Tuesday, 27 May 2008


It was the Edinburgh marathon this weekend, and I'm delighted and proud to report that:

1. Fisher completed her first ever marathon in the fantastic time of 4hrs 53mins. I didn't get to see her finish, but I biked to the midway point and saw her several times on the way round, always looking relaxed and cheerful. Am dead chuffed for her.
2. Spartan finished in 3.23 - a brilliant and impressive effort, especially considering the wind was gusting pretty hard. He, too, looked relaxed and cheerful afterwards, although he claims he was utterly exhausted at the end and had a wee sleep in the car for a bit.
3. Wheeler and Phid finished the entire course, despite both being struck down with gastro-enteritis, and a nasty cold and tummy bug respectively. This is awe inspiring stuff. If I'm unwell I curl up in a ball and snarl at all those who dare to disturb me - much like Bridie on her bean bag. The thought of running a marathon when ill, just because I said I would, is an example of the sort of strength of will that beggars belief. Am humbled, and therefore quite annoyed.

Spectating was rather fun. First of all I cheered with Blarney, Koi, Janus and Badger at the 9 mile point, almost having my ear drums burst by Blarney's whistle-mania. I attempted to tell them all the 'no-nos' that had been instilled in my by Spartan, Fisher and Phid, but for some reason they were quite annoyed with me for telling them what not to shout. I only started vetoing them because at least 2 women gave Blarney looks that would have shrivelled a lesser woman when she assured them they were 'making it look easy.' As one of them had lines of pain etched around her mouth and was clearly not having an easy time, perhaps she thought Blar was taking the piss? Anyway, eventually I conceded that having the decency to show up as a supporter pretty much gave you the right to shout whatever the hell you liked, and climbed back in my box, concentrating on giving out the goodies in my bag instead of issuing spectating instructions.

Ah, the goodies in my bag. I started out giving out wine gums, which were accepted rather reluctantly - namely because when I saw some of the runners 5 miles later on I noticed they were still trying to pick wine gum out of their teeth. However, once the wine gums were gone, I stuck some jelly babies on my plate and was nearly trampled to death by the stampede. High sugar, easy to eat and digest - clearly a marathon favourite.

Once we'd seen all our pals at the 9 mile mark, I jumped on my bike and pedalled off to the 14 mile mark. I hoped to see Spartan on his way back, but despite seeing the first elite runners and then staying at 14 miles until after Wheeler and Phid passed, I managed to miss him. I therefore gave away his Galaxy bar and the 3 cadbury's animal bars I was hoarding to needy runners. On cycling past Wheeler and Phid I asked if they needed anything and Wheeler took an oat cake - but Phid was looking a bit worse for wear, clearly in need of cuddles, so I cycled quickly away in case she saw I'd noticed. In my defence, Wheeler was doing a fine job of cuddling her anyway, and if I'd leapt off my bike, dived into an onslaught of marathon runners and embraced her in a bolstering fashion it not only would have been extremely disruptive, but would have alarmed us both and done nothing for the state of either of our stomachs.

I found my spot at the 14 mile point, where there were no other spectators, and promptly gave away the remaining food I had in my bag - all except the Jacob's Cream Crackers. I'd given one to Fisher and then eaten one myself and been horrified to find my mouth all but glued together by its dryness. Most of the runners were extremely polite and thankful for the food, but one American fellow grabbed at a handful of Rowntrees fruit sweeties and scattered a great quantity on the floor - this despite the fact I was clearly holding sweets out for people in order to prevent that from happening. A whole bunch of sweets that could have been enjoyed by other runners, wasted! He deserved to be loudly called a twat - even if he was 14 miles into a 26.2 mile race. There's no need to be selfish, or rude, no matter how tired you are.

Once I'd given away all my food, I pedalled into the nearby village and bought a whole bunch of other stuff, moved to pity by all the starving athletes. I bought 3 packets of fruit sweets - softer than wine gums - 3 packets of Jaffa Cakes (as eaten by Rio Ferdinand in the middle of a Man U match when he ran out of energy), and some oat cakes. These all disppeared in record time, and I realised I'd forgotten to hold anything back for Wheeler and Phid. When Wheeler turned up, the first thing he said was:

"Give me all your food!"

I gave him a cream cracker, then pegged it back to the shop and bought more Jaffa Cakes
and 2 bottles of Lucozade sport. Getting back on my bike, I then completely lost Wheeler and Phid, whose walking pace turned out to be faster than I'd anticipated. I biked almost all the way back to where I started, then a long way forward, then figured I must have missed them and almost all the way back again. Discovering I hadn't missed them, I discovered them miles down the road, well past the watering station where they give out free Lucozade, thus rendering my bought bottles redundant (although not, actually, as it turned out I was parched and glugged the lemon one myself).

