Road Runners Do Tri

It’s been quite a week.

First the Perth Half last Saturday – let’s not say anything more about that. But I have picked my next half where I will get my club standards time or die trying! Speaking of ‘Tri’, the day after Perth Half was the Relay Wild Triathlon. I did this last year ┬ábut this year I was in the Road Runners team. Tuesday after that was a race at Knockhill (Tuesday, not the Wednesday that I thought) and finally last night was the clubs duathlon. So yeah, pretty busy.

Relay Wild Triathlon

This year in the team was myself, Scott and Debbie (2 road runners) and my other half. It’s a fun event rather than a serious one but that doesn’t make it easy. The distances are short which means you don’t get in to your stride before you move on to the next discipline. Each member of the team completes all 3 before passing the timing chip to the next member.

The weather was very sporadic throughout the day which was unfortunate as last year it was great and we could sit out on the grass. A few from the club came out to support as well which is always great to see. Shows how friendly a club it is. Debbie has done a few triathlons before but this was to be Scott’s first and he had joked he was going to wear his speedos as he didn’t have a Tri suit.

We were joking about before hand – Stuart had his sons (fake) swords and daggers so we were debating about taking out some of the very serious looking competition with them. At least 50% of the field was half my age and there were a lot of club Tri suits. I didn’t care, I had my HUUB suit, and it has pink on it!

Debbie went first and we waved her off and made sure we were there to shout her on. She looked like she was loving it! Before long she was out and back in on the bike then off for her run. She passed the chip to Scott. Turns out, he wasn’t joking about the speedos! There’s not many almost 50 year old guys that can pull that look off. Hats off to him though, he raised a few eyebrows. Just a shame most of the females there were young enough to be his teenage daughter ha ha. (Just kidding Scott).

It wasn’t long before he was back and I was off. True to form no matter how ‘relaxed’ the race is meant to be I stood waiting for the chip saying to myself ‘why am I doing this’. I’m fine once I get going but every time before the start I get that exasperated feeling of ‘what are you doing?!?’. Also true enough I messed up my swim. I had a pre-pubescent boy continuously stroke me up the very first length. You only need to tap me once to let me know you’re there! Good thing I didn’t have Stuart’s sons dagger that’s all I’m saying. On to the bike and I felt ok. I’m still embarrassed by my bike time at Edinburgh Half Ironman so haven’t been on it since then. I wasn’t expecting much here and that’s what I did – ‘ok’.

On to the run and I remembered how bad I felt running at last years event. I’m surprised I even got round the course then! This year was different though. It was still hard and I was still breathing heavily but I was keeping pace not too bad. Stuart had come down to the run route to ‘encourage’ me on (or shout abuse, pretty sure it’s the same thing). That did stop me from slowing down though.

I passed the timing chip to Joe and as he’s now part of the Tri club and another member was in another team it was clear from the get go they were racing! Joes just a ‘little’ competitive shall we say.

His challenger finished the swim first. He wasn’t happy. I on the other hand took great delight in telling him his friend was in front of him. Until I remembered Joe was actually on my team and we needed him to win.

Whilst waiting for Joe to come back from his cycle I went and got a print out of my times. I knew my swim had been bad and wanted to see just how bad.

”7 minutes 55?!? I don’t bloody think so!! What the hell!!’.

There was no way my time was as long as that! I had it down to 4m 5 in the pool. Absolutely no way! It did not take me almost 4 minutes to walk from the pool to the door!! (You weren’t allowed to run for safety reasons).

‘Can you get it checked?’ Asked Steph. ‘I’m bloody going to!’ I’m pretty sure I replied before she had even finished. I was raging. Livid! Who do I speak to!! How dare they! Steam was actually coming out of my ears! I can’t put this in my scrap book!

Then it was pointed out to me I had asked for the wrong number on the print out. I had someone else’s times.

Tail firmly between my legs I went back to the van and with my head hanging in shame asked for the correct number.

When Joe came back from the cycle he was still behind his friend so I ran down to the run route to coax him on. I was at the side shouting and taking photos when another runner on the route apologised to me for ruining my photos. ‘Don’t be daft no you’re not love’ I shouted to her. Then she said I could help her by running with her.

