game over - have a beer
photo - thanks Nicky N. x
This one was dead in the water when the forecast came up about a week before saying strong winds and heavy rain. The rain didn't appear but the strong winds did. And that was pretty much that. Shame really as it means I may have to do another marathon this year, which is not something that fills my heart with joy. It is the dumbass end of roadrunning; plodding miles of tarmac in training just so you can do 26.2 down a road in a certain time.
It all started with Mary getting an early bird entry for this, months ago. I am often surprised by the races Mary targets but after a bit of a head scratch I signed up as well. Last year I ran 2.50 in what was not ideal conditions. If we got lucky with the weather it was perhaps possible to run faster still. And this was the sole reason for signing up. Not for the scenery, not for the large crowds of charity runners who stand at the start line blocking the people who will be running an hour and a half faster than them, not for the idoits' music that sounds like pinky and perky squeaking along to techno, blasting out huge speakers an affront to music lovers, not for the £52 entry fee, not for the streets awash with gel wrappers and water bottles. Just a quick time. There are probably faster courses but I'm not so interested in a mara pb that I'd waste £300~£600 on travel, hotels and food chasing one down.
Edinburgh has the advantage of allowing me to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food immediately before. One last complaint (actually I don't think it will be the last): £52 entry is steep. Plus I seem to remember they add a couple of quid for fun or admin charges like they weren't already fleecing us. HOWEVER they have a good for age discount. Well, now you are talking. Good-for-age is a term we associate with London Marathon and allows competent runners to jump the ballot and guarantee a place in that urban supermarket sweep. Since Edinburgh have never ever run out of places, good-for-age just means if you can run that fast (I forget how fast) you will get a massive discount off your entry. How much? I can't remember the exact amount but I think it was 52p. I nearly shat myself. ONE PERCENT DISCOUNT. Being a total skinflint I emailed the Edinburgh Mafia Festival headquarters and told them that that kind of a pisstake does not friends and admirers make. I may have phrased it differently as I was trying to weasel my way into a more realistic discount. "Ah but if we gave you a discount we'd have to give everyone a discount" was the schoolteachery reply. Not true, I batted back, how many v50s are going to run 2.50ish? (Usually about 5.) Their response was to send me the code for the good for age 52p off. Which kind of underlines the attitude of the EMF: money first, runners second. They have been bedeviled by organisational problems for years (not enough water, poor routes, baggage not appearing, cock&ball medals etc.) and it is no doubt because of their money grabbing attitude and karma biting them in the glutes.
To show how even handed I can be: I have not heard of any organisational problems this year (yet) although the weather was so bad that I don't think many folk will be going home happy. But that wasn't the organisers' fault. Also, when my number didn't arrive I emailed to let them know and they got back within minutes to say go past Our Dynamic Earth and pick up a spare, which was very straight forward and minimal fuss. So they are getting there. But £52+? How can it cost more than London?
Thanks to Mr Woods for photo
I think if the rain had been lashing down as forecast I would have stayed in bed. As I say I was only doing this for the time. And that was already looking very unlikely. But the rain stayed off and we went up to London Rd and tried to keep a distance from the loud speakers polluting the air with all manner of noxious guff. I was feeling quite strong and knowing we were going to be struggling with a stiff headwind from mile 18, my plan was to go out fast and make good time in the first half. Last year I had paced myself almost inadvertantly as the wind was against us for 18 then behind for the last miles when you appreciate a helping hand. I really should have paced myself this year but went for boom or bust; do or die. Unfortunately I died. Thems are the breaks.
Thanks Bob for photo
I started beside Stuart and we ran the first 10 miles together. Afterwards I felt partially responsible for forcing such a pace on him as I think he may not have chosen to go quite so fast had I not been there. I didn't explain my tactics to him but felt since he generally is better over the longer road races (ie E2NB) that it would kill me before him. He expressed concerns after we hit 5 miles in 31mins dead, arriving on the prom. I was still feeling fine and hoped I would get away with it. Laughably I had 2.48 in mind which required a 1.24 half and therefore 32mins for 5miles, 64 for 10. Since we had the wind to contend with in the second half the first might need to be on the fast side. Unfortunately that maths encouraged the style I had opted for during the first dozen marathons I have run. (ie everyone except last year.) Start fast then crash and burn, doing the second half about 10~15mins slower than the first. It was a high risk strategy and I could feel it backfiring from about 14 miles. (Having hit 10 miles in 1.03) However I did go through the half in 1.24 on the nose. But around 14~15 miles I stopped knocking out sub6.30s (6.24 was the pace I needed for 2.48) and by 19miles I hit a 7min mile.
(Sharyn posted this but I suspect Alan took it.)
I think Stuart moved ahead about 11miles and by halfway was 30secs in front. I had a few bad moments along Port Seton way and was briefly overtaken by an older Fife dude who hasn't beaten me in races for a while. A pack of runners containing a few women went by and although I tried to up the pace I had nothing in my legs. Every time I looked to the Garmin to check the pace it was nearer 7 than 6.30 and I knew it would be bad news from here on in. Thems the breaks.
David's dad took photo, thanks!
Feeling the burn in the last mile.
