Not Up To Standard

If it was easy everyone would be doing it and it would be boring. Right now I think 'infuriating', 'annoying' and 'aarrgghhh' are more accurate in describing how it is and feels.

No I didn't get my club standards time. Not even close.

The day started well. It's an 11am start so no rush in the morning. I even made my own breakfast of porridge and banana (I never cook. I hate it, detest it, will go to bed hungry before I cook. Just one of those things) but because someone wouldn't wash up the saucepan HE had used I ended up making it. So I was quite impressed with myself. Not so much with the 'top guy'.

Frazer aka original running buddy came round as he was running in the Half and Lorner was too. Lorner had her cat at the vet so was running a little late and we ended up getting a lift to the start instead of the bus – where unfortunately my parents had gone to surprise us and wish us all luck…. (sorry mum and dad).

This was Frazers first half marathon and he had a rough time in mind but ultimately just wanted to finish. Lorner has run one before but has had some injury issue in the last couple of months so she also just wanted to finish.

I wanted under 1 hr 48.

Club photo done and it was off to the start. Frazer and Lorner headed a little further back and continued their chat of alcohol , how many gels they were going to take and whether or not you could get alcoholic gels. They were also trying to calculate how much iron is in a pint of Guinness!

I placed myself quite near the front before the start line. It was gun time and not chip time so every second counts. Beside me another road runner was pacing his friend who had previously run 1hr 47 so I thought to keep her in sight. Another road runner was possibly looking at 1hr 45 depends how she felt. Definitely too fast for me so I was thinking more dot in the distance on that one.

Off we went and it's straight on to a trail path of loose rocks and gravel. I knew I had to concentrate on foot placing until I got to the road so it was head down most the way. I was joined by a guy who went to the first running group I went to and we chatted away for a couple of miles until I realised I was going too fast and needed to focus more so I dropped back a little. I had my goal and I was getting it.

It's a very mixed terrain course so you are jumping between the small rocks and gravel through fields and farms then on to road then in to woods. You get a bit of everything. No real elevation though apart from 2 very short sections. At the first water station I saw a woman from work who had volunteered and shouted out a hello and a wave as I went by.

On to a section of road and we were told to keep in as it wasn't closed roads. Rules state no earphones now for safety reasons but there was a guy in front close to the middle of the road. Cars were going closely by him but he wasn't moving in. Yup, he had earphones in. I couldn't help but think what a twat. He could have been hit by a car he couldn't have heard coming if he had tripped or swerved out and it could have shut down the event. Further on and I was throwing myself down a hill (still on route, not randomly) when another runner, this time female, ear phones again, moved out in front of me and I had to think fast. Now, she would have heard me coming there's no doubt about that. Pretty sure my mum and dad heard me at the finish line at this point and I was still 7 miles away! I spent the next couple of miles writing a strongly worded letter of complaint in my head to the organiser regarding people using their earphones and the dangers they cause.

I spent a good chunk of the second half on the heels of another road runner I know is faster than me. I didn't know what time she was going for (she may very well have just been running it with no time in mind) but I knew she was a good paced runner so tried to stay there.

I kept checking my watch a lot during the race and I felt I was doing good time. It was going to be touch and go but I remained focused. I absolutely detest running fast (I may have mentioned this before like, oh I don't know, 50 billion times!) so I really didn't want to have to do this again. On to the main road and I was feeling it but I was still on the heels of the other runner. If I could just get to the Inch (big park in Perth) and hopefully get pushed on I could make this.

Over the bridge, turn to the right and I see my mum. I start laughing as I know what's about to happen. She sees me and frantically waves to my dad on the other side to say I'm coming. She then looks at her phone…..and looks at her phone….. and looks at her phone…..I go past and she's still trying to turn the camera on on her phone. Every time.

I hit the Inch and that's when I begin to lose it. I'm no longer on her heels, she's 20 metres in front. Scott goes past and I try to use him to push on but he is flying! It's almost a sprint finish on the last 3 miles for him! I desperately need water but haven't seen a water station for miles, there has to be one on the Inch! Then I remember from last year they didn't have one and I genuinely start looking around wondering if I know anyone I can ask if they have water! I need it that badly! I swear at myself for looking and pausing at my water bottle earlier that morning and deciding not to take it. Twat.

