The North, flat caps, whippets and hot pots, I own a flat cap, like dogs and things that include pastry, what’s not to love?. I shouldn’t take the pee, I’m from where men call each other ‘duck’, cakes that you eat with cheese, sausage & brown sauce and our own dialect strong enough to warrant it actually being its own language “ay up duck ow at thee?, as thee reddin me blog?”

I was looking forward to a trip back up north after I’d finished t’werk on Friday(I’ll stop with the Northern jokes in a bit, just let me get them out of my system). But first I’d swing by home to see my folks again and catch up with a few peeps Saturday morning.

As it turns out an awesome crew of UKRunChat peeps would also be going, a fair few of the Northern contingent along with a smattering of us Londoners making the trip up to get away from the smog and every increasing house prices.

Friday night I stayed at home then I travelled up to Manchester on Saturday afternoon & had a seamless journey via the Tram (who doesn’t love a tram) which dropped my off outside Old Trafford Cricket Ground and my hotel.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pottering around & getting my kit ready until I decided I needed to head out for dinner as I’d missed dinner with Katherine & Caroline earlier.

Last week I finished Royal Parks 7 seconds over my PB, which I should be happy about but I just didn’t feel like I had much in the legs from the start and so wasn’t expecting them to feel great at the start of Manchester either. I’d had a few niggles during the week but rested to let them settle down. I missed my training run Thursday so I had no idea how Sunday was going to go down.

I had no idea how to go about pacing it. Do I pace for PB, sub-15, or do I go with my average HM pace from the start and see if I can keep it consistent throughout? Also tempted to just run and see how far I can go non-stop – my only fear here is that if I get to 10k and decide I’m tired I may not have anything left for the second half.  I will just decide during the first mile and see how I am feeling.

Targets:

A) Finish, enjoy it, feel good afterwards

B) Sub-3:20 – should be easy enough but I’m putting it back on the table after recent races

C) PB – 3:15:58 – you never know

D) Sub-3:15 – the holy grail for me at the moment, but I’m not expecting it.

Sunday morning I was up fairly late-ish for a race day. 7.30 up, washed, inhaled a couple of bagels with cream cheese, filled up my water bladder at the hotel bar, avoided the use of the portaloos by using my own loo and it was off to the great UKRunChat/visorclub meet up.

I couldn’t hang around for long as I’d been asked on Friday if I could do an Interview on start line. They’d ask me a couple of questions and I’d be free to go. I scrambled from the very back of the pens where our meet up was and I had to get right.

Well every runner had also brought their wife and multiple kids in buggies into the pens – there was no segregation of spectator & runner areas and in honesty was a bit of carnage trying to get through but I made it, sort of. I’d gone up the right hand side, but the interviews were on the other so I mad dash through the barriers and I made it with a minute to spare for my slot.

I had a lovely chat with Rachel who already had all my info copied and pasted from my blog. Then it was on, then no, we’ll do it after the race, ok no worries and I headed off to try to get into the pens before being called back saying we were on! I had no idea what I was going to be asked so when someone says “tell me about yourself” you start questioning who you are! I think I held up fairly well, still haven’t seen the end result but I did ok for a spontaneous interview.

I got myself into the start pens – of course it was right at the front so I let a few people come past & said hello to Caithy who was of course doing an Instagram story!

I thought I’d best get going but #stalkeralert (Clare’s hashtag not mine) someone calls me from my side and it was Clare! We’d been chatting since the chase the Sun races & were even in Berlin together but never managed to meet even though I had a tee shirt from Berlin for her. I said my goodbye as Clare is a tad quicker than me and set off and ouch.

Status Check: right Achilles, painful, I can run that off, left foot, twinging like a little b*****d, but I guess that’s what happens when you set off at 11min/mile when you’re quickest mile PB is 12:33.

Anyway, I moved onto the side of the road to let everyone past while I got myself together and had a little walk – not something I’d usually do that far into a race but needs must.

It felt like the whole field were overtaking me and I’ll be honest it’s not a nice feeling & it’s incredibly hard not to try to keep up. I plodded along the dual carriageway trying not to notice I how pretty dreadful I felt. Legs weren’t ticking over but this happened last week & I told them to shut up, you always hate the first few miles, but I could tell I was having to work extra hard to stay anywhere near pace.

