When I signed up for Stirling it was with the intention – yet again – of a London qualifying time. However. Less than a month after signing up it was beyond crystal clear that wasn’t going to happen. And it wasn’t due to the fact I am looking at longer distances and on trail not road. It was due to the fact that I hate sprints and fartlek and track SO much that I just don’t do them. In black and white – I am a lazy runner. I run to enjoy it and even though I may look at my time and think ‘ah, I wish I was faster’, I’m just not prepared to do anything about that.
I will go out for another ‘Easy 10 miles’ before you see me anywhere close to throwing up after 3 sets of 800m with a 30 second recovery followed by 5 sets of 100m at flat out pace.
So rocking up to the start line of the Stirling Marathon today I had a more realistic expectation of about 4:30. I wouldn’t be overly happy with that but it was to be expected.
Joe had finally caved/gotten sick of my moaning about needing new trainers and bought me a pair yesterday. I am fully aware of how ridiculous it would be to wear brand spanking new trainers on race day but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. More than once. And almost put them in the car just in case. I didn’t wear them though so I was in the usual ones with my shorts and vest – it was going to be a warm day. I couldn’t find my PRR club vest and I haven’t bought one yet for the tri-club so it was my lovely pink one. It matched my hair band and my shorts. Couldn’t have been more girly. (Well, I could, if I didn’t have the body shape of an 8 year old boy ha ha. Thank goodness I’m already married.)
It was a ridiculously early start for the family but as usual they didn’t really complain. Lucie was sold on the offer of going for breakfast once they had dropped me off and Oliver was happy with being able to sleep in the car and play his Switch. Bribery in it’s finest form.
Dropped at the start I saw a couple from the road runners and went over to say hi. We were off just minutes later. The marathon was set off at the same time as the half marathon and I lost count of how many times I repeated in my head ‘keep left, keep left, keep left’. I even paused at the fork in the road to just make sure I was in fact, turning left. It wasn’t a huge field so I didn’t feel crowded or have to jostle for space so that was a nice change from other marathons.
The first few miles done and a women from the club came past me. I didn’t think I had overtaken her and she regaled her emergency stop at the portaloos. All I’m going to say is I’m glad I am not the only one this happens to! I resounded there and then that if I was to need during this race, I was going to pick a tree or a big bush. She was aiming for a certain time goal and unsurprisingly I didn’t see her again.
A little further up and Joe texts me to tell me my parents might be at a village we pass through called Doune. True enough they are exactly where I thought they would be. I spotted my mum on the left and started waving. This gave her enough time to get her phone ready. Or…at least it should have. As I went past she gave her usual ‘Well done Ella, keep going’, then I swear I heard her fumbling with her phone and saying ‘Oh I missed her’. I love seeing her at races, she always makes me laugh. My dad was on the other side so I crossed over and low and behold he’s there with none other than his Ipad! He has the thing held right up so there’s no way I am in the picture (I’m knee height to a grass hopper, the sky never appears in my photos) and it looks like he is actually taking a selfie. Parents ladies and gentleman, you got to love them.
I’m now at about 10/11 miles and my left calf is so tight it could give Scrooge a run for his money. It’s that bad I stop now and then to try and massage it out but it’s not working. It’s painful. And I’m not feeling any cushioning from trainers. I bloomin knew I should have put my new ones on. At this point it was a risk I was willing to take. I spend the next couple of miles in a complete grump that I hadn’t bought trainers earlier and wore them in to wear today. And naturally, I blame Joe for this. Because obviously I’m not going to buy myself trainers without him knowing. (The 4 boxes hidden under the bed don’t count because I have only just re-discovered these ok).
I then spend the following miles after that swearing off marathons completely. At mile 17 I am enjoying the route but I am still on tarmac – funny that, being a road marathon – and have absolutely had enough of running and am now deciding that I am not going to run the Glen Lyon Ultra which is in just 6 days. Forget it. My legs hurt. The pain has migrated to my quads now, cheers for that body, and I’m now resembling an old woman hobbling down the road with her stick missing swaying side to side.
That’s it. Time for the music to be cranked up. Little Mix comes on.
My life could not be any worse right now.
I’m now in the stages of awaiting some ‘K-pop’ coming on – not that I know what that is – so I can just end it right here and now. But the song turns in to a re-mix and dare I say it, but I quite like it. So much so in fact that I have it on repeat several times and I am able to pick up the pace for a few miles.
That ends come mile 20 though. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I’m still swearing off marathons when I get a message through with a picture of my instagram moan/post and the caption ‘Other than London’. You make a good point Ginnie ha ha. But London will be different. London will be several HUNDRED photos and videos taken and many, many tears no doubt. It will happen.
22 miles and the fast 4 miles Joe wanted for the finish are now as likely as a Donald Trump having a personality transplant. I do try and my legs feel a little better when I lift them more and take a longer stride but I can’t sustain that. There’s a lovely marshall at the top of the hill at the University who tries to get me moving faster but I can’t do anything but laugh with him. This old woman needs her zimmer frame I’m afraid. The nursing home is calling.
The only bonus is that I am in no fit state to add on any extra running miles on the way home so Joe’s not going to kick me out the car. I am however going to have to endure a lecture at some point from him – most likely about my lack of speed training but I don’t doubt he will add something else in there. My nutrition plan hasn’t worked for me today. The Clif chewing things mixed with Active Root in my water has not sat well in my stomach and I have had to switch to plain water and nothing else. I’m going to have to find something to replace the Clif things. I’ve also ran out of water several times so my flasks aren’t big enough. Training note there.
I get a text from Joe telling me is right behind the photographer in front of the finishing line and soon enough I spot my youngest waving wildly about with my dad at the side. He runs along beside me – much faster than me I might add – until I reach the finishing chute and it’s this that makes my day. It was brilliant.
I collect my goodie bag, which contains bath salts for recovery – best goodie bag ever!! – and head out. Stupidly I make the mistake of sitting down and then proceed to spend the next 5 days trying to stand up. Yup. Quads don’t like me very much right now. I bump in to Steve and another from the club and as we regale our stories of sweat, hills and confusion over left and right Joe and the rest of my family find me.
So a 4:13. If I’m honest I fully expected a 4:30. My trainers are in the bin though and my new ones are ready to go. Obviously my legs are not and I have no intention of any miles tonight or maybe even tomorrow. Luckily, being a swim teacher, some of my day tomorrow will be spent in the water so that will be good for the legs.
The one (ha ha ‘one’) downside of today was missing watching and tracking the London marathon. I positively love to do that. I thought running today would be a good distraction of not being there yet again but it was actually worse. So I wouldn’t book another race on that day.
Am I running the ultra next Saturday? Well, I’m still in pain so I’m still undecided. It will be completely different given it’s a trail run. It has actual river crossings which I find both terrifying and amusing – I’m considering wearing my swimming costume underneath. It also has the next badge in the collection for me to collect. It’s a possibility. But I’m not interested in road marathons anymore. Not unless these new trainers are something out of this world.
*Disclaimer – I adore my parents and love their support. It’s just sometimes it can be comical.