Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon 2013

Time: 2:05:40

Position: 2209/4361

Gender Position: 783/2269

Medal: Yes

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I signed up to this race KNOWING that is was to be held one week after the Paris marathon.  I know that there are a lot of people that run back to back marathons, or ultra marathons, and they are just peachy with that kind of thing, but a single marathon definitely still kicks my ass – or, more appropriately, quads.  Of course, having seen last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll medals, I didn’t want to wait until 2014 until I had one of my own.  So I guess the lesson I have learnt from this whole experience is that impatience makes you do really dumb things.

After my Parisian mini-break, I enjoyed a couple of days of gentle walking and retail therapy (and finishing off the French treats I had brought back).  I also did some yoga, some weights, and a bit or cardio, and even went on a 5 mile run with a group of friends to test the legs.  Verdict: they were tighter than a nun’s asshole and I felt fatigued after about 200 yards. I was already not looking forward to this race.

On Saturday, Ian and I drove down to Edinburgh as we were staying with his sister’s family.  I had breakfast before we left, but we didn’t stop for lunch, thinking we would have something in Edinburgh.  What actually happened is that we dropped off our stuff, then went exploring Crichton Castle because, for a change, the weather was mild and the sun was out!  Plus, you can just drive to this kind of thing in Scotland.  This did involve a bit of walking, but it was an enjoyable visit:

Approaching Crichton Castle

Approaching Crichton Castle

Looking down onto the courtyard

Looking down onto the courtyard

Toddler included for scale

Toddler included for scale

There were some amazing views

There were some amazing views

And some interesting modifications...

And some interesting modifications…

By the time we got back to the flat, I had to head off to meet Jennifer and Darren (and eventually, Claudia) at a local pub as they were also running RnR and had suggested that we all make an effort to meet in real life as we had previously only spoken online.  I told Ian that if I wasn’t back for dinner, he should check all the alleys and ditches near the pub for my mangled corpse, though I was fairly certain that I was not going to meet a serial killer or a rapist (I was correct).  We had a beer and chatted about races we had all done/were planning to do (and I bought some crisps to appease my stomach’s growls), before everyone had to head off for dinner.

Despite an uncomfortable stomach at a previous Edinburgh race after a curry, I did not hesitate to destroy a North Indian garlic chilli chicken dish (and another beer), before relaxing and digesting for a while before bed.  As I drifted off to sleep, I thought how nice it would be to not have to wake up early and run 13 miles.  I was still not looking forward to this race.

The fact that the wind was howling and blowing the window in our room so much that it was making some pretty remarkable noises that woke us up several times throughout the  night did not make for the most peaceful sleep, and when my alarm went off I was definitely not looking forward to this race.

I forced some shredded wheat and banana down, got dressed, and glanced miserably at the rain beating off of the kitchen window.  I think you’re getting the point by now, but I feel it is necessary to emphasize that I did not want to be running this race.

Dressed, wearing my plastic poncho from Paris, and reluctant, I set off for Holyrood Park.  The wind had knocked over a lot of the road works signs on the road overnight, and had not let up.  At times, it felt like I might be blown off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, and with my head dipped, I pushed into the wind until I arrived at the start area, shivering, wet, and unenthusiastic.

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Claudia, Susan, and some others were also meant to be running, and once I’d spotted them, and taken another pre-race snap, we tried to join fellow runners packed into the marquees like sardines, but there really wasn’t any room inside to shelter ourselves from the wind and rain.

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We huddled together, trying to make light of the situation, but we were all freezing and keen to get this thing over and done with.  We eventually heard an announcement (but not actually what it said) and assumed we should probably make our way to the start.  Amazingly, there was a momentary break in the rain, so I pulled out my phone and tried to take a couple of photos.  Unfortunately, my artistic skills have been somewhat hindered by three facts:

  1. I’m wearing gloves and my hands are shaking
  2. My phone is in a ziplock bag
  3. I can’t actually see the screen

Please ignore part of my finger in the crowd shot, but I have included it because the guy in orange’s face pretty much sums up how everyone at the start was feeling:

At the start of the Edinburgh Rock 'n' Roll half marathon 2103 - we are all super stoked to be here.