Creeping up to the last mile and I tell myself I need to push it along the last, long stretch. It's straight, it's flat, you can do this. Last section then you don't have to run fast again for a while (lies I know but still, you'll tell yourself anything at this point).

On to the very, very long straight and I'm going. I've got good rhythm, my arms are going, I'm not sprinting but I'm going steady. I can make this 1:48! I'm over taking the odd person but there's not many other runners. Where is the finish?? I can't see the finish!! I can't see where I'm aiming for. There are NO other runners here!! I feel like an idiot. F@ck!!

Sod it. Had enough. Can't do this. I HATE THIS.

My watch hits 1:48.

I run to the end but shake my head as I read 1:49:07 on the clock. I didn't do it. I lost it. It wasn't even a PB. I didn't even come close. Over a minute too slow. I'm miserably disappointed.

I take my water and bag – of which I don't even look in – and head over to my mum and dad. A few minutes later my daughter comes bounding over. She and my other half have just got here. I tell him I didn't make it and await the 'told you so' from him but instead says he had spoken to another runner who had said it's not really a PB course. I don't say anything. Because of the loop on the Inch Lucie – our daughter – knew where Lorner and Frazer were and knowing how awful that last stretch was I head back down to try and encourage them on. They both found it hot and hard but they both finished and that was their aim.

Frazer was working in a couple of hours so we headed back. It was then I saw the water station hidden at the start of the Inch. I had gone right past it and not seen it. Turns out many people missed it too.

I could give a number of excuses as to why I didn't hit my goal. It was hot, I didn't have enough water, I went out too fast, it wasn't a PB course (yet someone in the club got a PB and by quite a chunk! Well done him!), it wasn't completely on road like I'm used to etc etc.

Truth of the matter is though I just didn't run fast enough. There's no other reason than that. And there's nothing more disappointing than that. I'm now going to have to find another Half so I can get my time. This, I am not happy with. But it's got to be done.

That, or I could strongly contest why the club standards time is so ridiculously difficult to get. Demand to see stats of the club of how many have actually achieved it, how many are capable and how many realistically can not (like me, right now). Oh yes, when I was running I was writing this letter too! 'Dear Chairperson, I would like to know who decides what time …..'.

Maybe I will just keep my mouth shut though and (try to) run faster! Isn't that the point?

Still disappointed though.

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Anything IS Possible

3:15am and our alarm goes off.  

This. Is. It.

The day I have been training for 6 months for.  6 solid months.  

It’s a quick shower, a quiet one.  No music this morning.  Just focus. Upstairs it sounds like my oldest has only just gone to sleep.  Ah to be 17 again. (Actually no thanks!).

Joes made a huge mound of porridge and I try to get as much down me as I can but I don’t manage a lot.  Eating at that time of the morning is near impossible.  Aware it’s not enough I try to top it up with half a bagel.  

Into the van and we are on our way to pick up Joes dad.  First panic of the day.  Do I have my timing chip! I ‘ask’ Joe to pull over even though we are only 2 minutes away from his dads so I can get my bag from the back of the van and precede to empty it’s contents eventually finding it in the ‘safe’ pocket I had put it in the night before.

No comment needed.

His dads there bright and breezy with his coffee and we are soon on the road to Edinburgh.  Unsurprisingly it’s clear and it’s straight through.  We park up and the minute the door is opened I can feel the wind.  It’s the sea front though.  It’s expected.  I take a quick look at the water and can quite clearly see the course marked out is not 1900 meters.  We will find out soon though.

Walking in we see Heledd straight away – she’s volunteering as Kevin is racing too.  The poor soul is already freezing but she tells us she is about to be moved position so she can warm up.  I wish I had taken photo with her at the start.  At 6am we hear the announcement that they have shortened the swim – for the pros as well.  What? That’s unusual.  They normally have to do full length regardless.

Into transition for the last checks on the bikes and we see some from Perth Tri Club. I join the queue for the toilets and remain there until very close to start time.  Luckily, it was worth it and I had ‘movement’. I get into my wetsuit and we head over to the start.  


