, with over 3 thousand finishers. For those that know me, you will know that I haven’t ran at intensity for a long time. I want to get my speed back, but it is going to take time, effort and will power to get out and push myself. Today I intended on pushing myself a bit, to see how close I could get to 20 minutes. I should be able to get a couple of minutes under but lack confidence with my speed through lack of training. I have also had a niggle in my calf so didn’t want to risk that, especially the day before pacing a marathon.
I thought I would just start, see how it went and hold on for as long as I could. I started off hard, but still a bit reserved. I was happy with my first split, but it felt hard and I was faster than my number one goal, to go sub 20; at this point I was on for sub 18. It was hard so I eased off a little, but maintaining a sub 20 pace. After 2 miles I started to get overtaken by 10-20 runners, I let them go, I was happy with the pace I was running. On the last turn I knew I was going to hit sub 20, and this was a huge confidence boost. A young boy (that I now know to be 11 year old Sammy) overtook me at the last turn, what an incredible young man.
I finished in a time of 19:44. Technically my fastest ever 5k. Now let me explain. I used to run faster, but I used to only ever run 10k and half marathon. With a half PB of 1:23 and a 10k PB of 37:27 I certainly used to run faster. I would like to think I could have been running in 17 minutes territory, but that is untested. For now, this run, with no speed training, has given me a real confidence boost. I want to find the time to train harder and get my speed up. I love to push my body to see what it can achieve, and I know I am capable of more. I want to run further and take on some extreme challenges, but I also want to hit a sub3 in a marathon and I will get there with the right training. For now, I just love pacing, and I’m not going to do anything to risk injury. Overall I’m happy with 41st and 19:44.
After a fantastic start to the weekend I went to have a look around the expo. It isn’t the size of majors like London, but one of the best I’ve been to in the UK. I didn’t get around much personally, but it had some top brands there, a big merchandise section, and I always go and chat to the guys at CEP. After a coffee it was time for me to give my talk about Pacing. For those that remember, I gave a talk at the expo last year and they invited me back. With the #RoyalWedding as my competition I didn’t want to stay on stage for too long. I ran through why pacing is important, and talked about how pacers work on the day, answering many of the most common questions I get. I then took a few questions from people in the audience and about pacing, and running in the heat. It was a good chat.
I always like to take my family with me to events, and so I always try to ensure that we have a good balance with family time. So after the expo it was all about spending time with family, first up carb loading in Pizza Express.
Followed by a picnic in the park and lots of running around.
After a very long, fun but exhausting day, it was time for rest before the big day. But before I did, it was time to make sure I had all my kit together.
Sunday – Marathon
Another early start for me for the Marathon. It was a later start for the Marathon than the half, but I got there early as I had organised the whole pace team for both races. In 2017 I had got together probably a quarter of the pacers for the event. This year I organised the whole team, and so I wanted to make sure I was there early to ensure everything went smoothly.
After the half marathon runners got on their way we had time to waste waiting for the marathon start. Perfect opportunity for a few more photos.
This is the second time I have paced the sub4 #funbus for the Rock n Roll Liverpool Marathon. It is the 12th marathon I have paced, and the 51st official event I have paced. I am also working my way towards the 100 marathon club. This being the 37th official marathon, but 43rd including 4 100k runs and 2 Ironman Triathlons.
Today I paced with Jason, who was fantastic. We had a large group of runners with us from the start. There were lots aiming for sub4 for the first time, and lots of people running Liverpool for the first time. It started off hot, so we knew it would be a hot and hard day. With the later start of 10 for the marathon it gave it time to heat up more. It was also a delayed start. I like that the slight delay between waves prevents congestion, but it seems like a delayed start is a regular occurrence.
The Liverpool Marathon series has a great atmosphere at the start, and there are a lot of runners. This must be one of the busiest UK marathons, and it is a pleasure being part of it. My wave started at about 10:18, but we had our own count down, and we were immediately at desired pace.
It is a fantastic route that takes in the city centre, residential areas, beautiful parks and two football stadiums. I had a nice joke with Jason as we ran as he didn’t appreciate either Everton or Liverpool stadiums. There was also a lot of banter as we ran past. This year we actually ran through Liverpool stadium and people were taking pictures of the pitch, I would have done the same but realised too late to get my phone out, as last year we ran around the stadium.
This route is certainly undulating, and it had a couple of tough climbs. Mostly though the inclines were not too bad. One point that did cause a bit of an issue is the mile markers, they were all over the place. I based the course on my watch mostly as I just couldn’t rely on the markers. Fortunately at 10k and half way they had timing mats and these seemed to be more accurate, so these corrected the markers for a bit, and were a reliable source.
We had lots of smiles as we ticked off mile by mile. It got progressively harder as we went along, and as normal some people dropped off, and we picked others up. But throughout we had a good group running with us, and although it was hot it didn’t feel as hard as the recent London Marathon or MK half. Running through the city was awesome with good support and lots of live music.
For most of the course there isn’t a lot of spectators support, but I hardly notice its absence. It is a great course and really well organised. So, the water and Lucozade were frequent and in bottles, and all the marshals and volunteers were a great support. The course was well marked, and the music was great, sorry about my singing.
We kept the pace pretty consistent throughout, just taking some sensible changes for the hills. There was also a slight difference trying to accommodate the mile markers, which meant at the end we were ahead of target as the markers started to be short to adjust themselves. I told everyone around me at each mile how we were doing, and I would rather be running slightly fast to be ahead of target than run at desired pace, and risk the markers not aligning at the end. The final stretch is a tough one. It is the flattest part of the course, but it is a long straight 4 miles that seems to go on forever. There are a few people along this section enjoying the sun and the event, and leads us to the finish. I tried picking as many people up as we went through to the finish, pushing people ahead to get under target.
Jason did fantastic, as did those who finished around us. I had a dozen or so runners come in for a hug, kiss and handshake at the end and it’s great to hear of people’s successes. It is the finish that makes it all worthwhile. I had runners asking me how I was as we ran, which was lovely. It’s a long 26.2 miles, and all for the final few minutes trying to get people ahead of me and over that finish line, and it’s all worthwhile seeing their faces at the end.
The finishing medal is awesome which I have come to expect from the Rock n Roll marathon series. I am happy with 3:59:24, would have liked a bit closer but the final few miles were short and I wasn’t prepared to slow drastically to hit the time. I was looking forward to the race village as there was a big live band, a very busy atmosphere, and free beer.
We all get one beer token, but a perk of pacing and lots of runners not drinking, meant that I had a few people come up to me afterwards and give me their beer tokens. I was a grateful recipient.
That leaves me with one last thing to show you… this years bling and tee.
I had a great time, and will happily be back running Liverpool again. Who ran, how was your experience? Next up I’m going to the London 10k, followed by St Albans and Shrewsbury Half.