Monday, 16 April 2012

Edinburgh Rock n Roll Half Marathon Report

Lets start at the end. This was the most enjoyable road race I have ever run. The reasons for this will become clear later. Things didn’t start so well however. I dont tend to read things properly, which is of course my fault. At 4pm on Saturday, I found out I had to pick up my race race number by 7pm. No pick up on the day ! So I had a 100 mile round trip to collect my number, t shirt and goody bag (the first goody bag I’ve had with no goodies in it, only adverts).  To be honest, I feel this is shabby. I hadnt entered early enough to have things sent out and that would have cost as well. I think your entry fee should include posting out race numbers or that you be allowed to collect on the day.
My second gripe with the organisation, was with the baggage facility. We had to use our goody(less) bag to store any clothes. You can imagine that as every bag looked the same, picking up was going to be slow. Very slow. It was. Silly idea.
Now the good bits. I arrived around 8am to find Edinburgh sunny and chilly, with a thin north east breeze. I soon met up with twitter buddy Don (@dongnr) and Rhona (@rhinomittens). I’d met Don before (whilst dressed as a clown), but not Rhona. Nice to put real faces to people who do great things I read about on twitter.
Don kindly agreed to drop back a few corralls to run with me. His excuse was a dodgy knee and mine was I was coming back from a stress fracture in my foot. I felt confident in my fitness, but I had done all my training off road, bar one 13.5 miler two weeks ago. We agreed to set off at 8.30 pace aiming for 1.52 or thereabouts. My PB is 1.45 and Don’s 1.41. We pretty much maintained this for the early part of the race that took us down to the shore and along Portobello promenade. We were nicely warmed up by mile two or three and the breeze was quite pleasant.
We chatted away as we ran and Don surprised me when he commented that we’d passed the 5 mile marker. How had 5 miles gone so quickly and easily? The long steady pull up from the shore around Arthurs Seat was not as hard as I’d expected. I let myself go down Queens Drive with Don taking it a bit easier as he was feeling his knee on the downhills. He quickly caught me up again as we began to pull up past the parliament monstrosity. He reckoned we had run 7 min/mile pace down the hill so we were now inside our time a bit. The long drag up to and through the Grassmarket passed nicely back at 8.30 min pace.
Then he surprised me again by pointing out the 10 mile marker ! Blimey, I was feeling good, enjoying the race, the fantastic support and began to think that it was going to end too soon. A genuinely new feeling for me ! As we were both going well, we cranked it up from here on in. It was a nice feeling to be running strong and picking off loads of runners. I freewheeled down the Mound, with Don taking it easier, catching me up again at Waverley Station. I felt our pace a little as we pulled up towards the Royal Mile, took a little breather, and set sail towards the finish. I remembered being surprised how quickly the finish of last years 10k had come in the grounds of Holyrood Palace, so I wound up my finish accordingly. Imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner to see no finish line ! Oh shit! I steadied myself and went again for the last 2 or 300 metres to finish in 1.47.19 with Don a couple of seconds back.
I had finished what i think was my 8th half in my 3rd best time, 2 years after setting my PB, recovering from injury and I felt great, not completely done in. I had a tiny “what if” moment before telling myself to shut up and lap it up. I was feeling so good about how the race had panned out and how I felt physically. As I write this, more than 24 hours on, these feelings haven’t changed.
I learned two things particularly from this race. Setting off slower than I wanted to really and finishing faster than I ever thought I was capable of, is way more pleasurable than the other way around. And running with someone of similar ability, chatting with them, really helped me. I just didnt notice the distance. I only kept a glance at my pace so as to not go too fast. A huge thank you to Don for this. Sorry mate, but are required to accompany me on all future races whether you like it or not !
We didnt manage to meet Rhona afterwards, but I gather she smashed her PB. As did Rhalou (@rhalou), who cracked the 2 hours after a couple of near misses. Well done ladies.
In summary: the weather helped what is a great half marathon course. It was excellently marshalled (thank you all), plenty water stations and of course lots of music. Fabulous support from the fine folk of Edinburgh. Sort out the organisation people and you’ll have a cracker of a race on your hands.
Johnny aka @dunsrunner

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