‘Moust Dash/Tash’

I’ve ran the Edinburgh Mo-Run the last 2 years with my original running buddy and really enjoyed it but life happens and neither of us did it this year.

However when they announced it would also be in Perth I checked the date and it worked for me so I signed up. Unfortunately Frazer still didn’t fancy it but my other half said he would run it. We decided to dress up seeing as we had costumes from a wedding we had just been to but we woke up to an absolutely freezing morning so Wonder Woman is going to have to wait a while for her first run! Instead I opted for my Cheshire Cat Leggings because who doesn’t want two huge cats eyes on their butt cheeks?

Joe decided not to run as well as he wasn’t keen to pay £25 to run places he runs anyway. Plus I’m pretty sure he’s about to hit me with a ‘hey I’m going to sign up to these 3 races that are £300 each, you cool with that?’. He’s playing his cards well ha ha.

My lovely Mum came down to the start too which was nice and I met up with Lorner and her eldest who were doing the 5k and a few other road runners.  Caroline was impressively colour co-ordinated with a purple wig and purple tights.  I won’t lie, the wig had me in a trance.  I just loved how it bobbed up and down very sixties style!

The 5k went off first and then the 10k just 10 minutes after.  We headed out round the Inch and very quickly I knew this wasn’t going to be a PB run with the ice on the ground but then this was a charity run – a fun run – so it didn’t bother me.  Under the bridge and we then headed in to town.  It was quiet but there were some supporters out cheering and laughing at some of the costumes running by.   Just before 1k I started passing some of the 5k runners.  We were doing the same route but the 10k did it twice.  There were quite a lot giving the 5k a go and I cheered every one of them on.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there like that, not something I will ever forget.

Down the high street and unfortunately I had to stop at the road.  A few runners in front of me had stopped and were waiting at the zebra crossing for the cars to go past.  This is the only bit that marginally annoyed me to be honest but only because it puts me off my pace.  Back on to the Inch and I knew then the course was going to be significantly short.  I was more focused on the ice on the ground though and not falling and getting an injury which to me was much more important.  It’s a long drag along the Inch so I tried to focus on catching up with Lorner and her son.  When I spotted them it gave me that little push to try and keep pace.  And just in front of them was Caroline and her purple wig.  Awesome.

The turn at the end of the Inch was treacherous and never have I been more thankful for a marshall insisting on everyone slowing down.  I slipped but didn’t fall so it was few walking steps to make sure I was steady on my feet before running again.  I kept an eye out for my mum and Joe so I could tell them she was just coming but turns out they had found refuge in a cafe!  Can’t blame them though, it was freezing.

Back round for the second lap and I was having a few ‘issues’ with my Cat’s Eye’s leggings.  The eyes were creeping closer to the ground so I was constantly trying to pull them up.  I started off discreetly pulling them at each side, watching to see if anyone was around me but I ended up both hands yanking them up every few minutes any dignity well and truly gone!  Don’t get me wrong I really love them and they are comfy but they are not for staying up when you are running any distance.  I apologize to anyone that had to witness this – it was not attractive!

Across the line and I briefly considered carrying on to make it the full 10k but quickly decided against it given it was just a fun run at the end of the day.  Plus, it was cold.  Very cold.  And very icy.

My youngest was given a spare ‘Mini Mo Runner’ headband which he took great pride in wearing along with my medal and we headed back to the car.  We had tickets to go to the cinema that afternoon and we still had the usual Sunday stuff to do.

There was quite a lot of grumbling about the course being short – and to be fair I measured it a full mile short which is quite a bit.  We found out later the course was cut last minute due to the ice which is quite clearly the right decision.  The turn to come back was treacherous enough.  The issue came because this information was not passed on to the runners at the start.  There have been a few complaining that other areas were bad so how could the closed off section be any worse but at the end of the day it’s Mo Run’s responsibility and decision.  They have since offered a free place for next year to the 10k runners which, in my opinion, is an impressive thing to do.  It’s a charity run at the end of the day so they will be losing the funds from these entries.  Although I know quite a few that ran the 5k I don’t think I am in a position to comment on them not being offered a free place so i won’t.

All I will say is I enjoyed the run.  It’s fun, the marshalls were amazing, there was a lot of them on course and I enjoyed it.  I will take up their offer of a place next year but I will make sure I raise at least the cost of my place so the charity doesn’t lose out.

And I will continue to wear funky leggings!

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Isn’t It A Wonder

Isn’t It A Wonder

Templeton 10. The last race of the championship. The last chance to prove I hadn’t lost the ability to run.

Or at least, that was the plan.

The 500 mile road trip the day before probably wasn’t the best foot to get off on but it was worth it. We had a great time at a family wedding.

