Meadows Half Marathon


Sunday 2nd March 2014

The meadows is an area of parkland in Edinburgh, it's located near Edinburgh University and it was the students of the Uni. who were organising the event.
On the day there is 3 races in total, the 5km fun run, the half marathon and the full marathon. I had chosen to race the half marathon to see how my fitness is and to give me an idea of how things are progressing in preparation for Edinburgh marathon in May.

This is the first time I have ran the Meadows Half marathon. Mandy was running the 5k which in 2 laps of the Meadows plus a little bit extra to get it up to the distance required, the half marathon is 7 laps of the Meadows and the full distance is, not surprisingly, 14 laps of the Meadows.

The 5km starts at 10am while the half and full start at the same time at 11:30am. Since Mandy was doing the 5km I was there in plenty of time, collected my race number, chip and tshirt and then went to get a coffee.

Meadows HalfPre-race

The week before the race I had wanted to keep my miles high enough that I would still hit my target 50+ miles for the week, this meant I missed the Thursday evening training session and did an easy 7 mile run home. To give my legs enough time to rest I then ran back in to work on the Friday morning, which gave me approx 48 hours of no running but still getting my 6 days of running and the mileage target, once I ran the race.

The race HQ was within Potterrow, which is one of Edinburgh Universities student unions. It's not your average student union though, it has a coffee counter, shop, chaplaincy, bar, on site bank and a capacity of 1000. Soft seating all around the venue along with benches and tables make it a very comfortable pre-race venue.

Mandy had a great race and because the course is laps, it's great for spectators to cheer on friends and family who are racing. I managed to get from one side of the park to the other to see Mandy about 5 times in total around the race and get some photos.

The weather was ideal for racing any distance. The sun was making an appearance and the wind had dropped off just enough to keep everyone cool but not cold.

After watching Mandy get a new PB I headed out for a mile warm up, just to wake the legs up a bit after sitting around all morning. A nice easy 1/2 mile out and back and then a last minute visit to the loo and quick change in to my club vest, I was ready to go.

I arrived at the start line with about 10 minutes to spare and noticed a large group of people standing around in Bristo Square. This was the group warm up session which was about to start. I gave it a miss as I would've probably pulled something while doing star jumps!

A small group of 5 or 6 of us hovered around the start line, watching everyone else do the mass warm up. We were really glad it wasn't raining because standing around the start line waiting for the race to start was starting to get a bit chilly. 
While standing at the start line I met a fellow Jantastic runner - David Hall @openingsnap, we have chatted online but never met in person, the same can be said about meeting Patryk Gierjatowicz @PatGiePat who I follow on Twitter. Was good to have a quick chat with both. 

After a bit of delay we were ready to go. A couple of other Edinburgh AC team mates were also on the start line, doing either the half or full distance. We wished each other a good race and then we were off. 

Race!

As I have mentioned, the half marathon was 7 laps of the meadows with a section up a short hill then over some cobbles, round a small loop and then back out over the cobbles, down the hill and round the meadows. The first mile popped up on to my garmin a bit faster than I had hoped but David and I were running almost shoulder to shoulder and everything felt good. I know a mile in is a bit early to tell if you're going too fast but I thought I would just relax and go with the pace.

Mile 1 was 6:08 pace, mile 2 was 6:10 and mile 3 was 6:17. All of these were happily well within my goal pace of 6:18, which would get me a PB.

Each lap was 1.87miles so the miles were sometimes arriving on the cobbles, up the hill, down the hill, so it was difficult to work out whether I was slowing because I was on the climb or speeding up because it was on the down hill.

4 laps in I was still feeling really relaxed and comfortable. David and I were still running together and he had teamed up with another runner 'Colin', and the 3 of us ran lap after lap together. By now we were lapping the slower runners and we had lost track of where we were in relation to the front runners. We knew Patryk was well in the lead and there was a chance he may even lap us!

Half way round lap 4 I had to ask the others how many laps had we done because I had lost count! I can't imagine how it must be for the marathon runners.

Lap 5 the track training kicked in, in my mind it was almost over. Lap 6 is the hardest and lap 7 is the last one so give it my all. On the hill on lap 5 I gave a kick and David came with me, unfortunately Colin didn't so it was just the two of us taking on the final 2 laps.

We were constantly having to shout "coming through" or "stay to your left" or "excuse me!!!" as we caught and passed groups of runners, some with headphones on and turned up so loud they couldn't hear us. At one point someone shouted back at us telling us to go on the grass if we wanted past. A fair point I suppose but the last thing I wanted was to take to the grass and go over on my ankle!

The final lap was tough because I got a stitch with about a mile to go so I had to ease off a bit. The miles shot by and before I knew what had happened I had kept a good pace for the entire race and finished with a 1:19.42 PB!

 

The course did seem to come in short on my Garmin but I contacted the person who officially measured the course. He is a UKA official course measurer and as expected, GPS isn't as accurate as it could be when you are going round sharp corners and loops. It just doesn't understand corners very well. That may be another blog at some time!

Overall, I was over the moon with the race. The organisation was brilliant and the course was really enjoyable, even if it was loops!

I'd recommend it to anyone!

Owain Williams

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