Since doing two 10m road races last year and my girlfriend Denise Huddleston signed up for the Edinburgh marathon, I thought it was time to make things a bit more challenging, so signed up for the Edinburgh half marathon. I was an unattached runner at the time although I already knew a few of the Elswick Harriers through Denise and by being a cling on at social events.
My most memorable meeting was with Christine Lee, at the Morpeth 10K 2013 – my first road race in about 6/7 years where I was introduced to her and Graham Bell. Christine was not taking part, but was jogging in the opposite direction of the 2 lap course. The amount of support I got from Christine was awesome and helped to keep me going – she is a real inspiration. So in February 2014 I decided to Join Elswick Harriers for support with my running and also for the social side.
Edinburgh Marathon Festival – May 2014 – having travelled up with Mary Lisle, Ben Hall, Antony Beynon who were also doing the half plus Denise, Katy Goulding, Laura Carrick and Gary Corkhill who were doing the Marathon, and also Katie Robson and Emma Beynon. The apartment we were sharing was huge, thanks to Gary, it was like the Big Brother House Elswick Branch !!!
An 8am start for the half marathon meant porridge at 6am then after the walk up to London Road to our start we found Robert Emson and Micky Shore, which made up the 6 runners for Elswick. We were all in our starting zones with me near the back in brown. At about 7.40am a heavy rain storm started which didn’t dampen the starter’s spirits too much. The start was quick only taking about 2 mins for my chip to bleep as I crossed the start. So off I went, trying not to go like a bat out of hell, I was making good progress through the pack and there was plenty of room to get passed people which I did. On reaching the foot of Arthur’s Seat it felt too comfortable a pace but I resisted the temptation of speeding up and had a relaxed look at the swans on the lake. It had stopped raining now so conditions were ideal.
On reaching the top of short incline at Meadowbank stadium, I heard “Go on Patrick, keep it going you are looking strong” I couldn’t see anyone and I thought I was being encouraged by a bush, taking a second look I caught sight of Crazy Dave Jardin on the other side of it which give me a big lift and helped keep my pace up.
After a run through an industrial estate we reached the promenade towards Musselburgh, way off in the distance about 8 mile you could see the towers of the power station which the marathon runners had to run out to and then back, I was grateful to be doing the half at this point. After about another 2 miles Crazy Dave popped up again shouting words of encouragement which kept me going. As I’m old school, i.e. vet 50 and tight, I don’t have a Garmin just a stop watch, so had no idea of my true pace and hadn’t seen many mile markers, so when the 10K timing mat rolled up I was at 47m 48s – 1 second faster than my best 10K time which was set 4 weeks before.
Big thanks here to Colin Bolton as the increase in pace and stamina are down to the Tuesday night long interval sessions. My target pace was 8:10 for the race, actual pace was 7:46 !!!
There were more cheers and encouragement from Kim and Harry Mathews, Emma and Katie and a Stocksfield Strider supporter, shouting “Go on Elswick, oh it’s you Patrick”!
At 8-9 miles the legs were getting tired, left glute and right hamstring were on the verge of cramp. I’ve never taken gels before and was approaching a gel station and thought what’s the worst that can happen ?? There were plenty of portaloos along the route so I had two.
The last 3-4 miles of run are out and back on the same road, so I could get a clear view of the leaders as they run back to the finish. The first Elswick vest I seen was Ant powering towards me well up near the front so gave him an encouraging shout. Next in view was Ben also doing his first half marathon – next was Rob looking relaxed but covering the distance and then not far behind was Micky running very strong. The gels had kicked in by now and the cramp eased. As I was reaching the turning point to head for home at about 10.5 miles I caught sight of Mary up ahead, managing to close the distance and pass her at about mile 11. Further on Micky had severe hamstring cramp, trying to encourage him to keep going as I passed – he managed to keep it going for a PB. Coming to the finish, the whole Elswick support team were there cheering us home. Finally crossing the line of my first half marathon, in a better time than I could have wished for happy is not the word.
The EMF organisers will not make everyone’s results public, which is strange, so the times below are what we had on our watches:
Ant 1:31, Ben 1:36, Rob 1:40, Patrick 1:42, Micky 1:43, Mary 1:44.
One of the best race day experiences I’ve had, the people I was with made the day. Also a big thank you to the Elswick support team who cheered along the way, and other club members who have helped to improve my running. The best was that Ben and I both got good times on our first half marathon, the other 4 all got PBs – great results !! , Then all we had to do was cheer the real heroes on – the marathon runners !!!!