Shadys Back

I am desperately trying to think of a positive start to this entry but, I can’t.
So the above will have to do.
Truth is, the anxiety seems to be back. I say seems, let’s be honest, it is back. I am managing to use coping techniques quite well but one of the problems it is giving me is trying to keep up with the training for the Stirling Marathon and the Half-Ironman. It’s kind of hard to force myself out the door when all I want to do is curl up in bed and stay there until the next day. Swap a running marathon for a Netflix marathon and the physical Ironman for the Marvel Ironman and that right now is the easier option.

But is that really what I want? Sometimes. 

They say endurance events aren’t achieved on the day but in training. The race itself is your victory lap. Well I tell you, right now, if I make it to that finish line, I will be amazed. 

I watched ‘400 meters’ on Netflix last week. A man diagnosed with MS decides to do a Full Ironman (not a half!) having never done anything like that before. He has several set backs, a father in law that isn’t too dis-similar from my own dad, and a determination to rival Donald Trump. I keep thinking he found the strength to keep going – and again, to do a Full Ironman – what’s stopping me? 

I haven’t ‘lost my mojo’. Genuinely hate that saying. I still love running, miss it if for some insane reason it’s been more than 2 days since we last met. I am very slowly getting more confident on the bike and the swimming isn’t that much of a chore. It’s just my mind. There are less and less ‘happy thoughts’. Thursday took me by surprise. It was bring your child to work day so I had my daughter with me. I thought she would be with me the entire day but I had to drop her off in a room that felt it contained half the population of the human race. She was fine. I was not. It took my greatest strength not to go back in, grab her hand and take her to my desk with me. Literally the only thing stopping me was the embarrassment I would cause her. I spent 20 minutes alone in a room trying to calm down. It worked though. Breathing techniques don’t get the credit they are due. And later that day when a friend of mine came in she presented me with a surprise gift she had made. It was a box frame with photos of me running and ‘Live, Love, RUN’ written on it. The tears turned to happy tears then – and she hadn’t even known it was a bad day!

I had the next Championship race that night and, as the day had been that bad, I asked Joe to pace me. I had asked him a few days earlier, just for something different. I have never really ran with a pacer and he has never paced someone – could have been tragic! On the day though it didn’t really end up being about time but more just about having someone there as a distraction. You never know what ‘could have’ happened and is there any point in thinking about it? Could I have ran just as fast or even faster? I don’t know. What I do know is that it was nice and it worked. I was distracted. It gave me a little more positivity back. And I used the gift my friend had given me as a reminder of me how much better I feel when I am running. So I rocked up to the start line instead of pressing ‘play’ on the next episode of Designated Survivor. (It’s recorded though so it’s ok!).
And so I have decided I need that little something extra to push myself. Something I can focus on when I’m thinking ‘nah, just skip it, back to bed – retreat, retreat, retreat’. I contacted SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and I am now going to try and raise a little money for them by getting to the start line – the finish line will come later. Some of the coping techniques I have been given truly work for me and there are days I wouldn’t be able to do my day job without them. So why not say thank you? 

If it hadn’t been for people like them, the support I have received and discovering running I would still be locked away in my house, rarely leaving, unlikely to still be holding down a job, and not being an ‘ok’ mum. (I won’t claim to be the best mother in the world, I forgot it was my eldest last ever day at school yesterday!).  

This post may not have started very positive but it’s my nod to my issues to say ‘yeah, you’re still there, you might still knock me down, but I CAN get back up’.

(How bad will it be if I don’t manage this now? Ha ha).

The link for my fundraising –

Sunday – No Race Day

It seems every man and his dog were running in a race today.  That is, except me.

Very unusual.

I may have mentioned it before but I really, really, really want to do the London Marathon but never got in through the ballot for this year.  There’s many reasons I want London but I won’t go into that just now.  So no, I wasn’t running London today.  

