All About The Base

I’m (loosely) following a Half Ironman training programme and this week had me doing a time trial for the swim section.  This came with more difficulties than you can imagine and it came with a serious threat of a panic attack when I was trying to plan it.

Let me explain.

Problem number 1.  I haven’t swam more than 400meters in one go since Edinburgh and even then I had what I call ‘Dip gate’.  (They changed the start, I jumped in and ended up only going down and not forward, drank and chocked on half the pool water and basically wanted to die – all within the first 5 seconds of the triathlon starting!).  Could I keep going for 1900 meters?

Problem number 2.  How do I count 1900 meters? My watch has been playing up so can’t trust it to count the lengths.  I can’t count and swim or I will sink and die. Breaking it down to sections will confuse me because, again, I can’t count past 4 before forgetting and ultimately sinking and drowning (spot the theme). 

Problem number 3.  It’s January, it’s mega busy.  I will either end up having to wait and let people past or getting really frustrated having to wait for people to hurry up. And let’s not mention the ‘I’m going to breast stroke in a medium to fast lane but refuse to get my head and hair wet and growl at those who splash me’ people.  (Stroke my ass with your arm again and I will grab your foot and throw you out the pool!)

Problem number 4.  I hadn’t been too well the few days before so the timing was all off.

Problem number 5.  I had no way of getting to the pool as the car had broken down and I was getting the blame for this.

Problem number 6.  I didn’t really want to do it.

After realising all I was doing was making excuses I decided to count the lengths in 10’s and check my watch at intervals to keep on track.  My mum has been coming swimming so she gave me a lift.  I had been a little dizzy, not at deaths door, so I was fit and well enough to do it. 

Suck it up buttercup or you won’t even make it to the start line!

I clicked my watch and off I went.  There was only 1 other guy in my 25m lane and he was slightly slower and taking rest periods so no problem there.  I counted to ten.  I got this! Start again, count up to ten.  Job done.  I checked my watch and it matched up.  Things are going great! Another guy jumped in but again it was no issue.  

Up to 30, then 35 – half way! Oh no wait.  You’re doing 76 lengths.  What’s half of 76? 35 isn’t it? No it can’t be.  Must be 36. How can it be 36 when you need to do 76? Is it 46? 


Oh holy …. What length am I on?!? 

Right, calm down.  You were thinking you were half way when you were on the other side over there so you must be one number up from that so half way is 38 which means you are on 39.  But you can’t be on 39 as that’s an odd number and you are heading back to the shallow end – the shallow end is even numbers! 

This goes on for what feels like an hour (reality is 30 seconds) until I get to 40 lengths.  

Yes! Only 26 to go!

40 plus 26 is not 76 Ella.  It starts all over again.

In the end I somehow figure it out and then keep a very close eye on my watch as I count down the last 400 meters.

Hitting the wall at the end I click my watch and take a breather.  Despite all the chaos in my head (anyone else hear the voices? No? Just me then) I’ve done pretty well.  Not spectacular compared to some but for me, pretty god damn well.  I may look more like a sea urchin coming up from the dead than Ariel the mermaid but I feel good about the swim and that’s what counts.

Plus now – I have my base to work on.  I have my first time I need to beat.  And I have 5 months.  A lot can be improved in 5 months.  Maybe not the counting issue (I’m sure that’s a medical condition). Or the voices for that matter.  But definitely the time.

Game on.

Training Update

Almost 3 weeks in and time to recap how the training is going.

Starts with S and ends with It.

No only kidding.  It’s ‘going’ shall we say.     I’ve discovered I need to do a hell of a lot more on the bike than I thought.  The cycling is putting additional pressure on my rotated pelvis so getting comfortable is hard.  Oh how much do I want to just reach in there and ‘rotate’ it back.  (Don’t worry, I know that’s impossible).

Luckily I have found a really good physio to get it realigned Ina regular basis and although it can be uncomfortable the sessions aren’t torture and he has a good sense of humour so I can have a laugh when I am there.  

I also have no idea what people are on about when they use their favourite buzz words such as ‘watts’ and ‘rpm’ and ‘cadence’ when it comes to cycling.  I’m still very much in the frame of mind of sit on the seat and peddle. I guess I need to do more research.