So here it was. Sunday morning. Race day. Winter had definitely come, it was bloody freezing, so the shorts were left in the bag. I debated just a vest but chose last minute to put a tshirt on underneath. I don’t like being cold. The honest truth is, I’m an absolute cow when I’m cold. A hungry runner ain’t got nothing on this runner when she’s shivering.

The conversation before the start was, well, interesting. Everyone was glad it was the last race of the season. Many were there to get their Championship medal (Run 7 out of 10 selected races and bam – new medal). More importantly though, we needed to know the toilet situation. Which naturally led on to exchanging stories of the weirdest pee related thing you had seen whilst running. Sonjia’s story of the start of one of her World Major Marathons was the winner. Details not to follow! Ha ha.

The start line was freezing. In the shade and amongst trees my inner bitch was beginning to come out. I was shivering and swearing in equal quantities. So I kept to myself. For that reason and also because I was worried I was about to have a repeat of Jedburgh the week before. This was 3 miles less but I had struggled from about 7 or 8. And when you’re miserably disappointed with yourself, running even one mile is a mission.

Team photo done we headed to the start and quickly we were off. Clutching my clif bloks which I had thankfully remembered this time I had my plan in my head. There was a short downhill to start (which truly nastily we would be coming back up at the end) followed by 5 miles of climb. This was no PB course. There was no fast start, it was about taking it easy and saving something in the legs for the last climb. We went in and out of the shade which meant in and out of the cold and sun. Very difficult. One minute it was hot and I was regretting the double top layer and the next minute it was freezing and I was wishing I had my gloves. There was no winning.

There was also no pain. I was ‘comfortable’. I didn’t let myself believe this though so I concentrated on just moving forward and getting to the top of the hill. Then I could use the downhill as recovery.

Now I’m told the views were lovely but quite frankly my only concern was having a good run. I just couldn’t end the season with another atrocious run in pain and disappointed. So I kept pushing. Said hi to Derek as he passed me and slowly kept putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward.

(That’s how you run by the way. By putting one foot in front of the other. Not at the side. You won’t go the right way if you do that. Good tip for you).

5 miles and I had my clif blok. Didn’t feel like I needed it but it was a distraction. As was the incredibly enthusiastic Marshall at mile 6. ‘Wish I had her energy right now’ I said to the runner next me. He laughed in agreement. He knew.

Mile 7 and I adopted the usual ‘just a park run left’. Of course I knew mile 9 had the potential to completely ground me to a halt/end my life. I wasn’t thinking about that though.

Mile 8 – done. (I feel I should be making an Eminem joke here – striking resemblance to Justin Bieber don’t you think?)

Mile 9.

Here it is. The last mile. The last hill. I’m not in pain. I don’t need to clutch my chest and enter the ugly duckling contest. I’m fine. Knackered because running 9 miles is quite tiresome but I’m ok. I can do this.

Top of the hill and I turn left. It evens out but it’s never ending. I’ve still got Derek in my sights and I briefly consider trying to catch him but I blink and he’s gone.

Finally I come up on the finish and I actually have a grin on my face. I just ran that race like a proper runner!! I did it! Nothing held me back!! (Or bounced around pulling at my muscle). FINALLY! I can run!!

In hindsight the implant probably just needed time to ‘plant’ itself (eugh) but I was told I could carry on as normal. Of course the doctor probably didn’t know what normal was to me but never mind. Lesson learned. I’ve been back to have the implant checked and everything is ok at the moment. A little worrying the nurse asked if my heart rate was usually really slow but we will let that pass.

Finishing that race not only got me my championship medal but it put me back on track. I can run comfortably again. I can run distance again!

Sometimes I guess you have to just wait your time then unleash your inner Wonder Woman and let her run free.

(Me running the last part through the woods ha ha)

Losing The Battle

Defeated. That’s …. well …… that’s ……. almost how I feel about Jedburgh Half Marathon. I was very, very, very nearly defeated.

Let’s see how it panned out.

Joe came along with the youngest and unfortunately it was a quite a drive. ‘Why do you always have to do races that are so far away!’ was the general topic of conversation in the car. Luckily Jedburgh turned out to be a pretty awesome place and he found lots to do or the drive home may have ended up one person short!

I had my porridge and banana. I had my water. I had my trainers and socks (left and right, very important) and I had my chest bandaged up and my new sports bra on.

I didn’t have my gels or my clif blocks. Bugger.

‘We could find an Asda’ Joe said. I tried. I failed. I had no nutrition to take with me to help me run 13.1 miles. ‘I’ve ran most my half’s without taking gels or anything, I’m sure it will be fine. It won’t be that that causes me problems.’

Famous last words.

All registered and I quickly dived in for the team photo – didn’t miss it this time! This was a championship race so the Green Machine were out in force. It was also an out and back race so lots of opportunity to encourage others along the way. A quick chat at the start line and we were soon off.

