Sheeeeeeee She She She SHINE On

Sooooo, rather than go on and on and on and on and on and on about my MARATHON walk on twitter I have decided to write the definitive blog description to get it all over and done with in one massive post. I'll try and keep it fairly short - but you know me. Or maybe you don't.

Having done approximately no lots and lots of training for this 26.3 mile walk, overnight, through the streets of Manchester, I was completely un fully prepared for it and shitting myself raring to go.

To be fair, I had done a training walk in Feb of 16 miles around the streets of Manchester. During the day. And I had walked a 6 and then an 8 mile country walk on consecutive weekends leading up to the race. All seemed good, apart from some backache on the 16 miler which I didn't get at all on the country walks. Probably because we sat down and had an ice cream on the second one :-)

On the day, lunch was supposed to consist of a carb heavy pasta dish followed by a lighter bean based dinner a couple of hours before we set off. Instead, I managed to completely mess this up, eat two crumpets for breakfast at 9am, nothing till 4 pm when I had the biggest potato in the world with cheese and a flapjack. By the time it got to 6pm I was so stuffed full of carbs and adrenaline the dog really needed to see the rabbit, and I was tempted to do four laps of the house to release some of the pent up energy. I didn't though.

We all met outside the library at 8.30pm. We were supposed to be at the Gmex at 7pm, but we decided that we didn't really need to 'warm up' for a walk and this turned out to be an ExcellentDecision™ Arriving at 8.45pm at the Gmex we hurried to the loo, even though we had all been before we left the house AND before we had got to the library. Nervousness I guess.

Anyway, three volunteers later and we found the nearest toilets (honestly, how HARD can it be to know where the toilets are if you are going to be asking people if they need any help, surely its probably in the top 2% of questions you would get asked). Despite being promised a light up balloon, it appears that they had run out - again, surely they knew how many people were coming. We discussed finding vulnerable people with more than one to bully into giving one up, but soon decided that they may become more of a hindrance as the night progressed and decided fate had dealt us a balloonless night. And also thats probably not very CC. (Charity-ally Correct).

After about 45 min and a stunning warm up set from the Chuckle Sisters (not sure if this was their real name) who couldn't seem to grasp the idea of a microphone eliminating the need to shout, we somehow worked out that we should all go to the far corner of the GMEX. I say worked out because despite various announcements, you couldn't hear them in the entrance and then they stopped altogether once we were in there. Visions of us not even leaving the GMEX till 11pm started to creep into our imaginations, and it wasn't far off 10.30pm when we eventually made it to the start line having waited for a disaster to happen in a crush of people and balloons. How undignified to be rendered unconcious by a balloon and carried half a mile by a throng of overexcited walkers before anyone noticed your feet weren't on the ground and you weren't standing up on your own. I thought.

Luckily this didn't happen and as the clock on the timer said 19 mins we walked through the START arch. My partners in crime were Fi and Kerry. I'd roped them both in, having been roped in by Emma, who had been roped in by Atha, who had also roped a metric shitload of other people in. So the whole ropey lot of us set off together. We knew we wouldn't stay together from the off really, when there are that many people its just too hard to keep everyone together. Plus they like run ALL the time, and we didn't want to be shown up.

The first couple of miles saw us setting off towards Salford and then back into Manchester, which was a little soul destroying, as it was super busy (Derby day and Sat night) and the roads didn't seem to be shut. At one point on Whitworth St West we ALL had to wait and then squeeze through a narrowed pavement with roadworks half on it. Two abreast.. 10,000 people. Someone hadn't thought this through. Down Oxford Road was just as bad, although this time it was waiting for traffic lights on a side road. At this point we were dreading another 22 miles of stoppin' n startin' Davy (Reeves and Mortimer reference) we were already feeling tired, the adrenalin backfiring on us, like an old Austin Allegro. Luckily a lot of people stopped at the park to regroup/wee/rest (lazy sods) and we marched on.

We got into our stride out down to Didsbury, passing through Rusholme (cue stunned looking pissed curry goers and a drunk man who thrust a tenner into Kerrys hand) and Didsbury (cue stunned looking pissed people stood outside clubs trying to pull equally pissed people).... and stopping for a wee in some bushes at mile 10. Actually it was part of B &Q but hey. I had to go for a wee before I could eat the free Cripps Pink I had been given in the park that I had been clutching for 4 miles. I just couldn't eat it till I had a wee. I dunno why ok, just coz. At about mile 11 we started listing our ailments - as I thought vocalising them made them less painful. It mainly consisted of a bit of bum cheek ache and rubbing toes. Nothing major, just twinges. Made me feel better anyway, getting Fi and Kerry to moan too. At least I wasn't the only one suffering.

