Wednesday, 26 May 2010

What a day for the Edinburgh Marathon

First, it is NOT meant to be this hot in Scotland. In fact, temperatures reached the highest May levels on record for Scotland this weekend, and Leuchers in Fife was hotter than Athens.

I took to the field alongside 9,000 other runners gathered at London Road in Edinburgh, the temperature still cool, the skies overcast and still carrying some early-morning drizzle. A much smaller field than London (a quarter the size, in fact) and significantly less spectators, who appeared in pockets of support as opposed to the constant masses along the roadside a month ago.

Yet it is still a beautiful marathon route, and understandably it is in Runners World's top 5 city marathons. We wound our way past Holyroodhouse and out through Leith towards Portobello and the Forth foreshore.

The sun came out and very soon the mercury was climbing. I can imagine that on a more typically Scottish day it would be hellish running along Portobello, with northerly wind & rain lashing you from all angles! Thankfully, this wasn't the case.

My first 10 miles felt horrible, legs heavy as rich Dundee cake, and with my patched-up knees feeling the strain I was almost praying for something to "go", allowing me to stop.

But I carried on, guzzling fluids at every opportunity. At 16-17 miles, when we made our turn back into the sun for the final 10 miles, out of nowhere I felt an extra burst of energy. Perhaps it was the surprise at not having to visit the bathroom (my habitual error, and my downfall in London)! But with this second wind and a smile on my face I kicked on and registered some of my best splits for a few miles. After 20 miles the going got tougher, the 'Wall' was reached, and my pace slowed. After London, though, I was prepared and managed to use it and not let it finish me off. Your legs hurt just as much trotting along slowly at a 9.5min/mile as they do at an 8.5min/mile, so I kept telling myself!

The support grew stronger and stronger as Musselburgh Racecourse drew nearer. I could hear the tannoy, the roaring crowd on the grandstand. I had no name on my Bristol Half Marathon T-shirt, so for the final strait the calls were "come on Bristol" and "do it for Bristol"!

Probably looking a complete sight, I trudged along, willing the finish line. Then I entered the racecourse, the psychological barrier breached, the energy returning to my weary limbs for the final few hundred yards.

The sprint finish, the cheers, the line. Over. Done. Never again. At least not until next year...

3 hours 25 minutes 34 seconds. (9 minutes better than London).

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