Whoa Nessie

You would think by now I would know the basics of running. The do’s and (most importantly) the do nots. Well I don’t. Plain and simple – I do not.

After running Loch Ness last year and thoroughly enjoying it despite the pain in my feet from changing my trainers last minute and what turned out to be a weak core (still insulted by this) I was determined to do it again but better. The original plan was to get my GFA time for London (Good For Age ridiculously fast time to get a guaranteed entry). However reality crept in and I soon realised that, for this moment in time, it wasn’t to be. It is still the goal – and I will get in to London – it’s just going to be a longer journey than I first thought.

Leaving for Inverness with my mum I purposefully only took one pair of trainers with me so as not to make the same mistake twice. I have been working on my core so I was quietly confident I shouldn’t get the same issues there again (dare I say there’s even a very slight glimmer of abs there. Well, under all the scones and jam I seem to have taken a liken to recently).

We arrived at the expo early afternoon and I went to register. Mum loved how everyone asked her if she was running as well! I will get her doing the couch to 5k if I have to lend her trainers myself! (That’s a lie, I won’t, no one touches my trainers, I will buy her her own pair.). We then headed over so I could buy a new top to replace the one I’ve worn almost every day since last year.

‘We sold out at about 11am’.

What?!?!? You sold out before mid day the day before the marathon??!! Are you kidding me?? That top is one of the main reasons I’m doing this marathon again!

A very short tantrum later and many, many dirty looks thrown at the man who had shrugged this most unacceptable sentence to me and we went to the pasta party – still fuming. I had had to settle for a new bra. Don’t even ask. Had I been able to phone their head office and spoken to the Director of the company believe me I would have! (Might actually still do that!).

Anyway, the pasta party. Very tasty, very filling, lovely cup cake and great Scottish music from what I presume was a local band. I loved it. Miraculously it managed to take the insult that was the ‘Top drama’ down a notch.

We then drove to the hotel which was as near to the start line as you could get at Loch Ness and settled in for the night. Mum tried out my foam roller whilst I poured over the route trying to memorise where all the trouble areas could be.

It was only a 10 min drive to the bus pick up so we weren’t up too early. As soon as I was on the bus though another woman came on declaring loudly how she gets travel sick and hadn’t taken her tablet that morning. What is it about that bus and eccentric characters? Last year it was a guy speaking loud enough for the supporters at the finish line 26.2 miles away to hear him recall every marathon he had done!

Off the bus and I didn’t even consider waiting in the queue for a hot cup of tea – it was only an hour until the start and that line was clearly double that. The toilet queue wasn’t any better so yup, it was the bush for me! Hey, when nature calls do what nature does!

I waited until last minute to load my bag on the baggage bus and brave the elements. Miraculously I found 3 other road runners on the way to the start line and we got a fab team photo (although we did miss Kenny unfortunately). My scrap book has come out of hiding again!

Hugh and Caroline were there to enjoy it, Duncan wanted to try for a time and it’s one of his favourites and me? Well I had decided if I felt good I would go for a PB but ultimately I didn’t want to ruin my day chasing a time. I really didn’t have the confidence a 3:45 was in me right at that moment.

The bag pipes started and off we went – bang on time. My feet felt good and I was comfortable. Ok, good start. First mile clicked in at 7:02. Time for the maths. This gave me 1min 28 in the bank. That’s if I was to go for the GFA. Up to mile 5 and I was still under 8min miles. Hmmm, should probably slow down. There’s a hill at mile 5 anyway.

I run along (note how I don’t say plodding here) thinking what a great first marathon for someone this would be. It breaks you in gently with an easy start which gives you a confidence booster. Yes, I think, definitely a good one. I don’t know why they don’t recommend it to first timers!

Up the hill and I get a good luck text from my brother. ‘Cheers bro, I’m 6 miles in’. He replies with a photo of himself still in bed. Sheets covering his beer belly. Nice.

