A long time ago…Edinburgh

This weekend should have seen the running of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, a joyous two days consisting of a whole host of races around the streets of Edinburgh and surrounding area.

Sadly, due to the covid-19 pandemic currently affecting the country, the festival has been delayed until September, but to raise our spirits, we have this fabulous report written by Annette Kelly. Enjoy.


Edinburgh Marathon

Sunday 26th May 2013

Report by Annette Kelly

I’m not much of a writer but it’s two days after my first marathon and I’m still buzzin so I’m going to give it a go.

I’ve run half-marathons before and always thought afterwards how on earth could anyone get to the end of that distance and turn around to do it all again, sheer madness. Yet I gradually had an inkling over time that maybe one day I’d like to run a marathon, just once, maybe, just to see what it’s like, but not now, some day. Having joined Tyne Bridge Harriers last summer my fitness was improving and I’d caught the running bug again, big time. Thoughts of a marathon crept into my mind until one cold club session in October a sprightly young lady called Rachel Adamson joined the club and declared that she had entered her first marathon, the Edinburgh marathon in May. ‘Do it’ she said, ‘it’ll be fab. We can train together over winter’. I ummed and aahed for a few weeks then finally bit the bullet and filled in the application. It was on!

Now, anyone who has trained for anything this year will recall the appalling weather we had this winter. Lying in bed on a Sunday morning listening to the sleet hammering off my skylight window is not the motivation needed to get up and run 16 miles. The wind was so strong along the Tyne one day that I felt like I was running backwards and actually whimpered for the last 4 miles. It was so wet, freezing and miserable another weekend that on getting out of my car to start my run I couldn’t bear taking off my ski jacket and ran the 17 miles still wearing it. I may have run most of my long runs solo but I never felt like I was training alone as there were a number of my comrades in group 4 training for various marathons, so we would compare and contrast our experiences in training sessions, encouraging each other along the way. Coach Davy Anderson was always on hand with helpful advice too.
‘So Davy, how do we get over the tired, heavy legs we’re running on?’
Davy: ‘Cold bath after a training session.’
‘But anyway Davy, is there anything we can really do for our tired legs?’
Davy: ‘Throw some ice in the bath’
My biggest allies in the whole process were the wonderful Pip Nichol and Rachel. We met for drinks one Friday night and talked running/marathon talk pretty much for 3 hours solid without fear of boring the heads off each other as we were all in it together. In fact I think we agreed the marathon had pretty much taken over our lives at that point. For example: I went into town to buy jeans – came home with energy gels and running shorts, I met an old friend for dinner one Friday night – insisted we choose Italian as I needed to eat pasta.

The last few weeks leading up to the race things were looking good. My training had gone well, I’d gradually increased my long runs and had managed a couple of 20 milers, the last one on a glorious sunny bank holiday weekend which felt good and boosted my confidence immeasurably. I was also injury free and starting to feel excited for the upcoming event. My family were very supportive and so enthusiastic they booked their tickets to Edinburgh to cheer me on. I was ready to go!

May 26th and it was a beautiful morning in Edinburgh. I bid farewell to my family and made my way to London Road. Out of nowhere the emotion of the day hit me and I started to well up as I walked along with my fellow marathoners. It’s so true that to make it to the start line is an achievement in itself and yet here I was. I quickly spotted Pip and Euan Clubbs and had a good chance to catch up, soon joined by a bouncing Rachel full of nervous excitement, followed by a quick hello from Mark Jackson; the Tyne Bridge Harriers contingent was strong. We’d been to the portaloos, drank a little water, shed our jumpers, swore at Rachel’s Garmin to hurry up and pick up the bloody signal, and then, we were off!

The crowd wasn’t too dense and the runners were progressing nicely. We paired up, Pip and Euan ahead followed by myself and Rachel. The course was pleasantly downhill pretty much from the start. Into Holyrood Park with Arthur’s seat looming over us I heard ‘Come on Tyne Bridge’ (the first of many) and spotted my mam, dad and brother up ahead. A Hi-5 and smiles all round and on we went. Mile 1, 8:31. Whoa, that was a bit nifty even though it felt quite ok. Mile 2, 8:23. It was already hot and we were starting to sweat. Mile 3, 8:18. Hmm, we’re picking up speed. It must be the downhill. Mile 4, 8:02. Rachel and I looked at each other with a knowing glance, we could not keep up this pace for the full distance and still finish strong – time to reign it in. So we settled into a comfortable pace as the course began to level out. It was around about this time we heard a familiar ‘Alright girls!’ and Nick Pearson whizzed by looking strong.

Along Portobello Promenade we ran with its fabulous views over the sea but it was getting hotter, and with no breeze we were feeling the heat even more. Yet spirits were high and we got chatting to our fellow runners along the way. ‘Newcastle?’ one guy said, ‘Yes’ we replied, ‘Do you know Rob Wishart?’, ‘He’s one of us!’. In another report Double D recalls his favourite line of the day came from Rachel Adamson. My favourite quote of the day also came from Rachel around this time. As I ran just ahead I was listening to the banter between Rachel and a guy she’d been chatting to.
Rachel; ‘So you’ve done four marathons, you must be an expert now?’
Runner: ‘Not really, I just enjoy them. Tell you what though, if you’re going to do a marathon you should do Berlin, it’s great’
Rachel: ‘Well I’m bloody doin this one now, aren’t I?!’

