Not My Strong Point

Last night saw the second race in the Hills Are Alive series I for some reason thought would be a good idea for me to take on.

It’s not.

My day started great.  My original running buddy and the guy who did the cycle to John O Groats – just the other week! – with Joe (husband) invited me through for a cycle.  30 miles on windy, country roads through beautiful landscape isn’t to be refused.  

I also wore my new Wonder Woman leggings which are ridiculously comfortable!

Back home and I was unusually organised managing to get the youngest out on his bike and then bags packed for the hill race later on.  Joe had decided to run it too after I had told him how bad the first one was.

Off we went (slightly late but that was his fault) and we bumped in to Heledd (from the club, always beats me, got me right at the end at Path Of Condie, still not over that one) at registration when we finally found it i.e. It was the picnic table outside the pub! It’s a small race to be fair.  

Only about 55 of us were lined up at the start.  7 Road Runners but only 4 of us had done the first race.  Stewart tried to joke that the game was on between Heledd and me but my only goal was genuinely to finish.  I find these Hill races incredibly hard.  Give me 26.2 miles any day over the 4 miles of steep up and downs.  But! I’ve started.  So my god am I going to finish them!

Off we went under the promise that there was lots of red tape to guide us.  Same as Birnam Hill and before long I was deeply out of breath and very slowly climbing up hill.  ‘Come on you need to run’ a guy who was sat at the side said.

I didn’t like him.  Twat.

I had looked at the elevation many, many times beforehand if for no other reason than to assure myself it wasn’t going to be as bad as the last one.  I knew it had the biggest climb to start, down then back up then down again. I could handle that.

My stomach had other ideas though and started cramping.  Luckily, the fact I’m not used to running trails with big branches over them was a good distraction.  About 2 miles in and I was overtaken by Mike and Fiona.  They like the hill runs and enjoy these races.  I, do not.  I tried to keep them in my sights and was quite successful in doing so but lost them not long after the turn.  Had I not seen Fiona at the turn I’m not sure I would have known to clip my bib number! 

At one section I had to stop and look for this large amount of red tape we had been promised that would guide us.  I can only assume the woodland creatures had eaten it or the fairies had taken it away as I barely saw any!! 

At a steep, wet, muddy and rocky section the lead runners started coming down past me.  I was so out of breath I couldn’t muster the usual ‘well done’ so ended up clapping as they went by.  I will be honest though – I only started running at this point up the hill (yes, I had stopped to walk, bite me!) because I knew Joe would be coming past very shortly and I didn’t want him to see me walking.

Obviously as soon as he passed I walked again.

On to the final run down and I started thinking about the elevation chart I had looked at and how this hadn’t felt anything like that.  It appears to be a trend with race organisers to lie about this.  I wonder if they all get together, sit around a table and think ‘hmm, what would annoy the Runners the most? I know, let’s tell them this is relatively flat so they spend the whole time wondering if they have gotten lost – Runners love that!’.


Final stretch and Steph is there with the camera – poor soul had kindly walked down a bit to get some photos.  She had no doubt had to wait a good 20 minutes for me and all she got in return was a very pained expression of ‘I am not enjoying this’. 

Across the line and I was very kindly handed a cup of water from the other half.  Kind of wished it had been vodka though.  We didn’t stick around long as he was wanting to get to Tri Club for a swim session and I had somehow cut my legs and had blood all over them.  I hadn’t even felt anything but when I stripped off at the van both legs were covered and I had small tears in my leggings.  Luckily I hadn’t wore my Wonder Woman ones! 

There are 3 more of these hills to go.  I am not enjoying them.  I do not like them.  I am awful at them!  Last road runner again, not that that gets to me too much but being in roughly the last 10 to finish all together is quite difficult.

And if you’re about to say it’s character building you will join the list of twats that is currently growing! 

No, I’m sure they are ‘good’ for me.  Well.  Maybe.  But, as I said, I started them, so I’m going to finish them.

Next is 4 days before Stirling Marathon.  It’s a safe bet that I will actually be last at that one.  No amount of ‘character building’ is worth risking the marathon over! It is up a hill I have ran a handful of times though so maybe that will give me a little boost.

As you can see from Strava – the race lied!

As Easy As Riding A Bike

What a stupid saying!  I fell off twice on my last cycle!

I’m going to be honest.  The cycling part of this Half Ironman is beginning to scare me.  Reality is slowly hitting me across the face as it dawns on me that there are 2 different types of cyclist – those who are out for a leisurely cycle, and those who race.

Naturally, I fall in to the ‘leisurely cycle’ category.

Not ideal when you are racing.

I’ve looked at average times for my age completing a race like this and it has it down as 3hrs 30mins for the cycle.  That breaks down to roughly 15mph average.  I can manage almost 19mph on a 30 mile turbo ride but a recent trip to Pitlochry and back (also 30 miles there, 30 back) was more 13mph.  That’s quite a bit to make up.  