At the start of the Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon 2103 – we are all super stoked to be here.

And I promise that Susan is somewhere on the right and smiling for this photo, but you’ll just have to take my word for that:

Part of Claudia, me, none of Susan.

Part of Claudia, me, none of Susan.  Also, when did I develop crows feet?!

While I was chatting to Claudia and Susan, I heard someone say my name.  I turned to my right to see yet another person I ‘knew’ from the void that is the internet, Jane, and then another!  It was a pleasant surprise to just happen upon each other like that, and good to meet in person.  The announcer mentioned something about a ‘slight delay’ (met my my audible groans, much to the hilarity of my company), but shortly after our scheduled start time, we began to set off.  I decided to keep my poncho on.  It was that crappy.

Susan, Claudia and I set off at a reasonably quick pace.  My legs were stiff and sore, but I was so desperate to get some blood pumping to my extremities as soon as possible, and sure enough, after about a mile my fingers started to tingle as feeling returned!  Susan was chasing a PB, and wanted to come in under 2 hours, so she was setting an aggressive pace.  Claudia had just come back from 2 weeks in Panama, and was puffing.  We told Susan to go for it, while we hung back at a handicapped pace, as the sun began to creep through the clouds and create some heat!

Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 (I think, my Garmin decided to be an asshole so was essentially good for telling me that my heart rate was higher that normal) I ditched my poncho, being a bit too optimistic about the weather.  Although we were still being hammered by 37 mph wind (according to RnR’s facebook page), the rain seemed to be lightening up!

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Until we hit the coast.  Then it started hitting us in bitterly cold sheets, and I missed my poncho.  It was around here that I lost Claudia.  I assumed that she had pulled an ‘Inverness‘ on me, but found out later that she was struggling, and had fallen behind.  It was also around here that I knew the rest of the race was going to be really unpleasant. My legs felt like lead, I was out of breath, and I was spending more effort navigating puddles and fighting against the gusts than actually running.  I also knew that this bit was the easy, downhill section, and I would be attacking some pretty hilly terrain on the way back to the finish.

Obviously having a blast.

Obviously having a blast with my linebacker’s neck.

Screenshot 2013-04-16 at 06.44.52The rest of the race is a blur of rain, wind, pain, and a few hardy souls who braved the weather to cheer for the runners with looks of pity.  My legs were done, so I ended up walking most of the hills. Even the growing crowds as we approached the finish line weren’t enough to make me try to save face by speeding up.  I struggled across the finish line and let out a sigh of relief before getting my medal, some water, and finding the man with the foil blankets as my fingers were starting to turn blue.

Glad to be done.

Glad to be done.

And then joining the enormous queue to pick up my t-shirt.  Still, I counted myself lucky that I hadn’t checked any gear, because those lines were even longer!  Lines of foil-wrapped, soggy, shivering runners waiting to collect their stuff was an unfortunate sight, and instead of hanging around to socialize, I started trudging back to Ian’s sister’s where I thawed out in the shower.

I understand that the organizers can’t do anything about the weather, and the fact that the wind speed was, apparently, 37 mph on average, meant that some of the marquees blew over affecting the system at the finish, as well as forcing the concert at the end to be called off as it was deemed too unsafe.  I also get that casual supporters are more likely to not want to stay outside in such miserable conditions.  But being promised a band every mile (I counted 5 in total), I was expecting something a bit grander than what looked like a bunch of hollowed out burger vans with a band you could hear for all of 30 seconds (if they weren’t retuning or taking a break).

My goal for this race from the start was just getting around it in one piece and getting the medal, which is, admittedly, rather fantastic, so I guess I can technically count this as a success, but I am so glad I have two entire weeks before I have another race because my legs absolutely are not in love with me right now.