Before we go any further it might be worth asking my lovely mum to ‘look away’ now as this post may well result in a lot of eye-rolling and her subjecting my darling dad to a shed-load of abuse for the stubborn Edmunds streak their daughter has inherited…
Rightio, with mum safely ensconced away from a screen I can admit something to you all… I’ve got unfinished business with the Edinburgh Marathon. If I don’t get a place in London next year I will damn well be on that starting line, a hell of a lot more ready to take on the beast than I was this year.
If I’m perfectly honest I wasn’t as physically or mentally ready as I was for London, in fact at points I realised just how unready I was which then plants even more seeds of self-doubt at the time when you need bucket-loads of confidence. Since we finished I’ve been quite resolute in my proclamation that after New York there would be no more marathons for this old bird, but that resolution has waivered. This morning I started to realise that yes, it was Hell on earth, hotter than Satan’s personal sauna and downright horrific (you don’t want to see the expressions I’m pulling on the professional photos they’re trying to flog to me at present!) but actually deep down a teeny, weeny part of me really enjoyed it and loved the challenge. I’d heard that marathons are pretty addictive and am pretty sure they’re like childbirth where you forget the pain and are so flooded by happiness that you willingly embark on it all over again, but I’m determined not to be fooled by the runner’s high again, whenever I stand on a starting line I’m going to remember Edinburgh and that will drive me forward.
It was warm as we woke on Sunday morning with the weatherman claiming it was going to be cooler than Saturday – the big fat fibby lie-teller! Instead it seemed to go from warm, to hot, to extra hot to Satan’s inferno hot during the 4:47:25 I was on that course. Arriving at Regent Road the queue for the loo and then re-queue for the loo tradition began (I’ve got 2 children I’ll have you know!). At this point the pre-race adrenaline kicked in, Edinburgh was Tommy’s first marathon and I really wanted him to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mine.
We started a few minutes later than the fast start but unlike London it didn’t take too long to cross the line and we weren’t in the back pen with Mr. Potato Head, in fact apart from a very hot looking Buzz Lightyear I saw no other fancy dress runners.
The course took us down through Holyrood Park by the Crag and then out towards Leith past houses and communities whose roads were on lock-down until the mass of runners had passed by. At this point we embarked on a bit of communal singing which provided one of my Marathon highlights, as Tommy sings he runs faster and ended up in a little pack of people singing ‘YMCA’, I’ll never forget the sight of a group of runners doing the actions and singing loudly as they hit the 3 mile mark!
From there until Musselbrough it pretty much passed in a blur of praying for a water station, singing and praying for a water station. The temperature kept rising and by the time we got to the Firth we were looking for the sea-breeze that never came and any opportunity to run in the shade.
At mile 10 we saw friends from Parkrun in the Levenhall Ams which gave us a spring in our step but after that it got tough. At mile 16 my left leg wasn’t impressed with the slight inclines it needed to do but I sucked it up and kept going. From about mile 9 the course is one big out and back loop which is mentally tough going, particularly as there are points when you look ahead of you and can only see runners stretching for miles and miles, by the time we got to the turn my legs were so used to going in straight line I very nearly didn’t turn! There were points here when I very nearly stopped and refused to go any further, am pretty sure I saw my GP running with a buggy in the opposite direction – unless that was some sort of odd, heat induced delirium I was experiencing!
It was at this point we were introduced to a little bit of off-road antics as we ran through the grounds of an old stately home, it was also here that dehydration and over-heating struck us. The next few miles became a will of strength as we battled between every water station passing a heck of a lot of people suffering on the side, in fact I saw more people suffering and being helped than I had in London.
Tommy waved me on at about mile 21-ish and told me to keep going, it was tough leaving him but at this point I needed to keep moving forward.
I finally made it back to Musselbrough (at one point it felt like I was never going to make it)and got the boost I needed as my name was screamed loudly as I went past the Levenhall Arms before entering the final stretch, suddenly the finishing turn was there, I’d crossed the line and realised that I had finished a tough run, this was no trot out, this was something more intense. The finishers area was even more like a battlefield than London with bodies everywhere, standing there I realised we’d all done something amazing that day and whilst it wasn’t a PB run we’d still beaten our demons and made it through.
I was so relieved and proud to see Tommy cross the line moments after me and from there it was a case of rehydrate, rehydrate and slowly make our way back to the hotel, mum and dad and kids (via the pub!).
On reflection, I now know how tough you need to be to finish a marathon and I’m tougher than I was before. I also now know that a marathon isn’t about how far you can run, it’s about whether your mind will let you run. Sunday was definitely a battle of wills and by heck I finally won!
Edinburgh, I won’t say it was a blast, but you’ve made me tougher and a stronger runner so thank you.