Annual Reflections

I love a ‘reflection’ post. The ‘ah I remember that’ happy smile and the ‘I swear I could have drowned!’ moments. Come to think of it there were many close calls…..

I sank on the 1st January when I went straight down instead of straight forward swimming in the New Years Day Tri. That taught me to think properly when something changes. It also taught me I’m not a fish.

There was the close encounter with the ice cream van that then impaled me on the solid iron sewar cover leaving a lovely hole in my cheek. (Wasn’t an ice cream van but it was that close to my face I could have licked it). This was quickly followed by the UFO that was the first aid kit, launched across the road and landing on said hole in cheek. Im no doctor but I don’t think that’s how you use the red bag.

There was the death defying descents on the Hill Series. The many chants of ‘you’re ok Ella, you’re not going to die, I AM GOING TO DIE!!’. Barry assures me this will be good practise for the Highland Fling next year. I’ve hired a Sherpa, just in case.

And of course the heart thing. It threw a spanner in the works for getting my GFA, made me pull out of a number of races and taught me the importance of an extremely good sports bra. But it’s still beating and I’m still running. No pace maker this year.

I couldn’t not mention ‘that’ swim that was Edinburgh Half Ironman. Now that was genuinely half an hour of fighting for survival! Had I actually looked at the sea before getting in I’m really not sure I would have. And had I heard the true horror stories of what was happening I would have turned around and legged it. But I did it, and I did it faster than Joe. (Sticks tongue out in laughter all too aware he would whip my ass now).

But yes! Half Ironman! An actual Half Ironman! We did it! Joe actually did 3 in the end but I’m happy with my one – for now.

And an Ultra! Ah yes the Ochils Ultra. What a learning experience that was. First being to actually look at the name. OcHILS. Hills. Meaning not flat. So 6 days after a marathon not exactly the best idea. And seriously, who would have thought there was a real danger of drowning when out running?!? I’m still not over that. But the counselling is going well….

A very happy memory of 2017 is our youngest’s first ever Parkrun. Just days after turning 4. That was immense. Unfortunately it may have been just a little too far for him and I don’t want to be a pushy parent so we are taking it slowly. I refuse to be one of those parents dragging their kids around the course telling them off for being too slow and not trying.

And last but by no means least – my sub 4hour marathon. Looking back I honestly don’t know how I pulled that one out the bag. 3hrs 55mins 26secs. But I’m going to run that fast again, even faster. And I’m going to get my GFA!

So a few knocks and a few drownings amongst the 35 races I completed. A couple of scars, definitely too many toilet related stories and more missed targets than I am happy with but my god I’ve had some absolutely incredible finish lines, met some fantastic people and made some very happy memories.

Definitely. Can’t. Complain.

(Even though I did. I’m talking Oscar worthy whinging!)

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Next year it’s Parkrun!

When the other half suggests we both do a race my trainers are on before he’s finished speaking.

Well. Let me tell you. What a sorry lesson I’ve learned from that!

One of his customers had told him about a hill race near where he lived. 2 days before Christmas. Im still doing Marcothon so thought I could do that as part of it.

Stupidly thought. Very stupidly thought.

It was a Saturday morning so the choice was between that and Parkrun. I chose to mix it up and go for the hill race. Why not?

It was less than half an hour away and when I looked it up on the morning of the race it was your typical small field of runners. All the feedback on it was positive so how bad could it be. There was a bag check at registration and it was a short walk to the start.

At the start I bumped into Chris who I’ve met at a couple of other races. He pointed out a bit to save energy for (Scotland’s famous for ‘fake tops) and said he ran it last year in about 55mins.

It’s 4 miles. Oh right. I know it’s a hill race but what goes up comes down doesn’t it? And usually much faster?

Joe saw a few people he knew as well including an older woman from his tri club and the guy who had suggested the race.

Off we went and I stuck close to the back. The Hill Series with Perth Road Runners taught me enough to know I’m a finisher and nothing more. Usually in the last 10 as well. God loves a trier though.

Flat but bumpy under foot to begin with then a bit of mud then BAM.

Vertical.

And it didn’t stop.

