Time To Smell The Roses

Last week was a bit different. Well, quite a bit different actually.

I found myself running solo on Monday as I had to deal with something at work at lunch time. I knew as soon as I headed to the changing room I was going to push those first couple of miles after that and was pleased to see my overall average mile at 8:19. Every cloud and all.

Tuesday and my legs remembered they had ran the 15km Devilla just 2 days before. I got a stitch just 10 seconds in – how is that even possible?! I didn’t think I was even going to make 3 miles. In the end it was a very slow 4 and the night was spent on the torture device that is the foam roller.

Wednesday I chose a gym day so warmed up with 2 miles on the treadmill and, if I’m perfectly honest, I then ‘pretended’ to do some arm and core work. Couldn’t even tell what I did because it was genuinely next to nothing. I think I hung from the pull up bar and that’s about it.

Thursday was another lone lunch time run. Not expecting much from my legs I headed out and didn’t make that conscious effort to push. It was still wet and muddy and although I don’t actually mind the cold feeling on my legs I don’t want to fall so I don’t hammer it.

Now. I will be honest. I may not find it that annoying when I have to stop at traffic lights at lunch time. And I may, accidentally of course, or even sub consciously, not necessarily speed up to ‘make the green man’ every time. Thursday though, I had no such luck. Every blooming traffic light had s green man. On other roads I had to cross, there were no cars! Seriously people, I need a break before hitting the climb back up! Come on.

As soon as the watch beeped 5 miles I stopped. I wasn’t caring that I still had a few hundred yards to the door, I was stopping! When it uploaded I was a little surprised it was faster than Monday’s at 8:15 a mile. Clearly the need to stop pushed me on!

Friday I decided to jump on the turbo. I want to conquer my fear of road cycling but I need to be more confident on the actual bike. The other reason (and some may say the main one, it’s hard to be sure) was because I wanted to watch a programme on Netflix in peace. Yes, I am a selfish wife and mother and wanted to watch a bloomin tv show! There are no less than 5 people and 2 dogs in my house. Peace doesn’t exist unless you block the world out with headphones. (Not entirely blocked out obviously, but enough so I could watch it and the youngest had the ‘big tv’ and his Lego). We were both happy, trust me. Just not my legs. Or my under carriage. Or my arms. Why was I cycling?

Saturday was supposed to be long run day however the other half was doing the trail half marathon that I had wanted to do and had to leave at about 7am. Our daughter was also leaving to go skiing at 6am so this meant that even though I would be up early (and in desperate need of a run to handle the stress of my daughter going away) I wasn’t going to get it. My mum phoned at 7:30am to ask what time Lucie (my daughter) was leaving. ‘Eh, an hour and a half ago Mum, she’s away’. ‘Oh we were going to come see her off.’

You can see where I get my issues with time from!

My mum then phoned back about 10 minutes later to say she was on her way in to Perth and would watch my youngest so I could go for a run. We have a saying in our family – ‘You’re the best’. And well Mum, you certainly are!

I managed to head out for a few miles before Parkrun but struggled to plan a route so ended up going round the park a couple of times. Not a bad thing to be honest. I stopped at the start of Parkrun to chat to Lorner and Matthew who were volunteering yet again. Lorner said they were going for a run later but Matthews raised eyebrows said otherwise ha ha. She said I didn’t look in the mood at all and I realised at that point I really wasn’t. I hadn’t looked at my watch once since leaving home – I was entirely focused on getting the worry of my child potentially breaking every limb on the slopes in Italy out my head. My legs also felt heavy and sore. Lorner was tailwalking so I joked she would have to push me along.

Just as I was trying to tell her I really wasn’t joking I saw Mags from work. She had come down for her first ever Parkrun! Mags is a lovely, slightly older woman who did Tough Mudder with me all those moons ago. She had a bad accident on the course and burst her cheek bone which caused her face to swell up. This was just days before she went on holiday! She’s a strong woman though – nothing holds her back. Armed with painkillers and the biggest sunglasses she could find she got on that plane. I think the wine helped too.

Once Parkrun was done I headed straight home so my mum could get back. Clicking stop on my watch I was pleased I had still managed 10 miles. I was ecstatic when I saw the pace though! Average miles of 8:32 – bang on Marathon pace! That felt good!

When I woke on Sunday I was still in a happy place from Saturdays Run but also attached to my phone ready to instantly reply to any text or message from Lucie. I was planning on doing a 10k race but I didn’t want to risk missing her so I made the impromptu decision to have a complete rest day.

I made it a whole 5 minutes before the panic set in of falling behind with my training and therefore failing to make my target at Manchester and basically my entire life as I know it being ruined and the end of the world being announced.

All because I didn’t run a 10k Race.