Swimming is definitely improving.  Slowly but surely I am breaking that barrier.  Still have occasions I am convinced there is a shark in the pool right beside me about to kill me and yes, I have freaked out when something’s touched my foot when I am the ONLY one in the lane only to realise later it was my other bloody foot but hey, I’m still swimming.  (Took a good few weeks to realise I was kicking my other foot but surely I’m not the only one to have little freak outs like this?).  More focused drills seem to be helping my speed instead of going Dory style and just keep swimming.

That leaves my running.  Now I truly love my running.  It’s my release, my ‘head’ time, my listen to music that no one listened to when it was released time.  


Back at the Road Runners after not going for club runs for a couple of weeks and I got a very hard, sharp wake up call.  I’ve never been ‘fast’ – yes I can run and I’m happy with my pb’s to date – but I will never be first over the line.  And that’s not because I have more chance of getting lost (which coincidentally is true), I just run because I simply enjoy it.  I didn’t however enjoy finding out I have lost some speed.  The cycling seems to be having more of an affect on me than I gave enough thought to.  I couldn’t keep up on my first run and ended up doing the last 2 miles solo.  It was embarrassing.  I was really down about it. Perseverance is key though and although I was last again the following week on the hill run it was slightly better. Just need to keep at it and stop ignoring the fact I need to do speed work.  GOD I hate speed work! What is the point of running when you can’t bloody breathe?! What is the point of pushing your body so you hurt the next day?! Collapsing at the end picturing your grave site?!

Oh yeah, because you need to do it.

Races have cut off times.  If I pull myself through the water and drag myself round the bike course you’re damn sure I’m putting everything I have in to MY run.   No it won’t be a time that will impress everyone but it will be my time on a Half Ironman course! 

Not going to stop moaning about speed work though.  Ha ha.  Kind of also got to remember in doing a marathon before the Half Ironman too!

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger? Em…

Time to make the announcement…

I’ve signed up to Ironman Edinburgh 70.3!!

No apparently I don’t like living anymore and want to be dead.

If it doesn’t scare you it’s not a big enough challenge right?

Well.  This scares me.  This petrifies me in fact.  It’s a 1.9km swim in the open water.  There’s ‘things’ in open water – and I’m not talking just a few fish (which does actually scare me and make me want to vomit).  There are big fish, fish, small fish, jelly fish (oh my god what if I see a jelly fish!!!) birds, really big mother fish that can probably eat me!! There’s litter, there’s poop (probably going to be some of my own at this rate), there’s all those other people and then there’s dead bodies.

All of the above just floating around trying to kill you.

Actually not so sure I’m going to do this now.

The cycling doesn’t worry me as much.  I just need to get on with it.  And the running I think will be fine.  Obviously won’t be my best ever half marathon but I’m quite confident I will be ok once I settle into my rhythm.

So if the swimming is that bad why am I doing this to myself? 

Well.  It’s Edinburgh.  It’s Ironman.  It’s NOT easy.  It falls in to that category of ‘it would be rude not to’.

I will put in the months of hard training. I will be out there when it’s cold, dark and freezing putting the hours in.  I will put my body through hell and push it as far as it can go.  I will rock up to that start line.  I will complete that swim, that cycle AND that run.

And you’re damn right I will cross that finish line. 

Time to man up and stop being a little bitch!

(Sorry for swearing mum – I was having a moment)

Wife vs Husband – wife wins!

There’s not many races my husband and I do together but 2017 was starting with one.  Afraid of being beat by his wife he suspiciously got ‘sick’ beforehand so it was touch and go whether or not he would participate.  Excuses set however and we were off to Edinburgh.  Again.  We went to registration and I was ecstatic to discover I had jumped from 87 to 212 in the year. Joe was 336. No comment.

It was cold but not as cold as the year before.  I wasn’t as nervous as I had been either – surprisingly that didn’t hit me until I was 3 people away from jumping in the pool.  This was a change.  Previously you got in the water and waited until you were told to go.  This was new.  I don’t like change.  And I especially don’t like unexpected change.  I watched everyone getting in and tried to suss out the best way to do this.  Climb down the ladder.  Walk over to the wall and then push off.  I repeated this time and time again so I knew what to do.  

