A key part of attempting to do crazy things like the 4 races is being able to rest up between the events and eat well to provide energy for the next day. When we go to another city for marathons, we try to get a hotel fairly central and within close walking distance to the start/finish line to cut down on additional exercise in travel so we can save our energy for the event we’re about to do. In Edinburgh, you have to look at getting close to the start as the finish is out of the city in Musselburgh and we were lucky enough to book a hotel in London Road, around 200m from the start line. How good is that?
We headed round to the hotel after the 5k to put our bags in, as it was still a bit early for checking in. The cleaner was the only person around, she allowed us to put our bags in the dining room and we went along the road to an Italian restaurant to grab some lunch. We came back to the hotel a bit later only to find that the cleaner was still the only person around! We waited around for a bit but still no staff arrived, the cleaner wasn’t able to check us in or could say when someone would be in to check us in. Nightmare! We were beginning to get in need of a good freshen up as well as a rest and when it became evident that it might not happen anytime soon, we took the decision to leave and found one of the few remaining hotels in central Edinburgh that didn’t require a mortgage to pay for! As you can see, we didn’t do too badly in the end!
We had a good rest, I had a cold bath then had the most amazing shower ever before we went to another Italian restaurant not far away to get the obligatory pasta meal the night before a big race. The following morning, we had a good breakfast before getting ready and head to the start of the Half Marathon. When you’re doing multiple events, the hardest thing can often be the logistics of packing the right things to start the first race and get the bag ready for the next one. The forecast was heavy rain and strong headwinds but as we made our way to the start, the rain only appeared to have fallen overnight so that was fine.
I got off to a good start in the half and wanted to pace myself well but was prepared to dig deep and go for it if needed so I could get the time I wanted for getting back for the marathon. The first mile went through in 6.55 which I was quite pleased with although I felt a bit sluggish. The next 2 or 3 went pretty well also but the 4th mile was a bit of a struggle and was drifting off pace (I needed to be around 7 min/mile pace but did the 4th mile in 7.33). When you go off pace, it’s normally fine as you tend to get back on track in the next mile but mile 5 wasn’t much better. This wasn’t a good sign and I wanted to avoid the rush I had last year when I ran the half in 1:34 and ended up sprinting to the start line and just crossing it before they lifted the timing mats. Then disaster struck. I stopped. I was around the halfway mark and had spotted the ‘picturesque’ Cockenzie Power Station as the coastline rolled out to the side of us and I just felt that I didn’t want to go on and run the marathon. I think it was partly sensing that I wasn’t going to get the time I wanted so I text ahead to my friend Ian, who had just arrived at the finish on his motorbike to take me back to the start, and told him the bad news and decided that I would stop running at the finish of the Half. Ian was ok with it and I wanted to tell him straight away than wait until further on.
Making the decision felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders and I started to run better. That and a few shouts of encouragement from other runners. I started running again and began to ponder over what had just happened as this has never happened to me before. I realised that, for me, the value in doing the 4 races last year was greater than it was this year. During the chat I had with Mark the day before, I got the impression that this was the kind of challenge that you only really do once. After all, Mark and a few other great runners had done the 4 before but hadn’t decided to come back to do it again.
I crossed the finish line in 1:41:26 and was gutted that my dream to do all 4 races again was over but after a short while, and having a massage at the Macmillan tent, I felt much better and waited for Allison to finish. Allison was a bit surprised to see me when she finished and we had a cup of tea before making our way along the course as she was to be running the last leg of the Relay for her team and, I believe, about to become the first woman to run 4 races at the Festival. For all the time that we walked along the course, seeing all the other runners, cheering on the leaders as they went by, chatting to a few people I knew at the changeover point and also giving a shout to Alan as he headed back to complete his challenge, at no point did I feel that I should’ve been running and so I knew that I made the right decision.
It was strange afterwards as I was walking about wearing 3 medals feeling disappointed even though I knew everyone else was absolutely delighted to have come away with their one medal (as it should be). I just put that down to not having finished what I set out to do but I haven’t regretted the decision since then. I’m still very proud to have run the 3 races and to represent and raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
When things like this happen, it can be easy to let it get to you and affect your desire to run. It is important to remember that everyone has a bad day and the real strength is to be able to learn from it, let it go and move on to the next event. I had barely enough time to think before I went away to Doncaster on a 4 day course for my work as a Personal Trainer. The days were busy and long with a lot of learning and good fun. It wasn’t until the last day when we did a practical session based on developing speed when I discovered a weakness that I didn’t realise I had but by the end of that session, I felt like I was running faster and stronger. They say as one door closes another one opens but for me Edinburgh is firmly in the past now and I’m now on an exciting journey forwards! I can’t tell you too much just now about what we did but I will tell you how things progress as I work on the exercises we did in that session.
My message for anyone reading this is that you’re always going to get setbacks and the key is to review them and thank them for happening as they have just created the best learning experience you could have hoped for so you haven’t lost.
Love life, enjoy life and always be happy. Happy running!