A collection of thoughts and musing from some EAC runners on the Sir Christopher Hoy Half Marathon 2010
Below are some race accounts and thoughts of some of the EAC runners that took part in the race. Full results can be found here: http://www.winningtimeuk.com/index.php?page=results&event=90
***Owing to some scientific calculations and much debate, please knock off 2 minutes from all the times listed below due to severe wind on the day of the race. If you want to understand how such a precise calculation was arrived at (and how you too can improve your wind-effected times), please speak to the coaches.***
Niamh “Naomi” Devlin
5.45am, and right on queue, a wake up text from my Mum. How I hate race mornings – and even after days of longing to interrupt my taper to go for a long hard run, never ever do I feel ready to run when the time comes. Looking out the window things looked promising – the tree that usually sways violently in the wind was still, and although a little cloudy, it was dry. Perfect! How wrong I was! The rain began to spill shortly before 7am and the wind strengthened. 7.35am, I arrived at Meadowbank and awaited the arrival of my fellow EAC team. The rain and wind persisted making it cold and murky. By 8.30am baggage trucks were away and we were sent out to face the elements, left in nothing more than our running kit. Freezing cold the EAC team gathered, joking and laughing in an effort to distract ourselves from the bitter conditions and of the race that was about to start.
9am – we were off. Starting out on track thousands of athletes wiggled their way through the barriers before leaving the stadium and onto the open road. Meeting Issy at the start of the race, I immediately fancied my chances trying to keep up with her, but after a little bit of cat and mouse, she got away. Before long the rain and cold were the least of my worries, and now it was the gusty wind that was getting me down. I felt weak against the wind and struggled to hang onto anyone who strided passed me. After all the training and preparation for this race I began to wonder what it was all about. It wasn’t until mile 8 that my luck turned and either I was speeding up or my competitors slowing down, but I was catching and passing. The turnabout point at mile 10, was a blessing. After battling the wind for 7 miles – it was payback time! I felt great – free as a bird! Running as hard as I could with the wind behind me, I realised exactly what all the training was about – maybe I didn’t have the strength against the wind, but I had the fitness to run hard to the end. Passing half a dozen athletes my mood lifted and for the first time in the race felt I was racing. Coming into the last mile, the supporters began to gather and their encouragement spurred me on further. Not expecting to catch Issy now, my ambition was not to be caught. Third place was where I was and where I wanted to stay. And I did. Crossing the line under the name Naomi Devlin (the man on the PA couldn’t quite get it right, even at the prize giving) and a welcome cheer from the crowd I realised exactly why I do what I do and why I love it so much.
I woke up this morning at 6am and looked out the window, through half closed eyes.
The grey that met my gaze was less than encouraging.
Undeterred, I managed to get myself out of my nice comfy bed and stagger my way to the kitchen for some porridge and tea. Thankfully, on my way to this horrific situation, I’d managed to locate my iPod. I just about managed to put it on to play my running playlist when everything started slotting into place.
With some good tunes, (Reflekt, see right) I was off. Porridge: done. Tea: sorted.
Rich called at 7.30am, and we made our way down to Meadowbank stadium. In the rain. We were not impressed.
We met Niamh, and we all started to warm up in the rain. Strides, laps of the track, and dynamic stretches. We noted the position of the start, and noticed that there would be a huge bottleneck if we didn’t act, so an initial sprint was in order. Rich and Seamus were well towards the front, with myself and some others a few back. No drama. As we rounded the first corner and out onto the main street, I felt myself getting into my rhythm pretty early. The mile reps on the track on Tuesday certainly paid off there. I sensed a couple of people slipping in behind me out of the wind, but I was going a little faster than them so wasn’t too bothered.
I started making my way up the field, and ran with a couple of people – one guy who I’d seen warming up and had picked off as a target, mainly due to his enormous collection of energy gels etc. He tried psyching me out by saying ‘ooh, it’s windy, isn’t it’, but I wasn’t having any of that, oh no, so I started chatting to him about his marathon on Paris (people had been commenting on it on the way round). I lost him jut before the water station at Portobello with Graeme and Shunt on.
The next few miles were quite uneventful, except for the wind in my face, a couple of people passed, and a lack of niggling muscles. I also discovered that my pacing at this point was feeling pretty good too, which made me feel pretty good. As we entered Musselburgh the guy with the energy gels passed me again, and I decided to let him go, as he was going a fair bit faster than I was. “If I can see him nearer the end, I’ll take him then – I’ve probably got a stronger sprint than him anyway” I said to myself. As we went through Musselburgh and out the other side, the wind and rain was still pretty bad.
