From 10k to 26.2miles

Yesterday saw me completing the most difficult goal I’ve set myself to date – run a marathon! My reason? Nothing exciting I’m afraid, it was just to see if I could do it. 

And I can!

The night before wasn’t good.  My anxiety was horrendous and my chest has never felt so tight, breathing was becoming difficult.  It wasn’t the distance, it was the number of people who were going to be there and I was going to be by myself.  I also felt under pressure to get a ‘good time’ – which is riddulous given its my first marathon.  I had to push that out my head.

Morning of the race we were, in true Ella style, running late.  We picked my mum and headed through to Edinburgh.  I was meant to be meeting some people from a Facebook group but we couldn’t get parked.  I ended up running to my pen after radio announcer said ‘2 minutes to go’.  I didn’t have my ear phones in which helps calm me down as there has been a lot of talk about disqualification for that.  I’m not running 26.2 miles to the be disqualified! My husband, mum and kids caught up to my pen about a minute before I was off.  I couldn’t look at them.  I was honestly about to burst out in tears. As it was only one or two escaped. 

My plan was to run the first half at about 8:30/8:45min miles.  I managed to keep to that too badly.  There were so many people running with someone else though it was difficult getting past some so I didn’t get the safety blanket of time at the beginning I had hoped for.  Once I got past the first mile my anxiety settled down.  I was running for the charity SAMH and heard someone shout ‘hey there’s another SAM H’.  I made myself turn round and smile instead of shying away.  Little boosts like that do help.  

By mile 5 my quads were hurting.  What was this? I’ve never had sore quads when running before.  I had a sore hip but that was holding up ok.  This could be a problem.

I was trying to be strict with my nutrition and hydration – I have a shocking habit of not eating unless I’m hungry and I’ve learnt the hard way I need to prevent hunger – so I took water at every station.  I was meant to have a gel at 10k but had it at 12k, not bad really.  I even had a couple of jelly babies from the fantastic Edinburgh people! 

I began looking for the hubby and my mum at this point.  I was quite excited to say ‘look, I took a gel!’.  10miles in and I thought they might be at the point where you pass every one coming back.  They had my sunglasses and the patch to put on my hip and also pain killers which I was hoping would do something for my quads.  Unfortunately they weren’t there though.  Must be further up.

Just under 2 hours in and the car went by marking the elites were just behind it.  I was quite pleased I had gotten that far before seeing them come back if I’m honest.  It was a really hot day so not easy conditions for me.  There were quite a few comments around me ‘makes you sick doesn’t it’.  It was all in good spirits though.  

At 17miles I was wincing through the pain in my legs.  I text my eldest to see where they were and was so disheartened when he replied ‘at the finish’.  They must have had problems trying to get to places on the route, not easy with a buggy I know.  

18 miles and I heard someone shouting my name! A woman from the Facebook site was on the other side of the road heading up to the turn.  That was certainly a good boost! She looked fresh as a daisy too as if she was out for a stroll!

When I stopped at the next water station (I can’t run and drink) the pain was almost unbearable when I tried to run again.  Looking back I think the cycle section of my triathlon the week before is what has done it.  I took it easy on the run but went hard on the bike.  A hard lesson for the future.

Going past the racecourse I knew I wasn’t too far away now.  I was still looking everywhere for my family but couldn’t see anyone.  I thought they must have gotten a good spot at the finish chute.  

As I hit the corner going in to the park and onto the metal grids I breathed a sigh of relief – almost there! I looked up and saw the finish line.  F@ck it, I’m going for it!! Where that extra boost came from I will never know but that section was without doubt the fastest I ran all day! I passed so many people determined to get to that line.  I was hyperventilating afterwards but it was worth it – it got me in in 4hrs 15min!! If I hadn’t sprinted it would have been 4hrs 16 and YES that makes a difference ha ha.

I sat down on the grass looking for my family.  I couldn’t see them and the panic started so I left the finishers area and stood at the gate until they came.  I got a much needed massage from the people at SAMH (again something I wouldn’t normally have done but I’m trying!). 

It was too much for me by this point and I just wanted back to the car so we left and I walked a fair bit but it was taking me too long so my lovely hubby went on ahead to get it.  

I’m still in the ‘honeymoon’ period of my achievement.  It’s an awesome medal! A bit miffed my tshirt doesn’t say ‘marathon’ or 26.2 but yeah, that’s more my ego ha ha.  I will be meeting the lovely people from SAMH again in 2 weeks when I do the obstacle course.  

Last year I did the 10k and it was good, this year I went the full distance and it was great!

And yes, I’m considering another marathon……….

Aberfeldy Sprint Triย 

My second triathlon.  

