Yesterday, I took on the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh in what was tough conditions to prepare for, very strong winds accompanied by rain before we’d even started! I decided to lose the base layer and run in a vest although I must admit I waited to the last minute to take my hoody off. Apart from a few long Sunday runs, I hadn’t really done an awful lot of training so I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast one – not a pb anyway. Off I set and decided to see how it would go and gauge the pace to how I felt.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the race. I recall running along Portobello Promenade at one point, passing Greyfriars Bobby statue at another point then heading along Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Mile and that last half mile to the finish but not much else apart from that. This race was different. No target pace, no checking pace at every mile then making rough calculations to predicted times, no following certain people ahead of me, none of the usual tactics I employ. Yesterday, I ran for my dad.
My dad has been a huge inspiration to me throughout my life and I would not be doing where I am or even writing about my running if it weren’t for him. He has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, to work hard to achieve the things I wanted and to never give up. He only ran to keep himself fit while playing football whereas I’ve gone on to run marathons but the sentiments have stuck. He doesn’t believe in limitations and so I’ve followed that philosophy myself and shared it with others to inspire them to go and achieve all the things they want.
My dad was last week diagnosed with cancer. He has never smoked, doesn’t drink, eats healthily and has stayed fit most of his life so this news was a bit hard to take. While it would be understandable to fall to bits with this, he is remaining strong and positive and is determined to fight this all the way. He’s already looking forward to getting back into exercising again.
I find running is the best form of therapy when you have to deal with certain situations and so yesterday was the perfect opportunity for me to come to terms with the news and the journey that will follow. All that went through my head yesterday was hearing everything my dad would say, all the things he has stood for and what he would want me to do.
With all that going through my head, it was easy to miss huge chunks of the race. I was aware of going through the first half in 43mins and was surprised at the speed and wondered how long I’d be able to keep it up. I hadn’t paid that much attention to the course profile but I think the hills started around 7-8 miles. Hills in a race can be quite scary but you can never know how bad they are until you actually run on them. If you add hills into your training then you should be well equipped to tackling them. Like most things in life, running on hills in a race are inevitable so you just prepare and adapt your pace accordingly when you get there, you can waste too much energy worrying about them. I was delighted to finish the last mile strongly and crossed the line in 1:35:22, around 2mins faster than I thought I would do. I was thoroughly delighted with that and never been happier with a time that wasn’t a pb.
It was a quick journey home, shower, change then off to the hospital with my brother to bring dad home. The greatest moment of the whole day though was when I gave dad my medal. I had decided before the race that this was what I wanted to do as a way of thanking him for inspiring me to be who I am today. I also thought it would be more meaningful than the crappy egg holder that I made in woodwork at school which wasn’t strong enough to hold any eggs. The smile that appeared on dad’s face when I gave it to him showed to me that he’s not ready to give up and demonstrated a determination to get back to doing all the things he was doing before all this started.
My advice now is to go and do all the things you dream of and don’t let anything or anyone get in your way if they aren’t supportive of you. You can never know what’s around the corner and its better to have tried than to say “what if”
Enjoy life everyone and happy running!