Marathon number nine is done! Today I completed the Edinburgh Marathon up in Scotland, which was undoubtedly the most bizarre marathon of my life.
The week started with the final day of my three-year BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science degree. I gave my last presentation to end a long journey! It hasn't been easy given that for the first two years I was secretly battling my bulimia and my subsequent recovery, all whilst working three jobs alongside my full-time studies. Whilst it hasn't fully sunk in that I have actually finished, I am certainly proud of the way I have managed to juggle everything.
Another pleasing part of Monday was my complete lack of DOMS from last Sunday's marathon in Richmond Park! Whereas with all my past marathons I've had to take 3-5 days off, this time I felt absolutely fine and actually went for a run on Monday morning. The rest of the week's training has consisted of lots of jogging as things have been pretty manic. Friday we then flew up to Edinburgh. My only real previous knowledge of the city is from the film One Day, which made me cry like a baby (if you didn't cry at that film then you don't have a heart) so it was fun to go exploring.
Saturday morning we went for a little run to the Castle - first impressions were that Edinburgh is such a beautiful city! It reminded me a lot of Bath. However it was hilly as hell so I'm not sure I'd like to run here every day! We then met up with my Mum & Step-Dad and little Jaffy the sausage dog for an open-top bus tour and to check out some of the markets. On the whole it was just so relaxing and a lot of fun.
Whilst walking round on Saturday, there were so many kilts around for sale that I had the idea to buy one and wear it to run the marathon in! Now I know, deciding to wear fancy dress less than 24 hours before the race is probably not the greatest idea... The first thing that struck me was how heavy it was - didn't really think that one through. However it was very nice and breezy! To round off the outfit, we found a cheeky little Scottish hat and wig and my friend Ian pointed out that I also have a Scotsman's tan!
Right onto the marathon - I was up at 5.45am this morning and decided to go for a jog to test out the kilt - luckily most people were still fast asleep so I only got a handful of odd looks. After the run I had breakfast - just the usual bagel & jam with some High5 Isotonic and an Eat Natural bar. We then hit the road at 8am to meet my Mum and head to the start line.
The plan was to try and run another sub 3. I was actually given a free entry into today's marathon as I qualified for the "Top Club" runner entry, meaning I got to start at the front with the elites - it was too hot for the hat & wig so they got ditched but yes I was the only person in there wearing a kilt.. There were about twenty of us in there in total so I knew my plan to take it easy was going to out of the window real quick!
The race started in the city centre, then headed down and out past Arthur's Seat and towards the coast before turning back and finishing just outside bizarrely at a primary school. Obviously. The course was pretty undulating but the wind was calm - so I thought let's do this! I even got a good luck WhatsApp from my six-week old nephew Abe! (I don't think he sent it tbf)
I started off reasonably quickly but felt very comfortable. The first few miles were very smooth sweeping downhills which were nice, although the field was quite strung out so I was running alone for quite long periods so where possible I tried to latch onto other runners. The kilt was actually not really an issue - it didn't restrict my running at all and the weight was okay, but oh my gosh my legs were on fire! They sure were toasty. I also got so much support! My favourite shout was "keep running kilt boy" - Kilt Boy would totally be an epic superhero name..
I decided to keep up the pace and try to run sub 2:50 with one eye on sub 2:45. I was going along real nicely for the first eight miles, making sure I drunk plenty of water and had my first gel. Then at mile 9 something rather unusual happened - my front tooth fell out. Yep, my front tooth FELL OUT. I have these temporary crowns until my permanent crowns are fitted in July. Last week the left one fell out, and today the right one decided he also wanted to join the party!
Once I'd noticed it had fallen out, I was like "what do I do?" - I decided to run back and look for it obviously! The other runners were rather confused as to why I was running the wrong way.. After about 15 seconds of staring at the road, I decided that I was never going to find it and if I spent any longer walking around, I would struggle to get my legs going again so I left it for dead and chased after the boys I was running with at that time.
After seeing my little support team at mile 10 where I informed them of my dental mishap, I then got to mile 11 and realised I needed a wee! At this point I was getting pretty pissed off to be fair. I was thinking my race was done, I still had fifteen miles to go and also about when and how I would be able to get my tooth replaced. I also have an interview with CNN a week on Tuesday so I was thinking how am I going to do that with one tooth?
However, once I got to halfway I felt a bit better, I was still moving really well and I put in a faster mile to catch up with a big pack. My halfway split was 1:22:09 and to be honest that felt pretty easy considering I had stopped for "Toothgate" and a wee in a bush which probably cost me around 30-60 seconds in total. Once I caught the group, I realised they were running too slow so I pushed on. The course was nice and scenic along the beautifull coastline, but to be honest the support was very dry and bare due to the road not having a footpath, so there were some very lonely miles.
At mile 19 we started to run back towards the finish past the slower runners coming the other way. At mile 20 I worked out the the sub 2:45 was definitely still on if I could run the last 10k at sub 6:20 min/mile pace which I was cruising at very comfortably. I pushed on with a guy called Jamie and the headwind we had run into for the first 19 miles was now behind us and the finish was also rolling downhill, so I was running really well at this stage. By mile 25 I knew I was going to get the time and the support had swelled so I pushed on and passed a couple of other runners, before enjoying the long home straight with my sub 2:45 in the bag.
I ended up finishing in a time of 2:44:41 which was the fastest of my nine marathons so far this year and good enough for 33rd place overall and the 1st placed fancy dress runner. More importantly though, it means I now have a British Championship qualifying time (sub 2:45) for the London Marathon 2018. Who knew losing a tooth, stopping for a wee and wearing a kilt was the secret? I'm already in next year's race, so it is nice to know I have the next two years in London secured. Overall I was delighted with my run and You can view my race stats here. It was really special to have my girlfriend and family here too!
You will not believe the next part of this story - after meeting up with Coralie and my family at the finish, I told them what had happened and they said let's get a taxi and go look for the tooth! I was not keen really as I thought it was long gone. However I vaguely remembered the spot where I noticed it had fallen out and so we headed there.
After probably 45 minutes of searching and me jogging part of the course again, I only went and found it!! I literally still can't believe it. A 26.2 mile course, thousands of runners pounding that road but my little fake front tooth survived. I've heard of looking for a needle in a haystack, but from now on I think the saying should be "it's like looking for a tooth in a city" - okay maybe that one is a work in progress..
All being well my dentist will be able to glue it back in this week! Then the rest of the week looks pretty busy again - tomorrow we have a full day of sightseeing and then the flight back to sunny Suffolk. Then I have work before next weekend where I am working at the Birmingham Diamond League providing Biomechanics support for British Athletics as part of the build-up to Rio.
Then the week after is the tenth and final race of my challenge - Man versus Horse in Wales. I'll have a full preview of that for you next Sunday. Thanks for all your support again - if any fancies sponsoring me you can do so at www.justgiving.com/TomRunsTen - Whatever you get up to on your bank holiday, have a good one!
You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. I am running ten marathons to raise money for Beat, the UK's leading eating disorder charity. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here. Thank you!