How do you say no to that?

Why would I say no to that?!

So I did. I found out she had started running but hadn’t really enjoyed it so was mixing it up by doing triathlon. Her first one had been in April. I told her to keep going and that the biggest cheer is always at the end and always worth it. I ran with her until we reached her husband who got her to the end.

Lovely Woman
Lovely Woman

I went back to the others and to see how Joe had done. He had overtaken his challenger on the run and beaten him overall (he too had been quick to the van to check, although with the right number the first time…) so he was happy. Looking at the teams overall time we had done really well so looked like we were in a good position to place in the top 3 – wa hey!

We stuck about for the food and the presentation – after all, you can’t go home without picking up your prizes, that’s just rude. Debbie kept us entertained with her Yoda impression too.

The rain started again so we went in to the hall as they read out the results. The all males and all females teams were read out first. The prizes were mostly beer and yes, we did have a joke about whether they were old enough to drink it (some non alcoholic prizes were handed out, I’m sure they didn’t give underage kids alcohol!). Then came the team prize. Ok, we are up for this! I was thinking second. Hopefully first but it was quite competitive so may have just missed it. The results were read out in reverse order along with times.

We didn’t win.

I’m putting my money on the winning team being a mum, dad and their two kids! Thought this was supposed to be a fun event? Yes I’ve done a half ironman but you would never have guessed it with my performance ha ha. Joe pointed out that would quite likely be us – especially when our youngest is old enough. Fair point.

There was a prize for fastest swimmer and whilst I was under no illusion it would be me I was hopeful it may be Joe. There were two people with the exact same time. They read out the first name and there was a loud cheer. The guy went up. ‘If its you I’m cheering way louder than them’ I said to Joe.

It was Joe.

He didn’t hear it though because I was screaming. Yes, that’s me, the overexcitable supportive wife. I do like a good cheer! Just wait until your next race!

‘Slightly’ disgruntled at no team prize we still had a great day. All jokes aside it is a fun day and I would do it again. Hopefully we will get another team from the road runners next year, possibly even two. Its fantastic that some people from the club come out and support too – definitely tells me I chose the right club.

Not Up To Standard

If it was easy everyone would be doing it and it would be boring. Right now I think 'infuriating', 'annoying' and 'aarrgghhh' are more accurate in describing how it is and feels.

No I didn't get my club standards time. Not even close.

The day started well. It's an 11am start so no rush in the morning. I even made my own breakfast of porridge and banana (I never cook. I hate it, detest it, will go to bed hungry before I cook. Just one of those things) but because someone wouldn't wash up the saucepan HE had used I ended up making it. So I was quite impressed with myself. Not so much with the 'top guy'.

Frazer aka original running buddy came round as he was running in the Half and Lorner was too. Lorner had her cat at the vet so was running a little late and we ended up getting a lift to the start instead of the bus – where unfortunately my parents had gone to surprise us and wish us all luck…. (sorry mum and dad).

This was Frazers first half marathon and he had a rough time in mind but ultimately just wanted to finish. Lorner has run one before but has had some injury issue in the last couple of months so she also just wanted to finish.

I wanted under 1 hr 48.

Club photo done and it was off to the start. Frazer and Lorner headed a little further back and continued their chat of alcohol , how many gels they were going to take and whether or not you could get alcoholic gels. They were also trying to calculate how much iron is in a pint of Guinness!

I placed myself quite near the front before the start line. It was gun time and not chip time so every second counts. Beside me another road runner was pacing his friend who had previously run 1hr 47 so I thought to keep her in sight. Another road runner was possibly looking at 1hr 45 depends how she felt. Definitely too fast for me so I was thinking more dot in the distance on that one.

Off we went and it's straight on to a trail path of loose rocks and gravel. I knew I had to concentrate on foot placing until I got to the road so it was head down most the way. I was joined by a guy who went to the first running group I went to and we chatted away for a couple of miles until I realised I was going too fast and needed to focus more so I dropped back a little. I had my goal and I was getting it.

It's a very mixed terrain course so you are jumping between the small rocks and gravel through fields and farms then on to road then in to woods. You get a bit of everything. No real elevation though apart from 2 very short sections. At the first water station I saw a woman from work who had volunteered and shouted out a hello and a wave as I went by.