There was a very gradual uphill at the start and when my first mile clicked in at about 8 minutes I quietly congratulated myself. ‘Well done for not going off too fast Ella! Well done!’. The first few miles were steady and everything seemed fine. No pain, no discomfort, just fine. ‘You might actually see that finish line before it gets dark!’ I said to myself. I think I got to about 5.5 miles before the lead runners starting coming back the way and I concentrated on spotting the green vests so I could shout the ever useful ‘well done’ to those clearly putting in more effort than me.

Pace Ella, it’s all about pace for you.

As I headed towards the little circle part for the turn around I started to feel a ‘pulling’. Not great. I decided it must have been the wind (in what world does that make sense?!?) and tried to readjust my bra a little, giving the area a little nudge as if to say ‘get back in there’.

As I was having my little wardrobe adjustment I spotted a woman at her window waving very enthusiastically so I waved back grinning. This kept me smiling for about half a mile, she was just so energetic!

On reflection she was in the warmth and comfort of her own home, she hadn’t just ran over 6 miles and she could sit down when ever she wanted. Still. I appreciated her effort.

Past the 8 miles and I started to struggle. Just a little bit but I recognised the signs. Breathing was heavy, it hurt to take a very deep breath, my legs were very slightly beginning to get heavier.

‘Come on, 5 miles left, that’s just a lunch run, you can do that’ – I desperately tried to motivate myself. ‘Get to 9 miles and it’s only 4 more from there which is only 1 mile more than parkrun. You enjoyed Parkrun this week. You’ll be fine, come on.’

9 miles crept past and I felt like I was losing it. If only I had remembered my gels I would definitely had taken one, if not two! When have I ever had 2 gels whilst running? Never, but that’s not the point. Well actually it is because a gel isn’t going to help your chest at the moment or your breathing.

This internal arguing carried on and on and on by the way. At one point it was full blown swords drawn at dawn you’re going down love! Don’t worry though, I survived it.

I couldn’t run. I couldn’t move. I was barely putting one foot in front of the other. I saw the 10 mile sign but I stopped before it. My rule is I have to go past a mile marker sign before I can stop when I’m struggling but that was blown out the water. Clutching my chest I tried to take a deep breath to settle everything down. It just hurt. Didn’t do anything productive. My legs were now just solid lead. Two tree stumps refusing to move along in a timely fashion. I could hear them saying ‘we’re in no rush’.

Yeah no sh!t Sherlock, I noticed that a mile back!

Right. Can I do this? Can I make the last 3 miles back to the start? Do I have it in me?

I will tell you what I DONT have in me and that’s energy! Should have brought your gels.

How is that helping right now?!?!?

I shuffled my way along, one ear bud in because the other didn’t work, playing – and let’s be honest here – really crap music.

Ok, let’s change it up. Find a decent song and get a decent pace going.

I settled on Justin Bieber.

Wait, wait, I have my reasons ok, just hear me out!

When I was in London last year – not running the London Marathon, hmmf – we went to Madame Tussaud’s and one of his songs came belting on and I loved it. My daughter loved it, my mum loved it, it just reminds me of a really happy time. So yeah, Justin Bieber.

It worked. It got me moving just marginally faster than a dying snail but moving none the less. Every Marshall I went past asked me if I was ok and one asked if I wanted to stop. It wasn’t until afterwards I realised I was gripping on to my chest and looking like a contestant in a gurning competition so it must have been quite a sight! Elite athlete I am not!

Eventually, after hours of pretending I’m a runner, I make it through those last 3 miles. I. Need. A. Seat.

I look like I’ve just ran 50 miles at a 6min mile pace. Not 13.1 miles at over a 8min mile pace. Most of the Perth Road Runners got pbs on the route. I did not. I finished. Just.

It’s frustrating because I needed a certain time for club standards (oh yes, there’s never just one goal is there) and knowing most people found it a fast course kills me a little inside. But. It is what it is.

Clearly my best side ha ha 🙂

Was it the lack of gels? A friend at work had an interesting theory I was using that to try and ignore the reality of being ‘knocked about a bit’. She could be right. Or I could just be a really crap runner right now.

There’s one more championship race left and I don’t want to walk away from it disappointed with how it’s gone.

Maybe I will use Christmas songs to keep me going this time? Now there’s a thought!

Ochil Ultra – And The Fear Was Back

Ochil Ultra – And The Fear Was Back

I’ve noticed a trend in my thinking.

I came across a new race that would start in Glen Devon and end in Perth. I live in Perth. So where did my head go? Why would I not do it?

It’s an Ultra. You have the choice of 50 miles or 30 miles. After briefly contemplating the 50 I very wisely chose the 30. There’s pushing yourself and there’s outright stupidity (and let’s be honest, I do enough stupid things without needing to add to them).

