Friday, 28 June 2013

Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend

Runners and Supporters in Edinburgh

My first races "abroad". I had decided last year to make a journey north to meet up with many RFFs and enjoy the delights of the Edinburgh marathon. Also hoped the medal would look a little dodgy like last year?!

After staying the night at Mos, the wife and I drove the hours drive up to Edinburgh. We had decided to add a holiday in Edinburgh as well as me running the 10k and marathon. We had booked an apartment just off the Royal Mile. Not only a great location for being a tourist, but close to the 10k race and the start area for the marathon!! 

With the car parked up, the wife and I made our way to the Dynamic Earth at Holyrood Park. We were on the lookout for Sharon Parkin and Stephen Gunn. Both had come along to support us runners running the 5k, 10k and kids races on the Saturday.We soon found them, helped by having the RFF banner! Dawn Thomson was also with Sharon. I had met both Stephen and Sharon previously. Stephen got me a place at the Brighton Marathon. He was also great support during the London Marathon and last years Bewl 15. Sharon had joined me for a day down south running a local 7 miles. It was in fact 10, as I got a little confused. We also ran the Tatton half in November. Dawn was a first time meet. One of many for this weekend! 

Making my way with the supporters to the start area, we found Gillian Yates, who was also running the 10k. Also running it was Karen Tuck and Victoria Hunter. I some how mad managed to have a yellow number, which related to my start wave. The first one! Whoop.
The weather was rather toasty. Not what i was expecting. I had actually packed hats and gloves for the holiday. I had been told Edinburgh only gets warm for EMF weekend! They weren't kidding. The start area was just below Arthurs Seat. The big old silent volcano. Now I had looked at the route. Believing that the route went around the volcano. But within a mile of the start, we were starting to head uphill. The road was winding, so i decided to stay head down telling myself not to look up. Went round the next bend, I looked up! Doh! Keep your head down and keep breathing and moving forward. Next bend, yep, I looked up! Why? Stupidity!

Eventually we reached our summit. Thankfully, it was the very top! Good news now, we were heading back downhill! The previous Saturday I was running the NDW50 ultra. I knew my legs would be tired, so I wasn't going all out, plus I had a marathon to run the next day. My calf's had felt a little tight on the way up, but this downhill stretch was allowing me to open my legs. It really did help loosen the legs. On the downhill stretch I was just getting to the half way point when I spotted the RFF banner and support crew! A quick wave and onto the second half of the course. I headed out the park onto some local roads. It was only briefly on the road and we then turned onto a path heading back into the park. It was nice to get some cover from the beating sun. It was warm in Edinburgh, Hawaii! It wasn't long and I was back on the road within the park. The finish line was coming up and the support was fantastic. I spotted the RFF banner and support crew again. Just in front of the finish line. I crossed the finish line in a steady and comfortable 57 minutes. One race down. After receiving my medal and goody bag, I made my way to the support crew to cheer the other runners in. I didn't have to wait to long to see Gillian come home, and then Karen. Although it looked like Karen had been in some adventures with blood on her knee and elbow.

Whats great about EMF is the varied amount of races they put on. Rather than just the marathon, there is a race for everybody. After the 10k comes the 5k and kids 1.5k. As the 5k started, with more RFFs in, although as i write this I can only remember Chrstine Wells, sorry whoever I forgot. It was then followed by the kids 5k. Victoria Hunter and Helen McBain had there little ones running in this event. Again there were some other RFFs i have forgotten. So many names!! As we cheered them off, we made our way to the finish area. Before we had got there, the first of the kids were coming back! And also the first of the 5k! Wow they were quick!! It wasn't long till we saw the first RFFs coming in. Christine in the 5k was flying and so was Amy, Helens daughter. I cannot remember times, but was highly impressed by Amys minute mile pace! Helen has so competition!!

After watching the all the finishers come in, it was off to check into our holiday apartment and move the car before it got a ticket or moved for me. We agreed to meet Sharon and Stephen later at the Hub, where Mo was also going to meet us for her Photo shoot. A nice afternoon chilling and chatting, we were joined by Beverley Smeaton and Rachel Pecz. Soon followed by Mo and her friend Jackie?.

Carrie Morpeth had arranged a pre race meal for us at Prezzo's in Leith. A good chance to have a catch up and chat where we could look our best and not be covered in sweat and stinking!! A lovely meal was enjoyed with the following, and maybe a little to much piss taking from me on Carrie. The following were there - Shari, Nigel and Mia Bullock with Mias friend Rebecca. Sharon and Grant Parkin. Ann and Richard Smith. Carrie and John Moriarty. Maureen Murray. May Chan. Michelle Iddon. Paula Rose. Stephen Gunn. Beverley Smeaton. Fay and myself.

Sunday - Marathon Day.

Be luck rather than design, the start of the Marathon was a few minutes walk away. Awaiting the arrival of Mo, Chris and Rachel, who would no doubt need there last wees before the race, i managed to scoff down some porridge. Why is it so hard to eat on race day?
Once everybody had arrived we made the short walk to Regents Road, the start area. With the RFF banner, it wasn't long till we started to see other RFF members finding us! I was also putting smiles on peoples faces with the comment on it stating "Miles of Smiles". Many a person wanting a picture with it.

It wasn't to long to the off, so Chris Murray and myself headed to the green start area. We were going to run together. Both of us unsure what sort of legs we had under us. For me, it was only a week ago that i did the North Downs Way 50, plus yesterdays 10km. It was make or break, and i hoped to be under 5 hours all things considered.

