Bonus race alert!

I was “lucky” enough to bag a free place for this race after my mate Mark won two spots.  Just a week after the Dublin marathon…cool.

Until 10pm the night before I’d thought it was an 11am start – turns out it was 10am.  That’s fine.

Picked up my number at 9:42 and dropped off my bag just in time at 9:45…no pins in my envelope and the ones I’d brought with me are in that bag I’d just dropped off.  Crap!  Nothing like a last minute panic to distract you from what you’re about to do.

Pin situation resolved back at the help desk.  Right, good.

Chatted with a few clubmates, Mark and a man from Greenock in the few minutes before the countdown kicked in, ticked off, and…

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It’s a sharp left off Lawnmarket onto The Mound, and a speedy descent.  Folk are already fighting over space with one crazy person in particular zig-zagging wildly across the road.  People are bad at taking the racing line, but me much less so.  Squeezed tight going through Princes Street Gardens and chose the wrong side to pass people, getting stuck.  Maybe not a terrible thing.

Through 1km: 3:43

Into the second kilometre with a short climb out of Jeffrey Street and pile down the High Street to Holyrood Palace.  It’s a fast opening mile-and-a-bit.

2km: 3:43

Round Abbeyhill and Spring Gardens, we were on flat ground, and as it turned out, the calm before the storm.

3km: 3:47

Up Royal Park Terrace and into Holyrood Park, there appeared to be a head wind.  Well, that can just bugger off!  It’s all West and facing straight into it the whole way – this’ll be fun *sarcasm*

4km: 4:04

I’d tagged onto a group coming out of the park, but took to the front of the onto Holyrood Road.  Nearly accidentally squeezed someone out turning round some unanticipated cones – aren’t they they worst? – and started to feel like my race was run.  Still keep ticking over, don’t force it, see what happens.  All easy to say/think…

5km: 4:19 (19:38)

Through the Cowgate and a lot of people standing outside youth hostels hoping for taxis.  It’s level ground again so not quite so bad.  Through the Grassmarket and got a shout out from Susan, the local parkrun ambassador.  Used the one water stop to freshen up the inside of my gob and had a couple of small swigs, steadying myself for the main climb of the route.

6km: 4:13

Unsurprisingly this was the slowest part of my race.  A few shouts of encouragement passing the Chanter and coming onto Lothian Road helped pick me back up again, and by the time I swung left onto West Approach Road, things were suddenly looking goo again.

7km: 4:12

That 4:12 is misleading, I’d sped up.  Even better, I’d teamed up with someone else and we kept each other ticking along at a good pace without saying a single word.  We passed someone only for him to surge ahead of us.  By the time we’d got to the end of the road, we’d re-passed him and dropped another guy, too.

(That said, it felt like an eternity to reach the back of Fountain Park, that road has never been so long!  Was much better after it)

8km: 4:06

Business end now and a quick look at the watch suggested I could salvage a respectable time out of this.  I pushed on and down what was left of West Approach.

9km: 3:54

Shout out to a clubmate I was steadily catching, encouraging him to get a move on so I didn’t pass him!  I went for it as we entered the grounds of Murrayfield and around the convoluted route to make up the distance.  Big push up something approaching a hill – it feels like it at this stage of a race – and a couple of left turns into the stadium…and sprint that 100m or so to the finish!

10km: 3:20

That felt good!  Official time: 39:25

Can I claim it as a 2018 Best when it’s the only 10k I’ve done?  I didn’t expect to break 40 given I’d run the marathon in Dublin just last Sunday, but taking the five days off in midweek obviously worked a treat.  This was pain-free altogether, so if I’m sensible about it, I think I can finally say after nearly two years that I’m finally on the mend, properly.

Things will get quieter here again for a bit – one new parkrun to come in December, but no races booked until April.  I’ll come up with another scheme for 2019…

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Murrayfield in the sunshine…just a few hundred metres to the finish inside the stadium
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The masses pile down the final hill.  Round the corner, Murrayfield Stadium awaits.
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Small medal, rubbish photo.  Doesn’t matter.