Monday, 23 May 2011

Edinburgh Marathon 2011

I got on the club bus at 7am and we drove through to Edinburgh. I got a lot of stick for the tattoo that I had put onto my arm with my target time of 3:55 and the mile splits! (You can take it off again!) Would they be laughing on our return journey?

But to be honest I did not look at it too often, in fact I only saw a few mile marker along the route and I did not really pace myself consistently. The race started off very well by being stung by a wasp on my shoulder just 4 minutes before we set off! It had got into my bin bag and I was frantically trying to get it off. I got very strange looks. A girl next to me asked me if I was allergic and I should go and see a First Aider! As if I would waste months of training now! I did chuckle to myself over the first mile though thinking about the misfortunes that could lead to someone being stopped right at the start.

So off we went and I knew I was setting off a bit faster than my splits but it was downhill for a bit and Thomas had left clear instructions to use these to go faster! So when I finally saw a marker at mile 5 I was 2min ahead of schedule. Not to worry I told myself just keep going for now. By mile 8 I noticed it was getting a bit more difficult though and other instructions came into my head. “You need to feel fresh at half way point”. Now that sounded a bit unrealistic already. By mile 11 I thought I had blown it and gone off too fast but told myself to keep going for now until half way. That would maybe give me the best chance of a sub 4 knowing that there would be strong winds on my way back to the finish . And I thought I would have at least tried to give it my best shot. So I crossed the half way at 1:54, 3min ahead of schedule.

Just how do you know you are giving your best, everything you have without blowing it by going off too fast?

I had started to feel a bit sick and my breathing was a bit too laboured for it to be sustainable for the rest of the distance. I had taken one gel after 1 hour and had 2 more for later. But every time I took on water and later Lucozade my stomach did not feel right. I had started pouring water over my arms and head as I was quite hot. I was now running along the long road out to the stately home and I could see the fast guys coming back looking exhausted battling with the wind, some were walking.
And I was getting increasingly pessimistic. I knew I was slowing, I felt sick and the wind would surely stop me from getting my PB and sub-4. It is here where I started to push myself along by setting small goals. Don’t walk until you are on your return leg. Don’t take the next gel until mile 17. Keep it up until the turning point that seemed so far away. I could have cried but knew it would not help and I still had to get back to the finish. I was going to give up road races and turn to the trails where times don’t matter (for me). But on I ran. Do not use the Portaloo. You do not need to use the toilet. Then finally I was on my return leg. Look forward to the inclines, you can walk then. But they then did not seem steep enough to walk so I kept running. Picking off a few people at times who were walking. Shouting a few hellos to clubmates running in the other direction or the relay.

Then I was near mile 20 and the countdown began. This is where the wind really hit but I knew I had a few minutes to spare and still get under 4 hours. So on I went, telling myself my legs were still ok, nausea is only temporary and not serious, keep running, you have done double that distance in the past, another mile to the last gel, no more fluids not to upset my stomach further, just water over my head and arms. The last miles passed somehow, I was still not walking and by now was not going to! Only a cramp could have stopped me now but luckily the left calf just sent warning signs. I was in my zone with no energy left to high5 anyone or look anywhere apart from straight ahead. Luckily the finish came earlier this year, the crowds were great, the club’s supporters in place and I ran to the finish. And cried! Of course. I was so exhausted and so happy that I had done it.

It has been 2 years in the making and I finally ran my “sub-4” marathon. I finished the Edinburgh Marathon in 3:55:33, my new PB! But boy did I have to work for it. I think it has been the toughest race so far for me, it felt even harder than the Fling last year.

My next marathon is Berlin. I will try to get a new PB! Sub 1:40! Yes, correct, sub 1:40 but back on my inline skates!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Surprise 10K-PB

