Wednesday, 22 February 2012

E'burgh Marathon 2011 (1st Marathon experience)

Shirt through and brilliant. Number through. Steady run Tue morning and then a very steady run thu with John, Paul and Gareth to complete training. Fri my b'day chilled out and stuffed my face with a huge chinese (I am sure all marathon runners do this!). Sat chilled out with my bro and kids in the park then took Ellie dancing and stuffed my face with a bacon sarnie and a bacon & egg sarnie (I am sure all marathon runners do this also). Then said my goodbyes packed and off to airport with a lift from Big D!
Nerves a jangling at this point eased in departures thanks to U2 on my shuffle. Delayed but good flight then picked up by Nick for apartment in Edinburgh. Met a bunch of nice marathoners and was treated to a cracking high carb pasta and allsorts nosh to prep for Sunday. Hit the hay at 10.30 but very restless with excitement not really nerves. Up at 7am on marathon day. Banana, Ready Brek and Smoothie then down to start for 9.30. Quick hello to fellow marathon virgin @Deedah10 (aka Darren Carter) and then found myself stood in the purple pen, two drinks and 3 gels in hand ready for the off!
Now Edinburgh has two starts. London Road for the fasties. Regent road for the slowies and Purple is the last pen on Regent Road. This became more relevent as the race started and we moved down towards the start. I'm relaxed save for the fact I become accutely aware of the need to pee. Do I start and pee at 1st opportunity eating into my time or do I nip now before I cross the start line? Cemetary hedge job done but as I rejoin the start everyone has gone! Literally I was the last person to cross the start line. Relaxed with nothing to deal with other than running a marathon. Starting from the back of the back has two advantages-1. you get to do loads of overtaking rather than being overtook-great for confidence. 2. its easier to avoid getting carried away and burning yourself out by mile 10! So I'm off and pass 3 kilted squaddies with full 40KG packs running for our armed forces, Mr Zombie running for a cancer charity, a 70year old running in full firemans gear incl helmet running for injured firemen, Mrs 'i need to pee but wont queue for toilets so will pee like a man' and Mrs 'i've carbed up to 20 stone but not exercised ever but a marathon cant be that hard can it?' as she threw up within half a mile of the start.
The first few miles take you through and out of Edinburgh. Feeling strong and picking off runners one by one. Focus on target, pass, focus on next target, pass etc keeping a track on pace maintaining 9.30 per mile. Good crowds shouting scottish sounding stuff with 'Sid' at the end so all good. Passing Meadowbank? stadium (Hibs I think) turn up a slight incline, 1st test, a piece of piss! Hills are our friends and this didnt deserve to call itself a hill compared to Hints, Hedging or Gorsy. I smashed it, others were found out! Out down toward Leith docks and onto the coast. Running along promenade after promenade, good crowds, good runners, everyone with a cause, a desire and a belief.
Within 5miles we'd had sun, rain, force gale winds and calm cool. All thats on my mind is pace, fuel. 1st gel at 45mins remembering 'if you think you need it its already too late!' - sipping the drink little and often topping with water as I go. Pace steady at 9.30 (sub 4:10 pace I know I cant keep to that but I am well within my comfort zone!).
So we wind through a few coastal towns good support especially around the points of the relay racers changing over. I'm going great but when trying to section my race kinda think I'm at 13 miles when I am at 8.5ish. All a bit wierd and not sure why. This isnt a major problem as I'm feeling good in myself. ignoring that and popping second gel at 1hr 45 mins in I then pass half way about 2hrs 5mins or so. Thats fine and steady. As I head out along the coast road to the turn point at 17 miles or so the leaders are passing on the opposite side of the road. We go through a final town great crowds again giving it loads for the leading group on way back and us on way out. Once through there its out into the sticks.
The runners opposite increase and I spend the next 3 miles or so seeing if I can see any of the other runners that I know who are all faster than me, coming past. Saw Deedah gave him a huge shout and the runner infront of me nearly jumped out of her skin. This was a great distraction and running up to 17 was great. Got to 17 and turned, last gel popped and a few whoops of 'we’re on the last leg' from the other runners seemed a tad premature to me - and so it proved. Now the details may not be entirely accurate mileage wise but after the turn you come off the coast road you're heading back on and run through the grounds of what seems to be a stately home. Here I slow down, noticeably and considerably, its the first time I start to think can i do this? Can I keep going. Some people