Oh Why Not?

Last Thursday’s club session was replaced with their annual Duathlon.  I had hoped the other half would be interested but he said he wouldn’t be back in time to change and get ready. I hummed and ha’d then decided if I can do a triathlon I can do a duathlon and the only way to get to know people in the club is to to actually go to events (kind of a key part!).

So, Thursday night I wolfed down a bit of food, got the bike in the car and headed off repeating the directions over and over so as not to get lost.  I parked up and walked over to the group, slightly hovering around the woman with the clipboard who was clearly taking registrations.  She took my name and I recognised her instantly as one of the marshalls you ‘heard before you saw’ at the Brig Bash 5 – fabulously enthusiastic!  Fiona came over with a warm smile and bright yellow jacket on – she was one of the many marshalls – and went over the route for me.  I was with her as far as ‘you start here and turn right just up there’ then I was lost.  Good thing I will never be out front in a race!

All registered and with my bike at the side we had a little debrief.  Yes it was a race but it was also for fun.  We don’t own the road so be careful.  There are lots of marshalls so you shouldn’t get lost (I felt this was slightly tempting fate but time would tell).  We shuffled to the starting line and someone asked me if I was doing it all myself or just running (we had the option to enter as a team).  I said I was doing both and asked her the same – ‘oh god no I’m just running’.  I asked if she knew if there were many females doing both and her reply…

‘I think you’re the only one’.

Genuinely almost broke my neck with the speed I twisted round to face her.

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yup’ – very long pause – then she laughed.

I didn’t.

I was busy picking my stomach up from the floor.

If you can’t laugh at yourself though what can you do.  Turns out there were about 5 of us female varieties putting ourselves on the line and going for both.  Why not.

I started off not too bad, it was a LOT steeper on hills than I thought it was going to be.  In fact, when I got half way I glanced at my watch only to realise I was only 1.5 miles in! The run was 4.2miles, this did not pose well for me.  However I kept my head down and my eyes on the woman in front.  She was wearing a cycle club top so process of elimination – she was a cyclist! (Proper Sherlock Holmes I am).  Hmmm, I wonder if I can get past her?  I’ve always been told focus on the person in front and make them your goal to over take and you’ll be across the finish line before you know it.

Right ok, let’s try it.

More up hill.

Forget it.

I’m fine where I am thank you.  Be your own competition and all that.  Run your own race not someone else’s, and all those other sayings etc.

Then came a bit of a down hill.

Ok, well, maybe.  Very, very, slowly I started to decrease the distance between us.  This quite possibly was more down to her slowing down than me speeding up but the fact remains, I was gaining on her. She was quite clearly going to whip my ass on the cycle route but at this moment in time it was all about the run.  On I went and about half a kilometre before the transition line I did it! I had focused on the person in front of me and I had made myself get past them! Wa hey!

Naturally the minute she was on her bike I blinked and she was gone. Not even a cloud of dust, just, gone.

The cycle was 2 loops of another steep hill and was 12.2miles.  I cycled as hard as I could, I have what I like to think is a decent bike, I’m just not that great a cyclist yet.  That will come with time though.

Not looking too confident!  Photo courtesy of Roy Mitchell from Perth

I finished in 1hr 24 I think, quite far down the field but it was never about being ‘top 3’ or anything.  Everyone was in a great mood at the end despite being eaten by the dreaded midges but there was cake.  I’m pretty sure at every Road Runner event there is cake!  I’m certainly not going to complain about that!

Now I’m focusing on the Great North Run in 2 weeks and Loch Ness Marathon in 4 weeks.  I’ve had a great weekend this weekend but more about that later 🙂

The Kilgraston Shark

Last Sunday was the local triathlon.  The one I had been dragging my behind back to the pool for (with as much enthusiasm as Eeyore, obviously).  My swim time had gone backwards so my goal was very basic – get it down.  It’s a bit of a unique triathlon as you are in a team of 4 and all 4 of you must complete all 3 disciplines in a row one at a time.  The distances are extremely short but I’m still very much a beginner.

I was in a team with Steve – who took the Run Faster group I have previously went to – his wife Alison and John, who I also met through the group.  None of us are swimmers but we can all run and John is quite the cyclist.  We picked up our numbers and I was delighted to see we were team no 30.  That meant I wasn’t the slowest swimmer by 29 people, and there were less than 40 teams – result!