We arrived back in the park, which is where the half marathon walkers split off to go back into town and finish their walk. We were pointed in the direction of the ghetto Moss Side, and headed over towards that way, eventually taking us to the Trafford Centre. I'd asked Matt to send me some questions to answer on the way round, just in case conversation became a little dry. Now those of you who know me, know I can talk the hind legs off a donkey and then chew his ear off, and Fi and Kerry aren't shy at coming forwards with chat. But we've never done a marathon before, and to be honest, a lot of time we didn't say anything. By the time we got to Hulme were were starting to feel the strain. (I think it was the shock of walking through a Block party in Moss Side too) This was about 15 miles in. So we started a conversation about a certain ex-boss of mine and before we knew it, were were at the roundabout leading to the Trafford centre a couple of miles down the road. When I say a conversation, I mean I bitched about her. Turns out bitching stops your feet hurting. There's alternative therapy for you right there.

Ok, so onto miles 16-21 - bloody nightmare. I think I have somewhat blanked them out, but they were on the main road down to the Trafford Centre, through the industrial estates and back on the other side of the road. Great when you are on the side of the road with the 21 mile marker on it. Not so great when you are looking at those people from the side of the road with the 16 mile marker on it. Seriously hard.

Fi suddenly remembered that she had some Nurofen that her boyfriend had suggested she take in case of pain, so we cracked them open on a celebratory 19th mile and spent the next mile talking about whether they were kicking in yet? We stopped for a stretch before we cracked on with the final stretch, and as we headed to mile 21 marker the sun started to rise and birds sing. I vaguely remember a conversation about whether it was birds getting up because it was morning, or whether they hadn't been to bed yet, and also what time of morning does it stop being night - but I don't think we ever concluded that one. Probably got sidetracked by a story of a shed or something. *Wink*

I think we indulged ourselves in thinking we might actually finish this in one piece at this point. Either than or the extra Nurofen me and Fi had about half an hour later was causing some delirium. Or the lack of sleep. Or the 21 miles we had just walked. Whatever it was, it probably kept us going for another mile. We kept telling ourselves it was the 'home stretch'. Home stretch! Our home stretch was 6.5 miles. I told them it was nearly same as Chorlton to Urmston (which was a lie as its 3.7 miles from mine to knitting as I did it on Weds but I thought it would boost moral and I figured the final 2 miles would feel like a lap of honour). Anyway, it didn't boost moral, so I shut up.

I think we played the 'films beginning with S' game and the 'bands from A-Z' game for the next mile, but it felt like forever and we couldn't think straight so we stopped. It was well and truly light at this point, and people were starting to travel into work I guess. There was the odd person on their way home though. Two young lads obviously on their way home walked past us and gave a word of support as they passed, at 6.30 in the morning, after 24.5 miles it meant A LOT.

The final stretch was easy really, my foot had started hurting at the Lowry (or mile 23 as its now known) and my toe on my left foot felt like it was being strangled by a sock hole. I'd checked this at the Lowry pitstop but there was no hole in my sock. I knew something sinister was happening underneath, but thought I would save that little joy for hometime. Best not to look for now I thought. Turns out sometimes I am a genius. More later.

As we headed towards Albert Sq we saw some of the power walkers heading back home. Mental note: say you are a power walker next time so you can get out first. Then just dawdle. Whose to stop ya? I sent Mr TSD a text saying 'last mile x' in the hope it would wake him up and then he would offer a lift home. It woke him, but I did have to send a prompting 'lift???x' text to secure a ride home. It was 7am.

At 7.15am (9.04 hours on the clock, but don't forget we only passed the start at 19mins) we arrived back at the GMEX. Tired, unemotional (emotions are for people who aren't having out-of-body experiences) but very happy to have completed the whole 26.3 miles (and the rest zigzagging out the GMEX at the start). 8hrs and 45 minutes of walking, virtually none stop at an average speed of 2.88 mph, through Manchester, at night.

The strangled toe feeling was a massive nail bed blister under my middle left toe. A common theme with me having lost three toenails to my wedding evening disco (dem damn shoes) and previously to some too-tight-but-pretty-awesome limited edition Adidas Superstars. I also have a really sore right foot at the moment, (can't put weight on it) - more than just a been-on-them-all-day sore foot. I'm kinda hoping its something more impressive than just a pressure pain, so I can say things like 'yeah I did the last 3 miles with a broken foot' and try and be even a sliver of the amount of impressive the people who have had, or indeed were having treatment for, cancer who did the 26 miles, but I am guessing it will feel better soon and life will go back to normal for me. Makes you realise that 'normal' is something to be thankful for every single day.

To those who have sponsored me (and Matt for his 10k) thank you so much. Over £700 for The Christie - I hope you think I have earned your support. For those who think I haven't, walk a mile in my shoes, that way you are a mile away and you have my shoes. Win Win.

If you have been effected by this blog, and feel like you would like to sponsor someone then please go to:

Walk rating: 5/5
Company: 5/5
Achievement factor: 5/5
Route planning skills for first 4 miles: 0/5
Overall awesomeness of Team Awesome score: ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

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