As we left Musselburgh, we started a climb up to Prestonpans with the wind in our faces, which I was not in the mood for. Entering Prestonpans, I saw a car coming towards me with a huge clock on the top; the relevance of which didn’t strike me until I saw the guy in first sprinting along behind it. This was at about 9 miles for me, 11 for him, at a time of 56 minutes-ish. About 5 minutes and 2 people later, I saw Rich making his way past. I shouted some encouragement and carried on, now knowing that the turning point was at least somewhere close. As I made my way up to the top of the slight hill, I could see the turning point. As soon as I rounded it, I could feel the lack of wind in my face and the downhill gradient, and thought to myself,
“Dan, this is what we’ve been waiting for..let’s go”.
I stepped on the gas at this point, knowing I had 3 miles of downhill, wind-behind-me action. Going down the hill I’d just come up, with 3 people in front of me on my side, and the main body of the race coming towards me on my left, I opened up and upped the pace. I caught Seamus (who’d I’d been trying to catch for the last 4 miles) at about 12 miles, and went on to take one more boy, before trying in vain to catch the energy gel guy. I managed to hear Jo and Malcolm shouting some encouragement as I sprinted towards the finish.
Official time: 1.20.05.17th position out of 3092,
Sunday was simply brilliant.
Okay, the weather was pretty miserable. Constantly raining, fairly wet through before even the start, a pretty rough headwind for 7 or 8 of the first 10 miles was not one would have hoped for on a spring weekend in Edinburgh. Although, could almost be said to be expected for this city.
Once we got through the tight start at Meadowbank Stadium we were on to the road. I started quickly, but then I always do. However, no where near as quick as eventual; race winner Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde AC). He was ahead by a meter before we’d even made the 100m journey out of the stadium! By the end of Lochend Road he was away from everyone and on his way to a massive victory.
For me the race was very lonely. I was in fourth place after the first ¼ of a mile with second and third already pulling away from me and fifth and sixth disappearing behind me. Having trained hard and tapered well I felt in really good shape and it felt really good zipping along by the sea to the applause of a wet, cold but very supportive crowd.
The only point I felt in trouble was about mile 6 and 7 when I felt things starting to hurt and I could see that a small group of runners were closing to less than a minute behind. I pushed on. Miles 8 and 9 were uphill and into the wind and were also my slowest, but I knew I had something left for the turn at the 10 mile mark at Prestonpans. The three or four runners behind were gaining and I was a little worried when I did turn to see just how close they had got.
However, I had made myself a promise that if I got to the turn in fourth place there would be no way I would let anyone pass me after that. It’s a great mindset to have, as I instantly picked up my pace and stretched out my legs striding for home. I kept telling myself one last fast mile, I knew that if I could open up a 20 second gap by the last mile there would be no way anyone would catch me then.
Flying through Musselburgh Racecourse and into the stadium was awesome. The PA system announcing my name, the crowd cheering and crossing the line in fourth place in 1.15.57 (a PB by exactly 3 minutes) was the best I’ve felt all year. I even allowed myself a couple of whoops and cheers as I crossed the line.
During the race it had been great to hear my team mates shout encouragement at me as I went by, it was really lifting, as well as the support from the team mates who came to cheer on from the side. It was also great to hear the other runners cheering you on. It’s a brilliant feeling, and just shows how much camaraderie can be found on a cold, wet, windy race course on a spring day in Edinburgh.
Unlike a few of my fellow team and training mates I’ve never warmed to the technology of GPS systems and heart rate monitors or those watches that have more buttons than one of those grounded aeroplanes. I tend to glance at my old faithful Timex ironman a few times and that gives me an idea of what pace I’m doing alongside what my body is actually physically telling me.
Another indicator is being aware of who is around me. I feel I went out too hard on Sunday and perhaps the downhill mile along Lochend road made it difficult to hold back. I know I was too close to Richard for the first 3miles. I found it hard to get the balance right as I think it helps to get out quickly and then maintain that distance in front, from whoever is behind you, by finding a comfortable rhythm and trusting in the work done in training. On this occasion I perhaps went too hard at the start and not being as fit as I once was and with a lack of racing recently I hadn’t the discipline or yet developed canny approach to ease off.
I would love an opportunity to do the race over again, and run alongside Dan from the start and see what would have happened. I don’t think Dan would have as comfortably run away from me at the end as he did on Sunday with all respect to one amazing finish from Clarkson who seemed quite a bit behind me at the turn to come out of nowhere and pass me, and I was unable to respond!
But to take a positive from a slightly disappointing time, I ran my first 10 miles quicker than what I ran the Lasswade 10 in, so going in the right direction at least!
The wind debate is interesting and just to add my tuppence worth… The half marathon went along the coast and most of the route was exposed to quite a strong breeze. For much of the race I was on my own and further exposed by a wind not being broke by a pack of runners around me. I agree that we could easily add 2minutes on to our time because of this. Between Mrs Formans Inn and the ‘Pans’ the wind was at its worst and I could physically feel this slowing me down without the aid of GPS technology. However, I welcomed the rain over a really hot day!
