Sunday was the Forth Road Bridge 10k race. A race I used to be race director of when I trained with Pitreavie AAC.
It was unfortunately cancelled last year due to high winds but this year the forecast was looking good. This was to be Mandy's first 10km in a long time but I will let her tell you about her race in her own blog.
We arrived in plenty of time at the community centre in North Queensferry for the 10:30am start. Got parked (great job Colin L, top notch work as the parking attendant!) and headed in to the community centre to pick up our race numbers.
Numbers collected and pinned to our vests, I headed out with a couple of others for a warm up. We usually recce the final mile of the route so that you know what to expect when really pushing but not for this race. The final mile of the Forth Road Bridge 10k is downhill on the bridge. The first mile is undulating.
We headed out, chatting about tactics about how to tackle the course and getting a 2 mile warm up done followed by some strides to get the lungs working.
Back at the community centre, I changed out of my training shoes and in to my rainbow race shoes, quickly found Mandy to wish her luck and tell her just to enjoy the run and then made my way to the front of the pack on the start line.
The race isn't chipped so to get a good time you need to be on the start line, to get a good start you also need to be within the first two or three rows on the line as it's a narrow path you start on.
3,2,1 we were off.
The first 1/2 mile is fast, it's mostly downhill and I had to keep the brakes on slightly to make sure I didn't blow up before even making it to the first mile! Then the course climbs up to the top of the hill before you descend for a mile. The downhill is very downhill and again, I kept the brakes on, listening to my breathing and just staying nice and relaxed but not going crazy, there was no point building up any lactic acid in my legs this early in the race, especially since I still had to cross the bridge, twice.
At about 1.5 miles in to the race you take a right hand bend, head down a road, now on the flat and around a cone to then head back the way you just came. I made up a couple of places on this turn and from here on in, I was pretty much running on my own. I could see 2 guys running together ahead of me but couldn't make any ground on them and I wasn't sure how close anyone was behind me.
Once you come back to the main road, you turn right towards Ferrytoll park and ride and this is when the work starts. Keen not to get a stitch I didn't go chasing the 2 guys ahead of me, especially on the climb. From Ferrytoll, it is a mile of constant climbing. Up the pavement along the side of the A90, the noise from the traffic is deafening. Once on the bridge the noise dulls slightly but it's still very difficult to hear if anyone is behind you or not, all I could do was stay relaxed and wait for the middle of the bridge to start the descent towards the south side.
Once in the middle, I refocused on my posture, started to lift my legs a bit more and started to up the pace. I was slowing making up some distance on the two guys ahead but then they also picked up the pace and started to pull away. I had two options, pick up the pace a bit more to continue to bridge the gap or just stay relaxed and focused on just keeping anyone who was behind me, behind me.
(Thanks Paul L Arnott for the photo)
This wasn't an 'A' race for me, I had put in a half marathon paced training run at the track on Thursday evening and my legs were still feeling that. I wasn't racing for a top 3 position so I decided just to enjoy the race and not go chasing.
I came off the bridge and down to the water station feeling strong and ready for the next climb, back up and over the bridge!
There was a 'U-turn' section to take you under the bridge and it gave me a quick chance to see if anyone was behind me. There was, it was a Carnegie Harrier. Now the race was really on. I might not have been racing for a position but I was now racing for a team prize.
Back at the cone at the start of the race I spotted 2 other harriers ahead of me, no other pairs of club vests other than that of my teammates Bryan and Colin, this meant I was the 3rd counter for our team and I didn't want to let the team down by narrowly missing out on the team prize which for the men is usually a case of beer!
After quickly grabbing a mouthful of water from the water station, it was time to climb back up over the opposite side of the bridge. This is where I really had to focus.
My legs were burning with the constant climb but I wasn't going to be passed on the climb. Lifting my knees and relaxing my shoulders I was now closing in on a new target ahead, someone who had obviously been passed by the two guys who were ahead of me because I couldn't see them now, but I thought I would try and reel him in.
Still not sure how close anyone was behind me, I kept the effort going and was now on my way back down the other side of the bridge, closing the gap between the guy ahead but he must have known he was slowing because he looked over his shoulder, spotted me and upped his pace. There goes the element of surprise I had hoped for, with only 1/2 a mile to go now I didn't feel I could catch him and I didn't want to get a stitch and then be passed by the carnegie harrier behind me. It was still all about the team prize, not the position ahead of me.
Racing down towards the finish line, which feels like it's never going to come, I spotted Mandy over the other side of the bridge, she gave me a thumbs up and we had a long distance high five. She was looking comfortable and still smiling so that gave me a massive sense of pride and I focused again and pushed on down towards the finish line. I crossed the line with the encouragement from Bryan and Colin who were standing at the side.
I wasn't passed and I finished in 37:18 according to my watch, 37:19 official time and 10th overall. The only other time I've raced this course was back in 2009 and I ran it in 42:52 and I'm sure I would have been giving it my all for that.
We stood and cheered in some more of the Edinburgh AC team and then headed away for a cool down.
Once the cool down was done I made my way back to the bridge to cheer Mandy in and I spotted her running down towards the finish line, unfortunately I wasn't able to get down the stairs, under the bridge and up the other side to the finish line in time to see her cross the line but I did meet her on the stairs with a massive grin on her face.
Prize giving was eventually started at 12:40, after a bit of a mix up with some of the results it was time for the team prizes to be announced but the announcement didn't come. There wasn't a team prize this year!! Let me say, I wasn't impressed.
The race was very well marshalled, the guys on the water stations did a good job and the race overall was great! Running across such an iconic bridge as the Forth Road Bridge, with views over towards the Forth Bridge and the currently under construction Queensferry crossing is fantastic. The weather was perfect and the buffet afterwards was brilliant as always.
The shine of the race was dulled slightly by the delay in getting the results out and also the lack of team prize, the one time I qualified as a counter and it wasn't awarded.
This race fills up so quickly every year but, if you can, run it at least once. It's worth it!