We are at the back of the line but can’t see any signs telling us where to be for what predicted time so we can’t place ourselves very well.  Turns out the signs were on the inside of the fences.  Not very useful.  It’s impossible to move forward so we stay where we are.  There’s a few comments about the swim (‘may as well just chuck a bucket of water over us’ raised a fair few eyebrows around). I don’t look at the sea, I don’t even try.  I wanted to see the pro athletes but I’m tiny and can’t see over people.  I’m thankful for it though because I really didn’t want to look at what I was about to attempt.  Over the tannoy we are told it’s tough conditions and to give sharp hard kicks at the first buoy and that should get us round.

Should?!? 

We get to the front and a Marshall is there shouting ‘does anyone need goggles?’.  Nice touch have to say.  He follows it up with ‘or a choc ice or ice cream’.  Made me smile. I’m at the gate now.  I’m through the gate – my god that was fast! Joes through at the same time but he’s off and in the water.  The first wave hits me and I’m pushed back.  Holy hell.  Ok.  Just get in.  I dive in and I’m hit with other athletes trying to move forward but being pulled back.  I can still see Joe at the side of me, he’s having just as hard a time.  

I’ve only just started and I see a couple of kayaks just laden with people and pulling more swimmers out.  There’s lots of shouting but I can’t make any of it out above the noise of the waves.  I have a very fleeting thought of grabbing the kayak but I throw that out my head instantly before it festers.  I get to the first buoy and I can no longer see Joe, he’s probably already on to the second.  I’m now chocking on the sea water, badly.  I switch to breast stroke to try and calm down.  Works only marginally.  I’m swallowing so much water how can there be any left to swim in?!? 

Right, come on.  I see another kayak – swamped by more people.  I start thinking of all the people who know I am doing this, those who have donated, my kids – and I start thinking how embarrassing it would be for me personally not to do this.  The pros were out the water in less than 15 minutes.  15 god damn minutes.  Move your bloody arse Ella and get to the end.  Over a thousand people are doing this – it is NOT impossible.  Stop being a bloody wimp.  

I find some sort of rhythm and begin to go with the waves.  Front crawl works for a little while but you can’t sight and have to switch to breast stroke to make sure you’re still on course.  I take a few hits but nothing major.  Then an arm smacks me on the face not once but twice.  Goggles!! Oh my god my goggles!! I can’t get them back on if they come off!! Not in this!! They’re still on though, squint, but still on.  I feel something on the top of my neck and just before I freak out it’s a jellyfish I realise it’s my nose plugs.  I’m close to the next buoy and the waves are as high as the top it.  I consider jumping on it to get out the water and just bobbing around on it for a moment. 

It’s a nice thought.

I’m making the turn now so I tell myself I’m over half way, I may as well swim back.  There’s a new challenge now though – the sun.  I can barely see a thing.  I’m still surrounded by people so I must be on course.  The last and final buoy comes in to sight.  I turn and I’m on the final straight.  It feels like forever but eventually I can stand up. 

Well.  Wobble up.  Like bambi I make my way up to transition, occasionally trying to run.  I gave a great impression of a baby giraffe – award winning performance I would say.  I click my watch and it says 33minutes.  That’s embarrassing! I must be one of the very last out the water.  I’m trying to get my wet suit zipper down and another athlete does it for me.  I was incredibly thankful.

Just outside the tent I see Heledd shouting.  What a perfect time to see a friendly face! Gave me that moment to calm down and take a breath.  Of course I’m pretty sure my face just read ‘oh my god I almost died, why did I do that’ – but I appreciated seeing her. 

I need water.  Oh the irony!! Swallowed so much sea water I now needed plain water to help bring it back up.  I knew my transition time was going to be bad so I try to speed up at the same time as calming myself down.  I head out to my bike (still in shock) and as I take it from the rack I hear something very strange on the tannoy’

‘Joe Webley’

What? Is he just coming out of the water? I pause for a minute and fight the instinct to go back and check he was ok.  Something’s clearly happened. It’s not what you are meant to do though and he would shout at me if I did so I carry on to the bike.  

As soon as I’m in the saddle I can feel my front wheel wobbling.  Like really wobbling.  This isn’t good! What’s happening? It’s that bad I stop and check it several times.  Doesn’t feel lose when I’m stopped but doesn’t feel safe when I’m cycling.  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t find the problem but I’m not confident.  

So yeah, I carry on.  As you do.