are walking (a few have been but now its more), a few are wrapped in silver sheets being attended to by St Johns and one fella is on his knees throwing up. He gets a 'cough it up and crack on son' from me but not sure it helped. I pass 18 miles and I am struggling. For the first time I notice pain in my knees. No problem - plan for pain is ignore it I aint stopping for nothing. Plan for doubt however is draw on inspiration, strength from emotion. Problem with that is I am a bit of a crier when I get going. So I'm coming out of the estate back onto the coast road and fucking bam! The heavens open (its rained on and off but with the wind in my face this is horizontal!), slight incline, feeling myself welling up and realising I'm not yet at 19miles. This isnt 'the wall' but its not my plan either. Many around me walk while the rain lashes down I can see why because each step doesnt seem to move you forward. I aint gonna walk though I said I wouldnt! 18-19 was horrible but the route then nips off the coast road again just for the hell of it to run up and back down a road (they needed an extra 3/4 of a mile I think).
I am now seriously doubting whether I can do this. The good thing about this diversion was the crowd who were great (apart from 'mrs stereo' annoying me dancing to 'dont stop me now' by Queen) particularly a kiddie high fiving me and a few 'ge in sid' shouts. I needed that but I hadnt factored in that this would make me want to cry! Diversion short lived (and protection from the wind sadly short lived) and back onto the coast road. Rain gone but the wind is venemous. Through the sticks, winding coast road more and more people stopping, loads walking then running then walking then running (FFS run it slow or walk) and more and more dropping out (at least they didnt look like they would recover from collapsing or chucking their guts).
I'm at about 20 miles and I am dieing on my arse! Im still tring to break it down. 6 miles is tue morning Morrisons run but I cant pick up. Its all I can do to put one foot infront of the other. Miscalculating loads now too. Thinking I've run a mile I check my watch to see I've run 0.3 of a mile! After doing this about 5 times I decide to not check anymore. I'll stop if it happens again. Through a town with some crowd pick up, along a totally tough stretch past power station overtaking a guy with a false leg walking a section of the relay race I try and pull myself together because this is nothing. Nothing compared to the causes I’m running for. The wind is battering me but I have to keep running. Cant motivate with emotion because its too much so I'm fighting thoughts of my mom, poppy, cameron and Mrs Brightside because I'm in bits. I'm trying to focus on breathing, lifting my legs and not failing. Not failing myself and more importantly not failing Mrs B and everyone else.
I'm replaying rugby games I've played in my mind, I'm getting up after being knocked down each sat morning, Im smiling at Wayne Chatterton as he drops the nut on me, I'm back on the pitch when my teacher says I cant go back on! With 4 to go (just a mile oaker) we do a town where the guy outside his house on the way out was relatively quiet but since then has has downed a considerable amount of booze since then. he gives it an almighty 'GE IN SIDNEY!' (seriously i can hear it now). I cant look at him because my neck wont turn anymore but I give him a thumbs up.
Onto the last quiet stretch I cant look up because the road looks to long. My sections are now 10-20 strides ahead and thats it. Every part of me aches, internally too! 3 miles left then 2 which is a lap and a bit of the estate. It seems like loads of people are going past me but its the run/walkers brigade! Into the last town guy offering mars bars, loads of cheering. Each 'Sid' shout starts me off. Gotta control it. I'm now saying 'come on' out loud with every breath. I'm cursing my legs out loud just willing the last 1.5 miles out of them. The ends not in sight but I go into the last village - I darent look at my watch because if it said 3 to go I would have sat down! There are loads of people giving it loads and I mean loads. I'm gone now - no control over my emotions at all. Shouts of 'Sid' all around I think they took pity on the stuggling fat boy rather than cheer the now sprint finishing 'run/walkers'. Then there it is the fucking finishing line. 300 metres head down dont look keep moving you are now a marathon runner! Across the line running, stop the clock I am done! 4 hours 42mins agony and overwhelming relief and joy. A good blart, catch my breath and job done! Its a fantastic test for anybody and anybody can do it if they can overcome the battle of wills with themselves. Its entirely personal and its a good 80% psychological. So I am now a short fat bald marathon runner after 46 weeks of ups and downs doubt and joy. Its been emotional. I'm still fat!

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