Well here we are with just 2 weeks to go before the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2014. My number has arrived and on Saturday 24th May I shall be travelling up to Edinburgh. Already the nerves are starting to kick in, so here I am sat looking back at the last 6 or so months to see just how I got to this point.
So many people have asked me 'Are you insane?', 'Are you mad?', 'You must be barmy!' or 'How on earth do you do it?' Believe me these are just some of the questions and some of the repeatable questions. The real truth is... I'm stubborn and won't give in!! I set myself these crazy challenges because I don't like to let anyone down, or myself!! I'd just set out to put one foot in front of the other and before I knew it I was running for miles and miles.
I did my long run (22 miles) a couple of weeks early because on the day I had originally planned to do it, I ended up booking in a half marathon. Last weekend was the Lincs Half Marathon and 4 of us from my local running club, East Hull Fitmums, travelled down to Scunthorpe to Glanford Park to run 13.1 miles in the beautiful North Lincolnshire countryside. It was perfect running weather; cloudy but not too hot and Ray had come along as our driver and No.1 supporter. The overview of the race was that it was a fast course with lots of PB's achieved. I set out with the intention of running it faster than my intended marathon pace (after all it was only half the distance!) but I was not particularly bothered about time as long as I got the miles in ready for Edinburgh. I completed GNR last year in 2:30:08 which was a pretty good pace for me. I've never been the fastest of runners but instead plod my way through and I knew I'd be somewhere near it (as I'm always quite consistent). I have however obviously gained speed from somewhere though as I smashed my PB and was astounded that I crossed the finish line in 2:18:28. I'd shaved off 12 minutes from my GNR time, that's nearly 1 minute per mile.
I had sent Ray (and other friends and family) a live link so they could see exactly where I was on the course at any given time with my pace, predicted finish time etc. My ears where indeed burning as I knew it was a faster pace and I could just hear Ray saying, 'slow down Els you'll burn yourself out' and 'just you wait till I see you lady, that's too fast!!'. I was smiling to myself and it kept me going through the race. As I came into the stadium he was there shaking his head at me but smiling, camera in one hand and pointing his finger at me with the other hand!! It was a wonderful sight and one that will have me smiling for weeks to come.
I have to say a huge well done also to Wayne who was 15 seconds off the time he was hoping for (the runners reading this will understand what those 15 seconds mean?!); to Maxine who is such a strong runner and ran a fantastic race, she certainly kept me going; and to Lynne who ran her first half marathon. Well done everyone and also to all the other Fitmums who took part and smashed PB's.
I've one last race tomorrow before my marathon which is the Beverley 10k. Apparently we have an amazing 60+ runners from the different Fitmums groups across the city so it should be a fun day. I have also been told there is a nasty little hill in there too, sorry not a hill it's a... 'mound of opportunity'!! I will tackle it like all my other runs, plod to the finish line!
So with races complete and long runs done I feel prepared for Edinburgh. I've lots of training and miles behind me and I really don't think I could've done much more. I have done sprints, I've done short quick runs, I have done speed sessions and I've ran for hours. I've thrown some race days in there too so I'm prepped as much as I could ever be.
There are obvious people I have to thank and these are the people that stand out, I apologise if I miss anyone in person, it's by no means intentional.
First and foremost the biggest thanks have to go to my main man. Ray who has been the biggest single support I have. He has kept me on track but also he has kept the house on track as I've been training (and fitting everything else in between). He has cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, hoovered, fed us and looked after both me and Benji. He has followed me every step on line if not on his bike, he's been beside me carrying water, encouraged me to carry on when I've started flagging on my long runs, he's ran me ice baths and helped me with recovery food and foot rubs. He's encouraged me in person and been in my heart with me every single step of the way when he's not been there in person. I am going to miss him not riding next to me in Edinburgh but know without a shadow of doubt he will be the one shouting most to get me over the finish line.