On to a section of road and we were told to keep in as it wasn't closed roads. Rules state no earphones now for safety reasons but there was a guy in front close to the middle of the road. Cars were going closely by him but he wasn't moving in. Yup, he had earphones in. I couldn't help but think what a twat. He could have been hit by a car he couldn't have heard coming if he had tripped or swerved out and it could have shut down the event. Further on and I was throwing myself down a hill (still on route, not randomly) when another runner, this time female, ear phones again, moved out in front of me and I had to think fast. Now, she would have heard me coming there's no doubt about that. Pretty sure my mum and dad heard me at the finish line at this point and I was still 7 miles away! I spent the next couple of miles writing a strongly worded letter of complaint in my head to the organiser regarding people using their earphones and the dangers they cause.

I spent a good chunk of the second half on the heels of another road runner I know is faster than me. I didn't know what time she was going for (she may very well have just been running it with no time in mind) but I knew she was a good paced runner so tried to stay there.

I kept checking my watch a lot during the race and I felt I was doing good time. It was going to be touch and go but I remained focused. I absolutely detest running fast (I may have mentioned this before like, oh I don't know, 50 billion times!) so I really didn't want to have to do this again. On to the main road and I was feeling it but I was still on the heels of the other runner. If I could just get to the Inch (big park in Perth) and hopefully get pushed on I could make this.

Over the bridge, turn to the right and I see my mum. I start laughing as I know what's about to happen. She sees me and frantically waves to my dad on the other side to say I'm coming. She then looks at her phone…..and looks at her phone….. and looks at her phone…..I go past and she's still trying to turn the camera on on her phone. Every time.

I hit the Inch and that's when I begin to lose it. I'm no longer on her heels, she's 20 metres in front. Scott goes past and I try to use him to push on but he is flying! It's almost a sprint finish on the last 3 miles for him! I desperately need water but haven't seen a water station for miles, there has to be one on the Inch! Then I remember from last year they didn't have one and I genuinely start looking around wondering if I know anyone I can ask if they have water! I need it that badly! I swear at myself for looking and pausing at my water bottle earlier that morning and deciding not to take it. Twat.

Creeping up to the last mile and I tell myself I need to push it along the last, long stretch. It's straight, it's flat, you can do this. Last section then you don't have to run fast again for a while (lies I know but still, you'll tell yourself anything at this point).

On to the very, very long straight and I'm going. I've got good rhythm, my arms are going, I'm not sprinting but I'm going steady. I can make this 1:48! I'm over taking the odd person but there's not many other runners. Where is the finish?? I can't see the finish!! I can't see where I'm aiming for. There are NO other runners here!! I feel like an idiot. F@ck!!

Sod it. Had enough. Can't do this. I HATE THIS.

My watch hits 1:48.

I run to the end but shake my head as I read 1:49:07 on the clock. I didn't do it. I lost it. It wasn't even a PB. I didn't even come close. Over a minute too slow. I'm miserably disappointed.

I take my water and bag – of which I don't even look in – and head over to my mum and dad. A few minutes later my daughter comes bounding over. She and my other half have just got here. I tell him I didn't make it and await the 'told you so' from him but instead says he had spoken to another runner who had said it's not really a PB course. I don't say anything. Because of the loop on the Inch Lucie – our daughter – knew where Lorner and Frazer were and knowing how awful that last stretch was I head back down to try and encourage them on. They both found it hot and hard but they both finished and that was their aim.

Frazer was working in a couple of hours so we headed back. It was then I saw the water station hidden at the start of the Inch. I had gone right past it and not seen it. Turns out many people missed it too.

I could give a number of excuses as to why I didn't hit my goal. It was hot, I didn't have enough water, I went out too fast, it wasn't a PB course (yet someone in the club got a PB and by quite a chunk! Well done him!), it wasn't completely on road like I'm used to etc etc.

Truth of the matter is though I just didn't run fast enough. There's no other reason than that. And there's nothing more disappointing than that. I'm now going to have to find another Half so I can get my time. This, I am not happy with. But it's got to be done.

