My official time, from when the walk started at 9am to when I crossed the finish line, was 5 hours 55 minutes. (It not being a race, there wasn't actually an official time as such: they weren't keeping a record.)
I however was keeping track of my speed as I passed each mile-marker, using an stopwatch app on my phone. Unfortunately, despite my phone being wrapped in a plastic bag to keep the rain out, it got damp and the screen did some funny things and reset the clock somewhere between miles 10 and 11. (Or maybe I just pushed the wrong button.)
Still, I can remember many of the time to complete some of the miles, and I have a record for the last 15 miles.
My personal, unofficial time, was 5 hours 44 minutes, the difference being not crossing the start line for a couple of minutes and three loo breaks. So, an average of about 4.5mph, then. Pretty fast.
Some of the mile markers were clearly a bit skew-whiff: in the second half of the walk, one mile took 19 minutes and the next 9: the first was clearly in the position, the average of the two being 14 minutes. Most seemed about right, though, knowing how fast I walk.
At the start of the walk, in the crowd, my first two miles were over fourteen minutes each; a couple of miles later, I did a couple of miles at less than twelve minutes each - I was walking more than 5 miles per hour, something I didn't achieve when I was training (though I did sometimes reach 5mph over only five miles).
I reached the halfway point - 13 miles - at exactly midday, with an (unofficial) speed of 4.5mph, the same as my average speed over the whole walk.
More impressive, in the last half of the walk, I logged three different 12-minute miles (excluding that highly unlikely nine minute mile). Indeed, I did the final mile in twelve minutes.
I was close to the lead walkers. When I passed the 25 mile mark, the end in clear site (it was Murrayfield stadium: you can see it from miles away!), the guy at the checkpoint told me I was the fifth 26 mile walker back. I had thought there were six walkers in front of me - there was one guy in a bright yellow
It wasn't easy. Basically, I just kept going. After about 16 miles, I found myself controlling my breath, breathing deeply and rhythmically; at a couple of checkpoints and at the finish line, officials asked with concern if I were ok (I was) - I guess they didn't want someone having a heart-attack.
I also found my legs unconsciously taking smaller, faster steps, and I had to deliberately take longer paces and slow down my rate of steps, to stop myself literally getting carried away.
At the end of the walk, I felt emotionally drained. I didn't burst into tears at the finish line, which marathon runners do, but I wouldn't have been surprised if I had done.
There was a big tent at the end, where I sat and ate the free burger. The tent was full of families - as well as the 26 mile walk, there was also a 13 mile walk, and a shorter walk for children. The walks were in aid of children's charities, so that was fair enough, but it wasn't somewhere I wanted to hang around.
I picked up my change of clothes - hillwalking in Scotland has taught me to have a spare change of clothes after long walks in the rain - and got changed. I was soaked. My waterproof was wet through, and my clothing was wet either from the rain or sweat, or, probably, both. The bits of paper in my pockets had disintegrated. It is a good thing I put my wallet inside a plastic bag, like my phone. (Another hillwalking trick.) The screen on my phone wasn't working properly, despite keeping it under wraps, because the moisture on the screen meant my finger just skidded across.
Rather than hang about in the tent, once changed, I got on the tram. I was going to go to a pub for a pint or three and some more food, but decided that I would actually prefer a long hot bath. And maybe alcohol wouldn't be such a great idea...
As I got off the tram, there were more Kiltwalkers streaming past. I had been there a couple of hour before, watching the tram leave for Murrayfield enviously. From there, the route actually avoided taking me right past my flat, which I thought it would, though it did take me within a couple of hundred yards. Much of the route was on cycle paths around Edinburgh that I had been training on, particularly the ten mile stretch from Cramond to Joppa (though I hadn't ever done the whole lot at once) and much of the route from Joppa along the Innocent Railway back to my flat.
Today I have been inspecting the damage. I only got a couple of rather small blisters on fourth toe of each foot, which had I really thought about ahead of the walk I would have realised would happen. My main worry had been blisters on my heels or the balls of my feet, but they were ok. I remember when I walked the marathon a few years ago (a little quicker, in an official time of 5hr40), I was hobbling about for days. So far I seem to be relatively unscathed. Maybe all my practice paid off!
Edit I meant to add a bit about what I was listening to whilst I walked. In order...
- Broadcasting House on R4
- the Archers, though most of the time there was really bad interference, as I walked from Cramond to Seafield
- Vaughn Williams
When I had been training, I mostly listened to rock music, but I found that my steps fell in line with too insistent a rhythm, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.
For much of the Bruckner - I think it was Symphony 8 - I was conducting the orchestra as I walked. People must have thought I was even madder, moving my arms in the rain as I hurried down Portobello prom.