I know I have to start re-fuelling as soon as possible on the bike but I can’t face an energy bar or a gel so I opt for the jelly babies I had bought last minute. Aware this was a very risky thing as I hadn’t trained with them I still put one in my mouth.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Those jelly babies were a life saver.

Nigel came past me with a cheery hello – I love that.  Then at seven miles I hear what I really, really needed to hear.

‘There she is.  Alright wife.’

‘YEAH!!!!!’ He’s caught up with me.  He’s fine.  What ever happened in the water hasn’t stopped him and he’s not in the medical tent.  He’s all smiles and laughing.  ‘What about that swim eh?’ He asks.  ‘I am never doing that again’ is my reply.  I tell him Nigel’s just ahead and I will ‘just stay back here’. It was a good boost and feeling of relief.

I know the Gifford loop is coming and at about 26 miles the course gets incredibly hard.  I’m honestly scared of one of the downhills that turns sharply in to a steep up hill so I’m preparing myself for a quick unclip – possibly even a fall.  First few climbs are hard but I do it.  My cornering is shocking but I’m still wobbling a little on the front wheel.  Still convinced it’s coming off.  I pass a few with punctures at the side but I don’t see any crashes.  Down through the first bad corner and I’m still up right.  Back up another hill.  I pass one or two and it gives me a little boost.  Further up I see a couple walking up and I use them as a ‘target’ to keep going.  Next comes the dreaded hairpin.  But – it’s not as bad as I had dreamed it was.  I slow right down but I still keep going. 

I’m still waiting on the dreaded downhill-sharp left-steep incline section when I get back in the village.  Huh? Where did it go? It was definitely before here.  I must have already done it!! Whoo hoo! Cycled the part that had given me nightmares and didn’t even realise it! 

Just a few miles on and I’m getting sore.  That love QL muscle is nagging away.  I don’t know how my youngest is as I wasn’t going to phone my mum at 6 in the morning.  My throats seriously hurts from all the gagging in the swim.  My swim was bad and I’m not convinced I made the cut off.  What if I don’t make the bike cut off? I’m well aware I’m not hitting my target time. 

So, I start singing.  

‘I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright I miss you baby, hold you tight’.

This carries on for a few miles.  

As does the wind.  At times it feels like I’m going backwards it’s that strong.  The crosswinds catch me a few times as well and I sway across the road. I don’t like cycling in the wind.  I don’t like it at all.

I count down the last 10 miles.  The cobbles were ‘interesting’.  My under carriage didn’t appreciate them.  Neither did the guy next to me.  ‘What the bloody hell is this!! This isn’t a road! And are we going up there?!?’

I got the sense he hadn’t enjoyed his cycle so far.

I knew what the last climb was and I knew where it levelled out so I went for it.  ‘Up, up, up you go Ella’ – got me a few funny looks.  I also knew the last downhill section was steep.  Taking no chances this late in the stage I kept hold of the brakes.  Maybe one day I will be confident on the bike but today wasn’t the day for risks. 

Up to the line and I dismounted. The woman next to me didn’t dismount until after the line then looked at the Marshall as if she didn’t know what he was saying.  I heard them arguing as I ran off.

Bike racked and I changed into my trainers. Ah my trainers.  My lovely, lovely trainers that meant I could now run!!! The part I love!! I know I can run 13.1 miles! My stomach wasn’t too good – still had salt water in it – so it was a quick stop in the porta loos. 

I’m out on the run and my legs feel surprisingly good.  I know it’s a flat before it starts to climb and I can already see people walking.  I pass a fair few but it’s impossible to say what lap of the three anyone is on.  I’m only half a mile in and I have a light bulb moment.  My front wheel wasn’t lose.  I was Sea sick from the swim! I laugh out loud at myself, not sure it’s something I should admit to but know I will later on.  

Top of that hill and I see a 6 foot tall ginger lad on a bike.  My arms are up and I’m waving like mad.  ‘Frazer!! I didn’t die!!’.  ‘Yeah!’ He shouts back.  What a boost to see my original running buddy at that point! He tells me Joes just ahead and I can catch him which I laugh at as this is quite clearly a lie and meant as encouragement – it’s appreciated.  