It’s 6 days after Loch Ness Marathon.

Stupid.

I signed up.

It was sold out but luckily I was able to get a place from another road runner who had decided not to do it as he had a lot on. One of the many benefits of being in a club is finding places for races! Although I did have to chase him down to give him the money for the place but I just used that as training ha ha.

Turned out that quite a number of road runners were doing it. 4 others were running the 30 miles and there were 2 teams of 5 doing the relay over 50 miles. That’s a lot of Green Machine! The club also had people marshalling the course.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really think about it a lot until after Loch Ness. That was the race that started out as my intended London GFA – my golden goal, London. Until I had to take that step back so as not to ruin my love of running. London will come though! My YES magazine is out next week!! (Positivity is key).

So The Ochils was my ‘let’s see if you can’ race. Run. Not a race, a run. I tried to work out the route but it was a new one and over trails so couldn’t really. Hmm. This could be difficult.

‘Could be’. Oh how I laugh now!

I took advice where I could get it. What was a drop bag? Why would I need one? 30 miles is only 4 more than a marathon why on earth would I need to stop twice to eat?!

Oh how naive you are Ella.

I messaged another club member who I knew had done a few ultras to try and work it all out. Then, list at the ready, headed to the shops.

My biggest worry was getting lost. (No not to the shops! On the course!). I’m notorious for taking the long way round when I’m driving or walking somewhere. I didn’t want to be doing that on the run. I must have begged at least 5 people to follow me on the tracker and promise to phone me if I went the wrong way. It was honestly worrying me. Over a 30 mile course I knew there would be times I would be completely by myself which I’m ok with but has greater risk of getting lost.

The night before the run I picked up my route book – along with my tracker – and poured over it, pretending I knew what I was looking at. Seeing the section that read ‘no clear path’ didn’t fill me with joy.

The bus was at 6am – not that I was going to sleep much anyway the night before. I realised I hadn’t felt like this before a run in a while. In a strange way I missed this. The not knowing if everything will be ok. I took it as a good sign (my names Ella and I appear to be a weirdo). We were dropped outside a small Inn which unfortunately didn’t want to let us in, much to the very loud annoyance of a fellow road runner ha ha. Some of his many comments being ‘I should have got the cheaper dentures because all this teeth chattering is going to break them’ (I liked that one), and ‘what’s wrong are my hints not loud enough’. Turns out they were as the RD came along quite furious the Inn hadn’t let us through the door. Teething problems I don’t doubt will be fixed for next year.

We headed off to the start line which was nothing more than a field and a flag. This wasn’t a big fan fare type of run with the music blaring and motivational quotes over the tannoy – and I liked that. Didn’t know what direction I was going but I liked it. We were off.

Within 20 metres we had to stop to walk over a cattle grid. Yup, this most definitely was not what I was used to.

500 metres later and my feet were soaking and already caked in mud. Welcome to trail running. The first few miles were up hill but I felt good, better than ok. People were friendly, there was some chatter, and I ticked off each arrow I saw with a thumbs up and a ‘well done Ella’. It’s the small things.

6.8 miles in and I climbed a very steep hill. I’m talking crawl and pull yourself up. At this point I was thankful I had done the Hill Series in the club. The runner beside me commented ‘They don’t call it the Ochil Hills for nothing’. I was instantly thrown back to the Knockhill Race a few months ago. For crying out loud Ella you would think you would learn!

And by the way, I know it was 6.8 miles in because I took a video to record it. I recorded all my moments of pain that day.

First check point was just shy of the 10 miles. I didn’t feel I needed to stop but everyone else did so I took some flap jack from my drop bag (homemade by my other half – I love it!). I was reminded to get my chip scanned and then I was off again.

The terrain got a lot more tricky after this and there were a lot of bumps and divets on the ground. At 11 miles the worst happened – I went over my right ankle and heard a crack. My other half had strapped it up again for me the night before for reassurance but it wasn’t going to stop me going over in this. I did what every runner does in this situation and immediately carried on. If I pretend it didn’t happen then it didn’t right? I was able to put weight on it so it couldn’t have been bad. The crack I heard couldn’t possibly have been what you first think of. I distracted myself with thinking about air which causes your knuckles and back to crack and wondering how air got in to my ankle. I then had more flap jack in case I was beginning to get delirious.

I was having a lot of pain at the ‘v’ at the top of my legs. (I’m not a doctor, I don’t know what the area is called!). This was causing me a lot of issues trying to push on. Unexpectedly I came across Daile from the club who was marshalling and that was a great little pick me up. She was in one of the relay teams and had done the first leg. Have to admit, I was slightly jealous she was already finished. After seeing her I tried to break my run down in to sections and originally started with the next one being 15 miles however that had to drop quickly to half marathon distance. At about 12 miles I had to climb a wall with a ladder and jump down in to what can only be described as a bottomless river! To say I wasn’t happy about this is an understatement as my Instagram showed. Raging. I was raging! Then I had to run through a nettle field with nettles taller than me!