To my dear friend Suzi who has worked on me, pummelled me and sometime hurt me (far more than she should've done I'm sure!) at our massage sessions at least once a week. I'm thrilled that with the tough time she's having at the moment she is coming up to Edinburgh with us to help with Benji, scream with Ray and no doubt pummel me some more!!
To my PT Pete Jones from Pure Fitness for putting me through my paces every week. He works me hard ever week but it's paid off and I'm eternally grateful, I'm fitter and stronger that I have ever been and he has played a big part in that.
To Ray, Andy, Shereen, Wayne, Donna and Nikki. We work our socks off at our circuit session on a Monday but the encouragement, friendship and enthusiasm that has now formed Monday Night Club is eternal, thank you all, my core is better for knowing you and I love and thank you all.
To all my Fitmums friends for your continued support and encouragement, thank you. If you've not ran with me you've asked me how I'm getting on. In Beverley on a Tuesday morning and East Hull on a Tuesday night you have all been truly amazing thank you. To the Cottingham girls from Fitmums The Choir that have asked and encouraged me especially Gayle who ran the London Marathon (with viral pneumonia!!), you are an inspiration thank you.
To our babysitters, Mum, Shereen, Jonathan and Katie, Suzi, Jeanie and Mel thank you for looking after our little man. It is comforting to know that we can leave him with you, sometime at the drop of a hat and that he will be cared for.
To the friends and family who have pure faith and understanding in what I'm doing and striving to achieve. To the ones who never ever fail to text me when I'm going out on a run to wish me luck or text and ring to encourage me to finish. To name but a few - Jeanette, Alex, Suzi, Bev, Shereen, Jo, Tammy, Donna, Elly,Sarah and Pete.
To those that have ran or supported me out on runs. Ray, Shereen, Donna, Matty, Sturdster, Bev, Lynne and Danica.
To Jo and Pete who have booked a trip and are coming up to Edinburgh to support me. Jo has text me at least once a week to see how training is going and encouraged me from afar. I bless the day she walked into my life and I'm touched more than they will ever know at her pure faith in my ability and look forward to celebrating with them once I cross the finish line.
And finally to Andy (Macca) who, when I was struggling to walk at 2mph said to me that 'one day you will run!'. I swore at him that day over 5 years ago but I guess I owe him an apology because here I am running my first marathon - so I guess he was right! I'll never be the fastest runner but I'm a plodder, I'm stubborn and won't give in and stop. I've grown to love running and although my marathon training has halted my weightloss I have dropped 2 dress sizes and I feel better than ever about myself and my body.
So with pre-race nerves arriving a good 2-3 weeks before the event I'm wondering if I've done enough and if I'm doing the right thing? In reality I really don't think I could have or can do much more. I've put in the leg work (excuse the pun!) and surpassed even my own expectations. When I was out doing my long runs it wasn't the distance that made me cry it was the fact I had been running over 4+ hours without once stopping. Yes I'm nervous that I can't 'go the distance' but I will tackle Edinburgh like any other race I will head off at the start line and plod until the finish line - and lets face it I've ran for 22 miles, what's another 4.2 on top of that?!?! lol
My thoughts on race time? - I'm more than sure I'll finish it sub 6 hours, I will be more that happy with a 5:45 finish and if I can get anywhere near 5:30 I will be over the moon!
Whatever the finish time, my training for Edinburgh has taught me a lot.
I've learned that running is like any friendship or relationship, you get out of it what you put in and if you treat it with respect it will in turn treat you with respect. I've learned that I'm entering an elite group of people and will wear my finishers medal with pride, it's not just about the 25th May it's about the last 6+ months and the hard work, tears and laughter it has brought. I've learned that if I train well and fuel correctly I recover quicker and if I hydrate it won't hurt. It's taught me who my friends really are, they have accommodated my insane training regime and fitted into my time slots without question. They've encouraged me even if they have been unable to run with me.
It's taught me that I am indeed a runner.
Until the race report.................