A conversation with Heidi Finlay and Victoria Grace.
V: My favourite bit of the marathon was the finish line. Ha! No, my favourite bit was the music and going up Penny Lane. Penny Lane was amazing; it was the highlight of the whole run for me. It was at about 19 miles so I really needed that, so I thought that was really good.
H: Penny Lane was a marker for me, but it was more like, I was just dying to get there, and then once I was there I was like, right, I wanna leave here now! That poor lady on the music, saying, “and next on the playlist is…”
V: She was saying, “and this is Penny Lane, where we play Penny Lane on repeat, all day every day”
H: She must have been demented like.
H: I suppose that was a good thing for the tourists.
V: Yeah, yeah. Like me.
So what was your favourite thing?
H: It was just going round Liverpool, you know, it being my home town, but there was so much to see, I thought. When you came out of the city initially, you were in the business district, and then seeing all the old buildings, next running up through Everton where my Dad grew up, so it was nostalgic in that way. And then past the football stadia, which was really good. I would have liked them to play their theme tunes coming out of the stadia, I think that would have been better, if when you were running past Anfield…
V: Yeah, I could have done with a bit of…
Both: You’ll Never Walk Alone.
H: That would have sent shivers down your spine, but…
V: I loved the bit, and it was quite early on, where you went up past the Cavern, up Matthew Street, and then they had that rock band, it looked like they were at City Hall or something, up on the balcony.
H: Ah, yeah, that was amazing!
V: And they started playing Brown Sugar, and I was like, “Yeah!”
H: Yes! They were brilliant.
Another bit, when we were running through Sefton Park, along that avenue, it felt like some crazy euphoric hypnotic serenity, where there were beautiful Victorian buildings on one side and a park on the other, the sun was coming through the trees, and I thought it was the most beautiful experience of my entire life!
V: I got mixed up with a lot of the parks ‘cause there were a lot of parks, but they were all, I mean they were lovely, really nice, nice lakes, trees and you know, it gave you a bit of shade.
H: In Sefton Park by the ice cream parlour there were quite a lot of people. What would you say about the support? You see, I was really surprised as to how good the support was actually, I wasn’t expecting it.
V: I think it was quite good because it went through parks and things like that, so people were out in the parks anyway, and they could just kind of stop their daily business and cheer you on, but there were a lot of people who had come out specifically to support. There were plenty of kids with high-fives and sweets, water and people shouting from their flats, yeah really good. Because they had the music as well, people came out and they were getting something back to pass the time, because they could actually listen to the music and not just have to watch runners panting.
H: There were a few quiet spots, and I did try and start off a few oggies, and I was trying to promote the Great North Run at that point, and nobody had ran the GNR, and I was like, “You need to do it!”
V: I was actually trying to promote park runs. There was a guy who had ran 7 marathons but never a park run and me and this other girl were encouraging him and I did think of the O’Neils at that point.
H: What about the logistics of the marathon? I thought it was brilliant, so easy.
V: Really good. Very impressed, the bag check was quick and efficient. The toilets were easy at the beginning; you could literally just nip to the toilet and then back to the start line.
H: There were no queues at all.
V: And then the way they did the start in corrals, in sort of blocks and they’d count each one down, and then at the end, yeah, it was very efficient, and the marshals were good.
H: Staying in the city, would you recommend staying in the city, or staying nearby?
V: Yeah, staying in the city, if you want to do a bit of sightseeing, there’s loads of hotels. The Docks was a lush place to stay ‘cause there’s so much to do down there and everything was on the doorstep.
H: If you were staying with family or friends a little bit out, the public transport is totally fine.
V: What about the course conditions, what do we think of the, er, hills?!
H: [Laughs] Well, I don’t think I really, really, fully understood the hills before, but now, because I’ve said it so many times, I don’t know whether I’m making it into more of a thing than it actually was.
V: You know what I’m like with hills- I hate hills and I can’t believe how… I think I just switched off from worrying about that sort of thing, and I just thought, well I’ll get to the top and I know I’ll be tired at the top, and I’ll just keep plodding on and it’ll go away after that, but there’s no doubt about it, it was hilly, and there were people around me complaining about the hills, like “who put that ******* hill there?” at like 20 miles, because that’s the kind of time you really don’t want a hill, but because I think we’d known it was going to be hilly, well, you must have known it was going to be hilly?
H: Well I think in my mind, I thought the first half was going to be more hilly and the second half would be less, but actually when I ran it I didn’t feel that at all, but I don’t know whether that was ‘cause I was in such pain with my glutes, that it was just every hill, I was like “Nooooooo!”
V: There was a hill going up to Chinatown, that was pretty big wasn’t it?
H: Yes, well that was only like 11, 12 miles in and I was in pain then and I thought, I can’t believe this.
V: And then I think I went round into a park and I started talking to some guy and I’d heard people saying that it was less hilly in the second half and I said that to this guy and he just looked at me as if to say, “Yeah, you believe that if you want to,” ‘cause he had done it last year.
H: There was this girl who was saying, “This is the last hill”, then we’d go round the corner and then there was another hill, and I was like, “You said it was the last one!” [imitates the shocked emoji].