With what has to be one of the best start build ups I've experienced we were off. I had heard that Edinburgh was quick and flat. Something i was pleased about. From the start you head downhill to the end of Regents road and head towards Meadowbank. Soon turning back towards the city centre and Holyrood Park. We joined Holyrood Park after running between Holyrood House (The Queens official residence when in Scotland) and the Scottish Parliament building. Chris and I at these point caught up with Mo and flanked her like body guards. Had a little chat and then we got back on our pace, just under 9 minute miles.

After leaving Holyrood Park we headed back towards the Meadowbank Stadium. Looping the Stadium we then headed towards Leith and the seafront. The weather was still rather warm at this point but occasionally there was a nice breeze. Chris and I kept going at a steady 9min mile pace. We soon welcomed the seafront. I had heard friends talk about the Power Station as a reference point for the race. It looked miles away! Not really surprising when running a marathon. Its interesting how, even now, its hard to visually judge distance. This was probably the first time i felt i needed to get my head down and focus on the task.

Chris was focusing on finding Jelly Babies, and occasionally he would spot them and inform me. Chris has pretty good eyesight when it comes to sweets. Although he was starting to get frustrated by the support. Well not the support exactly, more the fact that it appeared that women favoured calling my name out then his, and when his name was called, it was likely from a him rather than a her. I put it down to the fact that me being 6 foot 6 and wearing a sympathy helped with the fairer sex. But i wasn't knocking it!

After a few miles of more jelly babies and name calling. We passed the race course and also the finish area. Chris needed to use the little boys thunder box, so I decided to wait for him. I was enjoying running with Chris. I may have missed jelly babies if i hadn't ran with him. While waiting i saw a fellow RFF, Will Davidson, instinctively we high fived as he passed.
Chris was back out the toilet, not sure he had washed his hands, so i needed to be at those Jelly babies first!

We cracked on. I became aware that Chris wasn't right with me, but knew id have a bad patch at some point. Unfortunately i didn't have to wait that long. My left calf had been a bit niggly around mile 8, but i thought it had past. It came back with its niggly mates around mile 11. I had to walk. It wasn't long till Chris came past with Shari. They checked on me, but i said to keep going. Man Down!

I guess i was maybe hoping for to much after the NDW50 the previous weekend. Something had to give. But I'm determined if not anything else. While assessing myself i continued forward. I had set myself a sub 5 hour target before the race. Up until then i had been on a sub 4 pace, and had felt comfortable. Even thinking that a PB was on.

I attempted a run walk scenario. I ran for 300 steps, then recover with 100 steps. This seem to work, so continued with it. I felt i was back in the game. It wasn't long that i then got a call from Joanne Needham catching me up. That gave me a lift. I had meant Jo before, but it was a nice meet, all be it very brief. I crossed the halfway point in 2hours 5. Still well within the target time of sub 5. Best keep going.

Things went as best as they could right up to GosfordHouse, the turning point. I was struggling and the pain was building in the calf. Thankfully Mo had just caught me up and offered me some pain killers. Mo was having a tough time after losing her inhaler. But shes a tough cookie and kept moving forward. I decided to walk miles 17-18 to allow the calf to rest up. So it wasn't long to see more RFFs on course. First Beverley Smeaton arrived and gave me some jelly babies! Lost without Chris when it came to them. Just as she sped off Carrie arrived. She decided to walk with me and we had a chat. Mainly me taking the piss again, but she looked strong and soon left me to continue her own journey to the finish line.

Best get going again. Back into the return to the finish line I spoke to Calum Beaton. He was out on his bike supporting. We had a little chat and i pushed on. Heading back i soon saw Ann Smith, John Elvins and Maureen Murray heading to the turning point. I was pleased to see all three of them and they were doing well and looked like they had plenty in the tank.

Things steady the same for the next few miles until I saw the race course again. The finish was insight!! Not literally. I knew the RFF support crew were around the finish area. I started to run and vowed to not stop until after the line. Turning left into the park, there was the banner and my wife Fay cheering, the calf felt a little easier and i upped the tempo. The matting they put over the grass is a little weird. I crossed the line with a time of 5hrs 6mins. I wanted sub 5 but after having to carry the injury over half the course, and completing a tough 50 mile ultra the week before i was well pleased!!

I collected my goodies and had my photo taken with my medal.
I headed off to join the support crew and other finished runners. I soon had a can of cider in my hand, thank you Nigel!
It wasn't to long to wait before Sharon Parkin completed her first marathon! Brilliant effort. Then it was the turn of Ann Smith. The finishers were starting to come in a little spaced out now and supporters were heading home. Not us though. We were all still cheering everybody in. We were waiting to see Maureen Murray. Maureen is 67 and this was her first marathon. Many had told her she shouldn't do it. This just made Maureen more determined to do it. I decided to head back out and look for her.

I headed back up to the race course and passed another RFF, John Elvin, who was also making his marathon debut. I informed him, the finish was around the corner. Then there, in the distance i could spot a yellow shirt, it was Maureen. I went and meet her. She was doing well but appeared a little concerned. She thought she was last and that she had been asked if she wanted a lift back to the finish. Thankfully she didn't and i told her she wasn't last. I had seen plenty behind her after the turn around point. I informed her that everybody was still waiting to cheer her in. As we came into the finish area Maureen started running again, i struggled to keep up. We were soon joined by other RFFs as we crossed the line together. Maureen had done what so many doubted she could do, she had become a marathon runner. It was an emotional time. What an inspiration! I hope I'm running marathons still at 67!
I believe Maureen vowed at that point not to do it again, but Ive heard recently she has signed up for next  years marathon!! Good on you Maureen!!

Maureen on the finishing straight

To top the day off, a few of us headed into Edinburgh for some dinner at Chiquitos. It was here that my running caught up with me. That and the Desperados.

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