Finish Time: 02:50:34 10k split: 00:38:49 Half marathon: 01:22:57 30k split: 01:58:42
For the last few years I have built my fitness over the winter ready for the spring assault on Kona qualification. The rub of this is starting to hit some great run form but not being allowed to test fitness in a spring marathon for fear of the recovery interrupting the necessary consistency required to hit top form for the A iron race. With friends and family entering the half in Edinburgh it was too good an opportunity to break the rule and have some fun.
I slept well the night before the race, no pressure to place well or qualify for something, just me against the clock. Unsurprisingly race morning was wet and windy, expected seasonal Scottish weather. I had managed to get myself in the lead start pen, just behind the elites, ready get to get clear of the masses as early as possible and have a clean run. The gun sounded and within the first mile the lead runners quickly strung out into small packs of five or six. At the pointy end people knew what pace they wanted to hold and it would typically be round numbers, sub 3, sub 2:50 etc.
By mile three I had settled into a bunch that seemed to feel about right and when I enquired as to what time people were shooting for it was 2:50ish. Since I was sans Garmin I just resolved to hang in with these guys as long as it felt manageable. The first three miles are rolling but nett downhill until you reach the coast by Leith Docks, then we turned east and into a strong headwind. For the next fifteen miles we would take it in turns to run on the front and take the wind, some doing more of the heavy lifting than others. The first few mile splits were around 615 and I was pleased to hit the 10k mark inside forty minutes, on to half way and just inside 83 minutes. At about mile 14 the pace seemed to ease so I figured I needed to start to run my own race, I moved to the front then pushed on to bridge up to the next group. It was hard work solo but I managed to catch the self-appointed 2:45 group and was pleased then to just sit in out of the wind.
We finally hit the turnaround at mile 18 and we were out of the wind at last and heading for the finish line. My legs felt fine and the pace was still consistent with the 2:50 target I had in my mind but every now and then I felt an ominous twitch in my calf. I knew it was the early signs of cramp but just focussed on my form and pushed it to the back of my mind. By mile 22 both calves were starting to lock out but not terminally. I changed my gait, ran tall and moved to heel striking in an effort to engage my quads and relieve the work my calves were doing. Mile 23 and I was propped up against the wall stretching my calves and trying to straighten my legs so I could run. I was cursing myself, a real school boy error – I never race a triathlon without pre loading salt and then taking salt every hour during the race, it’s been years since I cramped.
I then fought my way mile by mile to the finish line, running like some sort of demented robot, legs in periodic spasm but me relentlessly swinging them forwards desperately not wanting to tear any muscles but refusing to hobble in. I had come this far and didn’t want the race to be snatched away from me, time for some iron resolve.
I straightened my back in the finish chute and saw 2:50 on the timer, I staggered across the line, grabbed my medal and two bottles of highland spring water!
I was annoyed when I crossed the line as my legs were not spent, just twisted with cramp as a result of my school boy error with the salt, I was in the world of woulda/coulda/shoulda. The next day, with my results confirmed, I am in a better place. My finish time was a PB and at the age of 50, to have come 55th out of 9000 odd runners, was something to be proud of………for a triathlete.