What a belter of a weekend. I am quite partial to a glass of something ice cold and alcoholic on a Saturday. If the sunshine is out: it’s a given. This weekend the booze was replaced for lots of water, good food and music. Oh and of course a nice relaxing swim in my favourite Edinburgh outdoor pool, at good old David Lloyd.
My brother David had just arrived from Spain and the following day he would take on his longest running distance to date – the Edinburgh kilomathon. I had talked him into it so felt slightly responsible. Was he up to it? After a busy season teaching in Madrid, had he trained hard enough?
My other brother Iain (who applied my sun cream), some friends and myself would be joining him and we were buzzing about it.
For those of you that know my story with regards to my passion for smashing the stigma of all things mental health, you will remember that my Dad, Arthur, is a person who inspires me. With the grand national on that afternoon, I felt compelled to put a bet on. Let’s just say nobody saw that coming but I had this gut feeling which is why I chose on the nose for ‘One for Arthur’. Happy days. Funnily enough my marathon date/Dad’s birthday (29) won me a whopping £260 last year.
I always get a little nervous the night before an event. I like to lay everything out so I am ready to rock.
Having a breakfast plan is key. I knew I wouldn’t be too hungry at 7am so made do with a small slice of wholemeal toast and some almond butter. My PT informs me in jest that apparently one of the best possible breakfasts is corn fed chicken, broccoli and almond butter. I guess 1 out of 3 ain’t bad. I’m keeping it real here.
I didn’t get the best sleep due to our cute little monkey of a 2 year old, who was still snoring away as the alarm set off. I was relying on the adrenaline to get me through.
Filled with anticipation we rocked up to Ocean Terminal in plenty of time for the 830am kick off. The atmosphere was electric and the sun was shining bright. As the gun fired and we set off round by the corker of a sea view, I took deep breaths and got into my stride. This was my 7th running event and I now understand how important it is to remain calm and set off at a nice steady pace. Starting off too fast can lead to all sorts of battles with the mind. Especially once you are a mile or km in and realise how far you still have to run. I trained my mind to stay calm during the Edinburgh marathon last year. Imagine having a panic attack at mile 1 with another 25.2 miles to go? That would suck (and yes the .2 REALLY counts on the day).
David and I both started in the green zone. I love to run with music and he prefers to run without. I took one of my headphones out for the first 4 miles and we chatted a little bit. It was calming to have him near me and I could tell he was delighted to be home.
The scenery on the route, coupled with the cracking conditions, made the atmosphere all the more magical. This was the first time I have ran beside a friend or family member. David has lived away from home for almost 20 years but physical distance with us has never been a barrier to emotional closeness.
We are instantly 100% real with each other. We can say exactly what we think and we love to have a laugh about the times we annoy each other. Apparently we are too similar – 6 years apart but yes I have to agree he could be my twin.
After around 4 miles I wanted to drop my pace for a bit and get lost in the tunes. With endurance running it’s important to find a comfortable rhythm. I kept David in my sight though as much as I could and we gave each other the odd wave. I could feel the support from him and physically and metaphorically I had his back for the following 4 miles.
I found a new pacer – a slim, tall, muscly looking bloke. It got me thinking about a really important project that I have coming up soon. You see, I was comfortably keeping at pace with this extremely fit looking bloke. He was the type of guy I once would have felt intimidated by in the gym. We are often far too quick to judge people based on their appearance. There were people that overtook me throughout the kilomathon that potentially had more body fat than I do. Which is why I love the new era we are entering into – strong not skinny. The key should be to feel healthy. If that means slim, curvy, muscly, big boned or with extra fat then who cares? It is nobody else’s business. If you are happy then screw everyone else. If you feel fit then fantastic. Be proud of that. Don’t let the constant pressure from the media and Instagram filters have a knock on your confidence. It takes tremendous mental and physical strength to be involved in events like the Kilomathon and I had so much respect for every single person who got up out of bed and took part. If you read my article in the Evening News over the weekend you will understand just how easy it is to lead a sedentary lifestyle. The stats speak for themselves.
As I passed the 6 mile marker I ran across a bridge and got sight of the end goal – Murrayfield stadium, which was glowing in the sunshine. That was a super sweet moment. The route for me was perfect.
One of our family songs we often play and sing is Candy by Paolo Nutini and David has nailed the vocal on it. The lyrics
‘I’ll be there waiting for you’
that we had sung the previous day were extremely applicable. There he was waiting for me at the finish line to collect our medals together.
As was Iain who had nailed an impressive 57 minute PB, bringing him 78th out of the awesome 1145 people who ran.
It was amazing to end the race in the stadium and see family and friends waiting for us.
The cold fizz that afternoon was super too.
Definitely one for the diary next year and already I have a few friends that want to join me which I am buzzing about. Perhaps we can make it an annual family ‘must do’. After all, it shows our awesome city of Edinburgh at it’s best.
Check out my highlights from the Kilomathon weekend here in this vlog. You can also find it on my Facebook page.
Ps for those of you that follow me on Instagram and have asked about my new support Brooks bra – it was AWESOME. I shall be speaking at an event at Run4it on May 12th so watch this space for more info. The sports bra’s will be discounted.