Who comes up with these routes?!? Why the hell would you think it’s a great idea to have people running through sh!t like this! I could have drowned! I honestly could have drowned! What then? Another runner comes along and discovers my blue and bloated body just floating in the river? That will make for a great race photo – cheers! And if the river doesn’t finish you off the giant nettles will!

No. I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t easy. All made harder by the pain.

Once at a farm I decided to strip off to my shorts. Again something I would never do on a marathon – stop and change. But I thought if I put my shorts on I would feel better. Could probably have picked somewhere more remote than a working farm but I’m not so sure I was thinking straight at this point. A lovely older woman got a right eyeful of my rear end as she went by me but hopefully she’s seen worse. Either that or I gave her a memorable moment of the race ha ha.

Through the wind farms and I found I was by self. No one in sight. But I was fine with this. The noise of the turbines was company enough. Reminded me of my brother who works on them (I use the word ‘work’ very lightly) and who’s house I would be running past if I made it that far.

Down a very muddy path and I have to walk for fear of falling. I wasn’t going to make up any time on the downhills on this run. I passed someone walking up who gave me a cheery ‘well done’ and I couldn’t help but think why would you walk up here?! Then realised she must have been a Marshall. Time for more flap jack and maybe a piece of chocolate too.

Just before 19 miles I get a text from my lunch time running buddy asking how I’m getting on. I tell him where I am and that I’m in a lot of pain. I get a reply of ‘you’re over half way, stay focused, baby steps’. I tell him it is baby steps it’s that bad and ask how his birthday is going. He’s not feeling well so I tell him to stop whinging – great coming from me right now! Good thing I wasn’t expecting sympathy! I also start getting messages from my mum but she’s using WhatsApp and they aren’t coming through great. I consider texting her and trying to tell her to use text but it’s my mum, best not complicate things for her ha ha. My friend is trying to track me but she’s struggling to use it. She does however successfully send me a picture of a bottle of prossecco she has bought me to celebrate at the finish – love her!

My focus is now the second check point. I’m not sure where it is but it can’t be far. I see some people in the road and my Sherlock Holmes detective skills tell me they must be waiting for someone. As I very, very slowly get closer I hear my name. It’s the Reid’s from the club! So happy I am to see people – and people I know – I almost miss the check point! Steph had ran the first leg of the relay and was already washed and changed and out supporting everyone else. Stewart came over and asked if there was anything he could do to help me. ‘Run the last bit for me’ I jokingly said, although was I joking? That check point definitely gave me the pick me up I needed though. Encouragement, smiles and a reminder that no wonder I was finding it hard, I had done a marathon just 6 days before. After Stewart opened my chocolate bar for me (it seemed my fingers weren’t working any better than my legs) I was off again, with a very slight spring in my step.

I was down to my last 10 miles. The last leg. Closer to home. I can do this! I am over the bad bit!

Nope! No you are not!

You know Moncrieffe Hill Ella. It’s. Hard.

Walk it. I’m going to walk it. Run until it gets really steep then walk. That’s the reality of it. So I run through the village we have now reached and along the road to the dreaded last hill. I think I know the turning but there’s no Marshall and no sign so I keep going and continually look behind me to see if anyone is there or if anyone turns up that way. I can’t really see anyone. There would have been a sign I tell myself. There have been many, many signs up to now you wouldn’t have missed it.

Aw god what if I did miss it? And on the last section? How embarrassing! Please don’t say I’ve missed it. Keep going just a bit further and if you don’t see a sign stop and check the map. Please don’t say I’ve gone wrong!

Then in the distance I see someone dancing in the middle of the road. That must be a Marshall surely! Who else would be out here? And by themselves? Sure enough it’s not only a Marshall but it’s Barry from the road runners. ‘You’re doing good’ he says.

I love how folk lie when you’re running.

Re-assured I’m on the right track I keep going. As I climb further up the hill I get more and more messages from my friends. I’m less than 10 miles away now. I know I can run 10 miles. I’m not going to give up now. I start counting them down – albeit very slowly. The climb is hard so I stick to running the flat and walking the up hills. I’ve nothing to prove, my goal is to see if I can do this.

Further in to the hill there’s another surprise Marshall in the form of Brian from the club. He’s set himself up with a campsite! It’s amazing! ‘Do you need anything? Do you want some water?’ He asks me. ‘I’m good thanks’ I reply as I trundle by. I wish I had taken a photo of his station, it was amazing.