That, or I could strongly contest why the club standards time is so ridiculously difficult to get. Demand to see stats of the club of how many have actually achieved it, how many are capable and how many realistically can not (like me, right now). Oh yes, when I was running I was writing this letter too! 'Dear Chairperson, I would like to know who decides what time …..'.

Maybe I will just keep my mouth shut though and (try to) run faster! Isn't that the point?

Still disappointed though.

School Holidays

Every year my daughter begs me to be on holiday for the entire time she is off school. Unfortunately this just isn't possible. My job doesn't allow for 6 week sabbaticals and my tendency to enter event after event – and her addiction to the most expensive trends going – kind of means I need my job. 2 weeks is the best I can do.

And naturally the very first day I am off I ask her what she wants to do and she tells me she's made plans with friends! Last thing on her mind is spending time with her mum! Hmmf.

2 weeks off work also means disruption to my routine. This I dislike very much. I love routine. I need routine. I can't tell you how many times I've had a hissy fit in the changing rooms at work because someone is in my spot. I am in there everyday at 12:02pm and I use the same locker next to the same spot on the same bench every bloody day. Completely puts me off when someone else gets there first!

Image result for my spot

However. I have to work with this. I have to change some things (not my spot in the changing rooms, it's mine). So gone are the lunch runs for 2 weeks and in come the early morning alarms so I can get it done before he is off to work. Gone are the lovely field runs with fresh air and wildlife and in come the loops round and round my house beside a road, dodging the kid on the scooter who is clearly aiming for me (so much self control it took not to push him over) all to get it done.

Gone also is my 'lunch'. As in actual food. It's 3pm before I realise I haven't eaten and by 4pm my Jekyll and Hyde impression is Oscar worthy. Half past 4 and I'm crashing out for a nap. Yup, got to love being off work….

And now lastly, it's beginning to feel like my speed is threatening to go. Yes ok I've never exactly been in the league of Laura Muir but I like to think I have at least a chance of getting my GFA time for London. What if that's all it is though? Something I like to think? And not something that is a reality?

'That' Saturdays long run threw me a little. Last Saturday was definitely better. Marginally longer but no 'bathroom' issues, just a bit of a hip issue. But now I've figured out I need to run 8min 30 splits. That's a bloody huge challenge. Kind of wish I hadn't looked that up. 26.2 miles at that pace? Hmmm.

It's what's driving me though. So when I was doing park run to finish my long run and I wanted to slow down…. I didn't. Pushed on by realising someone was using me as a pacer I kept at it. Took me a while to realise I knew her, spending the first 2 miles trying to figure out who's voice it was. Of course I could have just turned round and looked but it's more fun to play the guessing game! So when I started increasing my pace near the end and I felt her slow, I shouted at her to keep going. She was truly doing amazing and came so close to getting a PB. I'm sure she was only a few seconds off.

Same again last night at the club run. After a pitiful attempt at an excuse not to go from my friend (looks like thunder she said – barely a cloud in the sky, I'm picking you up) I agreed to run with her group. Near the end though and I was slightly a bit ahead with another roadrunner. 'Heading straight back or the long way round with strides?' He asked. 'Long way round, definitely.'

I hadn't heard him say 'strides'.

'Ok, bin to bin. GO!!'

I very quickly discovered I did not have that in me. But he kept going, kept pushing, and although it was quite a pitiful attempt on my part, I got it done. No way in hell I would have done it if there hadn't been someone shouting me on!

And so that just leaves this mornings run. Whilst my youngest was at nursery, my daughter who had begged me to be off work still lay in bed (I am NOT getting up mum!), and the myth that is my eldest was also in bed (obvs, duh), I took off for my run.

6 miles.

At a MUCH better pace!

Finally!

I got home and went straight in to a cold bath. I know some people say this does nothing for you but I certainly feel better for it and even if it's only mentally, I don't care. There's a lot to be said for placebos.

Saturday is my local half marathon. And shock horror I have another challenge (because obviously the marathon isn't quite challenging enough! *cough,cough). I want my club standards time. 1hour 48mins. I didn't get it at Loch Leven and I was disappointed, those 38 seconds still haunt me.  I want it this Saturday. The last 3 miles have you go past the finish for a loop out and back. Horrendous route. So I will make sure the other half – and hopefully my mum and dad – are placed to shout at me to keep moving. It's going to be needed.

