Thursday, 13 October 2011

Home Turf

2012, by and large, is supposed to be a money-saving year. In September the Crew Chief and I will be buying dinner for 110 of our closest friends, then jetting off on some sort of exotic holiday in pursuit of sun, sea and upgrades – so until then we will be saving.
2012 won’t be a year, therefore, in which I hop on a plane to fly halfway around the world for a marathon. In fact for a while I thought I wouldn’t be running a marathon at all, instead focussing on shorter distances and building up some core strength and speed. But after just a small amount of soul-searching, I can’t bear the thought of leaving it until 2013 to run marathon number five...
So I’ve decided to run a 26.2 that starts less than two miles from my front door: The Edinburgh Marathon.
Yes, I know, I’ve complained about it before. There’s a lot wrong with this race, some of it fundamental, and going by previous form it seems unlikely that it’s going to change any time soon. But in the spirit of austerity I’m thinking that running a race which incurs no travel costs and no accommodation costs, no time off work and no peripheral sightseeing expense is a Good Thing.
In fact the more I think about it the more I like the idea of running a ‘home’ marathon. I have seven and a half months to prepare for it, plenty of time to explore every inch of the course and learn every turn and undulation (although I’ve run the first half of this race during the relay, I’ve yet to experience what the route is like after 13 miles). The 10am start means I don’t need to be up for breakfast until 8, don’t need to leave the flat until 9.15 at the earliest. Assuming a half decent run and some post-race cunning, I could be back home with a frosty beer by mid-afternoon.
A half-decent run...
Yes, alright, my interest was piqued by the idea of running a mostly-downhill course, certified as ‘the fastest marathon in the UK’. Loch Ness and SF were wildly undulating; aggressive, spiky hills popping up at most turns for punishment on the way up and the way down in equal measure. Edinburgh starts with a gentle descent and is then overwhelmingly flat. I can’t help but imagine what might have happened if I had run Edinburgh instead of SF this year – no jetlag, no crazy early start, no mad sightseeing or cycling adventures the day before and most of all no real hills. All else being equal, how much time could I have taken off? 5 minutes? More?
The trade-off, of course, is that whilst SF was a 26.2 mile sightseeing tour of an iconic American city, Edinburgh’s course is mostly on tedious, exposed seafront and largely run in rural East Lothian. Instead of enjoying a two-week holiday in the USA I’ll be back to work the next day. Instead of finishing on a palm tree-lined boulevard with the Bay Bridge in the background I’ll be crossing the line on a random street in an anonymous suburb. But who cares? If all goes to plan, maybe I won’t be out there for long...
Put simply, I want to run for a PB in Edinburgh in May 2012. And I am going to work very, very hard to get it.
Watch this space.
Happy running

2011 to date: miles: 1008.56, parkruns: 6, races: 6, miles biked: 120.06, metres swum: 1225 

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