But I might miss a text from Lucie. And I wasn’t willing to do that. So rewinding the completely unrealistic scenario that had just played out in my head I decided I would just have to fit in a 15 mile run somewhere within the next week and deal with it.

So what were we going to do now? Joe was completely broken from the Glentress half marathon (doctor suspects he has a broken toe – this was diagnosed before it by the way) so there was no chance he was taking off to train. Day out it is!

We took our youngest to the Glasgow Science Centre where he got to play with lots and lots of things, see stars in the planetarium (absolutely awesome by the way), play with body parts other than his own for a change and Run on a track in the Body Works section. It doesn’t get better than that.

So yes. I stopped and I smelt the roses. Sometimes plans don’t work. Sometimes you need to change them. The goal never moves, the goal is the goal. But the journey to the goal is forever changing. Time with my family will always be the most important thing so if that means a day off so be it. And just so you know, I got everyone of Lucies texts.

All 2 of them.

That’s right. She only sent 2. And the second doesn’t even count as it was just a ‘k’.

She was too busy skiing and thankfully not breaking bones (so far, touch wood). But the point is I got them. And I was able to reply instantly.

It means this week is going to be a tough week. But it’s worth it.

The goal is the goal. And family is key.

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The Devilla

I ran the Carnegie Harriers Devilla Trail Race last year and I remember being really worried I wouldn’t make the cut off.  It wasn’t the type of running I was used to so I had no idea if I could do it.  Thankfully, I did manage to cross the line before the sweeper so I duly signed up again this year – as you do.  Despite it still not being my type of running.

A 15km trail race doesn’t bring with it the same fears as it used to but that doesn’t mean I’m any better at running them now.  The aim was to beat last years time but the reality was it was unlikely.  I’ve found now I’m concentrating on distance my sub conscious refuses to let me go fast (well, fast for me, maybe not compared to everyone and definitely not compared to most but, fast in my terms).

A couple of days before and the weather returned to it’s usual troublesome self.  Jack Frost seriously needs to do one and let the Easter bunny make an appearance.  Shorts and a vest were unlikely.  But trousers could cause issues when caked in mud and at this race, that was a guarantee.  I decided to make the decision when I was there so packed both.  I also packed a towel for a shower after, congratulating myself on being organised.  For once.

Suitcase in hand I went along to registration where I was handed a bottle of beer.  Scheihallion to be exact.  I rarely drink but I do like this craft beer.  I briefly considered opening it pre-race, you know, for that extra boost.  That little drop of Dutch courage.  And if I’m honest, the only reason I didn’t was because it wasn’t cold (sacrilege).  The entire walk to the start line I was debating whether this had been a good decision or not.

I went with shorts – the cold was no longer keeping these cellulite enhanced legs covered up – and a long sleeve top under the club vest.  At the start I bumped into a few fellow road runners.  We had quite a few running the 15km and some doing the 5km.  No one was drinking the beer – yet.  I also saw a couple of people from our local tri club who came over and said hello, so quite a few from Perth!

We started talking about what was ahead and Catriona, who had also ran it last year, reminded me of the bottle neck section.  She mentioned she had been caught up in it last year and had had to wait to get through.  I remembered people just stopping in front of me and trying to go round them.  I looked up and realised we were probably starting a bit too far back and were likely to get caught in it this year.

Yet I didn’t move forward.

Big mistake.  Huge.

The whistle went and we found we were walking to the start line.  And then walking past the start line.  And then still walking.  Nope, nope, no.  This won’t do.  You’re meant to be running!  I veered left and tried to cut my way up through the pack.  I managed to get some room and then we went off the forest track and into the woods.

The path shrunk. We were no longer on a wide forest road but we were on a single track.

The mud didn’t bother me, it’s a trail run, you’re not going to stay clean, and the pre-race email made it very clear wearing brand new trainers probably wasn’t wise if you wanted them to stay looking new.  However, it appeared some people were determined to do all they could to stay pristine.

‘Come on man it’s only mud! Get in there!’

A fellow runner took the words out of my mouth.  I enjoyed this race last year but this part was frustrating like hell.  Who stops in the middle of a race? You just go for it!

We eventually came to a little fork and the path on the right slowed way down again so I went left.  Good move Ella, I thought to myself.  You’ll get round the ones not moving and be able to keep running.  Pushing forward I was still in my smug state when I glanced over at the fork on the right only to discover that the people I could now see where actually behind me before I had taken that turn.  No.  I was not so smug now.

We joined up with the original path and again I went to the left to try and weave my way through, crashing through the bushes and going knee high in the mud.  There was no way I was beating last years time now but I could still push for a good finish.  Back on the forest track and we had more space – finally.  Now it was up hill and I could spot Nigel from the tri club in front of me.  Slowly I creeped up.  Not in a stalker ‘I’m going to kill you’ kind of way, but more of a ‘this is a steep hill and walking would be faster but I’m stubborn’ kind of way.  As soon as I was within ear shot of him I took a deep breath and shouted out ‘Nigel, I’m coming for you.  Very slowly but I’m coming!’.  He didn’t turn round.  Oh my god is that not Nigel? Mortified I didn’t know what to do. The runner on my right turned to look at me, clearly wondering who I was taking to. Oh my god could this get any worse?

