Well sit back with a brew because this could be lengthy!

Where do I start? Manchester has been quite frankly a journey thats been in the making for a lot longer than the 16 week training plan I followed to get me around the course…

Having signed up almost a year previously, like any procrastinator I waited until the new year to really focus my attention on the training. It wasn’t a complete standing start as I had “ran home for Christmas” through the month of December but the training plan started the week of Christmas day. But who trains Christmas week right?

Fast forward several weeks of 4 runs per week and I’m staring down the barrel of a Manchester DNF. Having not completed a single one of my “long runs” over half marathon distance and pulling up like a donkey at the cheltenham festival in the Berkeley 20miler I had considered a DNS to potentially save me the expenses of the trip and looming shopping bill the mrs was likely to rack up at the Trafford Centre.

But with a lot of encouragement and some frank conversations about expectations I found myself catching up with Katie Keates and making our way to the start line.

We took the gentle stroll and the race day selfie for the whatsapp group and then made our way to a respective pacers. Katie somewhere near the 5:00hr pacer and me hoping to make friends with the 6:00hr crew which strangely started ahead of Katie and the 5hr crew.

The count down begun, flame throwers blazing and off we go…

Having started off at the back of nicely forming pack I quickly begun to get carried away and edged my way to the front hoping to keep the pacers just behind me. What should have felt like a steady plod quickly lead to me losing sight of the pacers flag in my rear view mirror and I’m having to make conscious efforts to hold back and slow down. But I was having such a great time!!

Katie casually breezed past as we made our way towards the centre and I would only see her again once more after this when our paths crossed on an out and back section in a busy section of the city part of the run. We exchanged a high five, smile and words of encouragement and went about our day pounding tarmac!

Around the 8 mile mark, I caught up with the family who were there in force as support crew, again exchanged first pumps and kisses and carried on my way, and wouldn’t see them again now until the finish line.

Still running comfortably I cruised on to the half way mark, and then the over powering psychological battle commenced! I hadnt ran this far ever before, it was surely a matter of time before I’d be on the sweeper bus back to the end and a big DNF would be beside my name…

However, although slowing down gradually the atmosphere of the day was something I had never experienced before. Crowds of people cheering you on and encouraging every single person. Emotion took over and with a tear at every mile marker and even more when someone would pass me with tributes to lost loved ones one I managed to push on through.

I did put out an SOS call to my family, asking for them to call so my kids could give me some encouragement. Once the signal allowed it, I was receiving the call just as I neared the 1 mile to go marker.

Time to put the foot down and get it done! but lured in to a false security the event speakers your strategically placed prior to the last corner meaning the home straight and 500m was still yet to come.

I spotted one of my support crew so passed them my go pro then headed on to the line. The crowd that still lined the final straight were again nothing short of incredible. And in a flash it was done…

That really surreal feeling, I had completed something I committed to a year before. Despite the tribulations in training and within 10minutes of the time I set out to follow I was a marathon finisher!

Despite the obvious aches and pains that come with completing such a task, I had the most amazing time, and tried to ensure that showed throughout the day by encouraging others, talking to others about their journeys, thanking volunteers and embracing the party spirit!

Will there be a next? I’m undecided but in the meantime a pair of New Balance size 12 with 50km use free to a loving home!