I also wasn’t running the Edinburgh 10 mile race.  Mainly because I didn’t really fancy it if I’m honest.  I’ve raced 2 ten mile road races recently, didn’t need another.  Also there was a Running Sisters 5k I did not opt for. And lastly, there was the Balfron 10k race today.  Another one I didn’t run.

But……Joe did.  And my #originalrunningbuddy Frazer, who also brought a friend Tristan, ran it too.  (Yes I did just use a hashtag).  

I was tempted, but I enjoy chasing round the course cheering people on and getting photos.  So I was Sherpa Ella for a change.  It also meant I could keep an eye on the London Marathon tracker as there were a few from the Road Runners who were in it and a couple of friends too.  It’s quite exciting watching it and realising they are running over Tower Bridge right now! (Even if I am insanely jealous of each and every one of those Runners.  Jealousy isn’t always a bad thing though.  And It WILL be me one day!).

I had an uncomfortable night last night so I was glad for the sun and an excuse for sunglasses to cover it up.  It wasn’t hot though and there was a chill in the air – good running conditions really.  Car packed and we were off, meeting Frazer there as logistically it made sense (so I’m told, geography still means nothing to me).  We found the place easy enough and were able to park with ease.  No ‘air line steward’ Marshall here but still friendly.  A short walk up the hill to registration and a wait for Frazer.

Hmm.  Lots of hills here.  Thought it was flat? I had told Joe it was flat.  And I thought Frazer had said it was flat.  Might have got this wrong.  I kept my eye out for any Perth Road Runners as I was sure someone had said there were a few running it.  Unfortunately with a 3 year old running circles round the gym hall it was impossible to look for anything – including my sanity.

Once they were off I knew I had about 40 minutes so we headed back to the car to get food for the hungriest little boy in Scotland.   His favourite saying is ‘I’m sooooo hungry’.  Again.  My sanity.  Slowly slipping away.  I made a cup of tea for my daughter and myself and checked the London app.  Everyone was going strong.  

We walked slowly back up to the finish and waited at a great spot with a cordoned in grassy area just before the very last corner. I was able to see everyone coming in long before I needed to get my camera ready.  I was at the top of a hill afterall – of the ‘flat’ course, whoops.  The first few Runners started coming in and I gave myself a good pat on the back for timing it so well.  I got this!  Joe came in quite near the front and I got some good photos.  It was an out and back route and he said he had spotted a Road Runner with rose tattoos – Steph.  Frazers friend Tristan was next to come in quite impressively in about 45 minutes.  Then Frazer who smashed his time from last year quickly followed by Steph.  I got photos of them all being the great photographer I am haha.  (In other words I was shouting so loud people moved out the way out of fear more than anything ha ha).

Back home I continued to be glued to the London tracker and I was reminded of just how difficult running can be.  One guy from the club was running and he ran the Boston Marathon just 6 days ago! A few I follow on instagram were also running, one was flying through and the other wasn’t having the best run of their life, but they were both doing it.  I saw posts from many in the Run Mummy Run community saying members names who were struggling and could we post comments to encourage them.  26.2 miles is hard.  I don’t care who you are or what you’re experience is it’s bloody hard!  And the toughest people, the ones I respect and admire the most, are the ones who are big enough to admit that.  Not make excuses.  But admit it is hard.

I probably should have gone out for a run but I’m a bit wary of my hips at the moment.  I did 30 miles on the bike yesterday and got to 25 miles before they started screaming which is good progress.  To be honest though, the combination of being attached to the London tracker and having a dip last night made me stay in.  Joe said to me it’s fine to have a day you do nothing.  And yeah I guess it is.  The fear is that that one day turns in to two, then three, and four.  I won’t let that happen though.  I can’t.

I’m going to write my plan for the week.  I’m going to speak to those who ran over the weekend and remind myself why I run.   I have my daughter joining me at work on Thursday and she’s coming to yoga.  I need to set a good example for her.  I won’t let last night turn in to anything.  