Fingers crossed! (But not toes, because I wouldn't be able to run then).

Looks like thunder my arse!

Training Update

As promised (mainly to myself) a training update.

A fellow roadrunner suggested Hal Higdon and one of the websites plans fits well in to my already 'brief' schedule so I've gone for that. It will need tweaked I don't doubt but it's given me a good starting place.

  • Monday – 5 mile run
  • Tuesday – leg workout, club run
  • Wednesday – 5 mile run
  • Thursday – core workout, hills/track
  • Friday – rest
  • Saturday – long run
  • Sunday – rest

That's the gist of it. There's a few more details to each run and I'm still swimming etc but yeah, that's it.

And oh my god my legs are killing me!! First time I did my leg workout I couldn't walk for days. Days!! And it's only really lunges and squats! Clearly torture moves designed by those who don't like running.

Evil, evil I tell you.

And I'm back to a longer run. Which I love, I truly adore. Just start running and keep going and going and going.

However……

Saturdays long run didn't 'quite' go to plan. And by 'quite', I really mean not at all. I put on a podcast to try and keep my pace slower, this worked good. What also seemed to be working was my bowel movements. Shame they didn't choose to work before I went out running however (and believe me, I tried everything to get them to move!).

I was barely 3 miles in, enjoying listening to an interview on Toughgirl when that oh too familiar feeling appeared. I tried to block it out, hoping it would go away (because that happens all the time – yeah right), but alas no. I ended up banging on my parents door at about 7:45am hopping from one foot to the next. As soon as the door was unlocked I went screaming past them 'I need a poo!'.

They were least impressed although I suspect they also found this not too abnormal now. Pretty sure I may have done this before.

Back out and I turned the podcast back on. Within minutes they were talking about embarrassing things that happen when you're out running. Naturally, the subject of needing to go came up. I was still laughing a couple of miles on.

My stomach wasn't great though and low and behold I needed another emergency pit stop. This time it was the start of Parkrun which thankfully is a sports centre so does have toilets. I had intended on a few more miles after Parkrun but it was time to call it a day. On the walk home my friend pointed out having fast food the night before probably wasn't the best idea.

The penny dropped again.

(I mean the metaphoric one just to be clear!)

So basically training is going to plan but I need to stop these rookie mistakes. My legs hurt but I'm thinking they will get used to it soon. I probably need to up the track sessions or review my 5 milers – try and make them more speedwork specific – but it's going good so far.

I will get that 3:45.

Why London?

For anyone that doesn't know, one of my main goals in the last couple of years is to run London Marathon. Partly because it's so iconic, I watched it from time to time over the years (not really knowing anything about it) and because I love the idea of 'travelling' to a marathon. The main reason though, is a lot more personal than any of that.

When I had my third child I wasn't very well. It is something I will never understand as it didn't happen with the first two so how can it happen with the third? I asked every professional under the sun this question and no one could give me an answer. I became isolated from everyone, rarely went out and when I did it was just me and my baby. I would watch endless nonsense on the telly and pretend I was going to go somewhere more exciting than the 4 walls of my living room. London being one of those places. To cut a long story short running is what changed all that. But the want to go to London never changed.

And then, once I was in a better place, disaster struck. As I opened my 'Thanks, but no' magazine from VLM my baby, who had just turned 2 the month before, jumped off the couch and broke his leg. The magazine was thrown to the floor and the next 6 weeks were spent threatening to put me back to day 1 of 'being back there'. How can a 2 year old break his leg? And from jumping on the couch? That was it, I wasn't leaving him, I had to be with him 24/7. I had to know exactly where he was at all times or the panic would set in. I was back to being imprisoned by myself.

Of course he recovered well. He's the type of boy who rarely cries – if he bangs his head playing he simply shakes it off. Instead of my mind numbing shows we watched toy story over and over and over again. But the thought of London never left me. And now it had a greater meaning.

