Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Edinburgh Marathon - an experiment with run-walk-run

I was closer to the front than I'd expected, and I jogged across the start line of the Edinburgh marathon with the 3-3:30 "white bib" group.

I was wearing a light cap, a singlet, shorts, sox and running shoes. I carried three gels and a half of a chocolate cookie, all together in a small plastic bag. In the morning I'd put on sun-screen, and it was needed. The sun blazed overhead, and the temperature was quickly rising.

Mile 1 was 7:35. My watch went off 5 mins into the mile to indicate that it was time for my first walk break, but the crowd was too dense to start walking. My strategy was to take 30 second walk break every 5 mins, in accordance with Galloway's run-walk-run plan. The idea of sprinkling in the walk breaks is to preserve your pace later in the marathon. This was my first time trying this in a race - and so it was an experiment.

My family were waitin just beyond mile 1 in the park. I waved as I ran past.

Mile 2 was 7:44, but this included my first walk break. When my alarm went, I popped onto the pavement, and walked for 30 seconds. When my alarm beeped again, I started running.

3 was 7:50.

4 was 7:43. I took water. I was warm, and starting to sweat, but not hot.

5 was 7:25.

6 was 7:52. I ate my first gel after the 6 mile marker.

7 was 7:55.

8 was 7:41. I was running comfortably, looking for double-digits soon.

9 was 7:20.

10 was 7:22.

11 was 8:18. This included a pit-stop for a wee at the port-a-loo.

12 was 7:30. Another gel. Now the load in my hand was getting light. I was taking water at every stop now. I'd have a few swallows, then pour some down my back, on my head, and on my arms.

13 was 7:41.

My split of the first half of the marathon was 1:40:48.

14 was 7:31. I was feeling good.

15 was 7:30.

16 was 7:40.

17 was 7:41.

18 was 7:30. Last gel.

19 was 8:14. I was starting to tire afte the turn-around back to the finish. My run segments were getting slower. Not again!

20 was 8:08. Yep, I was bonking.

21 was 8:30. I thought the mile 21 marker would never come. I was craving my walk breaks now.

22 was 8:31. Switching to survival mode. Boston qualifying out the window.

23 was 8:58. I wanted to just walk. I was slowing, and I couldn't keep up with anyone. But just a 5k left.

24 was 9:46. I was really running slowly.

25 was 9:37. They say that it gets bad, but it doesn't get any worse. I was starting to run through the wall. It didn't matter if I ran faster or slow, I was still just as beat. I thought I might as well pick it up a bit.

26 was 9:31. No walk breaks for this mile.

When I rounded the corner toward the finish line, I sprinted, as best I could. I finished in 3:31:16.


So, I failed to run a Boston Qualifying time. But I rather knew this was out the window when I saw the forecast for the day: sunny and hot.

I think the run-walk-run did help, despite my fade. I was still more than 14 minutes faster than my last Edinburgh marathon disaster (where I ran the whole way), and only 1.5 minutes off of my personal best for the marathon.

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