I miss my split at 7 miles and I go into panic mode. How am I going to know my time now?!? How do I know how much time I have to play with when the killer hill comes? Why is my leg hurting?

Cramp. I get cramp in my left leg.

Oh that’s quite sore. Bugger. Should I stop and rub it? Walk it off?

You’re not a masseuse, you don’t know what muscle to rub and you’re meant to run a marathon Ella.

You’re right. Ignore it.

‘Still feeling fresh?’ Steve asks me as he goes past. ‘Yup’ I reply through gritted teeth. If you don’t say it out loud it’s not true right?

By mile 10 with the cramp still there and clearly not going I slow down a little. Isn’t cramp caused by lack of water or something? Your muscles are dehydrated so they contract? Believing this to be true I down a full bottle of water and have a couple of jelly babies. Once that kicks in I will be fine I say to myself.

Pushing on to half way the cramps still there, my ankles niggling like a bitch causing my knee to now pound with pain and my bladders full – no I don’t mean the one on my back. This is not going well. I need to stop to pee and rub my leg. So what do I do? I take a selfie.

I then remember that the headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain being dehydrated and contracting. No relation what so ever to do with cramps. Great. So glad I drank all that water now! Not! Would have been better off with vodka! (Well, maybe not, but could have made for a very entertaining run).

I get a message from my lunch time running buddy telling me my pace is looking good. I tell him I can’t keep it up though and I’m goosed. He replies just drop it a tiny bit until the last mile or 2. Does he know how far away that is?!? I do!! 11 bloody miles!! 11 long miles that include a ruddy big hill!! I’ve already ran 13!! Sake.

Trudging on I text my other half to say I’m halfway but I can’t keep it up. His reply? ‘Get the finger out.’ I tell him my knees gone and he asks where? For a run?

He doesn’t get a reply.

I count down to mile 17 where the hill starts. I’ve written this on my hand along with !London! In the hope it spurs me on. Well that ain’t happening today love. But I had already known that if I’m honest. For some reason my mind just wasn’t focused enough. The past couple of weeks have me thinking and to achieve that GFA it needs to be my one and only goal.

Mile 17. The Hill. It’s not the steepest hill I’ve climbed (hey there Birnam) but it’s just so long. Never ends. Ever. At all. So out comes the phone and I record myself walking. Yes. Walking.

My names Ella Webley and I walked when I did the Loch Ness Marathon in 2017.

After 3 hours I reach the top and pick up the pace again. I now no longer care for time and I’m just counting down the miles listening to my music. I then remember I had needed to pee earlier but don’t anymore. After a frightening few seconds of wondering if I had peed myself (I hadn’t, I assure you) I relax back in to my plodding.

Soon I come across a roundabout. And with it comes civilisation! People! There are people here! Oh my god I had forgotten what they were like! Yes there were one or two scattered along the route but this was actual people. That cheered me up. My leg still hurt but I was smiling. I even recognised the loud supporter who had been in the exact same place last year and exchanged a joke with him.

Down to the final couple of miles now and I spot a familiar back pack. ‘Are you Melanie?’ I ask her. She turns and smiles and says yes (thank god, could have been awkward). ‘I’m Ella’. We have been following each other on Instagram for a while now and had both been at another race but missed each other.

We spent the next couple of miles chatting about how tough the run had been and how close we were to finishing. She gave me some tips for my ultra next weekend too. It was just what was needed at that point – you can’t beat seeing a friendly face when you’re hurting. She was aiming for under 4hrs and was comfortably under that. She said she always aimed for under 4 as that meant she didn’t have to do it again – I like her thinking!

I spot my mum and stop to give her my hydration pack as it had been rubbing a bit. I carry on and chase down Melanie in the hope I can come in under 4hrs. My pace picks up as I get closer to the end and as I see the finish I give the last of my energy and go for it.

Turns out that last push was a bit much and I genuinely feel like I’m going to throw up. I apologise to the woman who goes to hang my medal round my neck for being all sweaty and to my surprise she insists on giving me a huge hug! What a lovely woman!! She then gets me a bottle of water as she thinks I’m about to pass out insisting again that that was what she was here for. If I had had any energy I would have cried!

