Edinburgh marathon weekend consists of 4 events spread across 2 days of the last weekend Of May. On the Saturday the 5 and the 10k events take place at Holyrood Park, the full and the half marathon take place on the Sunday. As I was there for the weekend, I took part in the 5k and the full marathon (all about the medals 🏅). It is technically possible to take part in all 4 events if you are a super speedy runner and a gluten for punishment but 2 events was enough for me!
The 5k is a steep climb uphill. It’s pretty tough work at certain points but as I was wanting to save my legs, I walked the steep climb to the top. Whe we arrived there were gorgeous views out to the coast and across the city. There is what seems like a very short descent onto the flat and for me a quick run to the finish. Chip time for the race was 38 minutes and legs shaken out, I got my medal and that was me done for the day.
On to the Sunday. After a couple of less than ideal nights sleep, it was marathon day 🤩. My parents were with me and they were taking part in the half. This meant I decided to go to the start line over 2 hours earlier then needed. It was raining so I saw the half runners off, and then located a Starbucks for some breakfast, had a motivational pep talk with Jen (she was doing Liverpool) then headed back to the start to find a dry spot until it was time to start. I met Mark who kept me company until we had to head to our pens.
After a brief wait in the rain, it was almost time to go. There wasn’t much by way of a race build up, they don’t mess around in Edinburgh! The countdown sounded a lot like the start of The Hunger Games where the tributes are on their podiums, a sign of things to come??? Now Edinburgh is famous in the UK for being a ‘fast’ marathon. I am guessing it’s because the first few miles are mostly downhill. We ran down Royal Mile, down The Mound and then through the city. These miles were pretty much a sight seeing tour of the city’s history and there is a lot to take in. From here you pass through Holyrood Park, complete your first switchback then you start to leave the city behind and head towards the coast at around mile 5. I was going strong and according to my watch, holding 8:30/mile comfortably. A little quicker than planned but I wasn’t struggling at all.
So it was now time to run along the sea front. Being from the center of the country makes anything involving the sea is a novelty. This are a welcome change for me at first. It was about now that the rain which had been so refreshing, cleared and the sun appeared. It got hot, fast. We ran along the promenade and through Portobello and eventually Musselburgh at mile 9 which is incidentally the finish area for the half and the full. This meant you ran past the finish line which is a strange feeling so early in a race. But it did mean there were lots of spectators and half marathoners there to cheer us on! Even better, I managed to spot the medal the half marathoners had 🤩.
We pushed on along the coast road along the golf coast towards the magical half way point. By some sheer miracle I was still keeping to my 8:30/mile pace and crossed the halfway marker in 1:54, 2 minutes quicker than my less than ideal effort at Leeds a couple of weeks before. You also see a lot of the runners on their way back as the second part of the route is an out and back which gave me a massive boost.
This is where the race started to go a little downhill for me, my lack of training began to show from around mile 14. I started to get a stitch down my left side. It is something I have had before and it is down to a bit of a weak core (something to work on for next time) and ultimately I wasn’t there for a time, I was there for an enjoyable run along the coast. So I took a walk break for a few minutes which I knew was going to happen, I had just hoped it would be around mile 20. No such luck. I kept moving forwards and ran/walked to the turning point and at last I was on my way back to the finish! My plan was to run the flat and walk up the hills and when I had water, saving my legs for a strong finish. You pretty much run back the way you have just come, with an added section around a house through the woods on a gravel track. I can assure you after 18 miles this is not fun, its hard to run on ground which is moving under your feet so you guessed it, I was walking!
The miles ticked by, the wind was picking up and it was getting a lot harder to run at all, never mind up the hills and everything was just a bit more effort. At about mile 20 I bumped into Linda! I was so surprised to see her I almost cried but it was so lovely to have a familiar face in the crowd. Linda gave me a big hug and walked with me for a few minutes gave me such a boost during a period I was finding mentally pretty tough.
I was trying to run on the flat and when the wind dropped, I had nothing to gain from running into the wind or uphill at this point other than tiring myself out and risking an injury. Everyone around me seemed to have adopted the same strategy, mile 23/24 was particularly hard in that sense. I was maintaining about 12min/mile with run walking but I had decided that from mile 25 onward, I was running to the finish regardless. Running on tired and achy legs is essential in a marathon and i knew it would give me a mental boost going into Chicago knowing i could be on my feet a lot longer and still run well.
Luckily mile 25 is also where the crowds really start to build up. I set off running again and i was surprised at how easy it was. All my my little walk breaks although slowed me down, let me recover. I did not feel like i had just covered 25 miles on foot at all and felt really strong as i ran past the race course. The crowds (I keep saying this) were incredible at the finish. I am sure the whole town came out with signs to support the event which is lovely of them and it really does give you a massive lift! I passed the mile 26 marker (best moment of a marathon) with a massive grin on my face and just kept trotting along. No sprint finish or quick last mile, just a very easy jog for me. I saw the finish line and just kept on going, finishing with a chip time of 4:22.22 which i was really happy with.
I got my medal and made my way through the finish area to collect my medal, goodie bag and t shirt. The medal was an absolute beaut. The day before i was genuinely sulking about the fact the medal might have been almost identical to the 5k medal. I am pleased to say that was not the case, the medal designers did good!
The day before i had found out that Edinburgh do not do ‘goodie bags’ as such, you walk past various pick up points and collect what you want. They obviously have water, a snack and t shirt but you can chose not to have them and you can pick your snack! To their credit Edinburgh Marathon Festival aims to be the first zero waste event and what this means is you get a lovely presentation box for your T Shirt. Its the little things after a marathon that make you smile and its a nice keep sake of the day too. Then it was off to bag pick up, i felt a little tired but nothing sinister so i started the long walk (mine was the furthest pick up point) got my bag and decided to suck it up and foam roll. Best decision ever. There is loads of debate around foam rolling and whether it works. I personally think it does, I don’t really care how, if it’s placebo, then fine. But it just seemed to help my legs feel better and like magic I was walking normally. Just saying 🙂 So with that i got on the bus and headed to the city center with my medal and gear for my last night in Scotland.