The advantage of knowing the hill is knowing where the actual last climb is. So when that was done I could ‘relax’. Then I realised I had just run 2 marathons in 6 days as my watch went past 26.2 miles.

Happy Ella!

Well almost. Once off the hill I follow the road out and I know it’s a rolling road. I don’t let this bother me though as this is where my brother lives. I almost let myself think he will be there to wave at me as I go by but it’s Saturday afternoon – he will still be in bed. The only running he does is to the bar when they shout ‘last orders’ ha ha.

Ok, last few miles, and I’m going slower than a turtle through treacle but I’m going! I’m joined by a woman out for a leisurely run. She asks me if there is a race on and I explain it’s an Ultra. She then asks if I have far to go and I tell her I’m on my last couple of miles. She says she is thinking of doing a marathon then asks me how many km a marathon is and is it 20.

I stop running with her.

At this point I see Gair – also from the road runners, we are everywhere! – sitting in his van. Oh how much do I need to sit down and get off these blistered feet! I give him a cheery wave and a smile as I trundle on. Happy that I’m almost finished.

Just round the corner I spot my mum. It’s roasting now and she has a long thick cardigan on. It takes her a good few minutes to spot me so I wave to make sure she knows it’s me. She tells me Joes at the finish line and she’s going to phone him to tell him I’m coming. ‘I’m not going to be there any time soon’ I joke with her. She then starts running with me and it’s awesome! My dad shouts after her ‘Netty, you’re going kill yourself’. ‘Not at this pace’ I shout back at him.

Through the Inch and I have to cross the road at the other side. There’s a Marshall there who pushes the lights for me and a car stops right in front of me. Oh please don’t make me stop I’m begging you! I won’t get started again! My face must have been a picture of despair as he then tells me to go behind the car, clearly unable to solve this problem alone.

On to the finishing straight, I got this! Where’s the finish? Where is the finish? I can’t see anything indicating the finish! Surely there is more to the finish line than a couple of people standing at the side? I’m just about to ask them when I catch a glimpse of the all too familiar inflatable arch way. It’s right there! I just need to go round the corner and back again! I hit the corner and force myself in to a sprint. I can sit down as soon as I cross that line!

Move, move, move!

Ok stop, stop, stop!

The man holding the medals is braced for impact. This about to go badly wrong! Luckily I grind to a halt just in time.

‘Oh god!’ I say as I finally manage to breath. ‘I’ve had quite a few people call me that today’ the Race Director replies quite pleased with himself. ‘I’ve a few names for you, not sure God is one of them!’ I laugh back at him.

That’s it though. That’s it done. I just ran an ULTRA!!

I need a seat!

Joe was there with Ollie and Lucie and Lorner was there too who promptly presented me with my prossecco – love you! My mum and dad then appeared and I managed to get a photo of everyone.

I may have had the odd moan and groan but I loved this run. I loved the fear, the change in terrain, the people, the marshalls, the different things it has opened my eyes to – I loved it! Would I do it again? Definitely! I can see my running taking a new direction after this!

Scott from the club came in first place and Marlena was first female. Amazing achievements and great for the club! We had so many people running it, out supporting or marshalling – it was amazing!

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!

Getting Wet In Weymouth

Getting Wet In Weymouth

When I was in college – just a ‘couple’ of years ago – one of my assignments was to promote Weymouth. Being the young, care free gal I was back in those days I had no real idea what activities were done in Weymouth so came up with the slogan ‘I Got Wet In Weymouth’ to sell t-shirts on the beach. Ironman was a comic book character at that time, not something I would ‘half’ be several (hundred) years later.

Weymouth 70.3 was Joe’s ‘A’ race for the year. The one he wanted. It fell just after our youngest’s birthday so we decided as we would be down that way to take a slight detour to CBeebies Land for him. The slight detour ended up being many additional hours as we hadn’t really taken into consideration just how often we would hear ‘I need a pee!’ in a frantic voice. And let’s not mention ‘I need poo’…..

It was worth it though and he had a great time. Lesson learnt though – it would have been better after the race. Less stressful.

I had really, really wanted to do Weymouth. A perfect one to sign up to after Edinburgh. But this was Joes race so I had to set that jealousy aside and I love going to his races and supporting anyway (even if I’m ‘not invited’). Weymouth is a about 30 miles from his side of the family so I also messaged the aunties and cousins to ask them along as a surprise for him.

4am and the alarm goes off.

We have rented an uber cool pod lodge where we shower and get ready. Half the site is filled with athletes so we aren’t the only ones up and don’t have to worry too much about being noisy. We put our son in the car and drive to the car park where I will sit for an hour before heading down – Joe heads straight to the swim start.

