3 Weeks Already

For anyone who doesn’t own a calendar (or a mobile or a watch with the date on it) it’s now 3 weeks in to 2018.

That means less than 3 months until Manchester Marathon. My first big task of the year. The one race I need speed for. Not the drug! Let me be clear. I mean pace.

Up until recently it’s not been there. I was panicking. Every run was ‘slow’ – not where I needed to be. It should be 8m20 pace but I was coming in at more 8m45. That’s way off! Yes I did Marcothon in December, yes it’s snowing and there’s ice on the ground but I should still be faster.

Theres been a few spanner’s in the works, a few adjustments needing made. I’ve had a things come up at work that have thrown off my routine – and my god do I hate it when my routine is messed with. I can feel the words ‘f@cked off’ burning on my forehead. But luckily, I do have people around me that understand. I started noticing more and more of the ‘head tilt’ (think Monica and Richard in Friends) and hearing more ‘You’ve not been for a run have you’. It’s ok I didn’t kill anyone. But I have started moving a lot more quickly to solution mode when this happens. Lunch runs have moved to late afternoon and occasionally straight after work.

Then there was the work trip to London for the day which meant a 5am start and a 10:30pm finish. It turned out to be a 2:30am start as my youngest was up ill in the night. This distracted me all day but I ‘coped’. His dad took the day off so I knew he was fine. I only hid in the bathroom twice when I started to panic – quite an improvement. And I was distracted by the many funny looks when ever I chose the stairs instead of the escalators. Apparently no one in London uses stairs!

And then, The Plague hit my house. Everyone- and I mean everyone – got it. First it was the youngest, then it was Joe, then Lucie. My oldest was told to stay at a friends (he’s 18, spends most his time out or in bed anyway). I sent him a lovely text. ‘Don’t come home, you’ll get sick, stay at a friends’. Best mum ever award right there.

The dogs being sick was the final straw for me. That almost broke me. I can handle most things. Holding Lucies hair back whilst fetching Oliver water and getting pain killers for Joe is fine. Cleaning up what comes out of a dog? Not so much.

Take your vitamins people!

When I eventually returned to work I was met with a meeting booked during my lunch run time. I then discovered my work had been allocated 3 London Marathon places and they had just been handed to certain people. No opportunity for selection. None of the ‘clear and transparent’ behaviour they like to drill in to us. You can imagine the rage. So when I eventually got a break I hit the treadmill. Hard. 5k in 23mins 16secs. Bye bye 8m 45 pace.

Then last night it was hills with the road runners. Now I’m most certainly not saying it was easy but it was slightly easier than last time. After checking good old Strava I noticed that my running in January 2017 was the same. It was slower. I found the month hard. The penny dropped.

Clearly, like many others, I just find January a hard month to get moving. But that’s ok. Get over it. Do your hills, do your track and it will come together.

Plus I got quite a lot of new running gear so it would be a shame for that to go to waste ha ha.

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Annual Reflections

I love a ‘reflection’ post. The ‘ah I remember that’ happy smile and the ‘I swear I could have drowned!’ moments. Come to think of it there were many close calls…..

I sank on the 1st January when I went straight down instead of straight forward swimming in the New Years Day Tri. That taught me to think properly when something changes. It also taught me I’m not a fish.

There was the close encounter with the ice cream van that then impaled me on the solid iron sewar cover leaving a lovely hole in my cheek. (Wasn’t an ice cream van but it was that close to my face I could have licked it). This was quickly followed by the UFO that was the first aid kit, launched across the road and landing on said hole in cheek. Im no doctor but I don’t think that’s how you use the red bag.

There was the death defying descents on the Hill Series. The many chants of ‘you’re ok Ella, you’re not going to die, I AM GOING TO DIE!!’. Barry assures me this will be good practise for the Highland Fling next year. I’ve hired a Sherpa, just in case.

And of course the heart thing. It threw a spanner in the works for getting my GFA, made me pull out of a number of races and taught me the importance of an extremely good sports bra. But it’s still beating and I’m still running. No pace maker this year.

