I’ve never done this race before and signed up in September to give me something to aim for. I thought that this would be a good way to measure my progress as I work towards the Paris Marathon in 2016. I knew it would be a good event as its organised by GSI Events, who organise the Edinburgh Marathon and Scottish Half Marathon amongst others and so you’re always guaranteed a great event.
The thing that appealed to me was the route, through central Edinburgh, starting just down the road from Edinburgh Castle, through Princes Street Gardens and a stadium finish at Murrayfield. If you know Edinburgh, you will know that it’s difficult to get a flat route near the centre and so there was going to be good stretches downhill and uphill to look forward to. I’ve stepped up my training recently and the past week has seen me get out the door just after 5am a couple of times to fit in interval sessions and went into today on the back of running Parkrun harder than I had intended to yesterday so I wasn’t expecting much today.
I was in the second wave of runners behind the speedy guys who would be competing to win and I felt up to the challenge of being in this position. We were quickly over the line and descending down the steepish hill of Bank Street onto The Mound before entering Princes Street Gardens. We ran past Waverley Station before turning into Market Street and then down the Royal Mile towards Holyrood Palace. I’ve done part of this route before in the Rock n Roll Half Marathon but my most recent experiences of this area has been at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Having the first mile and a bit largely downhill is a great boost but that wasn’t going to last long. We came round and into Holyrood Park going the opposite way from what I’ve been used to at the EMF races over the last couple of years. It felt strange coming our of the park, past where the finish line of the 5k and 10k at EMF usually lies but we weren’t stopping this time!
We joined the Cowgate and then Grassmarket for a lovely gradual and continual uphill section for about a mile or so but felt much longer! I didn’t mind this section as I’m quite comfortable going uphill as I am going downhill and I might even be better on both than I am on the flat! It’s also interesting going through areas I’m familiar with although mostly from a walking perspective! We were at 7km when we turned off Grassmarket and so I knew I was nearly done.
At the beginning of the month, when I was on a course in Doncaster, I got to learn more about how fatigue works in that the central nervous system will not allow your body to use up all its energy until it knows when there’s a definite end to the exercise and so that has become a very powerful tool for me as I was able to push on, still knowing that I had a sprint left in me when we got closer to the finish.
I became increasingly aware that I had a chance of getting a PB although it was a small chance unless the last half mile was all downhill. I kept going, using a couple of guys in front to pace me and not remotely concerned about anyone behind me overtaking me. I’m fairly relaxed about that as I know that I can only control what I do but I try to make sure that if anyone is going to pass me then they’re going to have to work hard for it. That, and knowing how good my sprint finish is at the moment, so if anyone were to pass me at that point there would be a good chance that I would pass them again before the finish.
The stadium came into view and I’m wise enough to know not to put the foot down until I can clearly see the line to the finish, We did a little loop as we came into the grounds, followed the path round and then the turn into the stadium and the finish line in view. With about 100m to go, I shifted gear and went for it, gritting my teeth the whole way knowing that I could keep going right to the line. The guys in front of me didn’t seem to be going any quicker and so I was delighted when I passed a couple in the final 10 metres. I had done it, not sure what my time was but I gave out a massive “Yes!” as I crossed the line. It’s been a while since I last ran 10k as hard as this, the last couple of 10ks (apart from GSR) I ran at EMF have been with less effort as I had other races to follow so it felt great to know that I gave my all in this one.
Top Tip: Practice your sprint finish in training and keep practicing until you run one where you know you couldn’t run another inch. Once you’ve done it and know how hard it feels and how long you can hold it for, it’s easier to pace yourself and put it into practice when you know you’ve got that in reserve.
My official time came back as 39:57, not a PB but the fastest 10k I’ve run since 2003! I am absolutely delighted with that as it’s a step in the right direction towards Paris and I also came away knowing that I can run faster still but that will happen in good time.