I was counted down to my time and then climbed down the ladder.  The ladder ended.  My feet didn’t touch the floor.  I kept going down.  And down.  And down.   Not forward.  Then I couldn’t find the wall. What the actual hell was happening!! Eventually after 6 hours I reached the surface, grabbed the wall and pushed off.  I say pushed off but it was more of a duck under the water and back up again – there was no movement forward.  The next guy had already climbed in.  So naturally panic set in.  I couldn’t breathe, I was swallowing soooo much water.  I was petrified of how deep it was (I hadn’t touched the bottom despite plunging deeper than the titanic) and it was twice the length I am used to swimming.  I stopped half way through the first length chocking on the water.  This was awful.  I got to the end and tried to calm my breathing.  Someone passed me and that was it again – panic stations galore – I even started breast stroking for a few seconds! Now I’m not knocking those that breast stroke, Christ many are faster than my front crawl, but I had practised front crawl and I wanted that sub 9minutes.  

I remembered what Joe had said to me the first time I had done this triathlon. Very basic, very straight to the point.  ‘Calm. Down.’ (Was a bit more colourful than that but it worked).  I eventually found my rhythm and slowly started to get through it.  I even managed to pass a few people who had obviously gone out too fast. 

I was too embarrassed to turn round and see if I could see Joe when I climbed out the pool so I just ran to T1.  As I went through the doors in to the cold I heard ‘It’s Ella!! Go Ella!’.  It was Gosia from one of my running groups.  She was volunteering as a Marshall.  That cheered me up no end and put my mind back in a good place.  Thank god!

I couldn’t get my trousers on over my Tri suit but I knew I couldn’t handle the cold without them so I persevered.  I was slow, very slow,  but I needed to be.  And do you know what, that’s ok.  I wasn’t out for the win.  I didn’t want to risk catching a cold because I didn’t spend that extra 10seconds putting a top on.  I could have gotten changed indoors but I braved the outside.  

Off on my bike and could I get my bloody gloves on? Could I heck.  I ended up wobbling dangerously side to side to put them on.  3 times round Arthur’s seat.  3 times up that hill.  Up.  That.  Hill.  However.  I was on a better bike than last year, and I like to think I am a little bit fitter than last year. (Think a lot of yourself there love).  I did find it easier, and I enjoyed it.  Most of all, I didn’t die.  There was a man in a long army style coat standing at the side cheering everyone on so I smiled and thanked him that first time and had a joke with him the second and third.  I saw a few numbers in the 300’s go past me but I expected that.  There’s always a few elite types.  I kept watch for my husband as I had expected him to catch me in T1 but hadnt seen him yet.  

On the downhill I decided to go for it and went flying down.  A bit too fast as I was yelled at to slow down and if I had had my porridge like I should have done it would have been making a reappearance.  Good thing my clothes are black that’s all I’m saying.  

In to T2 and surprisingly I didn’t fall off and I was able to run ok.  Well, as good as you can in cleats.  It felt like I was trying to run on heels. Not great.  I frantically looked over to Joes section to see if his bike had gone genuinely believing if he hadn’t passed me he must have pulled out.  He really shouldn’t have done it as he really wasn’t well but apparently winding him up that I was going to beat him was too much for him to take.  His bike wasn’t there so I knew he must have been out on the course.  

Trainers on and I grabbed a gel and took off.  Then quickly went back to take my helmet off.  It happens.  It was only a few steps, no big deal.  My legs were ok to run on which I really was shocked at given I had just ran every day in December (and the last 3 in November, that’s an important point).  I did find the hill quite hard but another smile and joke with the man in the long coat and I made it to the top.  All the while watching over my shoulder for Joe.  Downhill and I tried to give it the last of what I had in my legs.  Up the last incline and through the finishing banner.

I went straight over to the transition area and looked for Joes bike.  It was there so I searched the crowd, couldn’t see him, so went back down the course.  The marshalls asked if I was supporting or gloating.  ‘A bit of both’ I cheekily laughed.  To be fair it wasn’t long before he came up that last hill and yes, I made sure he knew I was there.  

It was actually quite nice cheering him over the line for once.  It’s not something I normally get to do.  He hasn’t done any races himself so there’s been no opportunity for me to play the eccentric, supportive wife screaming from the sidelines.  It will happen though.  And he will love it!