I couldn’t not mention ‘that’ swim that was Edinburgh Half Ironman. Now that was genuinely half an hour of fighting for survival! Had I actually looked at the sea before getting in I’m really not sure I would have. And had I heard the true horror stories of what was happening I would have turned around and legged it. But I did it, and I did it faster than Joe. (Sticks tongue out in laughter all too aware he would whip my ass now).

But yes! Half Ironman! An actual Half Ironman! We did it! Joe actually did 3 in the end but I’m happy with my one – for now.

And an Ultra! Ah yes the Ochils Ultra. What a learning experience that was. First being to actually look at the name. OcHILS. Hills. Meaning not flat. So 6 days after a marathon not exactly the best idea. And seriously, who would have thought there was a real danger of drowning when out running?!? I’m still not over that. But the counselling is going well….

A very happy memory of 2017 is our youngest’s first ever Parkrun. Just days after turning 4. That was immense. Unfortunately it may have been just a little too far for him and I don’t want to be a pushy parent so we are taking it slowly. I refuse to be one of those parents dragging their kids around the course telling them off for being too slow and not trying.

And last but by no means least – my sub 4hour marathon. Looking back I honestly don’t know how I pulled that one out the bag. 3hrs 55mins 26secs. But I’m going to run that fast again, even faster. And I’m going to get my GFA!

So a few knocks and a few drownings amongst the 35 races I completed. A couple of scars, definitely too many toilet related stories and more missed targets than I am happy with but my god I’ve had some absolutely incredible finish lines, met some fantastic people and made some very happy memories.

Definitely. Can’t. Complain.

(Even though I did. I’m talking Oscar worthy whinging!)

All Right Our Kid?

The problem with ‘putting yourself out there’ is that, well, not everyone wants you.

Take London for example. Not just one, but two rejections this year. London – you upped your game – well played.

Then there’s Berlin. Odds are higher, should be easier to get in.

Nope.

‘You are not one of the lucky winners’.

Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Ballots – you are not my friend.

So what races am I going to run next year?

I have a few up my sleeve. They may not be London or the ‘exotic’ Berlin (clearly I haven’t been), but they are still going to be big races in my books.

First, a marathon. After a bit of discussion on the best PB marathon course that will fit in with my other plans I have chosen Manchester.

It’s the same day as London so I will be completely distracted from the one that got away. Instead of moping about, glued to the tracker and wishing I was there I will be entirely focused on the Manchester finishing line. And most importantly, reaching that line in under 3hrs 45minutes.

It will be all ‘pace, pace, pace’ instead of ‘woe is me, pass me a tissue’.

Unless of course, it measures short again….

(Oh yeah, I went there. I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake twice though. Could you imagine!).

So here we go again. Another round of marathon training. But THIS time, it’s not about the distance. It’s about that clock.

Tick tock tick tock.

It’s Over – For Now

It’s Over – For Now

I’m sitting in the back row at the clubs AGM. They are doing the London Ballot places. This is it. This is my last chance to get in to London next year. I can’t look. But I have to look.

The first name is announced.

It’s not mine. But the owner of the name doesn’t want the place so another is read out.

It’s not mine again.

One more.

Again not mine. But again there’s rumours that person doesn’t want the place either! What is going on! I can safely say my heart is definitely beating right now! No slow heart rate here! In fact this is probably the fastest my heart rates ever been!

One more name, as a back up, just in case.

Not mine.

My hopes of London 2018 are now completely over.

I won’t lie, I am desperately disappointed by this. I struggle to plaster a smile on my face after that, thankful only of my choice to sit in the back row.

So what does this mean? Other than the obvious of no such run in London in April next year.

Am I the first person to be disappointed they didn’t ‘win’ something? No. Am I the only person who has ever wanted to run the London Marathon? Definitely not!

What’s that saying? ‘Earned, never given’.

So how do I ‘earn’ it?

