It’s that time again when you get to 3 weeks out from your marathon and you are working on your last big run before the taper – the reduction in miles and focusing on keeping everything ticking over and working on the finishing touches before the big day. Some see the last big run as overcoming the mental hurdle of running 20 miles and the feeling that the marathon is possible, or that the nerves start creeping in and you start to wonder what on earth made you sign up for something crazy. Yep, I’m at that place right now except I’m not worried about being able to run a marathon as I already ran Paris a month ago. My concern is being able to run the Half Marathon in Edinburgh close to 1hr 30mins to get back in time for the start of the marathon. Yes, you read that right!
In just over 2 weeks, I will be running the 5k, 10k, Half Marathon AND Marathon at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival to raise money for Macmillan and help them to help more people going through their journey with cancer. Last year, I finished the Half in around 1hr 34mins, hit heavy traffic and every traffic light at red on the way back and just managed to cross the start line moments before they were about to lift the timing mats. This year, I can’t take the chance on that luck and need to make sure I’m quicker and I’m more streamlined for the journey back.
The cracked rib in February set me back and since Paris, I’ve been working on my speed with racing the Perth Parkrun on Saturdays and then doing a long run on Sundays then trying to fit in sessions during the week along with cycling back and forward to work. The cycling bit helped me a lot last year and I’m feeling stronger and quicker so that’s all good. I managed to get a Parkrun PB on Saturday with a time of 20:29, 5 secs better than my previous PB which, curiously, was set at the beginning of the year on icy paths!
My Sunday run was a bit different as we were up very early to travel to Pitlochry with Allison doing the Etape Caledonia. I had a place too but decided to pull out after my fall. The weather wasn’t the greatest and as Allison moved through the crowds, in the rain, to the start, I went back to the car to get changed and headed out on my run. I decided on an out and back course from Pitlochry and followed the first couple of miles of the route normally used in the Pitlochry 10k. Thereafter, it was a case of keep going until I decided it was time to turn and head back. I had originally planned to try running the Half Marathon distance and aim for my target time but I quickly knew that I wasn’t going to get close to it so I decided to try for a negative split. I toyed with 7 miles out then settled on 7.8 as I got to the point where I really couldn’t be bothered going any further then turned and headed back aiming at a slightly quicker pace.
The weather was what I call “character building” with a steady drizzle in most parts although I know that Allison had it much worse on the cycle route. It wasn’t as character building as the week before when it was heavy rain the whole way round but this wasn’t a nice sunny day either. I felt pretty strong on the way back and this probably coincided with listening to an interview with ex Olympic Rower James Cracknell on the Marathon Talk podcast and his words helped me push that little bit harder. As I got to 2 miles outside Pitlochry, I started to up my pace a little bit to help condition me for the latter stages of the races in Edinburgh and felt really strong all the way to the finish. When I looked at my stats afterwards, I discovered that my fastest mile in the run was the first one which was entirely uphill! I also managed the negative split but only by a matter of 15-20secs but I will take that anyway.
I was really pleased with my efforts for the weekend but I had no place to claim any glory with Allison trumping everything with her impressive 81 mile cycle in hideous conditions. What I found very impressive was that with the first cyclists heading off at 6am and Allison heading off close to 7.30am, the winner crossed the finish line by the time I got back from my run in a time of 3hrs 43mins with the first female not that far behind. Incredible!
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I will be running in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival as part of my 2015 in 2015 challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan do a fantastic job of providing essential support to people on their journey and also to friends and family. Please help me help Macmillan support even more people by sponsoring me. Thank you