Edinburgh Marathon, 25 May 2014 – Race Report

Posted: 26th May 2014 by mockjogger in Race reports
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Really, calling this race the Edinburgh Marathon is a masterclass of spinnery. The race starts in the centre of the city, fair enough, but then gets out of there as fast as possible, never to return. The East Lothian marathon would be a more appropriate moniker. Whatever, come Friday evening it was time to welcome fellow runners arriving in Edinburgh for the event.

The weather forecast for the event had been “unpredictable” since we entered the long range zone, and so it stayed right up to the morning of the event. Looking out of my window at 7.30 a.m. all I could see were dark clouds and rain. No sign of the castle, it was as if Edinburgh had been subsumed by its own private Mordor. Checking on twitter I could see photos appearing for the start of the half marathon race, which kicked off two hours before the full marathon. Mostly everyone was in rain jackets. I stuffed mine in my race bag, just in case, and headed out the door.

From my home to the race start is about a 25 minute walk. I did not want to be hanging round for a long time in the rain, so left it late to set off. For this race I wanted to take on more calories before the start, so I topped up the previous evening’s spaghetti bolognese and a breakfast of cereal, raspberries and blueberries, by consuming a Stoats apple and cinnamon porridge bar and a banana as I made the walk. Knowing the toilet queues at the start would be substantial, I made a short detour to McDonalds on South St Andrews Street. I wasn’t the only one, as the queues had formed there too, but the staff were very understanding and it was warm.

I changed in McDonalds and decided against wearing a rain jacket. The temperature was around 12 degrees and I did not want the extra layer. This proved to be the right call as the rain died off and stayed away for the whole duration of the race.

The bag drop was quick and efficient and I arrived at the pink start pen on Regent Road about 10 minutes before the start. A local radio DJ was stirring life into the runners and supporters alike, and in no time at all we were making the countdown from 10 to 0.

Edin Marathon JedI had a plan. This involved sticking to a pace of 9:30 for the whole race, bringing me home in 4:10. However, the downhill start along Regent Road with a right loop via Abbeyhill to Holyrood Park, and the sheer volume of runners on a relatively tight track made it difficult to keep to that. I had to consciously tell myself to slow down. Through Holyrood Park, the course took us out to Leith, and as we ran alongside the Links, I passed by some friends who were outside their house cheering me on. I was feeling good. I tried to capture them on smiley cam, making it’s second appearance following the Paris Marathon, but managed to photograph the pavement instead.

Miles 1 – 4 splits: 8:56, 9:09, 9:15, 9:06

This sign kept appearing, like some subliminal message

This sign kept appearing, like some subliminal message

The route then took us along the promenade to Portobello and on to Musselburgh. The sea breeze was refreshing and made for good running conditions. It delivered a light headwind and I knew that this would be in our favour late in the race when we were running in the opposite direction. Since passing Leith crowd support had been sporadic, but when we arrived in Musselburgh it picked up again. The locals were out in force and in good voice. As we ran towards the horse-race course we met some of the tail-enders from the half marathon heading in the opposite direction nearing the conclusion of their race. Also, some runners whizzed by like they were on fire. I wondered what kind of race plan they were on, before realising that we had just passed a relay changeover.

Miles 5-9 splits: 9:34, 9:28, 9:24, 9:22, 9:15

charityI had managed to control my pace, and switched the Garmin over to lap-pace mode as I didn’t want to be distracted by thinking about average pace and possible end times. I was feeling very comfortable as we continued alongside the sea to Prestonpans. Good vocal support was a feature of all the towns we passed through on this section. Midway through Prestonpans, I saw police motorcycle riders heading in the opposite direction, followed by the lead vehicle displaying 2 hours exactly, itself followed by the loan front runner and eventual winner, David Toniok. What struck me was the effortless grace of his stride and the sheer velocity of movement. I tried to capture the moment on smiley cam, but it let me down again. I think this may be smiley cam’s final outing. Anyway, like many fellow runners I clapped DT as he passed in the opposite direction and smiled at the thought that I had run in a race only a few metres away from him.

Miles 10-13 splits: 9:20, 9:37, 9:25, 9:31

sunCockenzie power station is an imposing monolith when you are running past it with plenty of time to take it in. Although it does not appeal to everyone, I couldn’t help being impressed by the scale of it. The route kept alongside the sea and was fairly flat with pretensions of gentle undulation. No hills to speak off. Reading about the race beforehand I knew that this out-and back section was generally held up as boring, but I found it to be better than that, with some very scenic backdrops along the beaches. The sun poked its head out and I congratulated myself again for not wearing a rain jacket – I would have been fried.

Miles 14-17 splits: 9:22, 9:27, 9:23, 9:22,

Around 17 miles the route had a 300m stub (out, 180 degree turn and back) to help make the distance. A runner right in front of me decided to stop for a break right after turning the 180 degrees, causing a traffic jam that brought everyone to a halt. Really, dude, think about it.