Ok do I slow down and let them go then hope I don’t catch up with them? No, they will get to the finish line first and therefore see me when I finish and no doubt point me out as the weirdo who thought she knew someone but didn’t and then was too slow to keep up.

Oh the pressure!

Ok. You’ll need to speed up and get past them. Then you’ll need to stay past them. Oh god I can’t run that fast for that long!

I put my head down and slowly, very slowly, get alongside ‘not Nigel’.

It IS Nigel! Oh thank god! He says hi as I go past and I oh so very briefly get the lightest of reliefs that it is him and I’m not quite that weird.

Then realise how stressed out I got about the situation – which lasted all of 10 seconds by the way – and have to admit defeat. I’m a bit weird.

Thankfully there are no further issues and I even manage to keep my hands to myself and not have the same intimate connection with the bush at the infamous plank as I did last year! The 10km sign is still in the wrong place but I’m ready for that. I do giggle as I remember the older guy from last year and his comment of ’10km my @rse!’.

Approaching the finish and I manage a little sprint to get it over and done with and I can hear some lovely people shouting my name as I do. I’m not going to lie. I love that.

Gillian is just seconds behind me and Nigel is just behind her. Poor Gillian fell over in the mud and as she shows me her completely covered right hand side she points out my leg is bleeding. Oh yeah, I picked up some more war wounds! My right leg is scratched like a cats post. Seasoned runner right here ha ha.

I head to the showers with my bag so I can get changed before the cold sets in. I pull out my clean clothes and my towel and……

It’s not a towel.

It’s a tiny piece of material you use for the turbo or spin bike when you’re really sweaty! I may be small but I’m not that small. Trying to get a wash and shower with that was not fun.

So no. I didn’t beat last year’s time. But I did feel I ran a better race. Excluding my little detour of and starting too far back. The beer is still in the fridge and I have great plans to drink it this weekend after my long run. There is every chance that one beer will have me drunk but hey, it’s worth it.

Headspace

Marathon – and Ultra – training requires long runs. I know right? Mind. Blown! Bet you’re glad you’re reading this.

After the last few weeks I knew I needed a long run to myself, to sort the fuzz out of my head get the fresh air circulating around in there. (Because let’s face it, there’s either too much or too little going on inside my noggin).

I politely ignored the offers of company for Saturday morning. I had to do this by myself. I also had to do it Saturday and not Sunday as it was the clubs presentation night (proof there is occasionally something going on in my head). My plan was to head out at about 7am to get a relaxed 10 or 11 miles in before Parkrun. At 6:30am my alarm went off and at 7am I eventually got up. At about quarter to 8am I was good to go. Podcast on and laced up.

I headed up to my brothers. My parents have rather inconveniently moved into his in the last few months so I’ve found myself avoiding going past their old house. I knew from the previous week it was 2.8 miles from his front door to the Parkrun start line and I also knew it was about 2 miles from my own front door to the same place so that should make at least 5 if not 6 miles near enough.

There’s that ‘Ella maths’ again.

I won’t tell you what podcast it was I was listening to but I did feel the need to turn it down when ever I passed anyone. Put it this way, my dad definitely didn’t write it!

It felt good, my pace felt good. I had a bit of a pain in my right heel but all was ok. I trundled along then started the delightful climb up to my brothers. Why did he have to live up this hill? I told myself just to deal with it and felt pleased that I was obviously over 5 miles in and still feeling good. I get to his house and I of course stop to take a photo to send to him.

‘Guess where I am’.

The reply – rather surprisingly – comes instantly back.

‘You better not have a key!’ Sheer panic. My job here is done.

I check my watch.

4.1 miles?!? Aw come on! Where am I going to go now?

I head back down the hill switching from laughing at my brother to cursing at my miscalculation. Realising I am now running my well trodden lunch time route I switch it up and take a turn towards the swimming pool. I quite enjoy not really knowing where I am going (pretty much the story of my life anyway) and just take the odd turn here and there.

I impress myself by calculating the 10 miles down to Parkrun before the start. As I come back on to our park I spot Lorner and her son who are well into their volunteering spree – must be over 20 times now I think. I stop to say hi and she quickly updates me on their own running (4 miles the day before). Have to admit I’m a little jealous her son willingly runs with her. I’m pretty sure my eldest isn’t alive between Monday’s and Thursdays and then lives in the nightclubs at the weekends – spot the 18year old. My daughter flatly refuses to run and even a bribe of a poster of her favourite boy band doesn’t work – stroppy 13 year old. Then there’s the youngest. He’s 4. Let’s just say I’m working on that one (mwah hah hah).