Walking round the finisher chute a guy behind me taps me on the shoulder. ‘I don’t like you’ he says. I laugh ‘oh why’ presuming he had tried to use me as a pacer. ‘I had just managed to get past those 4 guys at the end and you came flying out of nowhere past me.’ ‘Oh sorry’ I apologise and explain I was trying to get under the 4hrs. 43 seconds over I was – ah well. He said he had been trying to but had come in at 4hrs 7. He blamed his wife because he had stopped to give her a hug. He made me laugh.

After cuddles with my mum and my other half who had brought our youngest up for the day I headed straight to the massage tent.

Best. Thing. Ever.

She was amazing! It really helped my legs! I could have stayed there all afternoon no word of a lie.

It was straight home after that and I stupidly didn’t eat anything. Combining that with having felt sick during the run and sitting in the back of the car and I eventually did throw up. Not pretty.

So lessons learnt – again. I need discipline. 7 minute miles at the start of a 26 mile run are not good if you’re not in that league. Water doesn’t cure cramp. If it did you wouldn’t get cramp when swimming – doh. The hydration pack was good but it needs adjusted. Loch Ness Marathon is NOT an easy marathon – this is fact – and not just confirmed by me. Although apparently I said this last year too? I do like it though. Very much. I have more wonderful memories of this one from my mum trying to use the foam roller to seeing other road runners at the start to the wonderful woman at the end who insisted on hugging me, and that massage!

Today my legs hurt – a lot. On Saturday I am running my first ever ultra. This week is most definitely a rest week!

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Getting Wet In Weymouth

Getting Wet In Weymouth

When I was in college – just a ‘couple’ of years ago – one of my assignments was to promote Weymouth. Being the young, care free gal I was back in those days I had no real idea what activities were done in Weymouth so came up with the slogan ‘I Got Wet In Weymouth’ to sell t-shirts on the beach. Ironman was a comic book character at that time, not something I would ‘half’ be several (hundred) years later.

Weymouth 70.3 was Joe’s ‘A’ race for the year. The one he wanted. It fell just after our youngest’s birthday so we decided as we would be down that way to take a slight detour to CBeebies Land for him. The slight detour ended up being many additional hours as we hadn’t really taken into consideration just how often we would hear ‘I need a pee!’ in a frantic voice. And let’s not mention ‘I need poo’…..

It was worth it though and he had a great time. Lesson learnt though – it would have been better after the race. Less stressful.

I had really, really wanted to do Weymouth. A perfect one to sign up to after Edinburgh. But this was Joes race so I had to set that jealousy aside and I love going to his races and supporting anyway (even if I’m ‘not invited’). Weymouth is a about 30 miles from his side of the family so I also messaged the aunties and cousins to ask them along as a surprise for him.

4am and the alarm goes off.

We have rented an uber cool pod lodge where we shower and get ready. Half the site is filled with athletes so we aren’t the only ones up and don’t have to worry too much about being noisy. We put our son in the car and drive to the car park where I will sit for an hour before heading down – Joe heads straight to the swim start.

Now. I was going to try and sleep for another hour in the car but I was awake. And excited. I may not have been racing but I really do love chasing him round a course. I also love instagram. So I made a few videos. During these videos I was spotted by a couple of people going by and let’s just say I made them smile ha ha.

Whilst messing about in the car at 6am I found Joes timing chip. Uh oh. I phoned him to tell him before he frantically tried to search for it. I would have to get it down to him. The plan was a slow toddler paced walk down to the swim start but this had now turned into a frantic move-as-fast-as-you-can-whilst-carrying-a-4yearold-and-a-heavy-rucksack. Thank god I ‘occasionally’ do strength work! Jogging (yes, jogging) to the swim whilst politely telling people to move Joe suddenly appeared behind me.

‘Chip!!!’

‘Back pocket’

And he was gone again.