This race was going fastest first.

Ah well, we weren’t planning on winning it anyway.

The team order was me, John, Alison then Steve.  Being first in the team to go was not something I was looking forward to and right enough, as I queued up in my oh so sexy Tri suit at the side of the pool I turned a deathly shade of white.  Then green.  Not good.  To distract myself from the dreaded upchuck I asked the woman next to me if she had done this before. ‘No it’s my first ever’ she replied.  ‘But you look so calm!’.  ‘Oh I don’t really care, my team know they will just have to wait for me and wait they will!’ she laughed.  I was so glad not everyone was in it to win it and there were others just out for a good day!

My time came and I was counted down.  I pushed off and everything about slowing my strokes down went clean out my head and I was just praying for the end of the pool.  By my 3rd length I was caught behind the person in front and then very quickly there were 4 people in front and I almost had to put my foot down and stop in the pool.  I switched to breast stroke and went straight under the water.  Clearly swimming of any kind is not natural to me.  The distance wasn’t long enough to really get frustrated and eventually I got past anyway.  My watch said 4mins 36 and I was happy with that. I may not be a dolphin but I’m no hump back whale either.

Onto my bike and could I find the thing? Could I heck.  Back and forward past it when eventually I spotted my towel.  Really should have paid more attention when I racked it!  I ran down to the line and saw Alison at the side.  ‘I hate this’ I cried out.  Pretty sure she just laughed. Out on to the road and the wind was picking up.  The route was essentially the same as the Brig Bash run I did a couple of months ago but in reverse.  This however means nothing to me as was doing the other way.  Not the same way, the complete opposite way.  Everything looks different.  I have a very long history of going the wrong way when doing the route in reverse!

Round I went though and paid attention to the marshalls – I even managed to pass about 3 people! Very happy with that.  Back in to transition and it was running shoes on.  Finally, running I can do!

Or so I thought.

Up I stood and over the timing mat I went.  My legs felt like lead.  They were barely moving.  In fact the fastest they moved during that run was when I almost went head over heels down the small hill at the start!  How I kept upright I will never know.  I did manage to pass a couple of people but I was that slow they could have been their teams third or fourth runner! (They weren’t by the way, just to be clear ha ha).

Back from the run and in to the tag zone to meet John who was about to begin his race.  Finally I could relax.  My leg was nippy though and I noticed I had a small but deep cut on my leg.  Very strange and very nippy.  I could only presume I had been bitten by a shark in the pool – obviously.

I spent the remainder of the race shouting and cheering from the side.  John came in in good time and soon it was Alison’s turn.  She beat me on the run but I had expected that.  When Steve finished he had a cut on his leg.  I tell you there’s a shark in the Kilgraston pool!

Best quote of the day goes to Steve when John asked him how many lengths of front crawl he managed – ‘I can assure you no front crawl was harmed during my swim’.  I’m not so sure Alison was entirely joking when she said he needs arm bands!

All in it was a great day.  I know you’ll be shocked to hear we didn’t win after all but hey, can’t win them all (or any in my case ha ha but I didn’t throw up so that’s my win).

Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to post the best photo of the day on here.  Someone from the Road Runners took our team photo for us (they are everywhere! AND they won!) and he took a selfie as well.  I can’t decide if it was on purpose though ha ha.  I did however post it on the Road Runners page – just as a thank you – I’m sure he took it in gest.

I’m glad I did the team triathlon and I will definitely be up for doing it again next year.  Its a good, relaxed day – once it’s done!

Forth Road Bridge – I got this!

One of – if not the – most popular race in Scotland given how many spaces available and how many people applied.

And I got a place!

Usually I hum and ha for a good little while and then book it nervously late at night when the other half has gone to bed so he doesn’t know.  I am not the only one who does this!

It was just my lovely mum who was coming to support at this race.  The other half is pushing his swimming at the moment so he’s quite tired and a rest is good.  So after a little detour to almost Dundee (15 mins top added to the journey, honest) we were beginning to approach the bridge.  Over we went and I stopped at the car park I thought we were meant to be at only to find it empty.  A quick gps check and back over the bridge we went only to discover nothing but hills.  

