Delirious – Without The Sandstorm

Now that I am ‘back’ up and running (comedian is most definitely not on the list of career change options) I’m cracking on with my training plan.  I have my eye’s fully set on 2 specific races next year and I intend to do better than I have before.

It’s just a shame I can’t keep those eye’s open.

A change to any routine is going to make you tired.  Fitting in an actual plan – as in a proper, scheduled, do this not just what you fancy plan – along with being a mother, a wife, holding down a full time job and studying for new qualifications will, very unsurprisingly, leave you a little bit tired.

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I walked out to my car the other night in the pouring rain with nothing on my feet wearing my pyjamas.  And I don’t wear nice, fancy, grown up pyjamas.  Oh no.  I wear an oversized Super Mario T-shirt that’s about 6 years old and tartan trousers that are also about 4 sizes too big and covered in god only knows what but I am not that keen to find out!  My only saving grace was that it wasn’t a white t-shirt that would end up see through when wet.  Ain’t nobody want to see that!

And just a few days later I had an appointment at the vets.  Well not me but one of the dogs.  Although no doubt there are some people who would think I could do with one and there have been some moments when I’ve been slightly hangry that may or may not justify their thoughts.  Anywhoo…… I had a turbo session scheduled so I planned to drop the youngest at breakfast club then jump straight on which would give me time for a shower before wrestling the dogs apart and getting just one in to the car for her visit.

By the time I got to breakfast club it was twenty to nine.  That’s not the worst part though.  Oliver (said youngest) asked me the name of the man at the club and when I said I didn’t know he gave an Oscar winning performance of a neglected child who’s mother was happy to drop off to a stranger.  If ever there WAS an award I was going to win it’s definitely Worst Mother.  So obviously I asked the man his name when I got there.  Late.  He looked at me as if to say ‘really?  you’re asking me my name?’  then politely said Brian.  As soon as he did it clicked.  Brian.  As in a friend from tri club’s husband Brian.  Whom I should know.  Now I’m up for Worst Mother and Worst Person.  Pretty sure the husband will throw in Worst Wife to help round it up.

Anyway on with the pity party.  Being late to breakfast club meant being late to get on the bike.  This left me with 15 minutes to shower, dry and get the dog in the car.  Obviously I accepted that challenge.  Shower breaks at work are 15 minutes, I can do this.  Deciding to shave my legs within that time however was not one of my best decisions.  It did cross my mind as I was hacking away at my tree trunks that the vet probably didn’t give a damn whether or not I had hairy legs under my oh so attractive black leggings and should have spent the time drying my hair to prevent the drowned rat look.  (Do vets ‘vet’ rats?).

That’s a pretty accurate reflection of how life is going.  On the plus side though I have discovered the benefits of the little things that help.  For example, I am doing loads on the bike at the moment.  At least more than I am used to.  To aid these hours on the turbo I have become a swift hand at moving my bike in front of the big telly in the living room (when no one else is in obviously).  I’ve also discovered the benefits of chamois cream, and whilst my under carriage may look like a setting from a Christmas movie set in the middle of a snow storm, it’s making the time less painful.

The swimming and the running are still very much a work in progress.  Going from relatively speedy short distances, to long and slow ultra’s then trying to get speed back isn’t the easiest of things.  It’s really frustrating.  6am runs are not the best time of day to try and improve this but it’s the time available to me.  However running round the local park singing along to Christmas tunes was definitely a good session.  As for the swimming – well, I’m never going to be a fish or a mermaid.  But if I could move up from jellyfish and swim in a straight line then I will take that as success.

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I’m getting there though.  It may be in a clumsy, fall over, don’t know my arse from my elbow kind of way but I am.  I actually climbed in to bed the other day fully clothed WITH trainers on to get a 12 minute nap.  It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  I can also say yes to a cinnamon swirl any damn time I want to.  I may not often have the time to go and buy one but I’m safe in the knowledge that on the rare occasion I do – I can eat one and not care!

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As tired as I am I do enjoy it though and I miss activity when it is taken away from me.  Don’t get me wrong, the thought of being able to just ‘sit and chill’ sounds utterly amazing, but I know I would be bored within minutes.  And if I didn’t do this I would be expected to cook.  And that’s just something of nightmares in my eyes ha ha.

This Is Ladies Night

Have you ever been stuck in doors, alone, with the same 4 walls, and the inability to move without pain?

My drama skills are on the up rise in case you haven’t noticed. I’m thinking of yet another career change.  The stage is clearly calling.

