On the 25th-26th May I took part in the Rock and Roll Liverpool Marathon weekend. It is the 3rd time I have taken part in RNR Liverpool Marathon, and so I have a lot of medals to show for it. The weekend starts on Saturday with the 5k run. On the Sunday there are lots of events to choose from: the Marathon, Half Marathon and 1 mile. Some people do the half and the 1 mile, it’s actually possible for those at the front of the marathon to get back for the 1 mile. You get a medal for each event, and there are bonus medals: Remix medal if you run on both days; Encore medal if you run 2 years in a row; World Rocker if you run in two countries in a calender year. There are also many more medals to collect if you run multiple events with Rock and Roll over the year. If you want to recap from 2018 take a look at my blog HERE.
Saturday – 5k and Expo Talk:
I travelled down to the #RunFitExpo early on the Saturday to get my race Bib for the 5k. On the whole they only let people get 5k bibs on Saturday morning and you need to go back to get your Sunday Bib later. I managed to persuade the staff to give me both mine at once, so only had a quick queue.
I got my kit ready the night before, as always, to make sure I had everything with me. I was a little bit nervous about the 5k, because training over the last few months has taken a huge dip. I’ve been doing my Sunday race, but little more than that. It’s been a challenge balancing work, family and life, and I just haven’t had the time or energy to train. I went out for a run Friday to see how I was feeling and it was terrible, I just couldn’t get up to any sort of pace.
So I arrived at the start line thinking I would have to just accept a casual run. I saw Matt at the start so went to say hi. I was at the front, so thought I would just see how my legs went and hold on. Always with a bit of caution as the Marathon on Sunday is the main event.
I started off at a 6:10 min mile pace, much faster than I managed on my Friday run, a pace I was happy with, and it felt relatively comfortable. Over the second mile I dipped to 6:20 but still felt strong. I worked it out that I could run an average of 6:20 min mile to match my 2018 time and get a sub 20. This is the best I could hope for, although with the right training I would want much more.
I was at the back of the sub 20 pack, but wasn’t passed by many. I was maintaining my pace well, and didn’t push too hard at the end. It is reassuring to me that I can still run like this but also disappointing that I’m struggling to maintain the training and make improvements.
I finished in 19:50, and when I crossed the line the announcer said “Here comes the pacer perfectly just under sub 20”. I hadn’t thought that they would think I was a pacer as there aren’t Pacers for the 5k. However, when I finished a couple of guys came up to me and thanked me for keeping them going, and that they dipped under 20 following me. I am so glad I held on for sub 20. I would never sign up to pace a time that I struggle with myself, but it feels pretty good to have unofficially paced the sub 20 group.
After the 5k I had a little bit of time to look around the Expo. It’s a great set up with plenty to do. It’s not the size of London, but I can’t think of any other events in the UK that have a bigger expo. It is well worth a visit.
Look at that line up, to kick things off, me. I’ve talked on stage at Liverpool for 3 years in a row, and this year was by far the busiest and I think it went well.
I went to get my flag to talk on stage, and briefly misplaced it.
Whilst on stage I spoke for 30 minutes all about pacing. First of all I spoke about the importance of keeping a steady pace, and offered my own advice. You can see some of my tips HERE.
I then spoke more generally about what to expect from a pacer. As you will all know by now I think pacing is much more than just running at an even pace, and I ensured everyone knew what to expect, and put some minds at ease. I made it clear that come race day the main battle will be mental and confidence goes a long way.
I took a few questions from the crowd and hopefully got everyone a little excited for race day. It was a pleasure to be on stage talking to a full house of over 100 people.
At the end I got ushered away as I was still talking to people who had questions. A great first day.
After the Expo I had my usual Dockside Pizza Express, followed by a run around the park with my family. A great end to the first day.
As always, I couldn’t end the day without double checking my kit, ready for the morning.
Sunday – RNR Liverpool Marathon
This was the 3rd time I have ran RNR Liverpool Marathon as the sub 4 pacer. It was my 48th Marathon (55th towards 100 marathon club), and the 21st Marathon I have paced. It is the 74th event I have taken part in as an official pacer.
I am so pleased to say that I have had the honour of organising a fantastic pace team. It is so important to me to make sure I have a group of Pacers who really want to help everyone hit their time.
We had a great group for the half covering times from 1:30 to the back marker.
For the full we had Pacers from 3:15 to 5:30 / backmarker with the sub 4 #funbus in the middle.
Unfortunately Matt was late for the photo, despite clear instructions not to be late, I think he was doing his hair. But we will let him off as it was his 99th Marathon, almost in the 100 marathon club.
