—And we’re done?

We’ve done it! Together we did the Edinburgh Marathon – in our target time of under 6 hours – and we have exceeded our fundraising target – although more is all good. The total for The Way Forward still has a way to go, and we REALLY want those toilets and that kitchen and that doorway and that extra room… in short, we want our church building to be fit for purpose. In the picture above we’re standing exactly where all these wonderful things are going to be when the work is done. Donate here if you’d like to.

However, although the Edinburgh Marathon is nailed, medals and T shirts acquired, baths had and a very quiet Bank Holiday spent recovering, the adventure isn’t. It may be cheesy but it’s true that there’s lots to process and lots to learn when you do a race. So this blog will continue for a little while, while we work out what it might mean and what’s next.

That’s the first big lesson – a race looks like a classic ‘product’, all about the end result, all about the day, doing it, finishing. But it isn’t. It’s all about process – even the finish line, even the medal, even the T shirt. Here’s a little about Hilary’s process. The others will be contributing in due course.

The last race I’d done, which was the 3rd race I’d done, was the Great North Run in 2018, and I hadn’t managed to train as well as I’d hoped, so I was a bit apprehensive. I coped by going into denial, which was just as well as it started quite badly.

It was colder and rainier than the forecast had warned, and I felt underdressed huddling under a tree in my start pen, noticing my lovely purple T shirt get wetter, trying to chat with total strangers and feeling very alone once the others had left for their start points. And then it got colder, wetter and windier and I tried not to envy people with ponchos (later, on the course, they all sounded like packets of crisps running.) But the start time was soon.

The start time, 10, came and went and we waited some more. I didn’t think about how my teeth were on the brink of chattering, or how I might fall on the wet cobbles (I’ve got form falling while running, ask my knees), or whether I’d let everyone down, or whether I should have worn more clothes. Not thinking about these things was hard work.

At 10.20 I finally crossed the start line and all of a sudden it was straightforward. All I had to do was get on with it. My secret goal had been 11 minute miles and I was going too fast but it was mostly downhill so I added whether I was going to run out of steam to the list of things I wasn’t thinking about.

I reached the sea front at Portobello and things were pretty bleak: it definitely wasn’t a day you would walk along the promenade unless you had to – but here we all were, brightly coloured runners meeting, chatting, parting, queuing for the portaloos… and I kept going, which didn’t seem too difficult. And then it stopped raining.

The last mile was strange. I was elated. I knew I’d finish my leg. But most of the people round me were only 1/3 of the way through their run. I tried to keep it in, not to be too triumphal, but I felt like whooping. And there was Angela and the bag with my dry clothes, and the bag for me to take to the finish line with Sarah’s things. It was wonderful. Off she went. My leg was ended, and yet I was still in the middle of the process. It was all very odd. Next leg, next blog.