Along the first straight that goes over the tunnel and I see him.  My arms are up again.  I am so happy to be running and to see that Joe is in good form.  A high five as we pass and it’s smiles all round.  Now it’s into the tunnel which is nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.  In fact, I quite liked it! I was getting a comfortable pace through it.  Back out and the sharp incline took its toll on my legs and I resorted to a short recovery walk for 10 seconds.  

Not long after was the feed station, typically  going up a ‘hill’ also.  Although happy to be running I had had enough of hills at this point.  A Marshall came right in to my face ‘go Ella’.  A bit taken aback I almost stopped.  Then I realised it was Gosia, another running friend.  What a cheery sight! ‘This is hard’ I tell her.  ‘What did you expect, it’s ironman’ she laughs at me.  


I push on to my second lap and instantly get confused on when I need to turn in to the finish.  Counting is not my strong point when running! I see Frazer again and give him a big smile.  I saw him earlier cycling along the side of Joe which was great to see.  He was working later so I knew he wouldn’t be there at the finish.  I saw a few more I recognised and cheered them all on.  I was actually enjoying the laps (once I got in my head when I had to turn in) and it broke it up fantastically.  I passed Kevin going the other way in the tunnel – Heledds partner – he was on his last lap.  I sang a little in the tunnel too, hard not to when the tunes were blaring at the turn.

Coming down near the last section of my second lap I see Kevin at the side stretching his leg.  ‘Are you ok?’  He’s got cramping in his leg.  He starts running with me and tells me he arrived late to the start so started at the back of the pack.  He didn’t find the swim easy either.  I really enjoyed running that short section with him and as he turned up the finish I shouted after him ‘Take it home Kevin’.  (If you’ve ever listened to Lonely Island you’ll know why I’m laughing, Michael Bolton can actually be funny).  


Last lap, last lap, last lap.  I’m doing this, I’m doing this I Am Doing This.  I wanted to enjoy every last moment of this race.  There was definitely no sprints for me! Last time past Gosia and her station and what a cheer I got from them.  Put the biggest smile on my face! Through the last feed station manned by West Lothian Tri Club and lots of encouragement again.  

Final section.

I can see Joe at the side, cheering me on.

I turn up to the finish.  No one is in front of me, no one is behind me.  I fight back the emotions threatening to make me cry.  I have THE biggest grin on my face ever.  I push right to the end.


Holy shit I just did it!!!! I just completed my first Half Ironman!! How did I do that??

Finisher photo taken and I make a bee line for the food.  I don’t move from the watermelon for a good five minutes. I can’t eat anything apart from that and the orange segments.  But I don’t care.  I am officially a Half Ironman. 

Meeting Joe and his dad outside the finishers tent he tells me to quickly put more layers on before the cold hits me.  It’s been raining on and off and the wind was bringing a chill.  He also gives me an update on our youngest who had had a bad night but was ok, not to worry. 

Of course I hit the expo tent.  Card in hand. Proud memoribelia purchased.  

On the road home and I check my phone.  I  had absolutely loads of support from the road runners and friends.  How I didn’t cry when I was reading it all I will never know. It was fantastic.  

Joe and I talked non stop on the way home recalling the achievement we had just accomplished.  He had struggled with the waves and had grabbed a kayak at one point.  He knew the swim was going to be his hardest part and seeing an overturned safety boat didn’t help. He had done it though and pushed himself through.  And it hadn’t put him off.  Just made it all the more important to get more sea swim practise in.

One of the pro athletes dubbed the course the hardest she has ever done – and it makes Staffordshire a walk in the park in comparison.  That settles it in my mind for me.  It was right to cut the swim.  It was not an ‘easy’ option.  Around 50 people got pulled from the water.  Many chose not to even start and the latest figures I read quoted a 29% DNF rate overall.  The swim conditions got worse the later you went in.  

I did it though.  I did every part of it.  I may not have been the fastest, I may not have ranked high in the results but I did it! I crossed that finish line.  

So yes.  I believe that Anything IS Possible.  I’m having a couple of days rest to let my body recover and I’m going to wear my finishers t-shirt for a week! I’m in no rush to scrub off my number tattoo and my new Ironman bag will be going everywhere with me. 

I bloody did it!! 

Scotlands Toughest

What’s top of your ‘to do’ list when you have your first proper crash off a bike? Nothing? Sounds logical.  A half marathon? Probably not.

