No I’m not out running trying to do crazy maths whilst writing this.  This post, this very one, is about Stirling Marathon.  And the title will become clear soon enough (I promise you won’t need one of those calculators with more buttons than a remote control).


The inaugural Great Stirling Scottish Marathon (what a bloody mouthful – it will be called Stirling from now on) was Sunday past – and my third marathon.  I had quite a complicated aim.  Under 4 hours but if it didn’t feel right at any point I was to pull back because I can’t risk the Half Ironman in 6 weeks (eeek, little poo came out) and I still need to carry on training for it.  So, one side of the scale to the next – under 4 hours but gentle walk to finish if anything happens.  

All runners were to get the shuttle bus as it started at the safari park in Blair Drummond which is on a bad road on a normal day.  Happy to report I handled this by myself with no issue.  Wow.  Feels like I might be growing up! 

Joking aside I was surprisingly calm about this event.  Admittedly there was the use of breathing techniques a lot but, no actual issue. 

Well…..

Not until I needed the toilet.  The boast of plenty of toilets on the pre-race info was just ever so slightly exaggerated.  To the extent of there being more truth in the existence of Santa Clause than the number of toilets they had provided! I queued for over 40 minutes.  I watched the elites start, the fast club runners start, the orange wave, my wave and even the wave behind me before I had managed to relieve myself! As you’ll know from previous posts, I’m not too shy that I won’t ‘drop trou’ if needs must but I wasn’t about to do that with the risk of an antelope or a rhino coming up and sniffing my butt! 

What’s she up to?

So I was late starting.  Which meant weaving through hundreds of runners at a different pace to me.  I didn’t like it any more than they did.  I can almost forgive the women who elbowed me sharply in the ribs, almost.  There was a moment later on in the race when I saw her again thanks to the laps and I briefly considered tripping her up.  Joking! 

I had been dropped at the pick up by Joe, my daughter, my youngest and my mum.  Thanks to my daughters ability to sniff out a Marks and Spencer’s hot chocolate within a 5 mile range they were able to find somewhere to kill some time before heading to the course to try and spot me.

It was great running weather – we had just a spittle of rain.  Didn’t need sun glasses but was comfortable in shorts and vest.  Perfect.  The first section of the run was through a few small villages and there was great support from the locals.  Lots of kids out with sweets and high fives.  About 8 miles in I heard a familiar voice shout my name.  It was Gail from my work.  She sounded really surprised to see me which I’m putting down to being ‘surprised she actually managed to spot me’ and not ‘surprised I was actually running’.  Either way it was great to see her and I gave her a huge grin and wave as I went by.  Running.

A little further on and a lady from my running club jumped out from the crowd screaming ‘Go Perth Road Runners’.  Genuinely awesome enthusiasm.  Love it!! 

Not far past that and I see my family.  My daughters holding up the sign she ‘loving’ made for me.  (Loving should probably be replaced with bribed if I’m totally honest.  But a sign is a sign.  And it was for me! And I loved it!).  My youngest was shouting ‘go mummy’ and the other half was still smiling so I knew they weren’t bored yet.  My mum was still trying to get her camera turned on after I went past but that’s Nanny Netty for you ha ha.


Half way was a bit of a climb up and round the university.  On reflection it was barely a hill at all but at the time it was the equivalent of a hill race.  True story.  I spotted a couple of guys from my club and decided to try and use them to keep my pace up.  I was a little worried about having started at the very back and didn’t want to come in with an awful time.  I have a wave and ‘your going good, well done’ when I eventually caught them.  Not long after I did I spotted another from my club so did the same again.  Slightly harder this time, it felt he was running the same pace as me.  Then, just as I was about 100m behind him he veered off the road and in to the bushes. I won’t lie, I felt hard done to.  All that hard work to catch up with him and the only way I did was because he stopped to pee! How dare he! Did he not know I was chasing him down?? Ha ha.

The long straight in the by pass was awful.  It puts me off running the same course again.  It just seemed to go on forever.  Then at the end of it was the lead in to the dreaded lapping system.  I really didn’t think I would be able to count to 3 at this point.  It was very de-moralising passing signs for 22miles when you are only 17 in.  I was convinced I had gone the wrong way when I first saw 800m! That’s it, well done Ella, you have actually been that stupid that you’ve missed the laps.  Your names going to be all over the papers and all the social media sites.  Game over.

I hadn’t though.  When I hit the underpasses I knew I was going the right way.  Along with the bypass the underpasses were atrocious.  I didn’t think they would bother me but the 3 times down and up and trying to get past people in a tight space was near impossible.  I hope that gets changed.  The big benefit of the lapping was the regular support.  Now that is something you can’t complain about!  It kept me going in the hardest miles.