Well my love you have to run faster!! Plain and simple! Earn that sucker! 11 minutes. 11 minutes is all you need to get that GFA then you can proudly say to yourself ‘You bloody earned that!’. And won’t it feel so much better – and so much more fitting – if you earn it? If you actually have to work for it rather than rely on luck?

I know what I need to do. My hill sprints, my track sessions, my long runs. If I do them then I will get that time. I will do this.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last but I know my goal for 2018. It’s fine to be disappointed with something but it’s not fine to let it beat you.

Walking Dead

This week I’ve been like a zombie. A barely walking zombie. And I don’t know why.

I’m not doing more than usual – in fact, I’m probably doing less! I don’t feel ill either I just feel exhausted. Thinking about it this is usually a sign somethings on my mind and as per the norm, it’s preventing me from sleeping.

So I’ve turned to the treadmill.

What?!?! The treadmill?? Why!!

Laziness if I’m honest. You can stop at any time on a treadmill and you don’t have to ‘walk back’ anywhere. There’s no ‘suck it up buttercup you’re still 2 miles from home!’. You’re at the gym. The cars outside. It’s easy.

5 miles on a treadmill is not easy though. Not for your mind. So I need to stop that and get back outside. I have had 2 runs in the fresh air this week – one with my running buddy and one on my own after I messed up at work and needed to get out. Today was the treadmill again though. I could barely keep my eyes open at my desk so I went for a run to try and insert some life in to my soul. I was convinced it would work but alas it did not and after nearly smacking my head on my desk in one of those free falling nano seconds of dropping off motions you get I decided it was time to go home.

On the plus side the tiredness in my legs seems to be easing slightly. I really don’t need that when I’m about to start ultra training.

I look shattered

56 miles – what ever obsessed you Ella?

I’m missing park run on Saturday as I’m working but the other half and I are doing the Mo Run on Sunday and we are going to dress up for it! Something fun to end the year on now all our serious races are done.

And Monday brings the clubs AGM. Where I hopefully find out if I am selected for a London ballot place. To say I’m nervous doesn’t even come close. Shaking with hysteria flitting between incredibly excited and depressed as sin isn’t far away from the truth. As they say though, what will be will be.

Then to end the year – the Santa Run! Who doesn’t want to run down your local high street dressed as the big bellied, white bearded grandad?!

So hopefully this tiredness does a Brexit and leaves. Preferably sooner rather than later.

I’m sure some Christmas Carols will help with that.

Whoa Nessie

You would think by now I would know the basics of running. The do’s and (most importantly) the do nots. Well I don’t. Plain and simple – I do not.

After running Loch Ness last year and thoroughly enjoying it despite the pain in my feet from changing my trainers last minute and what turned out to be a weak core (still insulted by this) I was determined to do it again but better. The original plan was to get my GFA time for London (Good For Age ridiculously fast time to get a guaranteed entry). However reality crept in and I soon realised that, for this moment in time, it wasn’t to be. It is still the goal – and I will get in to London – it’s just going to be a longer journey than I first thought.

Leaving for Inverness with my mum I purposefully only took one pair of trainers with me so as not to make the same mistake twice. I have been working on my core so I was quietly confident I shouldn’t get the same issues there again (dare I say there’s even a very slight glimmer of abs there. Well, under all the scones and jam I seem to have taken a liken to recently).

We arrived at the expo early afternoon and I went to register. Mum loved how everyone asked her if she was running as well! I will get her doing the couch to 5k if I have to lend her trainers myself! (That’s a lie, I won’t, no one touches my trainers, I will buy her her own pair.). We then headed over so I could buy a new top to replace the one I’ve worn almost every day since last year.

‘We sold out at about 11am’.

What?!?!? You sold out before mid day the day before the marathon??!! Are you kidding me?? That top is one of the main reasons I’m doing this marathon again!

A very short tantrum later and many, many dirty looks thrown at the man who had shrugged this most unacceptable sentence to me and we went to the pasta party – still fuming. I had had to settle for a new bra. Don’t even ask. Had I been able to phone their head office and spoken to the Director of the company believe me I would have! (Might actually still do that!).

