Personally

Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2018- Race Recap

Hey guys!

My legs are jelly and I need food in my belly, buuuuuuut I DID IT!!

This year, on the day after my birthday, I attempted once again what is fast becoming a birthday tradition for me- The Edinburgh Marathon Festival Half Marathon.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know that I applied for the Half Marathon last year on a whim. Mr OneBigSressball was doing the full marathon and I felt left out, and I was also recovering from a knee injury- and constantly being told by people not to run and to lay off my legs for a while made me even more determined to get better and show everyone what I was capable of.

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After the event last year I almost gave up running altogether- going from 4 or 5 weekly runs to just 1 if I could be bothered, and focusing on strength training because the run had left me in so much pain, as well as knocking my confidence. I simply told myself that running wasn’t for me, and that the half marathon was as good as I was ever going to get.

But I missed it like a millennial’s hand itches and misses the phone it’s usually attached to. Running is my passion, and I’d let it go, for reasons I couldn’t even justify… all this is going to be a soppy post in the near future, don’t you worry.

So let’s get back on track.

Towards to end of last year I decided (again, kind of on a whim) that I wanted to do the half marathon again this year. I mainly wanted to raise money for charity, but I also wanted to force myself back into the habit of running, so signing up for a race was the perfect way to do that. I couldn’t really train properly when I was living in Sydney, due to it being the middle of summer and ridiculously hot a lot of the time, and by the time I came back to Scotland, the beast from the east had hit and we could barely walk the streets because of snow and ice, let alone run.

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I properly started to train for the half in April- making myself focus more on getting miles under the trainers rather than reps in a squat rack.

To say it was difficult is a total understatement. I don’t know about any other runners out there, but I found it so frustrating finding a route that worked for me in this new city I was living in. I remember during one run I even had to stop after just 5km because I felt like I was wasting my time and energy trying to find a particular path I’d run on before. (My sense of direction is tragically bad, so I’d forgotten where the start of this route was even though I’d run a short race on it just the week before.)

However, once I got into my stride I started to pick things up. I ran at least 3 times every week; changed my strength training to suit my new needs, and, after my birthday on Saturday, I felt ready to tackle the 13.1 miles I was to run on Sunday morning.

I was anxious to begin with because I knew that due to expected traffic congestion and limited Sunday service on public transport it would have been a nightmare for anyone to come and wait for me at the finish line. So I had told my mum and Mr OneBigStressball not to bother trying to get there, and that I’d meet them at home afterwards. (This didn’t turn out well for me, and you’ll soon find out why.) Anyway, the point is, though I had told them not to come and greet me at the finish because it was the sensible thing to do, it still upset me a little that I’d be crossing the line to no-one’s open arms and have to make my way home on my own.

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I got up at 6 o’clock in the morning, knowing I hadn’t packed my running bag yet and had until 7am to leave the house, and, after an eggy breakfast, gave Mr OneBigStressball a kiss and left the house, making my way to the starting line, a short 20 minute walk from the flat.

The weather wasn’t the best. We had amazing weather all through last week, and predictions for Sunday had been sitting at near 20 degrees, so I had initially been worried about staying hydrated enough to not get heatstroke or pass out. But the sudden chilly weather actually reassured me. Yeah, it was fucking freezing walking to the start line in just a vest top and leggings, but I knew that once I’d begun running I’d warm up and embrace my cooler surroundings.

I was just plodding along, listening to some music on my earphones and psyching myself up for the challenge ahead, when someone suddenly grabbed my hand.

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Now, I know I live in Scotland, but even here that isn’t a normal thing to be happening. I jumped, obviously startled, but was pleasantly surprised to see Mr OneBigStressball’s face grinning down and me smugly.

He had decided to walk me to the start line! And good thing too, to be honest- I wasn’t 100% on where I was headed, and had in fact been following a group of people in running gear beforehand, assuming they were headed to the race too.

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It’s lovely having someone walk to the beginning of a race with you- you have someone you can voice your concerns to, and get reassurance from. As it was quite chilly, I was anxious that my body wouldn’t warm up enough for me to run well. It was a silly thing to assume- I shouldn’t have let something as trivial as the weather make me feel that way, but when you’re gearing up for a long run, these things get to you.

He held my hand the whole way, and waited with me until it was time for me to go to my starting pen. I actually couldn’t find it at first, as it was round the corner from where we were standing (remember my issue with directions and finding things?) but I eventually got to where I needed to be, and started to warm up.

I think every runner has their own little ritual.

I got my Strava and Garmin apps ready to go on my phone, started my podcast, slipped my earphones into my ears, and turned it up enough to be able to tune out the rest of the world. I could feel my heartbeat, and hear only the words of the podcast, and with that I began to stretch and get my body to warm up against the misty surroundings.

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As soon as I saw people starting to move (the race starts in waves so people don’t end up trampling each other) I felt my heart starting to race, so slowed my breathing down a notch to calm myself down. I knew if I started the race with my hearty pounding I wouldn’t be able to recover easily from it.

My pen finally reached the starting line and we took off.

In, two, three, out, two, three.Β 

In, two, three, out, two, three.

That’s what I counted in my head to keep my breathing in check. It might be hard to believe, but this pattern of thought actually lasted the entirety of the run, as I have a really bad habit of letting my breathing get out of control and getting a stitch.

In, two, three, out, two, three.

In, two, three, out, two, three.

Compared to last year, this half marathon showed me what I can do when my body is healthy, well rested, and not suffering from injury and lack of nutrients and calories.

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Last year, I struggled with knee pain, hip pain, reeeaaaaallly bad chafing, and a negative attitude that barely got me past the finish line.

This year, I enjoyed the coastal views the race had to offer, I stayed positive, I took Facebook live videos as well as Instagram videos to document the race and ask people to keep donating to the cause I was running for, and I looked toward my goal, rather than shirking away from it.

 

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The last 4 miles were the toughest.

The Edinburgh Half Marathon has a stretch of road near the racecourse which runs for about two miles and then double backs on itself, so you’re running for ages in one direction, with hundreds of people flying past you on their way back, and it seems to go on forever. This is perhaps the most mentally challenging part of the race- seeing so many people ahead of you, and not knowing how much longer you need to keep going in the same direction, and knowing that the longer you go, the way back towards the finish line is equally as long.

There was one point where I wanted to stop and walk- give my legs a rest and then keep going, but I looked at my watch and realised I still had 2 miles to go and less than 20 minutes to do them if I wanted to reach my goal of getting the half done in under 2 hours. And I remembered just how many people I’d told about this goal, and just couldn’t bring myself to let them, or myself to be honest, down. So I pushed through the throbbing pain of a blister forming on my foot, and gave everything I had.

And it happened. The finish line came into view and I forgot about the pain as I ran as fast and as hard as I could to get to it.

1:55:59.

That was the official time I got the half marathon done.

I did it! I told everyone I’d get it in under 2 hours, and I followed through! Almost a whole 10 minutes quicker than I did it last year!

It just goes to show- when you’re doing something that makes you happier than any other activity- that makes you feel like you’re flying and can accomplish whatever you want- then youΒ canΒ achieve any goal you set out to smash.

The medal we get at the end of the race doesn’t just show that we put one foot ahead of the other for 13.1 miles. It represents the hundreds of miles put into training; the thousands of minutes spent telling yourself it’s totally worth it. It is a testament to the effort you have put into yourself, and the faith you have in yourself paying off.

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Does anyone else on here like running?

C x

 

 

2 thoughts on “Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2018- Race Recap

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