I wasn’t really checking my watch much but when I was trying to keep on track with my laps I couldn’t help but notice my time.  22 miles and I did a quick calculation.  Ok, going to have to be careful if I wanted to make the 4 hour target.  The underpasses were really killing my mood so I decided if I at least beat my last time of 4hrs 9 then I would be happy.  There was quite clearly a blister forming on my left foot as well as some other infestation no doubt so that would be a good enough goal.  Another check and I really was cutting it fine.  Think of the Half Ironman Ella, don’t be silly.  23 miles and I try to do maths again.  I’ve got a Parkrun distance to go and I’m at about 3hrs 25.  Parkrun is 3.2 miles.  

Even at 10 minute miles I can still get under 4hrs.  

And I’m running faster than 10 minute miles.

Don’t slow down!!! You can get in under the 4 hours!! You can do this!!

I stop to walk for a second and get my breath. Naturally.

Whatever ecosystem was generating in my left trainer screamed out in pain.  

Ok, I needed to start running again. 

Knowing I ‘had this’ I slowed my pace.  I was now at the 800m mark and happy to see the finish.  2 women in front of me held hands, raising them in the air.  I won’t lie, this did irritate me a little.  I was about to come in in under 4 hours and I wasn’t going to get a good finish photo because I would be blocked by their arms. (I’m all about the photos).  I tried to speed up past them and crossed the line just to the side.

I checked my watch.

3hrs 55m 26seconds.

Possibly the happiest I have ever been at the end of a race!! I find Joe and I’m jumping.  ‘3hrs 55!’ I scream at him.  ‘I know!’ He says. 

I’m very, very happy.  Nike might have been going for a sub 2hr attempt, but for me, this was the equivalent.


I also see Kenny at the finish who has run 110 marathons.  110!! He’s looking for the baggage bus which he thinks might be quite far away but there are no signs.  I’ve got to be honest, this washes over me at this point as I’m still so happy with my time.  I’m soon grumbling though when I realise he is of course correct (it’s Kenny, he genuinely knows everything) and I have to make my way, gammy foot and all, on a new adventure that requires a map and compass to try and find the bus.

Back at the car and my smile comes back.  It’s thankfully not a long journey home but my daughters had a hard day and falls asleep – so I take a photo of her.  That’s one for her 18th! 


At home after I’m changed and showered I phone my mum to check she’s ok.  It was an early morning start for her and she hasn’t been too well recently.  I’m so glad she made it though.  My dad had planned on being there too but he was babysitting my nephew.  

It’s most likely one I would do again.  I love the thought that I was there for the very first one – and the medal says that too, it’s a nice touch.  

Now.  On to the small matter of this Half Ironman…..

Yes I did wear my finisher tshirt to work the next day.
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Yeah I Did!

Drum roll please……

In fact forget the drum roll I want a great big massive Mexican wave spanning countries and countries, flags waving, children clapping, streams of coloured paper in the air – get it done!

Basically I just completed my FIRST EVER open water swim. 

Now you can understand the celebrations!

It’s just under 7 weeks to the Edinburgh Half Ironman and I knew I needed to get past this mile stone so headed down to the nearest organised open water swimming (safety first after all, can’t just go jumping in the local river!).

Time was tight and we didn’t get there until after the session had started but that didn’t really matter. I wasn’t convinced I would be able to force myself to properly swim anyway so was going with the intention of maybe getting about 50m along the front – possibly.  

We changed in to our wet suits and headed down where we saw Brian on his bike.  Stopped for a little chat and as Joe went to put his swim cap on….it broke.  He headed back to see if he could locate a spare.  Standing at the side of the Loch trying desperately not to look like I didn’t belong there I waded very slowly in.  Very slowly.  I waited for the water to start dribbling in and surprisingly it wasn’t as cold as expected.  I looked back at the shore and Joe still wasn’t back.  People were going off in dribs and drabs, it was very relaxed.  I was not.  

Right come on and you going do this?  No. Seriously? Man up! No, I will just wait for Joe.  Why? Isn’t that what I’m meant to do? What, you think he’s going to swim with you? You’re not fast enough.  Right fine!!! 

And I was off! I was actually off! Put my face in the water and went for it!!

I very quickly took my face out the water.

Oh My God I can’t see a thing!! Gasp gasp gasp!! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.  

But…. I’m still going.  Yes, I am still swimming.  Head for the huge yellow thing, it’s right there.  Deep breathe – intake of Loch water, choking, spluttering, BUT still swimming!