Of course I know I didn’t actually beat him.  He started a good 10 minutes after me and was only a few minutes behind me finishing.  

But.  I was first over the line.  That is an actual fact.  

He pretty much died after it and is still ill but that’s what stubborn does to you.  We have a race we are both doing next year and I am more than aware he will beat my ass.  But for now, I won!

Love you.

2016 Done and Dusted

Now we are in to the new year this is just a quick look back to my highlights of the last year.  The year I continued to run.

It started with a Tri.  A 400m swim when I wasn’t a swimmer by any means.  A 9.6mile cycle on a hybrid bike (lesson 1.  a road bike is much better) and a little over a 3 mile run.  I was as scared as I was determined – white as a sheet, very close to throwing up in the pool but only picturing the moment I could put my trainers on and ‘just run’.  What I remember most about that day was my husband at T1 telling me to calm down.  It helped beyond words.  

The next big one was the Swimathon.  Hey Ella you’re a crap swimmer so why not sign up to doing 2.5km in the pool?! Never again.  That’s all I will say.  I hate swimming.

Onto a half marathon next and although I managed a PB I didn’t manage my nutrition.  There was the ‘Hill of Hell’ at mile 10 and I had nothing in me to hit it.  When I stumbled from dizziness it was the closest I have been from thinking I may be forced to stop.  Lesson number 2 – just because you’re not hungry doesn’t mean you don’t need to eat.  Twat.

Another triathlon followed, this time with my husband racing as well.  My parents were there again with our youngest at the side.  Memory of that day being my dad shouting to me that Joe was only a few minutes ahead.  A complete lie but it got me out of T2 faster than you can say ‘competitive much’. No, not us. 

The week after the triathlon was my first marathon.  Big lessons here, huge! And none that are really surprising – more common sense – which clearly, I have none.  Don’t do a triathlon just 7 days before running 26.2 miles.  Don’t go hell for leather on the bike trying to catch your husband at said Tri.  My quads hurt from mile 5 at the marathon and I only just came in on my target time.  Memory from that day is my eldest appearing in the morning to come and support.  I had all 3 of my kids, my husband and my mum (it was before his operation so too much for my dad). 

Onto a race that really intimidated me – the Brig Bash.  A 5 mile local road race that was full of ‘club runners’ which at the time I took to mean nothing but fast.  So I set myself a time to beat and resounded myself to being one of the last over the line.  It’s the one I would say I definitely pushed myself at.  And no I wasn’t last.  Lesson from that one – just because it’s a ‘club run’ doesn’t mean a non club runner will be excluded.

The Great North Run was the first race I had to travel to.  Hubby and I signed up as part of Team Alexis Rose for Meningitis.  It was hard going down to Newcastle without the kids or my mum who has been at every single race.  Joe loved the red arrow display at the end though.  

Then it was my second marathon – Loch Ness.  Without a doubt my favourite race. I loved it.  Things didn’t start too great as I had to go without my kids and Joe but my mum and dad kept me ‘entertained’.  I learnt a few things from that one though.  Only incredibly thick people change their trainers the night before a marathon.  I need to do more core work as my abdomen killed me in the late stages of the run.  And joining a club is actually awesome.  Hearing ‘The Perth Road Runners are here, Ella Webley is crossing the line’ will always be a cherished moment.  

So will my dad saying ‘it’s an awfy long way, you sure you want to do this’.  Ha ha.

Last but by no means least was running in London.  No actual race but I got to run round Hyde Park a few times and run up to Buckingham Palace in preparation for when I eventually get a London Marathon place.  I will get one.  One year soon.

Lots of races in between all of the above – 25 in total for 2016!  Bit of a jump from 15 the year before.  Many, many happy memories though.  Some have been with the husband, some with friends, tough mudder with my brother, and a couple with my daughter.  Impossible to have done any of it without my mum.  She’s there every step of the way and continues to be.  My dad helps out too – and likes to remind me he won a marathon when he was younger.  (Of course that was so long ago newspapers weren’t invented so I’m still looking for evidence of this).

2017 has a few booked already.  Big ones too.  I’m already scared.  But very excited.