So it’s hats off to each and every runner this weekend – regardless of time, pace, or even if you finished.  I loved being a spectator for a change and I’m sure I will be doing it again soon.

4 weeks until Stirling Marathon.

10 weeks until Ironman 70.3.

All About The Base

I’m (loosely) following a Half Ironman training programme and this week had me doing a time trial for the swim section.  This came with more difficulties than you can imagine and it came with a serious threat of a panic attack when I was trying to plan it.

Let me explain.

Problem number 1.  I haven’t swam more than 400meters in one go since Edinburgh and even then I had what I call ‘Dip gate’.  (They changed the start, I jumped in and ended up only going down and not forward, drank and chocked on half the pool water and basically wanted to die – all within the first 5 seconds of the triathlon starting!).  Could I keep going for 1900 meters?

Problem number 2.  How do I count 1900 meters? My watch has been playing up so can’t trust it to count the lengths.  I can’t count and swim or I will sink and die. Breaking it down to sections will confuse me because, again, I can’t count past 4 before forgetting and ultimately sinking and drowning (spot the theme). 

Problem number 3.  It’s January, it’s mega busy.  I will either end up having to wait and let people past or getting really frustrated having to wait for people to hurry up. And let’s not mention the ‘I’m going to breast stroke in a medium to fast lane but refuse to get my head and hair wet and growl at those who splash me’ people.  (Stroke my ass with your arm again and I will grab your foot and throw you out the pool!)

Problem number 4.  I hadn’t been too well the few days before so the timing was all off.

Problem number 5.  I had no way of getting to the pool as the car had broken down and I was getting the blame for this.

Problem number 6.  I didn’t really want to do it.

After realising all I was doing was making excuses I decided to count the lengths in 10’s and check my watch at intervals to keep on track.  My mum has been coming swimming so she gave me a lift.  I had been a little dizzy, not at deaths door, so I was fit and well enough to do it. 

Suck it up buttercup or you won’t even make it to the start line!

I clicked my watch and off I went.  There was only 1 other guy in my 25m lane and he was slightly slower and taking rest periods so no problem there.  I counted to ten.  I got this! Start again, count up to ten.  Job done.  I checked my watch and it matched up.  Things are going great! Another guy jumped in but again it was no issue.  

Up to 30, then 35 – half way! Oh no wait.  You’re doing 76 lengths.  What’s half of 76? 35 isn’t it? No it can’t be.  Must be 36. How can it be 36 when you need to do 76? Is it 46? 


Oh holy …. What length am I on?!? 

Right, calm down.  You were thinking you were half way when you were on the other side over there so you must be one number up from that so half way is 38 which means you are on 39.  But you can’t be on 39 as that’s an odd number and you are heading back to the shallow end – the shallow end is even numbers! 

This goes on for what feels like an hour (reality is 30 seconds) until I get to 40 lengths.  

Yes! Only 26 to go!

40 plus 26 is not 76 Ella.  It starts all over again.

In the end I somehow figure it out and then keep a very close eye on my watch as I count down the last 400 meters.

Hitting the wall at the end I click my watch and take a breather.  Despite all the chaos in my head (anyone else hear the voices? No? Just me then) I’ve done pretty well.  Not spectacular compared to some but for me, pretty god damn well.  I may look more like a sea urchin coming up from the dead than Ariel the mermaid but I feel good about the swim and that’s what counts.

Plus now – I have my base to work on.  I have my first time I need to beat.  And I have 5 months.  A lot can be improved in 5 months.  Maybe not the counting issue (I’m sure that’s a medical condition). Or the voices for that matter.  But definitely the time.

Game on.

Signing up for a race is no longer quite the ‘knees shaking, sharp breath inhale, turn white, what the hell am I doing’ experience it once was.  Still hard but just not quite that bad.  I wasn’t too bothered when I signed up for a local half – happening tomorrow.

