Last night I promised to provide a bit more detail about my run yesterday at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon. So, in roughly date and time order, here are some of the highlights.
We left home about half 3 on Saturday afternoon and, like most of the popluation of the world, were very surprised that England had beaten Australia in the rugby before we reached Crieff. Picked up Liz and Shelagh, and headed north. Stopped for soup at the House of Bruar (highly recommended), and arrived at registration at the Sports Centre around 6.30. Met up with Phil, Liz, Duncan and Keri, collected number and chip, said hello to Adrian at his Run and Become stall, then headed off to Pizza Express beside Inverness Station. I had a nightmare trying to get parked, but on our 3rd time round the city centre we managed to find a car park. We had a pleasant meal in Pizza Express, the only complaint being that there were too many mushrooms in the mushroom pasta, then headed north to our B&Bs at Muir of Ord. Headed to bed about 11pm. The first time marathons (Liz and Shelagh) were definitely more nervous than the anyone else.
The next morning we got up shortly before 7 am for our pre race breakfast. The textbooks say that, prior to a marathon, you should eat a high carbohydrate breakfast of porridge followed by wholemeal toast with honey. They are wrong. What you should have is this: 2 slices of bacon, a sausage, 2 poached eggs, a tomato, and some haggis, accompanied by a couple of slices of toast and some coffee. It was superb. I have learned my lesson. In future, before a marathon, I will try and make sure I have a full Scottish breakfast.
We were a bit tight for time, and made the bus with only seconds to spare, having met up with John K and John McL. It took about an hour for the bus to get from the Sports Centre in Inverness to the race start just past Whitebridge, then I had 45 minutes or so to go to the toilet, stretch, go to the toilet again, put on some vaseline, go to the toilet again, put my bag in the baggage lorry, go the toilet for a last time, and then head up the road to the start. I didn't bother with the mass warm up. A pipe band came right through the middle of the waiting runners playing some inspiring Scottish music (always a nice touch, I think), and then at 10am exactly we were ready to go.
I set off at a good pace, and noticed I was through 2 miles in a fast 13.11. The first few miles are downhill, and I knew if I was to have any chance at all of beating 3 hours I needed to make a good start. I was pleased that my breakfast seemed to have settled well, and in general I felt good. I was through 5 miles in 33.16 - still a bit fast - and kept going well until about 8 miles. Just before 9 miles I saw Phil M, who had cycled in from Inverness to support his wife Liz. Phil, apologies for my grumpiness, but I was going through a bit of a bad patch - it was nothing personal, honestly. If it is any consolation I was even more grumpy when I saw Gus and Jean a couple of miles further on, and positively rude when I saw Simon about 14 miles. Anyway, I went through 10 miles in 1.07.16, but was starting to find it hard going and slowed a bit before the half way, which I reached in 1.29.10. It wasn't getting any easier, and by the time I reached 15 miles in 1.42.36 I knew I wasn't going to beat 3 hours. A Channel 5 motor bike and camera appeared in front of me. I thought that was great - I do like being on the TV - but then realised it was only because I was running beside the 2nd lady. Much to my annoyance she shot away from me at a great pace, right in front of the camera, but if you see this happening on TV please make a note this: I overtook her again at the big hill outside Dores at 17 miles and never saw her again. So there. Just a pity the cameras didn't capture that. The hill caused me to slow a bit, although not too much, and I went through 20 miles in 2.19.38. I don't think anyone passed me all the way up, which pleased me no end. After that it got even more difficult - I suppose the last 6 miles of a marathon always are - and I was pleased when I finally reached the houses just coming in to Inverness. A couple more painful miles and I was into the city centre, over the bridge, heading up towards the stadium, and through 25 miles in 2.56.50. I worked hard over the last mile and just managed to get over the line under 3.06, recording an actual time of 3.05.54. Of the 44 road marathons I have done it was my 11th fastest. It is also worth noting it was my 60th race of marathon distance or longer.
Other performances were as follows: John McL ran a PB of 3.06; Phil finished in 3.13, John K did 3.15, Bobby M did 3.19, Duncan did 3.26, Tim did 3.41, Ellen did 3.47, Liz (in her first marathon) did 4.24, and Shelagh (also in her first marathon) did 4.29. Keri did the 10k in just under an hour. It was a perfect day for running, but it is definitely one of the tougher marathon courses. So well done to everyone. I'm looking forward to next year already.