Run of the Inner Valkyrie

Sunday morning saw the streets of Edinburgh turn into my own personal battlefield. In my previous post, I made no secret of the fact that recent events had, perhaps for all the wrong reasons, inspired me to race the Edinburgh Half Marathon despite having done no event specific speed work. But I had been pissed off to the point of wanting to attack 1:40.

I travelled to Edinburgh with a group of friends on what we affectionately called the “Battle Bus”, which made for a very entertaining start to the day and somehow damped the blow of the fact that the day began at stupid o’clock for all of us. And just as we arrived in the city, the heavens opened to welcome us with a mighty downpour. And while that did nothing dowse my bloodlust, it did cause me to shiver miserably on the start line. But really, what would a run in the capital of Scotland be without a generous helping of proper Scottish weather?

As is normal for me in endurance races, my plan was to run the first two or three kilometres by feel alone, and to sort my pace out thereafter. However, within minutes I couldn’t ignore the fact that although my energy levels were good, my legs felt decidedly heavy and had all but withdrawn co-operation. My feet were soaked and cold before I had run a single mile, and by the time I passed the two mile marker, I was already a few seconds off my target pace.

I won’t go so far as to call it a terrible start, but coming home on the right side of 1:40 was not looking promising. In that moment, I did something that has helped me through many of the darker moments I have experienced on my long ultramarathon training runs. I did absolutely nothing. I noticed how I felt, decided that nothing was actually really wrong, and kept going without trying to change anything right there and then. Because one thing I know for certain is that everything is temporary, if you give it enough time.

Rather than worrying about the race in these early stages or beating myself up about slipping off pace, I just accepted that my body was telling me that this wasn’t the right moment to launch my attack. But the moment would come. The worst case scenario was that the opportune moment would occur not in this, but in a future race; but that was a risk I was willing to take.

The next time I looked at my watch was as I was passing the 10km point. Just over 45 minutes. There was hope! More importantly however, I noticed that my legs had finally woken up and were starting to listen to my demands. I held back for another 4 kilometres, but then, finally, it was time to race!

I had to focus to keep the pace for the last part of the race, but I can’t say that it was a real struggle. Everything had somehow fallen into place and was there for the taking. Before I knew it, the finish line appeared in front of me and I ran towards it until my lungs felt like exploding. Then I ran some more.

I emerged victorious from the battlefield after 1:38 of running my drenched socks off. The negative split was very much dictated by my body, rather than my mind, but hey – I’m not complaining.

Streakers Edinburgh

 (A victorious army, ready to return to the battle bus!)

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22 thoughts on “Run of the Inner Valkyrie

  1. Angie says:

    I know that feeling of cold soaked feet before you even begin to race. Sounds like everything fell into place at the right time! Awesome job and that is a great time!!

    • Thank you, Angie! It really was a lovely run. 😀 Thinking back over it, I just listened to my body all the way and worked with it. I guess that made a huge difference.

  2. Kristin says:

    Nice job!!! Way to go!!! XOXO!!!

  3. Well done! Feeling cold and wet before the start is horrible, but you did the right thing to hold off before launching your attack. Great work and congratulations on hitting your goal! 🙂

  4. Sounds like the perfect race despite the weather. Well done on a fantastic time.

  5. Well done! Great insight, too, in knowing when it’s hard but nothing is wrong and you just have to keep going and wait it out. Your training is obviously paying off in all kinds of ways!

    • Thank you! I must say that my mental (and physical) stamina is really improving with the ultra training, as well as my ability to respond to the not-so-hot moments while running. So, ultra training for everyone! 😀

  6. Great job! It looks like you had a great time.

  7. Chris P says:

    Great job and great time! My second marathon was in the rain so I can relate. Good luck on the Big One!

    • Thank you Chris! I can’t believe that my first ultra is now a mere month away. I don’t think it’s ever possible to feel really ready for something like this, but I’m looking forward to it regardless. Having said that, the first of many freak-outs and meltdowns can’t be far away now. 😉

  8. Trails and Ultras says:

    I see no one else has given a shout of triumphant laughter so I’ll do it: mwah ha ha ha ha! That’ll show the evil running club men! 1:38 woohoo!

    • Hahaha, thank you for doing all the gloating for me! 😀 I did tell myself at one point during the race to keep it up because I was “running for women everywhere!”. No pressure! 😀

  9. Awesomely done! Way to show the meanies who is boss! 🙂

    • Thank you! I think I did! It’s a bit childish of me, but it was a good way to get a lot of frustration out of my system. Just leave is scattered along the half-marathon route. 😀

  10. Wow superfast! And it looks like you got your race strategy just right. Hope you are feeling rightly smug now 🙂

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