Edinburgh to North Berwick 20 mile road race
Yesterday was the annual Edinburgh to North Berwick race which I have been looking forward to for a while now. Always fancied this race but never got my finger out quick enough to enter.
No excuses this year and with it being 3 weeks prior to Edinburgh marathon it would make a good training run. Most of the route is out along the marathon route as well so it would be a reminder of any sneaky climbs or twists, boring parts or possible bottlenecks along the route.
Woke up at 8am and had my usual pre-race / pre-long run breakfast. 2 slices of toast, one with Nutella on it (other chocolate spreads are available!) and one with Peanut butter, washed down with 2 pints of water and a black coffee.
As this was a dry run for the marathon I also applied sun cream, not that I thought I would need it but you never know, plastered up the nipples - didn't want blood stains on my vest - and also picked the shorts, socks and shoes that I will wear on race day.
The race didn't start until 11am so I had plenty of time to get ready. The race started approx 2 miles away from the flat so really no rush to head down, but I got there for about 9:30, collected my race numbers and pinned them to my vest. This was the first time I've had 2 race numbers for a road race. One for the front of your vest and one for the back, I can only presume this was because the roads were open at all times and so to advise drivers that a race was underway.
Once I had my numbers ready, I finished off my bottle of Lucozade (other sports drinks are available) and then sat with my headphones on and chilled for a while.
Mandy was running down to the start to collect the car, when she arrived I had a chat with her and some other club members who had arrived, as well as some friends from my old club Pitreavie AAC.
With 15 mins to go, I said cheerio and went for a gentle 1/2 mile run to the start line. After a quick briefing by the race director we were off.
The plan was to run the 20 miles in 2:16, which worked out approx 6:50 min/mi pace. This was a training run, not a race, that's what I told myself anyway as everyone shot off down Portobello Prom at lightening pace. Constantly checking my watch to make sure I wasn't going off too fast but then worrying that I was going too slow! It was a bit stressful for the first 2 miles.
First mile was 6:49 and the second was in 6:48 and the third was 6:50. By then I had caught a small group who I thought were running about the same pace but after a quick check on my watch, they were slowing down so I pushed on, keen to stick with 6:50s or there abouts.
What I hadn't realised was within that group was a fellow Edinburgh AC runner, who had left his vest in Oman! We got chatting and soon realised we were looking at similiar paces for the day. Gary had ran London marathon a couple of weeks ago and only got a place in to the race on Saturday night after a quick phonecall from the organisers saying they had had someone pull out.
From here on in we ran together, chatting and laughing the entire route. Checking our watches and slowing each other as the pace started to creep in to low 6:40s.
What we found was the pace would start to get faster as we approached other runners. It wasn't intentional, I think it was more that the person in front would give a kick to try and stay ahead of us and we would just match their pace. In the end we just sat back behind them and let our pacing do the work. We knew we had strength in our legs and it showed in the second half of the race.
The first 10 miles are mostly flat, nothing of concern and I actually really enjoyed the route. The second half of the route has a couple of long climbs which I had been warned about the night before. (Thanks Iain @impt87 for the warning!)
I took a couple of sips of water at each water station, even if I didn't feel I needed it.
The second half of the route does have some climbs but looking at my pace, you wouldn't have guessed it.
Gary's plan was to run with me until at least 16 miles, he then took it to 18 miles but London came back at him at this point and so I pushed on for the final 2 miles.
It felt great passing people from about mile 4 and not seeing them again. Gary and I estimate we passed 10-15 people during the race and it felt even better when catching and passing people on the hills, without really trying. It's given me a lot of confidence going in to the marathon to trust the pace and not to try and bank seconds. It doesn't work and it's only taken until yesterday for me to realise this. Looking at all my previous marathon attempts, I've blown up in the second half and got slower. This year my aim is going to be to negative split the race.
I'm still chatting with my training buddies at Edinburgh AC and our Coach to work out a race plan but just now, it looks like I will go out at the same pace, approx 6:50s and then pick it up from mile 22 if I feel I can.
Edinburgh is all about getting an official sub 3 marathon in the bank and then, dare I say, aim for sub 2:45 at Amsterdam in October?
For those of you interested in my mile by mile splits, here they are:
Finished on target with a final position of 26th / 212 and a finishing time of 2:15.50.
Finally a couple of thanks from yesterday's race.
Gary for chumming me around the route and keeping the pace in-check.
Jackie for driving past a couple of times and shouting encouragement out the window!
Martin D for coming out to support and taking photos.
Mandy for driving out to N.Berwick to pick me up, unexpected as I had planned to get the train home.
Ian for the heads up about the second half of the course.
Lynsey (@fraserlyndsey) and the rest of the EAC crew manning water stations and helping with marshal duties
The organisers for putting on a brilliant race!
Bring on Edinburgh Marathon!
Photo taken by Bob Marshall