3 Weeks Already

For anyone who doesn’t own a calendar (or a mobile or a watch with the date on it) it’s now 3 weeks in to 2018.

That means less than 3 months until Manchester Marathon. My first big task of the year. The one race I need speed for. Not the drug! Let me be clear. I mean pace.

Up until recently it’s not been there. I was panicking. Every run was ‘slow’ – not where I needed to be. It should be 8m20 pace but I was coming in at more 8m45. That’s way off! Yes I did Marcothon in December, yes it’s snowing and there’s ice on the ground but I should still be faster.

Theres been a few spanner’s in the works, a few adjustments needing made. I’ve had a things come up at work that have thrown off my routine – and my god do I hate it when my routine is messed with. I can feel the words ‘f@cked off’ burning on my forehead. But luckily, I do have people around me that understand. I started noticing more and more of the ‘head tilt’ (think Monica and Richard in Friends) and hearing more ‘You’ve not been for a run have you’. It’s ok I didn’t kill anyone. But I have started moving a lot more quickly to solution mode when this happens. Lunch runs have moved to late afternoon and occasionally straight after work.

Then there was the work trip to London for the day which meant a 5am start and a 10:30pm finish. It turned out to be a 2:30am start as my youngest was up ill in the night. This distracted me all day but I ‘coped’. His dad took the day off so I knew he was fine. I only hid in the bathroom twice when I started to panic – quite an improvement. And I was distracted by the many funny looks when ever I chose the stairs instead of the escalators. Apparently no one in London uses stairs!

And then, The Plague hit my house. Everyone- and I mean everyone – got it. First it was the youngest, then it was Joe, then Lucie. My oldest was told to stay at a friends (he’s 18, spends most his time out or in bed anyway). I sent him a lovely text. ‘Don’t come home, you’ll get sick, stay at a friends’. Best mum ever award right there.

The dogs being sick was the final straw for me. That almost broke me. I can handle most things. Holding Lucies hair back whilst fetching Oliver water and getting pain killers for Joe is fine. Cleaning up what comes out of a dog? Not so much.

Take your vitamins people!

When I eventually returned to work I was met with a meeting booked during my lunch run time. I then discovered my work had been allocated 3 London Marathon places and they had just been handed to certain people. No opportunity for selection. None of the ‘clear and transparent’ behaviour they like to drill in to us. You can imagine the rage. So when I eventually got a break I hit the treadmill. Hard. 5k in 23mins 16secs. Bye bye 8m 45 pace.

Then last night it was hills with the road runners. Now I’m most certainly not saying it was easy but it was slightly easier than last time. After checking good old Strava I noticed that my running in January 2017 was the same. It was slower. I found the month hard. The penny dropped.

Clearly, like many others, I just find January a hard month to get moving. But that’s ok. Get over it. Do your hills, do your track and it will come together.

Plus I got quite a lot of new running gear so it would be a shame for that to go to waste ha ha.

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Annual Reflections

I love a ‘reflection’ post. The ‘ah I remember that’ happy smile and the ‘I swear I could have drowned!’ moments. Come to think of it there were many close calls…..

I sank on the 1st January when I went straight down instead of straight forward swimming in the New Years Day Tri. That taught me to think properly when something changes. It also taught me I’m not a fish.

There was the close encounter with the ice cream van that then impaled me on the solid iron sewar cover leaving a lovely hole in my cheek. (Wasn’t an ice cream van but it was that close to my face I could have licked it). This was quickly followed by the UFO that was the first aid kit, launched across the road and landing on said hole in cheek. Im no doctor but I don’t think that’s how you use the red bag.

There was the death defying descents on the Hill Series. The many chants of ‘you’re ok Ella, you’re not going to die, I AM GOING TO DIE!!’. Barry assures me this will be good practise for the Highland Fling next year. I’ve hired a Sherpa, just in case.

And of course the heart thing. It threw a spanner in the works for getting my GFA, made me pull out of a number of races and taught me the importance of an extremely good sports bra. But it’s still beating and I’m still running. No pace maker this year.

I couldn’t not mention ‘that’ swim that was Edinburgh Half Ironman. Now that was genuinely half an hour of fighting for survival! Had I actually looked at the sea before getting in I’m really not sure I would have. And had I heard the true horror stories of what was happening I would have turned around and legged it. But I did it, and I did it faster than Joe. (Sticks tongue out in laughter all too aware he would whip my ass now).

But yes! Half Ironman! An actual Half Ironman! We did it! Joe actually did 3 in the end but I’m happy with my one – for now.

And an Ultra! Ah yes the Ochils Ultra. What a learning experience that was. First being to actually look at the name. OcHILS. Hills. Meaning not flat. So 6 days after a marathon not exactly the best idea. And seriously, who would have thought there was a real danger of drowning when out running?!? I’m still not over that. But the counselling is going well….

