The first sign that something was going wrong was as we passed the 3 kilometre mark. I say we, because I wasn’t alone in swearing as I realised that I had made my first mistake and set off too quick. Edinburgh is generally a flat course, which might sound strange to anyone who has ever visited the city. The marathon starts off in the centre and for the first few kilometres it tapers downhill where it straightens out. The downhill had caught me and many others who looked at our watches and realised we had set out too fast. I probably would have noticed earlier except for whatever reason the 1 and 2 kilometre markers had gone missing, rumoured to be due to the previous night revelries.
It wasn’t the only thing to go missing of course. Crates of water that had been left out the night before had disappeared too, which was a problem because Edinburgh was just about to enjoy (for those not running)/endure (for those running) a heat-wave and the hottest temperatures it would get all year.
The next sign something troubling was taking place was around nine miles in I was already feeling the going tough. Though I had slowed and got myself into a bundle of runners aiming for 3 hours I was not running as smooth as I would have liked. If this was worrying I should have been even more concerned as we approached the half-way mark and I found myself doing two things:
- Running in a line with the others as we criss-crossed the roads seeking shelter.
- Hoping for half-way so I could get the mental plus of knowing I only had half the race then to run. Of course to anyone who has ever run a marathon this should sound ridiculous. Over a 5 k you might get a fillup for knowing the race is half-run, perhaps 10 k too, but anyone who has ever done the 42.1 k will know, your race only begins at half-way, it certainly is not half-ended.
At about 15 miles I remember one of our group, now whittled down to no more than a dozen trying to gee-up everyone. It was around about this point I begin to feel the weight of my energy gel and water belt and after another very long mile or two later the urge to get rid of it became over-whelming. I was becoming dehydrated for three principal reasons, even if at the time I didn’t know it.
- It was so friggin’ hot!
- I was running too fast in a heat I wasn’t use to.
- I wasn’t drinking anywhere near enough.
The last two were key, particularly the final one. Rather than sips I should have lugging the water into me slowing the pace to get my heart-beat under control.
By mile 18 it was too late. I dumped the water-belt and set full sail for the reef.