And it’s also only about half the distance I need to do…….

With no half hour stop for lunch either.

Pit stop in Pitlochry – was a good cycle with Joe

Pitlochry was Saturday and on my lunch run today (Monday) I could feel it in my legs – just above the knee on both legs.  My other half had challenged me to run sub 8min miles today, even set my watch to keep my pace so it would go off if I was too slow.

I knew I wouldn’t do it and turned off the pacer before even starting.

First 2 miles were under 8 mins to be fair.   I just knew I wouldn’t be able to climb the hill at that speed though, and I don’t like running less than 5 miles.  Maybe that’s what I should concentrate on though – faster but shorter distances just for a little while.  

I’m seeing some good progress with my swimming though.  It’s all been pool based so far as it’s too cold for open water but that’s going to be coming really soon. I’m choosing to believe open water will be easier and I will enjoy it more (I’m a huge fan of positive mind set).  I can not let it scare me.  I will allow myself one – and only one – freak out, then it’s head down, get on with business! 

On the upmost positive point though – I am dealing very well with panics when swimming.  No longer do I choke and gag in the most unsightly manner when I don’t have my breathing right and proceed to give an Oscar worthy performance of my dying moments.  Ok, slight lie, I do still choke from time to time but I can successfully recover from this and THAT is huge.  Because let’s face it, that is most definitely going to happen on the day.  I’m going to get kicked, elbowed, pushed around, water is constantly going to be where I need to breathe so if I can  calm myself down – I’ve already won.

So.  Running is still there.  It’s taken a knock but I have a few races coming up that will keep me at it.  Swimming is good.  No room to slack and time to get in the ‘real pool’ but it’s good.  And cycling? Well…… just got to keep at it.  Ignore the average time as, at the end of the day, I’m not ‘average’.  I’m a first timer at this.  I will do what I do on the day.

I am my only competition.

Training Update

Almost 3 weeks in and time to recap how the training is going.

Starts with S and ends with It.

No only kidding.  It’s ‘going’ shall we say.     I’ve discovered I need to do a hell of a lot more on the bike than I thought.  The cycling is putting additional pressure on my rotated pelvis so getting comfortable is hard.  Oh how much do I want to just reach in there and ‘rotate’ it back.  (Don’t worry, I know that’s impossible).

Luckily I have found a really good physio to get it realigned Ina regular basis and although it can be uncomfortable the sessions aren’t torture and he has a good sense of humour so I can have a laugh when I am there.  

I also have no idea what people are on about when they use their favourite buzz words such as ‘watts’ and ‘rpm’ and ‘cadence’ when it comes to cycling.  I’m still very much in the frame of mind of sit on the seat and peddle. I guess I need to do more research.

Swimming is definitely improving.  Slowly but surely I am breaking that barrier.  Still have occasions I am convinced there is a shark in the pool right beside me about to kill me and yes, I have freaked out when something’s touched my foot when I am the ONLY one in the lane only to realise later it was my other bloody foot but hey, I’m still swimming.  (Took a good few weeks to realise I was kicking my other foot but surely I’m not the only one to have little freak outs like this?).  More focused drills seem to be helping my speed instead of going Dory style and just keep swimming.

That leaves my running.  Now I truly love my running.  It’s my release, my ‘head’ time, my listen to music that no one listened to when it was released time.  


Back at the Road Runners after not going for club runs for a couple of weeks and I got a very hard, sharp wake up call.  I’ve never been ‘fast’ – yes I can run and I’m happy with my pb’s to date – but I will never be first over the line.  And that’s not because I have more chance of getting lost (which coincidentally is true), I just run because I simply enjoy it.  I didn’t however enjoy finding out I have lost some speed.  The cycling seems to be having more of an affect on me than I gave enough thought to.  I couldn’t keep up on my first run and ended up doing the last 2 miles solo.  It was embarrassing.  I was really down about it. Perseverance is key though and although I was last again the following week on the hill run it was slightly better. Just need to keep at it and stop ignoring the fact I need to do speed work.  GOD I hate speed work! What is the point of running when you can’t bloody breathe?! What is the point of pushing your body so you hurt the next day?! Collapsing at the end picturing your grave site?!

Oh yeah, because you need to do it.

Races have cut off times.  If I pull myself through the water and drag myself round the bike course you’re damn sure I’m putting everything I have in to MY run.   No it won’t be a time that will impress everyone but it will be my time on a Half Ironman course! 

Not going to stop moaning about speed work though.  Ha ha.  Kind of also got to remember in doing a marathon before the Half Ironman too!

Oh Why Not?

Last Thursday’s club session was replaced with their annual Duathlon.  I had hoped the other half would be interested but he said he wouldn’t be back in time to change and get ready. I hummed and ha’d then decided if I can do a triathlon I can do a duathlon and the only way to get to know people in the club is to to actually go to events (kind of a key part!).