A very happy memory of 2017 is our youngest’s first ever Parkrun. Just days after turning 4. That was immense. Unfortunately it may have been just a little too far for him and I don’t want to be a pushy parent so we are taking it slowly. I refuse to be one of those parents dragging their kids around the course telling them off for being too slow and not trying.

And last but by no means least – my sub 4hour marathon. Looking back I honestly don’t know how I pulled that one out the bag. 3hrs 55mins 26secs. But I’m going to run that fast again, even faster. And I’m going to get my GFA!

So a few knocks and a few drownings amongst the 35 races I completed. A couple of scars, definitely too many toilet related stories and more missed targets than I am happy with but my god I’ve had some absolutely incredible finish lines, met some fantastic people and made some very happy memories.

Definitely. Can’t. Complain.

(Even though I did. I’m talking Oscar worthy whinging!)

Next year it’s Parkrun!

When the other half suggests we both do a race my trainers are on before he’s finished speaking.

Well. Let me tell you. What a sorry lesson I’ve learned from that!

One of his customers had told him about a hill race near where he lived. 2 days before Christmas. Im still doing Marcothon so thought I could do that as part of it.

Stupidly thought. Very stupidly thought.

It was a Saturday morning so the choice was between that and Parkrun. I chose to mix it up and go for the hill race. Why not?

It was less than half an hour away and when I looked it up on the morning of the race it was your typical small field of runners. All the feedback on it was positive so how bad could it be. There was a bag check at registration and it was a short walk to the start.

At the start I bumped into Chris who I’ve met at a couple of other races. He pointed out a bit to save energy for (Scotland’s famous for ‘fake tops) and said he ran it last year in about 55mins.

It’s 4 miles. Oh right. I know it’s a hill race but what goes up comes down doesn’t it? And usually much faster?

Joe saw a few people he knew as well including an older woman from his tri club and the guy who had suggested the race.

Off we went and I stuck close to the back. The Hill Series with Perth Road Runners taught me enough to know I’m a finisher and nothing more. Usually in the last 10 as well. God loves a trier though.

Flat but bumpy under foot to begin with then a bit of mud then BAM.

Vertical.

And it didn’t stop.

Ever!!!

‘It’s ok’ I told myself. ‘There’s always a flat bit somewhere’. Nope! Not at this race.

This was my 23rd day of running at least 3 miles a day on the trot. This was beginning to hurt.

Just a few steps later – yup, this really hurts.

I was beginning to wonder if I should stop. Turn round and finish my miles near the car where it was flat whilst waiting for Joe to finish. I looked at my watch.

0.6 miles!! Are you kidding me?? That’s all?!? Oh Ella maybe you really should stop. This isn’t a healthy kind of pain.

It must end soon though surely? There’s always a little flat but to recover on.

Not in this race.

The first mile eventually clicked by. 20 minutes after starting. Just don’t say anything. You don’t need to.

After 7 days and nights on the side of this hill I reached the Marshall at the top pointing me to the right. I tried to run but my legs had gone back to the car so it was more of a bambi walk than anything. At 1.45 miles the lead runner came past me. I hadn’t even made it half way yet. Joe wasn’t too far behind the lead pack and I could tell he was thinking the same as me. What the actual f@ck were we playing at?

Down the treacherous path of rocks and mud and I slipped and slide my way past Chris and a few others (all heading back of course). I got down to the ‘big rock’ and went round it, moaning as usual to the marshalls – ‘oh my god why am I doing this!’.

Now I was heading back up and I could see there were only a handful of people behind me. The thought crossed my mind I could be finishing last. I didn’t like this. Last race of the year and there was a high probability I was going to be last.

Back across the top and it was down the vertical drop we had come up. Ah, now I can make some time back and hopefully scrape back a few places.

I slipped.

Nope!! Not doing that. I will take my time thank you very much! What a stupid bloody thing to do when you’ve an Ultra to train for you stupid woman!! This is just a ‘fun’ race for you! Take your time idiot!

I went over my ankle at 3 miles and did that whole ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, keep running, keep going, does it hurt? I don’t know! Ok just keep running. Nope, it’s ok. Phew’.

Every runners done that. Be honest.

I eventually came off the side of the mountain (yes it was a mountain) and hit the flat section. Finally. But my legs were jelly. Actual jelly. I could have been a cowboy. After a few strides they settled down and I pushed on knowing the finish was close. I could see someone in front of me but I didn’t have time to catch him.

I crossed the line and promptly told the other half we were doing Parkrun next year and not this race. Nope. No sir. Not me. No hills thank you. 1hr 7 it took me. To do 4 miles!

