Yesterday I ran the Edinburgh Half Marathon and smashed my PB, set in Brighton in February 2012 by 9 minutes. It was a great race, brilliant route, really well organised and even the notorious Scottish weather played its part in a truly memorable day.
I’ve kept pretty quiet about my training for this event as it’s been a little unconventional to say the least. Unconventional in that I’ve done significantly less running than I’ve ever done before in the lead up to a big race.
As my current focus is very much on fat loss I’ve been maintaining my training schedule of weights, HIIT and plyometric training. I’ve run on average twice a week over the last 6 weeks with most of those runs being around 5K. I’ve done only 2 significant long runs in the build up to Edinburgh, one of 9 miles and the other of 11.
So as I made my way to the start line yesterday you’d be forgiven for thinking that I might have been feeling underprepared and a bit nervous. Truth is I felt super excited and pretty hopeful of setting a new PB.
We arrived in Edinburgh on Friday night and had taken it easy on Saturday. A bit of sightseeing but mainly relaxing, eating and resting my legs.
The race started at 8am which meant an early night and an even earlier start. The weather was beautiful as I made my way to the start line decked out in my new Sweaty Betty kit.
The queue for the toilets was huge but well organised. It meant that by the time I’d been there were just 5 minutes till the start so I joined the masses and made my way towards the starting line. We were supposed to be in pens according to the colour on our race numbers – no one seemed to be marshalling this so I just joined the crowd and walked towards the start line.
From my longer training runs I knew that my speed and stamina had improved. I had set myself one goal and that was to keep a consistent comfortable pace all the way around. I had also set a couple of secret goals – firstly to set a new PB and secondly to go sub 2:30. I knew that to get a PB I needed to run 11:45 min miles and to go sub 2:30 meant consistent 11:30 min miles. My plan was to see what felt comfortable on the day and stick at that pace.
The first mile of the course was pretty much downhill the whole way. I kept a check on my pace – I have a real tendency to go off like a rocket and regret it later, so I made a real effort to run more slowly than I wanted to. I used my breathing as an indicator of my effort levels – trying to keep it under control and to a point where I could have chatted to someone had I wanted to.
Miles 1-3 came and went quickly taking us around the bottom of Arthur’s Seat and out towards the sea. The course was lovely and wide – plenty of space to overtake and for me to take my walking breaks without getting in other people’s way.
In training my 4:1 run:walk ratio had served me well so I had decided to stick to this for the race itself. I didn’t really feel like I needed the breaks at all in the first few miles but I took them anyway knowing that my legs would thank me for it later in the race.
Miles 4-6 saw us running along the coast. It was a beautiful day but I was glad of the breeze from the sea. I went through 10K in 1:09 something – a new PB. I was feeling comfortable and averaging well under 11:30 min miles. I kept focussed on running comfortably and tried to stop my head running away with thoughts of what might be possible.
Miles 7-9 passed comfortably, my pace improved and I was delighted to reach 10 miles in around 1:52. This was 4 minutes under my 10mile PB set at the Great South Run last October. I felt comfortable, strong and at this point my confidence started to grow. I realised that even if I slowed to 12 min miles I would still get a PB but I felt good so I decided to start pushing and see just exactly what I could do.
At around 10.5 miles the course becomes a loop and we started running alongside people heading back towards the finish. Sometimes this can be disheartening but as I knew I had just a couple more miles to go it gave me a lift.
At about 11 miles my legs started to feel it. But I was so close to home – there was no way I was easing off now. I knew that if I kept up my pace I was on for a sub 2:30 finish and this spurred me on. Turning around to head for home felt amazing. I was on the home stretch and just willed my legs to keep going.
And keep going they did – as I passed the 13 mile sign I gave it everything I had for a sprint finish. I didn’t realise at the time but Mr J had found himself a spot near the finish line and captured my efforts on camera.
I crossed the finish line in 2:27:27. 9 minutes faster than my previous PB and also smashing my stretch target of 2:30. I was elated. And knackered.
I loved everything about this race. The route was brilliant – the roads were wide and there was plenty of space. The water stations were well placed and the ones at 9 and 11 miles were also stocked with High 5 gels. We got a medal and a technical T-shirt as well as 2 bottles of water and an Eat Natural Bar in the goody bag. Along with the seemingly obligatory Biogel – does anyone actually use that stuff?
The only thing that would have improved the race was a bit more support along the route. But to be fair, it was early and with the full marathon starting at a more civilised 10am I think supporters were saving themselves for that.
I would definitely do this race again and wholeheartedly recommend it to other people.
Now that I’ve seen what my legs are capable of I think maybe my dreams of a sub 5 hour marathon finish next year could come true.