V: It was weird because I knew that the last 4 miles were along the waterfront…
H: Yes, that was flat though.
V: But I kept thinking, we’re not near the waterfront, and then all of a sudden it just sort of appeared. The good thing was it wasn’t windy, ‘cause you know, some people had said if you are running into the wind along there it’s horrible, but actually it was fine.
H: I don’t want to put people off though, by saying about the hills too much!
V: I don’t think people should be put off by that, they should see it as a challenge.
H: [Laughs] Ha! Yeah. Because in terms of what you run past I thought there was so much interest in terms of the course, that you know, like sometimes you’re on a boring course and you’re getting up a hill and you’re like “Aaaaaahhh,” whereas at least there were distractions.
V: There was so much distraction there that, the fact that I wasn’t running with you Heidi, it was OK because I was distracted by other people and other things.
H: Well, actually, I was running with this guy and he never ever shut up.
V: Oh really?
H: He was from the Midlands and he was wanting to do a marathon in about 4:15 which was sort of similar to what I was aiming for and I think he just thought he was going to just run with me the whole way and he just talked non-stop, and I was like, is this what I’m like? [Laughs]
Well I did bump into a nutter as well, and she was a bit like, she was all dressed in neon, and she started talking but she was veering all over the place and she was just spouting nonsense, and I thought, ah man, I’m gonna have to speed up here just to get away from you, and I really didn’t want to run any faster, but anyway, I got away from her.
Yeah, it was good, really friendly city and a lovely course.
H: What about T-shirts and medals?
V: Amazing T-shirts. Yeah, I mean, you don’t have to like The Beatles to do the Liverpool Marathon, but it helps.
H: And the treats at the end… there were plenty of treats.
V: Ah yeah, we got loads.
H: It was a bit random though that they didn’t give you a bag.
V: They just threw it at you.
H: So you fell over the finish line, stumbled into a hall, and grabbed bags of Haribo, bananas, crisps…
V: It was like when you go into a supermarket and you forget to pick up a basket.
H: [Laughs] yeah. But it was all good.
And then the concert afterwards?
V: Ah yeah, yeah, well you got your free pint, which obviously you have to be able to walk to go and collect that but someone can do it for you. But I tell you what, that pint sorted me right out that did, it was lovely. And the concert wasn’t that great, well, I didn’t even look at the stage to be honest, I went and sat behind it.
H: No, I know. Well I suppose the difference is, ‘cause we had the kids with us. It couls have been different with out them, maybe we would have watched that or… so what’s your opinion of family support versus being in the zone on your own?
H: Yes, ‘cause I think it was a learning experience for both of us wasn’t it?
V: I thought it would be nice to have family there at the end and stuff, and it was, it was OK, but I would never recommend or do another… I’m not going to do another marathon anyway.
V: You know, I think it’s the sort of thing you’ve got to do with other runners, who you can prepare your head with beforehand, totally focus on yourself, and your own little needs for the run, and not have to deal with other peoples’ stuff.
H: I think that’s the key thing isn’t it? How you need that focus, and especially when you are talking to family, who, you’re trying to say to them, that actually this is not like running a 10k, it’s not even like running a half marathon. I have to have quiet and calm and I have to get into the zone, and they’re just like, yeah, let’s invite everybody over, and I was like, ah no, please don’t do that. Erm, but then, during the race, I definitely felt that I wanted to run quicker to get to see them, and I was like “Ah, I’m just going to see my kids,” you know, especially in that last 4 miles, which I was like, “4 miles?!” And I thought I was gonna die, but then I was like, “I’m gonna see my kids in 40 minutes, less than 40 minutes, come one keep going, keep going”.
V: It definitely kept me going, that last bit I was really looking forward to seeing them at the finish line and as it happened, they weren’t there! So that was, you know, I’d brought them all the way to Liverpool and they didn’t even see me come in, it was brilliant.
H: Ah, but it’s emotional when you meet up with them, isn’t it?
V: Yeah, it was, it was.
H: I would definitely say, just do a marathon with your running pals rather than your family.
H: Anything else? Water stations and gels?
V: Yeah I think there was plenty, but they did seem to, I’m not sure if maybe they’d ran out of gels, but there was enough water stations.
H: And toilets along the way. There were portaloos frequently.
H: So out of 10 how would you rate this marathon?
V: It’s difficult, because it’s your own personal enjoyment isn’t it, I think I was surprised, see, I didn’t expect to like this more than Edinburgh, but I did. I did enjoy this one more than the Edinburgh one because there was a lot more going on, it was just more fun, it was wild, it was mad, and you know it just kept giving…I did have a smile on my face the whole way round and the bands were brilliant, so I think I’d give it, yeah, 10 out of 10, really.
H: Yep, I definitely recommend it.
V: Probably the only thing would be the hills, but I mean that just adds to the interest, really doesn’t it?
H: Yeah… And will you run it with me when I’m 50? [Laughs]
V: [Sharp intake of breath] Well, I might run it, but clearly, you’ll be like, doing sub-4 by then.
H: [Laughs loudly].
V: We’ll see.