Round the yellow marker and on to the next one.  Still going.  Still can’t see a damn thing in the murky water, still not thinking about that, or what might be in here with me, including the massive pike the registration form ‘joked’ about.  Still swimming.

I get back to the shore and pause my watch (if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count after all).  Holy crap I’ve just swam in that Loch! I was ecstatic! It might have been beyond slow – although I didn’t really get over taken – but it was a swim.  Joe was back and had located another swim cap so we headed back in so he could do his first loop and I could do another.  I waited for him to go first before going again.  

A lot less gasping this time but still struggled to put my face in the water however, still got round.  Again.  This time my hand brushed some weeds but I was surprisingly calm.  Didn’t panic at all.  It was weeds.  I am telling myself it was weeds.  Nothing else.

I managed one more loop before time was up.  On the last loop I got grabbed a few times and had to handle a crowded turning but I was fine.  I did it.

Back at the van and I was straight on the phone to Ben who has given me a few swimming sessions.  ‘I didn’t die!!!’ Was my message.  ‘Woo! Gold star for you’ was the reply ha ha.

So it’s done! Milestone achieved, level unlocked, nappy changed!  Can’t wait to go back and do it again.  I’m genuinely shocked at how much it didn’t kill me.  Don’t get me wrong it was far from perfect and it was only about 1000yards but it wasn’t as slow as it felt.  I was only a few seconds off my standard swim time.  That was a shocker.

So.  More swimming to get more used to it (but I didn’t die!).  Marathon this weekend.  Then focusing on the final weeks of training. 

I’m still excited about this:)

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

No, I’m not talking a ‘romance’ here.  This race was most certainly not that.  I’m talking a race I was keen to do last year but missed out on a place as I wasn’t quick enough to enter.

Loch Leven Half Marathon is on (my friends) door step.  It is the Loch I tried to cycle around 2 years ago and was beaten by Joe …… who was running…..

Says it all about my fitness levels at that time.

FYI – I can comfortably hammer round on my bike in under an hour now.  In wind, rain, sleet, mud and midges!

So when it appeared on the Road Runners Championship I was all over it like a swarm of midges.  (Which is rather apt given how small I am ha ha).

I needed under 1hr 48 to hit my club standards too so it really was a ‘big’ race in my eyes.  The only negatives were it’s not really flat with just a couple slight uphill sections, it was a week before Stirling Marathon so any feeling of, well, anything, I would have to pull the pace back, and there was a report of the dreaded Scottish midge biggest swarm ever at the very location of the race. 

Full face buff and glasses it is then!

Registration was at the campus and there was about a mile walk to the start which was a good warm up.  Naturally I needed the loo as soon as I got there and therefore missed the team photo.

There will forever be a blank space in my scrap book now.

Sniff…

We started and there was quite a crowd so there was a bit of a shuffle before I crossed the start line.  I had chosen to wear a top under my running vest as it had been a heavy downpour on the drive through.  I quickly realised this was a mistake and I should always stick with my vest and shorts!  I had eaten my porridge, banana and energy bar before hand so at least some lessons are sinking in.

First few miles were ok and I felt good.  Kenny had told me if the midges were out they would be at mile 5 but as it was raining we should be ok.  Also, there was a slight hill at about mile 7/8 and the last mile was on the trail.  I had cycled the route with Frazer a few weeks back (in my Wonder Woman leggings – obviously) so I knew roughly where I was going.  

*complete lie, I could have been running my regular lunch time route and still had no clue

I had joked with another from the club who was marshalling that I may quit when I see him to which he replied ‘I won’t let you!’.  He was at mile 3.  I could see his point ha ha.

No midges at mile 5 thankfully thanks to the weather and true to form, I knew I was just past mile 7 when the route started going uphill.  Kenny was bang on the money again.  I felt like I was running quite good and managed up the hill ok.  My watch told me I had slowed a little but I had missed one of my splits so couldn’t work out if my pace was still on or not.  I think for the marathon I might right some times on my arm so I don’t forget them.

It wasn’t a closed road race and at one point a maroon car was right next to me for a good few hundred metres.  I thought this was Frazer and Joe so eventually turned with a huge smile to say how much I was loving running 13.1 miles only to discover it was a scowling older woman clearly annoyed she couldn’t get past.  

I read this as ‘I’m faster than a car’. Ha ha ha.

On to the trail near the end and in to the midges.  No where near as bad as reported thanks to the weather (although definitely too hot for 2 tops I mean seriously Ella) and not the biting kind so really it was more of an annoyance than anything.  I had another road runner in my sites for the last few miles and made a plan to keep her there to help me keep going.  Trying to keep her in sight was what kept me going through this bit to be honest. I glanced at my watch and it was going to need some push if I was to make the 1hr 48.  What the hell, I’m going for it.  I tried to pick up the pace and on the final straight felt someone just behind me so pushed even more. 

