|At the start in Balerno|
The water of Leith race was started as a self-help group for those of us in need of psychological help to get over the withdrawal symptoms of the Heb Half marathons being over for another year. The cure of course being that we run another half marathon. We poor Heb Half runners suffer particularly badly after the final half marathon of the series with the awful realisation that it will be a full year before it all kicks off again, hence the Harris half marathon, the final race in the series, is always bitter-sweet.
The Water of Leith race embodies the good old Heb Half ethos of simplicity - a half marathon on a scenic course with good friends followed by lots of pints and, being held the last weekend of November, it is an excellent way of delaying the start of any Christmas related activities. If the truth be known it is the first day of many in the coming month where I look for a way of trying to escape it all. Don’t get me wrong, there are some aspects of Christmas that I quite like, winter races for example, and I’m quite partial to a mince pie and mug of Gluhwein at the German market but that’s just about where it ends and running is the perfect avoidance tactic for avoiding doing any Christmas shopping whatsoever. There are now plenty of running related articles and books floating about saying how humans were made to run, Chris McDougall’s best selling “Born to Run” is one example, and that it’s an inbuilt primitive ability that we have. I beg to differ and respectively suggest that the hideous American import known as “Black Friday” which signals the start of the Xmas shopping season is actually about as primitive as you can get….but then I am as likely to be queuing up at 5am for the boxing day sales as I am going to win the London marathon so I guess I will never understand. Nevertheless it still depresses me greatly and reinforces my determination not to get caught up in it all.
I based my estimated time for the race on my times for a half marathon 6 months ago which, in hindsight may have been a mistake as it handicapped me out of sight but on the plus side I got to line up alongside Simon and watched with amusement as he shot off down the hill like a scalded cat glancing nervously behind after every 5 strides. I felt a bit low for the first 3 or 4 miles, tired from a few rubbish weeks at work (and when I say rubbish I mean RUBBISH) and the onset of Christmas which, as you may have gathered by now, is not my favourite time of year. A lot of runners seemed to be passing me and I was passing no one, still I consoled myself with the thought that no matter how slowly I was moving at least I was avoiding Xmas shopping and that cheered me up considerably. In fact it gave me something to relish. The earliest starters had set off at 9.30 and our handicap meant we didn’t get going until 10.22 and so I was a good 4 miles into the run before I caught up with anyone. However the unseasonably warm conditions suited me and by the time I got to the 5 mile mark I started to enjoy myself, taking in the scenery and autumn colours and stopped wallowing in self pity. I have promised myself that one day I will do this race route as a training run or on the bike and take photos along the way as it is very scenic and if it wasn’t for the road crossings it would be easy to forgot that you are running through the centre of a city.
|The race route|
|and it's all downhill...well who knew..|
The race itself was pretty peaceful and for long stretches I seemed to be running alone without anyone else in sight, drifting along in my own dream world, probably exactly what I needed to do that weekend if the truth be told but really I should stop doing that and pay more attention as one day I’m going to end up taking an unintentional swim. By now I had no concept of who was in front or behind me and how far away they were and I ran along quite happily until during the last mile it dawned on me that Robin Livingstone had not passed me and if that is not an incentive to pick up the pace I don’t know what is. Good thing I did too as by the time I had turned into the finish straight he was closing in fast.
|Holding off Robin...just!|
The post race soup, tea and cakes supplied by Eric and Lynda were as good as ever and then it was off to the pub for the prize giving and real ale.
|Jim Bruce presenting the prizes|
|Making plans for 2015...|
Thanks very much to Peter and team Porty for their superb organisation of this fantastic race. I’m particularly grateful for being able to spend the day running rather than Xmas shopping. And everyone is getting amazon vouchers for Xmas this year. Bah humbug. Never mind, only 5 ½ months to go until the Stornoway half marathon…