My impressions of the Edinburgh Marathon

Firstly an apology about the lack of photos. When I woke at 8am on Sunday the rain was p***ing down – yes really pouring. I left the camera in favour of the umbrella and headed off sparing a thought for the thousands running the half marathon at that very moment when conditions were so horrible.
As I approached Portobello where I planned to watch the marathon runners at the 7 mile point the rain stopped and before long the elite athletes, mainly Africans at the front, coasted past us as though they were doing a stroll in the park. I couldn’t believe how effortless it looked or indeed the pace at which they were running.
They were followed by club runners and gradually the mass group – large numbers of whom seemed to be running for charity. It was fascinating how the running styles, level of fatigue and general attitude changed as wave after wave of runner passed.
I was at a busy corner with a left turn. I noticed that some runners were taking an even sharper left turn for the public conveniences! And when I took the chance to visit the Gents there were a number of women using the facilities – clearly there was an overflow situation in the Ladies!
As we watched entertainment was provided by a generous spectator dispensing jelly babies. As folk ran past they would reach out to get one but coordination was clearly difficult and some folk either missed the treat or dropped it. They would then turn round to retrieve the situation and run bang into the next runner behind them. At one point I had visions of a pile-up developing but fortunately the supply of jelly babies ran out.
Towards the rear of the field some people were clearly enjoying the experience. Others were really struggling even at that relatively early stage of the run. I realised sadly that some of them just weren’t going to finish.
With my hands sore from clapping the runners I headed four miles further on foot to the finish area arriving about ten minutes before the lead runners finished. I was about 100 metres from the finish line and again it was a study seeing the agony and the ecstasy on the faces of the finishers. There was a decent crowd by now and the roars of encouragement did seem to positively inspire some of the finishers who had clearly used up their whole reserves of endurance and strength.
My overall impression is that there is something very special about running a marathon. If you’re a runner and you’ve never run one then do it! If you’re not a runner start small – aim for a 5k to start with. And who knows what it might lead to?

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Edinburgh Marathon

The marathon season is in full swing. And this week it is the turn of Edinburgh. Even if you’re not a runner then if you live in Edinburgh you might have been wondering what on earth has been getting folk up at ungodly hours of the day and in every type of horrible weather to go out running. Yes marathon training. This year I’m spectating not running but I still remember the dual feelings of intense anticipation and major panic that I was experiencing in the lead up to the marathon this time last year. I know quite a few folk running the Edinburgh marathon this year so I’m looking forward to cheering them on. For them the training and preparation is over. All they need is some decent weather and the mental strength to keep going. Because as they see that wonderful finish line you can be sure that there will be hundreds of people cheering them on
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I’ll try and take some photos on Sunday so that you can experience a little bit of this year’s Edinburgh Marathon.

What I love about running blogs

This one is mainly about running so non-runners check back another time!

One of the most important things in training for my marathon was reading running blogs. I still spend obscene amounts of time reading running blogs and I love them. Firstly I love the variety. For some folk running is the only thing in life that matters. Non-runners might term them obsessive. But I love the passion and intensity of their running which spills over into their blogging. Others run as a hobby and their blog covers other areas and interests of their lives. And there’s everything in between the two extremes!
Secondly I love the honesty and humour. I don’t know why it is but we runners are an honest breed. We share our struggles, our failures, our disappointments and our dashed hopes. And most of the time we do it in good spirit and with humour because when we get knocked down we get up again. And my goodness we know how to laugh at ourselves.
Thirdly I love photos of where folk train and run. There are some beautiful places to run out there! But best of all are race reports. And the more detail in a race report the better. I want to hear as much as possible; your preparations; before the race; how you were feeling at each stage; the thoughts that went through your mind; the things that spurred you on and kept you going.
Fourthly there are the blogs that give you ideas of things to try – diet, hydration, equipment, gadgets etc etc. I don’t want it to be too technical or complicated but a little goes a long way.

I haven’t run competitively since 21 December but I am still training. This is my least favorite time of the year for running. It is dark, cold, slippy and my weight is high. My aim is to lose the Christmas weight then slowly build up my training again. I was encouraged by my first set of interval training in 2014 yesterday. I’m not where I was last November but I’m not as far away from it as I feared!

I want to leave you with an inspirational quote I read recently on a running blog I follow :
“When I do the best I can with what I have, then I have won my race.” Jay Foonberg quoted here

Still alive!

I’m still alive (and kicking) and apologise for my absence from blogging even if it has given you some relief from my rambling gibberish. Truth to tell I fell into superstition. Each week I didn’t blog my running at parkrun seemed to improve and my long held dream of breaking 20 minutes suddenly seemed possible. I didn’t want to jinx it by blogging so held off and held off until I can hold off no longer or I won’t be able to wish you a very merry Christmas!

So what was behind the improvement in my 5k times? Well two things at least. Firstly I changed my interval training after reading a running blog. Secondly I have been doing physical exercises to build muscle strength. But don’t worry – I haven’t completed the treble by losing weight. Or else this would be a success story rather than an admission of failure.

Four weeks ago I ran a personal best 5k of 20.01. Agonizingly close to sub 20 minutes! Two weeks ago I ran 20.02. Still close. But now I’m resigned to the fact that I won’t do it this year. The weather conditions are now firmly against further improvement. But I do believe now that it is a possibility. And that is a major step forward. This Saturday all being well I will complete my 100th Edinburgh parkrun. After that I’m taking a break from running to enjoy all the festive food and drink. I expect to put on a stone of weight. I’ll keep volunteering at parkrun to encourage my pals and enjoy their successes.

I’ll try and post some pictures of the 100th run next week but I would like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and all the very best for 2014!

Nothing in life is easy

But some things are harder than others. At this time of year Edinburgh doubles in population as visitors arrive for the annual Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival. One of the Fringe shows caught my eye : “26 marathons in 26 days.” The detail brought tears to my eyes. Every morning an amazing woman called Vicki Weitz runs from the gates of Holyrood Palace up the Royal Mile to the Castle Esplanade (a height gain of 465 feet!) and back down again. She does this 13 times and is doing it 26 days in a row! Today is Day 20 and she’s still going strong. What an amazing woman. Read more about it here
Unsurprisingly this caught the eyes of the parkrunners and on Sunday morning at the ungodly hour of 7am a bleary-eyed group of us met up with Vicki to join her. I managed 7 laps (i.e. 14 miles) before giving up and I have to say what she is doing represents an amazing feat of strength, stamina, determination and mental fortitude. I’ll let you know in due course if she completes the 26.

Yes I know I’m meant to be training for a 10k and running 14 miles up a prolonged steep hill then down again is not exactly in the training schedule I had set myself but it was worth it to see what an individual can physically achieve. My weigh-in this week revealed that I’m still putting on weight post-holiday so the regime and training will need to be stricter this week. But seeing what Vicki is achieving will definitely be a spur and an encouragement.