It’s taken me a while to get round to writing this but here it goes…
On Sunday 27th May, I ran my first half marathon as part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend. I hardly got a wink of sleep the night before. I’m not sure if that was down to nerves, excitement or the energy from my carb loading… but I was clock watching and anxious as the hours ticked by and I still wasn’t off to the land of nod!
The race began at 8.00am – the perfect race start time in my opinion. I got up at 5.30am to get in a decent breakfast, prepare myself for the race and travel to the start line! Brandon was a little angel, dropped me off and accompanied me to the toilet queue and eventually the start line, meaning I could keep my warm layers on right until the very last minute.
The race in run through the city centre of Edinburgh, taking in all the sights and landmarks before heading out along the coast! It’s a really diverse route with not too much undulation. As the roads are closed for this race there’s plenty of room to run and I never felt like I was stuck behind other runners. The only part I didn’t enjoy as much was the out and back section of the final 3 or 4 miles.
The water and gel stations were fantastic. They were pretty regular and spacious so you didn’t feel like you were tripping over people or losing time as you passed by.
This was a great feature within the race. As the elite and club runners set off first, there was a number of points throughout where you’d see them passing and remember you really were running in a proper race! Even the ‘normal’ runners, there was a sense that people were running for PB’s or other personal goals.
UNREAL! There was constant support throughout with member of the public lining the streets in each town, people watching and cheering from the windows of their houses and huge charity stands who would really boost as you passed wearing their tshirt/vest in support. The Macmillan team (who I was running for) were incredible and their support really got me round the route! There was times where I was bursting with emotion; almost in tears with how amazing it felt to be part of this!
Say goodbye to the plastic drawstring bag of other races! EMF handed out a cool little box to everyone who’d competed. Contained inside was the finishers tshirt, a foil blanket, running bottle, electrolyte tablets, protein bar and of course, water.
I loved the medal. A tartan strap with a big chunky medal on the end and a small keyring with your race distance attached! 10/10.
There was ambulance crews and marshalls located throughout the route, if I remember correctly, at each mile marker. You’d never be far from safe hands if your race was to go pear shaped!
The gun went and we began walking through the pens until eventually we started jogging and then began running as my wave crossed the start line.
I started slightly slower (around 8:30 min/mile pace). I had prepared myself mentally for running my own race and not allowing myself to get swept along with the crowds. The room on the course due to the road closures really helped with this! I also used my Garmin to make sure I was running at a pace that was sustainable for me. The first 5 miles passed in a blur and I actually had to shake myself a little and had an internal word with myself; ‘Louise, you’re actually running your A race right now.‘
I was still just ticking off the miles until around mile 8 when I started to become aware that I really was running a half marathon. Thankfully my ankle/foot wasn’t playing up but my knees were quite sore and I could feel hot spots on my feet. However, the support on the course was incredible and I was having lots of fun running past the crowds, so that took my mind off the minor niggles for a short period.
Miles 9 and 10 was when it really started to hurt and this happens to be the section of the course where you go out and back. Mentally, I found that really tough! I’d picked up the pace by this point, seeing on my Garmin that I was on for hitting my goal time of sub-1:50. I was so close, yet still so far! I kept thinking the ‘out’ section must be over soon but the turn around point seemed like it was never going to come. I had to keep telling myself ‘just a ParkRun to go!’ Thankfully, I managed to hold on to my pace.
My music was playing up and I decided I’d lap up the crowds on the final few miles and enjoy the atmosphere but I was in a world of pain and after about half a mile I gave in and turned the tunes back on! Thankfully, the Black Eyed Peas and R.Kelly got me through and I eventually hit the turn for the home straight!
I tried for a sprint finish but I really didn’t have much left… so I’m sure it just looked more like ‘crazy lady needing to get this over with!’
I was absolutely elated when I crossed the finish line in 1:48:40. I’d even stopped for a wee at mile 6!! (I keep imagining what my time would have been if I hadn’t). I thought I’d cry when I finished but the tears never came. I was super emotional but I was more excited than anything else. I was yapping away to Brandon telling him all about it when he met me at the finish line – poor boy!
I had a blast and would 100% recommend this race! Now that’s my first half under my belt, I’m excited to run another one. I’m not sure when that will be at the moment due to injury – but I know there will definitely be another! I’ve caught the ‘bug’ that marathoners/half marathoners speak of!