This is a few weeks late after traveling for work last week....but I just HAD TO review my first marathon!
After a rocky return back to the working world and long hours the last few months, Edinburgh Marathon really snuck up on me. While I was able to get my 20 mile runs in, my overall mileage each week wasn't very consistent and nothing compared to what I was running before March. But it was my first marathon and all I wanted to do was finish. I wasn't as nervous as I could have been because I had no pressure to beat a time. A nice feeling after struggling to break 2 hours in the half.
Hubs and I flew to Edinburgh the day before the race and were greeted by beautiful sunshine when we arrived. We had a great pre-marathon day. We wandered around the city and then gave my legs a rest by watching 'The Avengers Assemble' in 3D. That evening we had an early dinner (spaghetti and meatballs for me!) before chilling in our room and an early night.
The Edinburgh Marathon started at a very civilized 10am (the half marathon started at 8am) so I was up and eating breakfast at 7am. It gave me enough time to relax a bit in the hotel room before getting geared up for the race. Our hotel was just off the Royal Mile which meant a very short walk to the start line at Regent Road.
As soon as we started walking down the Royal Mile you could feel the festival atmosphere. It had been cooler earlier that morning but the sun was out now, and I could see hundreds of other runners heading for the race. We made it to Regent Road at about 9:25am and I decided to head for the toilet queue!
It was probably the longest toilet queue I've ever been in...and the most overseen! There were two sets of portaloos, each manned by marshals. First there was a long queue just to reach the loos, and then another marshall directed you to one of several other queues for the loos! Not sure if this made things move any faster or not, though. By the time I was done it was 9:50am I was late getting to the pens.
Luckily the Gold Pen was nearby and not at all crowded. I found a spot towards the back, got my Garmin going....and before I knew it we were walking towards the line! I chatted with the lady next to me who was also from London and running her first marathon. Despite the large number of racers and being in the second to the last pen, we crossed the line about 10 minutes after the official start. Everyone around me started jogging and then BOOM! I was running my first marathon!
It was really, really hard not to go too fast in the first few miles. It felt like the whole world was running past me while I was plodding, and a downhill section near the start didn't help. But I stuck to my guns and told myself I needed to stay calm and not get carried away. The first 3 or 4 miles passed very quickly, winding through the city and then past Arthur's Seat.
Around mile 4, a lovely lady came up next to me saying, 'I've been watching you! I really like your pace!' That was enough to flatter me and I was even more determined to stay steady after she said it was her 3rd marathon in 6 weeks! We ended up running together from then until about mile 21 and it was great having some company.
We reached the promenade around mile 6 and with the bright sun it was a relief to feel the wonderful sea breeze. I continued to jog along and just after mile 9 was surprised when someone called my name... @rowenanews! I turned to see her and @dunsrunner (with florescent gloves as promised) waving at me! They were great cheerleaders and I was so happy to have their support. A welcome boost as I plowed on!
I started to really feel the heat at mile 14 or 15, although I momentarily forgot about it as the elite runners zoomed past. The leading pack of men looked so comfortable--amazing considering the pace they must have been going--and we tried to cheer for everyone as they went by. We were set back from the coast at this point which meant we were running in direct sun with little shade and no breeze. With the heat and few spectators around this section it felt like forever to get to the turnaround. I heard someone near say it was at mile 18 but it was actually a bit past, and I don't think I was ever happier to start heading back!
The only downside after the turning point was that I found myself back on to the same hot road. I tried not to think about it and focused on getting to mile 20, reminding myself that every single step beyond that was a new achievement. I cheered with my running buddy after I hit mile 21 yelling, 'This is the furthest I've ever run!'
The last 5 miles were a total blur. There were more people the closer we got to the finish. I was buoyed by the crowds and by the time I hit mile 23 I kept thinking, 'Wow, I'm really going to finish! I'm really going to finish!' During the last mile I could see that I was close to running under 4:50 so I pushed harder! I saw the blue finish line and went for it. Right after I crossed the line I heard Hubs shouting my name. I was so happy to see him....and so tired....and so happy. My official time was 4:49:28. My goal was 5 hours so I was thrilled!
I collected my medal, goody bag, and water, before catching up with Hubs, stretching and heading for the buses back to the city. We had pre-ordered bus tickets but they were parked a few miles away from the finish so we opted to just take the regular bus back to the city center. My first marathon was suddenly over, and I was over the moon. Despite the heat I loved every minute of it, and was already thinking about what my next marathon would be.
Overall, I thought Edinburgh Marathon was great, in particular for a first-time marathoner. It was very well organized at both the start and finish. There were plenty of water stations--all fully manned--and the small water bottles were perfect for a hot day. They were even passing out High5 gels the last few stations, which I would have used if I didn't have my own.
Plus, the crowds were fantastic. Not only did they cheer, they were handing out all sorts of sweets (I sadly passed on some homemade fudge!) and water. And on a hot day, people spraying all the runners with their hoses made a real difference! I looked like a drowned rat by the end but it really helped me to stay cool.
The only thing that could have been organized a bit better were the buses back to the city. It would be great if they could be somewhere nearer to the finish so runners don't have to walk miles and then wait ages to get on a bus. If I would have known they were going to be so far away, I wouldn't have spent money on the spectator/runner tickers which were more expensive than public transport.
So there you have it. I finished my first marathon in Edinburgh. Still feeling very happy and I will proudly wear my race shirt....even if it is a little big!
A flat course (with an overall downhill elevation) perfect for first-timers or those looking for PBs. Very well organized and no ballot required for entry. Great atmosphere with crowds cheering for most of the race. Would definitely recommend and consider doing it again (hopefully in cooler conditions).
Stats in 2012 (the 10th anniversary):
Date: 27 May
Entry Fee: £44 early entry, £49.50 standard (unaffiliated)
Number of runners: 23,000
Timing chip on race number
Goody bag (flapjack, High5 tabs and a technical tee)
Medals for every finisher