I had heard lots of amazing stories about the Liverpool Rock n Roll weekend and so when booking opened I booked straight on to give the weekend a go. I booked a 5k race for Saturday, half marathon and a mile fun run for Sunday. By racing on both days I was then entitled to an extra medal!
We had booked a room right next to the start line and travelled to Liverpool on the Friday night, ready for the Saturday race. I was nervous Saturday morning. I hobbled out of the room, barely able to walk to the lifts without pain and wondered how on earth I was going to get around the 5km course.
Crowds of runners filed the square. Huddled together in their club colours, I had never seen so many runners before. I tagged along with the Barnsley Harriers, and even gate crashed their team photo. I needed that support, as the pain was just too much. I hobbled over to the starting pens with a good friend of mine and waited towards the back of the pen. I was wondering how I was going to do this. The aim was to get round, not to run fast, just to get round.
I developed a strange run/walk but had no power in my left foot. It felt detached as I tried to hobble round the course. Luckily the course was flat and crowds of people gave support and encouragement as I ran round, I say ran it was hobbled. Staying close to the main expo area the route wound through the docks and it was a very beautiful route. The final turn sees you run through the tunnel to finish in the dark inside the Echo arena. My friend pulled me across that finish line, and whilst it was no PB I was proud of myself for completing the race. It also gave me confidence that I knew I could also cover the half marathon in the morning.
The next morning the nerves hit me again. I knew I could cover 5km, I had done it the day before. I knew I could cover the distance, it was just would my foot hold up. Again the aim was to get round, no pressure and no speed. Just get round.
The pens seemed to go on forever, I walked past hotel after hotel all the way to the end pen. I saw the back marker go past me and knew I had to keep him behind me, knowing not to get caught as I wanted to finish this race. I also knew the fun run started at 1 so I should have had plenty of time to get round. We seemed to be stood in the pens for ages, staggered starts meant we started and stopped. Waiting for our group to finally get to the front before we could set off. The longer we waited the less time I had to get round and get back in time for the fun run and I will admit to worrying if I could finish in time.
Finally we crossed the start line and the half marathon began. Leaving the docks behind and winding up into the city centre. Slight inclines but nothing too major. Over roads and cobbles, past the cavern and back out onto the roads of Liverpool again. Through China town, country parks and onwards to Penny Lane. Each point of the route supported with cheering crowds, music and a fantastic atmosphere. It was a whistle stop tour of Liverpool, taking in the sites and simply enjoying the run.
I had a weird running pattern going but it was working for me. No pain, just a dull ache as I continued round the course. Supported by good friends as I bumped into them whilst running. I kept my pace and before I knew it I was at mile 10. Just a parkrun to go. The final 3 miles really dragged as I ran back up to the finish line. River on one side and concrete wall on the other. Watching runners stop to walk, flagging in the final three miles. These were the hardest, and perhaps were a crowd would have really helped but it was the least supported section of the course.
Finally in the distance I could hear the crowds again and it spurred me on, gave me that extra boost needed to finish. My foot had started to hurt at this point and there was no way I could sprint finish, instead I was just happy to cross the finish line. I later discovered I had a half marathon PB not by much but still a new PB and I was proud I had run, be it in a unique style, the entire course.
Even better I had made it just in time for the fun run. I hurried to find my children and their Dad and we made our way over to the fun run start. My eldest ran with her Dad and me, my youngest and Little Man did the mile in a run/walk which suited me fine!
The route was round the docks, similar to the 5km race the day before. My youngest loved running with the superheros, and other characters on course. The music was once again fantastic and such a wonderful race atmosphere!
We finished the race cheered on by her Dad and sister and were awarded our medal. We would have loved to have stayed and explored Liverpool but we had a flight to catch straight away! On the way to the airport we did book the race again for the following year, and we cannot wait to do it all again in 2018!