What's hot, smelly, and runny? The Edinburgh Marathon in June! DYSWIDT?
I participated in my first marathon on Sunday. Not, you understand, the Full Monty, having only only previously competed to 10km. No, this was the Relay Marathon, whereby five us us, affiliated, more or less, with my employer covered the 26.2 miles between us. I took the lion's share, the intial 12.4km (7.7 miles) from the Marathon start in Princes Street to Victoria Park in Leith. Charitable rounding means I can say, I've now run a couple of Quarter Marathons (my previous 10km runs) and a Third Marathon (the relay).
After the Great Edinburgh Run last month I was a bit more crippled than I'd been expecting, so in the interim I concentrated on strengthening my quadriceps and hamstrings with various instruments of torture at the gym, as well as confining my training to indoor work on the treadmill. Purists may scoff, but the hammering my leg joints take from outdoor training (see the blog for my first 10k), just isn't worth it, and the treadmill is just as good at building up my muscles and cardiovascular system, especially as I keep it set to punitive gradients, so that on the day of a race, whenever I'm not actually going uphill, I get a bonus.
The challenges on the day were:
- Congestion. I took the first leg of the relay, and we set off just 5 minutes after the main marathon, so the field was packed. I always start modestly quite near the back, but even so, it was harder work than normal to find a path through the other runners. I got my usual confidence boost from gradually overtaking throughout the race.
- The sun. At 8 o'clock, shamelessly performing some recently-adopted hatha yoga asanas in Princes Street gardens, there was a light cloud cover that made the sun, which had already been up for 4 hours passable. About 40 minutes later, the clouds cleared, and I felt the sun's rays starting to scorch into my thinning hairline. It was the hottest run I've ever done - there's no way I'd have gone out to train in that temperature.
Nevertheless, there are some highlights I'll always remember:
- Turning the corner from Princes Street into Lothian Road, rising gently up towards Tollcross, and seeing the road completely full of runners.
- The beautiful quiet as we crossed the Meadows.
- Arriving in Leith, to warm applause from the onlookers.
- Overtaking a man in a Rhino suit and seeing from his number that he was doing the full marathon.
- Realising that Edinburgh is far more beautiful in the morning than late at night.
- Beating my forecast time by three minutes: I came in at 1:02 instead of 1:05. Which means I ran this at an average of 12kph, actually faster than the 11.76kph in which I did the shorter Great Edinburgh Run in easier conditions!
Afterwards, I had my first Mocha in over a month, in fact a Mocha Bianca (made with nutritionally worthless white chocolate), and waffles with maple syrup and ice cream. This all with a clear conscience, too, because after a run, wisdom has it that dumping a load of refined glucose into your blood stream prevents your body from devouring your muscles.
Two women in my life made it all easier - Susan from work, our team captain, who coped with all the logistics, and Helen from home, my wife who was there to give me a rousing send off and a nourishing round of applause as I came in. She is fab.
24 hours later, the quad and hamstring exercises seem to have paid off, because I can walk without wincing, with the only real injury being light sunburn, and I made it down to the gym for a swim before work this morning.
So, I've done two Quarter Marathons, a (nearly) Third Marathon, and the next challenge is a Half Marathon, specifically, the Glasgow Half Marathon in September. This will take a bit more training. You can see where this is going. As I peeled off from the full marathon runners into Victoria Park yesterday, I was awed with respect for them as they carried on to do what we'd just done a further two and bit times, with the sun rising higher, along with the temperature. I'm determined to follow them sooner or later.