I Think I Pee’d A Little!

Bear with me….

Not only am I trying to hit my Club Standards award this year and the Championships but I also have my eye on the Hill Series.  Oh, and the little matter of the Half Ironman that yes, im still training for.

Over achiever much?

As I sit here the day after the first hill race I genuinely can not remember why the hell I thought it would be a good idea.  My husband informed me last night he struggled not to laugh in my face when I told him what I was doing.  Hmmm.

My first ‘problem’ was thinking it was a different hill I was going to – good thing he drove this time, we would have ended up 50 miles in the wrong direction.

There were only 8 Road Runners who appeared at the start line – should have been my first clue really with over 150 members!

I had no whimsical beliefs that I would be far up the remotely small field but I was confident I could finish and hopefully not be too far back, maybe middle ish.  After much discussion on why we weren’t carrying full body waterproofs on what was the hottest day of the year so far and several looks we were off.  I glanced back and saw what I now know was a bit of a smug look on my other halfs face.  

I’ve walked up Birnam Hill before – at least I thought I had.  Turns out I hadn’t been anywhere near the top.  Well, I was about to go there.

We all started running and it was a very comfortable pace, everyone was aware of the climb up ahead.  We had been told we were running up the steep side too.  Great.

Very quickly the elevation started.  Ok fine, I knew it would.  Just keep moving your feet one in front of the other.  I’m doing that but then, they aren’t really getting in front of the other.  It’s very baby steps.  I look up only to see the trail.

I have to look up to the sky to see anything other than path! 

I’ve stopped ‘running’ now.  I’m taking big steps (well as big as I can for a child size adult).  My legs hurt already, I’m out of breath, everyone around me is walking up this vertical ascent.  This isn’t running.  This is dying slowly.   How is this a race?? 

I’m so out of breath I’ve started the whole ‘why are you doing this’ in my head.  Why am I doing this? I’m not built for hills.  I don’t like steep like this.  Roads don’t make you walk.  What the hell am I doing?? I genuinely wonder for a good 5 seconds if I should stop and admit I shouldn’t be here.  Slink away with my tail between my legs and stick to running road races, staying at the back.

I’m too scared to look behind me in case the only person there is the tail runner.  

Or you know, the 95 year old great grandmother of 20 who does this every day.  Wouldnt surprise me.

I glance at my watch and genuinely almost cry.

Half a mile!!  I’ve only gone half a mile!! 

And it’s been 10 minutes!!

Am I honestly about to hit a 20 minute mile?? Has anyone ever gone that slow?? Babies crawl faster than that!

Of course, as soon as you think you’re at the top, you see another hill.  You’re not at the top.  You’re not even close.

I’ve pretty much given up on EVER running again.  This will be my last ever ‘run’ I swear to myself.  You know, you gave it a good bash.  You did ‘not bad’.  But your time has come Ella.  Time to end it.  Just stop all this nonsense now.

I slip many, many times going up the hill (yes, you read that right, I slipped going UP).  Not tragically enough to justify a DNF or a medical team to the rescue but enough to make me go ‘for f@ck sake!’.

Eventually – and I mean eventually – I reach the top.  ‘That’s you at the top now’.  The marshall informs me.  

Pretty sure I gave the poor soul the look of death.  Very much ‘if I’m dying I’m taking you god forsaken people with me’.  He laughed at me.  Can’t blame him.

At least it was downhill from here.  I like downhill, I LOVE downhill.

I did not like this downhill.

This is where I truly lost many, many years off my life.

I don’t like swearing, I rarely swear, there’s no need for it.  Call me a snob whatever I’m just not a fan of swearing.  But on this race, on this downhill, I was swearing my arse off!

‘Holy shit’, ‘oh shit, oh shit, oh shit’ – was pretty much my mantra until the end.  At one point I was flying down a vertical drop – an actual vertical drop – and I kid you not I think a little pee came out I was that scared.  

