Happily Ever After
Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, three cats, garden wildlife, a camera, a computer – and increasing amounts about running
Edinburgh Marathon 2022
by Russell Turner - 18:46 on 30 May 2022
At least I tried but, with hindsight, attempting the Edinburgh Marathon with no proper build-up was asking for trouble, especially as I didn’t stick to my plan of run/walk after 5-6 miles. Although from the start would have been better.
A two-mile walk from the hotel to the assembly point near the Commonwealth Pool was a good warm-up, and confirmation that all was well with my feet. Hanging around at the start was cool, but when we got going a T-shirt proved to be the correct racewear.
It all began so well. The run through the Old Town and beside Holyrood Park was pleasant, with lots of support, including Matchgirl who’d allowed me to tag along. At Mile 5, when I should have begun the run/walk, the route took us along the seashore, past amusement arcades and bemused holidaymakers. The sun shone (harder than I realised, as light sunburn later proved) and we trotted on, at a modest pace but one that would have got us home around 5:15 – a time that would have more than satisfied us both.
I finally switched to run/walk at seven miles. To my surprise, Matchgirl stayed with me despite it being a running style she doesn’t embrace. However, we parted at just before 10 miles, and a still respectable 1:50, when she stopped to pee and urged me to continue. Maybe I should have stopped too because I began running instead of run/walking.
The struggle began at Mile 12. Walk breaks got longer, runs shorter, and I took the opportunity to chat with other walkers, some of whom I then left behind. The going got even tougher by Mile 17, by when Matchgirl had passed me (I declined her offer to stay with me), and I’d had a brief halt to greet Squirrel James, running in the opposite direction towards an impressive 4:51 PB. Around this time I saw the first of several foil-wrapped runners seated beside ambulances, so some people were having a worse day.
I gave up completely after Mile 20 and went into death march mode. My hopes of a 5:30 finish had faded. A sub-6hr finish was slipping away but my head was gone. Running was too hard. The people I’d passed began to pass me: the girl who’d torn her hamstring four weeks ago; the guy taking it easy ahead of a JOGLE beginning on Wednesday; the old guy who ran 3:33 marathons in his youth but had been caught out by the unexpected heat. All disappeared into the distance.
In the last couple of miles, on two occasions I was overtaken by women old enough to be great grannies. I didn’t care. I just wanted it to be over, and for the cheery bystanders to stop shouting “Looking good” and “You’ve got this” when I clearly didn’t and hadn’t.
At last, I rounded the final corner, summoned up a shuffle for the finish line cameramen, and my torment ended in 6:05. I’ve run slower and faster marathons but this was absolutely the hardest. My feet and ankles had passed the test, and my cardio was fine, but my legs didn’t have it in them. That’s what lack of proper training does for you.
The walk to Wallyford station for travel to Edinburgh was slow, but at least I got a seat on the packed train thanks to Matchgirl, who gave me the last one. My brief dizzy spell while waiting may have contributed to her concern. The sit-down shower in our disabled-friendly hotel room was a boon and the fish and chips for tea was great. Finally in bed, incautious, cramp-inducing foot movements were mostly avoided and sleep came quickly – unlike the previous night, which may also have contributed to my poor showing.
So, Edinburgh Marathon: unlike Matchgirl, I liked the course and the organisation was slick, as it should be for £62. But the goody bag was scant, all finishers from 5k to marathon got the same T-shirt, and all got the same medal with only a jingly key-ring-type attachment to show the distance run, as it shouldn’t be for £62.
Would I try again? I’d like to do it proper justice with decent training but next time the weather and the notorious headwind (absent on race day) might be against us. And whether I could set aside the mental scarring of the day is another matter.
London Marathon training begins two weeks on Wednesday. I’ll take it easy until then.
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