Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Low profile

Last Sunday, I ran the Cockenzie Power Station Marathon of East Lothian.

Never heard of it?

That's down to an outstanding piece of marketing that rebrands it with the somewhat less catchy title, Edinburgh Marathon.

The Edinburgh Marathon medal, modelled on one of the course landmarks (*EMF stands for Edinburgh Might Feature)



It's not just the name that draws a loyal crowd of marathon disciples; there is also the promise of that down hill course. To me, this claim conjured images of the masses gambolling down a hill of precisely 26.2 miles long with such speed that a moat of custard and a giant inflatable wall would be needed to slow us sufficiently to hang a medal around our necks at the finish. In reality, the race starts on a small hill that sends you trotting down to the foot of Arthur's Seat within the first 15 minutes, before whisking you out of Edinburgh for the rest of the event. The remainder of the course is relatively flat, well-organised, congestion-free, and certainly sets a tempting bait for the PB hunter-gatherers out there, if not the tourists nor those with a short attention span.

I spent a year living in Edinburgh about a decade ago and love any excuse to return, particularly as a great friend now lives there with her young family and a visit was long overdue. Buoyed by a year of training progress and fuelled by the frustration of a truncated A-race, I completed my entry form last September, also mindful that the yearly subscription to "Hey, Loser!" was due any day and entries to the "other" spring marathons would fill shortly after. I don't remember what I put down as an estimated finish time but, judging by the location of my start pen and the sinewy hamstrings of the athletes surrounding me on that hill on Sunday, I'd say I'd been a bit optimistic. Just 4 weeks earlier, I'd run Manchester Marathon and I was certainly not in PB form so I scurried back up the hill and nestled myself back into more comfortable obscurity to start the run.

Packing my bag for the marathon the night before, it occurred to me that things all seemed much more straightforward than normal. "Just pack the stuff you wore at the last marathon," I thought. I wondered if perhaps one of the biggest difficulties with running marathons is simply that we just don't run them often enough. This lower key approach to preparing for a marathon was certainly proving better for the nerves the night before. It's funny how you actually need to start running before you remember some of the other familiar patterns that form around a run of 26.2 miles though:

edinburgh marathon

Luckily for me, the best-support-crew-ever-assembled-at-mile-20-of-a-marathon were there to take me out of My Dark Place and send me on my way to that beer and an 8th marathon medal. The majority of this marathon may have been low profile but seeing this little lot was a big highlight.

Thank you, Jenny and the support crew.

11 comments:

  1. That graph is spot on, although during my one and only marathon I entered the dark space at the same time as you but didn't emerge for another 2 weeks. Would you recommend the "just turn up and do it approach" to marathons by the way?

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    1. Thanks. It took a pint of stout and a massage to restore my default factory settings of optimism. Glad to hear you made it out eventually.

      I would definitely recommend turning up and doing it; the chip doesn't work otherwise. A lower key approach worked for me this time around, but there were no PBs on offer. I couldn't speak for faster runners. My top tip would be to keep your packing list from the last race - Manchester was recent enough that I hadn't got around to throwing it away and it made preparations much easier.

      I definitely don't recommend any of my training approaches for these 2 marathons. They weren't big and they weren't clever.

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  2. Well done on completing Marathon #8! The dark place is indeed one that is tough to return from so I'm glad your support crew were strategically placed on the day!

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    1. Thanks, Mary. They were an awesome boost!

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  3. You really are a flippin' trooper, Cakey! I am thinking of adopting your laid-back approach to forthcoming races.

    Fancy drinking beer all the way around the Frankfurt course with me? Can I tempt you with a schnitzel? Weiner?

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    1. I read Eat & Run on my way back from Edinburgh, Liz; veganism aside, I think this was a sign that wiener and schnitzel would feature in Frankfurt. Maybe we could write a best seller, "Eat, Drink & Run: My All Too Likely Journey to a Stitch".

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  4. EIGHT FRIGGING MARATHONS!!! You're my inspiration and I hope you still plan to pace me through Frankfurt. Perhaps you and me and Liz, together with trays full of Schnitzel and Bier can avoid that dark place as, right around then, we should be getting a nice buzzy feeling? Congrats!!!!

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    1. I'll gladly pace if you'll hold my pint, JJ x

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  5. Such an accurate description - thanks for putting into a pictogram what I could never put into words. Eight marathons, wow - so impressed.

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    1. Thanks, Carla. Do you have another in the calendar yet?

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  6. I also ran this years Edinburgh Marathon. I totally agree with the re pancake flat course description...I know pancake flat and Edinburgh aint one of them! This was my first marathon, how amazing that you've done 8!

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