Blackpool Marathon Race Recap – 7th April 2013


April 6th – The ‘Day Before Race Day’ Day

I met Rob and his wife Claire in the train station at 12pm to get the train to Blackpool, as we were staying overnight. Sarah had to work early the morning of the run, so she had to stay at home with the cat. I think she was glad really, to get the bed to herself for once.

At about 2pm we arrived in Blackpool (The Paris of the North) and got a taxi to the hotel.

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We were staying at a place called Hawkes Hotel just off of the south Pier, and a ten minute walk from the start/finish of the marathon which was starting/ending at Blackpool’s Football Stadium.

Rob and Claire were staying for two nights but I was only booked in for one so that I could get home to Sarah after the run. If she had’ve been off, we’d’ve stayed two nights too but after seeing the room I didn’t really mind just one night.

Technically it was a Double Bedroom, because they’d fit a double bed in the room but left no room for much else. There was a bedside cabinet, a small desk and a single wardrobe with the TV on top, so when laying in bed the colour looked distorted because it was so high up and you watched it from underneath. The wardrobe faced sideways, because the door wouldn’t have been able to be opened if it was facing the room.

The cupboard/bathroom consisted of the toilet and VERY close in front of it, the shower.

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Handily, the sink was next to the bed.

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Nevermind though, it was only somewhere to sleep and get changed so it wasn’t a big deal. We’d’ve struggled with two of us there though, probably would’ve had to take it in turns being in the room.

A while later I met up with Rob and Claire downstairs and we went for a walk around lovely Blackpool.

I forgot how horrible it is.

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Parents shouting at children, children crying because they want to eat/drink/play in the arcades, dogs barking at children, people running the hoopla/throwing games shouting for business, people trying to sell stuff, trying to get you into their club/pub/cafes, mental!

Anyway, we had a couple of non-alcoholic beers and then a McDonalds for tea. (Carb loading with bread and chips) then later I had some chips (carb loading) and then we went to the arcades where I won Sarah a teddy, then I had some more chips (carbs) and watched the sun go down. After that it was time for an early night, but The Mummy was on TV so I went to sleep about 10:30.

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April 7th – Race Day

I slept quite well, but I think my bed was on a slant because when I rolled over it felt as though I was going to roll off. Almost bashed my head on the sink at one point. My alarm was set for 6:30 but I woke around 6:15 and laid in bed til it beeped at me.

I’d bought some porridge the day before, so put the kettle on to boil while I had a shower. I ate my porridge (carbs) laying on the bed (nowhere else to sit) and watched Cheers. It was the one where they all decide to grow beards.

At half seven I went down to the dining room to meet Rob and Claire for breakfast where I ate a slice of toast (carbs) and had which can only be described as the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted. There were a few oldies sat on the next table who said they were doing the half marathon and all of them looked shocked when me and Rob said we were doing the full. I think they were more shocked at the fact that two people looking like we do were attempting that distance.

After breakfast I went back to my cupboard and sorted out my race stuff. Laid everything out on the bed to make sure I wouldn’t forget anything, then once I was certain I got myself ready and went to meet up with Rob. I left my bag in his room because they were staying for another night and I had to check out.

We walked the ten minutes or so to the start of the race and (after a quick toilet stop) lined up with all the other runners. I saw someone that had a Mad Dog 10k top on and wished I’d worn mine, but decided to go for a Hi-Viz top so I’d be easier to see when I passed out in the gutter.

I drank a Red Bull before we started, and had a bottle of Mountain Dew energy drink to carry around the route. Also, I had an energy bar for half way and had a bag of Jelly Babies in my pocket.

It was due to start at 9:30 but we didn’t get underway until about 9:45, my stomach getting more and more knotted with each passing minute. A countdown started, then we were moving. A minute later I was passing the start mat of my first ever marathon!

A few days before I’d printed out a split-time list to stick on my wrist. I can’t remember the website, but you put in your distance and time you are hoping to finish, then it prints out a thin watch-width strip of paper with each mile split printed on it. I’d sellotaped one of these to my wrist that morning. My plan for the marathon was as follows:

Scenario 1. – Finish.

Scenario 2. – Finish in under 5 hours.

Scenario 3. – Finish in under 4 1/2 hours.

I’d printed the split times for a 4:30 finish, with the thinking that if it starts to go wrong then I might be able to squeeze a sub 5 hour time.