Friday was spent barely moving from the couch which obviously resulted in a solid full stone gain in weight (the only food I could stumble my to the kitchen to find was of no nutritional value and the pain in my back was making me feel nauseous). However the rest did work and my back eased up enough for me tackle the stairs and begin to peel the tin man costume off my body.

Saturday morning and despite a night of constant up and down with the dogs and the impossible act of getting comfy I was better than the Friday. The other half had left for a boys weekend Friday afternoon so my mum and dad came round to take the eldest to the airport for his holiday. I decided I was going to try and make my cocktail night because 1. It would cheer me up and 2. If I’m honest, walking round bars would be a lot easier than running after dogs and dealing with the constant cries of ‘mum I’m hungry’ from the youngest.

I almost changed my mind in the taxi on the way down, nearly asking him to turn round and take me back home. But I didn’t. I sucked it up.

There were 8 of us from the tri club, most of whom I have been doing quite a bit of training with.  Although not this kind of training ha ha.  Let me tell you though.  The organisational skills of these women – good lord! If ever I enter an event that requires a crew then these people are my team! Everything was arranged.  I only had to worry about getting dressed (admittedly a task in itself when I couldn’t lift my left leg) and hobble between bars.  But it seemed that even the distance between bars had been thought out as it always felt enough to get me moving but not too far it was over doing it.

However.  The comments on taking a trolley or a stretcher for me definitely warrant some questions on our friendship.  And an Asda trolley? At least make it a Marks and Spencer’s one ladies!

At the first stop we had, in true ladies style, the Pornstar Margarita.  A sugared glass with tequila and lime and I think a shot of Prosecco.  I’m unsure as the woman at the table next to us took one look at me and proceeded to divulge, in great detail, how she had had a bad back and ended up getting her spine shaved.  Thanks for that love.

The sugared glass became quite entertaining though.  You start by discreetly trying to lick tiny bits off then someone catches your eye and you watch them full on lick clean their glass ALL the way round the rim to the extent you’re now worried they may start to attack the windows!

Amazing what a drop of alcohol can do.

We head to the next one on the list but find it doesn’t open until 5pm so go next door.  I see some of the same women from the last place but thankfully not the nip and tuck women.  Naturally it’s selfie time and I make my first mistake of the night when I try to bend down to get in the picture and have to be helped back up by Shona.  This is one drink down ladies and gentleman.  One drink.

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It’s getting busier now and it’s not so easy to find a seat in the next bar but standing and discreetly stretching my back is fine with me.  At least I think it’s discreetly.  I’ve now had more alcohol in the last couple of hours than I’ve had in the last couple of years so for all I know I’m doing full on acrobatic yoga moves on the bar and not just slightly tilting my pelvis every now and then.  No one says anything though so I’m either getting away with it or they are just as drunk.

We head to the next one and it’s downstairs.  This is not good for me.  This is when I begin to wonder how far the train station is as it might be time to make an exit.  We haven’t even entered the place when a group comes out and tells us the bar is disgusting.  ‘Worst one yet’ they say.  So it’s back up the stairs.

In to Tigerlily and we sit outside after an array of photos at their flower wall.  I’ve just sat down when the rain starts but you’re buggered if you think I’m moving! I’m happy to have Monica Geller frizzy hair if it means I can have a seat for a minute to ease off my back.  The cocktail helps too ha ha.

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Stomachs are grumbling by this point so it’s a food stop.  Now, I know nothing about food.  It’s not a subject I find interesting.  I’m genuinely astonished by how some people can rattle off descriptions of a meal laden with ‘dripping in’ this and ‘coated in’ that.  THATS DISGUSTING.  The mere thought of anything I’m going to eat being ‘dripped’ in something is pure and simple gross! If it drips, I’m not eating it! This obviously leaves me with a problem when we go to the Tapas bar.  Joe and I don’t eat out that often.  Sure we take the kids out for breakfast at the weekends but we stick to what they like and know.  (And usually if it’s breakfast, I can get beans on toast, job done).  I don’t know what tapas is.  When someone says you have 2 maybe 3 portions I’m thinking ‘I’m not a fatty love, I’m just hungry’.

I play it safe and order the peppers, olives and a potato thing I’m sharing with Carol.

Out comes the food.  It’s just peppers.  As in, just peppers.  I was expecting something to put the peppers in.  Like a tortilla wrap or something.  Nope.  Just peppers.  Ok, olives then.  They look whole.  As in solid.  As in not deseeded or pipped or what ever it’s bloody called – hollowed out! I can’t eat them.

