Sunday, 2 May 2010


I don’t know if my interval session on Thursday night really did me any good… but at least I know id didn’t do me any harm.

Woke up yesterday to rain battering off the velux window in the bedroom and the sound of a moderately stiff breeze blowing over the roof. Of all the things I really wanted to do, I’d be lying if I said running twenty miles, into the wind, from Portobello prom to North Berwick was one of them. Well “tough”, because that’s exactly what I was doing.
We still had time for a fairly relaxing breakfast in front of the telly watching an episode of the Sopranos on DVD (there’s nothing like a bit of mindless violence to start the day!). A shower, change into the kit, a final check of the bags and we were off.
We met Theresa and Brian at North Berwick and then we all travelled to the start in their car. I must say that Brian was very calm and composed for a man about to run that distance for the first time. I’ve done this race a few times now and still get nervous. More so this year, as every other year I’ve done it there has either been no wind at all, or whatever wind there has been was in our favour. As we travelled to the start, we could tell that the wind was picking up – and blowing the wrong way. Still. It’s a race and the conditions are the same for everyone.
Got registered, made some final adjustments, toilet stop, bag onto the baggage bus and started my modest warm up before heading off to the start line.
The start line of a race is always a good place to meet others, share a few words and generally just try to keep your mind off the task ahead. Well, that’s what I do anyway. I know some runners just like to keep themselves to themselves, focus and get into a “zone” or whatever.
I was surprised to see Pete Buchanan of Portobello at the start line. There can’t be many who do a 53 mile race one weekend then feel up to a 20 mile race the next!
Now. I had a “game plan” yesterday. I had planned on trying to run the race at my hoped for marathon pace (6:40).
“Best laid plans…..” and all that…
The gun went off and my brain just went off into race mode. Though even I’m not that daft that when I clocked the first mile at 6:06 I thought it prudent to apply the brakes a tad.
The first five miles were still a good bit faster than I wanted, but I found myself in a little group (that included Pete B and a guy from Dundee and a bloke from Carnegie – the later two were to become my “close friends”). Despite the wind the first five miles weren’t too bad as people appeared to be willing to “take turns” at the front and share the pace.
However, at some point our little group was reduced to three. Me, Dundee guy and Carnegie bloke (I honestly can’t say when the split occurred). Anyway, by the second feeding station we were down to three – with me in front. A situation that was to remain for the final ten miles.
Now. The wind was “stiff” it wasn’t a howling gale, but there definitely was a stiff headwind for almost all of the way. And I ran into it, like Quasimodo with a two man hump on my back. I know there are no rules against it and I don’t want to complain (too) much, but if you’re running in a group, into a head wind either take a wee turn at the front or drop back a wee bit. I reckon that for ten miles we ran in a line, with me at the front, and never any more than six foot separating the three of us.
I was starting to feel the pressure on as we got to Direlton and decided to take a leaf out of cycling tactics.
At the 18 mile mark I dropped the speed right down… they slowed down to. I veered to the left, right into the fence line to try and make it obvious I was leaving room to pass … they veered too.
OK. If that’s how it’s going to be. I slowed down a bit during the last mile and tried to conserve just a wee bit in the tank for what was inevitable.
As we drew into the new finish for this race (on the putting green by the shore), Dundee guy made his move. I immediately tucked in behind him, waited all of two or three seconds then went round on the right and sprinted like hell for the line, and beat him for 7th place overall (maybe the interval session on Thursday did help). Clocked 2:08:37 so managed to knock about 6 minutes off my time for last year.
Luckily, for me, it turns out as well as 7th I also managed to bag 1st MVO45 place!!
Stood about and watched a few other runners coming in before taking the advice of Richard, who was down to watch (after his VLM race last week) and tootled off down to the shore line for a very, very cold paddle – a bit of a poor-man’s ice bath I suppose.
As well as the slight change to the route (new finish) there were a few other changes to the race this year. There is a marquee at the end for water and juice. Also Mars Bars (a donation, I believe from HELP - may the lord smile on them). Importantly the marquee offered welcome shelter from the cold wind.
Then, once the runner has made their way up to the sports centre for a well earned shower, there was a nice spread of sandwiches and coffee. Much appreciated.

Today saw me heading off into them thar hills with Ian for just over 13 miles at a very steady pace… me to recover from yesterday and Ian because he’s tapering down for a 61 mile race next week.
Try to keep the mileage fairly high over the next week or so then start my taper for Edinburgh.

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