First for my husband.  

It was always going to have an element of competition in it. 

The night before we did usual prep for an event – packed the gear, food, race instructions, checked the bikes etc.  Joe had a minor flip out at his bike as he had a slight problem with the gears.  He hates the bike he has anyway so this didn’t help.  All prepared though and alarms set.  I was more excited than nervous.  He had put his swim down to 21 mins and I was aiming for 18 giving me 3 minutes advantage coming out the swim.  I cycle faster when he’s chasing me so if I could hold him off to the run I had a real chance of beating him.  

It was an unrealistic ‘if’ but it was enough for me to make the odd comment here and there to wind him up.  Which would only make him go faster.  Other people commenting on the possibility of him being beat by his wife was too much so he was hell bent on winning.

Not that we are competitive.

Although I am now part of the local tri club I wasn’t wearing their gear and no one had suggested I should be.  There were about 4 others from the club participating but I still don’t know anyone so I wasn’t feeling part of it.  The day was definitely more ‘husband vs wife’.

Not competitive.

We headed up surprisingly early for us (ie we were on time) and managed to get a great parking spot.  We scoped out the pool and transition area, registered and then went to meet my parents with our boys.  The weather was hot which we were thankful for given the recent downpours and winds. 

At the poolside and I was quickly turning a scary shade of white with the floor threatening to hit me in the face.  One of the marshalls could clearly see I was nervous and tried to give me encouraging words to which a couple of tears almost escaped.  I was quickly floating between passing out and throwing up.  

We were 5 to a lane setting off 5 seconds apart.  Joe was 2 lanes away and first to go in his.  I was fourth.  Those 15seconds were spent repeating a 4 letter f word over and over again.  I even turned to jump out the pool but thankfully, found my guts, started my watch and went.

I caught up quickly with the person in front of me so did the old foot grab.  I got stuck behind the next one for a few lengths and then my goggles kept filling up.  My nerves had got to me and it was killing me.  It was only 750metres for crying out loud, you get to run very soon so just chill the F out! I calmed down a little and just waited for the tap on the head telling me 2 more lengths.  Once that was done I was up and out the water with a quick wave to my parents and kids.

I got to my bike in transition and took a deep breath, worst part over. Then I heard it.  ‘Alright wife, you took your time’.   NOOOOOO. He’s only gone and beaten me on the swim!! The only part I actually thought I had him on. 

Competition over

I struggled getting my socks on my wet feet but I wasn’t going with out them and risking blisters before the next weekends marathon.  On the bike and I settled into pushing hard. There was only a small head wind so I concentrated on keeping momentum.  About half way round I remembered I had a bottle of water so took a couple of sips.  A little further round and a pheasant decided to attack the side of my bike.  No idea how I didn’t fall off but if anyone had seen it it must have been a very funny sight!

I was really enjoying myself by now.  I knew the bike route so I knew there was a climb on the way back but I also knew I could do it.  I absolutely love the area we were in as well – the cycle goes right past the spot we got married!  I did a lot of singing on that bike, good thing no one was near ha ha.

Up to transition 2 and the Marshall tell me I’m currently second female.

Well.  That was nice to hear.

Fastest transition EVER.

Past my parents again who tell me Joe is only 4 minutes ahead. He must be broken if he is.  I wonder if I can catch him. I run out and head right to the ‘slight incline’.  I’m breathing hard but hey, I can do hills, it’s only 5k, let’s go for it.

Hills I can do.  Vertically straight up – not so much! I’m just leaving Joe to go ahead then.

As horrendous as that run was it was also fantastic! The marshalls were hilariously funny ‘worst bit over’ she said, I asked her really? She said ‘no there’s another hill just up there, sorry’.  I must have had a joke with every Marshall on that course.  I still managed to pass 3 people on the run which I am very proud of.  I decided not to push to get first female as it was a trail track and I didn’t want to risk falling and getting an injury before the marathon.  Just not worth it.  The steep down run was a bit etchy, this may be a sprint but it wasn’t for a beginner.

Back to the campus and I cross the line with a great big cheeser on my face having loved every minute (once the swim was over ha ha)

he was determined to beat me

Support Crew

Afterwards we chatted to a few other runners before I took advantage of the free massages being given by a guy who has completed 9 Ironmans!! He kindly gave me some advice and suggestions – I now have my eyes set on my next challenge.

So overall a fantastic day.  I was never going to beat my other half but it was fun winding him up as I think he did believe there was a possibility.  I need to work on my nerves, they reared their ugly head horrendously, but, I did get past it. 

Aberfeldy is definitely one we will do every year.  Best marshalls I have ever experienced – every one of them truly wanted to be there! No medal or tshirt though.  Gutted about that. 