I saw the infamous yellow arrow signs that indicate where you need to run.

I turned white.

This was not going to be fast.  I may even have to walk! How was I going to get back up that hill after the half marathon yesterday?! 

We walked in to the community centre to register and I jokingly said to the guy with the numbers I didn’t realise it was quite so steep.  He quickly assured me I was running down the hill but not back up.  The race would finish at the end of the bridge. 

I’ve never loved someone so fast, so much before! (Kidding Joe)

I bumped in to a few from the Road Runners I have just joined and had my first official club photo taken.  (Check me out! Proud moment ha ha)

Since my mum and I had actually gotten there early we had time for a little seat in front of the large buffet that was provided for later.  Looked delicious! The only thing I would have changed would be the guy in very short shorts and a vest who kept lunging and staring at me.  My mum found this hilarious.  I, did not.

At the start line and just few moments later we were off.  Straight down the steep downhill and a small out and back section before the slight climb on to the bridge.  My mum was at the start of the bridge much to my surprise – always great for a cheer.  On to the bridge and the breeze was just perfect, I loved it.  The view was lovely and I had to stop myself taking a selfie video!   Thankfully it didn’t feel too steep and at the other end it was down and under to the other side to come back.  It had really thinned out by now so I was running with lots of space around me, quite unusual compared to other 10ks I have done but it allowed me to mutter out a few lines of songs.  How can you not sing ‘bridge over troubled water’ on this race? 

It was difficult to see the actual finish line so alas again, no sprint finish.  Gutted.  Honest. 🙂 The course ended up just a little short of 10k and I think if it had have been the full length I may have got a PB.  The medal was pretty cool though and one of the guys from the Road Runners got second Male Vet.  

It’s definitely a race I am going to keep an eye out for next year.  Really enjoyed it.

Next up – the Perth Relay Tri this Sunday.   This one is all about fun and should be a great day out.  Then it’s an intense focus on the next marathon! 

The Force is Strong In Perth – and it wears Tartan!

Today’s race – the first of the weekend – 13.4 miles (that’s right, not 13.1, but 13.4). 

It started well.  As in I got out of bed.  First task complete ‘good job’.  2 out of 3 kids were up in time – that in itself is an accomplishment – 2nd star of the day awarded.  Eldest child had other plans which apparently didn’t involve grown ups (a gaming day was mentioned) so he was left to his own devices.  He’s almost 17 before anyone calls child services.

I was meant to pick my mum up at 9.15am and by 9.38am I was at her house.  Still going strong here.  All runners were asked to wear a touch of tartan and my mum had made me a fake little kilt from some material I had got my hands on.  Unfortunately I didn’t try it on until that morning and it needed adjusting so I looked like I only had one rear end and not 2 with hips that could challenge a hippo.  

Kilt fixed and we headed to the start line which was only a mile or so from their house.  This meant I got there not only on time but early!  Great big, shiny star for me!!  I had no idea where the start line was so my mum ended up asking a marshall – somethings never change.  I didn’t have my usual level of anxiety so it was actually going quite well.  I even saw Fiona from the roadrunners just before and we gave each other a ‘good luck’.

Count down from 10 and we were off.  It was country track from the get go but I found my footing quite well.  The first muddy splash up the inside of my leg did have me worrying about looking like I had a dose of the infamous ‘runners tummy’ but everyone around me was the same so I just ignored it.  It was hot.  Very hot.  And really quite windy.   I took the water at the first station and decided I should take a gel about 8 miles.  I had had a banana for breakfast – obviously one solo banana is the best breakfast before a half marathon….

The views were immense, it was so nice running through the fields and no where near cars and traffic for a change.  When we headed along the river it was just beautiful – and no midges!  There was a muddy section but it wasn’t that bad really, not compared to the mud mile at tough mudder ha ha.

The track went to single file and as I fell behind the man in front, who was wearing a rather fetching tartan head band, I couldn’t help but notice his trainers.  They were blue and white and JUST like R2-D2! They were awesome!  I watched them for a good 10 minutes before realising they were alas not R2-D2 but a mizuno design.   