I order some fries.

I know Joe doesn’t read what I write so I’m pretty safe putting this here but it’s quite clear when it comes to food I’m pretty stuck without him.  He usually orders for me.  But I was kind of grumpy with him as he’s not the most sympathetic over my back pain (called it inconvenient!) so I didn’t do what I usually do and text him asking him what I should order.

Kind of shot myself in the foot over that one.

On to the next bar!

The man bar that stinks of, well, men, actually gets my vote for best cocktail.  It may have been the lack of food affecting my taste buds but I liked it.

By this time my back is most definitely giving up.  I’m actually impressed with how long I’ve lasted given I was going to get the taxi to take me straight back home.

We end the night in Harvey Nichols with tattoos that just won’t go on.  Jo had provided bus snacks in the form of old school candy sticks that came with super hero tattoos.  I begged for the Wonder Woman one.

It was a great night and I’m glad I went.  I can’t do this whole ‘sit and do nothing’ even though I know I need to.  I’ve still got to keep my sanity.  And whilst the ladies from tri club may not be completely sane, they are a good laugh.

The night out did leave me with one huge problem though.  Removing skinny jeans when you can’t lift your leg or bend forwards has by far been my biggest challenge yet!

Backing It Up

Well life’s just sat up and given me a big old slap in the face with a soggy fish taken straight from the murky under grounds of death lake.

I’ve hurt my back.

Correction. A plastic mannequin filled with water has completely totalled my back and put me out of action for god only knows how long.

So what happened? Last night during one of my classes a young lad was doing amazing. He was swimming absolutely beautifully and nailed both his breast stroke and back crawl. As a reward we put the mannequin in as he just loves to dive down for it. All I did was pull it out the water on to the side. As I lifted it up I felt this explosion in my back and intense pain. I lent against the diving boards and found I was struggling to move. Luckily I had our modern apprentice with me and she went to get another teacher so I could try and sneak out the back door and on to the power plates in hope of releasing my back straight away.

This didn’t work so I limped my way to the chiropractor a mere 2 hours after it happened to be told I had rotated L3 L4 had an acute tear and a golf ball sized lump in my QL.

In English I had f@cked my back.

An absolute HUGE thank you to Duigan Chiropractors and their massage therapist Amanda for seeing me so quickly!!

Where does this leave me? Well this morning it left me stuck on the bed for 5 minutes because I had one leg in my trousers but couldn’t lift the other up to put that one in. I also couldn’t roll to the side enough to move so there I was balanced half off the bed in a contorted position with a pair of trousers dangling off my right foot. Yup, I certainly know how to spice things up in the bedroom!

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Basically, after a mere 3 days of following a training plan, I’m on rest. I can’t bend side to side, I can’t bend forward – the bathrooms a freaking fun place to visit right now – and I can’t sit in one position for more than a couple of minutes with out a shooting pain going down my leg.

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BUT. Tomorrow is another day. Let’s see if it releases any today. I am religiously icing it and rolling on that spiky ball. I am regularly getting up and moving but no, not going for a run. Once it registered last night that I will not be doing my turbo session, run or be fit for work today I had no choice but to think about how I can make it better, fast.

I’m not in the whole ‘woe is me’ place. I’m just frustrated because I was really excited about starting something new.

I’m meant to be at a cocktail night tomorrow. And I’m not ruling it out yet!! I rarely go out and have been looking forward to this one. I’m thinking the alcohol will numb the pain – isn’t that the saying? Ha ha. It’s not over till the fat lady sings and this fat lady can’t sing so it will never be over! Ha ha. If – and it’s a big if – I make it, there won’t be any dancing, but I’m sure the rest of the ladies will make up for that.

Right. Time to get another ice pack. I will go to the (cocktail) ball tomorrow!

A New Plan

A New Plan

Goals have been set, races selected and work has began.  I am currently 3 days in to a new and more structured training plan so what better time to write about it?

I’m exhausted!  And it’s only been 3 days!! Talk about a wake up call!  Ultra training was tiring don’t get me wrong but going long and slow clearly worked for me because 1, I could keep my eyes open past 6pm at night and 2, I could still walk after a session.  Now some might say I clearly wasn’t going hard enough – and possibly the number of photo’s I would take during a race may be evidence towards that – but I enjoyed them.  I never felt like I was about to collapse and die or, even worse, throw up all over myself.

Current long term goals though involve slightly more than heading out the door with a hydration vest filled with flap jacks and returning a few hours later (usually a good 30 – 45 minutes longer than planned after getting lost but that really was part of the fun).

