After a house move at the end of April, followed by a hectic May, I had only managed to put in a handful of runs. I had fully intended to run several times while I was away in Guernsey at the beginning of May, but a week packed full of activities and socialising, conspired against me. Immediately after my return from Guernsey, I was flung into another social weekend, with the Squadrons disbandment weekend. Before I knew it, the month of May had almost disappeared and the date of the Edinburgh half marathon had arrived.
The Edinburgh half marathon was to take place on Sunday 22nd May 2011, so I travelled down on the Saturday to stay with my Aunty Rosy, who kindly agreed to put me up for the night. Something which I think she regretted the following day, when I told her what time we had to be up. On arrival at my aunts I was greeted to a feast of pasta and chicken – you can always rely on a PE teacher to feed you the right food before a run. This healthy meal was soon followed by a large coke and popcorn at the cinema – oops.
The alarm woke me abruptly at 5:50am!!! (This is the point I think my aunt regretted putting me up for the night.) For some reason the organisers had decided to start the race at 8am. They obviously don’t like their Sunday lie in! After a quick breakfast, we were out the door by 6:30am and en route to Musselburgh to drop my car off near the finish. From here Rosy gave me a lift to the start line near Calton Hill. I arrived at the bag drop area at 7:20am and I was extremely nervous. I had a whole 40 minutes of waiting before the pain would start and the nerves would disappear.
After a gentle warm up and some stretches in the rain, it was time to be herded into our allocated pens. The pens were allocated on your estimated completion time of the course. I had hoped to complete the race in 2 – 2:15 hrs. I had learnt from my previous race not to go to the front. With 8am arriving, the race had begun, but I still had 500m to jog before I crossed the start line. From here on in, the race was on, but it was slow moving. With almost 4600 people taking part, it was very difficult to find room to overtake anyone. It took some nifty footwork and speed to get through the small gaps that occasionally appeared. The first 3 miles seemed to be like this and I managed to overtake quite a few people, which gave me a boost of morale and I thought, maybe I might be alright.
It was just after the 3 mile mark that I heard my name being called from behind. A quick glance behind and I spotted Liz (Steph’s mam) and Arthur. They were to be a regular feature along the length of the course. At the 4 mile mark I felt like I was running at a reasonable pace which I could sustain. My iPhone was strapped to my arm playing music, telling me the distance I had ran, the duration and my pace. It was only after the 6 mile mark that I felt that I might be slowing down slightly. This wasn’t the best of miles for me, as I could feel that I was tiring and I knew I had to run the same distance again and more.
Mile 7 – 8 seemed to take an eternity. I was extremely thirsty by this point and I hadn’t had any water since the 5 mile point. The weather was overcast and it hadn’t rained for over an hour and I was beginning to overheat. I was in real need of some rain or a water station. Still, there was no rain or water, so I just had to plod on. Eventually at the 8.5 mile mark, I spotted a water station – relief. The water was plucked from the attendants hand and down my mouth in milliseconds, before I poured the bottle over my head to cool down – pure bliss.
From here I knew I had just less than 5 miles to go, but then the 9 mile mark arrived and my morale dropped to an all-time low. Not only could I see the finish line on the other side of the road, they made me run past it, with people already crossing the line. It was possibly the most demoralising thing the organisers could have done – or so I thought. Worst was to come. For the next 2 miles I had to run along a road in which other competitors were running the opposite way towards the finish line. I was not a happy man. My legs were tired by this point and I had considered stopping, but I just told myself to get on with it, it will only prolong the agony. If watching people running past in the opposite direction wasn’t bad enough, they also had a bottle of Lucozade in their hands, which I was desperately in need of again.
Sheer determination got me to the 11 mile mark, where I turned the corner to run to the finish line and also pick up a bottle of Lucozade. The Lucozade was a welcome boost along with the rain which had just started. Not only was my thirst quenched, I was also managing to keep cool. As the run from the 9 – 11 mile mark put my morale at an all-time low, the knowledge that I now only had 2 miles to go and I could see the people behind me still trying to reach the 11 mile point, my morale was slightly lifted. When I hit the 12 mile point, my morale lifted a great deal more and I could feel my pace increasing. At this point I just wanted to get to the end. The only way to make the race end sooner was to run quicker.
Towards the 13 mile mark supporters gathered at the side of the road to clap us in, this was another boost for me. With the finish line in sight (for the second time) I had no energy for a sprint finish. I was quite happy to bimble over the line in the knowledge that I would complete the race without stopping. I spotted Liz and Arthur just before the finish line to welcome me in and to take some photos of me looking absolutely shattered. I finally crossed the line and finished the race in a time of 1:54:47. I came 1794 out of 4548 that completed the race.
After a cold shower in the local sport centre and a well-deserved burger it was time to head back up the road before every muscle in my body seized. Not long into the 3 hour drive home, I started to ache, but there wasn’t much I could do, except drive on. This drive was beginning to feel as painful as the half marathon. Eventually I arrived home after 3 hours stuck in the driving position. Exiting the car was quite a challenge as well as the 2 flights of stairs I had to climb. By this point my legs had tightened and I could barely walk, however, after a few days rest I was back to normal.
So I managed to complete my first half marathon in a respectable time, with little training in the past month. Did I enjoy it? I enjoyed finishing it, but I definitely didn’t find running the Edinburgh half marathon enjoyable. Maybe the marathon will be more enjoyable? I do hope so, and with better preparation I should find the first 13.2 miles slightly easier. At least I don’t have 100 miles to run in 5 days!
Below are my times for each mile I ran in the Edinburgh marathon. You can see how my times gradually increased every mile, except the last.
Mile 1 – 00:07:59
Mile 2 – 00:08:25
Mile 3 – 00:08:00
Mile 4 – 00:08:06
Mile 5 – 00:08:22
Mile 6 – 00:08:34
Mile 7 – 00:08:46
Mile 8 – 00:08:42
Mile 9 – 00:08:54
Mile 10 – 00:09:19
Mile 11 – 00:09:24
Mile 12 – 00:09:49
Mile 13 – 00:09:32