It’s been a few days since I ran the Edinburgh marathon now, and I thought writing about what ‘went down in Scotland’ would get easier to do, but, like walking down stairs, it’s still a bit tough to go back over what happened on Sunday.
Standing in the sunshine in the yellow start pen, I rubbed my hands together, jumped up and down a bit and chuckled to myself at the guy in front of me dressed head to toe in Ironman kit and the chap who seemed to be live streaming himself bouncing around to what I can only assume was hundreds of fans. The radio that had been playing stopped, and a booming voice began to count us down to go time… 10…9… Chucked my jacket to the side and plonked myself next to some very speedy looking women… 8…7…6… Panicked that I was near some very speedy looking women – ‘what are you playing at standing here, you fool?!’…5…4…Checked my gels, phone and wondered if it was too late to just not run…3…2…GO!
I inched my way over the start line and down the long road out of the city with the thousands of others. I gave a huge wave to the in-laws cheering on the sidelines and started to take on 26.2 as fast as I could.
The first half was dreamy. We were out of the city even more quickly than I’d been warned about and the crowds was relatively sparse (I’ve been absolutely spoilt by Brighton and London) but I felt like I was running confidently and within myself. The weather was great, and I made sure to try and thank all the marshals that we passed and grin madly at anyone who yelled ‘Go on Team Rainbow!’ We passed dogs, kids looking confused and my favourite cheerleader of the day – an OAP sat on the grass ringing a bell. Not a cowbell, just a normal bell and looking delighted with us all.
But. At about 15 miles, I started to feel too hot, and my skin began to tingle, like it does normally towards the end of a race if I’ve really pushed myself. I still had over 10 miles to go though, so this wasn’t good news. I tried to ignore everything I felt and keep running, but knew my pace had dropped. I took on a gel and then the nausea started to come. Again, I tried to ignore it but by mile 17, I couldn’t and stopped to walk. After a couple of minutes which felt much longer, I tried to run again, but had no momentum and felt shitty and sicky. Mile 18 and I was walking again. Time, gone. I rang Mark, who luckily didn’t pick up and left him a message to say that I was having a rubbish race and wouldn’t be finished by 1.15 as expected and sorry. I walked through the water station, drinking a whole bottle of water – not my best idea – and smiling sadly at people telling me to keep going.
Just after mile 19, I spotted another blonde woman walking just in front of me. She’d been near me for the whole race, and I’d noticed that we kept passing each other as we had both adopted the dreaded run/walk strategy. I went up to her and asked her if she wanted to have a rubbish race together, which she luckily agreed to do. We set a new goal, of running a London GFA time, and we jogged, walked, talked and tried not to vomit our way round the last, somewhat painful, 7 miles of the marathon to finish in 3 hours 36 minutes. You wouldn’t know that we’d both had the worst marathons of our lives if you look at the finish photos – I think we were both just so delighted to have finished with our guts still intact.
I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly what ‘went wrong’, at the marathon on Sunday. It is mostly that I’m just not good enough to run as fast as I wanted to – not yet, anyway. I gave in way too easily, and should have been mentally stronger. I followed the wrong plan: it was an experiment to try something so wildly different to what has worked so well for me in the past, and unfortunately one that just didn’t pay off. I am still wondering if it was the right decision to run London 5 weeks before: my legs may not have recovered fully from that, but then again, I do have a BQ from London…
Running with Jocelyn was great: she turned what could have been an utterly awful day into a pretty good one all in all. I might not have run a PB but I’ve gained a lovely new friend. We’ll both be at London next year, and both smile the whole way round, not just with relief at the finish!
I’m going to not run for a while now – mostly because I can’t, my quads are too sore. I’ve got other fun things to do until January, including getting married and a 7K swimming adventure. Come the New Year however, I’ll be back on the Hansons’ train, hoping they’ve forgiven me for a brief stint elsewhere.