Day 1.  Swim.  Correction.  Longest swim I have ever done!  I remember the day I went to the pool and the swim club’s set was still written on the board.  ‘400m warm up’.  Warm up.  400m was my entire session that day.  It was pointed out to me that one day that would be my warm up.  Well.  Day 1 was that day!  Or to be more accurate, 500m was the warm up.  20 x 25m.  Never done that before.  First few were a bit strange but I got into it.  Then I forgot to start my watch for the main set so it looked like I had an extra long rest when in actual fact I was swimming 100m.  Rookie mistake there Ella come on.  I was meant to use paddles but pool rules state everyone in the lane has to agree to me using them.  They did not agree.  But they did kindly ‘keep out my way’ meaning I didn’t get caught behind them often so I appreciate that.

‘Keep out of my way’.  I mean seriously!  You would think I’m under the impression I own that lane!  But what other way can I say it? (however sometimes I do feel that it is MY lane I’m in there that often ha ha.  Just a shame my swimming doesn’t justify it).

After many, many checks of the watch to see what lap I am on it’s on to the cool down and I am eventually done.  I am not swimming one single length more.  Nah ah.  David in the health suite is my absolute saviour when I discover he has a tub of Heroes and I shove 2 in my mouth – almost with the wrapper still on I am that hungry!

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Day 2 and it’s a turbo.  I’m getting used to my turbo so I’m not dreading it.  I’ve also found a new series on Netflix to binge watch so that’s always a bonus.  I even manage to connect the cadence sensor to my watch ALL by myself.  Definitely a victory moment there for Ella.  It takes a while to adjust the gears enough to hit the numbers I am looking for but about half way through the session I get there.  I still don’t understand ‘big gear’ – why not just say ‘harder gear’ or easier gear’???  What’s big about it???  My legs don’t grow any by using it! Possibly my arse from all this sitting down but definitely not my legs (and that’s iI’m using it which I’m probably not – I did feel at one point my bike doesn’t have enough gears to do what I was meant to but I don’t know if you can add gears?  I know you can’t add them to a car.  Is it possible for a bike not to have enough gears?  God I’m really not a cyclist.)  Anyway.  Turbo done – but no chocolates devoured that night.

Day 3 and I decide today is the day I am going to run in the early morning again.  The hardest thing about running before the sun comes up is deciding what to wear.  Not in a ‘gok wan going out out’ style but more in a temperature way.  I opt for shorts because rule of thumb for me is that unless there is a full on blizzard with 10 inches of snow on the ground then shorts is the way to go.  T-shirt and long sleeve top is also selected (topless running isn’t a thing – and even if it was I wouldn’t be doing it).  The long sleeve top is quickly discarded.  I’ve got 6 x 2 min hard efforts.  Let me say it again.  ULTRA RUNNER.  Hard effort is basically not stopping to take a photo of the leaves falling from the trees or the funny sign at the side of the road.  It is NOT running until you throw up.  And trust me, it doesn’t take 2 minutes before I want to throw up!  I’ve dragged my friend along in an effort to try and make me do this.  She officially hates me and calls me all the names under the sun.  Clearly not doing a hard effort if you can still speak love!

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Somehow we get through the 6 of them and slowly run home.  My stomach reminds me I haven’t been doing the same efforts or even mileage recently I am used to and there are a few very close moments.  I have to stand outside her flat as still as a statue at one point in a bid not to prevent anything escaping from my body.  I turn to cross the road and abruptly stop for a minute.  Think the scene in Bridesmaids when they are trying on dresses after that dodgy meal.  Yup.  That’s what flashed through my head.  Just minus the big white dress to hide under!

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Everyone is still asleep when I get home.

Off to work after and by 3pm I’m dipping.  An afternoon nap would have been amazing!  I’m so jealous of those that get to nap.  Why can’t I be an 80 year old women who can nap at any point she wants?  I think that should be my goal! Pretty sure I currently look like one I am that tired.

I’m just adjusting though.  I’m loving having a structure and I know that I can do it.  I also know what motivates me – and no it’s not a box of Heroes but I wouldn’t turn them down (although probably should).  Life may be like a box chocolates but in this case I do know what I am going to get….

Tired.  Very tired.  Ha ha.

 

Team Webley On Tour – the Weymouth edition

Team Webley On Tour – the Weymouth edition

What can be said about Weymouth? Well. The words ‘easy, flat, smooth’ do not enter my thoughts put it that way!