However, after reading nothing but ‘warning, not for first timers’ and ‘the race that can throw anything at you’ then hearing that there were quite a few DNF picked up in an ambulance last year, topped with less than 150 people signed up and it being uphill for the first 9 miles – it’s fair to say, I’m definitely bricking it now.

I’ve entered races when I thought I was going to be really far back in the field and it didn’t bother me too much.  I ended up at worst middle of the pack.  This ones different though.  There aren’t many entries for a start so there is absolutely no hope I am anything but bottom of the field.  It’s also quite clearly a difficult route.  9 miles of elevation, and not gentle elevation, I’m talking the kind of steep you need a harness and ropes to get up.  There’s no earphones so I can’t use my 80’s power ballads to get me through it and oh, let’s not forget, it’s October in Scotland.  The weather alone could kill me.

Because of course, it’s very open in the middle of the countryside.

Why wouldn’t it be?
So, the plan.  Simple really.  Take it slow. Let the other runners go off and take my time.  Pace myself.  The aim for this one is to pace it right and finish.  No time in mind, just the finish line.

And my reward? I’m actually going out on Saturday night! First time in a long time!

Presuming I haven’t died on the run of course.

This may be my last blog……

Aviemore Half – the truth

Aviemore Half – the truth

Warning – if you have a weak stomach probably best not read this.

I started my blog as a way to track my progress, remember the good bits and learn from the bad. 

I learnt things in Aviemore.

My friend picked me up the day before as I was staying at her holiday lodge which was only a few minutes away from registration – fantastic.  It was about a 2 hour drive what with the road works on the A9 but the kids kept us entertained.  It was tea time when we got there so food needed ordered.  After a quick check of the takeaway menu (and a phone call to the other half to check to see if I liked cannelloni) it was off to the supermarket to pick up breakfast for the morning – something I had forgotten about.

When tea arrived I was starving and really looking forward to being able to eat quite a bit.  So when I opened it up and saw this…..

I was more than disappointed.  It may have been really tasty but new born babies eat more than that!  So I filled up on Asti – great choice ha ha.

Morning of the race and I put my big girl pants on and walked to registration all by myself! I collected my pack and put on my timing chip, sat for a minute whilst waiting on the buses – all by myself! No tears, no panic, nothing! Progress indeed.  I even sat chatting to a lovely girl on the bus.  She lived in Aviemore, had forgotten she had signed up to do the 10k so was expecting to walk quite a bit.  ‘God look at all these athletic types’ she said as we set off, (clearly I didn’t fall in to that category in her eyes).  We had a laugh about it being downhill anyway so we could just tuck and roll.  Turns out her sister lived in Perth not far from me as well.  Small world.

Off the bus and it’s a walk to the outdoor centre where the start is.  They had put up a big marque with hot drinks and a little music so I headed in there and got chatting to another woman.  She had only started running this year and had ran Loch Ness 10k.  She suffered sciatica quite badly in her leg and her aim was just to enjoy it today.  She found it funny there were people wearing plastic bags and I told her about my jumper I had had to leave at the start in Loch Ness (I’m still not over that).

I found the other road runners for the group photo before we started and headed for the last toilet break before the race got going.  I was aware I had not had my morning poo (disclaimer at the start of this post!) but it wasn’t happening.  I decided not to have my gel at the very start just in case it started movement so carried it with me.

I was only about 400metres in when my stomach started lurching.  I ignored it.  It screamed louder.  I focused on where I was putting my feet as it was loose ground.  My stomach was about to explode.  I briefly looked at the bushes but didn’t want to have to stop so early on so kept running.  I took a deep breath and tried to suck everything in, clenching with all my might and kept going.  

Around the 1 mile mark another woman took off in to the bushes and I was seriously tempted to follow suit.  There were no actual toilets along the route so it would have to be a bush.  But, I was wearing shorts and there was no toilet paper out here.  Also, the track was muddy and wet and I was aware I already had mud up my legs.  What if I came out of the bushes and people behind me saw the mud and thought it was something else? 

