There were many highlights to our Great Manchester Run weekend – passing the 7k marker on Sunday was not one of them. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, an ever-so-gentle breeze, and a temperature of about 20 degrees; perfect weather for watching from the sidelines as 40,000 increasingly sweaty and exhausted runners traipsed past in a desperate stumble to the finish line. It was too hot to run.
I was actually managing quite well with the heat up until this point, but now with only 3k to go I was starting to wilt. The route back into Manchester city centre is on open roads with no shelter and the sun approaching midday was unforgiving. I was still going faster than some of those around me though so I forged ahead, grabbed a jelly baby on the way past at 8.5k and headed for the finish, spurred on by the cheering crowds enjoying the sunshine and no doubt glad they weren’t wearing running vests at this point.
I stopped my watch at 54 mins 17 secs which I was actually hugely pleased with – going nearly two minutes faster than my time the previous year and in difficult conditions was a great achievement for me. It was also an achievement to avoid the overheated runners doubled over, passing out or being ill as I went to grab my finishers pack, and the all-important bottle of water.
Meeting up with my family at the Charity Village ten minutes later was a definite highlight. There was nothing like a cuddle from my little man and hearty congratulations from my loved ones to instantly make me forget how much everything was hurting – from my burning leg muscles to my sunburnt shoulders. My husband Andy, also running for Tommy’s, was already there in a similarly dishevelled state, and it wasn’t long before my brother’s girlfriend Emma, raising money for the Anaphylaxis Campaign, joined us, tired but jubilant at the end of her first 10k race. Worn out from the excitement, Joe fell asleep in his pushchair.
It is so important to us that Joe sees his mummy and daddy being active and enjoying sport, so that in turn he will grow up to want to get involved too. We spent a brilliant day on the Saturday watching the City Games in central Manchester – a fab event hosting world-class athletes competing up close and personal on a running track laid out down a long street in the heart of the city. There was also a pole vault and long jump facility set up round the corner and we were lucky enough to see Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford do his thing right in front of us. Joe loved watching the ‘men jumping in the sand’ and clapped along with the crowd as everyone applauded.
On the Bank Holiday Monday, we set off back to the north-east as Joe’s three cousins took part in the Junior and Mini Runs around Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. Next year, Joe will be three and will be able to participate in the Mini Run himself. Whilst we would like him to, we also hope that he will want to as well – and judging by the way he runs around the garden given half the chance, I think he will be more than happy to pin that race number to his T-shirt and have a go. We may have a little future Olympian in the family.