 Nope, I don’t like this.  What the hell was I thinking.  Where’s the road.  Where’s the GOD DAMN ROAD.  I’m a road runner.  Not a bloody fling yourself down the side of a mountain kind of girl.  Stuff this.  STUFF THIS.

The last stretch did not include a sprint finish.  It included a shout of ‘I’m dying’ to the husband as he laughed when I went past.

My first words when I met up with the 7 other brave souls from the club? 

‘I hated that!!’

They loved it.


How do I feel the day after? Well I actually am dying.  My legs are so, so sore.  I went out for my long run and for the first time ever I bailed on a run.  My legs just went ‘nope, this isn’t happening, I am boss, I say no’.

Even walking hurts.

The medal for the Hill Series better be worth this! 

Vibrating Toilet Anyone?

Last weekend was the first race in my running clubs championship and I wanted to use it to hit Club Standards as well – 2 birds 1 stone.  (That’s actually a really horrible saying! I would never throw a stone at a bird or want to hit a bird – who wants to hit a bird! I’m quite annoyed about that now).  

The championship is a selection of 10 local races where you gain points for finish placement and you only need to do 7 and a marathon to get 1st, 2nd or 3rd.  I’m under no illusion I could gain one of those spots but I can still give it a try.  Club Standards is a set of target times on set distances based on your age.  

The race was 10 miles and I had a target of under 1hour 20minutes.  Broken down that’s ideally under 8 minutes a mile.  It was going to be close.  I knew that. 

I opted for the car share given there were 50 of us going and parking is always tight at local races.  This also solved the stress of getting lost, breaking down in my car that has more issues than a Kardashian, and arriving with no one to talk to.  And thankfully Kev who’s car I was in did not turn out to be a tiny Smart car – thanks for that Stewart!

It was a 65 mile journey there but the chat in the car was on going.  Most notably about Boston (the 2 guys in the car qualified and are signed up!) and what’s the weirdest thing you’ve received at a race.  

Foam medals, wooden pegs and coasters to name but a few.

It was cold and raining when we got there so I kept my layers on as long as I could.  Knowing I wanted a fast time I had been very strict and had my pasta the night before, porridge in the morning – that I made myself, yes I will take that standing ovation now – and water on the way up.

The fact I had breakfast 3 and a half hours before running escaped me until I was at the start line and beginning to feel slightly peckish.

Genuinely beginning to think I could win the ‘thickest runners award’.

I found someone who was aiming for 1 hour 16 so decided if I could keep him in my sights I should be good.  That time was definitely too fast for me but if I wasn’t too far behind I would be on track. 

We took off and unfortunately I went far too fast for the first mile.  I knew this though so slowed down for the second.  The wooden bridges in the wet were em, interesting, but I kept upright.  It was an out and back route so my aim (other than time) was to reach over 4 miles before the ones up front started coming back towards me.  And thankfully I did.  And with almost 50 of us Perth Road Runners running this race it soon became a succession of ‘well done’, ‘looking good’, ‘keep pushing’ comments back and forth – loved it.  Just before the 5 mile turn I had one PRR shout at me someone was right behind me and use them to push harder – so I did.

Maybe for only a few hundred yards but I did ha ha.

At the turn it was a nice surprise to see someone from the club there marshalling – totally didn’t expect that.  

I got to 6 miles and began to flounder.  All I could think about was the gel that was in my second pocket in my purple bag that was under the 3rd chair at the back of the hall.

The hall that was at the finish.

By 7 miles I had broken down the remaining 3 to small sections to get me through.  I compared it to park run as it was the same distance and just imagined that that was what I was running.

Then, just before 8 miles, at the smallest of inclines, my legs just stopped. 


I don’t know what happened but my legs were now slowly walking.

The woman next to me turned and asked if I was ok.  ‘Yeah I’m fine’ I tried to smile back at her.  ‘Are you sure? You’ve gone awfully white! Do you want a gel?’.

A gel! The very thing I had been visualising for the last couple of miles!  A food source I so desperately needed right now or I was in danger of not even finishing’.

‘No I’m fine, but thank you’.

