A fellow roadrunner suggested Hal Higdon and one of the websites plans fits well in to my already 'brief' schedule so I've gone for that. It will need tweaked I don't doubt but it's given me a good starting place.
Monday – 5 mile run
Tuesday – leg workout, club run
Wednesday – 5 mile run
Thursday – core workout, hills/track
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest
That's the gist of it. There's a few more details to each run and I'm still swimming etc but yeah, that's it.
And oh my god my legs are killing me!! First time I did my leg workout I couldn't walk for days. Days!! And it's only really lunges and squats! Clearly torture moves designed by those who don't like running.
Evil, evil I tell you.
And I'm back to a longer run. Which I love, I truly adore. Just start running and keep going and going and going.
Saturdays long run didn't 'quite' go to plan. And by 'quite', I really mean not at all. I put on a podcast to try and keep my pace slower, this worked good. What also seemed to be working was my bowel movements. Shame they didn't choose to work before I went out running however (and believe me, I tried everything to get them to move!).
I was barely 3 miles in, enjoying listening to an interview on Toughgirl when that oh too familiar feeling appeared. I tried to block it out, hoping it would go away (because that happens all the time – yeah right), but alas no. I ended up banging on my parents door at about 7:45am hopping from one foot to the next. As soon as the door was unlocked I went screaming past them 'I need a poo!'.
They were least impressed although I suspect they also found this not too abnormal now. Pretty sure I may have done this before.
Back out and I turned the podcast back on. Within minutes they were talking about embarrassing things that happen when you're out running. Naturally, the subject of needing to go came up. I was still laughing a couple of miles on.
My stomach wasn't great though and low and behold I needed another emergency pit stop. This time it was the start of Parkrun which thankfully is a sports centre so does have toilets. I had intended on a few more miles after Parkrun but it was time to call it a day. On the walk home my friend pointed out having fast food the night before probably wasn't the best idea.
The penny dropped again.
(I mean the metaphoric one just to be clear!)
So basically training is going to plan but I need to stop these rookie mistakes. My legs hurt but I'm thinking they will get used to it soon. I probably need to up the track sessions or review my 5 milers – try and make them more speedwork specific – but it's going good so far.
For anyone that doesn't know, one of my main goals in the last couple of years is to run London Marathon. Partly because it's so iconic, I watched it from time to time over the years (not really knowing anything about it) and because I love the idea of 'travelling' to a marathon. The main reason though, is a lot more personal than any of that.
When I had my third child I wasn't very well. It is something I will never understand as it didn't happen with the first two so how can it happen with the third? I asked every professional under the sun this question and no one could give me an answer. I became isolated from everyone, rarely went out and when I did it was just me and my baby. I would watch endless nonsense on the telly and pretend I was going to go somewhere more exciting than the 4 walls of my living room. London being one of those places. To cut a long story short running is what changed all that. But the want to go to London never changed.
And then, once I was in a better place, disaster struck. As I opened my 'Thanks, but no' magazine from VLM my baby, who had just turned 2 the month before, jumped off the couch and broke his leg. The magazine was thrown to the floor and the next 6 weeks were spent threatening to put me back to day 1 of 'being back there'. How can a 2 year old break his leg? And from jumping on the couch? That was it, I wasn't leaving him, I had to be with him 24/7. I had to know exactly where he was at all times or the panic would set in. I was back to being imprisoned by myself.
Of course he recovered well. He's the type of boy who rarely cries – if he bangs his head playing he simply shakes it off. Instead of my mind numbing shows we watched toy story over and over and over again. But the thought of London never left me. And now it had a greater meaning.
I have to put 'that episode' to bed, once and for all. Kick it back to the past with a mighty boot and leave it there. And to do that I need to do London. It is now the race that is associated with my baby breaking his leg. My baby is the reason I started running. I can't fully get past all of that until London is done. Some may not understand that – but it makes sense in my head. Of course I know I may still have bad days even after I run London but knowing I can do something to change it will be the key.
So. How do I get in to London?
There's the ballot, which I will of course apply to every year and cross every finger and toe in the hope I get in. I will be sat at my front door awaiting the postman in October – with my son in my lap until I have opened the magazine, just to be safe. I refuse to be negative about the statistics surrounding it. It is what it is. If I get in EVERYONE will hear me! I could apply for a charity place but the pressure of raising such a large amount of money would be too much for me.
