So, this was probably my craziest notion for the year. I've always had running a marathon on my bucket list but, after being diagnosed with arthritis a few years ago and realising that I just cant physically run any kind of distance anymore, I had to shelve the idea. It was resurrected again in a different form when the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home were looking for volunteers to join the Kiltwalk and and walk a marathon instead. That, I felt, I could actually achieve without doing myself a permanent injury.
So, back in April we started training and took the ninja sunburn to heart with vows that on the proper walk we'd pack sunscreen and...that was it. This year has been ridiculously busy and, in the free time we've had, we simply haven't had the right weather, the time or the inclination to go out and walk 20 miles. In effect, yesterday, we went into that walk with absolutely no training.
The atmosphere was great. The whole event was superbly well organised from the moment we set foot (and paw) into Murrayfield Stadium (a novelty for Missy and usually its strictly no dogs) to when we crossed that same line 26 miles and 9 hours later. We originally started the walk with a very good friend as well who had managed more training than us, but felt significantly under prepared. The first handful of miles was an absolute breeze, and 8 miles in as we reached Cramond my faith in humanity was restored when a passerby with a lovely golden coloured springer spaniel gave us £10 towards our fundraising.
Halfway through the walk, we passed Seafield (and, ironically, the Edinburgh Dog and Cat home) and had lunch at Portebello. We were all given soup and rolls which was just right before we set off on our merry way again, pausing on the promenade to have some ice cream cones as well. We got lucky, there is a dachshund club in Edinburgh and they do big get togethers, and it looks like we bumped into one - there was literally dachshunds everywhere. I have a soft spot for the breed so it was great fun watching Missy running about with them.
19 miles in and we hit a snag. Our friend had really begun to struggle after lunch and, as she has health problems relating to her hips, she had to bow out at Holyrood. The staff were terrific with us. We reached the big pit stop and explained that she couldn't go any further and they simply popped her into a little shuttle bus and took her back to Murrayfield so that she could still collect her medal and enjoy the entertainment there. I felt really bad for her, but at the same time, 19 miles is a phenomenal achievement. By that point we had been walking for about 7 hours which is an impressive feat in itself, and she's keen to give it a go next year and beat the 19 miles.
The last seven miles we just pushed through. We had to go through town itself and, speaking with other walkers who agreed, that was the worst part. It was busy with crowds, we had to keep stopping and starting to cross roads and then it was up and down some very steep hills. Missy was fine. She had found other dogs to play with and was on the hunt for squirrels. Whilst I had started to ache earlier, it was the last two miles that I struggled with. That was where it was one foot in front of the other and I just pushed.Missy spent it chasing bunnies.
It was a relief to see Murrayfield. We crossed the finish line and all three of us got medals (I dont think Missy was meant to get one, but she put on the charm and managed to coerce the girl handing them out into sharing). We had another meal at this point, I got the mac and cheese and the hubby a burger whilst Missy had a rather large dinner. It was a brilliant day and, despite the stiffness I'm suffering today, was absolutely worth every single step.
It was all for a good cause, the dog and cat home is where we adopted Missy from, and my childhood dog, Cindy, was from there as well. I made the joke a few times that they have provided me with a sibling and a child, and actually, its not far off. If the money we raised goes to giving another family the joy either Missy or Cindy brought to my life, then I'd happily do it all again.
And actually, although at the moment its just casual banter, I think we will do it all again. The hubby has even suggested doing all four of the kiltwalks next year (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen). I'll give it a few weeks before we commit to anything that extreme, but expect to see at least one of these next year.