What the…….!!! What did you just say you absolute intolerable idiot!! She just offered you a life line for the love of god and you’ve said no?!?! 

‘I think you should, what about a sweet? I’ve got some jelly beans?’

‘Actually yes please, I will’.

Hurrah!!! You’ve found common sense!! About freaking time!

She tells me she is running 20 miles today so using this as her first 10.  She gives me 3 special jelly beans and carries on.  (I say special because well 1.  At that moment in time they are special to me and 2.  I’m not talking the kiddy sweet kind, they look and taste slightly different).

My legs agree to start running again and I check my watch as I pass the 8 mile sign.  If I push there’s a slight chance I could still make my time.  Do I want to have to run this fast again? Hell no! So I pick up the pace and concentrate on a time when this will be over.  

I begin to recognise the houses I went past near the start and know I am almost finished.  One last turn and I am on the finishing straight.  Just keep going forward. I can’t see the finish but I know it’s there. 

But then – a car pulls out in front of me.  It’s not a closed road race but I do think to myself could he not have waited?  It’s not going very fast but to be fair neither am I so it’s not really an issue.

Well,  not an issue until it stops and BLOCKS THE ROAD!!

(Can you tell I’m not having fun now).

The car stops to talk to 2 young boys on bikes then very, very, VERY slowly pulls away with the 2 boys following behind.

I still can’t see the finish line but it’s not because I am too far away – it’s because the bloody car and bikes are blocking it!!

And then – to top of what has been the most delightful of races for me – the car stops again.  And this time it stops ON the finish line.  I am forced to squeeze round the side as I am still trying to beat the clock and no lump of metal and tyres was taking some very precious seconds off me!

I pretty much collapse at the side and contemplate throwing up – hard to do when you’ve nothing in your stomach though.  Checking my watch it says 1:19:46.  I’ve made it.  Just.

I see the lovely lady who saved my life with those 3 jelly beans and go over to thank her again – what a lovely human.

I won’t lie.  I will be very honest.  I absolutely HATED those last 2 miles.  And I wasn’t alone.  For some reason a lot of people have said the same.  This wasn’t a race I really enjoyed but I couldn’t tell you why.  The car seriously pee’d me off – I mean big time – but that didn’t happen until the end.  It was well marshalled, and great to see one of our own volunteering.  I just don’t know.  I didn’t even take any photos – now that’s saying something! I’m notorious for a race day bathroom selfie!

Ah yes, the bathroom! This race report would not be complete without a mention of the vibrating toilet in the women’s (hence the title).  I kid you not – it was a toilet that not only vibrated, but got worse when you sat on it! Plumbing in the Scottish Highlands is unique ha ha. 

Many from Perth won category prizes and many won spot prizes which were a name out the hat.  Now I tried the whole positive mindset thing and kept saying my name over and over but alas, I won nothing.  Not even a comment from Steph seemed to bring me luck – ‘for god sake just say her name, shut her up’.  I don’t think the gods were listening that day.  Especially not when her brother who was stood next to me won a great prize! 

Anyway.  That’s the race done.  That’s my time for 10 miles achieved.  I never have to do that again.  I can take it easy at the Tay Ten in a couple of weeks.  

Yup, take it easy.  That’s totally what I am going to do…….

As Easy As Riding A Bike

What a stupid saying!  I fell off twice on my last cycle!

I’m going to be honest.  The cycling part of this Half Ironman is beginning to scare me.  Reality is slowly hitting me across the face as it dawns on me that there are 2 different types of cyclist – those who are out for a leisurely cycle, and those who race.

Naturally, I fall in to the ‘leisurely cycle’ category.

Not ideal when you are racing.

I’ve looked at average times for my age completing a race like this and it has it down as 3hrs 30mins for the cycle.  That breaks down to roughly 15mph average.  I can manage almost 19mph on a 30 mile turbo ride but a recent trip to Pitlochry and back (also 30 miles there, 30 back) was more 13mph.  That’s quite a bit to make up.  

And it’s also only about half the distance I need to do…….

With no half hour stop for lunch either.