Yes, this is the kind of thing I worry about. 

So I didn’t go.  I sucked it in even more.

Aviemore is a race of two halfs really.  The first has a very steep but short hill and is on forest track and the second is on the road going slowly downhill.  I knew once I hit the road it wasn’t too far. I was finding it harder than expected but I’m putting that down to having ran a marathon just a few weeks before.  Another lesson I am learning through doing – or not doing – the importance of recovery.  

When I hit the road I took my gel I still had.  A big risk but I was just focusing on getting to the end (i.e. A toilet) as fast as I could.  Of course I couldn’t really pick up the pace as it would ‘move’ things but I could stay steady.

As I came in to the final stretch I could hear my friend shouting my name at the top of her lungs and it made me smile.  ‘You’re so loud!’ I shouted back at her laughing.  Through the finish line and I met my other half with our youngest on his shoulders.  It was lunch time so we decided to head back to the lodge for food and get heated up.  Joe had parked at the supermarket and I glanced longingly at the toilet but I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick in and out job so got in the car.

At the lodge I finally got to the toilet. But….. nothing.  Stomach still sore but nothing was moving.  Had I actually sucked it right back up so it wouldn’t come out? Can that happen? There’s no internet in Aviemore so I couldn’t google it (and no doubt find out I had caused myself a very slow, painful death).  I jumped in the shower and when I came out tried again but nothing.  All that time trying to keep it in and now when I wanted, no needed, it to come out it wasn’t moving.  Great!  I tried some toast hoping that might shift it and even had some chocolate which usually opens flood gates for me but still nothing.  Car journey home was going to be fun!

Now usually I’m one of those that tells their partner everything (yes, I know, very sad, but I’m sure he loves hearing about how I almost got a paper cut opening the post or how I only drank a third of my last cup of tea), but he has a thing about that, this is where he usually draws the line.  So the fact we got about 2 miles in to the journey home before I told him was somewhat of a miracle. 

‘I knew as soon as you sent that picture of your tea last night this would happen’.  Eh? He said I would like it? ‘You shouldn’t change what you eat the night before, you know this’.  

The penny dropped as soon as he said it as to why it had happened.

But just the penny! 

It was after 8pm before relief came.  And naturally I announced it to the entire household.

So yeah, nice race, nice weekend, more mistakes made, an insight in to my bowel movements (or lack of) but most importantly….

Progress on being in crowds! 

I see that as a good result.

Pre Race Nerves

I thought I was doing quite good, thought I was ok, as comfortable as I could be I would say.


I am now officially bricking it.  And I’m not too ‘proud’ to admit it.

I don’t know why but this race feels different.  It’s the same length as the Edinburgh Marathon (shocking, I know, would never have guessed that) and it’s a distance I’ve done before.  But it just feels different.  

Plans have changed for it.  This is the one my dad is well enough after his by pass to come to so my parents are using the opportunity to come along and have a weekend away in their motor home (excellent support vehicle!)  Originally the other half was running it too but he has no interest in this kind of distance, not unless you have to cycle and swim as well.  (Sneak peek? Maybe…).  He’s chosen not to run but essentially that shouldn’t make a difference as we don’t  run races together anyway due to different pace.  He was still going to come but then our eldest is going to a party tonight and a teenager at a party when we are 3 hours away does not prove to be a good nights rest for anyone so after much deliberation he’s staying in Perth and I’m jumping in with my parents.

It’s been hard to get my head around leaving the youngest but I’m on the road now and I need to think about the fun he will have with his dad whilst I’m away (I won’t think about the mess and chaos I will return to).  But that still doesn’t make the race ‘harder’ to run really. 