I’d already planned that I’d use my aftershokz for this race unlike Royal Parks. I knew RPH route & it was fairly entertaining – I wasn’t expecting Manchester to be quite the same (no offence). As I reached into my vest I had a thought – did I charge them again after Berlin? Well, 10beats in ‘into the danger zone’ I got my answer….no I hadn’t! I tried to put them back away but couldn’t find the zip until a lovely lady came up behind me and did my zip for me.

Status check at 2mile: Achilles fine, but twingy, left foot calmed down, lower back – killing me on every intake of breath. I’d woken that morning with a bit of a bad back – probably super soft bed. This was only two miles in and I wasn’t having the fun I’d promised myself & I was really struggling to stay anywhere close to the pace I expected.

I also became very aware of my knee, it wasn’t right. For a few days after Royal Parks my hamstring/knee/calf were painful. I’m used to soreness post race but this was pain. I rested and by Wednesday the pain had gone. I was going to run with Backpackers Thursday but work overtook life & I didn’t make it in time – I didn’t get to do a test run!

Katherine came past “hello love all ok Carl? – yeah great thanks, plodding along” I’m a dreadful liar through my gritted teeth!

Caroline joined me not long after & bless her she wasn’t enjoying herself either as her hip was killing her. I tried all I could to console her and tell her to take it easy & run/walk but bless her she wasn’t happy. I let her go on & willed her to get to the finish line. By 3mile after a walk break my knee wasn’t just ‘not right’ it was painful, so I did what every disconcerting runner would do “I’ll have a jog on it, that’ll help” yeah the cure for all running injuries, running on it – good one Carl.

It didn’t and I managed, 20yards max before pulling a face and realising that running on it wasn’t doing it any favours. I hobbled along until I could see the 3mile sign and decided I’d run to there – I couldn’t and pulled off the course there.

I stood and cheered the remaining runners through 3 miles but I was fine with pulling out. Yes I was disappointed not to get the bling & have the full Manchester experience but it was sensible & yes I considered walking the 10 remaining miles but I wouldn’t enjoy it & I’d probably only be doing myself more damage. My head wasn’t in a great place during those 3miles but it was my decision to pull out because I was in pain, not because I’d talked myself out of it – so I was content.

I hobbled back to my hotel, conveniently close by, showered, changed and went out to support the rest of the crew home.

I stuck around to see Becca, Katherine & Caroline finish who was a bit surprised to see me cheering from the sidelines but I was glad she persevered and got it done.

I was determined not to sulk, even after seeing the awesome bling so I went off to the pub to meet up with the rest of the crew and I was glad I did. If I’d have sat in my room feeling sorry for myself what would that have done, so I was determined to go and have some fun!

Clare came and joined us for a coke and we finally had a chat and delivered her Berlin tee that I got from the adidas shop for her.

As everyone was leaving, Katherine & I made plans for dinner and I had a chat with Pete (@sprintkitchen) for what I thought would be for 10mins or so, two hours later Pete, Caithy, Nicky and I are swapping shoes with each other and Pete looks a beaut in high heels, screw inov-8’s get that lad some Jimmy Choo’s!

Then I made my excuses and headed over for dinner with Katherine and profusely apologised for my attire & hint of shandy on my breath. Either way we found a lovely all you can eat Chinese buffet – winner!! They had Jaffa cakes and tea cakes – that’s all I’m saying!

And it was time for us both to hobble back and to pack my bags and set my alarm for an early 5am alarm!!

So that was Manchester – yes I’m miffed off, after seeing everyone with their medals yesterday I felt a bit rubbish but I have to remind myself of what I felt like in course, even now. I’m obviously disappointed not to have the bling and to have missed out on a race I really wanted to enjoy and finish off my 6 weeks of racing. All this could’ve been avoided if I’d have just taken Chevy’s advice and stopped running after Royal Parks – sorry mate, promise I’ll listen in future.

I did enjoy Manchester as a whole and it was good to hang out with the runchat crew & meet a few new faces too.

I’ll be resting for a week or two now, I only have one more race this year and that’s the Cancer Research Tough 10 at Box Hill