I did get a good photo though ๐Ÿ™‚

Longest run ever!ย 

When I got back from our time away my training plan was to do my last long run and I was aiming for 20 miles.  I think everyone has their own thoughts on what a ‘long run’ is but for me it depends on what you are training for I guess.  I needed to know I could hit 20 miles comfortably.

I dropped my youngest at nursery and pulled on what is now my favourite running gear – my shorts! It was still really hot (clearly that week was Scotland’s summer) so I took my water bladder and a couple of gels to practise nutrition.  

My fab freebies from SiS

I started off comfy – I knew I had to go slower than my usual pace but kept the first couple of miles not bad.  I had no idea where I was going so was just making it up as I went.  As I ran through my local park I saw my running group leader doing a PT session with a client and a few other people I know further on. I had decided not to put my music on and go ‘au natural’ – especially after reading some people had been disqualified from a race because of the new ruling.  I enjoyed the silence, I really did, but it did affect my pace.  

As it started to get hotter I started to slow down a little.  This didn’t worry me too much as my goal was distance not time.  I decided to go across the railway bridge completely forgetting the steep steps at the other side, thankfully they were in the shade.  That was mile 6 and that’s when I really did start to go slower.  

For some reason when I’m running I start to do maths in my head but I don’t believe in the only one.  I use Strava and set it to miles but I also use my Garmin and have it in km’s.  So I look at my watch and will see something like 12km and I will try to work out what it is in miles.  This can take me about 5 minutes though so it’s a great way to pass time ha ha.

About mile 9/10 I had run out of water it was that hot so I stopped in at my parents to refill and take a gel.  I took the Whey one for the first time but I had to wash it down with water, it was a bit sawdust in texture.  The flavour was nice but I’m not sure those ones are right for me.

I put my music on about mile 13 as I needed a distraction from the heat.  I headed back the way I had came thinking if I had done 10miles then in reverse I would hit my 20.  I took another gel about 15miles just to keep going and remembering how light headed I got on the Angus HaM so I wanted to prevent that.

Somehow I hit 20 miles and I wasn’t home.  When I got to my street I was at 20.7, well I couldn’t leave it at that so round in a circle I went throwing my water bladder in my garden as I passed.  When it hit 21miles I will be honest, I punched the air screaming yes!! Then collapsed on the grass! 

Inside for a much needed shower and I felt fine.  It was a slow pace (as I’m sure I’ve already said) but the fact I really felt OK told me I am good for pushing harder at the marathon.  I still had time before I had to pick the kids up so……….. I went for a 10 mile bike ride.  

I have a time in my mind for Edinburgh and I’m beginning to believe I might just make it if I can push myself.  It’s almost as if I’m being lazy when I’m running and not getting out my comfort zone.  But then, I run to enjoy it. 

I do love running.

A break away

Joe and I are just back from our little trip away to celebrate our anniversary.  It didn’t quite go to plan as the weather was exceptionally hot and, well, I’m Scottish, so anything over 10 degrees is hot for me – and we were hitting 28 degrees everyday!  We did still manage time out on the bikes though and I’m pleased to say I’m definitely more cycle confident now.  On the first day we went down through Arisaig.  Some of the initial climbs were quite steep but man what a difference on a road bike.  We stopped at the end of the road and watched an old man sail past in his canoe – the water was so clear it was gorgeous!


confidently wearing my shorts ๐Ÿ™‚
Back at The Shed and we dropped the bikes off and headed in to Mallaig.  The Jacobite Steam Train was there and that was quite awesome to see.  We booked our day trip over to a place called Inverie which is only accessible by boat or a 3 day hike. We then had the traditional fish and chips in a pub where the waitress didn’t quite get our humour (we asked for half the fish breaded and the other half battered ha ha).  After tea we went back down the beach and I braved the sea!  Well up to my waist at least ha ha.  It was freezing!  Might have been 28 degrees weather wise but that sea wasn’t.  We watched the sun go down on the beach and had a long walk along it, climbing the rocks and just chatting away.

Our trip to Inverie was fantastic.  Our bikes drew a lot of attention – especially on the boat.  We were told many times there were no roads there, bit late as we were already on the boat but we decided to just take it as it was.  An older man pointed out a route he took a few years ago but did say it was a track road, no Tarmac. We took the road anyway and oh my word it was gorgeous! Just riding along right by the sea it was beautiful.  The road was OK as well, some Tarmac but mostly a gravelly route but we coped ok, not a single puncture.  There had obviously been some work done on it.  We started to climb quite slowly, and then suddenly very sharply!  I didn’t think I was going to make it to the top but I did and man that felt good.  Until however, I realised I would have to go down it! I named my bike Downhill Daisy – I was pooping myself.  I survived though, and after 1136 feet of elevation gained we had a refreshing drink in the remotest pub in Britain – The Old Forge.