The run was very crowded at the start so we took it a bit easy, we both had headphones in but had the music on low so conversations could still be heard. I started the stop watch on my watch as we crossed the line too.

My original plan was to try and run between each water station, then walk through them all, as they were spaced roughly every 5k. (I’d drawn a red line on my split times to mark each water station.) I told Rob that I’d keep pace with him til the first station then let him jog on.

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We’d gone from the Football Stadium in a straight line to the Promanade then turned left towards the Pleasure Beach (which is a theme park) and then around 2 1/2 miles we turned back towards the centre of Blackpool and would stay on the straight until around 8 1/2 miles.

At the first station we wished each other luck as I slowed to a walk to have a drink and he carried on ahead. My legs already hurt, so I altered my plan slightly. Instead of running to each water station, I decided to run to each mile marker and check my progress with my watch and split times. When I got to mile 4 I was pleased to see I was roughly two minutes ahead of schedule, so decided that at each mile marker I’d walk until I was a minute in front of the split times. This worked brilliantly for a while, felt strong as I was running and it helped mentally that I could work out where my next break was coming.

At every marker I was walking for at least a minute, sometimes two, as I waited for the time to catch up to the split times. Also at every mile marker I was having something to drink (because I was carrying a bottle with me) and eating a Jelly Baby (for energy, they work really well!)

I passed Blackpool tower for the first time that day and then we ran on the sea front. The sun started to come out and I was – against everything that I thought I’d be doing – enjoying myself. The miles ticked by and before I knew it I’d gone passed the 6 mile marker and saw Rob coming back in the other direction up on the hill. We shouted and waved to each other and it spurred me onwards, then twenty minutes or so later I was at the turn around making my way back towards the start/halfway point of the race.

Another water station was passed, and I really needed the toilet. As it turns out, there are no portaloos on the route. Unless you have 20p for the public toilets (I didn’t) the only places I could see to goto the toilet were either in a Pub/Cafe on the opposite side of the road, or behind a wall. I chose the wall. I have no idea how the women in the race managed with the (lack of) toilet situation.

Still feeling good I passed the Tower for the second time which meant I had run around 20k and was approaching the Half Marathon. The thing about Blackpool Marathon, however, is that it’s not just the Marathon, they also have a Half Marathon option. We were doing two laps of the route, and the halfers were obviously doing one. I didn’t realise how utterly gut wrenching it would be to see them following the sign for Half Marathon Finish while I ran passed it following the Marathon sign, knowing I had to do another lap.

My Half Marathon time was around 2:07, and this was now official the furthest distance I had ever covered in a run.

My body thought the same.

At around mile 14, it all fell apart. My legs stopped working properly, my stomach started to churn, I got a headache, my motivation went. It was horrible. I knew that this could happen though, because when ever people talk about a marathon they talk about hitting the Wall, and I was now worried about hitting the Floor.

I had a few Jelly Babies to perk me up and decided to eat my power bar when I got to the next mile marker. As I approached the Pleasure Beach and the first turn around for the second time that day, I saw Rob coming in the opposite direction.


He laughed, I laughed, runners around us laughed. Me and Rob slapped each others hands and it was a nice boost when I was feeling quite down.

I was doing a mixture of running and walking, but mainly walking. When I reached mile 15 I ate my power bar and was surprised to realise that I was still on target with my split times. I knew that 4:30 finish wasn’t possible though because I didn’t have the energy to run the second half as quick as the first so set my sights on sub 5 hour.

I was doing my best to run as much as I could before having to walk but I bet I wasn’t running for a full minute before walking. At around 18 miles (after passing the Tower for the 3rd time) I noticed I kept getting passed by a very tattooed bloke who didn’t seem to be going that fast, but also I didn’t see him stop for a walk. He was doing more of a shuffle than a run, so I gave that a go and it worked better than trying to run did!

I still couldn’t run for long, but I was running for longer than before.

Eventually I reached the last turn around point and it was such a relief to be aiming for home. I was still keeping an eye on my watch but could feel the sub 5 hour slipping away. I gave myself a mental bitch-slap and knew I needed a system to keep going instead of stopping when my legs stopped working properly, so I started counting.

Everytime my right foot hit (shuffled on) the floor, I counted it as one step. I decided to run 100 of these steps, then walk 50, then run 100 and walk 50. Time passed, and so did the mile markers. 20 went by, then 21, then 22.

When I got to 23 I told myself there was only 5k left to go before it was over.

