Official time: 1:53:49
Overall: 1181 out of 4361
Division: 51 out of 393
Gender: 273 out of 2269
I had been looking forward to this event for months for a few reasons. I cannot lie, the main reason being the awesome medal, but also because it’s a much bigger and more structured event compared to the others I have taken part in this year. However from the minute I woke up and heard the wind howling outside I knew I was going to be in for a hard slog. I awoke before my alarm at 5am and after a bit of tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep I eventually gave in and got up. Clearly it was even too early for my dog to as she was snoring away merrily and I had to prod her to get her up!! We went out for a short walk and by the time we got home we were both drenched. Not a good outlook for the upcoming race. Hoping it would clear by the time I got through to Edinburgh, I set about making my usual pre-race breakfast of porridge with banana and a few cups of strong coffee and I was ready to go.
I left slightly earlier than was necessary as I was worried about parking in Edinburgh due to all the road closures. However as I was so early I easily found a space in back road with time to spare for a quick trip to Tesco to stock up on bananas and Lucozade. Sitting in the car as I waited to head down to the start area, I started to worry a little about the race. The car physically shook with the strong winds and the rain was battering off the windscreen. I have had much more pleasant runs this year so far and I have always chosen to wear either long sleeves or a t-shirt, but idiot Iona chooses this one to debut her vest wearing for the year. Eeeek, this could have been a bad choice! But it was too late to worry now, so I packed what I needed in my backpack, braved the cold and took off my tracksuit bottoms, put my hood up and joined the hundreds of other runners making their way down to the starting area at Holyrood Park. I had plenty of layers on for now, but it was only a matter of time before I had to ditch them at the bag drop and make my way to the start line. The wind was fierce and the rain was driving into our faces but I was trying not to let it get to me – I still had a good few hours of this by the looks of things! A few portaloos had already been blown over by this point which added to the already huge queues of people waiting to go one last time before the race and I needed to join them, not looking forward to the long wait, but luckily I found a short queue. It was then time to brave the cold and get ready so I dropped off my stuff at the bag drop and went to meet Jemma who had got the bus through from Glasgow. As we stood shivering at the starting area we once again wished we had remembered bin bags to wear up until we started – next time for sure! The race was delayed a few minutes at the start due to the weather causing problems on the course that had to be sorted, but not long after 9.15am the first wave were off! We were at the back of the third wave and soon as we were over the line we began to dodge people and try and get a good fast start. The road is pretty narrow for the first mile or so and we found ourselves dodging in and out of people to try and get through the crowds and set a sensible pace. By the time we rounded a corner and came up to 2 miles people had spaced out a bit and we were finally moving!
The first few miles flew by. The weather had eased up a bit but it was still pretty windy however this wasn’t dampening anyone’s spirits! There were live bands dotted about the course and despite the weather they carried on and boosted morale. The course was flat and fast until we got down to Portobello where side winds hit us hard for a shirt period of time. As we rounded a corner and progressed down to the promenade we had a sudden boost with tail winds and it was greatly appreciated! Miles 4, 5 & 6 saw us running through residential areas and back up towards the other side of Holyrood Park. The rain was still horrific and my feet were absolutely soaking but I wasn’t going to let this weather beat me.
Mile 1 – 8:16
Mile 2 – 7.48
Mile 3 – 8:06
Mile 4 – 8:20
Mile 5 – 8:45
Mile 6 – 9:01
At mile 6 we met the first of the hills. Not too steep, but it was a long one and my legs screamed at me. I took a gel about 6 miles in and instantly felt it in my legs – just the boost I needed. This is the first race in a long time I have completed without listening to music at all and it was really nice to have a chat with Jemma on the way around as well as listen to the bands and cheer on other runners! Miles 7 and 8 saw us coming into Holyrood Park and hitting another hill. With side winds. And rain that felt like it was stabbing me. Ouch. However what goes up must come down and we absolutely flew back down the other side! A combination of a descent and tail winds took our split down to a pace time of 7:06 at one point and we had to laugh – that was slower than some runners pace for the entire race!! As we headed out of Holyrood Park and back into the centre of Edinburgh I could hear the P.A on the other side of the park congratulating the runners who were just coming in to finish – Uhhh, I still had 4 and a bit miles to go!! Those people are crazy fast!! The next few miles were an uphill slog through the Cannongate and looping round past the Meadows and back past the University of Edinburgh. This was the toughest part of the race for me where my legs just wanted to give up on me. My breathing felt good, I felt strong on top and in my head I was desperate to push up that hill, but my legs were aching and my foot was giving me grief again. For a while the arch on my left foot has started to get sore after long road runs, (which is probably due to my crazy flat feet!) so I’m guessing it’s time to go and see someone about it. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to things like that but if it’s going to affect my running, I’ll get to it pronto!
At the top of the hill we took a sharp right where a sudden gust of wind caught me and nearly took my feet out from under me. This seriously was the toughest race I have ever taken part in. I knew I wasn’t getting a pb from about 5 miles in, but I could probably get back in about 1:55 if I kept up my pace, which I’d still be really happy with! At mile 10 we were on a long flat road going through the Meadows and an American man on the pavement suddenly shouted loudly “3 miles to go, you’re 3 miles away from that pint!”. Unfortunately I had the car with me, so I couldn’t indulge after the race, but this comment really spurred me on again and I caught back up with Jemma, who had got away from me a little. I took another gel at 11 miles to get me up to the top of the last hill and then I was finish line bound! The course took another well appreciated down hill route and I used this as my launch pad to speed up for the last few miles. Through Princes Street Gardens, past Waverly station and plenty of cheering tourists and back down the Royal Mile towards the finish line. There were a couple of guys on microphones shouting everyone on at 12.4 miles and them reminding me I had less than a mile to go made me dig deep. Another amazing downhill stretch gave me another boost right to the final 0.1 of a mile where I pulled everything I had left together and tried for a sprint finish. It wasn’t the fastest but I did manage to get past a few people right up the line where I put on my biggest smile for my finishers photo.
Mile 7 – 9:23
Mile 8 – 8:44
Mile 9 – 9:06
Mile 10 – 9:23 (where my legs just said no!)
Mile 11 – 9:05
Mile 12 – 8:42
Mile 13 – 8:07
0.1 – .49.1
As I shuffled through the finishers area to collect my medal I suddenly felt elated. It wasn’t a pb and it wasn’t a comfortable run by any means, but I felt brilliant and it was another half marathon in the bag!
Then came the downside to the race. During the race the staff had to move all the bags due to high winds and the tents where we were meant to pick up our t-shirts had been taken down through fear of them blowing away. This meant instead of a very quick bag pick up and t-shirt grab we had to queue for our bags as very few staff ran in and out of the tents to get them. The queue was massive, no one quite knew where they should be standing and this lead to many people skipping the queue and others just being left baffled while trying their hardest not to blow away in their amazing silver space capes. I think if it hadn’t been for these capes my hands might have fallen off as after half an hour or so of waiting and shivering my finger tips turned completely white and lost all feeling. Not good! I had somehow come away with 2 space blankets, so I used the spare one to make a snazzy silver hand warmer and kept myself amused by jumping up and down and talking to people around me. EVENTUALLY (over an hour later!) we got our bags back, headed for the t-shirt queue and went to find somewhere to get a hot drink. I think that was the best cup of tea I have ever had.
All in all, I did enjoy this race. The weather put a bit of a downer on the event but you can’t help these things and I’m sure I’ll run other races in similar conditions – I do live in Scotland after all!