A few weeks ago I got the opportunity of a free place in this event and jumped at the chance, after all a 10K a couple of weeks before a half marathon seemed like a useful “tune-up” race.
Despite a few unexpected hurdles in my training recently, I was still up for this race even with the frankly torrential rain I woke up to this morning. I’ve spent the last few days battling against what seemed to be a bit of a knot in my left calf, but this seemed to have eased off and the relatively short distance ahead of me struck me as a good way to test it out. And so it was that we were up and away from Perth by 8.30am in order to make the journey downriver – oops, sorry, down the motorway! – to Edinburgh.
This race forms part of Bupa’s Great Run series and is organised very well: from the pre-race emails and info pack to the well signposted event areas, everything ran very smoothly.
The race starts and ends in Holyrood Park in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat which, unfortunately, was largely obscured by the low-lying cloud and rain this morning. I was in the white (second) wave so I had plenty of time to chat to some friends and enjoy the warm-up led by Lulu’s personal trainer (!) before gathering in the start area.
My plan was to start out at quite an easy pace due to both the volume of runners and my expectation that it would probably take the first mile or so for the remaining tightness in my calf to loosen off. This turned out to be a good idea as the route started with an upward climb out of Holyrood Park before winding around towards the Pleasance, Cow Gate and Grassmarket, taking in a view of the Castle.
Although the rain miraculously stopped in time for the race, I kept my lightweight running jacket on just in case of another torrential downpour (it is Scotland after all!) but by 5K I realised that I was far too hot and would need to take it off (which I managed whilst still running AND carrying a running bottle!). I also realised at this point that I was not making terribly good time since there was quite a lot of uphill running and my calf had not really settled down. Although not painful, it was bothering me with every step and was most definitely slowing me down.
From the Grassmarket the route continued through The Meadows then made its way along Buccleuch Street towards George IV Bridge, briefly crossing the Royal Mile before heading around by the Mound and through Princes Street Gardens. The last section of the route skirted around the back of Waverley Station to join Canongate and a much-needed downhill stretch past the Scottish Parliament to the finish back in Holyrood Park.
I finished in a time of 59:21 and while this is certainly not my best, given the challenging route and the problems with my calf, I’m just happy to have completed the race in less than an hour! I thought the route was great, taking in as it did plenty of Edinburgh sights and having a similar feel to a city marathon (but with 20 miles lopped off!) – pipe bands at every kilometre, crowds along the streets and a route crammed with runners sporting charity vests and inspiring back signs. In fact, if you’d like to experience what it would be like to take part in a huge running event but don’t fancy taking on a daunting distance like a half marathon or marathon, then one of the shorter Great Run events is an accessible and enjoyable entry point.
Once over the finish line, everything was very efficient – my timing chip was collected, I was handed a bottle of water and there were clear signposts for where to collect a finishers’ pack with the correct size of t-shirt. Apart from the t-shirt, this pack also contained a race medal, bottle of Powerade, foil blanket, cereal bars and samples of both redbush tea and toothpaste – not too bad a haul! It was then just a short walk to the reunion area where Steve was waiting for me with a couple of friends who had already finished.
My only regret about today is that I just wasn’t in my best form. My fitness is fine, but my leg problem really let me down. I’ve got a week of serious stretching, foam rolling and cross training ahead of me to try and sort it out. I’ll also be trying to get a sports massage as the problem appears to be coming from some built up tension deep in the muscles which seems to be causing not just a problem with my calf, but also some tension in my piriformis and possibly also my hamstring. It’s really important to listen to your body and deal with any problems as soon as possible so they don’t escalate. Perhaps I should have done more sooner, but I genuinely believed I was suffering from a straightforward muscle knot which certainly isn’t new to me! I’ve got two weeks until the Aviemore half marathon, after which I can turn my attention to some pre-conditioning for my training in the new year and perhaps even a yoga class to stretch out my muscles and deal with any imbalances which are causing me problems. For now though, I’ll learn my lesson from today and make sure I get myself sorted out in time to complete my half marathon comfortably.
At least I’ve got a nice shiny new medal in my collection to cheer me up!