So I was pretty late. I think officially we had to assemble in our start blocks 20 minutes before the start of the race. No later.
But Boy, the best bit was still to come! I should not even tell you all this because you are going to hate me. I apologize in advance!
I did not have to climb over those fences and elbow and squeeze myself into a decent starting position. Or even get to the back of my start group because I was late.
I just went to the very front of that long, long, long queue of runners and straight to the Start. I was even greeted by the race marshals and officials. And I walked right into that zone directly under the big Start arch. Between the Kenians and other celebrities like Hayley Haining and Ross Houston.
All that because my race number had "Elite" written on it! :-) I could even visit the toilet only a minute before the start - since we had our own exclusive Porta Loos. There was plenty of space to jog up and down.
And of course there was Marco Consani. He too had one of those magic elite numbers. We both had been given that privilege as a courtesy of Scottish Athletics and the Edinburgh Marathon since we were in the Scottish 100k squad.
So here we were just a couple of minutes before the start and enjoying this unique elite feeling. Microphones and cameras all around. Not that anyone really cared about us though.Since probably no one knew who we were. At least I could show off a foreign accent ;-)
|Photo by Debs MC|
Anyway... Marco's 'plan' was to run 7 minute/mile pace. Yeah right! If you know Marco you would know this was not going to happen.
"Maybe a few 6:50s" he had admitted the week before the race. But nothing faster than that! Just under 3 hours was his official target. (pmsl!)
Just a minute before the start he suggests "Maybe it's not appropriate to run that slow.... since we have that Elite number".
"You are totally and utterly correct Marco" I reply. "That's why 'I' will be going AS FAST AS I CAN!".
But I also say "Please stick to your 7 minute mile plan, since otherwise Mark J (Marco's coach) will kill you!". I also remind him that he had just done that Clydebank 10k only 3 days ago. I always found that was a questionable plan, but I respected his decision anyway. And it probably gave me a much better chance to beat him ;-).
I had not run a Marathon since 2009 in Berlin where I ran a 2:46 PB. And I was really looking forward to finally runnning another Marathon. I was confident to go quite a bit faster than 2:46 today, in deed I was so confident that I even posted my planned splits on Facebook with an A target of 2:41:30. Even Marco thought I was crazy.
And now we were just about to start our adventure. Countdown and a Bang and off we went.
It was going to be a hot day. But it was not that hot yet. We actually started in quite pleasant running conditions. And my legs were moving nicely. There was little navigation required, no zig zagging between slower runners. Another benefit of the elite start since there was hardly anyone else around. I expected the main field to catch up and to be overtaken by dozens if not hundreds of runners but that did not actually happen. Only a few runners went past and as it would turn out later most of those runners I caught later again. The first miles are mainly downhill so I expected a few quick laps. I was using my Garmin with Kilometer splits (an old habit) and I was delighted with a 3:36 which translates to a 5:50 for the mile .
That kind of sub 6 minute mile pace continued for the next miles and was I surprised to see Marco pulling up next to me? The very same guy who's plan was to run 7's?
"This is fast" he comments on our pace. "Sub 6 minute mile pace, eeek".
"I know" I reply. "What are you doing here? Should you not be lapping 7's?".
"Yeah, he said, I will slow down soon". And he speeds up!.
I catch up with him again and again he drops me again. It is quite enjoyable running and the miles fly. Marco is still ahead when we reach the 10k timing mat.I did not think that mat was in the correct place but it recorded a 38:05 split for the 10k.
We had Debbie to support us at around 10 miles and guess what! Marco was still ahead of me. I had predicted a 1:01 for the 10 miles and I think I was spot on when Debbie handed me my water with electrolyte (Nuun tablet)/SIS Gel mix. Was she surprised to see her husband ahead of me?
I considered to slow down a little bit since it got hotter and decided to sustain a 6:10 - 6:15 pace. There were a few ups and downs and twists in the course. And there was a headwind which slowed us down a bit as well. However it also gave us a bit of a wind chill so I was quite happy with a slightly slower pace. My left hip started to tighten up as well and it was still a long way to go so I took it a bit easier. My energy levels were strong though. And I was more and more confident to sustain that effort to the finish. I had done two 50+ mile races this year and I was more than convinced that those long runs had given me more than enough endurance.
I passed the half Marathon mark in 1:21:09 (officially). The first half always feels easy. And what usually happens once you are in the second half it will eventually get harder and sorer and some sort of fatigue would show. So I kept listening to my body but so far there was nothing like fatigue. Certainly not so far. But my left hip got tighter.
Silke was supporting me and Marco at 15 and 21 miles near Longniddry. I had ensured Silke Marco would be at least 10 minutes behind me (yeah right) so I decided I had to pass Marco now. Speeding up a bit was actually not a problem but my hip got sorer and sorer. Lifting my left leg had become painful. It takes some effort but I finally manage to pull up next to Marco. "I am done now, he said. I'll slow down soon..." (yeah right). I complain about my left hip.
Silke gave me my mineral water mix with an added Nuun tablet (Electrolyte) and an added Torq gel. Also Marco got his electrolyte drink from Silke. There was hardly anyone around. When I passed Gosford House I could see the leading pack since they had passed the turning point and were on their way back. I pass a couple of runners. Reach the turning point and soon have to turn into the Gosford House estate for a loop probably a mile long. There is some off road type trail to negotiate which was not quite as easy to run on. And I was using race flats with no grip (for the first time in a Marathon).
I had dropped Marco somehow. And I was not sure if he had dropped back now substantially and had slowed down. I did not see him for the rest of the race . In fact the next time I would see him I would be at the finish.
|The pacing chart looks rather unusual. The slight downhill from the start explains the sub 6 minute/mile pace. The rest of the race shows a rather uneven pattern. But most importantly I was not slowing towards the end.|
Once I left the estate and dropped back on the road heading towards Musselburgh the other side of the road became more and more busy with runners who were running the other direction towards the turning point. I passed a few runners who had slowed down.
I saw Silke again and she gave me my electrolyte drink as planned. It was getting hot now and since I was running with the wind I also did not feel the wind chill anymore. My energy levels were stable but my hip got worse. I had to slow down a bit more and even tried to change my gait in order to ease the pain. Fortunately at around 22 miles (35k) the pain got less. I got a lot of cheers from the runners on the other side on the road who were facing the other direction and quite a few Glenpark clubmates spotted me and gave me a cheer and a high 5. Neal and Caroline are cheering me on, I almost miss Debs who is cheering me. I get back into a good rhythm and my pace drops down to 6:10 for the last miles.
|Photo by Debs MC|
I pass Hayley Haining who is slowing slightly. I pass another female elite runner. It is not far to the finish. I feel great. No question I would break my PB. But by how much? There is no one around when I turn left into that impressive finishing zone with hundreds of people cheering me to the finish line. 2:42:53 a new PB by more than 3 minutes. I am directed into the Elite finishing zone where there is plenty of space to sit down or lie down in the grass and watch the finish. Marco arrives only a minute and a half behind me. So he had not slowed down much. A 4 minute PB for him as well. We are both delighted. Handshakes from the Scottish Athletics chairman and hugs from Sandra. Life is good!
Race Number: 48
Category: Over 40 Male
Full Time: 02:42:53
10k split: 00:38:05
Half marathon: 01:21:09
30k split: 01:55:31
Overall finish position: 20
Category finish position: 4