Who says romance is dead?

I headed up to the rocks in the hope this would cheer up my now unhappy toddler but he was having none of it. We weren’t close enough to spot Joe anyway so it wasn’t proving to be a good idea from any aspect. We moved round to the back of the start and as we slowly wandered down I saw Joe waving. Talk about luck!

I was able to calculate his swim start was roughly 7:13am so from there I could again roughly predict what time he would exit. Oh yeah – this isn’t my first time supporting – I’ve got skills in this area! CV worthy skills!

We went down on the beach so Oliver could throw stones in to the water and I was struck by just how many people 2600 are. The start queue for the swim was huge!! I think it may have taken up to half an hour maybe more to get everyone started.

Oliver got bored very quickly so the first chocolate snack/bribe was administered. Yes, shoot me, I gave my child chocolate at 7:30am. It cheered him up ok. He doesn’t usually have such bad things so early but this was a special event. We found a good spot on the swim exit and plonked ourselves down. I pulled out the sign Oliver had made and proudly placed it in front of us – yes, I am that person. He would hear us before he seen us and he would definitely see us.

However, Oliver had other plans. ‘I need a pee’. ‘Daddy will be out any minute now can you hold it?’. Cue wailing and crying to further cement me in to the bad motherhood society. That’ll be a no then! Off we went to the portaloos. One of the good things about this race was the number of toilets so no long queue.

I was quite sure we would have missed Joe coming out of the swim so decided to plonk ourselves about 70 metres down from the bike out. It was another great spot. I was ridiculously nervous Oliver would wander on to the road in front of a bike and get seriously hurt and knock a rider off. There was no reason for this train of thought – he had never done anything like that before, was aware of the fast moving cyclists and had clamped himself to my legs anyway. Still, it was nerve wrecking. Only to be made worse by witnessing a bike crash in to another and one rider go head over heels. It looked painful and I’m not sure the rider continued! And of course it was at this time Joe came passed. And he looked right pissed off! (Excuse my language). Looking at the time I took an educated guess he wasn’t happy with his swim. He was out though and on the bike, his favourite section.

I updated Facebook (life’s priority ha ha).

Looking for somewhere warm Oliver and I headed to the Sand Sculpture place hoping for entertainment for him and a cup of tea for me. ‘Do you have a warm cafe in there?’ I asked the women at the desk. ‘Yeah we do’.

Lies!!!!! Absolute lies!!! It was a TENT. And a leaking one at that! Bloody freezing! Colder inside it than out! Olivers lips actually started turning blue so it was back out and a walk up the promenade whilst wondering why we lived and raced in such a cold bloody country. Decision was made then and there to emigrate.

We found a proper cafe further up and warmed up whilst I amused myself listening to the waitress continually saying she didn’t understand where all the people had come from and that they were experiencing their busiest ever Sunday. Every customer in there had Ironman merchandise on – including Oliver and I – obviously. The road outside had been closed for the event. There were signs everywhere stating ‘Event’.

I just smiled at her and shrugged.

We met up with Aunt Jackie who phoned from right outside the shop I was in. Shortly after Aunty Maria and the cousins appeared and all of a sudden it wasn’t just Oliver and myself – we had a full on cheer squad! Amazing!! (Unfortunately Aunty Julie was full of the flu and being on a beach front isn’t the best place when you are ill but she was there in spirit).

They didn’t know how we would be able to tell when Joe was coming but I was all over that. I can pretty much pin point it to the minute. I’m telling you, skills of a ninja. His doppelgänger did throw me off though I have to admit. This guy was his absolute double just slightly taller – and not wearing a Perth Tri Club Tri suit but it was blue and he had the same visor, glasses, beard and compression socks.

As soon as I saw Joe that was it.

HERE HE COMES!!! I screamed at everyone. Cheer squad assembled and we roared waving our banners. The grin from his face was worth it – he clearly hadn’t expected it. The run route was 3.5 laps so he he came back the other way less than 10 minutes later. Cue more shouting, cheers and frantic waving. Oh yeah, we owned that promenade!

