Sunday, 26 May 2013

Edinburgh Marathon 2013

You'll be pleased to read that this blog will be short on words and rather longer on photos. The words first though. I run off road almost exclusively and ran my first 2 marathons last year. One was a proper hill job and the other was a trail run. I'd never run a road marathon, and to be honest, had no desire to. But you know how it is when something gnaws away at you, it was a box that had to be ticked. So with that in mind and probably wine on board, I decided that Edinburgh was the place for me.
I only live an hour away so I'd have no expensive hotels to pay, or nightmare bus journeys after (thinking of you Martin).
I was too late to enter and so went down the charity route. I am a bit uncomfortable how the bigger events have been "hijacked" by charity. It is either very hard and/or expensive to get into these events as an individual. Indeed, I heard a fellow runner almost apologising to another that he was running for himself, not charity.
What charity then? In the past I've run, cycled and abseiled off the Forth Rail Bridge for Chest, Heart, Stroke Scotland ( ......had to get that link in !! ) and so they were my first port of call, and they were delighted to have me. Especially when I told them I'd run dressed as a clown !
I "persuaded" my friend Martin that it would be a good idea if he ran as a clown too. He's easily led and persuasion was easy: all I had to do was ask! Martin and his lovely wife Sue stopped by for a bite to eat on Saturday evening on their way north from somewhere Yorkshire way (don't understand a word the boy says but he doesnt seem to mind !).
To the marathon then. We met up and headed to the start attracting a few odd glances. Cant think why? Maybe we looked scary? What is it with clowns and scary:-) We both wanted to run this to raise funds, but also to try to run it to do ourselves justice as runners. With this in mind, this was our plan. Run 9 minutes/walk 1 minute to average 9 minute miles. All went according to plan until we passed halfway. Both Martin and I started suffering then. My problem was food, as it always is. Ive never got this right yet. Martin was suffering from the heat in his costume and starting having back problems. We had to put some more walk breaks in and agreed then that sub 4 hours was off the cards. Indeed I started having doubts about finishing, however a few midget gems and more water got me going again for a wee while. Basically from mile 13 to 18 were very tough. About 18 I left Martin. Not intentionally to start with: I thought he was behind me, but when I took a scheduled walk break I couldnt see him. To be honest, at this point I wanted the race to be over and so I took the decision to keep going alone (we had discussed this, but it did make me feel a bit shitty).
I found some sort of form and ticked the miles off, sticking to my run 9/walk1 strategy. Martin told me after he was cramping up and adopted a 3 lamppost/1 lamppost run/walk strategy! Ingenuity in the face of pain :-)
The crowds in the last miles were truly awesome. Being dressed as a clown certainly helped with the support I got. I heard a lot today, but two comments stick in my mind. A small girl in a leopard print onesie said directly to me "I'm scared of clowns". I felt a bit guilty! And a man shouting, "Now are you taking this seriously" in a very nice way. I managed to reply "very", that was all !
Having felt totally knackered, its amazing what a crowd can do (and I thank you Edinburgh) and I managed to really kick the last 0.2. I'd say I was sprinting, spectators may not agree!
4:08. I'd hoped for better, but the 13-18 section saw to that. In a bit of a daze, I heard "Dad" being yelled rather than "clown" and saw my son and elder daughter. I went over, and with much lack of cool, burst into tears on my 12 year old girl's shoulder. She's probably scared of clowns now too:-)
OK, so I lied. This is long on words and sort on pictures, but Ive learned today that clowns are scary :-)
Thanks for reading and looking and hopefully smiling too.

P.S. The make up held up well but please dont let me enter any more road marathons!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Northumberland Coast run

I'm "training" for the Edinburgh marathon on the 26th of May. I say "training", but to be honest I'm not very good at that. I prefer to run and see what comes of it.
That said, after having a few leg problemsI thought, with 4 weeks to go, I'd better actually think about this and I pulled a plan from the marathon website. Yesterday's run was to be 4 mile at pace. What did I do? 4 miles of technical trail with my dogs ! Very hard going but not exactly pacey. Todays run was to be 12 miles.
If you've read any of my blogs, you will know that I dont really road run. I prefer anything off road, be that trail, hill, bog or beach. Of course the Edinburgh marathon is a road race ! I did do a 10 mile road run a few weeks ago. I didnt enjoy it but as it was a 10 mile PB I figured that off road training would be fine !
Today's run: the Northumberland coast. A very cool place indeed in my opinion. I love it here and its only 30 minutes from home.
I parked up at Cocklawburn beach just south of Berwick and headed south along Cheswick sands. The tide was quite far out and going out so I decided to run along the water line. This lent itself to some decent paced running as I was going downwind too. I was geting quite near Holy Island when I remembered a conversation with someone who knows the area well. He told me that its possible to walk from Goswick to Holy Island at low tide on the sand bar. However during and after WW11 several bombs were detonated there which created pockets of quicksand.
I had not intended to run to Holy Island anyway, but I seemed to heading that way. With the quicksand in mind I decided to head back to land. I was about a mile out at this stage and guess what ? Yes, as soon as I headed towards land I ran into some very soft areas ! Whether or not this was the pockets of quicksand or not, I dont know but I was beginning to worry a bit.
After I cleared this area, all I could see between me and land was water. Oh shit! I reasoned that, as the tide was out, the water must be shallow. It was, mostly only a few inches deep and I was able to run through it quite easily except for the fact that I'd now turned back into the wind. I must admit to being quite happy to join the sheep on the salt marsh!
I realised now that if I turned north my run would be around 10 miles rather than 12 as stated on the "plan". Who needs plans anyway so I decided to make up for the lack of distance by working harder. I ran back north through the sand dunes, into the wind at a decent pace. The last mile saw me back on the beach pumping the legs and breathing hard. I stopped at 10 miles, waded into the sea and then walked the half mile back to my van (now sporting photos of my girls on the back windows!)
I didnt take my camera today, but the photo at the top is what I'm looking at as I write this. You can just pick out Lindisfarne on the left and Bamburgh Castle on the right.
According to my "plan" thats my last double figure run prior to the Edinburgh marathon. Hmm, who needs plans !
I feel duty bound to add that I'm running Edinburgh in aid of Chest Heart Stroke Scotland dressed as a clown. You can guess whats next:-) If you could support me via then there'd be lots of winners. Thank you