Running the Edinburgh marathon - the struggle, the inspiration, the dog and the pizza

I was in a hole. It started sometime around Longniddry. It grew deeper and more painful as I passed Cockenzie and Port Seton, through Prestonpans where one man was standing outside the Goth, pint in hand. It looked resplendent.

Then the stretch between the Pans and Musselburgh. The mile markers became longer and more elusive.

I knew my partner and unimpressed dog – complete with a ‘Stay Paws-itive’ sign – were up ahead. If I could get there, for a split second at least, I’d forget about the pain in my lower back. And everywhere else.

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It was the home straight and it was touch-and-go if I was going to be able to reach my sub-3:30 time target.

Having enjoyed the first 20 or so miles, grabbing Haribo and Jelly Babies from the public supporting on the streets, the last four to five miles had brought about the wall. My average pace had dipped and I required a pick-me-up. That was provided by my partner and dog. Strengthened shortly after as the Jurassic Park theme tune drifted from speakers. No better soundtrack to push me to pick up the pace very slightly and cross the line with a pained expression and 47 seconds to spare.

Forty thousand steps and 26.2 miles which began two decades ago.

Grandad's influence

My grandad was a keen runner, to put it lightly. He was a painter and decorator but his passion was football – he scouted for Hearts under Willie Ormond – but more so running. Ninety-five per cent of the time he’d be dressed head-to-toe in running gear, just waiting for the opportunity to run. It took him around the world, whether it was marathons or training Wilson Kirwa, a Kenyan who represented Finland.

Post-marathon hangover.Post-marathon hangover.
Post-marathon hangover.

I too benefited from his training in my early teens and younger. For a period, every Sunday morning we would venture to Gullane to run. And work on my goalkeeping. After trail runs, he would fire shots into me on grass which ran parallel to Muirfield golf course. My reactions, movement across an imaginary goal and weak(er) side, whichever one that was, would come under the microscope.

Unfortunately he wasn’t there to finally see me reach the point where I saw the pleasure in running he did. Sunday was for him. Even if he’d have been mortified with my training schedule, as my mum not-so-subtly suggested. One where runs were fitted in between recovering from hangovers and the next takeaway.

The aforementioned hole was very much self-inflicted. As was the subsequent post-run feeling of a really bad hangover. Lying in a heap as a friend sauntered about with a pint having run it in 2:53. Now, that was a run.

A nap at my mum’s 60th was followed by two-and-a-half pizzas, two brownies, cans of Scotland’s finest lager and birthday cake.

Much-needed support on the way around.Much-needed support on the way around.
Much-needed support on the way around.
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Monday’s pain was eased somewhat by a notification that I had surpassed my fundraising target for Big Hearts, who do stellar work in the local community and around Edinburgh.

I had vowed, on crossing the finish line, to never do that again. But we’ll see. The West Highland Way race sounds tasty. 96 miles with a 35-hour time cap which includes a 14,760ft of ascent.

I can only imagine the hole I’d find myself in during that.



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