I was looking forward to my favourite race of the year for quite

a while. Edinburgh is such a fantastic city you can't but enjoy

a trip there. The marathon expo was vastly improved this year,

even though it is still quite small and I still can't understand

how they can justify dragging us so far out of the city centre to

pick up our numbers.

As usual, I had no expectation or goals, just to get round in one

piece. Four marathons in 6 weeks should take its toll but having

run a really good 15 miler the weekend before I felt I was in

relatively OK shape, with no injuries or pains. But my pains

were about to begin as I stopped and looked out the restaurant

window with one hour to race start: it was bucketing down with

rain. The trees were swaying in what was obviously a strong wind

and I could only imagine the temperature outside, under a very

dark grey sky.

A small dark cloud followed me to my table and for the first time

ever I considered not running. Motivation was nowhere to be

seen. I was motionless and thoughtless, a kind of numb feeling

that hurt. I really didn't want to do this today and I dreaded

feeling the cold. I took my time with breakfast, estimating that

I was about a 10 minute walk from the start line. I left the

hotel very slowly at 8:35 AM and took my last deep breath of warm

air before braving the elements.

The cold and wind hit me in an instant and the rain was falling

hard on the ground - it was miserable but I had convinced myself

to get out and give it a bash all the same.

I made my way close to the front at the start area as every

second counted and I didn't want to stay out here one second

longer than I had to. The race started at nine and I crossed the

line within about 30 seconds and cranked out a jittery first

mile. I was wearing a long-sleeved top with an old Connemarathon

t-shirt underneath which I thought I'd ditch after a mile - it

was going nowhere as I was finding it very hard to warm-up. This

was a race of firsts for me:

* the first time I have worn double clothing

* the first time I have run a marathon using my iPod and finally

* the first time in a very long time I decided to record splits.

All these decisions were crucially correct ones. The music

distracted me - 'Trance Rapid Vol 3' was pumping me along. My

splits encouraged me. My extra T was to stay with me for a long,

long time. Without going into too much detail, I was knocking

out 8:40's consistently for the first 16 miles of which mile 4 to

17 were along the coast, more or less against the wind and all I

could do was focus on the fact that mile 18 to 26 was on the

opposite side of the road where we would benefit from the storm

at our backs.

Just after the turn at 17 miles it heated up for the first time

and I got rid of my extra layer and actually started to work up a

sweat. It was hard work for me along this stretch as I was

starting to feel tired (maybe I shouldn't have had those last few

brandy's at 11.30 PM the night before). I wasn't really sore or

stiff and the usual nausea was not a factor so I checked my head,

sorted it out and got back on track.

Psychology is a big factor in marathon running and knowing this

helps. Once I was OK up-top, I felt if I kept things intact from

here, I might be able to run the entire distance. And that is

what I did, working on each mile, trying to keep it under 10

minute miles, which I did, until mile 25 which was clocked in

10:29 followed by a 10:59 last mile. Yeah, running an 11 minute

mile - you wouldn't think it was possible! My finishing time was

3:57 for yet another sub 4, but to be honest, I really didn't

care - I was just pleased it was over.

It wasn't a pleasant day out by the sea, I'm afraid.


32 down, 68 to go.

David Walsh-Kemmis

17 years ago

Well done Ray - a good run in the conditions. I've never had to work in a group as much as I did during this year's Edinburgh. I reckon the new route is going to be really fast about one year in every four (when they don't get a strong on shore breeze), so if we go back every year for the next three, we should be ok.