So, Thursday night I wolfed down a bit of food, got the bike in the car and headed off repeating the directions over and over so as not to get lost.  I parked up and walked over to the group, slightly hovering around the woman with the clipboard who was clearly taking registrations.  She took my name and I recognised her instantly as one of the marshalls you ‘heard before you saw’ at the Brig Bash 5 – fabulously enthusiastic!  Fiona came over with a warm smile and bright yellow jacket on – she was one of the many marshalls – and went over the route for me.  I was with her as far as ‘you start here and turn right just up there’ then I was lost.  Good thing I will never be out front in a race!

All registered and with my bike at the side we had a little debrief.  Yes it was a race but it was also for fun.  We don’t own the road so be careful.  There are lots of marshalls so you shouldn’t get lost (I felt this was slightly tempting fate but time would tell).  We shuffled to the starting line and someone asked me if I was doing it all myself or just running (we had the option to enter as a team).  I said I was doing both and asked her the same – ‘oh god no I’m just running’.  I asked if she knew if there were many females doing both and her reply…

‘I think you’re the only one’.

Genuinely almost broke my neck with the speed I twisted round to face her.

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yup’ – very long pause – then she laughed.

I didn’t.

I was busy picking my stomach up from the floor.

If you can’t laugh at yourself though what can you do.  Turns out there were about 5 of us female varieties putting ourselves on the line and going for both.  Why not.

I started off not too bad, it was a LOT steeper on hills than I thought it was going to be.  In fact, when I got half way I glanced at my watch only to realise I was only 1.5 miles in! The run was 4.2miles, this did not pose well for me.  However I kept my head down and my eyes on the woman in front.  She was wearing a cycle club top so process of elimination – she was a cyclist! (Proper Sherlock Holmes I am).  Hmmm, I wonder if I can get past her?  I’ve always been told focus on the person in front and make them your goal to over take and you’ll be across the finish line before you know it.

Right ok, let’s try it.

More up hill.

Forget it.

I’m fine where I am thank you.  Be your own competition and all that.  Run your own race not someone else’s, and all those other sayings etc.

Then came a bit of a down hill.

Ok, well, maybe.  Very, very, slowly I started to decrease the distance between us.  This quite possibly was more down to her slowing down than me speeding up but the fact remains, I was gaining on her. She was quite clearly going to whip my ass on the cycle route but at this moment in time it was all about the run.  On I went and about half a kilometre before the transition line I did it! I had focused on the person in front of me and I had made myself get past them! Wa hey!

Naturally the minute she was on her bike I blinked and she was gone. Not even a cloud of dust, just, gone.

The cycle was 2 loops of another steep hill and was 12.2miles.  I cycled as hard as I could, I have what I like to think is a decent bike, I’m just not that great a cyclist yet.  That will come with time though.

Not looking too confident!  Photo courtesy of Roy Mitchell from Perth

I finished in 1hr 24 I think, quite far down the field but it was never about being ‘top 3’ or anything.  Everyone was in a great mood at the end despite being eaten by the dreaded midges but there was cake.  I’m pretty sure at every Road Runner event there is cake!  I’m certainly not going to complain about that!

Now I’m focusing on the Great North Run in 2 weeks and Loch Ness Marathon in 4 weeks.  I’ve had a great weekend this weekend but more about that later 🙂

New Bike – finally!


At last!  I have finally gotten myself a road bike!  It’s taken a while – they aren’t cheap after all – and I ended up using a scheme through work to get it but at one point it looked like I wasn’t going to have it until 3 weeks before the triathlon.  This put me off signing up as although the New Years Day Tri was ok it wasn’t great on my hybrid.  Hubby came to the rescue though and here it is.  Went out on it tonight with him as I have never been on a road bike before.  Very nervous at first as I’m ridiculously over cautious about getting hurt so close to the marathon (do not stand on my feet or I will cut your heart out with a spoon!).

Went good though.  First clip in was a bit of a panic but after that I think I managed quite well ie didn’t fall.  We only went about 5 miles as I was looking at going up and down the gears and getting comfortable.  It was also really cold, I didn’t have gloves and we had to get back for the kids.

Amazed at how much faster it is compared to my hybrid, oh so much faster.  Once I get confident on it I think I could get a speed I will be happy with.  I’m not aiming to be ‘the best of the best’ – I’m 34 and haven’t been doing this very long at all – I have ambition but I’m also aware of reality.  I aim to beat myself.  I’m my competition no one else.

But if I can get close to my husbands times I won’t complain…….


Looking forward to getting out on it again, and for longer and longer rides.

On another note for anyone that read my post on nutrition I now know there are 6 essential nutrients.  And no, greens was not one of them.

Every days a school day 🙂