Hairy Haggis Relay – The Point I realise I am competitive over really bizarre things!

I know this has been a long time coming, sorry about that. I thought i would just put together a short race review of the relay I took part in on Sunday 26th May. I ran the first leg for my team. We were a mixture of staff from the University and we were raising money for the Emc. Some were experienced runners others training for their first-ever race which meant it was a nice mixture although we were all joking around about being the fastest team.
So Sunday dawned early but overcast. I had laid things but the night before and since we had team vests the clothing choices were made easier. I decided upon shorts as if this is the only summer we are getting the legs are coming out! I also put on my trusted sweaty betty long sleeved top as it looked a bit chilly outside. I had my breakfast of champions, note the electrolyte water.

Then stuffed some money and gels in my shorts before dashing off for the bus. I started getting excited/nervous on the bus, there were a few other runners on the bus and as the bus made its way up Leith Walk there were more and more sporty looking people on the streets.
My starting pen was one of the middle ones so I started on Regent Road, it was strange to be alone at the start I am used to running races alone but as I didn’t know the two first leg runners on the other teams I just hung about. At twenty five to ten I decided a trip to the loo was in order. It never fails to surprise me, there were literally tens of thousands of runners and about forty portaloos. Hmmm that one baffles me. Anyway as the minutes ticked away I started to get anxious, I didn’t want to let the team down by not starting on time. At five to I was at the front of the queue and dove into the next free loo. Out again as quick as possible only to realise that my start pen was the far end of the street, I hared off like a demon briefly questioning my wisdom to be running flat out before I had even crossed the timing mat.
Once I had squeezed into the pen behind mine I started to take in the atmosphere more. All the runners in various combinations of clothing, some with gels, some without, many running for charities and most looking pretty nervous. It actually made me think I might like to try a full marathon one day, but first I have to destroy a half!
So we moved forward, first at a walk then a jog then a run. Before I knew it we were over the timer mat and off. The first leg of the relay is pretty much flat and downhill although as you can imagine it was really congested. I was really conscious of the fact I was running with people who would be going a lot further than me and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t hinder anyone else’s progress as I weaved my way through the field. Like all people who have entered a busy race know, frequently I was trying to run through gaps only to find people running diagonally into me or jostling me backwards.

If I am honest I am a little immune to the beauty of Edinburgh as a city so it was nice to be amongst runners commenting on the view to Arthur’s Seat and parts of this route are great. I saw a couple of photographers so did the stupid ‘thumbs-up’ pose at them or waved madly and before I knew it my watched beeped for the first mile! 8:34! That is fast for me at the minute. I know the route well having done the half a couple of years back and lets face it if you run in Edinburgh you will have run parts of this route. The miles ticked by all under 9 minutes and while I did feel like I was pushing it I wasn’t feeling particularly tired yet. Around mile 5 I decided to have one of my gels – here is my top tip do not rely on stuffing gels into the waistband of your shorts, mine kept trying to escape and I eventually accepted I would just carry them – unfortunately I couldn’t open it easily and had to stop to open it, that really frustrated me as I had been feeling like I was really in the rhythm. After finally managing to eat my gel then start off again I tried to get back up to speed but did struggle slightly for that mile so when my Garmin showed 9:43 I wasn’t surprised just a bit angry with myself.

At the end of the prom in Portobello I spotted one of the other runners for the Euan MacDonald Centre teams so ran over to say hello. I knew he was relatively new to running and wanted to say how well I thought he was doing. After a minute or so chat he indicated for me to head on so I pushed on a bit. Around 2 minutes up the road I saw the other team’s first leg runner and decided that I should try to give my team the lead at the start. I hadn’t met this lass so didn’t stop to chat, then decided to keep pushing as I realised I really wanted to come in first! We rounded a corner near the race course in Musselburgh and I saw a sign with relay runners keep to the left. I realised I must nearly be finished and started to pelt through the crowds towards a woman standing there shouting ‘Relay runners, across the grass!’ I dove down the grass and there was my team mate waiting in the coloured pen I just held out my arm for her to take the wrist band and told her to ‘Go, go, go’!  I decided to have a breather briefly here, have another gel and then continue on and aim for 10 minute miles thereafter. I was being optimistic but I always am with times 🙂
When I started off again my legs felt heavy but soon warmed up. It was a hot day and I was already roasting from the first leg. I took more water on and kept moving but my stomach started to hurt around mile ten and I slowed down. By mile eleven I made the decision to go to the loo and had to wait briefly in a queue but once I left I ended up walk/running the last two miles as my muscles had tightened up so much. But considering this was the longest run I have done since October 2012 I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, still a little frustrated. Having said that the crowds and other runners were great, everyone clapping and cheering. People offering out sweets, water and spraying runners with water- which was welcome. At mile 13 I saw the relay signs again, this time relay runners keep to the right. I quickly weaved through to the other side and was at the grass before I knew it. I found my teammates then collapsed to the ground and lay there for a bit while finding out which team was in the lead. Still my team, Team A, had been in the change over first. Woo hoo!
We decided to head to nearer the finish line to cheer the teams in. Everyone did brilliantly. One of the other girls who was running legs 3 & 4 for the second team had overhauled my team’s lead and came down the last mile running really strongly. Then my team mate came barreling past shouting at us to find out how far in front she was. In the end my team won but only by 30 seconds, the competition element definitely livened it up where we were all cheering and comparing times. Brilliant fun.

Team A Leg 1 and 2 runners – all done! Plus Team B sneaking in on the act too 🙂

A couple of things that could be improved, please put more toilets at the start and the finish. Or at the end have toilets for runners only in addition, just it must have been annoying for the marathon runners to queue with all the spectators. Also it was pretty tough walking alongside the last mile of the race due to the width of the pavement. Maybe they need to get people across the race or direct them to the other side of race at the finish line where there is at least triple the amount of space. Especially for the people with the buggys who were having real problems.
The final verdict though, great race bit of a rubbish goody bag burst most importantly we raised over £3, 000 for the Euan MacDonald Centre!!!!

Much needed nachos and burgers after it all! Note how I am shovelling the food in!
Much needed nachos and burgers after it all! Note how I am shovelling the food in!

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