Photo courtesy of Craig Antrobus
Across the finish line and …. head down, deep breathes, need a seat, oh my god I can’t breathe.

Finishing time – 1hr 48m 38secs.

God damn it.

On reflection all I can think is maybe I lost focus during mid race.  Forgot I was aiming for a time and I should be pushing.  38 seconds is a hard pill to swallow but, it was still a PB of a full minute and 29 seconds! I’m happy with that. 

A good chat with some other Road Runners at the end and then we went back to Frazers for a cup of tea.  Oh, and I loved the commentators remark of ‘and here’s more Perth Road Runners coming in, there’s more of you than the midges!’ Ha ha ha 

A great race and definitely one I would do again. And hopefully faster! 


Photo courtesy of Craig Antrobus – he took some great photos of everyone!

Shadys Back

I am desperately trying to think of a positive start to this entry but, I can’t.
So the above will have to do.
Truth is, the anxiety seems to be back. I say seems, let’s be honest, it is back. I am managing to use coping techniques quite well but one of the problems it is giving me is trying to keep up with the training for the Stirling Marathon and the Half-Ironman. It’s kind of hard to force myself out the door when all I want to do is curl up in bed and stay there until the next day. Swap a running marathon for a Netflix marathon and the physical Ironman for the Marvel Ironman and that right now is the easier option.

But is that really what I want? Sometimes. 

They say endurance events aren’t achieved on the day but in training. The race itself is your victory lap. Well I tell you, right now, if I make it to that finish line, I will be amazed. 

I watched ‘400 meters’ on Netflix last week. A man diagnosed with MS decides to do a Full Ironman (not a half!) having never done anything like that before. He has several set backs, a father in law that isn’t too dis-similar from my own dad, and a determination to rival Donald Trump. I keep thinking he found the strength to keep going – and again, to do a Full Ironman – what’s stopping me? 

I haven’t ‘lost my mojo’. Genuinely hate that saying. I still love running, miss it if for some insane reason it’s been more than 2 days since we last met. I am very slowly getting more confident on the bike and the swimming isn’t that much of a chore. It’s just my mind. There are less and less ‘happy thoughts’. Thursday took me by surprise. It was bring your child to work day so I had my daughter with me. I thought she would be with me the entire day but I had to drop her off in a room that felt it contained half the population of the human race. She was fine. I was not. It took my greatest strength not to go back in, grab her hand and take her to my desk with me. Literally the only thing stopping me was the embarrassment I would cause her. I spent 20 minutes alone in a room trying to calm down. It worked though. Breathing techniques don’t get the credit they are due. And later that day when a friend of mine came in she presented me with a surprise gift she had made. It was a box frame with photos of me running and ‘Live, Love, RUN’ written on it. The tears turned to happy tears then – and she hadn’t even known it was a bad day!


I had the next Championship race that night and, as the day had been that bad, I asked Joe to pace me. I had asked him a few days earlier, just for something different. I have never really ran with a pacer and he has never paced someone – could have been tragic! On the day though it didn’t really end up being about time but more just about having someone there as a distraction. You never know what ‘could have’ happened and is there any point in thinking about it? Could I have ran just as fast or even faster? I don’t know. What I do know is that it was nice and it worked. I was distracted. It gave me a little more positivity back. And I used the gift my friend had given me as a reminder of me how much better I feel when I am running. So I rocked up to the start line instead of pressing ‘play’ on the next episode of Designated Survivor. (It’s recorded though so it’s ok!).
And so I have decided I need that little something extra to push myself. Something I can focus on when I’m thinking ‘nah, just skip it, back to bed – retreat, retreat, retreat’. I contacted SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and I am now going to try and raise a little money for them by getting to the start line – the finish line will come later. Some of the coping techniques I have been given truly work for me and there are days I wouldn’t be able to do my day job without them. So why not say thank you? 

If it hadn’t been for people like them, the support I have received and discovering running I would still be locked away in my house, rarely leaving, unlikely to still be holding down a job, and not being an ‘ok’ mum. (I won’t claim to be the best mother in the world, I forgot it was my eldest last ever day at school yesterday!).  

This post may not have started very positive but it’s my nod to my issues to say ‘yeah, you’re still there, you might still knock me down, but I CAN get back up’.

(How bad will it be if I don’t manage this now? Ha ha).

The link for my fundraising – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Ella-Webley2