Yesterday, I completed my first half marathon with a chip time of 2:26:43 and, I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with that. I was aiming to be somewhere between 2:20 and 2:30 but didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself and risk not enjoying the event.
I was panicking about the distance in the weeks coming up to the race, but I’m so glad I persevered with my training because crossing the finish line was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I felt completely elated because I’d accomplished something I never thought was possible.
As it was my first half marathon, I don’t have anything to compare it to other than previous 10k races but thought I’d do a little debrief of the event. Overall I loved it, but there was definitely room for improvement.
- Public support was overwhelming – Without question, the public, who were out in their thousands to support the runners, were my favourite part of the event. I was fortunate enough to see my dad on four separate occasions (he was cycling to find me), as well as several other friends and family members, both expected and unexpected. It honestly gave me the boost I needed to keep going, so a huge thank you to everyone that came out in support. You’ve definitely inspired me to do my own share of supporting races next year.
- The route – I’m slightly biased here, since the race takes you directly through the area where I grew up, but I loved the route. It was nice and flat (woo!), there was easy access for the public and it took you through some great towns. Running though Chorlton at 11 miles was a particular highlight for me because I was flagging by this point, so the additional cheers from the crowd really lifted me.
- Drinks and gel stations – I felt these were situated perfectly, were really well organised and I never felt like I was struggling for water. Everybody working on the stations was enthusiastic and efficient, meaning there were no queues or reasons to stop. The gels and sweets available were also fantastic for a much-needed energy boost.
- Organisation at the finish – According to my Fitbit, I had a further 20 minute walk to get from the finish line to the athletes village, where water, beer and Soreen were available. I know it’s not far, but nor is it ideal when you’ve just run 13.1 miles, have blisters on your feet and your legs feel like they’re about to fall off. You also had to get everything from a different stand. I’ve been at previous events, where you’re given a bag at the finish line with everything you need in it – water, protein flapjack, rain poncho and a t-shirt. I think a method like this would make the Manchester Half much more organised.
- Signs for the pens were not clear at the start – At 8:55, Amy and I were running around in the rain, panicking because we couldn’t find the rest of our club. We were all categorised into pens via our race number, which was great. But the event was so busy that it was nearly impossible to distinguish between the pens. We got there in the end, but only thanks to one of our run leaders giving us step-by-step instructions to find them.
- The medal is disappointing – a personal preference thing, but I just wanted it to be prettier because it was my longest race yet. I still loved adding it to my collection though!
Did you/have you ever run the Manchester Half? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the race. Also, if anybody has any 10k/half marathon races that they’d recommend, get in touch!