Another marathon and another delayed blog post …. one day I’ll write these flipping things on the day, but for now? You’ll just have to put up with my tardiness 🙄😂
So! Last bank holiday weekend saw our first ever trip to Edinburgh and the 2nd leg (and my running partner in crimes 3rd leg) of the great home nations challenge 2019! We travelled up from Milky Beans in First Class and totally rinsed them for all the free food and drink we could stuff in our faces …. so uncouth … but so satisfying all the same. Six hours we sat on that bloody train! Six loooooooong hours …. one of us enjoyed the scenary, whilst the other? …. well! I havent got a scooby-do what he was doing but bless him, he seemed to be entertaining himself…
Anyway six long hours later, knowing we’d left the warm weather in MK, we clambered off the train, pockets and mouths still bulging with “free” train snacks and sauntered off up the road in the rain to find the Hotel.
Once we’d checked in we decided to stretch our legs and find the start line and baggage drop area for the following day. After punching the postcode into Google maps we wandered off up the road with my clear and concise directions ringing out around Haymarket …
<waves phone around above head> …”It’s this way”
<turns phone the right way up> ..”Ooops, nope sorry it’s this way”
<vigorously shakes phone whilst stamping feet> ….”Grrr what’s wrong with this thing”
At which point we gave up and followed the signs clearly displayed for all to see at the roadside. Ten minutes later, safe in the knowledge that we knew where the start line was (and knowing we were out of free train snacks) we stopped off in Grassmarket for a bite to eat and discussed the small matter of a little plod the next day. It was at this moment that my running partner in crime had, very possibly, THE best idea of the weekend …. my running partner in crime …. no! … scrap that and change it to … my ‘brand and label obsessive’ running partner in crime …. decided he was going to buy us both a poncho … yes folks a poncho! to keep us out of the “90% chance of heavy rain” scheduled for the start of the event. Strangely enough, it took us less than 5 minutes to locate these ponchos so once purchased we took a slow and soggy walk back to the Hotel to get prepped for the next day.
Waking up the next morning, I looked out the window and wondered in awe at how the weather man had actually forecast the heavy rain right for once! This was going to be one tough AF run if this rain didn’t disappear sharpish but it did clear up the ongoing debate we’d been having for the last 2 days about whether to wear a long sleeve or short sleeved base layer!! An hour later, all prepped and ready to head out the door, we threw away any street cred either of us might once of had and replaced that cred with ponchos. We may have looked like English tw@ts but at least we were relatively dry and worth 5p more in our Scottish carrier bags!
We clung onto these carrier bags like they were our very own life jackets and as our wave got closer to the start line we ripped them off like heroic capes and threw them to the side of the road …
As always we were in the last wave to start but never before have I looked behind me on a start line to see the sweepers making like tail runners ready to sweep us up if we so much as dared to get in their way … I wasn’t sure whether to run like the wind and hope they didn’t catch us or ask them to drop us off at the finish line once they’d done. On the plus side, it only took 15 mins for all of us to cross the line, so massive Kudos to the organisers for getting thousands of people running so quickly … fantastic achievement.
We set off as we usually do … whinging, whining, wondering why the hell we were doing this and by mile 2 we understood exactly why. Turning the corner into Holyrood Park we were met with the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. It took the initial nerves away and we settled down for what was going to be 5 hours and however many minutes worth of pain and torture that us runners like to call “fun”.
Our 1st proper stop was for a wee break at mile 9 …. not our finest decision given the loo queues were so long, but I didn’t mind queuing whilst looking out over the sea and the sun had come out to warm the old cockles too – what more could a gal ask for. This was by far one of our slowest miles but I personally enjoyed the break and am glad we stopped because a mile further down the road we were greeted by hundreds of very raucous, very loud, very supportive spectators and when you ARE greeted by such a great crowd you’ve got to be seen to be running right? 🤔 Mile 14 was where we would see the next crowd pleasing area so we took it easy in readiness for the “looking good for the spectators” show….. we rock this look by the way.