My stop watch read that I was on 4hours 20mins at 23miles. When I got to 24miles it read 4hours 33mins.

I knew then that I could get just under 5hours if I kept at this pace of 13 minutes a mile. Then a little voice in my head said ‘No, you’ll get to 26 miles in just under 5hours, but the Marathon doesn’t stop at 26. It stops at 26.2 miles.’


I did my best to ignore my legs and the pain, and the blisters and the pain, and the headache and the pain, but I was still shuffling at 100 steps followed by 50 walking. I upped to running to 110 steps and knocked the walking down to 40 steps. I passed the Tower for the last time.

What felt like ages passed and I reached the turning that the Half Marathoners had taken a few hours before. Down a side street, then turned left. The Football Stadium and the Finish was at the end of the road. People were cheering on the street. I got into the stadium car park and was directed around to the side. I saw Rob waiting at the side of the stadium entrance. “Almost there!” He shouted.

I turned into the stadium and saw the last 100 metres, saw the official clock above the finish line. I really wanted to sprint but couldn’t get my legs to want to sprint.

As I crossed the line, the commentator announced “Well done Marc, just nicely under five hours there!”

My gun time was 4:57, but my official chip time was 4:55.

Could’ve taken my time after all.


I got this:

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But I also got this:

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I knew I was going to be sore after the run but had no idea how much. It hurt to walk, to sit, to stand, to go up stairs, to get in the shower, to get out of the shower, to get dressed, to go down stairs. It’s now three days after the run and I’m still having trouble with stairs. I think it’s all worth it though, and I treated myself to The Hobbit on blu-ray which I watched Monday night, and we also had Chinese food. I did my best to stay awake for Wrestlemania on the night of the run (It’s on at Midnight in England) but only managed an hour or so. Caught up with it now though.

28th April I’m running the postponed Bradford 10k (if my legs work).

12th May – Leeds Half Marathon.

In October I’m already signed up to the Yorkshire Marathon in York, and am going to train properly for that one.

Before the Blackpool Marathon the furthest I’ve run, including training, was 13.1 miles which I ran once.

The second longest I’d ever run, including training, was 6.2 miles.

But as I only started this running business 10 months ago, I think I’m doing quite well to be able to get round 26.2 miles.

Rob finished in a time of 4:44.

Thanks to everyone for the nice messages of support!

Great Yorkshire Run 10k – 02/09/12

I wasn’t looking forward to this one very much.

It’d been two weeks since I’d last run (Birchwood 10k) and had had problems with my left foot ever since. (See last blog.) I got plenty of good advice on here from kind hearted people, but didn’t listen to any of them and didn’t do anything about it.

Also, the night before the run I ignored every article/website I’d read and had a Curry (lovely!) and two beers. Then I had another beer. And stayed up late watching The Office (U.S. Version) on Netflix. So all in all, I could’ve prepared slightly better, which is why I was (and still am) surprised at how well the run went!

Three of us taking part in the Great Yorkshire Run (not counting the 5000 or so people I didn’t know.) There was myself, Joe (Sarah’s cousin) and Nigel (Sarah’s uncle.) Ironman Tony came along for support and to take the pictures, but wasn’t running due to a bad dog bite on his leg; (He’s a Postman.) (Tony, not the dog.)

Nigel drove us all to the Park & Ride at Meadowhall in Sheffield and then we Parked & Rode the tram to the city centre. By the time we’d gone from the Carpark to the Tram (10mins) Nigel had gone to the toilet three times. Probably some kind of record there.

The tram stopped very near the start/finish line so we didn’t have to go very far to line up. (After another toilet stop.) I’d been tweeting with Aly Dixon (A proper runner) in the car on the way here and she said to watch for the end of the run. 1km all uphill, and it didn’t look nice at all. I’d just finished my water and the day was getting very warm, so slightly nervous about keeping hydrated. Being a Bupa sponsored run, however, there were a dozen people or so handing out bottled water to everyone getting ready to run so made sure I grabbed one.

This Picture Took Me Hours To Make.

Joe was in the wave of runners before us (as he’s a lot fitter and faster) and so as I was still a bit worried about not running for two weeks and trying not to injure my foot again, and Nigel was wanting to take it a bit steady, we Nigel decided to run the course together. Plenty of people were in fancy dress, saw a Superman, Batman and a Spider-Man in a group, then a Supergirl and a Batgirl. There was also a Kick-Ass and a Snow White.