However…  My legs still worked so I thought I would see how it went.  It was never going to be an easy race but I suppose what happened on the bike just didn’t help really.

So yes.  I took on the toughest half marathon in Scotland (because you know, why do an easy one?) and gave it my all.  

Genuinely.  I collapsed in a heap at the end and didn’t care what I looked like.

Obviously this was a championship race – if it’s hard it’s on the clubs list, sadists, the lot of them – so I was keen to at least try and finish.  It was meant to be a hot day so shorts and vest it was.  With sunglasses that didn’t cover the hole in my face even slightly.  I would never make a good celebrity with my crap disguises.  As we grouped together for a team photo (scrap book must have) the heavens opened.  I was kneeling down, already stiff and in pain, and I was not happy.  For some reason everyone else in the club found the weather funny and laughed.  I did not.  I glared at the photographer (because obviously this was all his fault) before refusing to look anywhere but the ground.  Admittedly, the photo is not my best.


I then ran under a tree with a few others for some shelter.  We chatted and I was told I was currently top of the leader board.  Well that made me smile! Well, half smile.  The left hand side of my face still doesnt move so I probably looked like a demented villain but it gave me a little boost.  It may only be because not many have done a marathon this year yet but yeah, I have screen shotted that bad boy! 

On to the race.  It instantly starts up hill.  

And doesn’t stop.

For 11 miles!

How can you run UP hill for 11 and only run 2 miles downhill yet still end up back at the start???

Sadists.  I’m telling you!

The first few miles were ‘as expected’.  Tough, but I managed one foot in front of the other.  The sun came out as soon as the shower passed so I took water at every station, grateful there were a few on this route! There were some very chirpy marshalls too. ‘Go, on, you’re doing great’ they shouted.  Which was sweet.  But I knew I looked like death.

My cheek hurt so much every time I very briefly went down a hill.  My left knee and hips felt like they were grinding and at one point I stopped to walk as I drank my water.  Derek went past me.  ‘Come on Ella, I’m using you as my pacer’ he said.  ‘Don’t do that unless you want to be last!’ I shouted after him as he disappeared in a cloud of dust.

I stopped again at about 9 miles to walk it off and my ‘second voice’ as I’ve come to call it started up. 

‘Why did you do this?  What are you trying to prove? And to who?!’

‘Whom.  It’s to whom are you trying to prove something’.

‘Don’t try and correct me! You’re not gaining anything by doing this you know.  You should have had a rest day, let your body recover’.

‘I’m fine.  I can do this.  I just need to finish. I don’t care about the time’.

‘Clearly you don’t because you are walking during a running race’.

Ah man I’m walking! Get a move on! I had gotten lost in my thoughts and had walked for a good minute at least.  Whoops!

I found my steam again and kept pushing one foot in front of the other.  Eventually I reached 11 miles.  And eventually I reached the start of the promised 2 miles downhill.  It was just a shame I couldn’t really run hard down this section as my face now felt like it had been smacked a hundred times with a bag of bricks.

Not just one brick.  A bag of bricks.

I resolved to write a very strongly worded letter of complaint to the roadrunners committee about their choice of races.

I tried to smile at the photographer but this race just wasn’t my most ‘gracious’.  On a good day I would like to think I’m a 7.  You know, like a good tv character that’s not the lead but gets her fair share of lines.  Today was not a good day.  Today was definitely a 2 at most.  I was the body in the gutter that had been electrocuted just as the wind changed and that was it.

I’m not posting the photo.

Just at the final stretch there were a few roadrunners who had very wisely chosen not to run this route.  ‘This is so painful’ I cried as I crawled past.  They just laughed that knowing laugh.


Across the line and I was handed my bottle of water and banana.  I found a large group of roadrunners who had finished about an hour earlier and just collapsed down on the grass.  ‘I’m just going to lie here for a minute’ I managed to whisper as I rocked back and forth on the floor.


All jokes aside this is a great race.  Fantastic scenery and the most challenging route I have ever done.  I just wasn’t fully fit for it, but I knew that.  I’m pleased I still miraculously came in under 2 hours even though it was a full 10 minutes over my PB on this distance.  I’m paying for it today though.  I did nothing on my lunch break at work.  Nothing.  Not even a walk.  

But I did take a selfie in my car.