Now I believe that everyone has a section of a race that they struggle with…. for me, its the first 13 miles, it takes me this long to work through any niggles and remove any negative thoughts and doubts. This works quite nicely with my running partner in crime, who’s pain point seems to be from mile 15 – 20. This plod was no different, I struggled through the first 13 miles, gave myself a verbal kicking throughout mile 14 and by the time we hit mile 15 I was bouncing! Fueled by SIS Gels, perfectly hydrated, not busting for a pee for once and loving the fact the sun had finally come out. My running partner in crime however, was quiet, a little bear like in his gruff responses to my annoying and never ending questions of “how’s it all feeling?” and generally looking as miserable as sin. It wasn’t until we started to loop back for home and run through the grounds of Gosford House that I’m pretty sure I saw the tiny hint of a smile cross his face. We both felt that running in front of the house would mean missing out on seeing it’s charm, beauty and history so we took a leisurely walk through the grounds marvelling at its grandeur and stateliness as we wandered past.
Coming out of the grounds and getting back onto tarmac was shit … sorry! But there’s no other word for it. It felt never ending. When we were heading out to Gosford House we could cheer, wave and smile to the runners making a kick for home but now that we were digging in for home, there weren’t many people still heading out. The ones who were, looked in no mood for any motivational, supportive words of encouragement … they were just trying to keep moving forward and stay in front of the sweepers.
Reaching mile 20 is always a psychological boost … the fanfare and party poppers were going off in my head, the smile came back, my gait now had its own tigger like spring, the sun was still shining and I was finally allowed to picture a nice cold glass of pinot for me and a strong JD & coke for my running partner in crime waiting for us at the finish line.
Now! I’m built for comfort, not speed but even I was getting a little excited at the possibility of knocking 13 mins off of our MK Marathon time! …. unfortunately there’s no accounting for the weather and the only thing to greet us at this milestone marker were 40 mph winds. So, for 6 miles we battled on, saving our energy by walking up hills, picking up quick wins where we could by running down the hills and the closer we got to the finish line the more walking we were doing, the more I could virtually taste that wine and the more people we were talking with.
As you can see, we did finally make it to that elusive finish line and I knocked another 4 minutes off my previous marathon best despite the long loo break, copious amounts of walking and awful headwinds. I’ve yet to get to a level where I can run it as quickly as my running partner in crime …. I’ll need to dig pretty bloody deep to knock half an hour off ….. but the biggest lesson to come out of Edinburgh? Is that ANYONE can complete a marathon …. yep! Even you .. sitting on the sofa tutting, eye rolling and snorting at that comment as you quickly scroll through this blog!.
The people I saw running that course were so totally different, so totally unique, not only in their size and shape, but in their grit, determination and running styles too. There were people who ran with their knees knocking together, others ran with their feet dragging on the floor, some picked their knees up to excess, some ran with their arms high, some low, some using their upper body to propel them forward….. there didn’t seem to be a right or wrong way, just ‘their’ way and it was working for them!. And then there was a lovely lady in her mid 50s who’s husband left her for the best friend she was meant to be running the London Marathon with …. her now ex best friend had completed London in 6 hours so this lady’s aim was to get under that time. She was in front of us so I know she achieved it without even looking, which makes me smile. Even me and my runs …. the only thing I’ve changed is my mindset! There’s been no significant training or training plan, the wine regime remains firmly intact, I’ve managed to add some additional poundage to my not insignificant frame .. I just refuse to quit these days.
So the answer to the question that’s holding you back from taking part in a marathon is a resounding YES! You can complete a marathon too …. you may not run a marathon, but with the right mindset you can definitely complete a marathon ….
Oh! and if you happen to see me out running one .. come and say “hi” … I’m not as Savage as my kids make out 😉
Until next time