I feel the Star Wars copyright was infringed.

As I began to take the path leading away from the river there was a brief shower.  It was very welcomed given the heat and only lasted a few minutes.  It helped with the short incline.  However at about mile 9 the heavens opened and I got drenched.   It didn’t really bother me but my top decided to ride up and a blast of rain on my back was a bit of a ‘squealing’ moment ha ha.

Onto the bridge and I could hear the finish line.  ‘And that’s another runner coming in at 1hour and 26 minutes’.


I still had 3 miles to go and my mum and 2 out of 3 kids were a welcome sight at that point!  So much so that I almost stopped but then realised that’s not really what your meant to do. Ah well, onwards it was then.  Truth be told I was perfectly fine.  I was running well and feeling good, I just almost forgot I was aiming for a good time ha ha.

A little further on and I was coming up to the part of the route that goes past my friends house.  I briefly thought about texting her to see if she was in, fancied a cup of tea maybe, but thought against it as she would most likely be out.  Sure enough though I spotted her at her living room window and yes, I waved frantically, looking like I was trying to flag down the Scottish Air Ambulance over head (maybe I was, you’ll never know!).  She waved and danced back and I’m sure she had a chip butty in her hand! Jealous.  I do love it when I have a race that goes past hers though.  Nothing quite like the encouragement from a friend (even if she is all cosied up in her house with delicious food you would kill for at that moment).

Back on to the park and it’s the final stretch.  I have no idea where the actual finish is so I don’t go for the sprint finish, you know, just in case I go for it too early.  Wouldn’t want to burn out.  (And the award for best excuse goes to…). Across the finish line and I’m done!

I take advantage of the free massage after thinking its a great idea seeing as I have another race tomorrow.  By the time we leave the park the 5k race starts so we wait at the side and watch them go past.  I see Steve from my first running group coming up and I can’t resist the urge…

‘Get those knees up! Higher!’

He goes on to finish his 2nd 5k of the day in under 20mins.  I like to think I helped with that.

Just a few seconds behind him his wife comes past and we cheer her on as well, albeit much more politely! It’s also her 2nd 5k of the day.  They both did Parkrun in the morning.  I’m not the only one who does 2 runs close together.

Then, just a short time later, I hear the tune. ‘Dum dum de dum dum’.  It’s Darth Vader himself! Complete with light saber!  I had to get a photo! How he ran in that costume in that heat I will never know but it was impressive!

Onwards to tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the run.  I don’t see it as a competitive run but more one of yet again stunning views, only this time different.  No doubt the wind will be quite bad but I know I have 10k in my legs to get to the finish.  It’s just my mum coming with me so it’s going to be a bit of mother/daughter time and I’m quite looking forward to that as well.  A flask of tea will be at the ready!

The run tomorrow! Photo courtesy of Jamie Howden

Why would I NOT want to?

I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge.  I didn’t do it intentionally, it kind of just happened.  The city I live in has a Half Marathon race which I couldn’t do last year as it was just after an operation so it was on my list for this year.  I also came across a race early this year that has you running across the Forth Road Bridge so I jumped at that.  The views and the feeling of running over it will be worth more than the medal! So I signed up to both.

The Forth Road Bridge
The Forth Road Bridge
It wasn’t until about a month ago I realised these races were a day after each other.  Saturday is the half and Sunday is the bridge.  It’s not that big a deal but it’s definitely going to be tiring.  And each run brings its own difficulties.  There is a bit of a trail part on the half which last year had some big complaints about.  And of course if you’re running over a bridge in Scotland you’re guaranteed wind – the question is how strong? 

So I’ve tried to be sensible this week. Helped by the husband encouraging/pushing/forcing me to go swimming (triathlon next weekend you see).  However looking back, maybe there’s one or two things I should have/shouldn’t have done.

I got a PB at Parkrun on Saturday which I’m pleased at.  Not my fastest ever 5km but fastest at Parkrun.  Sunday was 12miles and my left calf was in quite a bit of pain in the last few miles so I jumped straight in an ice cold bath which helped. Took me straight back to Arctic Enema at Tough Mudder and genuinely thought I was going to turn in to an ice sculpture right there and then.  Mouth wide open, arms outstretched, half naked in the tub.  Nice!  I spent 6hours after it wrapped in a duvet ha ha.

