RUN LIVERPOOL: 14/10/2012

My partner Sunday is running his first ever marathon today. I’m really excited for him as it takes me back to my first marathon back in 2010.

My very close friend Helen is running her fifth Marathon so far this year in aid of the Olympic rings so it is an extra special race for her too. Joining us are friends Darren and Tanya from our BOSH-Run group on Facebook. This marathon will be Darren’s second and both he and Tanya are hoping for a Personal Best!

08:40: After a short train ride to Birkenhead with the guys, we reach the park entrance and drop our bags on the lorry, it is sunny but a brisk northern 5c chill. My Inov-8 Wrag will be my wind proof today.

Pictures taken from Run247 and for our run group.

Heading over to the start, Helen already with soggy feet in her Vibram Five Fingers. I am wearing New Balance MT10 today, I favour my VFF on shorter distances.

We walk the start pen staying in the sunshine to keep warm. Wishing Sunday and the guys good luck, I head further down to the front as it is getting crowded.

I can see elites up front and the Mayor of Liverpool on the balcony.

09:30: The countdown begins 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. A loud horn sounds and we are off! everyone is tearing through the park at lightning speed...

I steady myself and get my pacing to a 7:15-30 min/miles but find it a struggle with runners flying past.

Heading onto the main high street of Birkenhead, with lots of spectator cheers from both sides of the road.

At the first water stop I have just a few gulps as I'm only a touch thirsty. I find my pace and take in the sights of the Wirral. Over bridges, industrial works following signs to New Brighton.

10:10:  Six miles in and I can see the sea. I'm just about warming up now. Runners head up the sea road, passing more spectators. I thumbs up and smile at the crowd. The route switches back on ourselves with the view of Liverpool over the Mersey in sight.

Nine miles in and onto the promenade of New Brighton. I see a lighthouse out at sea and the buildings of the city. As I have an SIS energy gel. I am running 6:15-30 min/mile pace.

10:50:  Eleven miles or so and back over the bridge from the other direction and then towards the Birkenhead Tunnel. The toll is closed off.  I head towards the huge dark opening, it feels strange with empty roads. 

An eerie feeling it is to be running in a dark tunnel that usually occupies three car lanes.  As I approach the bottom of the tunnel, I see other runners ahead and we meet the half way marker. 

I cannot see any end close by. I start to feel rather low and try to keep focused. Alredy half way through the race.

After over 15 minutes in the tunnel I can hear live music playing from the exit.... 

Then finally, light at the end of the tunnel. I start to speed up to the exit. I have no idea how fast, my phone and Garmin have lost all service in here.

11:18:  At 13.5 miles I reach the opening of bright outside air. Greeted with almighty cheers. I see dancers and cheerleaders. I notice our Hotel just across the road.

I carry on the road, away from the docks for a few miles before another switch back down the other side of the road. I check my pace, still around 6:20 and I'm feeling muscle soreness from the road beneath me but still feel strong and confident I can finish this at my 3:10 goal time. 

Passing another water stop I gulp down a bottle of water and take a High5 gel with caffeine. I also have some Cliff shot cubes I'm carrying on me.

11:45:  At 18 miles I pass the Albert Dock and cut through the city past the town hall. The road then appears to be going up. I thought being a city marathon this would be more flat. Oh well, what goes up must come down...

My pace drops here as I start to feel the ache in my feet, swollen from the ‘tarmac pounding’.  Once the road flattens out, into a park, the path is gravel, which is a relief break from the roads. 

Lots of walkers in the park and see 2 hours 30 minutes have passed, so it is about midday.  This means I have less than 30 minutes to get a sub 3 hour finish.  I still have 4 miles to go....

I spot Sunday, so run closer to the right to shout over to him. He gives me a thumbs up and says he is ok. I feel proud knowing how far he has come with his running.

Big day for my partner Sunday: his first marathon!
Leading downhill at last, I see the 24 mile marker, so I am very close to the finish! I start to feel my glutes getting tight with the chance of cramping. I have some more Cliff Shots, followed by water at the next stop.

12:25:  With just one mile left, I check my Garmin and see that I may gain a PB for a Marathon. The glutes start to tighten more. I feel the pain approaching. 

The crowds towards the finish at Mann Island are screaming at the runners, clapping and cheering.  The support is truly intense and I feel a lump in my throat. Suddenly a muscle cramp hits my glute and I have to slow to rub the area. Luckily it fades and I head for the finish.

The road bends and I see the big archway finish. I try with all my energy and power I have left to sprint. It’s the best I can do without another cramp stopping me. 

I hear over speaker ‘Luke Ashton is just finishing’ and look up to see the time of 03:02:55 BOSHED!

That’s a PB and six minutes slashed off Brighton Marathon time from April.

I have a good stretch as I take in the moment and the memories of the race....My first Liverpool marathon!

I have time for a cold shower and change before the others from the BOSH-Run Group are due to finish.  I head back to see Darren gain his PB of 4:09, Tanya then Sunday finishes his first marathon in 4:21. Sunday has time for a cold bath before we head back for Helen to finish....

Luke’s Top Tips for completing a road marathon:

1.  After finishing the marathon drink plenty of water.  I also recommend a high carb protein shake. I currently use a Vegan mix of pea and hemp protein as its plant based, lighter than whey and dairy free. I put a teaspoon of super green powder and Chai seeds in for added antioxidant boost post race.

2.  Run a cold – or if you can brave it an ice bath - to cool the muscles in your legs.  Sit in shallow water for 10 minutes.  Uncomfortable as it maybe, after a few minutes you will already feel less inflammation or aches. The next day your legs will thank you!

3.  Wear the right shoe for the terrain. With road races I use a minimalist shoe.  Today I wore my New Balance MT10 as they have just that bit more protection on the sole over my barefoot shoes.

4.  Remember to grease up your feet and toes.  Cover toenails with plasters if they suffer from bruising and wear a good running sock.  I have to tape up all my toes when wearing my New Balance trainers. With any marathon you will get the odd small blister but by greasing and using plasters you will prevent the worst that could stop you completing a race.

5.  After an hour to 1.5 hours after the race have a very well balanced meal to aid your recovery and start to replace all those calories burnt. You would have burnt between 3,000 to 4,500 calories in a marathon.

Run free!

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Please add your comments here. I would like to encourage discussion on running, training and nutrition. Luke