Out and back approaching Gosford

Out and back approaching Gosford

Then we turned left into the grounds of Gosford House and a change of terrain from road to path with some loose stones. Trees provided shade here, as the sun was still flirting with us, but it was not really necessary. I was feeling strong and felt an urge to up the tempo. The memory of Paris was fresh in my mind, however. Around this point 8 weeks ago, I started to slow, then hit The Wall and struggled for the last 6 miles. I forced myself to keep it steady. Blowing up once by running too fast could be marked down to experience, but twice would just be stupid. I made a deal with myself that if I reached 21 miles and was still feeling good I could push on, and had a jelly baby to help ward off the spirits of The Wall.

Miles 18:20 splits: 9:16, 9:00, 9:12

macmillanAs I passed the 20 mile post I felt a surge of adrenaline. This was where it really started to hurt in Paris, but I felt none of that this time. People were starting to walk, or to stop and stretch. I kicked out a stone my Mizunos had picked up in the grounds of Gosford, and stretched those legs, baby! The feeling of joy was mostly down to relief. I knew now that I had enough in the tank to finish this race without the pain of marathon #1. If a photographer had been around, I would have been captured with a goofy grin on my face. Heading back towards Musselburgh I was now passing tail-enders heading in the opposite direction. There was no partition between the two flows but everyone was being sensible. As we ran back through Cockenzie we arrived at a water stop followed by a narrow pavement section where everyone decided to slow down. I had to do a little barging here to keep moving.

Miles 21 – 23 splits: 8:50, 8:51, 8:53

Through Prestonpans for the second time it started to hurt, but in a good way – more like running hard for the last couple of miles of a half marathon than trying to climb The Wall. I wanted to keep the pace up and started comparing the remaining distance with where I would be with the same distance to go on a normal training run. “Just the return 5 miles along Union Canal to go!” “Once round Bruntsfield Links and The Meadows to go – I can do this!”. As we approached Musselburgh again, rather inconveniently, someone had inserted a long incline. Probably not worthy of the name hill, but at this point in the race any upward movement was unwelcome. And it was l-o-n-g. Into Musselburgh itself, running past the horse-race course I found myself counting down the furlong markers. What exactly is a furlong, anyway? It provided welcome distraction. I was still looking at lap times and had no idea what my overall time was. We had passed a park on the way through the first time and I assumed this park would be the end point. I figured I had about 500m to go. I was wrong. We took an unexpected left turn and I could see the finish less than 100m ahead! I was so happy to see it and shocked myself by kicking on with a sprint to the line.

Miles 24 – end splits: 9:00, 9:09, 9:11, 8.42 (pace)

I stopped to stretch, and checked the Garmin to see 4:03 and change. Great! Then I gratefully accepted an excellent medal, picked up a goody bag containing the race shirt and not much else, then sat down to drink water with High5 electrolyte. Bag pickup was quick and efficient, but the 25 minute hike to the organised bus stop was not. Come on guys, after a marathon you need to lay on beds on wheels to get folks to the bus. Heading back into Edinburgh, the heavens opened up, with heavy rain and hailstones. Fortunately we had hit the only available good-weather window for the race.

Official Result:

Time: 4:03:13
Position: 3,576 / 8,620
Category: 233 / 491

photoI ran the first half in 2:03:11, and the second half in 2:00:02. A nice negative split. My over-riding goal for this one was to finish it in good shape and I did that, beating my target time of 4:10 with room to spare. Somewhere, down deep inside the tank, I am going to find that extra 3:13.

  1. TartanJogger says:

    Well done, sounds like you had a great race. Fantastic time!

  2. Way to go! I hated the Portobello-Musselburgh stretch of the race, it was never-ending!

    I would also agree about the race name, would’ve been nice to see more part of Edinburgh instead. And the walk to the buses was ridiculous, and I only ran the half!

    • mockjogger says:

      Thanks Danielle! I saw your tweet about blisters, and I’m looking forward to reading how you got on.

  3. juliaL49 says:

    better late than never…
    I ran the half (also last year) and took a Lothian bus back. The 26 and 44 both stop just south of the finish area, so it is a lot easier to find – and cheaper. My day ticket was a bit soaked though and actually tore off a corner because of this dreadful rain…

    • mockjogger says:

      That is definitely a better plan than making the long hike. The 26 and 44 routes are not quite as direct but when you take into account the hike, inconvenience and cost, they win hands down. I have signed up for next year, and I will be taking the Lothian bus option to get back to the city.

  4. juliaL49 says:

    true, not a direct route but with the traffic after/during the event that does not really make a difference I think. And they both go to Princes Street via Regent Street/Leith Walk (or therabouts), so it does not really matter.

    But I totally forgot to congratulate you on your fantastic race! I stumbled across your blog looking for info on the Highland Perthshire half (I am running this year) and am now going through your posts – very interesting.

    • mockjogger says:

      Thank you! The Highland Perthshire Half Marathon is a little gem of a race, and my favourite event from last year. I will miss it this year as I’m up for the Great North Run which is on the same day, but hope to be back in 2015. Maybe for the full marathon 🙂

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