So looks like I'm going to have to run really bloody fast! A Good For Age place for me is under 3hrs 45. My current time is 3hrs 55. That's 11 minutes I need to shave off. Less than 30 seconds a mile. Can it be done?
I'm going to find out at Loch Ness in 8 weeks! When I joined my local running club someone said to me 'yeah, you can do it. You just need proper training'. So that's what I've been doing. It's killing me, but I'm doing it. I was beyond ecstatic to get a sub 4hr marathon back at Stirling. But I know I can do faster. I have to.
So my next posts will be about my training. What's going well and what isn't. Then I can review them all, increase what works and change what doesn't. I'm getting that time. I have to.
No I’m not out running trying to do crazy maths whilst writing this. This post, this very one, is about Stirling Marathon. And the title will become clear soon enough (I promise you won’t need one of those calculators with more buttons than a remote control).
The inaugural Great Stirling Scottish Marathon (what a bloody mouthful – it will be called Stirling from now on) was Sunday past – and my third marathon. I had quite a complicated aim. Under 4 hours but if it didn’t feel right at any point I was to pull back because I can’t risk the Half Ironman in 6 weeks (eeek, little poo came out) and I still need to carry on training for it. So, one side of the scale to the next – under 4 hours but gentle walk to finish if anything happens.
All runners were to get the shuttle bus as it started at the safari park in Blair Drummond which is on a bad road on a normal day. Happy to report I handled this by myself with no issue. Wow. Feels like I might be growing up!
Joking aside I was surprisingly calm about this event. Admittedly there was the use of breathing techniques a lot but, no actual issue.
Not until I needed the toilet. The boast of plenty of toilets on the pre-race info was just ever so slightly exaggerated. To the extent of there being more truth in the existence of Santa Clause than the number of toilets they had provided! I queued for over 40 minutes. I watched the elites start, the fast club runners start, the orange wave, my wave and even the wave behind me before I had managed to relieve myself! As you’ll know from previous posts, I’m not too shy that I won’t ‘drop trou’ if needs must but I wasn’t about to do that with the risk of an antelope or a rhino coming up and sniffing my butt!
So I was late starting. Which meant weaving through hundreds of runners at a different pace to me. I didn’t like it any more than they did. I can almost forgive the women who elbowed me sharply in the ribs, almost. There was a moment later on in the race when I saw her again thanks to the laps and I briefly considered tripping her up. Joking!
I had been dropped at the pick up by Joe, my daughter, my youngest and my mum. Thanks to my daughters ability to sniff out a Marks and Spencer’s hot chocolate within a 5 mile range they were able to find somewhere to kill some time before heading to the course to try and spot me.
It was great running weather – we had just a spittle of rain. Didn’t need sun glasses but was comfortable in shorts and vest. Perfect. The first section of the run was through a few small villages and there was great support from the locals. Lots of kids out with sweets and high fives. About 8 miles in I heard a familiar voice shout my name. It was Gail from my work. She sounded really surprised to see me which I’m putting down to being ‘surprised she actually managed to spot me’ and not ‘surprised I was actually running’. Either way it was great to see her and I gave her a huge grin and wave as I went by. Running.
A little further on and a lady from my running club jumped out from the crowd screaming ‘Go Perth Road Runners’. Genuinely awesome enthusiasm. Love it!!
Not far past that and I see my family. My daughters holding up the sign she ‘loving’ made for me. (Loving should probably be replaced with bribed if I’m totally honest. But a sign is a sign. And it was for me! And I loved it!). My youngest was shouting ‘go mummy’ and the other half was still smiling so I knew they weren’t bored yet. My mum was still trying to get her camera turned on after I went past but that’s Nanny Netty for you ha ha.
Half way was a bit of a climb up and round the university. On reflection it was barely a hill at all but at the time it was the equivalent of a hill race. True story. I spotted a couple of guys from my club and decided to try and use them to keep my pace up. I was a little worried about having started at the very back and didn’t want to come in with an awful time. I have a wave and ‘your going good, well done’ when I eventually caught them. Not long after I did I spotted another from my club so did the same again. Slightly harder this time, it felt he was running the same pace as me. Then, just as I was about 100m behind him he veered off the road and in to the bushes. I won’t lie, I felt hard done to. All that hard work to catch up with him and the only way I did was because he stopped to pee! How dare he! Did he not know I was chasing him down?? Ha ha.
