The title of this blog is Daz's and reflects quite a lead up story to his run.
His story takes some twists and turns, and deserves to be told in full.
So grab a cup of tea, put your feet up, relax and enjoy his story.
Warning, contains extremely bad jokes. The Shabbas cannot be responsible for any brain ache caused by groaning at them.
"So, where to begin this epic journey of highs, lows, despair, frustration, pride and euphoria!?"
Well, let me take you back to 1st October 2013 when I completed my entry for the Greater Manchester Marathon. To be honest, at the time, I did question (and probably look for) a Lower Manchester Marathon but decided that this was not actually a thing…. or even a decent gag to open this blog!
Anyway, Manchester was flat, fast and ideal for a PB, at the time of entering, my form was great and my PB’s lay in pieces behind me like there were parts of a ceramic finishing tape that I’d smashed through. I’d decided that this was going to be the event where I’d try and go for a sub 3hr marathon finish….. but then, in December, disaster struck when I knackered my knee on a training run. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I was crocked for the whole of January. Not the start to 2014 that I’d anticipated and with that came the usual despair, frustration and Twitter rage (you know the one, it’s when you can’t run but everyone else is posting stuff about clocking up miles as part of their training plans and you just want to punch them!).
I’d hit a very low point but made the decision (after blowing up in training quite a few times) to take the pressure off myself and put my sub 3hr attempt on ice until Edinburgh, this is when Ian asked if I wanted to run with him at Manchester as it was his first marathon. Running with a mate and fellow Shabba sounded great and so I thought that I’d better get in training.
"Let the training commence..."
My training plan kicked off a treat, started to pick up some good speeds again and starting slowly increasing the mileage. With every run, I was worried that my previously injured knee was going to go “pop” again but gladly it didn’t and I managed to get some good races in at Silverstone Half, Ashby 20 and Stafford Half, this just left one long training run of 22 miles to complete before tapering started.
"Let the drama commence…."
Meanwhile, at work, I recently had a desk move and was now sitting alongside a team of people who were all ill with coughs, colds, flu, t-virus, ebola, the black plague.. it was like moving to 14th Century China. I knew that vitamin C and Berrocca were going to have to put in some overtime to keep me germ free for the next 3 weeks. Fortunately I’d resisted the Alex Ferguson-esq red nose and 60-a-day smokers cough but could feel the germy assault wrapping its self to my energy supplies like a boa constrictor overcoming its prey! From feeling great about the marathon, I started to feel lousy, drained and confidence started to go with it….
So, in true Redmond style, I went out, purchased some new Boosts and decided to hammer the hell out of this pathetic illness.
Phase 1 worked out brilliantly as I set a new parkrun PB at Walsall Arboretum on the Saturday morning.
Phase 2 was to do the 22 mile training run.,… on the Saturday evening.
I knew this wasn’t a good idea, 2 runs in 1 day, but I wanted a Sunday off to do some DIY or something other than running so it was Saturday or bust…or both as it turned out.
So, with back pack on, I ventured off into the distance (this is with the perspective that you’re watching me run off into the distance…why are you in my house!!??).
7 miles in, I started to get a sharp pain across the top of my left foot, initially I thought it was a sock problem so stopped to adjust but then carried on. At 9 miles I knew that something was wrong as I started to feel lethargic and the pain in my foot returned, but yet I carried on to my turnaround point at mile 11. By this time I really started to feel ill, the gels were kicking off in my stomach and I started to feel sick and really cold.
I pointlessly carried on until 13.5 miles before I had to radio in the wife for recovery… I was done, big time!
The following week was a nightmare… feeling tired, having no energy and having the possibility hanging over me that the marathon was going to be a car crash. I attempted a 6 mile run but crashed out at 3.5 miles again with no energy, pain in foot, demons in my head telling me that everything is going wrong, I was going to run 26.2 miles in 7 days’ time and I couldn’t even manage 6??
Monday was a real low but after a good self-talking to, I found some inner peace and a new sense of direction which started to pull me out of the darkness that I had found myself in.
On the Tuesday, I felt fresh, I felt awake and managed to pull together a comfortable 6 mile run… energy returning to normal, boa constrictor had now been made into a belt….. I think I might actually be ready!? Better start loading up on the carbs then (insert kebab & chips diet!).
So, despite it being the wife’s birthday, I managed to “engineer” a pass out to get in a gentle 5km around the Walsall Arboretum. Usually I wouldn’t advocate this the day before a marathon but I’d found out that I’d been awarded the Walsall Park Runner of the Month!
Being selected as the Runner of the Month was really humbling and although I hear that there were stats and things involved in the background, I was put forward by one of the volunteers and faster blokes, Pete Dimbleby which meant quite a lot to me….plus who am I to turn down a free pair of trainers from Sweatshop!
I ran a slow 8min per mile ParkRun with Shabba legend Paul which was good as we were able to have a chat, catch up, laugh and put the world to rights… before almost screwing up someone’s PB at the finishing line (different story!).
Due to a cock up with the hotel that we were staying in, I spent most of Saturday either google searching “Spa Treatments for Pregnant Women” or raging at hotel staff about the shoddy service me and the wife had received. Anyway, this lead to my evening meal being set back until about half 9 and my stress levels going through the roof!!
"Sunday - Marathon Day"
Like many nights I’ve spent in a hotel I didn’t sleep very well and woke up with the now typical panic of “Jeeeezus….. what time is it!!!???”….and then finding out that its only 4am. I slowly drifted back off to sleep but it only seemed like moments later when my 6am alarm was going off. I promptly got up (which is unusual for me!) and went through my pre-race preparation and before I knew it, it was now 6.45 and I was ready.
