Race Date: Sunday 29th May 2016
For me this was marathon number 3. Liverpool last June was my debut and I posted 3.27. I had 3 targets for that one: a) finish, b) sub 4 hours, c) as close to 3.30 as I could get. I was pleased with the 3.27 but also disappointed that my 7.30 minute miles became 8.00 then 8.30, then 9.00 in the last quarter of the race.
Chester came next in October without doing too much preparation for it and the same thing happened although I finished in 3.30 and was beaten by Steve Clarke by about 9 minutes even though he only passed me at mile 21. Obviously there was time to be made up in the last few miles if I could keep my pace up.
Preparation for Edinburgh was not what the gurus would class as traditional but hey, I was going out there to have fun and see what happened. I had done a few more long distance runs, ie the 32 mile South Wales ultra and the Grindleford gallop so hopefully the stamina had improved. People kept mentioning the T word to me and I just kind of shrugged it off. With 2 weeks to go, I sub 90’d at North Lincs, I PB’d at the Trunce the day later. I then ran the 5 miler before getting my 2nd best 10k time ever plus a soaking and very worryingly, a chest infection, at Askern 10k. My £4 entry fee to Dronfield Town FC 10k had to go a begging, as did my chance at the Trust 10k/Dronfield 10k double – I had to leave that to Phil Howson – well done Phil. Time to rest up and hope things would be ok for the marathon.
A sports massage on the Monday before the Sunday left my legs feeling heavy. A run to work on the Wednesday, an easy head torch run on the Thursday and an amble round Hillsborough parkrun the morning after the night before followed – I was feeling an ‘end of term’ delicateness on the Saturday morning. I was chastised for having all my speed rubbed out of my legs during the sports massage 6 days before the marathon but, too late now I thought. I’ll just turn up tomorrow and see what happens.
A traditional pint in the Sheffield Tap before the train up to Edinburgh with Martyn and Ashleigh. Being a tight git and not wanting to pay over the odds for a train ticket, I broke the journey into 2 parts, Sheffield to Newcastle and Newcastle to Edinburgh but on the same train. Bizarrely, this meant all 3 of us had to leave our seats at Newcastle and move 10 rows forward to our new seats to travel to Edinburgh – that move saved us £10 each.
Edinburgh – the sun was shining, it was warm and the forecast for tomorrow was good. Dumped our stuff at our hotel and went to watch the play off final (UTO) – sadly not to be. Oh well, never mind. Onwards and upwards to our reserved table at Pizza Express and my £60 worth of tesco clubcard vouchers. A word of warning at this point – if ever your phone has died and you are with Martyn and/or Ashleigh, you’ll be better off buying an A-Z than asking them to direct using Google maps. The table was booked for 7.30. We got to Pizza Express at 7.10 and thought we’d see if our table was ready early. No reservation. Just as I was getting a little narked, Ashleigh piped up, ‘have we come to the right one?’. erm, no! So off we trot to Pizza Express no 2. 7.35pm. ‘Table for Burns. Sorry we’re late’. ‘No, sorry, not under that name – have you come to the right one’, erm, no!. Eventually, Pizza Express no 3 – yes the right one but guess what – 15 mins late, queueing out the door and they’ve given our table away. We plead for foregiveness and they feel sorry for us. Yes, £60 worth of free pizza – just the pre marathon feast we need. Doug Banks joins us and we eat and natter before having an earlish night.
Sunday – marathon day. A 2 mile walk to the start, huge queues for the toilets – including spectators! Females were not happy. Boys, the usual 2 minute urinal queue or the bushes for those brazen/inconsiderate enough. Met up with Amy Earnshaw and between the 5 of us, we almost covered every colour of the rainbow. Doug – white, Martyn – red, Me/Amy – yellow, Ashleigh – green. In the pens and hopping around for 20 mins – nervous tension all around. Eventaully the countdown and we’re off. Still no major plan for me except my recent idea of ‘Amy’s going for 3.15 so I’ll follow her’. I lose her after about 400 metres. Humph. I’ll just run then. Quickly got into a rhythm of about 7.20 minute miles and regulated it by looking at my watch – probably far too often. First 10 miles seemed pretty straight forward, except of the sweaty hands not being able to open a gel so I used my teeth and had a gel explosion all over my face – yes, we’ve all done it. Took water on at every station, mostly over my head rather than in my mouth. I had decided to try and keep gelled up as much as possible and took 5 with me. By the time I’d taken the 5th one at mile 21 I was almost barfing.
Mile 18, the turn around point. Amy was about a half mile ahead of me as we exchanged waves and encouragement on the way past.The sun was out and had been for quite some time. it had already dawned on me that I had forgotten to put the suncream on my slaphead – oh well, nowt I can do about it now. The legs were tiring and saying slow down, take it easy, but my brain was screaming GFA GFA GFA at me. I had passed half distance in 1.35 and I was well on for sub 3.15 if I could keep going. Mile 22 and the gold of Amy’s vest was right in front of me. ‘4 miles to go, come on Amy, dig deep’ as I passed her. Christ, still 4 miles to go, I thought inside. 24 miles and unbelievably, there was Martyn’s Striders top and unmistakable running gait – surely not! ‘Come on Martyn, 2 miles to go, dig deep’ as I passed him. one mile to go and the road narrowed with fencing on either side and my mind screamed, ‘this has to be the finish line, they’ve got the signs wrong and if it isn’t then walk anyway as you’ll still get a PB’. No, GFA is on the cards here, it’ll soon be over. Pain is temporary, pride is forever’. I was having a real ding dong battle in my head. Eventually, the 26 mile marker came up. 0.2 miles to go. Never before have they felt so long. I was overtaken by 2 on the finish straight but finished in a chip time of 3.12.28, a full 15 minutes better than my PB.
Amy finished a couple of minute after me and achieved her goal of sub 3.15. Martyn shortly after Amy then Ashleigh in a superb 20 minute PB of 3.30. Sadly Doug’s sub 3 hour hoodoo struck again with him finishing just over 3 hours. Martin Billington was the other Strider running the marathon and deserves special mention for his superb sub 3 hour finish.
Well done to all the Striders taking part. For all of us, it was a great race and a mentally challeging one. We sunk a few beers in the evening to celebrate before retiring to bed feeling exhausted but very happy.
The marathon was won by Boaz Kiprono in 2.19.53. The first woman home was Eddah Jepkosgei in 2.39.52.
|110||Martin Billington||MV 45||02.58.02|
|186||Doug Banks||MV 35||03.03.53|
|304||Nick Burns||MV 45||03.12.28|
|351||Amy Earnshaw||F Sen||03.14.30|
|399||Martyn Goldsack||MV 35||03.16.39|
|845||Ashleigh Barron||F Sen||03.30.55|