To say I’m in pain today does not cut it. I’ve been in better shape after running a marathon than I am today. In fact, I was better after the ultra! Leg days in the gym ain’t got nothing on a hill race! And I had to run today!! Marcothon is going to be the death of me.

When all is said and very sore it’s a greatly run race. Very friendly, fantastic spread, great marshalls. The only problem is the elevation ha ha. Almost 1000 feet in the first mile. I mean seriously, who enjoys that? (Not me, definitely not me).

All Right Our Kid?

The problem with ‘putting yourself out there’ is that, well, not everyone wants you.

Take London for example. Not just one, but two rejections this year. London – you upped your game – well played.

Then there’s Berlin. Odds are higher, should be easier to get in.

Nope.

‘You are not one of the lucky winners’.

Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Ballots – you are not my friend.

So what races am I going to run next year?

I have a few up my sleeve. They may not be London or the ‘exotic’ Berlin (clearly I haven’t been), but they are still going to be big races in my books.

First, a marathon. After a bit of discussion on the best PB marathon course that will fit in with my other plans I have chosen Manchester.

It’s the same day as London so I will be completely distracted from the one that got away. Instead of moping about, glued to the tracker and wishing I was there I will be entirely focused on the Manchester finishing line. And most importantly, reaching that line in under 3hrs 45minutes.

It will be all ‘pace, pace, pace’ instead of ‘woe is me, pass me a tissue’.

Unless of course, it measures short again….

(Oh yeah, I went there. I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake twice though. Could you imagine!).

So here we go again. Another round of marathon training. But THIS time, it’s not about the distance. It’s about that clock.

Tick tock tick tock.

It’s Over – For Now

It’s Over – For Now

I’m sitting in the back row at the clubs AGM. They are doing the London Ballot places. This is it. This is my last chance to get in to London next year. I can’t look. But I have to look.

The first name is announced.

It’s not mine. But the owner of the name doesn’t want the place so another is read out.

It’s not mine again.

One more.

Again not mine. But again there’s rumours that person doesn’t want the place either! What is going on! I can safely say my heart is definitely beating right now! No slow heart rate here! In fact this is probably the fastest my heart rates ever been!

One more name, as a back up, just in case.

Not mine.

My hopes of London 2018 are now completely over.

I won’t lie, I am desperately disappointed by this. I struggle to plaster a smile on my face after that, thankful only of my choice to sit in the back row.

So what does this mean? Other than the obvious of no such run in London in April next year.

Am I the first person to be disappointed they didn’t ‘win’ something? No. Am I the only person who has ever wanted to run the London Marathon? Definitely not!

What’s that saying? ‘Earned, never given’.

So how do I ‘earn’ it?

Well my love you have to run faster!! Plain and simple! Earn that sucker! 11 minutes. 11 minutes is all you need to get that GFA then you can proudly say to yourself ‘You bloody earned that!’. And won’t it feel so much better – and so much more fitting – if you earn it? If you actually have to work for it rather than rely on luck?

I know what I need to do. My hill sprints, my track sessions, my long runs. If I do them then I will get that time. I will do this.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last but I know my goal for 2018. It’s fine to be disappointed with something but it’s not fine to let it beat you.

‘Moust Dash/Tash’

I’ve ran the Edinburgh Mo-Run the last 2 years with my original running buddy and really enjoyed it but life happens and neither of us did it this year.

However when they announced it would also be in Perth I checked the date and it worked for me so I signed up. Unfortunately Frazer still didn’t fancy it but my other half said he would run it. We decided to dress up seeing as we had costumes from a wedding we had just been to but we woke up to an absolutely freezing morning so Wonder Woman is going to have to wait a while for her first run! Instead I opted for my Cheshire Cat Leggings because who doesn’t want two huge cats eyes on their butt cheeks?

Joe decided not to run as well as he wasn’t keen to pay £25 to run places he runs anyway. Plus I’m pretty sure he’s about to hit me with a ‘hey I’m going to sign up to these 3 races that are £300 each, you cool with that?’. He’s playing his cards well ha ha.

My lovely Mum came down to the start too which was nice and I met up with Lorner and her eldest who were doing the 5k and a few other road runners.  Caroline was impressively colour co-ordinated with a purple wig and purple tights.  I won’t lie, the wig had me in a trance.  I just loved how it bobbed up and down very sixties style!

The 5k went off first and then the 10k just 10 minutes after.  We headed out round the Inch and very quickly I knew this wasn’t going to be a PB run with the ice on the ground but then this was a charity run – a fun run – so it didn’t bother me.  Under the bridge and we then headed in to town.  It was quiet but there were some supporters out cheering and laughing at some of the costumes running by.   Just before 1k I started passing some of the 5k runners.  We were doing the same route but the 10k did it twice.  There were quite a lot giving the 5k a go and I cheered every one of them on.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there like that, not something I will ever forget.