It was an early start, to make sure I was there to organise all the pacers. It was very different to last year, and it was cold and wet at the start, with a lot of wind. I knew it would be a hard last few miles with headwind so I recommended to Pacers that we banked a minute or 2 leading up to mile 22. I am used to the full starting late, so I was not in a rush to get to the start. So I was very surprised when it started on time.
I had a bit of time to try and motivate the runners around me and let everyone know what to expect on the #funbus. It was fantastic to have so many runners aiming for sub 4, some of whom for the first time. There were a mixture of runners who had ran with me before, and those who were taking on Liverpool and a marathon for the first time.They had changed the route in places this year because of some road closures. I must say the replacement parts were not as good as usual, and felt more undulating. Despite this the course is still fantastic, and has far more music stations and funky lights than any other marathon in the UK.
We did the usual tour around Goodison, but we seemed to do more around the grounds than normal. Anfield had an event on, so we didn’t get to run through it like last year, in fact we did a brief run past. Still a fantastic route and run past 2 premier league stadiums.
We had lots of fun and banter throughout the run, and it’s good getting to hear from people on the run. It really does make the time fly by. We were on pace the whole run. The only negative I have about this event is the mile markers, they were poorly placed. At mile 2 I had only ran 1.80 miles on my watch. We all know that you run further than 26.2 in a race, so there was no way this was right. The markers were out until mile 23, where they all of a sudden changed drastically.
We had a large strong group from start to finish. I enjoyed the course, the music, and water and lucozade in bottles with sports caps, which is perfect for runners. We had great laughs as a group, including winding Jason up about Liverpool. At one point we actually broke into song…. YNWA, which resulted in Jason pulling back 200 metres.
Jason and I had fun from start to finish, and we let everyone know how we were doing at each mile marker. According to my watch we were 30 seconds up, which was the plan. The markers said we were 2 minutes up, which got really confusing at mile 19 saying we were 2 minutes up, then 30k came AFTER which indicated we were 2 mins down. We just stayed true to out pace.
As always some people dropped off, we picked others up, but we had a good group with us. After about 19 miles the bulk of our group were just ahead of us, and we just kept the pace going. I love it when we get to single figure count down, and really push people to #pickupthepace.
Penny Lane is a lovely tourist site that we run past, amongst other Rock and Roll themed points along the course. The whole race day atmosphere is just amazing. Although it started off wet and cold, it brightened up for us at the end.
Just after mile 22 we turned to the Dockside, the point I knew it would be hard. I had to take my visor off as the wind would have taken it from me. It was here we had to really dig deep. The mile markers all of a sudden changed so we went from ahead of my watch to behind. I still had a 20 second cushion, but we did have a couple of minutes according to the markers and 30 seconds according to my watch. Because it was so tough I was not prepared to ease off, in case we came up short, I was also worried the markers would change again, so instead of easing off gently like I would usually, I picked up the pace to hold 9 min miles.
It is the flatest part of the whole course, but the wind makes it hard. I dug deep and shouted out to people the whole 4 miles to keep people ahead. Jason was just ahead of me and I could hear him doing the same, we worked really well together for this last section. It was also full of race angels; runners who help struggling runners over the last few miles, something which is the key part of the pacer. These are great assets to a race.
We saw the finish ahead and with 3 minutes to go it was clear that we were about 40 seconds faster than we would have liked. It turns out all Pacers had the same experience. We had a choice, we could have eased off and come in perfect. But instead we actually sped up a little. We encouraged the last few ahead of us, I gave a turn and shout and there wasnt anyone immediately behind us, so we finished with the last of our group. We start together, and finish together. We had no interest in dropping back after 26.2 miles together.
I am always happy to finish in 3:59, and our official time is 3:59:17. I lost count of the hugs at the end, from first time marathoners, first time sub 4 runners, and even someone who got sub 4 for the first time after 10 attempts. It is this moment, and all the lovely messages that have followed, that makes pacing so rewarding for me, and why I want to keep pacing. I know how much of a difference a positive attitude can make during a run, and I want to help make a difference to many peoples race.
It was great running with Jason, and we worked hard all the way to the end.
I picked up a lot of amazing bling this weekend. The 5k medal, the marathon medal, the remix for doing both, and the encore for 2 years in a row.
Meanwhile at 1pm the mile run took place, and my beautiful family all ran the mile, and both kids ran the whole way. I’m so proud, and they are all happy to have received their own medal.
I cannot express enough how great the atmosphere is at the Rock n Roll Marathon. There are races for everyone, a great expo (with awesome guest speakers), live entertainment throughout, and a lovely vibe. Its one of those races you can finish and hang around for hours after. You get a free beer included, and I managed to have 4 through others kindly giving me their token. I stayed behind to see most of the Pacers come in, and as always they did a fantastic job. So happy with the race, did you run, how did you get on? I will be back next year, but next up, Vitality 10k in the morning.