If you are looking for some useful facts on the actual route then sorry, jog on, as they say. I’m truly hazy on the race details, but feelings? I’m brimming over with them.
The race started and ended in Loretto Playing Fields and felt well organised. I had received an email with my number a few days before the race – although I know others did not- so registration was pretty quick and seamless. After registration, I wrestled with attaching my number to my vest and then attaching a small electronic chip to the front of my trainer. Once that was done I was good to go – or at least – good to wait. I had turned up almost an hour and a half early. To other newbies I say, don’t arrive too early. It was far too long to hang around with my tummy playing host to a kaleidoscope of butterflies, surrounded by seriously fit looking people in athletics club vests. I was relieved to see some friendly faces arrive: Amy and Tracy, then Julie and Lou. Dave also joined our merry band and it was great to chat and relax before the start of the race. I will be forever grateful to Amy for pointing out the handy drawstring in the waistband of my new shorts as I loudly complained I would have to pull them up to my ears like Simon Cowell to keep them from falling down. All the gear and no idea, right enough.
Wardrobe malfunctions aside, the starting gun sounded and we were off. We ran around the playing field and down the prom towards Portobello then looped back. From then the route is a slight blur. I know there was a river.
Earlier on, I had observed to Amy and Tracy that wearing a Harriers vest felt like being a learner driver in the front seat of a Porsche. Too many expectations from others! I was probably over egging it a little (who moi?) but at around 3km, a voice did say: “Come on Penicuik, don’t let a codger like me pass you,” as the self-proclaimed codger in the Portobello Running Club vest did indeed sail pass me. He was having none of my protestations of being new at this game and quite rightly so. He kindly suggested I could fall in behind him but I couldn’t keep up. I think at this point, I was running slightly too fast and was rewarded for this foolishness with a furious stitch that lasted until about 7km. I took Dave’s sterling advice from the Tuesday before and ran with my arms above my head to try and ease it, whilst hoping that I had not fallen for a running club coach’s equivalent of sending me on a message to buy some tartan paint.
Once the stitch eased off, something miraculous happened: I started to pass people. I even looked for the kind Portobello Club Vest Codger to see if I could catch up with him. No such luck as I could see he was already on the other side of the river. At this point a marshal shouted, “come on you lot, you look far too comfortable,” and this was really helpful as it made me think, can I go faster? I decided I could. Before I knew it, I could see the 9km sign then we ran back into the Playing Fields. I got into a wee passing game with a different Portobello Running Club chap (there was a lot of them about) but I finally sprinted past him as I heard the Harriers shouting for me. What a fantastic feeling. I immediately got torn into my free Di Rollo ice cream and necked the bottle of water that was in the goody bag.
The atmosphere at the race was really positive and relaxed; there was a fabulous big spread of sandwiches and cakes, teas, coffees and juice. Happy days. I really would recommend this race for someone who is new to running races as it was fairly small and felt like a good mixture of running club types and, you know, real people. It also felt family-friendly and there were plenty of spots along the route for people to shout encouragement.
I’m pretty sure it was PBs all round for the Harriers and my official finish time was 52:40. I was really delighted with this for about half an hour until I started wondering if I could’ve been quicker. I’m seeing this as a positive sign that the ol’ running races bug has bitten.