Before long we were off and ready to put in a good showing. As the end of the run was uphill, that meant the start was downhill (I once did physics) and turning the first corner after starting the run, we all came to a stand still. Turns out that the road narrowed a bit where the traffic lights were, and so everyone had to slow down and make space to get past it. Not a major problem, but there were still plenty of people muttering and complaining about the set up. Me and Nigel laughed.

The first few kilometres flew by, and my foot wasn’t giving me any trouble at all. I might try beer and a take-away before the Great North Run too! We did a mixture of running and walking, but when we walked it was only for ten-twenty seconds at a time. The winner passed us on his way back when we were just getting going. He finished in under 30mins. There were a few bands and singers lined up along the route, and LOTS of supporters which was brilliant. The route they use is pretty much a there-and-back route, run down one side of the road and back up the other.

At about the 3-4km point I said to Nigel that we should just hop over the grass verge and run to the finish. Quite a few people around us laughed (never had an audience!) and said it was a good idea. A minute or so later we had caught up to some people and one of them said ‘It would be better to go over the road and run back.’ That didn’t bother me, it was an obvious joke. What DID bother me was that a woman that had been keeping pace with us, that laughed at my joke, said ‘I just said that a minute ago.’ Which she didn’t! She heard me say it, then someone else say something similar, and tried to take credit herself when none was for her! She annoyed me a bit, so we moved away from her.

The wave of runners that began before us were now coming back up the opposite side of the road so I said to Nigel that Joe would be there somewhere, and then seconds later I saw him.

“Joe!” I shouted, what with it being his name. I waved, he waved, but for some reason Nigel shouted “Joe” and looked up to the sky. Dunno why.

At the turn around point, Nigel stopped at the toilets (again) and so I walked for about a minute whilst I waited for him. The sun was pounding down at this point and so the water station was bloody lovely to see. He caught up, and in the distance we could see the walk-through shower so that spurred us on quite a bit. Oh-my-life it felt good!

By this point we were walking for a bit longer in our walking breaks, but still putting in some good running. During one of our walks, a woman and her daughter at the side of the road read our names and told us to start running and that we should be doing better! I don’t know about anyone else, but when you’ve been running only 12 weeks and are in your 2nd 10k race in two weeks, in the last 3k, having a walking break, hearing ‘You should be running’ is in no way a motivational tool. Still, we should’ve been running so we ran.

Reaching the 9km point, a woman asked Nigel if she could have a piggy back to the end.

“I might collapse!” He said, then realised what he had said, and followed it up with “Not that you’re heavy or anything. Because you aren’t. But… Er… I’ll stop now.” She didn’t look happy, so we tried to motivate her to run up the hill. We also tried to motivate ourselves to run up the hill.

Aly Dixon on Twitter wasn’t wrong about the hill finish, which she said ‘killed her’. This from someone who ran the Middlesborough 10k at the same time as we were doing this,  finished in 33.32, came 1st in females and set a new course record!)

We didn’t sprint to the end, but we did speed up and over took a few people. Both finished in a time of 01:06:52. PB for Nigel and my second best 10k! (Out of….three. So second worst too… No! Second best!)

Myself and Nigel, matching tops. Me: Happy. Nigel: Ballerina.

Met up with Ironman Tony and Joe at the finish. Joe ran the 10k in a PB of 00:51:37, which was brilliant. Even better though (I thought) was how he finished. Near the end, he felt sick (due to drinking too much water) and so threw up a bit into Sheffield’s City Centre flower display without breaking stride. Passing the finish line, he then threw up properly near the official photographers and the supporters that had pushed to the front. Paramedics ran towards him and gave him a bag to be sick into, and then one of them asked if he was OK and where his Dad was. Joe looked at him and said “Mate, I’m 25. I’ll be fine!” Brilliant.

Myself, Joe and Nigel.

So now less than two weeks til the Great North Run, and I’m feeling better about it. Still need a bit of sponsorship though, so if you feel like helping (even a pound will help!) it’s This Link Here



Oh my God, how did I forget to include this?! About 3/4 of the way round the 10k, we kept getting over taken by a Chinese man, who seemed like he just wanted to have a conversation with another Chinese man and so decided to join in the run about halfway. I know he wasn’t a proper runner because he was running holding his backpack. And wearing a shirt. Tucked into trousers. And shoes. He was very sweaty.

Post 10k Laziness

I have hardly done anything to help my Great North Run training this week. If fact, I think I’ve sent it backwards a bit. This is what I’ve done (and not done) since last weekend.