The long straight in the by pass was awful. It puts me off running the same course again. It just seemed to go on forever. Then at the end of it was the lead in to the dreaded lapping system. I really didn’t think I would be able to count to 3 at this point. It was very de-moralising passing signs for 22miles when you are only 17 in. I was convinced I had gone the wrong way when I first saw 800m! That’s it, well done Ella, you have actually been that stupid that you’ve missed the laps. Your names going to be all over the papers and all the social media sites. Game over.
I hadn’t though. When I hit the underpasses I knew I was going the right way. Along with the bypass the underpasses were atrocious. I didn’t think they would bother me but the 3 times down and up and trying to get past people in a tight space was near impossible. I hope that gets changed. The big benefit of the lapping was the regular support. Now that is something you can’t complain about! It kept me going in the hardest miles.
I wasn’t really checking my watch much but when I was trying to keep on track with my laps I couldn’t help but notice my time. 22 miles and I did a quick calculation. Ok, going to have to be careful if I wanted to make the 4 hour target. The underpasses were really killing my mood so I decided if I at least beat my last time of 4hrs 9 then I would be happy. There was quite clearly a blister forming on my left foot as well as some other infestation no doubt so that would be a good enough goal. Another check and I really was cutting it fine. Think of the Half Ironman Ella, don’t be silly. 23 miles and I try to do maths again. I’ve got a Parkrun distance to go and I’m at about 3hrs 25. Parkrun is 3.2 miles.
Even at 10 minute miles I can still get under 4hrs.
And I’m running faster than 10 minute miles.
Don’t slow down!!! You can get in under the 4 hours!! You can do this!!
I stop to walk for a second and get my breath. Naturally.
Whatever ecosystem was generating in my left trainer screamed out in pain.
Ok, I needed to start running again.
Knowing I ‘had this’ I slowed my pace. I was now at the 800m mark and happy to see the finish. 2 women in front of me held hands, raising them in the air. I won’t lie, this did irritate me a little. I was about to come in in under 4 hours and I wasn’t going to get a good finish photo because I would be blocked by their arms. (I’m all about the photos). I tried to speed up past them and crossed the line just to the side.
I checked my watch.
3hrs 55m 26seconds.
Possibly the happiest I have ever been at the end of a race!! I find Joe and I’m jumping. ‘3hrs 55!’ I scream at him. ‘I know!’ He says.
I’m very, very happy. Nike might have been going for a sub 2hr attempt, but for me, this was the equivalent.
I also see Kenny at the finish who has run 110 marathons. 110!! He’s looking for the baggage bus which he thinks might be quite far away but there are no signs. I’ve got to be honest, this washes over me at this point as I’m still so happy with my time. I’m soon grumbling though when I realise he is of course correct (it’s Kenny, he genuinely knows everything) and I have to make my way, gammy foot and all, on a new adventure that requires a map and compass to try and find the bus.
Back at the car and my smile comes back. It’s thankfully not a long journey home but my daughters had a hard day and falls asleep – so I take a photo of her. That’s one for her 18th!
At home after I’m changed and showered I phone my mum to check she’s ok. It was an early morning start for her and she hasn’t been too well recently. I’m so glad she made it though. My dad had planned on being there too but he was babysitting my nephew.
It’s most likely one I would do again. I love the thought that I was there for the very first one – and the medal says that too, it’s a nice touch.
Now. On to the small matter of this Half Ironman…..
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).
It seems every man and his dog were running in a race today. That is, except me.
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.
It’s very hard to fit everything in. I was doing ok but now I’m bouncing between wanting to get faster with my running and wanting to do better at the Half Ironman.
A tough cycle means I don’t have fresh legs for running. Not having fresh legs makes running fast almost impossible. I’ve not had time to do slow, long runs yet for the marathon coming up and my last few races I’ve gone out too fast.
And paid for it.
And of course swimming. I’ve finally got the youngest in swimming lessons but it’s at a time I’ve been doing one of my own sessions – so that one is now scrapped. Kids come first though. There’s no question about that. My Monday swim has also been knocked on the head since the other half joined the local Tri club. We can’t both go out at the same time as my mum already does so much for us.
Welcome to the pity party.
So what to do.
I could grumble and grumble and grumble away for oh, I don’t know, a good few novel fulls anyway, but that’s not going to solve anything. I know this.
At the end of the day I chose this. I chose to challenge myself with a Half Ironman. I chose to do another marathon. So if I want to achieve this, I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up!