He seemed in good spirits and he didn’t look like he was hurting too much. By the next time round I could see the pain on his face though so we cheered louder (hard to believe but a group of 6 women, 1 teenager and 5 small children can always get louder! Ha ha).

After his last lap past us we headed towards the finish. I knew it would be difficult to see him but miraculously we got there just before he went up the red carpet, cheering him on the very finish.

After he was done and came out the finishers lounge we all headed for something to eat. It had been a long day for everyone but worth every second. You just can’t beat having support like that. He’s always said he doesn’t ‘need’ it but I think we’ve proved how great it can be. Especially when it’s unexpected. It was a good event and one I think we will be back at next year.

Island Running

Island Running

Run round an Island you say? Yeah I’m up for that!

Around Cumbrae is a 10 mile road race on, yup you guessed it, Cumbrae. Cumbrae is an island off the west of Scotland so a bit of a journey to get there but all part of the adventure!

In hindsight my planning maybe wasn’t the best. Running a fast Parkrun the day before and then hurting my ankle doesn’t make for good preparation. It happened though so I ‘ignored’ the Parkrun and taped up my ankle. Job done.

Sexy isn’t it.

I begged my other half to come knowing I would regret it after but everyone seemed to be organised for the car share and I thought the kids would love it – go on a ferry, be on an actual island – what’s not to love? Everything apparently. Turns out it was just me that was excited by this. Maybe I need to get out more.

On the Saturday the weather was gorgeous. Sunny, no wind, no rain, just bliss. On the Sunday, the day of the race, well, no. It was not. Let’s just say I didn’t need the sun cream.

A full on wet suit and survival guide would have been more appropriate but I had to make do with my long sleeved top and shorts. Hair was plastered back. Very attractive.

The good thing about the other half coming was that we could test out the new car. Oh yes. No longer do I have the Zafira bus that hadn’t locked for over a year, windows had a life of their own going up and down and would make weird and wonderful noises for absolutely no reason at all. In comes the BMW whose stereo I can’t work (only the most important part of a car!), has more buttons than a space ship and I’ve been told I can’t get it dirty. ITS A CAR!!

But anyway, the race.

We arrived 2 hours before the start – something of a complete wonderment to me! I’m more of a pre 5 mins girl so with 2 hours to kill and wind that could capsize the titanic things got boring very quickly. I soon became the most hated person in the car as I was the reason we were here. ‘I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I need a pee, I need a poo’. 2 hours I had to endure of this, and iPads were not a cure for the situation.

After firmly sealing my place in the worst mum hall of fame yet again I gingerly made my way to the hall where everyone was gathering for the pre-race photo. Only to find out I had already missed it yet again. I was just beginning to think someone was trying to tell me something here when the heavens literally opened and we were engulfed with torrential rain. I sheltered under a tree but that wind was determined to get me and get me it did! This race was not turning out to be the fun filled experience I had thought it would be…..

It wasn’t clear where the start line was but one of the many benefits of not being the fastest means you can safely just queue up behind other people. Job done.

Thanks to the torrential downpour the roads were very slightly flooded. Don’t think I earned myself any brownie points splashing through them but my god I had fun doing it!! There’s something oddly satisfying about splashing in a puddle! Until you Splash your bum and you have to seriously consider if you’ve possibly just pee’d yourself. Nope, that’s cold water. Maybe no more splashing though Ella.

First couple of miles were probably a little too fast given I’m meant to be doing marathon pace. I didn’t have to worry though because just before the mile 4 marker the wind started to hit. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ran in but it was enough to push me back. That coupled with meant to be going slow just completely messed with me and that was it. As much as I enjoyed the views and running right beside the sea my body wasn’t having it. I just couldn’t push myself on. So I settled on slower. I even stopped for a bathroom break (just to check ha ha). This had dire consequences on my under garments however and I ran the last 2 miles with my pants only being held up by my shorts! At least that made me go a little faster!