Just one week before, my entire race was put in jeopardy after being struck by an episode. I’ve had nothing in almost 2 years and then out of nowhere I hit the ground 7 days before race day. Luckily Joe was with me but I didn’t escape a trip to A &E later that night. I did convince them I didn’t need to stay in for observation though. There was no need.

So it was touch and go whether I would be starting, and if I got to start whether I would finish. The only way to deal with it was to break it down step by step.

We get down there and, well, it’s Weymouth. It’s windy! The sea was horrendous. We tried a practise swim but no. It was like being thrown back to Edinburgh 70.3 that first year. It did tell me I needed nose plugs though and after much running around trying to 1) get people to understand my accent and 2) find someone who knew what nose plugs were I eventually found a swimming pool that had a pair. And like the hero he is Joe took off to get them as the place shut in 20 minutes.

I also didn’t have a bike pump so had to buy one of them. I could only find a huge, heavy lump of metal which Joe didn’t think I could get on to my bike but you’ll be amazed what a girl with a bunch of hair bobbles can do!

The night before the race was spent practising removing my wet suit. After taking a Stanley blade to the sleeves (not during a timed removal, let’s not be too dramatic) the arms were ok but there was no getting my fat legs out the bottom. I did consider taking the blade to my legs but it would take a chain saw to get through these tree trunks.

Race morning and my heart and chest are ok. I’m going to join the race start and see what happens. Joe on the other hand is not. As much as it was touch and go for me, it was the same for him. He is constantly in pain. The only thing that changes is the level. When he sent me to my start area an hour before go time I was convinced he was pulling out. With crohns it’s very much a case of yes, you can make plans but you might have to cancel them last minute. He did start though and he did have a good race.

The sea had calmed down a lot but the decision had been made to shorten the course. My first panic was whether or not I would make cut off. I think I will always worry about that though. In the end I had a good swim for me. I was only elbowed and hit a few times and I kept to a very straight line.

I would love to ‘gloss’ over T1 but in the time it took me to remove my wetsuit you could not only have had a cup of tea and a biscuit, but you could have had the entire weeks worth of tea and biscuits! Bit disappointed no one offered to help if I’m honest. If I’d seen someone struggle like that I would have helped rip the thing off.

The bike was good. Apart from the punctures. Both of them! How do you get 2 punctures?? I may have spent Saturday night practising wet suit removal but maybe some of it should have been spent practising punctures. There must have been well over a hundred on course. I had 2, another PTC had 2, I read online someone had 4. The mechanics ran out of everything and the punctures cost quite a few their race. I lost an awful lot of time and I would be disappointed but that’s part of racing. It’s why you can’t compare races. Weather plays a huge part as well and we may have had calmer seas but the wind was definitely present on the cycle! And it brought its friend the rain with it too.

At least my second transition was marginally better – but by this time my head had given up and I was solidly in ‘ultra’ mode. There was no rush. My bike split had been ruined in my eyes at that time so I wasn’t wasting effort.

I had no hunger to get a good time on the run and with the heat rising I was acutely aware of my heart so held back. I could have pushed, I probably should have pushed, but I chose to be cautious/lazy. I knew I would have regrets after but I also knew I needed to have trained more with my run. Yes I can run 50 miles plus but running 13.1 after a swim and a bike isn’t the same. It’s not the place for long pacing techniques.

Having family out on the run though was fantastic. 2 years ago I secretly planned for them to show up for Joe doing Weymouth and it meant a lot to him. Having them there again this time with what he’s dealing with with his crohns had the same effect. And they are not quiet cheerleaders! I could hear them way after I had shuffled by. It was awesome.

Being back of the pack means one absolutely fantastic thing – you get that red carpet to yourself! All the way up! And did I cross the line holding the stop button on my garmin? Did I heck, what was the point! I actually forgot all about it until I was in the finishers hall. I raised both arms, grin on my face as I reminded myself I very nearly wasn’t able to start this race, never mind finish it! Albeit a very, very long time after I had started ha ha.

Afterwards I had to get my tracking fixed as my ankle tracker had not worked and the results had DQ’d me. Now I know my race time was bad but I still finished ha ha. It was a relatively easy fix though thanks to my garmin.

So lots of areas to improve on. Didn’t think I would be saying this but the run needs work. I’m not ready to admit Joe was right and doing ultras at the same time as triathlon isn’t working but ‘I’m just saying’. Bike and swim too have some way to go.

And as for that wet suit……..