I have to put 'that episode' to bed, once and for all. Kick it back to the past with a mighty boot and leave it there. And to do that I need to do London. It is now the race that is associated with my baby breaking his leg. My baby is the reason I started running. I can't fully get past all of that until London is done. Some may not understand that – but it makes sense in my head. Of course I know I may still have bad days even after I run London but knowing I can do something to change it will be the key.

So. How do I get in to London?

There's the ballot, which I will of course apply to every year and cross every finger and toe in the hope I get in. I will be sat at my front door awaiting the postman in October – with my son in my lap until I have opened the magazine, just to be safe. I refuse to be negative about the statistics surrounding it. It is what it is. If I get in EVERYONE will hear me! I could apply for a charity place but the pressure of raising such a large amount of money would be too much for me.

So looks like I'm going to have to run really bloody fast! A Good For Age place for me is under 3hrs 45. My current time is 3hrs 55. That's 11 minutes I need to shave off. Less than 30 seconds a mile. Can it be done?

I'm going to find out at Loch Ness in 8 weeks! When I joined my local running club someone said to me 'yeah, you can do it. You just need proper training'. So that's what I've been doing. It's killing me, but I'm doing it. I was beyond ecstatic to get a sub 4hr marathon back at Stirling. But I know I can do faster. I have to.

So my next posts will be about my training. What's going well and what isn't. Then I can review them all, increase what works and change what doesn't. I'm getting that time. I have to.

Now. I'm a road runner. I run on roads. I occasionally do trails but not very often. I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do hills and track isn't much better. So initially, when the Splash N Dash race was announced, I didn't think twice about giving it the body swerve.

Run along a beach – that's sand, not tarmac – then into the sea – again water, not tarmac – then do it again for a second loop.

Not on your nelly.

But then a few people were talking about it and we had had a couple of good days weather wise (which for Scotland means the wind was gusty not hurricane, and the rain was showers not monsoon). So I signed both of us up. Yup, Mr W was going to do it too.

Let's be clear here though. The only reason I asked him to was because we now have this agreement we have to consult the other before signing up to a race and he only said yes because he had just bought a TT bike!

Marriage at its best.

Naturally, day of the race, it was pouring. It was windy, it was cold, it was wet. And that was before we were running. I hadn't even checked the distance either so I couldn't estimate how long I would be out there. I had opted for my 3 quarter lengths instead of shorts given the weather and a buff round my neck which I very quickly fanned out and put round my head to try and keep 'some' warmth in. If someone had asked me if I was in remission I couldn't have blamed them. However I was that cold I didn't care what I looked like.

Joe had decided not to run. Gave some utter cock and bull story about not wanting to ask my mum to babysit – personally I think he felt it was too cold. (He's not a runner, let's be honest). So he sat in the warm van the entire time.

As I stood in line to get my bib there was a lot of chat about the waves. One runner who had done it last year kindly demonstrated how deep we would be going.

She pointed at the tops of her legs. The TOP of her legs!!

I'm going to need arm bands!! What the hell?!?

Then someone said they had decided to move the race from September to July in the hope of getting better weather.

Someone was most definitely taking the mickey.

There were quite a few road runners there and we huddled together to try and keep warm. Didn't work. I was grumpy. I was miserable. I just wanted it over and done with. All this way for what I found out to be 4 lousy miles on terrain I detested. There was a reason I didn't do races like these.

The organisers didn't want to keep us so started us of quickly. What I hadn't thought about was the spray from the person in front – literally like someone throwing sand in my eyes. Great! I tried to shelter behind people but the choice was the wind and rain or sand in your eyes. That's not always an easy decision.

I didn't check my watch at all as I didn't care an ounce what speed I was running. I knew it had to be about 2 miles ish out to the pirate flag and then we turned back. You couldn't see the flag for the mist but as soon as I was close the fast runners were going by in the opposite direction. 'It's a lot easier going this way' shouted Stewart. And sure enough, as soon as I turned, the wind lifted me up and pushed me forward. Thank god I wasn't wearing a skirt! Not long after we were in to the water just a little bit and that was fine. 'I can handle this' I thought. Along the beach we went and yes, I confess, at one point, I pretended I was a lifeguard on baywatch and The Rock and Zac Efron were at the finish line.