I crossed the line to discover Joe had taken the kids for a late lunch to pass the time. We headed straight to the ferry after a quick chat with a couple of other road runners and collecting my medal. That’s right, it may have been a small island race but there was still a medal! Wa hey!

Of course I had to apologise for the ‘boring’ day in the car on the way home and I will no doubt be held to ransom over this in the near future (Can I have £20 mum? No! Remember when you made us come to one of your races that was a 200 mile round trip and it was pouring with rain with nothing to do? Here’s £30, on you go).

This race has made me realise I need to take a step back and slow down though. I need to do some slower runs to get ‘that feel’ for my pace to be able to do 26.2 miles. Am I still going for my London time? Well, I want to, but I have also realised it just may not happen at Loch Ness. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen. I absolutely will be running London next year! It’s more that I need to still enjoy running for running and not always be aiming on a time.

We Have A Runner

Today was a very special day.

Today, my youngest – Oliver, ran in his very first Junior Park Run. You’ve no idea how excited I was about this!

His birthday was Friday, I had his bar code printed out on Saturday and we were at the start line on Sunday. ‘This is my race mummy’ he excitedly said to me over and over on the way. ‘Yes it is! Are you excited?’. ‘I’m going to run super fast!’.

Heart. Melted.

Of course I was ready just in case he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it. I had a plan. If he said no I would only ask him a couple of times and then we would come home. I would then go for my run later and wait until then before alternating between crying and screaming, shouting ‘why me? why my child? What did I do wrong?’ in true tantrum style. Then I would return home and try again the next week.

However, this didn’t happen. He wanted to run! Well actually he wanted to climb the tree first so we compromised. He climbed – then he ran.

At the start and everyone was very friendly. I checked I was allowed to run with him (if he let me, if not I would be just at the side anyway) and checked the distance. 2km. That’s quite far for a 4 year old. We will see how it goes and if it’s too much then we just stop. At least he will have tried. There were a couple of shout outs for those who had reached milestone runs and then I heard Olivers name! He got a shout out for it being his first and only just being old enough to do it! I have a suspicion the shout out may have been a little for me too but hey, I will take that! ‘That’s you Ollie, yeah!!’. Oh yes, I safely secured my position as embarrassing mum at that moment.

We did the warm up (well, Ollie ran round in circles like a dog chasing its tail but it was a warm up) and we went to the back of the pack to start. He wanted me to run with him and hold his hand (heart melting again – he knows how to get me). Count down done and we were off.

Yes. I turned my garmin on. I was recording this proud moment!

We ran about 30 metres before turning on the big straight that goes through the middle of the park. We pretended to be airplanes and a couple of times he wanted to show me how ‘super fast’ he was and would take off. He got almost to the end of the straight before he had a little walk. Then he carried on and we played airplanes again. The tail walker did catch up with us when we were about half way but it was Kirsty from the road runners so she took his other hand and helped him on which he loved as now that meant he had ‘2 hands’.

As we got to the finish funnel I had to let go of his hand so he could run through it by himself. As he did he went past another boy just before the end! Yes I know that’s not what it’s about but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a slight grin at this point. Push to the end, that’s my boy.

The grin when he had finished was ear to ear – his and mine. I was so proud. We had a little play at the park (after many photos, of course) before heading home.

18mins and 22 seconds. Not bad for a 4 year old! Mo Farah – he’s coming for you!

You Did Not Defeat Me

Some may say I’m stubborn – some may say I’m determined. Whatever word is used to describe me, the fact remains, I did it!

Hill Series – you are complete!

Wednesday saw the last run in the series and that’s what kept me going. It was the last one. None of the series has been easy. I’ve had to walk in all of them, faced near death in many and required a change of underwear more times than I wish to admit to. So I was expecting another ‘kill me now’ 4 miles in this last hurrah.

It didn’t start off grand. I thought it was about a 20 minute journey but then I saw a Facebook post about a car share leaving an hour and a half before the race! A quick google told me there were two places called gateside – one 25 mins away and one over an hour. Oh hell.

