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!