I ran my fastest split at that point.

Further in to the water we went now and it was that deep you couldn't run. I braced myself for the 'freeze' but it never came. Instead I found myself laughing and trying to do some kind of gallop through the sea.

Was I actually enjoying this race? Hell yeah! Weather was awful, couldn't really see but it was fun. Hadn't expected that!

Back round for the second lap and I found I was lapping a handful of runners. There were some who weren't as fast as others but my god their determination was strong! They were finishing no matter what!

A couple of the marshalls had water guns but to be honest, because of the rain, it didn't make any difference. It was still funny though to be squirted at as you ran by. They must have been freezing but the weather wasn't dampening their spirits.

Across the finish line and I made a speedy exit to the van with heated seats. I had been wise and brought a full change of clothes. Plus a towel to try to cover my modesty but the wind was having none of that either.

As usual, the lovely Gordon Donnachie was there to take beautiful pictures of us. I think I should get mine blown up and framed, what do you think?

I thought I was going to hate this race but I really found it fun! My legs felt so good after being in the water it was amazing. I would definitely recommend it – in rain or sun ha ha.

So….. yesterday.  Yesterday was the next instalment in the hill series that I’m just ‘loving’ (if loving actually means hating with all your might and would rather be watching paint dry that is).  

The difference with this one though is that I’ve ran it before – twice! And whilst it’s got its steep as hell climbs, it’s also got flat sections you can recover on (well, as much as you can during a race).  It is however longer than all the other races, and it definitely makes you work for that medal.  Bonus on this run though is that my other half was actually sponsoring it, he had designed the finisher t-shirt and was volunteering. 

There were quite a few Perth Road Runners volunteering also and many were marshalls round the course so there was lots of encouragement.


It was meant to be a long run day so I decided to run to the event and run back.  The youngest had other ideas though.  He gets a bit of separation anxiety from time to time so when I tried to drop him off he wasn’t all for it.  I know he’s fine within minutes of me leaving but when you don’t really need to leave straight away (because I could drive there) I find it more difficult to go.  In the end I managed to run 3 miles before my dad came along, picked me up and dropped me at the start.  3 miles was better than nothing and as expected my mum had text me before I had even hit a mile to say Ollie (my son) was playing happily.

Frazer – my original running buddy – was also running this race and his girlfriend Kirsty and daughter Jessica had come along too, as well as their dog Ruby.  

We were called to the start line about 10 minutes before the scheduled start.  Although I knew I would be passed I still went near the front as it was an instant climb and I didn’t want stuck behind someone or forced out the way.  This wasn’t a race I would be happy to just finish.  I wanted to improve last years time.  

I looked around and Sonjia, Stewart, Mark, Dave and Ronnie were in front of me.  Hmmm.  No Heledd.  Where was Heledd? I tapped Stewart on the shoulder.  ‘Have you seen Heledd?’ ‘No’ he replied.  Then a glint in his eye.  ‘Does this mean?’ 

I grinned.

‘I don’t know, I was sure she was coming though’.

Then Sonjia turned round.  ‘Heledd’s not here’.

She had the same grin as me.

‘Check you girls out all competitive!’

‘Not at all! Just friendly banter! But if she’s not here, more points for me’ I laughed.

Facts are facts, both Heledd and Sonjia are faster than me so yes, the only way I could ‘win’ was if Heledd wasn’t running.  Then I would be the only female that did all 6 Hill Races and the nightmare that was Birnam Hill (the first hill race) will most definitely have been worth it.  Sort of. Maybe.

‘Oh hi Heledd’.

Aw no, she was at the registration tent. Game over.  

She snuck to the back a little embarrassed that it looked like we were waiting for her but it wasn’t 11’o’clock so she wasn’t technically late.  ‘You’ve still got a good few metres on her’ Stewart said.  ‘I’m going to need it, and much more!’ was my reply.

Off we went and up the zig zag hill that is right at the start.  Not even a few metres to turn the legs over, you’re going straight up. I saw Kirsty at the top corner and a few steps passed her I heard ‘oh no, Ella’s already gone past’.  I think she was taking my mums place in the ‘missing the moment’ gallery ha ha. I gave her a wave to say I had heard her though.