Anyway, the pasta party. Very tasty, very filling, lovely cup cake and great Scottish music from what I presume was a local band. I loved it. Miraculously it managed to take the insult that was the ‘Top drama’ down a notch.

We then drove to the hotel which was as near to the start line as you could get at Loch Ness and settled in for the night. Mum tried out my foam roller whilst I poured over the route trying to memorise where all the trouble areas could be.

It was only a 10 min drive to the bus pick up so we weren’t up too early. As soon as I was on the bus though another woman came on declaring loudly how she gets travel sick and hadn’t taken her tablet that morning. What is it about that bus and eccentric characters? Last year it was a guy speaking loud enough for the supporters at the finish line 26.2 miles away to hear him recall every marathon he had done!

Off the bus and I didn’t even consider waiting in the queue for a hot cup of tea – it was only an hour until the start and that line was clearly double that. The toilet queue wasn’t any better so yup, it was the bush for me! Hey, when nature calls do what nature does!

I waited until last minute to load my bag on the baggage bus and brave the elements. Miraculously I found 3 other road runners on the way to the start line and we got a fab team photo (although we did miss Kenny unfortunately). My scrap book has come out of hiding again!

Hugh and Caroline were there to enjoy it, Duncan wanted to try for a time and it’s one of his favourites and me? Well I had decided if I felt good I would go for a PB but ultimately I didn’t want to ruin my day chasing a time. I really didn’t have the confidence a 3:45 was in me right at that moment.

The bag pipes started and off we went – bang on time. My feet felt good and I was comfortable. Ok, good start. First mile clicked in at 7:02. Time for the maths. This gave me 1min 28 in the bank. That’s if I was to go for the GFA. Up to mile 5 and I was still under 8min miles. Hmmm, should probably slow down. There’s a hill at mile 5 anyway.

I run along (note how I don’t say plodding here) thinking what a great first marathon for someone this would be. It breaks you in gently with an easy start which gives you a confidence booster. Yes, I think, definitely a good one. I don’t know why they don’t recommend it to first timers!

Up the hill and I get a good luck text from my brother. ‘Cheers bro, I’m 6 miles in’. He replies with a photo of himself still in bed. Sheets covering his beer belly. Nice.

I miss my split at 7 miles and I go into panic mode. How am I going to know my time now?!? How do I know how much time I have to play with when the killer hill comes? Why is my leg hurting?

Cramp. I get cramp in my left leg.

Oh that’s quite sore. Bugger. Should I stop and rub it? Walk it off?

You’re not a masseuse, you don’t know what muscle to rub and you’re meant to run a marathon Ella.

You’re right. Ignore it.

‘Still feeling fresh?’ Steve asks me as he goes past. ‘Yup’ I reply through gritted teeth. If you don’t say it out loud it’s not true right?

By mile 10 with the cramp still there and clearly not going I slow down a little. Isn’t cramp caused by lack of water or something? Your muscles are dehydrated so they contract? Believing this to be true I down a full bottle of water and have a couple of jelly babies. Once that kicks in I will be fine I say to myself.

Pushing on to half way the cramps still there, my ankles niggling like a bitch causing my knee to now pound with pain and my bladders full – no I don’t mean the one on my back. This is not going well. I need to stop to pee and rub my leg. So what do I do? I take a selfie.

I then remember that the headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain being dehydrated and contracting. No relation what so ever to do with cramps. Great. So glad I drank all that water now! Not! Would have been better off with vodka! (Well, maybe not, but could have made for a very entertaining run).

I get a message from my lunch time running buddy telling me my pace is looking good. I tell him I can’t keep it up though and I’m goosed. He replies just drop it a tiny bit until the last mile or 2. Does he know how far away that is?!? I do!! 11 bloody miles!! 11 long miles that include a ruddy big hill!! I’ve already ran 13!! Sake.

Trudging on I text my other half to say I’m halfway but I can’t keep it up. His reply? ‘Get the finger out.’ I tell him my knees gone and he asks where? For a run?

