My First Marathon (Andrew)

I don’t remember why I entered the Edinburgh Marathon 2003. I was running regularly, four to five times a week, and, having just started a new job as a trainee lawyer, I would use my lunchtime to get out the office and run four miles. Ha, I would think, you can’t chain this free spirit to a desk! 

There were only a handful of people who were known as runners. One man invited me to run a 10k with him and on the way there he explained how he would unstitch his trainers, cut the fabric and stitch them back together to get a lighter more comfortable shoe. When I asked him how fast he expected to run the race he explained in minute detail the exact second he was aiming for and the likelihood of hitting it depending on the prevailing wind and humidity. He was a real runner. And by real runner I mean a twat.

Another office runner had run the London Marathon the year before. How did you do that? I said. “One foot at a time,” he said, “how else do you do it?”. I liked his attitude and I think it was him who inspired me to enter the Edinburgh Marathon because how hard could it be when it was just one foot at a time. If I’d only asked the other man, I would have known exactly how hard it would be – roughly 138,799 feet harder.

To prepare for the race, I tried to follow a marathon training programme with regular long runs and increasing distances each week. That programme lasted about one week as I’ve never been good at consistent long runs. Instead I would try and run my regular four-mile lunch run faster on the basis that if I could run part of the race faster then, when I slowed down, my average would still be okay.

I managed one 20 mile run before the marathon – and I was feeling confident. Not only was I not drinking I’d also given up sweets. No chocolates, no cakes, no donuts, no sugar. It was horrible and I’ve never done it again – you need a treat when you eat. 

I can’t remember who was meant to run with me. In my mind, Iain was always running it, but I also know that he never intended to finish it and was planning to quit at the half way point. But what I didn’t know was that he had been drinking the night before – though I should have guessed when he had a bacon roll and a packet of yum yums for breakfast. You need a treat when you drink too…

I was excited to run. I was ready. But I also knew that like Iain I would be running on fumes. Though his were at the start and mine would come when I hit ‘The Wall’. 

There’d been a lot of talk about The Wall before the race. I’d checked with the London Marathon runner and he explained how at some point I would feel like I couldn’t run any further and no matter how much I tried I wouldn’t be able to push on. It was like hitting a wall as you would just come to a stop.

For me that happened at mile 16, which just goes to show the difference training can make. His wall was at mile 20 because he’d trained more. Mine was at mile 16 because I thought if I could run a half marathon in 1 hour 40 minutes then I should just double my time and I’d be home in time to have a mid-morning kilo box of Quality Street.

Instead, at mile 16, I felt all energy leave my legs. I switched to a walk/run strategy of walking 10 miles after I’d already ran 16 miles. In the last mile I tried to run when I saw a man in a diving costume ahead. After checking he was running by spotting his race number – you can’t be too careful in Edinburgh on a Sunday morning when stags are stumbling home – I tried to beat him with the thought that I couldn’t lose to a deep-sea diver. Not knowing at this point that he’d started seven days ahead of me I was gutted to lose the final sprint on the Meadowbank athletic track to what I thought was a man who managed to run faster than me in wellies and a snorkel. 

My original aim was four hours with the thought that I should probably beat 3 hours 30 minutes as that would still be slower than two half marathons. In the end, I walked across the line in 4 hours 11 minutes. Just behind the diver and just ahead of two rhinos. 

And within 30 seconds I’d ended my ‘no treats’ fast by eating an entire chocolate muffins in two bites.

2019 – part 2 (Iain)

 A few blogs ago, I wrote about my plan for 2019:

The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running that far. 

So, as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I know that’s what I have to do in 2019.

Now I just need to decide which one….

I can now exclusively reveal my choice of race isn’t just one ultra but two!

I did ask Runners World Magazine if they wanted the exclusive but after they said “Who are you? Why would we want that? How did you get this number?” I decided to reveal it here instead. 

My first ultra is the John Muir Way Ultra. A 50KM race in East Lothian. I chose it because it’s flat, I love visiting East Lothian and I get a funky looking t-shirt if I complete it. 

https://foxtrailscotland.co.uk/races/ultra/

My second ultra is the Devil O The Highlands race. A hillier longer race comprising 42 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William. I choose this because I wanted a distance that was scary (31 miles isn’t that different from a marathon but 42 is very different) I love this section of the West Highland Way, and, if I complete it, I get a funky looking t-shirt….there is a theme developing about how I choose events. 

 https://www.devilothehighlandsfootrace.co.uk/

The race also has one of the best disclaimers I’ve seen. 

The event strives to be as inclusive as possible and the organizers have a zero tolerance policy to any form of discrimination. We are not fond of Donald Trump.

I think that’s one person most people are happy to discriminate against!

My first marathon (Iain)

I recently read a post about completing a marathon.

“The marathon is such a huge commitment and is a lot of work. But it is the most rewarding race I’ve ever done. The first time you cross that line is so emotional. The relief, the pain, the tears, it’s a moment that will live with you forever.”

It really chimed with me because when I first completed a marathon I felt none of those things because all i felt was my nipples. That sounds weird. Let me explain….

It took me three attempts to complete a marathon but I’d argue the first two don’t count.

My first attempt was the Edinburgh Marathon. Andrew had entered and trained for months. I had not entered or trained at all yet I found myself on the start line when a spare place became available the day before the race. I only did it to keep Andrew company for the first half of the race. I dropped out after the half way point to catch a bus home.

My second attempt was an out and back course at the Fort William Marathon I ran out but couldn’t be bothered running back as it was a really boring route. I have never done an out and back race since.

My third attempt was the Tokyo marathon. I do not remember much about the race other than it was a bit chilly and not very scenic. Once I’d run down one Japanese road full of office blocks then I’d seen them all.

As I got nearer the finish, I felt a pain in my chest. My first thought was “Am I having a heart attack?” so I did what all men do in the face of a medical issue. I ignored it. I stared ahead and concentrated on making it to the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, the pain got worse. I put my hand to my chest. It felt damp. I looked down. My top was covered in blood. Had I been attacked by a Japanse vampire – Count Japula?  I moved my hand around. I felt my nipples, I screamed in agony! They were bleeding.

I now regretted my decision to run the race in a Celtic FC football top. The thick heavy polyester of the top had chafed my nips like a cheese grater. I was practically nip-less.

Now the panic set it. Maybe I’d need nip replacement surgery! Would Andrew donate one of his to me? If he didn’t where would I get one from? Should I get big or small ones? So many questions!

I didn’t have a replacement top so after the race I got the subway and then walked to my hotel after the race in my green and white and blood top. To this day I’ve never felt the magic of the marathon as every time I finish one I immediately check my nips and thank they lord they are still there.