I’m not ready to commit to saying I would do it again next year.  Depends how competitive I get I suppose ha ha.  Maybe ask me when I’ve been able to run again. 

4 weeks and counting until Ironman 70.3.

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

No, I’m not talking a ‘romance’ here.  This race was most certainly not that.  I’m talking a race I was keen to do last year but missed out on a place as I wasn’t quick enough to enter.

Loch Leven Half Marathon is on (my friends) door step.  It is the Loch I tried to cycle around 2 years ago and was beaten by Joe …… who was running…..

Says it all about my fitness levels at that time.

FYI – I can comfortably hammer round on my bike in under an hour now.  In wind, rain, sleet, mud and midges!

So when it appeared on the Road Runners Championship I was all over it like a swarm of midges.  (Which is rather apt given how small I am ha ha).

I needed under 1hr 48 to hit my club standards too so it really was a ‘big’ race in my eyes.  The only negatives were it’s not really flat with just a couple slight uphill sections, it was a week before Stirling Marathon so any feeling of, well, anything, I would have to pull the pace back, and there was a report of the dreaded Scottish midge biggest swarm ever at the very location of the race. 

Full face buff and glasses it is then!

Registration was at the campus and there was about a mile walk to the start which was a good warm up.  Naturally I needed the loo as soon as I got there and therefore missed the team photo.

There will forever be a blank space in my scrap book now.

Sniff…

We started and there was quite a crowd so there was a bit of a shuffle before I crossed the start line.  I had chosen to wear a top under my running vest as it had been a heavy downpour on the drive through.  I quickly realised this was a mistake and I should always stick with my vest and shorts!  I had eaten my porridge, banana and energy bar before hand so at least some lessons are sinking in.

First few miles were ok and I felt good.  Kenny had told me if the midges were out they would be at mile 5 but as it was raining we should be ok.  Also, there was a slight hill at about mile 7/8 and the last mile was on the trail.  I had cycled the route with Frazer a few weeks back (in my Wonder Woman leggings – obviously) so I knew roughly where I was going.  

*complete lie, I could have been running my regular lunch time route and still had no clue

I had joked with another from the club who was marshalling that I may quit when I see him to which he replied ‘I won’t let you!’.  He was at mile 3.  I could see his point ha ha.

No midges at mile 5 thankfully thanks to the weather and true to form, I knew I was just past mile 7 when the route started going uphill.  Kenny was bang on the money again.  I felt like I was running quite good and managed up the hill ok.  My watch told me I had slowed a little but I had missed one of my splits so couldn’t work out if my pace was still on or not.  I think for the marathon I might right some times on my arm so I don’t forget them.

It wasn’t a closed road race and at one point a maroon car was right next to me for a good few hundred metres.  I thought this was Frazer and Joe so eventually turned with a huge smile to say how much I was loving running 13.1 miles only to discover it was a scowling older woman clearly annoyed she couldn’t get past.  

I read this as ‘I’m faster than a car’. Ha ha ha.

On to the trail near the end and in to the midges.  No where near as bad as reported thanks to the weather (although definitely too hot for 2 tops I mean seriously Ella) and not the biting kind so really it was more of an annoyance than anything.  I had another road runner in my sites for the last few miles and made a plan to keep her there to help me keep going.  Trying to keep her in sight was what kept me going through this bit to be honest. I glanced at my watch and it was going to need some push if I was to make the 1hr 48.  What the hell, I’m going for it.  I tried to pick up the pace and on the final straight felt someone just behind me so pushed even more. 

Photo courtesy of Craig Antrobus
Across the finish line and …. head down, deep breathes, need a seat, oh my god I can’t breathe.

Finishing time – 1hr 48m 38secs.

God damn it.

On reflection all I can think is maybe I lost focus during mid race.  Forgot I was aiming for a time and I should be pushing.  38 seconds is a hard pill to swallow but, it was still a PB of a full minute and 29 seconds! I’m happy with that. 

A good chat with some other Road Runners at the end and then we went back to Frazers for a cup of tea.  Oh, and I loved the commentators remark of ‘and here’s more Perth Road Runners coming in, there’s more of you than the midges!’ Ha ha ha 

A great race and definitely one I would do again. And hopefully faster! 


Photo courtesy of Craig Antrobus – he took some great photos of everyone!