Yesterday I ran the Women's 10K in Glasgow - along with thousands of others. I did not expect too much as my training for the Edinburgh Marathon had been somewhat interrupted and I had only been kind of back on track for the last 2-3 weeks. My legs had been heavy a lot of the times I tried to run at Marathon pace never mind 10K pace!
Once across the start line I tried to keep up with a clubmate who had been runnig well in Troon just a few days ago but she went off into the distance fairly quickly. When the 1K mark arrived I was gasping for breath and realized I had gone off far too fast. A glance at the watch confirmed it. Someone caught up with me, she recognized me but I was not sure where to place her. I am sure she is an ultra-runner but I could not remember her name. It was just when I had realized my fast start and was only able to hiss "can't talk". Sorry! She soon went on ahead. Then not too far into the 2nd K Debbie overtook me! Only now?! I really went off too fast I thought and feared I had blown it. Debbie went on to run a PB of 45min something only one week after the Fling - how amazing is this?!
So my pace slowed down considerably and I just tried to keep it steady until half way. I had not wanted to look at my watch but could not help it. I think I was at 24:something with the hills in the park to come. I started to count the Km down. A glance at my watch at 8K confirmed I could stay under 50min, another at 9k, a shout from Marco and Cairn and I increased the pace. When I saw the finish with the clock ticking towards my previous PB I sprinted to the finish and crossed the line in 48:40, a 10sec PB from last year! So I think it was the 1st and last K that gave me my PB - well pleased! By the way 281st position from 10100 finishers! I have never been so far in front! :-) Mind you a lot of the 10100 women walked it but never mind!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Supporting – always full of surprises

Once you have been in the supporting role for a few years you could be mistaken for thinking you had seen it all. DNS, DNF’s, great races, not so great ones, temper  tantrums, food tantrums etc. This year’s FLING added another experience to the list!
Thomas started well, great weather and in fairly good shape he was aiming for a new PB. He had given me splits that were slightly faster than last year. Unfortunately for him he got carried away a bit at the start and arrived in Drymen and Balmaha 5min ahead of his faster schedule. And even he said to me then, oh, that’s very fast! By Bein Glass where I was waiting with friends from Germany who were spending their holiday with us he was back right on track of his faster schedule but a bit grumpy. By Carmyle Cottage he admitted he was rather tired but Marco managed to kick him into motion again. Just before the A82 crossing he looked better and was close to last year’s time and would be able to finish only a few minutes behind his PB. So good news given his too ambitious start and a lesson learned about pacing for the WHW Race. So off I went to park the car at the Green Welly and carried his rather heavy post race bag through to the finish. There I met 2 other friends of ours, both retired doctors who would come in handy later! Colette herself just recovering from a hip replacement and out without her crutches for the 1st time.
So there we were waiting for him to appear at the finish in around 8:11. But the minutes ticked by and he did not appear. And sometimes it is a bit strange, you hear snippets of conversations of others but don’t pay attention. And I had just heard a guy saying, someone had collapsed near the finish. So I just passed this on to Colette who said, oh no, that won’t be Thomas. I heard it was at Rowardennan earlier this morning. So I forgot about it. But the minutes kept ticking until Athol came running towards me. He was waving. And I don’t really like the sight of this. It has happened twice before and it wasn’t good news then. So he said Thomas had fallen only 2-300 yards from the finish and needed my help. What could he have done that he was not able to limp across the finish line himself?! So I sprinted off fully expecting to see blood gushing out from somewhere or a broken bone. The 200 yds seemed rather long but eventually I saw him on the ground by the path with someone watching him. (Thank you by the way. I don’t know your name.) Marco had also arrived. I approached but could not see any obvious injury. It then turned out that he had to jump out of the way of 2 mountainbikers, fell, hit his chest and that triggered off an irregular heart beat! So there he was in the grass with a pulse of up to 240/min and feeling unwell. This is “SVT”, supraventricular tachycardia, which can decrease cardiac output and blood pressure leading to dizziness and numbness of hands and feet. There are a few manoeuvres you can try to stop it or in prolonged cases an injection in a hospital setting might be required. It is something that can last only for seconds and it can come and go like an on/off switch. Or it can be prolonged.
Luckily this was not the 1st time this has happened so I knew what I was dealing with. Normally it does only last for seconds, in fact it happens very rarely and never when running or exercising. But it was the blow to the chest when falling that triggered it off and it didn’t stop. We poured water over him to cool him down but then he started to shiver and we had to put a fleece on! In that heat! Eventually we decided he should walk slowly to the finish where we could lie him down hoping it would stop. So we made our way to the finish, his time was taken and he had lost 20min so close to the finish. Now this was in fact what bugged him most! He had lost not only 20min but 3 places when he was passed by people while he was on the ground. This meant he had lost his 2nd Scottish Vet place and 3rd Scot overall. I was just glad he was still walking! We used the massage table to lie him down but later had to find a new place as people were queuing up for massages. My 2 medical friends and I debated what else we could do as this SVT was not stopping and had lasted for over 45min now. When we were about to get the car he sat up and as quickly as it had started it was gone. His heart was beating in sinus rhythm again and we were all rather relieved! He felt fine then and of course we stayed on until the prize giving. He managed to get a medal for 3rd Scottish Vet as his time of 8:31 was still pretty good and put him into 12th place overall.