marathon manThe weather had been hot and sunny all week but there was a glimmer of hope… much of the Edinburgh marathon is run along the East coast, a part of the world famous for harr (mist from the sea), and the forecast was cloudy for Sunday morning.

That was until yesterday.

The sun came out and the temperature shot up.  This wasn’t going to be a day for heroics.  No time goal, just survive.

I got up at 7am, ate some cornflakes and started drinking Powerade.  We set off for Edinburgh and met up with David & Pam at our friend’s Sue & Mark in Saughtonhall, edinburgh.  A quick toilet stop and a chat with Sue’s brother David who was also running then we hoped on a bus to the start.

I had just been telling David that his marathon nightmare was good luck when we discovered the sun screen was missing!  Disaster.  I was starting to wonder if my lack of marathon dreams was turning into a real marathon nightmare.

There was nothing to be done.  I set off for the Regent Road start and David walked down to the London Road start.

I saw a man with an Isaiah Trust vest on applying sun screen and decided just to brass-neck it and ask.  He was a lovely man and we chatted for a few minutes while I helped myself to some factor 50.

An American couple asked me to take their photo.  They were from Portland, Oregon, so the sun was just as disconcerting for them!

Next stop… toilets.

More chat with some other runners in the massive queue and then a quick dash to the start and a row from marshalling JammyMo from Strathclyde Parkrun for skipping into the pen a bit further down than I should then a good luck when she saw it was me, and then we were off.

The downhill start was great and Avril and Pam were waiting at the point the two starts met with some encouragement.

The shade from the tenements as we ran down through Leith was very welcome then we wound through Holyrood Park and down to Meadowbank and Leith Links.

The rest of the run is an ‘out and back’ along the sea through Portobello, Musselburgh and Seaton Sands.  It’s a brilliant route along the Firth of Forth but the heat was unrelenting, even with a light sea breeze.

As we passed through Musselburgh the crowds were brilliant.  Loads of people cheering and handing out sweets and drinks.

I went through half way in 2:17, about what I’d expected.  I was pretty pleased as I headed out onto the long road along the coast to the turn, especially as I saw David heading the other way, well on track for a brilliant time.

Miles 15-18 were brutal.  The run to the turn at 18 miles seemed never-ending.  The cheers from people at Longniddry kept me going and around mile 16 I started chatting to a fellow runner called Liam.  26.2 miles is a long way to run on your own so it was great to have someone to share the rest of the journey with.  We started a bit of a run/walk strategy and kept the momentum going.

My two marathon running pals had both said ‘Don’t stop.  Whatever you do keep moving.’  I was feeling that even the few short walks we had around drink stations were hard to get going from, but really necessary.

I saw my friend Alison heading for the turn as we headed back and shouted some encouragement.

The last few miles were ok.  Liam’s pals joined us from the crowd for a few hundred meters and provided some comedy chat and encouragement and we ran the last 3 miles at a pretty decent pace.

As we entered Musselburgh the crowds swelled and it was amazing running the last half mile with everyone cheering.  We shared a word of encouragement and picked up the pace for the final straight.

We crossed the line as the timer clicked over to 5 hours but our start had been 10 minutes after the London Road start so we had made it in under 5 hours.  A text confirmed that finished in 4:49:38.

A smiling volunteer presented us with our medals and t-shirts and I thanked Liam for his company as we headed off to find our friends and families.

I made the mistake of sitting down and started feeling pretty shaky.  Some electrolyte drink and a battle with the mobile phone network later and I met up with Avril, Pam and David who had made it round in 3:34, an amazing time in the heat!

I opened a protein milkshake and promptly threw up.  To be honest I felt much better and was able to eat the porridge bar in the race bag and take on some water.

It was a bit of a trek to the buses but it allowed us to walk back along the race route and encourage the runners home.

We saw a soldier I’d been chatting to around mile 10 coming in to the finish.  He had carried his full 40kg pack all the way round.  What an unbelievable feat.

As we headed up the hill we also saw a guy running in a massive bear costume heading for the finish.  He must have been melting!

Marathons are an amazing experience.  The camaraderie amongst the runners is amazing.  There is a real sense of people sharing a journey and looking out for each other.  People are amazing.  They can do amazing things when they decide to.

The damage?  Stiff legs and blisters under both big toe nails.  I might lose the nail on my left foot but I’m sure there are lots of people who will be in a much worse state than me today.

I really enjoyed the run.  I’ve spent the last two weeks being scared of it and, while it was really hard, it was also stragely enjoyable and I’m proud to join the 0.1% club.

It’s hard to do a marathon on your own.  I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged me on this journey. You will never know how much your support has meant.  In particular:

My sister Jillian and brother-in-law Scott for looking after the boys this weekend to allow me to run and for feeding me after the run.

Anthony for the training runs and advice and all the Strathclyde parkrunners for the encouragement.

David for joining the journey and sharing the stat chat.  You’re an inspiration.  3:34 in on any day is awesome but in that heat is stunning!

Most of all I want to thank Avril.  She’s put up with a lot as I disappear for another run, piles of smelly running gear and moaned about my various aches, pains and injuries.  I really couldn’t have done it without her support.

The Stats:

Race Number: 8783
Category: Over 40 Male
Full Time: 04:49:38
10k split: 01:04:50
Half marathon: 02:17:48
30k split: 03:20:57
Overall finish position: 5847
Category finish position: 1272

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