First mile down and I chose not to look at my watch, there’s no point in Hill races.  I knew Heledd must be right on my heels and right enough, at 1.35 miles in I heard the ‘Hi Ella’.  ‘Hey’ I managed to gasp back.  She looked a bit white, not her usual self.  I wanted to ask if she was ok but I couldn’t gasp that out.  I passed her just a few minutes on which surprised me as I don’t think I’ve ever done that so tried to take advantage and not slow down until she had passed me again.

Around 2 miles and there was a woman at the side with a hurt ankle.  I asked if she was ok and told her friend I would let the next Marshall know.  He ran on but kept looking back wondering if he should have stayed with her.  

3 miles in and past the water station.  I didn’t take any as Heledd still hadn’t passed me and I knew the second I stopped or slowed down she would fly right by.  I also knew the worst Hill was coming and I would have to walk/stumble up it.  One of the Road Runners was the Marshall at the bottom of it and I had to ask her why she wasn’t running it.  She just looked at the hill and we both we knew she had made the smarter decision, not me! All the way up I was just waiting for Heledd to go past.  I’ve spent enough time behind her at these races to know she could most likely run this bit! When she didn’t pass me here I knew she wasn’t 100%.  Hoping it was more a case of she was ill and not a case she was hurt I kept on.  

Back up yet another hill and this one was one we had come down.  The Marshall – Sylvia I think it was – tried to be encouraging by saying something like it was the last hill, or it wasn’t far.  It’s quite hard to remember as I was so close to death through lack of oxygen.  I did manage a reply of ‘if I had the energy I would kill you for lying’ – she knows the route, she knows the truth ha ha.

As soon as I hit the ‘top’ and knew it was more down hill then up I kept at it.  Mile 5 and I did something I never do during races – I started to look behind me.  Yes I was trying to see if she was on my heels.  It kept pushing me forward though as every time I turned round I expected her to be right at my shoulder.  I knew where the final uphill was and pushed myself up it.  Then down it went.  Past Eleanor another road runner at a Marshall point with her daughter, cheering away, still pushing on.


She’s going to get me, she’s going to get me. This is going to be like the hills on Thursday when Mark lapped me right at the finish line! Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop.

I hit the zig zags and saw Kirsty again.  She started to run with me down them.  I found this hilarious and tried to shout ‘are you challenging me?’ but all my energy was going in to not being overtaken at the end. I had also calculated that if there was a team prize I may have been third female PRR as Marlena was between Sonjia and myself! (There wasn’t a team prize but still, it was a nice thought!). 


I turned the last corner and I heard footsteps. NO!!!! I was NOT giving this one up!! Unable to breath I somehow moved my legs faster.  Who ever this was was not getting past me!! 

It’s ok, they didn’t!


Across the line and a few very deep breaths later I went and collected my medal.  I saw Stewart and yes, I admit, my first words were ‘I beat Heledd!’ however this was very quickly followed by ‘but I don’t think she’s feeling very well, she’s not having a great race’.  I saw Kevin her partner and went over to speak to him.  He confirmed it, she wasn’t very well.  I felt really bad.  She came in just a couple of minutes behind me.  It’s all friendly competitiveness but I did feel bad for her.  She obviously wasn’t on top form or she would have wiped the floor with me.

Frazer came across the line in just a little over an hour which was phenomenal for his first time doing that run.  He was quite rightly pleased.

I love this picture of Frazer ha ha

And so on to my run home.  Well that didn’t go to plan. It was roasting hot, I didn’t have my sunglasses or a hat and my legs decided the 10k trail race was enough.  I had to make a call to my mum at 3 and a half miles in to get picked up before my hamstring went ‘ping’. 

All in all a good day.  I knocked 3 minutes off my time from last year which was the main aim.  But best of all there’s only one more hill race!!

Yes!!! 

Photos courtesy of Ethan Lee and Gordon Donnachie – they are at most races in Scotland kindly taking photos on their own time.  Much appreciated! (Except the one you get of me every time where you age me at least 30 years! Ha ha)


 The Alexis Rose Trail Race is a local families legacy race for their daughter who passed away from meningitis when she was only 19 months old.