Edinburgh Marathon

Good Grief that was tough. Really tough. I mean I knew marathons were hard and I was expecting it to be hard and I’d done the training and everything for this, my first marathon, but it was still a lot, lot harder than I expected.

I didn’t start too briskly, being passed by Phil before we’d even reached the start line. I had a mild shin strain so I took it very easy for the first few miles. After 5 miles it had eased away so that was one less excuse, and it was time to start lifting my pace and running to my plan. I was also being driven slowly insane by a manic Scot dressed head to foot in tartan with a bizarre selection of Tupperware dishes under his vest. When he wasn’t telling everyone in the crowd he loved them he was singing at the top of his voice; mostly a selection of Beach Boys numbers but also a surprisingly poignant version of the theme song to the 70’s TV series White Horses. Thankfully at around 7 miles he spontaneously combusted and things went quiet for a while.

Black base layer. What was I thinking …

I kept trying to lift my pace and my pace was consistently refusing to be lifted. As we slogged east into a stiff wind along the seafront things got a little tactical. Unfortunately for the Harlem Globetrotter look-a-like who was surging away into the wind the tactics involved forming a beautiful echelon in his slipstream. He took the wind and sand in the face while behind him we lined up obediently like geese flying in formation.

Around the 12 mile mark I began to get worried. I was well down on my planned pace. And I felt rubbish. I did have a bit of a sniffle the night before. Chest infection or something. Probably full-blown flu in fact. Yes, that’s what it’d be. I was alarmed that before even reaching half-way I was feeling sluggish and tired. I was drinking my potions and eating my gels, but there was no magic surge of energy. That’d probably come when I turned around and had the wind on my back.

After an eternity the psychologically crucial turn was reached, and it was a straight home run with the wind behind me. I was still hopeful that I’d be overcome by some magical visitation of energy and I’d power back to the finish and be on my target time. The wind started prodding me in the back, telling me to get a move on. The advice I’d read was to start unwinding in the last few miles back to the finish. Unwind or unravel? I wasn’t sure. I really was beginning to feel quite wretched. Pain reports were coming in from all decks, shields were down, and a hull breach looked imminent. I was going to have to walk.

So walk I did. At the next water stop I walked for a bit, and it wasn’t so bad. I could get used to this. It was the starting to run again after walking that I found to be quite complicated. I foolishly assumed that it would just be a matter of speeding up until I was no longer walking, but that didn’t seem to work. Eventually I managed to hop, skip and jump and I was running again. Well, when I say running, I mean moving faster than the people around me who were walking. Most of them anyway.

This was my first marathon and I found it a rawer, more emotional affair than anything I’ve done so far. I felt quite tearful at the end. I thought I was ready for it, but perhaps I wasn’t. A few more months basic stamina training wouldn’t have gone amiss. The lady at the finish had a hard time putting the medal around my neck as I was gripping her shoulders, staring wildly at her, and repeating over and over again, That was SO hard!.

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