Now is not the time to start slacking just because it’s getting hard or because I can’t do the sessions I’ve planned at a set time.
That. That right there. THATS the difficulty. Accepting I have to change my plan. Jiggle things about a bit. Make the most of the sessions that I can do. Get up even earlier to fit more in. Force myself to cycle at lunch and not always run. Use my running for distance not speed. If I can only get half an hour in the pool then it’s 30 minutes more than 0.
I don’t like it though. Not when I can’t do what I’ve scheduled in. I have a routine. I like my routine. It works for me and I work hard at it. (I write in pen in my book, not pencil). If it looks like I may be 5 minutes later getting out the door I panic. How ridiculous is that? It is what it is though.
So what’s the end result of this?
You said it before – suck it up buttercup, it’s not over yet. You’ve got a finish line to cross.
Now we are in to the new year this is just a quick look back to my highlights of the last year. The year I continued to run.
It started with a Tri. A 400m swim when I wasn’t a swimmer by any means. A 9.6mile cycle on a hybrid bike (lesson 1. a road bike is much better) and a little over a 3 mile run. I was as scared as I was determined – white as a sheet, very close to throwing up in the pool but only picturing the moment I could put my trainers on and ‘just run’. What I remember most about that day was my husband at T1 telling me to calm down. It helped beyond words.
The next big one was the Swimathon. Hey Ella you’re a crap swimmer so why not sign up to doing 2.5km in the pool?! Never again. That’s all I will say. I hate swimming.
Onto a half marathon next and although I managed a PB I didn’t manage my nutrition. There was the ‘Hill of Hell’ at mile 10 and I had nothing in me to hit it. When I stumbled from dizziness it was the closest I have been from thinking I may be forced to stop. Lesson number 2 – just because you’re not hungry doesn’t mean you don’t need to eat. Twat.
Another triathlon followed, this time with my husband racing as well. My parents were there again with our youngest at the side. Memory of that day being my dad shouting to me that Joe was only a few minutes ahead. A complete lie but it got me out of T2 faster than you can say ‘competitive much’. No, not us.
The week after the triathlon was my first marathon. Big lessons here, huge! And none that are really surprising – more common sense – which clearly, I have none. Don’t do a triathlon just 7 days before running 26.2 miles. Don’t go hell for leather on the bike trying to catch your husband at said Tri. My quads hurt from mile 5 at the marathon and I only just came in on my target time. Memory from that day is my eldest appearing in the morning to come and support. I had all 3 of my kids, my husband and my mum (it was before his operation so too much for my dad).
Onto a race that really intimidated me – the Brig Bash. A 5 mile local road race that was full of ‘club runners’ which at the time I took to mean nothing but fast. So I set myself a time to beat and resounded myself to being one of the last over the line. It’s the one I would say I definitely pushed myself at. And no I wasn’t last. Lesson from that one – just because it’s a ‘club run’ doesn’t mean a non club runner will be excluded.
The Great North Run was the first race I had to travel to. Hubby and I signed up as part of Team Alexis Rose for Meningitis. It was hard going down to Newcastle without the kids or my mum who has been at every single race. Joe loved the red arrow display at the end though.
Then it was my second marathon – Loch Ness. Without a doubt my favourite race. I loved it. Things didn’t start too great as I had to go without my kids and Joe but my mum and dad kept me ‘entertained’. I learnt a few things from that one though. Only incredibly thick people change their trainers the night before a marathon. I need to do more core work as my abdomen killed me in the late stages of the run. And joining a club is actually awesome. Hearing ‘The Perth Road Runners are here, Ella Webley is crossing the line’ will always be a cherished moment.
So will my dad saying ‘it’s an awfy long way, you sure you want to do this’. Ha ha.
Last but by no means least was running in London. No actual race but I got to run round Hyde Park a few times and run up to Buckingham Palace in preparation for when I eventually get a London Marathon place. I will get one. One year soon.
Lots of races in between all of the above – 25 in total for 2016! Bit of a jump from 15 the year before. Many, many happy memories though. Some have been with the husband, some with friends, tough mudder with my brother, and a couple with my daughter. Impossible to have done any of it without my mum. She’s there every step of the way and continues to be. My dad helps out too – and likes to remind me he won a marathon when he was younger. (Of course that was so long ago newspapers weren’t invented so I’m still looking for evidence of this).
2017 has a few booked already. Big ones too. I’m already scared. But very excited.