Sorry for long report – but it was my first time and I was out there for 5.38 hours…
Last year I went from being able to run 5k in January to 13.1 miles for the Edinburgh Half in May. I was in awe of all the harries who do marathons and ultras. It’s always been “nope, no way … i’m never going to do a marathon” then 5 minutes before Stirling Inaugural Marathon is closed to entry I find myself pressing enter!
Yesterday, 21st May 2017 the alarm went off at 5.45am. I’d laid my kit out the night before as per all the top advice from the harriers. Overnight oats for breakfast, and a large cup of tea to wake me up then a quiet walk across to the Penicuik Centre for the minibus. I was glad to be able to get a ride in the minibus with the rest of the harriers crew, kindly organised by Allan Dunbar. I’d initially intended to go with family, but it would not have been a relaxing experience getting them out of the house at 6.30am believe me!
The journey was full of excited chat of the fears before marathons (Paula R was mentioned..) The queues off the M9 into Prudential P&R were long but our minibus driver managed some crafty overtaking/queue jumping. At this stage most of the talk was about needing a wee! After a queue for the buses, we got to the safari park to find big queues for the toilets, a few dashed into the bushes and the rest stood in the queues. Everyone was starting at different times and the toilet queues meant no team photo at the start.
The start was so exciting! The music, the atmosphere and then running past giraffes as we left the safari park – I love giraffes! The 2 mile sign arrived quickly and it was great to see Yvonne O’Malley and family out cheering us on. I started at a nice steady pace and ran the first couple of miles with Jenny. A group of runners ran past pushing a boy in a one wheeled wheelchair. He was so excited by the experience. Amazing to see these people running it for him. Doune, Dunblane, Bridge of Allan were fantastic – lots of cheers and jelly babies being handed out, lots of children wanting high-fives. My face was hurting from smiling. It was very exciting to run through the runner showers – I ran through them all even though it was actually raining as didn’t want to miss out on any part of the experience! The views on the stretches between were lovely, with swallows swooping above our heads it was magical – as I celebrated crossing the first 10k timer I got chatting to a lady who was also doing her first marathon – we ran together until Stirling. I do love a chat buddy 😀
It was downhill from Bridge of Allan to Stirling University for the “big hill”, which wasn’t too bad really. Over 25 years ago I worked at Stirling University, back in the day when i was an academic economist. I’ve not been back since so it was fab to run through the campus, again with great support. I was still feeling good as we approached 13.1 miles – we celebrated with a big whoop. Soon after we heard Yan – a welcome cheer, a lovely smiley face and encouragement. Then it was a bit of a slog along the flat bit into Stirling, I definitely prefer a bit of undulation.
As we arrived in Stirling centre it all got a bit confusing, suddenly other runners were coming in from my right. I had a panic that I’d missed the place where we got divided into laps and finish – I had been worrying that I wouldn’t remember how many laps I had done. All I could see were mileage signs telling me i’d run 40km, 22 miles, 25 miles, my head was a bit tired for working it all out but I knew I’d only done about 17/18 miles. I was reassured by seeing the people I was running with also going that way.
Then I heard the yells of my boys “dig deep Mum! You can do it” – who very excitedly handed out sweeties and high fives. I knew I must be on the right bit if they were there. Al is very good at reading maps, surely he wouldn’t get it wrong, I reassured myself. Then we entered the city centre where the roads
were lined with crowds cheering. It was very emotional for me as I ran past all the places I used to go in my twenties, and tried to spot where Oddbins used to be – Al had worked there for a year post uni and I remembered the hangovers the “wine tastings” gave.
We then headed along the field at the bottom of the castle to the beginning of the laps. The passing the finish clock so closely twice before you actually got there was a bit of a surprise. I hadn’t expected to actually run right past the finishing clock and finish. As you pass over the line the first time, the loud speaker gave instructions for the people who are finishing, the ones who have already done one lap and for runners like me just starting their first lap. Fast runners were having to dodge round us slower runners. Runners around me were chatting about only have 4 miles to go…the crowds were shouting “go on Sandra only 800 metres to go” but I knew I had 8 miles to go. That was psychologically hard. But I was still running ok at that stage, my ankle was starting to be a bit sore but not too bad. I’ve had plantar fasciitis since Feb and have managed it well during training. I got chatting to another lady, got her running again and headed through the underpasses – I still don’t get why these were a such a rant on facebook. The support on the route was still fantastic. It was great to see Al and boys on these loops and funny to see a bunch of supporters dressed up as bananas.
Going into lap 2 was very hard, no idea how many miles it was by then – I would loved to have finished tho. My ankle was getting sorer, and I was trying a short walk/run approach to ease it out. The trouble was I couldn’t land on my heel when walking because it was too painful, but my ankle was really sore to run on. The underpasses came and went, and as we got round the other side of the castle by the river the supporters were still there – I remember noticing that one of the supporters was dressed as a surgeon – by that stage that seemed more ominous 😀 I was definitely walking a bit running a bit by this stage, and my back was starting to spasm from the funny running style i was having to do. I was talking myself through it as I was determined i wasn’t going to pull out at this stage! Seeing the 40k flag made me cry – only 2k to go! I nearly stopped to do a selfie but wasn’t sure i’d get going again. Then the 25 mile flag – whoop whoop I could do this! And I was going to, my ankle was really really sore by this stage and I was talking out loud to myself “come on girl, you’ve got this, you can do it” “dig deep” I must have sounded a bit mad. I was aware of all the pinging coming from my phone in my flipbelt – so many people out there supporting.
Then I was there, it now really was only 800 metres to my finish! It was incredible running towards the finish, Calum came out to ask if he could run in with me – my wee hero! And bless him, he’s running along next to me in the same way that Yan ran alongside him at the borders XC. He’s there telling me I can do it, telling me to dig deep I’m nearly there. And then I was! I collected my goodie bag through my tears and hobbled out of the finishers pen where Calum excitedly and proudly presented me with my medal. My thoughts were “Whoop whoop I did a marathon! OMG!” shortly followed by “why would Vicky want to do so many?!” At which point we spotted wonder woman finishing so I hobbled across to give her a big hug too. It was then the G&T stand called, it had to be done.
Well done to all the other harriers there running too – i’m still in awe of you all for being able to run so fast – and as for Jan…well, can i have your autograph please?
My conclusion “marathons are bloody hard!” and would I do another? … maybe…
…and in the meantime I’m to work out a 26.2mile bike ride for Calum who now wants to do a marathon too!
Jan Dawson 03:18:36 20th lady
Allan Dunbar 03:36:12
Billy Dickson 03:43:34
Sadie Kemp 03:44:20
Helen Osman 04:30:00
Sandra Vick 05:38:37
Vicky Lyon 05:54:19