OK it’s been a week since I finished my second marathon:
This was the first “big” race in my year long 1,000km in 2011 for Marie Curie.
To just add an extra element to the marathon my friend Andy from Reynard Nursery asked me to tweet every mile. I knew every mile would be very offputtingbut I thought I would give it a go. My marathon day tweets start here. I had experimented with VLingo for my BlackBerry which I was carrying anyway. My pre race day tests were all fine – press a button – speak – translated into text – press a button to confirm sending it to Twitter – easy. On the day, being a little breathless and having a howling gale (more of that later) things didn’t go quite to plan. “Four Miles” was translated as “F******* Hell” and “Five Miles and Feeling Good” was translated as “Hi Smiles and Feeling Good”. I reverted to typing after that.
I had done a lot more preparation for the marathon this year over last year and also appreciated the benifit of the positive mental attitute. Having done one – there was no fear – I knew I could do another – I just had to do it slightly faster. The start was well organised as usual (I’m sure it was down to the sterling efforts of the Jammies : thanks Moira and John). Just as I dropped my bag off, the heavens opened – thank heavens for my Marie Curie poncho!
The scariest part of the day had been the weather forecast – 20+mph south westerly winds and intermittent showers. Rain I can live with but wind ……..
The first three quarters of the race were great – everything went to plan – had a nice chat with a few people (it’s only recently I have actually slowed down enough to be capable of having a conversations). Of course I was not heeding the warning signs – you NEVER feel a wind when it’s on your back!
Just before mile 17, the turn at the furthest point, as Gosforth House, when the wind was on my back and coming off the water my legs got really cold and I got a slight pull in my left calf. Nothing serious but I had to pull up and stretch it. With hindsight I should have worn long bottoms rather than my shorts but…. Just after the turn we head into the grounds of Gosforth House, nice and sheltered but I have now resorted to alternated running/walking but at this point it’s more walking than running.
As you emerge from the grounds just before mile 19 we get the first taste of the wind directly in our faces – NOT GOOD. Everyone in front of me, as soon as they take the left hand back onto the main road are stopped in their tracks and reduced to a walk.
This was definately the low point for me – you always know the last five or six miles will be hard, but with a slight twinge and the full fury of The Anemoi all conspiring against me this was not an uphill struggle, it was an upwind struggle.
I took a breather on the little detour up Lyars Road and got a big cheer from some of the Strathclyde Parkrun regulars and a quick chat with a few runners from Marie Curie and MND Scotland. Spirits raised, mile 20 marked turning into the wind for the home “stretch”.
My mind was actually in a much better point at this time: I knew I would finish, I was certain I would get a PB I just had to push through the wind. I was still alternating walk/run but I was determined to run more than walk so head down and push on. At this point the race was in carnage – I think only about a dozen runners passed me in the last 6 miles – it was just a constant stream of people with their heads down, leaning into the wind and walking.
To put the wind into perspective, during the gusts, the metal barriers to separate the runners from the cars were blowing over. The stronger gusts (around Cockenzie) would actually stop you dead in your tracks. My neck and shoulders were in agony at this point, I was having to turn my had to the side to actually be able to get a breath – great technique for a front crawl, not for the last six miles of a marathon!
My technique at this point was to simply spot a gaggle of walkers – reel them in and pass them, have a quick strech – and repeat.
At 26 miles you come to the big roundabout and you get an enormous cheer from the crowd! THANK YOU EVERYONE!! There is only 0.2 of a mile to go – but then the atmosphere died – where did everyone go? Last year the finish was in the racecourse, this year it was in the street outside, but the public were not allowed into the finish straight !?!?!?!
I crossed the line in 5 hours 43minutes – 50 minutes faster than last year – Woo Hoo. I had a HUGE sense of achievement. A few years ago I could not contemplate running for 50 minutes let alone running a race where a 50 minute improvement was possible.
But then it went downhill. Last year, you finished, you got your medal, you got your goodie bag stuffed with all you needed, you crossed the road and you were in the park meeting your friends families and charities. This year, you got your medal, then a bananna, then a sports drink, then some water, then a big queue for your T-Shirt. OH, but there were no marathon T-Shirts left – would I like a Half Marathon one instead ? NO THANKS ! You would have through they would have known how many runners were registered – I seem to remember even telling them my size! Then another queue for my goodie bag. Why not just put everything I need in a bag – give it to me and let me get on my way? I’ve had quite a busy day so far!
The walk into the park seemed to take ages but no where near as long as the walk to the bus back to Edinburgh.
I ran the race much better than last year but this year the wind took it’s toll rather than the sun from last year.
Will I do it again – I’m already pre-registered!
Will I try another marathon – Loch Ness in October!
My fundraising page http://www.justgiving.com/1000k-in-2011 is still active until the end of the year and as of tonight my first run since Edinburgh I have reached half way 502km.