What do you do when you've withdrawn from a marathon but still have flights and hotels booked? Have a weekend away, obviously! Even though I wasn't running Edinburgh Marathon anymore, there was no way I was going to miss a weekend in the city, or the chance to get back to running somewhere really quite special.
Edinburgh 5k might be the prettiest 5k I've ever run. Essentially a circuit of Hollyrood Park which loops around Arthur's Seat, the race is an amazing way to experience a different side of the city. If it wasn't for the insane views of the city sprawling below you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled into the highlands, complete with lochs! IT was the loveliest way to get my feet moving again after three weeks resting/coughing up my lungs.
Edinburgh Marathon is billed as fast, and the elevation is a steep decline as you run towards to sea. Edinburgh 5k (and 10k) is a bit different. A steep incline from around 0.5k that just keeps going for around 1.5k, if it wasn't such a lovely route it would be a slog, but somehow being amongst those hills and views makes things easy. As does remembering that what goes up must come down! The second half of the 5k is a downhill dream, where you can really get your speed on (if you fancy it...I didn't, so used the hills as an opportunity to practice control down hills!).
Because this was my first run in a few weeks (thank you chest infection) so my plan was to take things super easy, nasal breathing only and managing my pace on feel. No watch. No Strava. These runs by feel are always my favourites. There's something really satisfying about going with what your body wants, and I was really conscious of being kind to my self, after all I didn't want to overdo things and get ill again. This approach worked really well for me, I felt strong for the whole run, and strong after the finish line, which is my ultimate goal. I never want to come off a race feeling totally broken, consistency and a long running career are my goal, not records.
The work I've been putting into my breathing, down regulating and up regulating, really helped make this race enjoyable. I ran nearly the whole 5k nasal only, slipping into nose/mouth breathing as I plodded up 1.5k of hills. I find that bringing things back to my breath helps me to focus more on what my body is doing and it works really well for pace control - I knew I didn't want to go mad, so I didn't let my breathing slip.
Although I don't have any regrets about pulling out of the Marathon, I would love to go back and take on more races in Edinburgh. At the moment I'm seriously eying up the marathon relay (shout if you're up for it!), and I'll definitely be back for the 5km again!
Edinburgh will always be important to me, I spent about 10 years living just outside the city, and it's a place that's really had an influence on who I am. It's one of the reasons that I chose to run the marathon there, but given that wasn't meant to be, it was awesome to spend some time getting to know the city as an adult. It did not disappoint, there are so many amazing places to eat and drink, and I'm pretty sure we only skimmed the surface. Ditching the tourist destinations (like the castle) freed us up to explore areas like Leith and Stockbridge, which are the type of areas I reckon we'd hangout if we lived in the city, and we were lucky to get some amazing recommendations from friends!
Baba Budan: I'd read about this in Lauren's Edinburgh guide and earmarked it as a place I had to visit - great coffee AND great donuts, basically my dream. Luckily we ended up stumbling upon their arch walking back to our hotel after the 5k, and no race is really a race without a donut! Especially if it's the best donut you've ever had - light, fluffy, crispy and with homemade raspberry jam.
The Pitt: this street food market in Leith was recommended to me by a few different people, and it didn't disappoint. A small lot in a residential street, there were a handful of traders selling all sorts, including steak and chips and Rolly's ice-cream! The bar was stocked with local beer, there was music and the atmosphere was buzzing. With blue skies it was an awesome way to spend an afternoon.
The Milkman: sometimes it's hard to find really good coffee somewhere really touristy, but The Milkman has it nailed.
Panda and Sons: a speakeasy hidden behind a barbershop facade, this recommendation came courtesy of our flatmate and it didn't disappoint. This bar delivers creative cocktails (although you can ask for a classic if you fancy one) in a cool basement den run by pandas with a fear of prohibition (naturally).
Blue Parrot Cantina: a short walk from the centre of town, this basement restaurant is a bit like eating in someone's living room, in a good way. Delicious margaritas and heaped plates of food are served up from their tiny kitchen, it's some of the best Mexican I've had in awhile.
Ransacked Black Oven: when the place we'd earmarked for brunch wasn't open we stumbled upon this place and didn't regret it for a moment. I had an amazing maca smoothie bowl in a vague attempt to balance out everything else I'd eaten in Edinburgh, and Mike had a breakfast flatbread, which he seemed very happy with!
Stockbridge Market: another recommendation, this little market reminded us of Herne Hill Market, which we visit every Sunday. We didn't end up eating here, but we did pick up some tablet, and it was nice to recreate a familiar tradition in a new place.
Teuchters Bar: a whisky and beer pub, this cosy venue is the place to have a stodgy mug meal (go small, the food is filling) and taste whisky. We went for the tourist flyte and I can't remember a great deal about it. Which suggests I enjoyed it!