{Road Trip} A Random Day in Edinburgh

Two Friday afternoons ago, a text came through from the Brit asking if I fancied a drive to Scotland on that Sunday. I’m always grateful for any time we can spend together, so of course I was up for it. He had to make the trip to Edinburgh for a project that was set for completion in a few days and I was happy for a change of scenery.

When we arrived in Edinburgh, he went off to the job site and sort of pointed me in the direction of the city centre. I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but did not recognize this area at all nor could I catch a glimpse of any of the landmarks I’m used to seeing tower over the city, such as the castle. So, I wandered aimlessly as I was in no rush to get anywhere.

One thing I try to do in a new city, especially when I’m on my own, is to attempt to appear like I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going, even if I have no idea. It’s easy really. You just keep your head up and shoulders back, you hope it’s sunny because your sunglasses can hide the fact that your eyes are darting around to find a familiar landmark or a street sign to clue you in to where you might actually be, and you walk with every ounce of self-assurance that you have. I practiced this on Sunday, and thankfully, it was sunny so the sunglasses could be put to good use. It was a beautiful day and very clear, which was a welcome break from the wintry mix we’ve been experiencing. (Yes, I love the snow, but I also love the sun.)

I finally stumbled upon Rose Street and followed that the entire way up until I realized I was near the Princes Street Gardens and the National Galleries of Scotland. Once there, I continued my wanderings until settling onto a park bench in the gardens to soak up the sun and enjoy the tranquility of the day.

Although we weren’t there very long, it was a nice afternoon out of the house and a fun reminder of how amazing it is that a random day in Scotland is never that far away.

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{Road Trip} North Berwick, Scotland

When it came time to book a hotel for Edinburgh Marathon weekend, we checked out hotels in the Edinburgh city centre and they are all nice, but the ones we were most interested in were completely booked. (We have previously stayed at the Apex in the Grassmarket, which I would recommend for a clean, well located, and reasonably-priced option.) Ultimately though, we decided to stay outside of Edinburgh and we were both really happy with that decision this past weekend.

We had to go into Edinburgh when we arrived on Saturday afternoon to pick up the Brit’s running vest (he ran for MacMillan and has raised over £1000!). Our original plans included spending some time walking around the city we love so much (we really do!), but after 4 hours in the car, we were ready to be at the hotel and for some relaxation.

So, we headed out to North Berwick, which is about 30 miles to the east of Edinburgh and is located right on the sea. We chose to take the coastal trail drive out to North Berwick and it was absolutely beautiful with the sun shining the entire way. We were booked in at the MacDonald Marine Hotel. And, when we arrived, we got to chatting with the front desk attendant who was running the half marathon on Sunday. He had run the full marathon before, so he gave us some pointers about the course. I’m quite sure he really enjoyed speaking with us because when we got to our room we had definitely been upgraded. I know for certain that I booked us into a standard double room (and the price we paid reflected that booking), but we walked into a suite that was larger than the downstairs of our house — king size bed in a bedroom with double doors, a full sitting and living room, and a massive bathroom! Regardless, we enjoyed every moment of that suite (and the Brit made sure to watch his share of the England cricket match on the satellite telly)!

Part of the sitting area of our room was in the first level of the small turret in the right of the photo.

We walked into North Berwick along the golf course and ended up on the beach that was full of people enjoying the British summertime. It was so nice to soak up the sun and the fresh sea air. It was the perfect temperature for shorts, so I couldn’t help to chuckle at the little kids running in and out of the freezing sea water in their bathing suits. It was just the perfect afternoon to be on the beach.

One of the great perks of this hotel was the pool and indoor/outdoor jacuzzi, so when we got back from our walk (and enjoying some delicious ice cream from a nice Scottish man who once lived in northern Pennsylvania), we took full advantage of the jacuzzi and pool. It had been such a long time since we both had a chance to relax like that together. It was just so nice.

The hotel has a fine dining restaurant called John Paul at the Marine and also the option of ordering food in their bar area. On Saturday night, the Brit was in the mood for fish so we decided to book in at John Paul at the Marine. The food was very good. The Brit had a salmon and lobster ravioli for his starter and turbot for his main while I enjoyed the monkfish cheeks for my starter and the basil gnocchi for my main. We were both tempted by the desserts and normally we would order two separate things, but the apple and rhubarb crumble with ginger ice cream appealed to both of us so we each ordered our own. (We are not so good at sharing when it comes to dessert.) So delicious. We do ‘carb loading’ in our own special way…haha!