Pit stop in Pitlochry – was a good cycle with Joe

Pitlochry was Saturday and on my lunch run today (Monday) I could feel it in my legs – just above the knee on both legs.  My other half had challenged me to run sub 8min miles today, even set my watch to keep my pace so it would go off if I was too slow.

I knew I wouldn’t do it and turned off the pacer before even starting.

First 2 miles were under 8 mins to be fair.   I just knew I wouldn’t be able to climb the hill at that speed though, and I don’t like running less than 5 miles.  Maybe that’s what I should concentrate on though – faster but shorter distances just for a little while.  

I’m seeing some good progress with my swimming though.  It’s all been pool based so far as it’s too cold for open water but that’s going to be coming really soon. I’m choosing to believe open water will be easier and I will enjoy it more (I’m a huge fan of positive mind set).  I can not let it scare me.  I will allow myself one – and only one – freak out, then it’s head down, get on with business! 

On the upmost positive point though – I am dealing very well with panics when swimming.  No longer do I choke and gag in the most unsightly manner when I don’t have my breathing right and proceed to give an Oscar worthy performance of my dying moments.  Ok, slight lie, I do still choke from time to time but I can successfully recover from this and THAT is huge.  Because let’s face it, that is most definitely going to happen on the day.  I’m going to get kicked, elbowed, pushed around, water is constantly going to be where I need to breathe so if I can  calm myself down – I’ve already won.

So.  Running is still there.  It’s taken a knock but I have a few races coming up that will keep me at it.  Swimming is good.  No room to slack and time to get in the ‘real pool’ but it’s good.  And cycling? Well…… just got to keep at it.  Ignore the average time as, at the end of the day, I’m not ‘average’.  I’m a first timer at this.  I will do what I do on the day.

I am my only competition.

Ladies Only

I’ve never ran a ‘ladies only’ race so wasn’t sure if it would actually be different or not.  It was held by a running club that has both men and women so wasn’t a ‘girl power’ situation (not so sure I would have went for that to be honest).  It wasn’t all ‘pink’ and cheer leading and Pom poms either.  It was just a 10 mile race.

Actually no, hold up.  It wasn’t just a race.   This run had a climb in it! First 2 miles are ok, then it goes up, and up, and a bit more up.

I decided to go for the car share thinking it would be a good way to get to know more people.  Plus I had had a slight incident in the snow last week which hasn’t exactly left me with a smooth running car!  The other half offered to come along but I knew he would be bored so this was definitely the best option.

The drive through was full of chat of running – well, what else do you think we would talk about ha ha.  The other girls in the car hadn’t ran many races so were understandably a little nervous.  We timed it well so when we got there we picked up our numbers and were soon at the start line.  I had my vest top and shorts on and received many comments from those in hats and gloves about being cold.  To be fair being bottle white doesn’t help but I knew I would be fine as soon as we started.  Took me so long to have the confidence to wear shorts and now I hate running in anything but them ha ha.

At about the 2 mile mark we had a few PRR members cheering us on.  Unfortunately the most I could muster at this point was a high pitched exhale – even though yes, it was only 2 miles in!  The photo they took of me genuinely puts frankensteins work to shame. Which they dutifully posted on the clubs Facebook page – obviously.  Serves me right for not trying to smile I guess (although that has potential to be even worse!).  Still, it was nice having people you know cheering you on.

Thinking of using this to apply for The Rocky Horror Show

The climb started from there.  It wasn’t too bad but it just kept going and going and going.  Someone else had said just look at your feet and don’t stop.  After that hill I could now draw you a very detailed portrait of my New Balance, pink and black trainers with a dash of silver on the top.  

The sun had also come out at mile 2 and combined with the climb it was hot!  At some points I could have done with my sun glasses.  I had seen some ladies were running in 3 lairs – 3 lairs! They must have sweated off at least 2 stone! 