Now. I was going to try and sleep for another hour in the car but I was awake. And excited. I may not have been racing but I really do love chasing him round a course. I also love instagram. So I made a few videos. During these videos I was spotted by a couple of people going by and let’s just say I made them smile ha ha.

Whilst messing about in the car at 6am I found Joes timing chip. Uh oh. I phoned him to tell him before he frantically tried to search for it. I would have to get it down to him. The plan was a slow toddler paced walk down to the swim start but this had now turned into a frantic move-as-fast-as-you-can-whilst-carrying-a-4yearold-and-a-heavy-rucksack. Thank god I ‘occasionally’ do strength work! Jogging (yes, jogging) to the swim whilst politely telling people to move Joe suddenly appeared behind me.

‘Chip!!!’

‘Back pocket’

And he was gone again.

Who says romance is dead?

I headed up to the rocks in the hope this would cheer up my now unhappy toddler but he was having none of it. We weren’t close enough to spot Joe anyway so it wasn’t proving to be a good idea from any aspect. We moved round to the back of the start and as we slowly wandered down I saw Joe waving. Talk about luck!

I was able to calculate his swim start was roughly 7:13am so from there I could again roughly predict what time he would exit. Oh yeah – this isn’t my first time supporting – I’ve got skills in this area! CV worthy skills!

We went down on the beach so Oliver could throw stones in to the water and I was struck by just how many people 2600 are. The start queue for the swim was huge!! I think it may have taken up to half an hour maybe more to get everyone started.

Oliver got bored very quickly so the first chocolate snack/bribe was administered. Yes, shoot me, I gave my child chocolate at 7:30am. It cheered him up ok. He doesn’t usually have such bad things so early but this was a special event. We found a good spot on the swim exit and plonked ourselves down. I pulled out the sign Oliver had made and proudly placed it in front of us – yes, I am that person. He would hear us before he seen us and he would definitely see us.

However, Oliver had other plans. ‘I need a pee’. ‘Daddy will be out any minute now can you hold it?’. Cue wailing and crying to further cement me in to the bad motherhood society. That’ll be a no then! Off we went to the portaloos. One of the good things about this race was the number of toilets so no long queue.

I was quite sure we would have missed Joe coming out of the swim so decided to plonk ourselves about 70 metres down from the bike out. It was another great spot. I was ridiculously nervous Oliver would wander on to the road in front of a bike and get seriously hurt and knock a rider off. There was no reason for this train of thought – he had never done anything like that before, was aware of the fast moving cyclists and had clamped himself to my legs anyway. Still, it was nerve wrecking. Only to be made worse by witnessing a bike crash in to another and one rider go head over heels. It looked painful and I’m not sure the rider continued! And of course it was at this time Joe came passed. And he looked right pissed off! (Excuse my language). Looking at the time I took an educated guess he wasn’t happy with his swim. He was out though and on the bike, his favourite section.

I updated Facebook (life’s priority ha ha).

Looking for somewhere warm Oliver and I headed to the Sand Sculpture place hoping for entertainment for him and a cup of tea for me. ‘Do you have a warm cafe in there?’ I asked the women at the desk. ‘Yeah we do’.

Lies!!!!! Absolute lies!!! It was a TENT. And a leaking one at that! Bloody freezing! Colder inside it than out! Olivers lips actually started turning blue so it was back out and a walk up the promenade whilst wondering why we lived and raced in such a cold bloody country. Decision was made then and there to emigrate.

We found a proper cafe further up and warmed up whilst I amused myself listening to the waitress continually saying she didn’t understand where all the people had come from and that they were experiencing their busiest ever Sunday. Every customer in there had Ironman merchandise on – including Oliver and I – obviously. The road outside had been closed for the event. There were signs everywhere stating ‘Event’.

I just smiled at her and shrugged.

We met up with Aunt Jackie who phoned from right outside the shop I was in. Shortly after Aunty Maria and the cousins appeared and all of a sudden it wasn’t just Oliver and myself – we had a full on cheer squad! Amazing!! (Unfortunately Aunty Julie was full of the flu and being on a beach front isn’t the best place when you are ill but she was there in spirit).

They didn’t know how we would be able to tell when Joe was coming but I was all over that. I can pretty much pin point it to the minute. I’m telling you, skills of a ninja. His doppelgänger did throw me off though I have to admit. This guy was his absolute double just slightly taller – and not wearing a Perth Tri Club Tri suit but it was blue and he had the same visor, glasses, beard and compression socks.

As soon as I saw Joe that was it.

HERE HE COMES!!! I screamed at everyone. Cheer squad assembled and we roared waving our banners. The grin from his face was worth it – he clearly hadn’t expected it. The run route was 3.5 laps so he he came back the other way less than 10 minutes later. Cue more shouting, cheers and frantic waving. Oh yeah, we owned that promenade!