For me, this race acted as a significant come-back into the sport. This race will no doubt act as a good marker, milestone and indicator on to which measure my progress and advances. This is good times for our training group and club. Spirits and morale are high, people are socialising and there is a friendly competitiveness that will push us all on faster, further…etc. Have to say thanks for everyone’s support, not just along the course but the online facebookers, all the team members who raced and last but not least our amazing dedicated coaches!
I’m just delighted to be back competing again! After a long period out of the sport it means a lot to me to be wearing EAC colours and getting a top 20 finish in the half! I have run better times in the past, and I’m sure I have immodestly wracked everyone’s head by boasting on about my half PB run in Hoy’s predecessor, the Forthside half in 2007, which would have given me a second place finish on Sunday! But as an athlete this is about knowing what i’m capable of and indicators and time as much as it is about boasting! This was only my way of making me feel better about myself knowing I’m not as fit as I would like to be, and perhaps not as race confident as I once was! Sorry everyone!…bring on the future!!
As I said, it’s now about the future and I won’t harp on so much about my past PB’s. But as with anything I write I do need to acknowledge any references to support the content’s factual reputation… http://www.aims-association.org/results/2007_04.htm
That was a really interesting race for me – it was the first time (and I wish I could claim it was intentional) I’ve run a negative split in a 1/2M.
Although my overall fitness was fairly good, I came in to the race on a mileage of 25-30 miles/week (I know I should be doing much more!), so was a bit worried about running fitness.
I normally try to run a very boring even pace all the way, so started at about 6:18 pace with intention of seeing if I could keep that going all the way, expecting to slow up with lack of mileage in my legs.
That was where it got interesting, normally I have to toil to maintain even pace for the last 3-4 miles, but the opposite happened on Sunday – from mile 9 onwards I felt really good and the pace gradually went down from 6:18 to 5:56 by the last mile.
The wind definitely had an effect - somehow I was blissfully unaware how much of a headwind we were running in to till I reached the turning point, then the last 3 miles were by far my quickest of the race. Although I’m not sure how much holding back at the start helped too……
I’m actually wondering whether the negative split improved my time, left more in the tank for later? Maybe I should actually *try* to do it at Loch Leven?
Started Sunday a year older, immediately checking what the weather was like outside – not as planned for the birthday boy – rain and a westerly blowing wind, great. My warm-up consisted of running as fast as I could to Meadowbank to avoid getting too cold and wet – no dynamic stretching for me!! Once there, it was clear the mass of participants were certainly not eager to get into the respective pens – apart from a group of EAC vest clad runners – Niamh, Richard and Dan. I joined and slowly the group grew with the arrival of Izzy, Seamus and Simon. At this point, we were the only group of runners standing in the pen area. Yeah, i thought, ready to do the business – well maybe. My entry for the half had been late but planned, however training had really focussed on shorter distances and like Simon, my weekly mileage for March had been a maximum of 25 miles – this however had been complimented with good bike mileage. So was reasonably confident I had the endurance factor … well so I thought anyway.
To the race. Unlike most and their ability to memorise splits and all that good stuff, my clearly defined (simple) strategy was to run ‘comfortably’ to the 10 mile mark and then try to dig deep for the back 3 miles. During the winter months, Garry Robertson had successfully geared my brain to pace around the 6 minute mark for miles reps and I knew if I could sit just above this for the 10 mile section I had a chance of breaking my PB for the course.
And the race began. First mile, as usual, was slightly quicker than judged but settled into a comfortable pace of 6.15 min/miles and found myself running alongside Simon until the half-way mark. At this point (40 minutes), my pace dropped to 6.30 min/miles and I found the 10 mile mark at 64 minutes – a pb for 10 miles. The race to this point had really been a blur, I had ran with the same group of runners from the start and felt really comfortable. The weather had acted as a natural cooling system and all I could think about was the back 3 miles. At the turn to comeback to Musselburgh, any resemblance of a game plan had disappeared! initially my pace increased and again I felt within myself to go quicker but the weather conditions had a profound effect on my legs as I could feel tightness in my calves. This led to sporadic cramping which I managed to run through for the remainder of the race but at a much slower pace. Crossing the line at 1:24 was a great feeling and taking 4 minutes off my previous PB was super news but I also felt that I could have gone quicker, maybe next time.
My novice learning points from the race. Stretching and Warming up are as important as the race itself – battering up to Meadowbank wasn’t a good idea. You can never apply too much vaseline to the nips – consequently, I’m still suffering from runners nipple for not applying enough – furthermore, an EAC vest that looks as if you’ve been shot twice in the chest isn’t very appealing in the race photographs. I echo Seamus’ words on the EAC Coaches. Training is key and that’s where Garry’s winter training schedule is paying-off.