The day after Edinburgh

Well, this is what happened at Edinburgh and what I wrote to my weight loss forum

So, unless I capitalise the middle B of Edinburgh, it’s tough to include this in my three marathons beginning with B challenge. On the other hand, it was the fourth marathon in seven weeks. Edinburgh is a regular on my running calendar, it was where I ran my first marathon (and set a time I have never beaten) and my wife has relatives in the area, so it’s a good excuse to go and visit.

The weather forecast was dire – high winds and rain and when we lined up at the start, it was grey and gusty. It had rained hard during the night, but seemed to have dried a little. Chatted with fellow runners a while including someone from Woking the next town to me who had also run Boston (small world). Then, we were off.

Edinburgh is a hard marathon to pace. Although it’s overall downhill, most of the descent is in the first 4-5 miles on the way down to the sea. After that it’s undulating. So, instead of sticking to a target pace, it’s a case of taking advantage of the downhills and banking some time for later. Having said that, I haven’t checked my lap times yet, but I think the first 10k were slower than the previous marathons. Certainly, I was starting to feel all those preceding miles. No rain yet, but the wind was coming off the sea and I had to take my hat off or have it blown away.

I slotted into my target pace and tried to get into the zone. I heard my Garmin beep at about halfway, but didn’t check as I thought I would be able to see the official clock. Bizarrely, no halfway marker or timing mat. The next thing I knew it was 14 miles. Cue instant calculations and I reckoned on current pace that I would come in just under 3:20. Realistically that wasn’t going to happen, the worst was yet to come.

Gosford House is the turnaround point, a section of rough paved paths around the stately home and chicken farm and at around 30k, the worst part of any race for me. A guy who looked as if he was in trouble asked me if I had a spare gel. I didn’t, but his needs were definitely greater than mine, so I passed him one. 12km to go and the countdown began. Tired, I tried to switch off from the world and just concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other. The wind by now was against us and was either strong or bl00dy strong, at times I thought it blow me to a standstill. I saw my prospects of 3:20 slip away and I didn’t have the strength to care.

Final metres. I was overtaken by someone about my age. With one eye on my age place I got in front, then he went past me again. One push, one last push and I managed to leave him behind to cross the line in 3:24.

I promised my body we’d have a bit of a rest now. So, off on holiday on Thursday for some gentle beach jogging,.

I think on reflection that the three weeks between the marathons was the biggest issue.  As I’ve said before, it’s an awkward kind of interval.  I think I was guilty of spending too much time recovering and over-indulging myself.  Perhaps, what I should have done is more work on speed and not gone back to base training as I did.  Two weeks of transition followed by a week’s taper, maybe.  On the other hand, 4 marathons in 7 weeks is going to be tough whatever strategy I choose.


About Martin Hall

I'm a distance runner in my late 50s and I'm not bad at it (top 5% of my age group). I also play various musical instruments, the current fave being the ukulele and I'm in several bands ranging from two to 100+ in size.
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