My train got me into New Pudsey a little after 6pm on the day of the 10k run. Sarah collected me from the station (bless her) and we went to McDonalds for tea. Had an early night as was tired from the run. Also, my head hurt a bit.


For my dinner I had left over chinese food that was in the fridge. I had the day off and Sarah was at work so I played on my PS3 for most of the day. In the evening I had a couple of beers. No exercise.


Family birthday party so loads of family and friends were round. I drank a bit too much. Also, I ate too much. No exercise.


Bit hungover. Went to the cafe for lunch (had a full english) and a full fat coke. In the afternoon I went to the cinema with Steven to see Batman (brilliant!) and ate a full tray of Nachos. With Salsa. And a large coke. (Coke was seperate, didn’t mean that I dipped my Nachos in or anything.) No exercise.


First day back at work, snacked a bit most of the day on crisps. Had a healthy lunch of steamed veg, but I don’t think it quite cancelled out the crisps. (Or the Twix.) No exercise.


McDonalds breakfast before work because we had a bit of spare time. Also, Andy at work said that he fancied chicken burger and chips from the Take Away up the road. I joined in because I hadn’t had one for ages. It was lovely.

I got home and decided that I’d slacked off a bit in my training so needed to go out for a run. I mapped out a route that would be a few laps of the neighbourhood and would be about 3.5 miles in distance. A mile into the route I was knackered (couldn’t think why!) and so cut it down to 1.7 mile. Didn’t feel brilliant.


Walk to work (2 miles.)

Tuna Salad for lunch.

No junk food.

Back on track.

10k Run Tomorrow!

This is a map of the course, as stolen borrowed from the Bupa website. Doesn’t look too bad like that, does it? Nice and steady course, with a handy shower and water station on route, looks lovely! Of course, I know slightly different. I know that the furthest I’ve run so far is 3 miles, and that I’ve tried twice (and failed twice) to do hill runs. The Great North 10k is more than twice my best distance (6.2miles!) and ends with a hill. On the plus side, it also ends with a lap of Gateshead stadium so I might feel like an actual athlete!

My biggest worry is getting a stitch or tripping up (and causing loads of others to domino over me) somewhere along the route. I’ll be fine though, probably just worried because I’ve never entered a race before, have only been running six weeks, can’t run the whole distance and have more than likely forgotten something. I’ll be fine…

Actually, the BIGGEST worry is being exposed as a non-runner. I can see us all lining up at the start, waiting for starters pistol/klaxon or whatever it is, and for someone to shout and point at me. ‘He’s not an actual runner! He’s only been running six weeks and can’t even do the full distance!’ Then everyone will look at me, and laugh, and I’ll have to own up to being new and unready, and someone will throw a tomato like in the films, then I’ll skulk off with egg on my face. (Egg and tomato. Chuck me a sausage and a bit of bacon and I’ve got a breakfast!)

Nah, I know that there’s more than likely others there that are even less prepared than I am and that are just doing it for fun, or for charity, or for both. I’m just seeing it as a kind of warm up the the Great North Run in Sept, a chance to get used to a bit of distance and running in a crowd.

Straight after work I’m on a train to Leeds, then one to Newcastle to stay over at Martyns house so we’re ready for the run in the morning. Chicken and Pasta for tea (to ‘Carb up’) and then Porridge for breakfast. Best stop off somewhere for some Powerade or something too, to keep up energized… It doesn’t start til 10:30 so plenty of time! My group sets off about 10:48 (Pink Group, last Wave) which means I might be one if the last over the line. If I am, I don’t care, just so long as I get over the line! Then I’ll have a few hours rest, before doing the return train journey with a finishers T-Shirt and my first ever medal. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable sleeping in it… (The medal, not the T-Shirt)

If you see either of these, there’s a good chance that it’s me. (Especially the one that has my name and number on.) So please be kind as you race past, and try not to kick up too much dust.

Good luck to everyone involved!

I’ll Just Leave This Here…

Today, not only did I manage my furthest distance to date, I also ran it at my best speed too. I love this sports tracker, because I doubt that I’d realise my speed was improving. Obviously I can tell that I’m going further, but not faster. Now though, I’m aching like a…. Er… Aching like a runner that’s got a new Personal Best!

(by the way, if the saying is ‘if it’s hurting, it’s working,’ then my legs feel as though they’re working like a cart horse.)