Well, the big day of the Manchester Run finally came and this time I didn't get a convenient (that's what my misses reckons ;-)) bowel blockage to stop me running! We arrived quite early on the Sunday morning and got parked up and waited to meet up with R's in-laws as they would be looking after the kids while we ran. At that time the weather was sunny with a cold icy wind that made my bed back home look very enticing. We had a wander down to the G-Mex, (which for some reason has now been renamed to Manchester Central, grrrr...) and tried but failed to find the CF Trust stand which was laying on post-race massages (and presumably high fat post race meals for PWCF ;-)) We did find a stand giving away free isotonic drinks so we both took 2 bottles for before and after the race, although I drank far too much before the race. Abby was having lots of fun spotting all the people dressed up as cartoon characters like Scooby Doo, Spiderman and Batman, but there wasn't really anything laid on specifically for kids, which was a bit of a shame.
After some brief and, with hindsight, inadequate stretching it was time for the race to start. My plan was to take it easy for the first 5KM and then try and pick up the pace towards the end; I had heard that the best way to run a race is to start slow and finish fast, the idea being that you keep some energy in reserve for the later parts of the race. That was the plan anyway, in the end I just didn't have enough energy left! I started running with R, but I had told her to leave me behind if she was feeling confident because I didn't want to hold her back. I managed to keep pace with her for the first 5KM before I began to feel the effects of drinking too much isotonic juice before the race and had to duck behind some bushes near Old Trafford to relieve my aching bladder (I would have happily relieved myself on the stadium, but security might have had a thing or two to say about that ;-)). When I came out I could see R in the distance but I decided rather than knacker myself out trying to catch her it would be better to try and concentrate on running my own race at my own (slower) pace. The race was quite well supported and there was music played along the route, including a float with DJ Clint Boon (folk hero from old Manchester band Inspiral Carpets) knocking out some old 90s rave tunes to give us old timers a boost (no kidding, hairs stood up on the back of my neck as I ran past!) Towards the end of the race I began to struggle quite badly, and rather than keep to one pace, I started to do bursts of running followed by walking, which thinking back was probably why I pulled so many muscles. I also didn't do any proper stretching; when I trained I would start by running for 500M to warm up, then do my stretches; (and try and bring up all that horrible upper gut wind ;-)) but on the day of the run I was too excited to stop running until it was too late and the damage had already been done. Towards the end of the race there was a car wash style run-through shower to cool the athletes down, but by then it had started to rain, so it hardly seemed worth it. After that it was down to the final 2K where I could see the big Hilton tower looming in the distance near the finish line, but thanks to my aching legs it seemed to take me an eternity to reach it. Thankfully we all had some help from the crowd who geeing us all up. Crossing the finish line felt great, (I must have looked a sight, soaked wet through with snot streaming down my nose, and my hands shaking so much it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to open a bottle of water ;-)) but pretty much as soon as I finished I became aware of how freezing and wet it was. We had planned to hang around for a bit after the race if Abby and Oscar were up for it, but with the weather being so rubbish we decided to head back home for showers and pizza.
We were in the pink wave, which I think was mainly full charity runners, and I did get a bit emotional before the race seeing all the other runners, some of whom had pictures on their shirts of the friends and family they had lost and were now running for, and it got me to thinking about Toria and Poozie and the others on the CF Forum, whose brave fights had made me want to do something like this in the first place. I'd made a point of writing Poozie's name on my arm to help with motivation (for which I got told off by Abby later on in the day "We don't draw on our arms, Daddy!"), and although I'm not a particularly religous person, I did feel I got some help along the way. I did spot a few CF Trust runners along the way, as well as a big group from the North West Lung centre (which my CF Unit is part of), but I didn't recognise anyone from outpatients. Anyway, after all the sponsorship comes in we'll have raised more than £400 for the CF Trust between us :-).
Some tips for first time runners: (i.e. don't do what I did ;-))
1) Try and train for at least 2 months before the race, 4 months would be even better.
2) Do proper warm ups and stretching on the day of the race.
3) Don't drink too much before the race.
4) Try and run the distance (at a slow pace) at least once a couple of weeks before the big day.
5) If you're a bloke then don't wear boxer shorts. They chaff, owwww...