We managed a swim that night but unfortunately the sun had got to me too much and combined with missing the kids and bottling up my anxiety about it I had a migraine and struggled to get to the showers to try and calm it down.  We watched the sun go down again on the beach but I was falling everywhere on the rocks from the pain in my head and chest so we passed on the champagne and strawberries I had brought.

Thankfully the next morning I was feeling better (probably because I was going home that day to see the kids) so I went for a morning run.  I say run but I stopped that many times to take photos it was more of a stroll!  I loved it, running right next to the coast the views are immense.  It was only 4 miles as I was conscious we were leaving, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  I wish I had managed to get out running more.

Our time away was just what I needed and just what Joe needed.  We didn’t get to do as much training as hoped due to the unexpected weather but it was great and relaxing.  I now feel much more confident on the bike for the triathlon next weekend too!

So yeah, triathlon next weekend then the marathon weekend after – exciting!

Join a club or go it alone?

I’ve been putting this post off but, I have to be honest, or this entire blog will just be false.  I’ve been debating about joining a club for a while now.  Swaying between the local road runners and the triathlon club.  I enjoy the running group I have been attending but I’m eager for more.  In the end I went with the triathlon club as I want to continue to push myself and triathlon is a huge challenge.  

A few emails back and forward and I went along to a swim session.  Said hello to the coaches (there were 2), got changed and jumped in.  I’ve never done drills before, I am entirely self taught with the swimming so it was hard!  I knew it would be though and I knew I would be nervous – didn’t know a soul there, had to drive there myself AND walk through the door myself, still shake at the thought of it.  One of the coaches asked how I had got on and I was honest, told him it was hard but I knew it would take time. “Yeah” he said, “A lot of time”.  Good thing I wasn’t building my hopes up!  Then he went on to say it would come, swimming was the hardest part, cycling you just need to learn the gears and running was easy, anyone can run.  Great, running was my strength! Never mind.

I went back for the next swim session.  It couldn’t have gone worse.

I put my goggles on upside down – as pointed out by a coach.

I swallowed half the pool – something I haven’t done since I started.

I was hit multiple times by others in the lane to the extent at one point I was completely paranoid I thought they were aiming for me.  (Of course they weren’t and I hit the barrier just as much as they hit me but still, it hurt).

I didn’t finish the 2000m set.  I ran out of time.

Afterwards I had intended to hang around as someone had mentioned a bike session and my mum had already agreed to babysit.  I didn’t though.  I practically ran to the car desperate to get there before the tears started.  Clearly out of my depth, pun intended.

Back home and the husband could see it was getting to me.  Usually he comes out with some helpful encouragement like ‘quit moaning and man up’ or ‘quit then’.  Thankfully this time he didn’t.  I felt like I was back at square one and beginning all over again.  And I was having serious doubts about doing another triathlon anytime soon!  Needless to say I missed the bike session – I didn’t have anyone’s name or number to ask for the details.

Monday night and I found myself sitting on my bed dreading another swim session.  I know I’m not the kind of person who will walk into a room and say hi and command everyone’s attention.  I’m more likely to sneak through the door and skirt about the edges.  I stress out and panic in groups, my insides start screaming and I will hide out in the bathroom for as long as I possibly can.  But, I had decided to do this, I had seen how great and welcoming the tri community can be (the support crew for West Lothian at the middle distance our friend did was utterly amazing!  I was in awe!).  So I went. My swimming wasn’t great, I was passed several times but I was only hit twice.  No one spoke though.  There was no chatting.  I actually did stay behind after and loiter about the reception but still nothing.  

I don’t know if it’s because I’m just not good enough at the swimming and everyone is wondering what I’m doing there.  The husband thinks that they maybe see a lot of people come and go and it will get better once I’ve been there a while, I just don’t know.  I joined because I know I need proper training, but also because of what I’ve seen of the support that’s out there.  Someone I have never met before offered me her bike for crying out loud! Such a shame I don’t live near her tri club.

Don’t get me wrong, no one has been rude, looked down their nose, made any comments – nothing like that.  They genuinely seem lovely people.  I’m shy, I know I’m shy, horrendously in fact.  It might be something else entirely that’s making me feel down – it’s possible. I will stick with it though.  For now.  My other half and I are doing our first triathlon together in just 3 weeks, I have to at least give it till then.  And it’s our wedding anniversary next week so we are going away to a place that holds great memories for us.  If that doesn’t lift my mood nothing will!