Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Edinburgh Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2013 - Race Report

There are things you don't want to see on race day. Offical race marquees blowing away is one of them. Umbrellas blowing inside out is another, as are waves of sleet whooshing across Arthur's Seat, the backdrop to hundreds of people queuing for the portaloos.

Yesterday I'd been really positive about the race and feeling like I'd got my running mojo back. But pretty much as soon as I woke up today, to the sound of a howling gale coming down my chimney, I started to feel a whole lot less confident about (a) wearing my new vest and (b) running a PB at the Edinburgh Rock & Roll Half Marathon.

I swithered about wearing my new vest. It was a symbol of how positive and ambitious I felt about the race - to ditch it seemed like a bad omen. I'd painted my nails to match it. When I realised that there was No Way I would be taking my gloves off during this race, meaning my nails were irrelevant, I gave up on the vest and put on a t-shirt instead.

The conditions were horrible. Starting the race on Queen's Drive in Holyrood Park is asking for trouble - it's a wind tunnel and even on reasonable days I try to avoid it when I'm running. Today wasn't a reasonable day - although it wasn't too cold (12oC), the wind was 37mph and the rain and sleet were driving. The start of the race was delayed while the course was made safer - not what you want to hear when you're shivering at the start line! Undoubtedly there were moments when the course was warm and sheltered - but the start and finish in the park easily obliterate those memories.

To join the pace group, the instructions said to go to the souvenir stall at 0830 and sign up. The weather meant that every marquee was crushed full with sheltering runners so I had no idea which tent housed the souvenir stall. I looked at the queues for the toilets and the bag drop, and decided to cut my losses. The pace group I could live without, but I couldn't run with a full bladder and a rucksack.

You couldn't fault the route. It took in lots of parks and lots of Edinburgh's lovely views, including Portobello Prom! I got to run past my street - although the weather really diminished the crowds.  And the organisation was fine - doing a pretty good job in the face of adversity. But Holyrood Park is a rotten venue for anything on a windy day.

My lovely, wet, grumpy children waiting on Leith Links to cheer me on.

Me passing the bottom of my street and managing a grin for my lovely hubby and kids.
I was undeterred and still gave the race everything I could. I put up with the weather (I've faced much worse in training); at any given moment, I was putting my all into the race. From mile 10 my hamstrings were really feeling the pressure. I hurt pretty much all the way round. The hills were tough and sometimes my pace was slow, but I never stopped giving it all I had. I felt really pleased with the effort I put in - I reckon I put in about 20% more than I did when I tried the route last week.

Sadly, 20% extra effort translated into an improvement in my time of 1.8%!

I finished in 1 hour 50 minutes 10 seconds. That made me 182nd woman out of 2269, and overall 964 out of 4361. But mostly it made me pretty disappointed! I can't blame the weather, or course congestion, or anything going wrong - I just wasn't fast enough.

The low point was the queue for the baggage return. A massive, unmoving queue of shivering, wet runners waiting in the howling gale. It was like trying to get served in the world's busiest pub with only one barman. We were given bacofoil blankets which deafened you as the wind whipped them! The queue for the t-shirts was a bit shorter thankfully. The t-shirt is very nice and so is the medal. So were the compression socks I won in the Facebook competition yesterday.
Big thanks CEP for a brief respite from the climate, and funky pink compression sleeves!
I tramped across the mud and made my way to the Commonwealth Pool for a shower. The wind was horrible, I was cold and wet and on the verge of tears. Possibly an all-time low in my racing 'career' - even worse than getting lost in the 10M hill race last year.

A long, hot shower and a burger & chips later and I felt a bit better. I spent the rest of the day at a rehearsal for a show I'll be dancing in at The Pleasance in May, which cheered me up. Now that I'm warm and back in the fuzzy heart of my family (with a small girl cuddling up and saying, "mummy, you're the greatest runner", and giving me a kiss), I don't yet feel philosphical about my performance. I worked really hard and got hardly anything back, and I'm feeling really deflated and disappointed.