I’ve thought about trying to be organised – that usually helps a messy mind.  So I was going to write all the water stops and toilets on my arm so I knew where they were.  Given I have a memory of a goldfish and there’s always that chance of me getting lost on a race this seemed an excellent idea.  Until I realised they would take over half my arm and I would look like I had one of the worst tattoos ever and should be on tattoo fixers.  I considered writing them on paper but am I really going to stop to get out a ‘map’ whilst running?  It’s a marathon, not orienteering or hill walking!

So my plan is to try and remember just 3 numbers – 2 toilet stops if needed and a definite water stop.  


What about gels?  I’ve not decided when to take my gels yet.  And usually a small drink after gels is good or in some cases required if it goes down the wrong way. Maybe 2 or 3 water stops then.  But then if I’m drinking more I will probably need the toilet more so maybe that should be 3 or 4 toilet stops in case they are busy.  Then there are the nutrition stops.

And we are back up to a tattood sleeve on my arm.

But what if it’s cold and I’m wearing long sleeves?

Maybe I should just go to the expo and spend lots of money, that will take my mind off it 🙂 

Help! I need somebody

Actually what I need is someone elses body – if you get what I mean.

I’ve hurt my shoulder.  Don’t know when, don’t know how.  It just hurts. A lot.  I can barely lift anything with my left arm. I’m talking a few kg’s at best with the dumbells.  And 30 seconds is the most I can achieve on a one arm plank.  Clearly somethings wrong.

My left arm has always been my ‘weaker’ arm (is that a thing? It’s definitely a thing with me but is that normal? In fact, best not get into that discussion!).  Truth be told it’s my entire left side that’s weaker.  Hmm, weak would probably be a better description.  That’s where my Harry Potter muscle is that gives me pain too.  On the left side of my back.  Do you know I can just picture myself when I’m older – wobbling round in circles because the left side of my body has totally quit on me and shrivelled up to nothing.  There I am, middle of a car park, just going round and round in circles.  Probably wearing a really heavy skirt and a shawl.  Can you still buy shawls? If not I will have made it.  No doubt.

Not that I am over reacting.  Nope.

It does genuinely feel like my left arm has shrivelled up, become thinner, lost all muscle.  I’m frightened to look in the mirror in case it’s true.  I wonder if you can get like one side of you transplanted.  Swap it for one that actually works and doesn’t break down.  Like Will Smith in I Robot.  Is that the one where the opening scene is him showering? Nice! Although I wonder if his arm gets rusty though.  That wouldn’t be a good look. Or maybe it’s made from titanium.

Biggest problem (other than my over active imagination) is that I don’t know how to fix it.  I’m guessing more focused strength training in that area but if I can barely hold my own body weight on it where do I begin? 

First person to say ‘lose weight’ dies. 

I had to pick up my sons birthday cake today and I couldn’t hold it in my left arm.  It’s a cake! A really, really awesome Paw Patrol cake but still, a cake!  Ironically I had planned on running to the place to pick it up before realising I couldn’t run back with a cake but that’s just by the by. 

Or maybe a side effect of my useless left side? Is it the left side of your brain that makes you stupid? 

It’s not just my shoulder that’s hurting either.  Well why would it be just one thing when I have 3 weekends in a row of races!  One of which naturally is a just a little marathon, you know, nothing big.  Nothing I’ve been training for or aiming for, nothing I’m keen to get improvements on.  Oh no.  ‘Just’ a marathon.  It’s my calves as well.  Tighter than a politicians behind when asked about his expenses they are.  So I’ve spent over 3 hours stretching today.  I’ve spent more time on that foam roller than I have googling how to get a body transplant. And consequently have felt like I’ve done nothing all bloody day.

That’s probably why I’m ‘over reacting’ right now.  Boredom.  What do people do if they don’t run or cycle or swim? 

They go to car parks and walk aimlessly around in a circle because their bodies are f………..

Anyway.  That’s enough.  I’m going to parkrun tomorrow.  Going to do a gentle, slow 5k, ease the legs.  

If the left side of my body doesn’t actually die and start to decompose whilst I’m sleeping.