Star Light Star Bright

Star Light Star Bright

4:10am.  Ski Centre.  Cairn Gorm.

‘I’m really not sure I can do this.  It is absolutely freezing, I don’t think I am going to cope with the cold. I really don’t think I can complete this.  I have never seen dark like this.  This is a bad idea.’

Just a few minutes later I am off.

Those were my genuine thoughts as I stood in the early hours of the morning waiting to do the run section of the Starman Triathlon.  Jo from tri club had entered a relay team and her husband (Bill) was originally doing both the cycle and the run but he hadn’t done a lot of hill training so they asked if I would run.  This wasn’t any old half marathon.  This was a run up to the top of a Munro (mountain over 3000ft) in the middle of the night and where you will get to see the sun rise.

Of course I am in!!

Didn’t quite think it all through.  At least, not until those last few minutes before I was to start.  I was too blinded by the thought of seeing the sun rise on the top of a Munro.  Bucket List item no 33 – check.

Jo had arranged everything.  She had booked a hostel right across from T1 we could use as basecamp and we were heading up the day before.  Oh did I mention?  For me to start running at 4am Jo would be starting her swim at midnight.  Yes that’s right.  Midnight.

What the actual f……

Honestly though, how can that NOT excite you?   Even just a little bit!  Naturally nerves were high.  This was Jo’s first race of that distance, first OW race I believe and first swim in the middle of the night.  You can almost understand why she went to put her wet suit on at 9pm with nerves like that.  To calm herself down she decided to post on facebook a photo of all the snacks we had ALL brought and claim they were just mine for the run.  I’m still astounded that everyone in the club believed her!

There was talk of closing one or possibly even both if the summits on the run due to the high winds.  Did I forget that bit as well?  Oh yeah.  You didn’t just start the run with a climb up a Munro.  You finished it with a climb up a Corbett.

Someone with a very unique imagination had designed this course.

I prayed to the run gods I would get to run up them both.  There were cut offs for both ascents and I had been over and over them.  I would be deeply disappointed if I didn’t get to do both of them.  It wouldn’t feel like I had completed the run.  (This was obviously before reality hit me of what this run was really asking.)

 

At the beach for the race brief and there are just under 80 people in wetsuits, donning glowsticks from their heads like antennas, awaiting the start of the swim.  It’s a very relaxed event and they advertise it as ‘not a race, an experience’.  This meant that not every swimmer had to complete the 4 laps of the swim.  If they wanted to get out after 2 or 3, they could.  A strange concept when you are used to ‘this is the finish line, this is the distance’ but a relaxing one.  I think it helped with some peoples nerves.

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Then it was time for Jo to get in.  As soon as she was off, she was gone.  It was impossible to figure out what one she was.  She also had ear plugs in and couldn’t hear a thing.  Naturally I still shouted, encouraged her on, just on the off chance she heard me.  She was in the last group to go in and by then you couldn’t tell what group was what.  One woman came out not long after going in, it wasn’t for her.  There were a few who came out after 3 laps.  Jo’s personal goal was to complete it.  As the swimmers came out and the numbers remaining dwindled I did start to get a little concerned.  I was sure I hadn’t missed her.

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To be on the safe side I took a run up to T2 and saw Bill chatting away to another cyclist.  Nope.  Not missed her.  I ran back down and paced the waters edge.

2 swimmers stood up and walked towards the beach.  I saw the green of her wet suit and ran over to help guide her up to transition.  She was wobbly and disorientated but she had done it.  Passing the dibber on to Bill he set off on his cycle.

It was a short walk back to the hostel and Jo told me all about the swim.  Choppier than she expected, not ‘too’ cold, but challenging.  She had started chatting to another swimmer and they had thought they were not going to make the cut off so nearly came out after 3 laps.  I wouldn’t have let her.  And she knows it.  She came to do 4 laps, that was her goal.  And she did it!  And she did it within time.  Great result!

Straight in to the trickly shower at the hostel and she was soon warmed up – ish.  Then it was time to track Bill.  I figured I had a solid 3hrs/3.5hrs so briefly tried to doze on a chair.  My legs were feeling heavy and giving me signs to say ‘we should be resting, go to bed woman’.  It was impossible to sleep but I tried.  Jo kept a vigilant eye on the tracker.

About 3am and she said he was doing really well, flying past people.  Now.  If I’m honest.  I kind of took this as a bit of ‘proud wifey’ talk.  I had no idea what he was like on a bike other than what she had said and naturally she had said he was really good.  Good to me meant under 3 hours on a 56 mile cycle.  And this route had a horrendous climb at the end.  It was also pitch black, very few street lights anywhere (we were in the Highlands) and windy.  So I just gave the polite nod and ‘uh huh’ and closed my eyes again.