A few panic stricken moments later I realised it was in fact the 25min away place I had originally thought it was but I had no hope of making the car share. The other half said he was coming with the kids and another road runner kindly offered to pick up my number for me so worst case scenario would be I would get dropped at the start line whilst he found somewhere to park. (Luckily though, we found a space).

The usual chatter at the start line and a few runners started talking about the route. ‘It’s undulating’ – great, my ‘favourite’ word……. ‘you get rest breaks’ – oh I fully intend to be taking rest breaks trust me. I only need to finish this race. This is the last one. Then they pointed up the hill. ‘We head up to that tree line, go through it and back down.’

What that tree line way over there?!? That’s going to be more than 4 miles! I must be looking at the wrong one. Nope. There is only one cluster of trees up there.

Great.

There was a handful of road runners there which is always great to see and I was able to ask someone about their trail shoes – an item I really should have purchased before now. I’ve been wearing New Balance road shoes which suit me but they don’t suit this type of running – as I’ve found out several times, much to my peril.

We were off and just 100metres in we were running past what I presume to be a local lad playing the bagpipes. Have to say I really did like that. Great touch. Took my mind off the fact this was a hill race (well, for a split second, as we very quickly started going up).

The first part on tarmac was a steady climb. One of those where you’re thinking it’s fine I can do this, but I would really like it to be the top right about now, oh come on how much further? Can’t stop now or I will look pathetic.

To my surprise my first mile came in about 8mins 40 – unusual for me on a hill race. It’s normally well over 10 minutes and my vocabulary has turned from someone who doesn’t like swearing to someone who could give the drunk vicar on Father Ted a run for his money. However I was still smiling. This was a positive.

Or did this mean death was actually just round the next corner in the shape of mud, rocks and vertical ascents?

Wasn’t that bad to be honest. I glanced at my watch and it said 1.76. And I wasn’t dying? I refused to be drawn in to a false security. This was a hill race after all, you will probably have to walk the next bit Ella. You’re not a hill runner. (And no, the Aviva Hill doesn’t count).

But I didn’t walk. I forced myself to the top of the track I was now on and begged my legs not to stop just yet. Imagine if I ran for the whole of the first half of this race! I would be very pleased with that. Rounding the corner it was tough but then, as advised, it evened out so I could get a rest.

Still no walking.

Through the heather, over rocks and mud, careful not to go over my ankle – but still running.

And then those magic, magic words.

‘Along to the fence then it’s down hill.’

Oh I love you Marshall!!

Staying steady but trying to catch the guy in front I stretched my legs out and started striding down. Gets a little tricky at parts but it’s not as bad as Ben Sheann. I genuinely feared for my life on that ‘run’ (I use that word very, very loosely). I’m soon back on the tarmac and retracing my steps from the start of the run. I like this. I like this a lot. This I can handle. Down, down, down we go.

Then we hit the bottom.

And it’s back up from here.

Well that was nasty. Still running though! I know I must be close to the finish – can’t stop now, must keep going, you might actually finish this race running all of it! Turn to the left and on to the cricket pitch. I hear my kids and spot the other half.

‘I’ve ran the whole way!!’ I say to him as I trundle past. I hear him laughing as I continue.

I don’t have a clue where the finish is. Can’t see it at all. So I just follow those in front of me deciding to stop when they stop. We go round the pitch and I only know I’m finished when a young lad offers me a bottle of water. So no sprint finish but….

ITS DONE!!!

No more hill races, no more death defying descents or heart attack climbs up to the sky. I am done! The nightmare of that first race has now been put to rest and justified now that I have completed the series. It was ‘almost’ worth it.

Will I do it again next year? Not a chance! Not now I know what a real hill race is. That’s a whole new level of crazy right there. I will stick to my sea level road races thank you very much. A challenge it most certainly was and I may have moaned and groaned my way through it but I did it.

Those hills did not defeat me!