Monday was the gym and Tuesday and Wednesdays were lunch runs. 

Then.  Thursday.  Yesterday.

At work I got the usual message – ‘Runching it today?’.  ‘Yup’.  The bridges route was suggested which is downhill to start and a slow climb back.  In my head it was going to be just a little over 5km, straight down to the bridge isn’t far.  I had Roadrunners at night and it was hill repeats so figured that route would be fine.  My left leg had really loosened off so all was good.

10km later…….

Yes, you read that right, 10km! How I got that wrong I still don’t know.  Why I insisted on a lap of the car park to ensure it ended on the 10km is something else in itself.  

And yes, I still went to Roadrunners.

My face says it all ha ha
7 laps of the middle loop later and I was burst.  So much so that to ensure I didn’t get up today and ‘try’ to go for a run I threw all my running gear in the washing machine! 

So today has been spent doing the usual housework, watching the olympics and having a good think about the next 2 days.  Tomorrow I am going to have to be careful on where I put my feet.  It might be muddy, it’s going to be a little busy, but ultimately, I can do it.  Sunday is a ‘feel good’ run.  Gozia from one of my running sites will be marshalling so a guaranteed smile and high 5 and I’m going to have to focus on NOT stopping to take a photo.  I was also reminded this morning that it’s a bridge so obviously there is elevation.  Hadn’t thought of that…..

Trying to Find Dory – Again

Apologies for the lame swimming reference but I’m about as good at that as I am at the activity itself right now.

At the beginning of this week the other half and I found ourselves childless for an entire night.  I was having to go into work during my week off and to make it easier for my long suffering mother we decided they would stay the night at the grandparents.  To take advantage I booked the cinema so we could have some ‘just us’ time.  

Then Joe phoned asking what time it started.  I thought he was just checking what time he would have to be back for but alas no.  ‘Right we are going swimming first’ I was told.  I haven’t been in a good 6 weeks and I was in no rush to get back there however that’s why I was ‘told’ we were going.  I would much have preferred a run, even a cycle.  I almost tried the ‘but my hair, I can’t go to the cinema with it a mess after the pool’ but that wasn’t even worth the breath.  So swimming it was.

I dug out my costume I had come to detest and pulled it on.  To my surprise it was looser than before.  I haven’t lost any weight but it definitely wasn’t clinging.  I then noticed dimples at the tops of my legs.  With a grin I realised I was getting leaner!  Result! The grin was quickly wiped from my face however when I looked down at my feet.  I definitely have runners feet.  No longer do I have black toe nails, I just have no toe nails.  Another thing that I can’t cover up when swimming.

In the pool and the plan was sets of 100m.   Something I could do fine before but man how quickly I discovered I had lost an awful lot of stamina in the last 6 weeks.  I was knackered.  And slow.  Real slow.  Nope, I was not enjoying this one bit.  I genuinely had a face like thunder and I was getting more and more annoyed the worse it seemed I was getting.  Didn’t help either that Joe was clearly loving the fact he was a fair bit faster than me now and his stamina has gone up.  A little bit.  Thoughts of dunking him under or grabbing his ankles may have gone through my mind.  I won’t lie.  Especially when I realised his competitive edge was coming out and he was trying to see how many more lengths than me he could do.  

I’ve swam 2500metres in one go.

I’ve completed 2 triathlons.

I’ve ran a marathon.  

All in the last 8 months.

I’m not competitive (but if I was I would say ‘I win’).

For a good 10 minutes neither of us were prepared to be the one to quit first.  It quickly fell in to more and more lengths as neither of us were going to wait for the other at the end of the pool.  Eventually though we had to as after all we had booked tickets to go and see a very nice looking man beat up some people in a very unrealistic way.  

Pleased with himself hes faster. ‘Whatever’. Ha ha

The next morning I woke to an email reminding me I had agreed to a local triathlon and asking what my predicted swim time would be.

Oh.  Holy.  Crap.

I will now be swimming a minimum of 4 times a week in a desperate attempt to not embarrass myself at this event!  

Is it possible to half your 200m time in 2 weeks?  

God I hope so!