About 3:20am and I checked the tracker myself.  I zoomed out so I could see where he was in comparison to T2.

I’ve never moved so fast to go and grab my gear.  He was just down the road from where we were in the hostel and we had a 20 min drive to the change over.  ‘He still has the climb’ I told myself.  ‘That will slow him down’.

The wind was howling and I mean howling outside now.  Do I really want to run in that?  It will be fine.  It will be fine.  I bundle my stuff in to a bag and after 2 trips back to the room because I can’t decide what top I should go with we head up to transition.  I’m convinced we are going to pass him on the road up and I think we do but it is really hard to tell in the dark.

We get out the car and I have 3 tops a jumper and a jacket on.  I don’t do cold.  And I most certainly don’t do cold before a race.  I don’t like this. My friend messages me having set her alarm to – let’s be honest – laugh at me for what I’m about to do.  ‘I don’t think I can do this’ I can tell her.  ‘I’m genuinely panicking’.

‘Shut up and get it done’ is the polite version of her reply.  I can’t see where I am meant to be running.  I try to watch a runner go off but he disappears within seconds.  I’m petrified I’m going to get lost.  I’m going to be referred to as ‘that idiot that didn’t know what she was doing’.  Pretty sure one or two have already looked at me and thought ‘yup, she’s going to die’.

I head inside for yet another toilet trip and turn back to tell Jo where I am running away to and almost walk straight in to Bill.

‘How the f@ck are you here already????????’

I don’t have any time to think.  He passes me the dibber and I’m walking over to the start.  Jo shouts for a photo and I turn round, the look of absolute fear in my eyes, and quickly turn back before I can change my mind.

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50 metres in.  50 metres.  And….

I’m loving it!!!  THIS is what I came for!  Yes it’s cold, windy, raining, but oh my god I am heading up a munro in the middle of the night!  This is awesome!

I no longer fear getting lost.  I’ve walked up over 20 Munros by myself and not died.  I know how to navigate this.  If it were following roads, well, that’s a different story.  Oddly enough.  I’m only overtaken by one guy in the first section (and I go past him later on).  This makes me feel very good.  I set my sights on the lights where I know the marshalls will be.  This will be the part they tell me if I can or can’t go to the summit.  I head up to them almost too nervous to ask.  ‘Can I head to the summit?’

‘Yup, up you go’.

Result!  I wouldn’t say I exactly skip up there but I’m certainly grinning away.  Another runner falls in step beside me and asks if it gets any easier.  ‘Em, not really’ I laugh back at him.  He keeps up with me for a little then stops to take a break.  I’m almost at the summit before I see someone coming back down.

2 marshalls at the summit and I have to admit I feel very sorry but very grateful for them at the top.  They must be frozen!  They ask if I am warm enough and I apologise for not bringing them a cup of tea.  Then it’s back down.

Back to the intersection and the light is beginning to come up.  I stop for a photo.  It’s gorgeous.  This is well worth it.  My quads soon come to life though and remind me what it means to run hills like this – in their lovely, painful way.

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I’m now back at the ski-centre where I see Neil again.  He was my husband Joe’s coach for IM 70.3 South Africa and he’s a volunteer at this event.  His wife – the lovely Beth – is also doing this but she is a solo entry.  I go past him screaming ‘that was awesome, I loved it!’ and carry on down the hill.

When I get near the bottom it’s on to road.  Tarmac.  This section in trail shoes is not the best.  I miss my roadies.  The guy I had chatted to before goes past and I try to keep with him but his legs are the length of my entire body and I have no hope.  He tells he’s been told the next summit is even worse to which I laugh again.  I would rather be going up there than running on this road.

I have a few haribos and drink my juice to keep me going.  Remembering my nutrition is all to pot with the different start time.  I’m a lot warmer now as well and there is nothing I hate more than running in tights when I could be in shorts.  I decide to stop and de-layer my top.  In one sense this is a good decision as I am way too hot.  But in another, it just cause me no end of grief.  I am now uncomfortable in the top I am wearing with my hydration bag and running belt.  I’m constantly pulling my top down, my trousers up, my face in to all sorts of frustrated emotions.  Time to research some gear that will get me through running in both cold and hot weather in the one race.