He seemed in good spirits and he didn’t look like he was hurting too much. By the next time round I could see the pain on his face though so we cheered louder (hard to believe but a group of 6 women, 1 teenager and 5 small children can always get louder! Ha ha).

After his last lap past us we headed towards the finish. I knew it would be difficult to see him but miraculously we got there just before he went up the red carpet, cheering him on the very finish.

After he was done and came out the finishers lounge we all headed for something to eat. It had been a long day for everyone but worth every second. You just can’t beat having support like that. He’s always said he doesn’t ‘need’ it but I think we’ve proved how great it can be. Especially when it’s unexpected. It was a good event and one I think we will be back at next year.

Island Running

Island Running

Run round an Island you say? Yeah I’m up for that!

Around Cumbrae is a 10 mile road race on, yup you guessed it, Cumbrae. Cumbrae is an island off the west of Scotland so a bit of a journey to get there but all part of the adventure!

In hindsight my planning maybe wasn’t the best. Running a fast Parkrun the day before and then hurting my ankle doesn’t make for good preparation. It happened though so I ‘ignored’ the Parkrun and taped up my ankle. Job done.

Sexy isn’t it.

I begged my other half to come knowing I would regret it after but everyone seemed to be organised for the car share and I thought the kids would love it – go on a ferry, be on an actual island – what’s not to love? Everything apparently. Turns out it was just me that was excited by this. Maybe I need to get out more.

On the Saturday the weather was gorgeous. Sunny, no wind, no rain, just bliss. On the Sunday, the day of the race, well, no. It was not. Let’s just say I didn’t need the sun cream.

A full on wet suit and survival guide would have been more appropriate but I had to make do with my long sleeved top and shorts. Hair was plastered back. Very attractive.

The good thing about the other half coming was that we could test out the new car. Oh yes. No longer do I have the Zafira bus that hadn’t locked for over a year, windows had a life of their own going up and down and would make weird and wonderful noises for absolutely no reason at all. In comes the BMW whose stereo I can’t work (only the most important part of a car!), has more buttons than a space ship and I’ve been told I can’t get it dirty. ITS A CAR!!

But anyway, the race.

We arrived 2 hours before the start – something of a complete wonderment to me! I’m more of a pre 5 mins girl so with 2 hours to kill and wind that could capsize the titanic things got boring very quickly. I soon became the most hated person in the car as I was the reason we were here. ‘I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I need a pee, I need a poo’. 2 hours I had to endure of this, and iPads were not a cure for the situation.

After firmly sealing my place in the worst mum hall of fame yet again I gingerly made my way to the hall where everyone was gathering for the pre-race photo. Only to find out I had already missed it yet again. I was just beginning to think someone was trying to tell me something here when the heavens literally opened and we were engulfed with torrential rain. I sheltered under a tree but that wind was determined to get me and get me it did! This race was not turning out to be the fun filled experience I had thought it would be…..

It wasn’t clear where the start line was but one of the many benefits of not being the fastest means you can safely just queue up behind other people. Job done.

Thanks to the torrential downpour the roads were very slightly flooded. Don’t think I earned myself any brownie points splashing through them but my god I had fun doing it!! There’s something oddly satisfying about splashing in a puddle! Until you Splash your bum and you have to seriously consider if you’ve possibly just pee’d yourself. Nope, that’s cold water. Maybe no more splashing though Ella.

First couple of miles were probably a little too fast given I’m meant to be doing marathon pace. I didn’t have to worry though because just before the mile 4 marker the wind started to hit. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ran in but it was enough to push me back. That coupled with meant to be going slow just completely messed with me and that was it. As much as I enjoyed the views and running right beside the sea my body wasn’t having it. I just couldn’t push myself on. So I settled on slower. I even stopped for a bathroom break (just to check ha ha). This had dire consequences on my under garments however and I ran the last 2 miles with my pants only being held up by my shorts! At least that made me go a little faster!

I crossed the line to discover Joe had taken the kids for a late lunch to pass the time. We headed straight to the ferry after a quick chat with a couple of other road runners and collecting my medal. That’s right, it may have been a small island race but there was still a medal! Wa hey!

Of course I had to apologise for the ‘boring’ day in the car on the way home and I will no doubt be held to ransom over this in the near future (Can I have £20 mum? No! Remember when you made us come to one of your races that was a 200 mile round trip and it was pouring with rain with nothing to do? Here’s £30, on you go).

This race has made me realise I need to take a step back and slow down though. I need to do some slower runs to get ‘that feel’ for my pace to be able to do 26.2 miles. Am I still going for my London time? Well, I want to, but I have also realised it just may not happen at Loch Ness. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen. I absolutely will be running London next year! It’s more that I need to still enjoy running for running and not always be aiming on a time.