Last September I did my first ever Marathon in Nottingham and it was a great success, I completed it in sub 2:50. So when it came to signing up for my second marathon I was really feeling the pressure. I had two goals for this race:
1. To get a new PB
2. To get a championship time for London 2015.
Unlike Nottingham, where I had a stress free training plan, I struggled through my Edinburgh prep and was unable to do my last long run 4 weeks prior to the race due to nerve pain in my hip.
After changing my trainers, a lot of foam roller work and a good performance at the Leeds Half Marathon I knew achieving my goals would be difficult but I was going to give it my all, ‘fortune favours the brave’ and all that.
The apartment Ed and me had rented for the weekend was right around the corner from the start line on London Road. This meant that on race day I managed to have a relaxing pre-race breakfast and walked to the start line 30 minutes prior. This was great as the weather on race day was wet, windy and miserable.
The race start was well organised and my starting pen on London road was quite spacious, meaning I was able to warm up properly and stuff my pockets full of M&S Percy Pigs (who needs energy gels?!). Just before the race started I managed to spot Mark Ayre in the crowds wish him good luck and then we were off.
The first mile of the course is downhill which meant I could get a really quick start and settle in with a group of around 5 runners. After going past the Scottish Parliament building and running along Queen’s Drive there was a massive head wind and at this point I knew this was going to be hard race.
The course then travels to the Edinburgh coast and onto Portobello Promenade where I quickly paired up with another runner as we were both going for Sub 2.45. Annoyingly I was running on the left, which meant I sheltered him from the strong cross wind and when I tried to swap over he quickly swapped back.
At the 10-mile mark, the course heads into Musselburgh. At this point I was lifted by seeing Ed in the crowd (suspiciously near to a pub) and Mary who was about to finish her half marathon.
The course then continues along the coastal road until the turn around point at 17.5 miles. To be honest this section is a bit of a blur, the scenery was nice, the support was good and there was plenty of water stops but I was just concentrating on my KM splits and achieving my goals.
There is then a loop around a country house estate, through some woods where there was shelter from the wind – which was pure bliss. When I got back onto the costal road the sun had come out – finally!
You then run back along the same road to the finish at Musselburgh. Before the race I thought this last 7.5 miles running back the way you had just come would be really boring. However just like the Abbey Dash you get a real buzz seeing your teammates running and cheering you on. Thanks Mark & Steve, looking out for you guys distracted me from the pain I was feeling in my hip and hamstring.
At 22 miles whilst running through Cockenzie & Port Seton – I hit the dreaded ‘Wall’. I didn’t experience this at Nottingham, but that because had done significantly more training miles.
What got me over the wall?
Well at this point though I knew I was in for a PB, even if I seriously dropped off the pace. However sub 2.45 was still in my grasps and I wasn’t going to give up the opportunity to get a championship place at London 2015 without fighting tooth and nail for it.
From around 22 miles to the finish, the crowds and support on the course was fantastic I heard a lot of ‘Go Roundhay’, which although they’ve just read your vest, makes you feel somehow connected to them and gives you that much needed morale boost. It also helped that the runners who were still on their outward journey cheered and applauded all the faster runners on there final stretch. I wish I could have given them the same support back, but I had no energy for that, I was in Marathon Hypnosis thinking of nothing but the finish. At 25 miles I saw Ed again and although I thought I smiled and waved back at him, he assures me that there was absolutely no recognition on my face. I was a ‘Running Zombie’.
At 26 miles another runner overtook me, and unlike Leeds Half Marathon I was not going to be beaten on a sprint finish. I did as much of a ‘kick’ in speed as I could manage, turned around the corner into the finish area and managed to power on through to the finish, crossing the finish line in 2 Hours 44 Minutes and 17 Seconds.
I had done it! Taken over 4 minutes of my PB and more importantly got a championship qualifying time for London 2015.
Walking through the finishing area, there were young kids handing out the beautifully designed medals. This was a nice touch but it cruelly meant you had to bend down so they can place the medal over your head – I was sure I was going to tumble over, think they should have given them some step ladders to stand on.
That is not the only cruel surprise install for you as at the end, as to get the bus back from Musselburgh to Edinburgh you have a 15-20 minute walk from the finishing area. Luckily I had Ed treating me like a small child telling me it’s just around the corner, after every corner.
That may be a slightly unfair comment because other than this the race is incredibly well organised. The course is a fast and flat, giving you a great chance of a PB. The finishing medal and t-shirt are one of the best I’ve ever had and to top it all off you get to have a weekend away in the beautiful Edinburgh.
I would highly recommend this event to all Roundhay Runners. If you’re not ready to take on the full marathon then there is a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and junior races that make up the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. They really cater for all types of runners.
Other Roundhay Runners competing that week were Mark Ayre (Full), Stephen Shaw (Full) and Mary Butterworth (Half). But I’ll let them tell their own stories.