Mile 9 and we were at the start of the out and back part of the course. Out of nowhere I heard ‘Come on Annette! Well done!” It was Kev Cheetham quickly follow by Sinead Coffey taking a quick snap as I ran by. A wonderful surprise and just the encouragement I needed. Still feeling good I kept the pace up. There was a little bit of distance between me and Rachel now as we’d agreed to do our own thing as we felt the need, but I ran alongside Rob’s friend for the next few miles. The mile markers were appearing quickly, 10, 11, 12 then we were half way. This is good, I thought, I can do this.

Further along I heard the next ‘Come on Tyne Bridge!’ from John Tollitt on the sidelines, another boost at just the right time. I was running well but I began to feel the need to find ‘a quieter place’ so I made a quick break for the portaloos, losing a precious 2 minutes in the queue. Returning to the race was disorientating as the familiar faces and vests I’d spotted along the way had gone and I was having trouble picking up my pace again. If I could have placed a supporter there I would have, and lo and behold there was Double D with his big smile and words of encouragement! Great, I was going again, back on track, for now. Finally we hit the U-bend that signalled the return leg to the finish. On the approach I was delighted to see Pip and Euan on the opposite side, both running well, big smiles, a quick wave and on we went. Another ‘Come on Tyne Bridge!’ from a lovely Heaton Harriers lady running on the opposite side too. Then a huge ‘Annneetttte!!’ from Rachel bounding along. More big smiles, a thumbs-up and on we ran.

It was at this point in the race, from mile 18-19 onwards, that the reality of running a marathon became appearant: people were walking, others were vomiting, some were stretching out cramps and one or two poor misfortunes were collapsed on the ground being tended to by the first aiders. ‘I’m not that bad, yet. Keep running’ I said to myself. It was getting tough, my legs were feeling tired, then like a guardian angel there was Double D again on this side of the course with more encouragement just when I really needed it. It spurred me on. Next, I found myself catching up with Pip and Euan. ‘I’m struggling’ I declared. ‘It’s only 6 miles, you can always run 6 miles’ said Pip. I seriously didn’t think I could, yet I seemed to be edging away from them, unable to manage my pace. This can’t be good? I battled on, taking it one mile at a time. 21 miles, still running. It got harder and harder then it happened, I hit the Wall and found myself walking. Screaming at myself inside I spotted the next water station just ahead, I had a good drink and got going again. ‘It’s just pain’ one lady said. I thought about who I was running this marathon for, then 22 miles, 23 miles, yes! No, the Wall loomed again and I found myself walking. Some calm and sensible words from a fellow runner walking beside me were to just keep walking until I’d recovered a bit then get going again. Good, I did just that and off I went keeping it slow and steady. 24 miles…..I can do this. I knew my family were waiting to cheer me on at the finish, that kept me going. I spotted a lady in a red vest who’d been just ahead of me with a friend for most of the way but now was running alone. I caught her up and we got chatting. She recognised me too and we quickly introduced ourselves: Liz was my new best friend.

I dropped back slightly and she pushed me on. She winced in pain and I pushed her on. We’re nearly there. Not far to go. I can’t – you can, WE can. With half a mile to go I saw my brother ahead, arms outstretched and a huge smile. He ran with me and Liz for a short distance with enthusiastic words of support and motivation that we really needed. 26 miles! It’s literally just around the corner. The crowds were thick, the noise getting louder, there were Kev and Sinead again roaring at me then I turned the corner and there it was, the elusive Finish Line. My sister clocked my face at this exact moment and said it changed from sheer exhaustion to pure wide-eyed elation in an instant. I started to sprint and didn’t stop til I crossed that line, both arms in the air and the biggest smile on my face. I DID IT!!!

The time still read 3 hr 50 something and I was happy, I knew I had my Sub-4 (3:54:24 I found out later). Instantly I dropped my hands to my knees and started bawling, you’d think I’d won gold at the Olympics….it felt like it. Once the nearby marshal was sure I wasn’t actually going to collapse she put her arms around me and congratulated me. I turned round and there was Liz, there were more tears and a big hug then we slowly hobbled to the finishers area where we received our medals with pride. I caught up with my family soon after, more cheers and tears!

Congratulations to all the Tyne Bridge Harriers who took part in the marathon: Rachel, Pip, Euan, Nick, Mark and Gwen, you all did fantastic. And a huge Thank You to the many Tyne Bridge Harriers who cheered us on around the course, it really was greatly appreciated. It’s been a physical, emotional and mental rollercoster this marathon journey, but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. In the process I’ve managed to raise over £1000 for Cystic Fibrosis, a deserving cause that’s very dear to me. I’d recommend it to anyone to run a marathon. However, NEVER AGAIN!!


Annette Kelly in action.

Annette Kelly in action.



Permanent link to this article: https://www.tynebridgeharriers.com/2020/05/22/a-long-time-ago-edinburgh/

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