We booked the ‘bed and breakfast’ rate, so we had breakfast in the morning before heading into Edinburgh. They had a nice breakfast buffet with cold and hot food, but my stomach is touchy when I run so I couldn’t eat much off the hot buffet. I had four pieces of toast with jam, a banana, and a sausage — breakfast of champions!

After the marathon, it was so perfect to come back to more than just a small hotel room. We could spread out and lounge on the sofa in the living room while we watched television. For dinner on Sunday night, all we had on our minds was a massive hamburger with chips (chunky fries) and a few pints. Unfortunately, there was no burger on the bar menu at the hotel so we inquired at the front desk if they could recommend a place for a burger, and we were really happy when they said that anything on the room service menu could be ordered while seated in the bar. Oddly, there was a burger on the room service menu, so we were overjoyed not to have to walk far to get what we were craving.

Let me just say that these burgers were 21-day aged Scottish beef and absolutely amazingly delicious. Oh my. Also, it was the most expensive burger I’ve ever eaten at £14 (roughly $21), but we both agreed it was worth every penny (or shall we say, pence). I had two pints of cider and the Brit had two pints of lager during the meal. When we finished I had remembered seeing a little placard for their drink special that sounded delicious, so we ordered one to take to the room and share. It is now quite possibly my favorite drink — a cucumber collins with elderflower juice. Wow. So, so good. Both of us enjoy our gin and tonics, so I figured this would be something we enjoyed and it definitely was. I definitely plan to learn how to make this drink!

I’m pretty sure the drink after the 26.2 miles helped us both to fall asleep before 9:30 PM and bring to a close what was truthfully a great weekend. Despite running the marathon, both of us said multiple times how relaxed we felt, and I’m so glad we had a chance to get away for a few days.

And, just like that, we’re marathoners!

So, we did it — the Edinburgh Marathon has been conquered!

As I mentioned here, my training was poor and I’m ashamed to admit my longest training run was 12 miles, but I was determined to do this thing. I wanted to cross that marathon off of my list of things to do for the year I turn 30 and I succeeded in that.

Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh…view from the start of the race.

Did I meet the original time goal that I set for myself when we signed up? No.

Did I beat my previous marathon time (when I had properly trained)? Yes, and by quite a lot!

Will I ever run another marathon again? Definitely not. At mile 16, my knees reminded me that they weren’t made for distances much further than a half marathon. But, as I said to the Brit, I’m more than happy to be his cheerleader if he should choose to do another!

Am I disappointed? Not really. Mostly I’m really happy — I did this for me and to prove to myself that I could do another. And that is exactly what I did.

Along the sea…view from mile 20-something.

The Brit, because he is one of the most determined people that I know, as I suspected, smashed his marathon goal time. I mean SMASHED it! I am so unbelievably proud of him! He was a bit nervous in the morning as we said goodbye and headed off into our separate starting corrals, but I knew he was going to get the time he wanted.

The best part of running the same marathon as your fiancé? He realizes what an amazing accomplishment it is to complete those 26.2 miles and he plants a big kiss on you when you find each other at the finish! I didn’t even get to say anything to him before he grabbed me and laid one on me. That? Oh, it’s definitely one of the best feelings in the world.

It’s marathon weekend!

Although it isn’t a holiday weekend like it is in the U.S. (next weekend is bank holiday here!), the Brit and I are off to Scotland for two nights.

We’re heading north, so we can run the Edinburgh Marathon. I’m excited to get away for the weekend, but I’m not so excited to run 26.2 miles on Sunday. Running another marathon has been a goal of mine for the year I turn 30, so I am glad I’ll get to cross this off of my list.

However, I have trained poorly. I did have a time goal in mind, but at this point my goal is just to finish. And, I’m okay with that! And, I’m even more okay with that since the temperature is expected to be fairly warm on Sunday.

The weather here has been summer-like (and basically down right amazing!) this week, and I’m happy we can experience Edinburgh when it isn’t freezing cold and snowing as it was the last time we were there. So, I’ll be back with a full report on how we fared sometime on Monday.

Enjoy the weather and the long weekend (to those of you in the U.S.)!