Ever!!!

‘It’s ok’ I told myself. ‘There’s always a flat bit somewhere’. Nope! Not at this race.

This was my 23rd day of running at least 3 miles a day on the trot. This was beginning to hurt.

Just a few steps later – yup, this really hurts.

I was beginning to wonder if I should stop. Turn round and finish my miles near the car where it was flat whilst waiting for Joe to finish. I looked at my watch.

0.6 miles!! Are you kidding me?? That’s all?!? Oh Ella maybe you really should stop. This isn’t a healthy kind of pain.

It must end soon though surely? There’s always a little flat but to recover on.

Not in this race.

The first mile eventually clicked by. 20 minutes after starting. Just don’t say anything. You don’t need to.

After 7 days and nights on the side of this hill I reached the Marshall at the top pointing me to the right. I tried to run but my legs had gone back to the car so it was more of a bambi walk than anything. At 1.45 miles the lead runner came past me. I hadn’t even made it half way yet. Joe wasn’t too far behind the lead pack and I could tell he was thinking the same as me. What the actual f@ck were we playing at?

Down the treacherous path of rocks and mud and I slipped and slide my way past Chris and a few others (all heading back of course). I got down to the ‘big rock’ and went round it, moaning as usual to the marshalls – ‘oh my god why am I doing this!’.

Now I was heading back up and I could see there were only a handful of people behind me. The thought crossed my mind I could be finishing last. I didn’t like this. Last race of the year and there was a high probability I was going to be last.

Back across the top and it was down the vertical drop we had come up. Ah, now I can make some time back and hopefully scrape back a few places.

I slipped.

Nope!! Not doing that. I will take my time thank you very much! What a stupid bloody thing to do when you’ve an Ultra to train for you stupid woman!! This is just a ‘fun’ race for you! Take your time idiot!

I went over my ankle at 3 miles and did that whole ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, keep running, keep going, does it hurt? I don’t know! Ok just keep running. Nope, it’s ok. Phew’.

Every runners done that. Be honest.

I eventually came off the side of the mountain (yes it was a mountain) and hit the flat section. Finally. But my legs were jelly. Actual jelly. I could have been a cowboy. After a few strides they settled down and I pushed on knowing the finish was close. I could see someone in front of me but I didn’t have time to catch him.

I crossed the line and promptly told the other half we were doing Parkrun next year and not this race. Nope. No sir. Not me. No hills thank you. 1hr 7 it took me. To do 4 miles!

To say I’m in pain today does not cut it. I’ve been in better shape after running a marathon than I am today. In fact, I was better after the ultra! Leg days in the gym ain’t got nothing on a hill race! And I had to run today!! Marcothon is going to be the death of me.

When all is said and very sore it’s a greatly run race. Very friendly, fantastic spread, great marshalls. The only problem is the elevation ha ha. Almost 1000 feet in the first mile. I mean seriously, who enjoys that? (Not me, definitely not me).

All Right Our Kid?

The problem with ‘putting yourself out there’ is that, well, not everyone wants you.

Take London for example. Not just one, but two rejections this year. London – you upped your game – well played.

Then there’s Berlin. Odds are higher, should be easier to get in.

Nope.

‘You are not one of the lucky winners’.

Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Ballots – you are not my friend.

So what races am I going to run next year?

I have a few up my sleeve. They may not be London or the ‘exotic’ Berlin (clearly I haven’t been), but they are still going to be big races in my books.

First, a marathon. After a bit of discussion on the best PB marathon course that will fit in with my other plans I have chosen Manchester.

It’s the same day as London so I will be completely distracted from the one that got away. Instead of moping about, glued to the tracker and wishing I was there I will be entirely focused on the Manchester finishing line. And most importantly, reaching that line in under 3hrs 45minutes.

It will be all ‘pace, pace, pace’ instead of ‘woe is me, pass me a tissue’.

Unless of course, it measures short again….

(Oh yeah, I went there. I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake twice though. Could you imagine!).

So here we go again. Another round of marathon training. But THIS time, it’s not about the distance. It’s about that clock.

Tick tock tick tock.