Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

The day I… Ran my first marathon at 53

Fiona Gibson.
Fiona Gibson.

Music is pumping from enormous speakers. Thousands of us have gathered at the start of the Edinburgh Marathon.

At 53, I am about to run 26.2 miles. I’m still not quite sure what’s come over me.

From when I left home at 17, I led what you might call a pretty unhealthy existence. My perfect holiday involved reading on the beach with a packet of ciggies to hand, then hitting the bars for copious cocktails. In fact, I spent most of my 20s in the pub.

I lived in London, and whenever my mum arrived on a visit from Scotland, it was not unusual for me to meet her off her sleeper train at Euston straight from the dancing.

It was parenthood which finally knocked some sense into me. My husband Jimmy and I had twin boys, followed by a daughter, and by the time they were teenagers it had dawned on me that my neglected body needed a little care.

But what to do? In my younger years I’d had a raft of gym membership cards stashed in my purse, unused and triggering waves of remorse. Team sports filled me with horror.

“What about running?” my friend Tania suggested. “I’ll do it with you if you like.” We started jogging together along a disused railway track near Biggar, where Jimmy and I had settled into family life. It was quiet, away from traffic and, crucially, other people who might point and laugh.

Our distances improved, and within a few months we were running 10ks. I had discovered something amazing: that I didn’t completely hate running. It required no planning. I could just pull on my trainers and go. I was feeling leaner, less stressed and more energetic.

Our children left home and Jimmy and I moved to Glasgow, craving city life again. By now, he had started running, too. Annoyingly, he took to it far more seriously than I had; no measly 10k races for him. Within months he had run the Loch Ness Marathon.

It was maddening. Like me, he had been fond of the pub in his youth. Now he had a cluster of clanking medals and seemed to be forever swigging a sports drink or reading up on trainer technology. Unwilling to be left out, I started to train for the 2018 Edinburgh Marathon. Jimmy offered to train with me, and would enliven our almost daily runs by telling me I was going too fast, too slow, not moving my arms correctly or slapping my feet down too hard.

It was like being given a driving lesson by a partner, and we all know how that tends to end up.

Gradually, as the marathon loomed, I got over myself and was grateful for my husband’s encouragement and, OK then, superior knowledge.

So here I am – on race day. I can hardly believe what I am about to take on. For the first ten miles or so I jog along, reasonably calm and positive. The crowds help. Whenever my energy dips, a random stranger cheers me on or holds out a bowl of Jelly Babies.

As we pass the 13-mile mark I feel terribly proud of myself. If only I’d taken up exercise as a younger woman I could have been Paula blinking Radcliffe!

Things become tougher, naturally, as the miles rack up. By mile 18 I am feeling desperately tired. I plough onwards, assuming it has started to rain – but no, those are tears falling out of my eyes. A choked sob bursts out. How much longer to go? I estimate an hour, which doesn’t seem like much when you’re sitting watching TV – but now feels interminable.

Somewhere towards the end, my spirits start to rise again. There’s a palpable sense of relief and joy all around me as I “dig deep”. And that’s what I do, remembering all the tips I’ve been given: just keep going, mile after mile, one foot after another.

By now, one thought is looping in my head: “You have run a marathon.” Yes, you, you lardy-bottomed slacker!’ I am filled with a pure, unadulterated elation.

The finishing line is in sight, and I’m properly crying now – sobbing as a medal is draped around my neck.

I’ve done it. It’s been brilliant but so, so tough – and I vow I’ll never put myself through such unnecessary torture again.

That is, until I managed to grab a place in next Sunday’s London Marathon. And I can’t wait.

Fiona’s new novel, The Mum Who Got Her Life Back, is published by Avon