I had ‘sub-consciously’ made a target in my head of doing the race in 1hr 20.  This would mean I had hit my age section for the Club Standards.  I knew it was highly unlikely but my first mile was 7:33 and my second 8:01.  Naturally I started doing maths (as every runner does – we should all be mathematicians).  When mile 3 came in at 9:06 (it was a steep climb alright!) I calculated I was 30seconds off target which is a doable time to catch up on that early on.

You can tell I’m not a mathematician already can’t you?

Mile 4 and it’s still uphill but comes in better at 8:28.  Ella’s maths now has her at about 1m 3 seconds over.  Still very much achievable as I like running down hill and can pick up speed there – when it eventually comes round of course.

Mile 5 hits at 8:21 but we start to go downhill.  I don’t take the water on offer as I want to make up what is now under a minute and a half in my head.

Note to self – probably best not to help the kids with their maths homework.

The next mile is better at 7:31 but I can feel myself flagging in the heat.  Should have taken that water.  Also should have had more than red bull for my breakfast! The banana and grapes I scoffed down half an hour before the start hadn’t done me any favours either.  Will I never learn?!?   At this point I think I can hear another lady from the Road Runners chatting away behind me.  I’m puffing and panting away and she’s having a leisurely chat! I’m definitely flagging.

Is it over yet? Photo courtesy of Sarah Clark

Mile 7 and I’m not feeling too grand.  I gratefully take a jelly baby from the incredibly enthusiastic supporter from Hazelhead at the side who kindly runs with me as I do.  Of course I can’t chew the bloody thing and run at the same time so almost choke on it but I am very grateful for the boost (both her cheering and her jelly baby).

How do people run and eat? I have no idea!  That is a true skill.  I mean, that should be on your resume if you have mastered that!

Mile 8 and my hip hurts, my legs hurt a little, my head hurts from doing insane maths and I solemnly swear never to get on at the kids to do their maths homework because it is true torture.  I’m now lost as to where I am time wise and accept I am not making 1hr 20.  And at this point I dont care.

Then I remember my watch also tells me how long I have been running for and it’s 1hr 5min. 


15mins for 2 miles.  Which I’m pretty sure are meant to be downhill.  Of course I didn’t think to actually look at a map of the course properly – my eyes were drawn to the climb and not much else – but I was pretty sure it was meant to be downhill.  I could do 2 miles at an 8min pace.

There’s those maths skills again.

Not to worry though as mile 9 comes in at 8:23 and I truly, no longer care.  I am too hot, I need water, I need food.  All of which were my own fault.

Turning in to the sports ground and it’s up on to grass.

Correction.  Not grass.  It’s a swamp!!!!  Are you freaking kidding me?? My legs barely move through the soggy ground, of which there is of course a hill the size of Ben Nevis to climb.  (It’s about 4 steps up but that’s not my point! I’ve just ran up a bloody hill!).  The guys from the club are at the last corner but instead of waving and smiling like a normal person I pick up the pace to get off the swamp which naturally made for another ‘dawn of the dead’ photo.  Grand. 

As soon as I’m done I’m delving in to my goodie bag and I’m scoffing down the crisps.  First time ever I’ve eaten straight after a race but then I usually have breakfast – lesson after lesson with me!  I stand at the side cheering the rest of the PRR girls on (all of them smiling and waving at the camera, some doing impressive sprint finishes!).  I then go back to Kirsties car and decide to do a quick change in the empty car park.  But yes, you’ve guessed it, no sooner are my shorts off that there’s a family of 5 that walks right past.  

I don’t care.  I don’t like being cold.  I’m putting my canterburys on. 

Back inside and I decide not to join the queue for what turns out to be a fantastic spread put on by Arbroath.  Only reason being there are a few of us that were going for fish and chips after.  Everyone gave it rave reviews though. 

So, a great day all in all.  Should have had breakfast.  Was right with the shorts and vest.  Didn’t hit the 1hr 20 but I have another 10 miler in 2 weeks and I’m determined to do it then. 

Oh, and there was a small bottle of wine in the goodie bag! Result!

Sprint photo is courtesy of Kevin Kelly – thanks to all photographers for the photos (well, some of them!).