One month on since my first visit to Scotland and my second marathon, I’m looking back with so much pride and lots of amazing memories of Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2023.
I travelled up to Edinburgh the Friday before the race by train with two friends - one of them would be running with me and the other was acting as our tour guide and number one cheerleader! It was lovely to have a couple of days in the city to be a tourist and get a feel for the city, and I especially loved visiting Portobello parkrun for my pre race shakeout.
A huge bonus was that we were staying less than a five minute walk from the start line which made for a very relaxed race day morning. We headed down with plenty of time to spare and met up with the other girls from PASSA in the queue for the toilets - the weather was overcast but dry, perfect running conditions! After a group picture and a last minute wee, I headed along to the pink start wave ready to give the race my best shot. I felt ready.
The first few miles exceeded my expectations as we wove downhill through the city centre, passing famous landmarks including Greyfriars Bobby, along the Royal Mile and through Holyrood Park. The course was very crowded throughout this early section, but that was actually a good thing as it meant I couldn’t get too carried away with my pace!
As we headed out of the city centre and along the first coastal section there were still plenty of supporters cheering us on. I took my first couple of Torq gels and focused on keeping a slow and steady pace, ticking off each mile. I got talking to a lady wearing a 2014 EMF t-shirt and felt like I was relaxing into the run.
Around the 10 mile marker the long out and back section began. I soon saw the lead runners heading back toward the finish and felt completely in awe. The steady stream of runners on the opposite side of the road provided the perfect distraction, and I kept a lookout for my friends ahead of me. I was so happy that I managed to spot them all, and it was a much needed boost around the middle of the race. At mile 16 I was feeling really strong and I started to believe that I would be able to run the whole 26.2 miles. My mindset felt so different from my previous marathon where I’d struggled to keep running to the halfway point and then completely crumbled mentally. Then the sun came out.
I reached the turning point of the out and back around and it suddenly felt like a very long way back along the seafront to the finish. I stopped for a quick wee around mile 18 which made me lose my groove a bit. But I kept going. I reminded myself that I had run the full 20 miles on my longest training run and focused on reaching that milestone again. I kept running past it, proud of myself that this was now the longest I had ever run non-stop.
I was doing my best to tick off those last few miles, knowing that if I kept plodding along I’d almost certainly meet my A goal of finishing under 5 hours. But it was the hottest part of the day and there was hardly any shade on the route. The heat was starting to get to me and I walked through the water station at mile 22.
I managed to get running again after an encouraging text from my friends, but had short walk breaks close to the mile markers at mile 23 and 24. I knew my friends were now waiting for me just after mile 25, so I bargained with myself to try and run the rest, with the small hope of still sneaking through the finish before the clock reached five hours.
It was a real shuffle to the end and I was so grateful to the kind supporters close to the final mile with a box of ice cold water bottles which they were handing out. I gulped the whole bottle down immediately. I passed my personal cheer squad which was soon followed by a huge surge in crowds as the finish line approached, with people calling my name and reminding me I could do it. I was almost there.
Rounding the final corner and seeing the finish line come into view was such a joyful moment. I missed out on my sub 5 hour goal by 5 minutes but I am so happy with my 19 minute PB and my positive mindset throughout the race. I enjoyed it so much more than my previous marathon experience - I was more prepared both mentally and physically.
As the race finished in a different place from where it started, it was a bit of a trek back to our accommodation. We walked very slowly to the train station to find an extremely crowded platform, but eventually we were back in central Edinburgh with celebratory burgers and fizz. I wore my medal all the way back to Bournemouth on the train the next day, eager to show it off to my family and see my son. The weekend had been memorable for all the right reasons and I would visit Scotland again in a heartbeat!
To read more race recaps, including Brighton Marathon 2022, click here. Thanks for reading!