At the turn around I was surprised how many of the runners that had whizzed by were not that far ahead. I think I maybe rallied a bit. Then you get to see the runners just behind. These included George T who had friended me up on facebook recently to check what marathon running I was doing this year. I took a couple of minutes off him last year at Edinburgh but he retained his best Scottish marathoner in his 50s p.o.ten crown by doing Berlin fractionally quicker than my Edinburgh time. When I overtook him in Seafield I had romped past cheerily and knew he would enjoy doing the same as the wind took the wind out my sails in the next couple of miles. We exchanged pleasantries shortly afterwards. Later on I also had a bit of a chat as we made our way to the baggage vehicles and I was sorry to hear he has a number of concerns considerably more pressing than running, going on in his life currently. Hope it works out ok George.
Tim's second marathon.
From Gosford it was all hard work. There was a certain amount of windshade and it was good to see Iain and Eoin from Thursday evenings, out supporting their partners. Iain said (in response to my rather downbeat "I'm f***ed") "only an hour to go"! It felt as reasonable as saying try holding your breath for a hour. And an exquisitely tortured hour it was. Not only was I getting slower as we ran into the gale force headwind, but all manner of old, fat and slow joggers were cruising past. I have had less bad nightmares.
Around 19 miles I saw a friendly face in the crowd stood near the junction beyond Gosford. Nick had volunteered to pass me a flat Red Bull and said he would be standing about here. I had hoped it was going to be on the other side and about 15 miles (where Mary had been last year) and when I didn't see him thought he must not have made it. However it would have taken stronger drugs than caffeine to pull me back from the brink, even at 15 miles. It was still very welcome and was a psychological boost if nothing else. Trouble was I had just taken a big load of water on at the preceding station. Wanting to get some help asap from the RB I glugged a load of that and within seconds my hamstring seized up without warning and I had to pull over and walk. I had forgotten my propensity for cramp when I eat or drink stuff late on in a hard race and had not even had warning twinges till now. Happily it passed quickly and I was jogging again within 30 seconds but not before Bert had gone past on the other side of the road and I could tell from the concern on his face that he was thinking I looked like a dead man walking. Oh happy days.
(Stuart went on to finish in a very respectable 2.55 despite me pacing him for the first 10!)
Had there been an easy way to dnf and get a bus to the end I would certainly have taken it. But it would only be slower to walk it. I was careful to sip rather than gulp, and jog rather than run. I was overtaken by many people and I would try to jump into their windshadow as they went past and shamelessly draft them till I could hold on no longer, then drop off the back and try to put my thoughts elsewhere while counting off the endless miles. I stopped looking at the garmin as I had no further interest in numbers. About 3 miles from the finish I realised sub3 wasn't going to happen and also that I couldn't care less. I wasn't interested in two fifty something today anyway. Although 2.48 seemed now as realistic a prospect to aim for on the start line as holding my breath for an hour.
And still the miles go on. Looking at the mile by mile read out from Mr. Garmin it wasn't actually as bad as it felt: dropping to 8minute miles only at mile 23 and hitting 8.35 in 25. I didn't walk but my legs were trashed in a way they haven't been in a long long time. When I finished I had a massive thirst - the wind being more dehydrating than I imagined. I scoofed down a whole bottle of water and most of a second. Then made the mistake of sitting on the grass near the baggage reclaim. My legs went into giant spasms of cramp and I was convulsed in pain and nearly in tears. It felt like metals rods being pushed under the skin through the veins. And even with Amanda's help I couldn't get back onto my feet for 5 minutes. It was pretty grim. Amanda had done remarkably: 3.07 and a 5 min pb - in that wind! Roly was one of the few others doing a pb today - finishing first Porty home in 3.02. The only thing about my time I liked was it was all the threes: 3.03.33 on both the garmin and in the official results.
I was looking much better at the finish than I felt. I suspect I should have drunk a lot more and eaten more gels - I had only 2. It's so long since I did a road marathon I seemed to forget all the basics.
Eventually the cramp subsided and I got up ok and went and had a shower. I asked the Ambulance folk if they could get me a couple of paracetamol without filling in a form. (I know this from past experience.) They said it's just a small form and I felt like saying shove your tablets up your ass. What is the world coming to? Red fucking tape. Same thing with the marshals who went to some trouble to insist you could only enter the field through the in gate and on pain of death must leave by the one 25 yards away. I think I was a bit low blood sugar. Instead of picking a fight I had a beer and felt MUCH better really very quickly. That and a plate of overpriced underheated haggis.
careful where you place that logo.
quite an impressive amount of photos and video from marathon-photos.com - I'd recommend you visit their site and spend lots of money buying their photos and video. I would, only it was one of the worst days of my running life and want to remember it like a bad visit to the dentist. The one (aptly) in Marathon Man
The showers were too hot! I did a bit of a dance in and out as I had the place to myself and felt a lot better for it. I suspect most folk don't know there are showers there.
Mary had had an even worse day than mine, (her report here) with 2 portaloo stops and an all time personal worst. She laughed it off and we actually had a pretty nice afternoon, first chatting to pals at the beer tent (Tim's second marathon, well done Tim!) and then by doing June's Tynecastle Bronze. We walked through Musselburgh and towards home stopping to photo the rather splendid WW2 memorial by the Esk. My legs were crocked and feet sore and a bit blistered, so it was not easy to make up the extra miles, but it was sunny and we had a laugh. Nearly a victory from the jaws of defeat.