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!