Eventually I am at the start of the second summit and the winds have died down enough to keep it open.  This one has many, many stone steps and boy do they kill your legs.  Still, I’m not overtaken on the hill and I’m taking that as a victory.  The views are spectacular.  Just what you expect in Scotland.  The wind is challenging but not death defying.  It’s hard and unrelenting but eventually I am at the top, big smiles for the marshalls, and heading back down.  I don’t charge forward as I’m not great on these sections and I have a big race in a few weeks so I go somewhat cautiously.  Further down and my phone starts ringing.  It’s Joe face timing me.  ‘Are you still in bed?’ I ask him quite surprised and completely forgetting it’s 6:30am.  He tells me later it was me that face timed him and on checking my phone I find array of weird and wonderful text messages I have sent him along with a song.  I don’t even know how to send a song!  Turns out I had been bumping my phone in my bag on the way down.

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Last section.  Almost done.  It’s a quiet trail back to the Loch where it all started.  Coming through the trees it’s spectacular as you head out on to the beach.

I have to say, finishing a run on the beach, in the sand, that’s just cruel!  Especially a run like that!  But I’m done.  And Jo and her husband Bill are there waiting.  We’ve done it.

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4th relay team we were.  4th!  A result I think we are all proud of.  There was a huge contingency from Glenrothes Tri club which had a really good team feel to it.  They all did fantastic.  It’s had us thinking we should convince our own club to take it on next year.  A little away trip near the end of season.

Would I recommend Starman?  Absolutely.  It’s a challenge and a half.  There aren’t many races you can say you get to swim in the witching hour, cycle in the dark and see the sunrise on a Munro.  So awesome.

Where Have You Been?

Has it really been 2 months since I last wrote? Crickey!

Well it hasn’t been that quiet a 2 months. I haven’t been back in ‘that’ loch again but I have been swimming at a loch closer to home. It’s smaller, a lot calmer, and, most importantly, it does not contain any extras from a Chris Pratt movie. (It does however have lots of a lot braver women than me who swim with no wet suit!)

I’ve been doing more cycling too. I’ve been out on a couple of group cycles with other members of the tri club. I may or may not have refused to ride down the completely vertical freshly gravelled path and gotten off my bike savagely repeating ‘nope,nope,nope,nope’ (I was not the only one who did this. The other guy didn’t want to scratch his hugely expensive frame. I didn’t want to scratch my well worn in human body. Same priorities – just slightly different details.)

It helped a lot going out in a group though. Finding new routes, chatting away, picking up tips. I’ve also been on what was called a Cornering Course at a bike track. That was fantastic! Absolutely bucketing with rain, couldn’t see a thing at times, shivering to death, but man how smooth the track was! I can’t wait to go back and try and whiz round it. Great cup of tea after too.

And then there was Australia. AUSTRALIA! 2 weeks on the other side of the world seeing my brother and his family and basically falling in love with that way of life. We took our bikes over and discovered the roads were so much more friendlier than here. We went running and discovered places we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I ticked off a couple of places on my bucket list – Natural Bridge in Springbrook and Mount Warning – there are genuinely no words at how awesome that was.

And now I’m 2 nights away from my next race. A half marathon up and down a Munro.

Because, you know, a flat road one would be boring.

I’m so excited. Ridiculously excited in fact. I get to run up a Munro! In an actual race! Oh and did I mention it will be as the sun rises?

I KNOW!!!

I’m going to need people to phone me and text me reminding me I’m meant to be running and not just taking in the views. I honestly can’t wait.

Not so keen on the huge compulsory kit list I need to carry but rules are rules.

The run is part of the Starman Triathlon. Jo from the club is doing the midnight swim (midnight swim!) and her husband is doing the cycle. I’m definitely getting the better section. Sunrise on the mountain! Hello bucket list!

It’s 2 miles up hill to start then down again with a run up a Corbett after. It finishes through the woods and on to the beach.

Can you think of a better run? Nope. Me neither.

Of course there are cut off times and I am slightly cautious about them. I need to work out where I need to be by when to know I’m on track. Unfortunately my other half won’t exactly be awake at 4am to text me and tell me to get a move on either. Hmm, could be an issue here.

I’m sure it will be fine. Either way it will be a great ‘night’ out with lots of laughter and pictures. The best thing about it is it advertises itself as ‘not a race’. It’s an experience. One I’m looking forward to.

I should however, be experienced to know that I should have checked my kit by now. I’ve spent most of the night scrambling round for a compass, spare batteries (not for the compass) and the ever faithful flapjack I like to have when running. I really should be better organised than this.