I hadn’t run competitively since October last year so an outing at Edinburgh parkrun last Saturday was eagerly anticipated. My half marathon training had been going so well that I fancied seeing where I was in terms of pace at 5k. The weather forecast was decent so everything seemed well placed for a successful run. As we lined up the only recognition of it being Valentine’s Day was the announcement that one of the runners was getting married later in the day. As the applause for the condemned man died down, a wag beside me shouted out : “Keep running mate – as fast as you can!”
Now if you’ve any familiarity with running and runners’ blogs then you’ll know that despite my pre-race optimism, you can take nothing for granted when you’re running. The first problem on Saturday was that it was damp overhead and wet on the running surface. Secondly a nasty 8mph easterly wind had decided to make a rare appearance. That meant running into the wind for the first half. My third difficulty was that I had forgotten how physically hard running a 5k at top pace actually feels. On the plus side I kept going and despite low periods during the race never contemplated giving up. The final result was 20 minutes 40 seconds – 39 seconds slower than my personal best and 41 seconds outside the time I desperately want to run. Only two of the five kilometres were run at the required pace and the middle three of 4:16; 4:16 and 4:14 were way slower than the required pace.
However I’m not too discouraged. I’ve only been training for six weeks and I will get stronger and hopefully faster. The half marathon training continues to go really well and I think my first goal is to run a decent half marathon three weeks on Sunday. Then I can worry about the 5k after that!
Firstly an apology about the lack of photos. When I woke at 8am on Sunday the rain was p***ing down – yes really pouring. I left the camera in favour of the umbrella and headed off sparing a thought for the thousands running the half marathon at that very moment when conditions were so horrible.
As I approached Portobello where I planned to watch the marathon runners at the 7 mile point the rain stopped and before long the elite athletes, mainly Africans at the front, coasted past us as though they were doing a stroll in the park. I couldn’t believe how effortless it looked or indeed the pace at which they were running.
They were followed by club runners and gradually the mass group – large numbers of whom seemed to be running for charity. It was fascinating how the running styles, level of fatigue and general attitude changed as wave after wave of runner passed.
I was at a busy corner with a left turn. I noticed that some runners were taking an even sharper left turn for the public conveniences! And when I took the chance to visit the Gents there were a number of women using the facilities – clearly there was an overflow situation in the Ladies!
As we watched entertainment was provided by a generous spectator dispensing jelly babies. As folk ran past they would reach out to get one but coordination was clearly difficult and some folk either missed the treat or dropped it. They would then turn round to retrieve the situation and run bang into the next runner behind them. At one point I had visions of a pile-up developing but fortunately the supply of jelly babies ran out.
Towards the rear of the field some people were clearly enjoying the experience. Others were really struggling even at that relatively early stage of the run. I realised sadly that some of them just weren’t going to finish.
With my hands sore from clapping the runners I headed four miles further on foot to the finish area arriving about ten minutes before the lead runners finished. I was about 100 metres from the finish line and again it was a study seeing the agony and the ecstasy on the faces of the finishers. There was a decent crowd by now and the roars of encouragement did seem to positively inspire some of the finishers who had clearly used up their whole reserves of endurance and strength.
My overall impression is that there is something very special about running a marathon. If you’re a runner and you’ve never run one then do it! If you’re not a runner start small – aim for a 5k to start with. And who knows what it might lead to?
The marathon season is in full swing. And this week it is the turn of Edinburgh. Even if you’re not a runner then if you live in Edinburgh you might have been wondering what on earth has been getting folk up at ungodly hours of the day and in every type of horrible weather to go out running. Yes marathon training. This year I’m spectating not running but I still remember the dual feelings of intense anticipation and major panic that I was experiencing in the lead up to the marathon this time last year. I know quite a few folk running the Edinburgh marathon this year so I’m looking forward to cheering them on. For them the training and preparation is over. All they need is some decent weather and the mental strength to keep going. Because as they see that wonderful finish line you can be sure that there will be hundreds of people cheering them on
I’ll try and take some photos on Sunday so that you can experience a little bit of this year’s Edinburgh Marathon.