It was all rather a trauma for Peter as the marathon was the day after his birthday, which entailed travelling up to Inverness and staying in a hotel on the day of his birthday.
I tried to get a picture of him newly 47 but he was too quick for me and ducked under the covers.
When I say we were staying in a hotel I mean a Travelodge. When we got there we discovered the light didn't work in the bathroom. (Which had no windows.) We went and told the amusingly uninterested girl in reception who said "Okay I'll go and have a look." Assured that she'd be able to sort it out we went and had a meal in a golfing restaurant. Peter couldn't get the pleasure to be had in the drab, functionality of it all. It was Down by Law meets Dogma.
We had microwave lasagne with a side helping of pale chips and some garlic bread. (I'm turning my nose up but at the same time we did eat every scrap.) This was followed by cheesecake and ice-cream. Peter had muddy whotsit pie and ice-cream. I asked him if he was having a good time but he was determinedly glum saying he was having the worst birthday he'd ever had. We couldn't even drink.
When we got back to our room we couldn't get in so we had to go back to reception. The girl had accidentally locked us out of our room. While we were there we asked her if she'd fixed our light. "I'm not sure?" she said. Which made me laugh. There wasn't to be a light in our bathroom and that was that. It was kind of a shame because I thought I might have a bath for the novelty but not in dead dark inky blackness. Also I thought if the extractor fan wasn't working then the steam might set off the fire alarm and we'd have to evacuate the building.
So the day dawned bright enough the next day...a little after we got up as the organisers demanded we be at the finish for 7.30am for a prompt pick up by the buses that were to take us to the start of the race. Imagine our surprise then when the buses didn't leave until after 9am. Rumour has it 5 buses never turned up and one subsequently broke down. (With Paul Edwards on it.)
When we finally arrived at the start at 10.20am it was being announced "the race start will be postponed". I had only swear words for the whole situation by then. I was tired and I was cold and my breakfast was disappearing into the distant past. I was going to set off hungry and cold after 11 am having got up unnecessarily early at 6.
The plus side was seeing some cheery Porties. Ben Carter was running despite recent injuries and lay offs.
I set off at a good pace but felt comfortable so kept it going as long as I could. I was through the 1st 8 miles in an hour and for a while honestly thought I was on for a pb. The first 9 miles are on average downhill but that doesn't stop them from having many small sharp uphills and although at first it felt fine I think I chewed my legs up pretty badly in the first 3rd of the race.
For a while I was a comfortable 3 or 4 minutes sub 8 minute mile pace but after mile 9 I started eating into this margin and at mile 18 I had sadly lost it. I had a couple of bad miles when I was incredibly sore and then kind of rallied realising I was nearly at the end and not doing myself any favours feeling sorry for myself. I managed to get more positive. "Imagine how good it'll be to see the 23 mile marker!" I told myself - and then it was. I did the same for the next few miles. Around 25 miles Paul Edwards came scooting past at half marathon pace and invited me to join in but I was already going at top speed. I passed a fair few people in the last few miles so I can't grumble.
Once I knew I'd lost the 3.30 mark I wanted to still make it in sub 3.40 so I was very pleased with a 3.36 finish. Paul had come in a minute or so ahead in 3.35. Ben had done well given his recent inability to train with 3.33. Further forwards Peter, Mark Grierson and Johnny Lawson had all set off together and it was hard to know how they would all do. Mark pulled ahead of Peter at 18 miles and did an astonishing 2.50, only a few weeks after running 2.57 at the Moray Marathon. Johnny ran a great 1st marathon in 2.56. Peter was not too chagrined to be third Porty "given they're half my age" as he told me, and also because he was less than 30s off a pb himself, coming in in 2.57.
It was nice to see Stuart and Ann Hay of Dunbar picking up numbers and later on, on the bus. Stuart once again went just over the 3hour mark and I think Ann was suffering with a bad back. Hope they had a better evening.
The course is great although tougher than I expected it to be. People had said it was hilly but I've heard that about courses I thought were absolutely fine. This one is hilly! The running part of the race; the marshalling and the route and the timing and the great goody bags were all fabulous. It just seems they've expanded too much and that's why the start was a shambles. The DJ guy was bragging "Its great, this is the biggest entry ever" but hearing that while you're standing in a massive crowd waiting for a portaloo, really late because there weren't enough buses, really didn't sit well. Anyway, I'm sounding like Peter. The 2nd part of the marathon was driving home with my legs cramping up and only a bar of chocolate to eat on the way. But we made it.