This is the race I got back into running for. In September 2011 we had just newly welcomed our second baby (the effervescent Caelan) into the world. I was working hard and my jeans were getting bigger. The scales had reached new heights and I was wheezing like an old man.
Something had to give. I decided to get my trainers on again, but properly this time.
I entered the Edinburgh Marathon in September. Now, I had run it in May 2011 so you would think I was fit. Well, no, not really. For one I had run it in 4:19 with my sister-in-law Alison; two, I really struggled at the end and in fact Al finished stronger than me and maybe more importantly, I was still a chubster then. I was plodding, not training, and I had the diet of an American teenager.
My goals changed as the year moved on but my entry to Edinburgh was a rather unambitious 4:00 target. By the time race day came I was hoping to beat my PB, set in 2008, of 3:43.57. It was on. In fact, I expected to beat it. The question was by how much.
The race day was a scorcher in Scottish terms and there was a team of us involved on the day. There was a relay team featuring Alan McCuish, Darren Russell, Jenna Thaw & John Kirkwood. They completed their marathon in a commendable sub-4 hour time, with Jenna getting the honour of the glory leg from her chivalrous trio of partners.
In the marathon, Barry Mowat was in the elite pen aiming for sub-3:30 but an early injury put paid to his chances, but he still managed to get round despite suffering from about 10k in. His time of just over 4 hours, in the heat and with a stride like an NCP car park attendant was a brilliant result.
Meanwhile, Al returned for a second tilt and was joined by her sister Lynne on her marathon debut. They finished in the worst of the heat at just over 4:22. Given the conditions that was a fantastic result. By the time they crossed the line it was probably 24 or 25 degrees, which when you have trained through a Scottish winter is something you are simply not prepared for.
As for me, the race started really well. The first couple of miles in Edinburgh are pretty much downhill and I was off at just over 7 minute miles. I quickly slowed that down and settled into a pace around 7:40 miles. Pleasingly, my 10k, half marathon and 20 mile splits all showed a consistent pace. I was going steady, I was going strong.
I was hydrating well against the heat and there were some people around me starting to struggle from about halfway. My experience of having run a couple of tough, warm marathons stood me in good stead. I could have gone out quicker but I forced myself to temper the pace. This would pay dividends later.
At around 18 miles I passed Al & Lynne on the out & back loop towards North Berwick. They were looking strong as well, running as they were about 4 or so miles behind me. Whilst I was hydrating well I wasn’t taking in any decent foods and after 20 miles I could feel the wall sneaking up on me. Plus, my hamstrings were starting to tighten. I pushed on to 23 miles and took stock. On pace I would be in around 3:22 or 3:23. This was going to be a massive new PB. The worry was that I was starting to feel it badly.
I took the decision to take a walking break. Protecting 3:30 was the absolute priority now. It was my nirvana goal and it was on. I wasn’t about to waste the 23 miles gone by popping something or falling over and not make 3:30.
The last 5k were done in what felt like walking pace but was really 27:30 and I came home in 3:26.40 (ish) and a new PB by over 17 minutes. I was over the moon and the loss of my debit card afterwards didn’t phase me. Especially as I found it again. I was going to be a good day!
Edinburgh is a good marathon. The course is excellent for running but really lonely and boring at times. The crowds congregate on 5 or 6 key areas but are sparse everywhere else. In 2012 they resolved the issue around the queues at the finish area but the bus from Musselburgh back into Edinburgh is a disaster. Having to walk a mile to get a bus doesn’t make sense. I would hope they will resolve this for 2013.
After the race, cold shower and all, we headed back into Edinburgh and met up with a few cats for a few beers and some bites to eat. Such was my appetite I had two meals from the ‘Two for £7.99’ menu in the Wetherspoons we had descended on. And, as is Nicola and Barry’s style, the night ended with a few cans bought the dynamic duo being sunk on the train and a night of blissful sleep.
In all, a great day with brilliant weather, good company, a decent course (if not the best transport) and a PB to boot. Bring on 2013!