When I got to the car, I realised that I hadn’t got my Garmin on, couldn’t find it in the car, couldn’t find it in my bag. Called up the wife and she told me it was in my coat pocket in the hotel room and then prompted the divorce-considering question of “You don’t need your watch to run do you?”.
So I quickly had to run back to the room, got half way and had to run back to the car for the hotel room key.
Anyhow, the short & direct 7 minute drive to Old Trafford quickly became 30 minutes due to road closures, diversions and hefty traffic, at this point I could feel a wave of stress starting to kick in. I felt a little reassured when I called Ian to find out that he was also running late.
Eventually we met up with fellow Shabba’s Nikki (who I’d first met at Ashby a few weeks before) and this was the first time that I met up with Sara.
Pre-race nerves and adrenaline were starting to kick in now and I got my gels together, after discovering that 1 of them had leaked inside my shorts… that would take some explaining and on first appearance all that gel made my groin look like an Italian footballer!
RR: Nice image Daz!
We all ventured down to the start line and before we knew it, the klaxon sounded and we were on our way!
The first 3 or 4 miles seemed to fly by, that may have been due to the lack of visible mile markers or the fact me and Ian spent most of that time yacking on about things and making general observations such as:
“Is that a guy on a pogo stick!?”
“Mmm.. that is a nice behind”
All this as we were weaving in and out of people blocking our way to marathon glory! There was some great banter around the course (in the first part anyway!) and everyone seemed really upbeat and enjoying the occasion. To me, this is reminiscent to the movie Titanic when the ship is going down but a lot of people hadn’t yet realised!
A fond moment I recall early on is passing a shop that was called “I-Jerk”, I can only hope that this was some sort of Jamaican chicken eatery as opposed to someone making an elaborate statement; this seemed to get a few laughs with the other runners as well.
We were off to a faster pace than we’d initially intended, we had set off to do about a 7:50mm but I’d noticed that we were actually running at an average of 7:40. Every time that I mentioned this to Ian, we seemed to somehow speed up for some reason!!? I was a little worried that we were going a bit “gung-ho” but we both seemed reasonably comfortable so just got on with it.
Before I knew it, we’d reached the Bon Jovi point in the run (13.1) where I’m sure that Ian, my fellow runners and the crowd nearby all appreciated my chorus of “Whoooooaaaaa we’re halfway there… whoooooaaaa.. livin’ on a prayer!!!”.
As the route circled back we got to see Nikki and then a few minutes later managed to get a high 5 from Sara who was looking good as she headed to the halfway point.
Before I knew it I’d reached 20miles and with the exception of my questionable vocals at halfway, I actually felt really good… legs were ok, knee was fine and I was buzzing. I managed to have some fun with the great support lining the streets and got a few (prompted) “Super Daz” shout outs which was nice.
I think at this point Ian was starting to feel it, I could see that his facial expression had now started to move away from “I’m really enjoying this” into “Aaaaaggghhhhhh…effort face = Engaged”.
What couldn’t have helped around this time was seeing so many people pull up or stop to walk…. I’m sure like most runners, we’ve been in that situation before but I didn’t want this to sink into anyone’s head and so I always tried to offer some words of support to the stricken runners but made sure that we were always moving forward. I was just hoping that the earlier quicker miles were not about to throw a spanner into the machine that was a great run so far and so I did what I could to keep Ian’s spirits up and tried to keep us at a good pace.
To make the last haul more manageable, we broke the remaining 6.2miles into 2 parkrun chunks which seemed to help pass the miles away. I was still feeling great at this point, sure I could feel that I’d run quite a few miles but it was the most relaxed, exciting and generally fun event that I’d done to date and because of this I was able to play with the crowd by getting some high 5’s and encouraging them to raise the noise for us runners.. and fair play, they responded very well!
"The Final Stretch"
There was a point at around 24.5 miles when I did well up a little.
I was happy that I was about to complete my 4th marathon and was about to do it feeling great and not the broken mess that I’d looked in the previous 3 and I did think back to where I was 3 months earlier, down and miserable, and now I was striding comfortably to achieve another marathon medal!
But the moment was lost when looked back at Ian, the only Shabba who got through training without having any anatomical breakdowns, he had his eyes closed, he was tired and was obviously in a lot of pain (I chose not to question his form at this point - #PunchInTheFace) but yet he kept on going and through all of that training, through personal conviction, motivation, a lot of heart and sheer bloody stubbornness not to give in when it tough… he was about to, not just complete his first marathon, but do it with a fantastic effort and in a brilliant time.
I’ve done a lot of runs for myself and have a lot of memories of them, but the pride of being there with Ian as he smashed his first marathon will stay with me for quite some time…. Or unless he gets better than me anyway!
From 25 miles, the realisation kicked in that we weren’t far away and you could hear the music & announcements from the finish line and after a quick water fight and terrible Honda joke (I won’t explain!) we turned the final corner and literally see the end in sight.
The crowd were absolutely awesome and gave you that bit more of a push to get to that finish line so we both kicked on with a sprint finish, 3:22… brilliant!
After a well-deserved man hug with Ian we ventured through to collect our bling and to wait for the girls to come in.
It did dawn on me moments later (as I was struggling to get off the floor) that I now needed to start my training for the Edinburgh Marathon which is at the end of May, where I will be looking to get a sub 3hr finish, but that was parked as that day was all about the Manchester Marathon and that town…. had just been ran!!
Again we apologise for the jokes.
Regardless, Super Daz ran an epic race, and in the Shabba way - with a smile on his face!
Well done Daz - no more singing though please!