Down the high street and unfortunately I had to stop at the road.  A few runners in front of me had stopped and were waiting at the zebra crossing for the cars to go past.  This is the only bit that marginally annoyed me to be honest but only because it puts me off my pace.  Back on to the Inch and I knew then the course was going to be significantly short.  I was more focused on the ice on the ground though and not falling and getting an injury which to me was much more important.  It’s a long drag along the Inch so I tried to focus on catching up with Lorner and her son.  When I spotted them it gave me that little push to try and keep pace.  And just in front of them was Caroline and her purple wig.  Awesome.

The turn at the end of the Inch was treacherous and never have I been more thankful for a marshall insisting on everyone slowing down.  I slipped but didn’t fall so it was few walking steps to make sure I was steady on my feet before running again.  I kept an eye out for my mum and Joe so I could tell them she was just coming but turns out they had found refuge in a cafe!  Can’t blame them though, it was freezing.

Back round for the second lap and I was having a few ‘issues’ with my Cat’s Eye’s leggings.  The eyes were creeping closer to the ground so I was constantly trying to pull them up.  I started off discreetly pulling them at each side, watching to see if anyone was around me but I ended up both hands yanking them up every few minutes any dignity well and truly gone!  Don’t get me wrong I really love them and they are comfy but they are not for staying up when you are running any distance.  I apologize to anyone that had to witness this – it was not attractive!

Across the line and I briefly considered carrying on to make it the full 10k but quickly decided against it given it was just a fun run at the end of the day.  Plus, it was cold.  Very cold.  And very icy.

My youngest was given a spare ‘Mini Mo Runner’ headband which he took great pride in wearing along with my medal and we headed back to the car.  We had tickets to go to the cinema that afternoon and we still had the usual Sunday stuff to do.

There was quite a lot of grumbling about the course being short – and to be fair I measured it a full mile short which is quite a bit.  We found out later the course was cut last minute due to the ice which is quite clearly the right decision.  The turn to come back was treacherous enough.  The issue came because this information was not passed on to the runners at the start.  There have been a few complaining that other areas were bad so how could the closed off section be any worse but at the end of the day it’s Mo Run’s responsibility and decision.  They have since offered a free place for next year to the 10k runners which, in my opinion, is an impressive thing to do.  It’s a charity run at the end of the day so they will be losing the funds from these entries.  Although I know quite a few that ran the 5k I don’t think I am in a position to comment on them not being offered a free place so i won’t.

All I will say is I enjoyed the run.  It’s fun, the marshalls were amazing, there was a lot of them on course and I enjoyed it.  I will take up their offer of a place next year but I will make sure I raise at least the cost of my place so the charity doesn’t lose out.

And I will continue to wear funky leggings!

Walking Dead

This week I’ve been like a zombie. A barely walking zombie. And I don’t know why.

I’m not doing more than usual – in fact, I’m probably doing less! I don’t feel ill either I just feel exhausted. Thinking about it this is usually a sign somethings on my mind and as per the norm, it’s preventing me from sleeping.

So I’ve turned to the treadmill.

What?!?! The treadmill?? Why!!

Laziness if I’m honest. You can stop at any time on a treadmill and you don’t have to ‘walk back’ anywhere. There’s no ‘suck it up buttercup you’re still 2 miles from home!’. You’re at the gym. The cars outside. It’s easy.

5 miles on a treadmill is not easy though. Not for your mind. So I need to stop that and get back outside. I have had 2 runs in the fresh air this week – one with my running buddy and one on my own after I messed up at work and needed to get out. Today was the treadmill again though. I could barely keep my eyes open at my desk so I went for a run to try and insert some life in to my soul. I was convinced it would work but alas it did not and after nearly smacking my head on my desk in one of those free falling nano seconds of dropping off motions you get I decided it was time to go home.

On the plus side the tiredness in my legs seems to be easing slightly. I really don’t need that when I’m about to start ultra training.

I look shattered

56 miles – what ever obsessed you Ella?

I’m missing park run on Saturday as I’m working but the other half and I are doing the Mo Run on Sunday and we are going to dress up for it! Something fun to end the year on now all our serious races are done.

And Monday brings the clubs AGM. Where I hopefully find out if I am selected for a London ballot place. To say I’m nervous doesn’t even come close. Shaking with hysteria flitting between incredibly excited and depressed as sin isn’t far away from the truth. As they say though, what will be will be.

Then to end the year – the Santa Run! Who doesn’t want to run down your local high street dressed as the big bellied, white bearded grandad?!

So hopefully this tiredness does a Brexit and leaves. Preferably sooner rather than later.

I’m sure some Christmas Carols will help with that.