Off to the start line and I notice I didn’t stop my watch when I was talking to Lorner, drat. Well no biggie. I also use Strava and that has auto stop. I spot a few road runners and go and say hi. I get a few comments on my hydration vest (have you been for a few miles already?) and should probably take it off at this point but truth is I just can’t be bothered. Im well aware I look like a twat running 5k with a back pack full of supplies (my Wonder Woman keyring, plasters, spare headphones oh and water) but I’m getting cold standing around waiting to start again. Turns out I hadn’t timed it too well after all.

We all shuffle together as we are about to start and I feel these hands on my shoulders. Then I’m moving. Slightly upwards, and then to the side. A very tall man then steps in front of me.

‘Did he just move you?’ Gillian asks.

I’m a bit dumbfounded by it and just nod my head.

‘I think he did!’ I reply.

I make a joke about it being ‘game on’ (yeah ok, because the 10 miles you just ran will put you in a great position to challenge someone to a race!) the whistle goes and we are off.

It’s carnage. Utter carnage. The route has been changed to 2 laps round the Inch and it feels like everyone around us are running like headless chickens. Mr Mover is still in front of me and I see him diving here there and everywhere. But no. He doesn’t trip up.

Eventually I get a little space and just settle in for the 3 miles. I speak to quite a few others as we head round and I just stay comfortable, the pain in my heel threatening to burst out in song any minute. I wave my usual ‘morning’ to Lorner and her son as I pass by both times and to the other volunteers and cross the line in an acceptable time for what I’m doing.

I head back home and I now feel like I’ve run a bit of a distance but I feel ok. Nowhere near as depressed and sluggish as the last couple of runs so that’s good. My head is cleared! I may even thank Mr Mover slightly for his unnecessary lifting and shifting. (I won’t though, it was slightly offensive, I’m not that small, could have just asked).

15miles. I will take that. For the first time ever my Garmin recorded it faster than Strava. Looks like my auto pause wasn’t working. This surprisingly doesn’t bother me too much though. I enjoyed the run and that was my aim. I’ve still a very, very long way to go to hit my target but I’m beginning to see the first small steps of improvement.

I’ve got 8 weeks. I can do this.

Trust

Trust. A simple 5 letter word. Easy to write, easy to say – but incredibly hard to do.

There’s lots of advise out there. Everyone has an opinion, something to say, words of wisdom. But when it’s you that’s going through it, you that’s struggling, well, it’s just not that easy to believe anyone.

I’m not alone though. I follow a lot of people on Instagram and almost all of them are thankfully (although that sounds cruel to me) going through the same thing. And we are all saying the same thing to each other.

Nowhere near where I need to be but I need to ‘trust in the process’.

I had a cut back week this week. It was almost forced upon me as work has been busy and I was sent to Glasgow so lunch time runs have been missed. Not great for my mindfulness but not the end of the world. I need to challenge myself with this kind of thing and I know that. Ironically the conversation on the train on the way through was ‘toilet related’. I’m going to have to watch that not every story I have is about bodily functions! Not convinced I started that one though. And I’ve also been back to physio about my good old rotated pelvis. Oh and I’ve got new trainers.

Let’s face it. If all that doesn’t work then nothing will!

So it’s a good thing it did!

I’m not talking astounding Paula Radcliffe times here don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had a couple of good speed sessions that have said to me ‘actually Ella, you’re not quite as slow as a turtle in treacle’. I’ve even managed 2 progression runs – negative splits – these are things that don’t exist in Ella Land. I hate them. But I’ve done them. I’ve learnt from it though that watching anything on Netflix which may have a ‘surprise’ in it is not a good idea when on the treadmill as I am most likely to lose my footing as I gasp and shout ‘I did NOT see that coming!’.

I joined some of the road runners for a longer run last weekend knowing I would drop off at some point as it was all the fast guys. The great thing about the club is that no one rules you out of running with them. They showed me a great new route which I will give another go soon. I turned back after 5 miles as I didn’t want to keep holding them back. This gave me the chance to get a little snap happy too ha ha. But by 8 miles my legs were dead weights. I have no idea why but it really got me down so a cut back week this week didn’t sound too bad an idea.

So this week has been just over 20 miles only. No long run over 10 miles. I did do a trail race today, the third in the Strathearn series, and my running felt better. Unfortunately the time didn’t really reflect that but I’m holding on to the fact it felt better.

My little one chasing me down and showing me how it’s done.

Back in to it this week with my lunch runs and another progression run is on the cards. I’m back at physio again and I’m going to try and increase my swimming. I have the clubs presentation night to look forward to as well. A night to remind me that if I stick at it – and trust in the process – I can hit my goals.