He doesn’t get a reply.

I count down to mile 17 where the hill starts. I’ve written this on my hand along with !London! In the hope it spurs me on. Well that ain’t happening today love. But I had already known that if I’m honest. For some reason my mind just wasn’t focused enough. The past couple of weeks have me thinking and to achieve that GFA it needs to be my one and only goal.

Mile 17. The Hill. It’s not the steepest hill I’ve climbed (hey there Birnam) but it’s just so long. Never ends. Ever. At all. So out comes the phone and I record myself walking. Yes. Walking.

My names Ella Webley and I walked when I did the Loch Ness Marathon in 2017.

After 3 hours I reach the top and pick up the pace again. I now no longer care for time and I’m just counting down the miles listening to my music. I then remember I had needed to pee earlier but don’t anymore. After a frightening few seconds of wondering if I had peed myself (I hadn’t, I assure you) I relax back in to my plodding.

Soon I come across a roundabout. And with it comes civilisation! People! There are people here! Oh my god I had forgotten what they were like! Yes there were one or two scattered along the route but this was actual people. That cheered me up. My leg still hurt but I was smiling. I even recognised the loud supporter who had been in the exact same place last year and exchanged a joke with him.

Down to the final couple of miles now and I spot a familiar back pack. ‘Are you Melanie?’ I ask her. She turns and smiles and says yes (thank god, could have been awkward). ‘I’m Ella’. We have been following each other on Instagram for a while now and had both been at another race but missed each other.

We spent the next couple of miles chatting about how tough the run had been and how close we were to finishing. She gave me some tips for my ultra next weekend too. It was just what was needed at that point – you can’t beat seeing a friendly face when you’re hurting. She was aiming for under 4hrs and was comfortably under that. She said she always aimed for under 4 as that meant she didn’t have to do it again – I like her thinking!

I spot my mum and stop to give her my hydration pack as it had been rubbing a bit. I carry on and chase down Melanie in the hope I can come in under 4hrs. My pace picks up as I get closer to the end and as I see the finish I give the last of my energy and go for it.

Turns out that last push was a bit much and I genuinely feel like I’m going to throw up. I apologise to the woman who goes to hang my medal round my neck for being all sweaty and to my surprise she insists on giving me a huge hug! What a lovely woman!! She then gets me a bottle of water as she thinks I’m about to pass out insisting again that that was what she was here for. If I had had any energy I would have cried!

Walking round the finisher chute a guy behind me taps me on the shoulder. ‘I don’t like you’ he says. I laugh ‘oh why’ presuming he had tried to use me as a pacer. ‘I had just managed to get past those 4 guys at the end and you came flying out of nowhere past me.’ ‘Oh sorry’ I apologise and explain I was trying to get under the 4hrs. 43 seconds over I was – ah well. He said he had been trying to but had come in at 4hrs 7. He blamed his wife because he had stopped to give her a hug. He made me laugh.

After cuddles with my mum and my other half who had brought our youngest up for the day I headed straight to the massage tent.

Best. Thing. Ever.

She was amazing! It really helped my legs! I could have stayed there all afternoon no word of a lie.

It was straight home after that and I stupidly didn’t eat anything. Combining that with having felt sick during the run and sitting in the back of the car and I eventually did throw up. Not pretty.

So lessons learnt – again. I need discipline. 7 minute miles at the start of a 26 mile run are not good if you’re not in that league. Water doesn’t cure cramp. If it did you wouldn’t get cramp when swimming – doh. The hydration pack was good but it needs adjusted. Loch Ness Marathon is NOT an easy marathon – this is fact – and not just confirmed by me. Although apparently I said this last year too? I do like it though. Very much. I have more wonderful memories of this one from my mum trying to use the foam roller to seeing other road runners at the start to the wonderful woman at the end who insisted on hugging me, and that massage!

Today my legs hurt – a lot. On Saturday I am running my first ever ultra. This week is most definitely a rest week!

Training Update

As promised (mainly to myself) a training update.

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.

However……

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.

I will get that 3:45.