I finished the day riding alongside Wheeler and Phid, almost being responsible for a major falling out. Wheeler ran ahead to go to the loo, and when Phid drew level with the loo she instructed me to wait for him and tell him she'd walked on. I waited outside the gents for a good 5 minutes. 3 guys went in and came out. I asked the last one if there was anyone else in there and he looked somewhat startled (why is this deeply unattractive woman hanging around outside the men's toilet?) and, possibly in a display of brotherhood, assured me the place was empty. I presumed I must have missed Wheeler and that he'd headed after Phid. I cycled off, only to catch up with Phid (eventually - I swear, every time I turned my back she'd sprint off at top speed just to confuse me) and find no Wheeler either on the way or with her. So back I pedalled, slightly alarmed now. A paramedic was parked outside the loos, and for a horrified moment I thought they'd gone in and found him passed out in a puddle of his own poop. Luckily, I found him standing looking forlorn outside. When I said Phid had walked on, he wailed:

"Charming! I stop at every single loo with her on the way round - I stop once and she fucks off!"

He then set off at a very impressive run and we caught up with her at the 25 mile marker. Only 1.2 miles to go! They ran with the sort of loose-limbed agility I attempt on mile 2 of my pathetic 5 k runs and usually fail to achieve owing to the creaking of my knee caps (which, in case your interested, are sesamoid bones. Thanks massage course. I'll take that useless information to my grave).

"Only 5 furlongs to go!" I cried, as the signs at Musselburgh Race Course hove into view.

"How far is 5 furlongs?" Phid asked, reasonable.

"Er ..." I hedged, wisely refraining from saying a medieval acre's length as it would no doubt have led to one of Phid's best 'I'll ignore that' looks, which always cause a couple of degrees drop in temperature. I then realised you could see the next furlong marker about 200m away, and pointed it out. "It's that far."

Phid gave me one of her best 'I'll ignore that' looks ...

"Well done, well done," I bleated, as they arrived at the race course entrance and I was funnelled away, "nearly there. I'll see you at the finish!"

And off they went together, crossing the line - it turns out - at exactly the same time. Hurrah! A triumph of partnership. It fair brings a tear to the eye ... or it would do, if I were the sort of wet fart that cried like a baby over sporting achievements.


Having left them to the final furlong of cheers and glory, I wheeled my bike through the spectators' entrance, horrified at how stiff and tired I felt, and was accosted by a merry, chirpy Spartan. I'd already heard about his amazing achievement, and embraced him like a brother (although not really my brother, as we're not so much an embracing family). Together we met up with the staunch supporters - Blarney, Koi, Janus and Badger, all of whom had stayed til the end. Fisher was also there, face all smiles and joyful blue eyes, so I jumped on her and whooped in her ear, regardless of aching muscles. I didn't care about hers, either.

After meeting back up with the finished Wheeler and Phid, Fisher and I gave them a lift back to their flat and hoped to see them in the King's Wark later. We then went to Blarney and Spartan's flat, made use of their bathroom, and chilled out until it was time for supper. This was a pleasant affair with lots of Wheeler's mates, who were pleasant despite one of them calling Cocker Spaniel's 'camp' and clearly turning her nose up at them. She also dissed poodles, so she's lucky she's still alive. Still, she then extolled the virtues of golden retrievers as 'non-needy dogs' so it turned out she was just ignorant. She was nice enough apart from that.

Poor Phid was not feeling well at all. She managed to eat her starter, but the main course of venison was too much for her. This turned out to be good news for the pooches, though, as she sent a little napkin of venison to them (with the biggest bit, of course, for Baffie). In fact, Baffie sniffed the meat as if to say:

"What ... what's this? Can it be ...?" and then wolfed it, nearly taking my fingers with it, saying: "it is! It is! I can't believe my luck! Must ... eat ... faster ..."

Bridie, on the other hand, opened her maw and breathed in the meat.

We had to leave pre pudding, which was a shame, but it was getting late and we had to get back to Fife. I was - and still am - deeply puzzled as to how badly my legs ached from the cycling. I didn't go all that far - I'd say 14 miles at the absolute maximum - and there was a lot of standing still and supporting in between cycling. I suppose the only answer is that I was out and about, either cycling or standing, for a good 5 and a half hours - but honestly! could it be that leg-aching?

So that was the marathon experience. Today I decided I had to do some real exercise and went for a 5k up Quarry Road. Did it it 35.39 which is, as usual, pretty crap - but at least I went. I've put on 2 lbs since the Janus bet - but now Fisher and I have another one on! Whomsoever should lose the least weight by the nedding has to do ALL THE COOKING for 2 MONTHS!!

I'm doomed.


Blarney said...

bless you ma' dear for cheering up a pretty dismal Wednesday lunchtime - did you really spend all that money on miserable marathon runners? I've been scouring local newspapers for at least one letter of gratitude for our sterling efforts on Sunday but so far, nothing! So they ran a marathon - big deal, you try blowing a whistle for five hours and shaking a rattle which clearly belongs to a small child...as for the lack of mention for your sweets pah, I will boycott next year's event and if I do attend, I will be whistle-less. Great blog tho' insure those fingers of yours or eeeer your brain.

Ruth said...

I agree - can't believe how much effort you put in to the support - I'm sure all the other runners who benefitted as well as ourselves are grateful!