Scotlands Toughest

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

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

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

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

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


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

On to the race.  It instantly starts up hill.  

And doesn’t stop.

For 11 miles!

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

Sadists.  I’m telling you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not just one brick.  A bag of bricks.

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

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

I’m not posting the photo.

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


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


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

But I did take a selfie in my car.


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

4 weeks and counting until Ironman 70.3.

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. 

Well…..

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! 

What’s she up to?

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…..

Yes I did wear my finisher tshirt to work the next day.

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

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

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

Says it all about my fitness levels at that time.

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

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

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

Full face buff and glasses it is then!

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

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

Sniff…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finishing time – 1hr 48m 38secs.

God damn it.

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

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

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


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

Not My Strong Point

Last night saw the second race in the Hills Are Alive series I for some reason thought would be a good idea for me to take on.

It’s not.

My day started great.  My original running buddy and the guy who did the cycle to John O Groats – just the other week! – with Joe (husband) invited me through for a cycle.  30 miles on windy, country roads through beautiful landscape isn’t to be refused.  


I also wore my new Wonder Woman leggings which are ridiculously comfortable!


Back home and I was unusually organised managing to get the youngest out on his bike and then bags packed for the hill race later on.  Joe had decided to run it too after I had told him how bad the first one was.

Off we went (slightly late but that was his fault) and we bumped in to Heledd (from the club, always beats me, got me right at the end at Path Of Condie, still not over that one) at registration when we finally found it i.e. It was the picnic table outside the pub! It’s a small race to be fair.  

Only about 55 of us were lined up at the start.  7 Road Runners but only 4 of us had done the first race.  Stewart tried to joke that the game was on between Heledd and me but my only goal was genuinely to finish.  I find these Hill races incredibly hard.  Give me 26.2 miles any day over the 4 miles of steep up and downs.  But! I’ve started.  So my god am I going to finish them!


Off we went under the promise that there was lots of red tape to guide us.  Same as Birnam Hill and before long I was deeply out of breath and very slowly climbing up hill.  ‘Come on you need to run’ a guy who was sat at the side said.

I didn’t like him.  Twat.

I had looked at the elevation many, many times beforehand if for no other reason than to assure myself it wasn’t going to be as bad as the last one.  I knew it had the biggest climb to start, down then back up then down again. I could handle that.

My stomach had other ideas though and started cramping.  Luckily, the fact I’m not used to running trails with big branches over them was a good distraction.  About 2 miles in and I was overtaken by Mike and Fiona.  They like the hill runs and enjoy these races.  I, do not.  I tried to keep them in my sights and was quite successful in doing so but lost them not long after the turn.  Had I not seen Fiona at the turn I’m not sure I would have known to clip my bib number! 

At one section I had to stop and look for this large amount of red tape we had been promised that would guide us.  I can only assume the woodland creatures had eaten it or the fairies had taken it away as I barely saw any!! 

At a steep, wet, muddy and rocky section the lead runners started coming down past me.  I was so out of breath I couldn’t muster the usual ‘well done’ so ended up clapping as they went by.  I will be honest though – I only started running at this point up the hill (yes, I had stopped to walk, bite me!) because I knew Joe would be coming past very shortly and I didn’t want him to see me walking.

Obviously as soon as he passed I walked again.

On to the final run down and I started thinking about the elevation chart I had looked at and how this hadn’t felt anything like that.  It appears to be a trend with race organisers to lie about this.  I wonder if they all get together, sit around a table and think ‘hmm, what would annoy the Runners the most? I know, let’s tell them this is relatively flat so they spend the whole time wondering if they have gotten lost – Runners love that!’.

Twats.

Final stretch and Steph is there with the camera – poor soul had kindly walked down a bit to get some photos.  She had no doubt had to wait a good 20 minutes for me and all she got in return was a very pained expression of ‘I am not enjoying this’. 

Across the line and I was very kindly handed a cup of water from the other half.  Kind of wished it had been vodka though.  We didn’t stick around long as he was wanting to get to Tri Club for a swim session and I had somehow cut my legs and had blood all over them.  I hadn’t even felt anything but when I stripped off at the van both legs were covered and I had small tears in my leggings.  Luckily I hadn’t wore my Wonder Woman ones! 

There are 3 more of these hills to go.  I am not enjoying them.  I do not like them.  I am awful at them!  Last road runner again, not that that gets to me too much but being in roughly the last 10 to finish all together is quite difficult.

And if you’re about to say it’s character building you will join the list of twats that is currently growing! 

No, I’m sure they are ‘good’ for me.  Well.  Maybe.  But, as I said, I started them, so I’m going to finish them.

Next is 4 days before Stirling Marathon.  It’s a safe bet that I will actually be last at that one.  No amount of ‘character building’ is worth risking the marathon over! It is up a hill I have ran a handful of times though so maybe that will give me a little boost.

As you can see from Strava – the race lied!

It’s A Killer


There has only ever been one race I have done when I have really come close to a DNF.  I’m talking genuinely stopped at the side, head spinning, hand on the wall to keep myself standing kind of close.  

So naturally – I wanted to do the race again so that didn’t happen.

The Angus HaM is a local half marathon advertised as ‘predominately downhill with a hill in the last 5km’.

Clearly whoever wrote that has taken poetic license to the extreme.

I debate the downhill, I really do.  And as for the casual ‘hill’ reference, well, all I can say is if you dropped a coin at the top you wouldn’t see it for dust it would roll down that hill so fast!

It ended up being 6 of us ladies from the club heading through and running and this time I took my car.  My car has ‘character’ but it made it there and back – that’s all I will say ha ha.  However, the car park attendant, well, he was amazing! Never have I seen such enthusiasm being driven in to such a task.  He was proper two hands pointing at me, then both hands pointing at the space, demonstrating with his whole body where I was to circle the car – amazing.  I think he missed his calling as an airline steward honestly.  One car petulantly tried to choose his own space – the guy was having none of that.  His bellowing voice commanded the car to move and it moved! This guy genuinely made my day!

The start isn’t underneath the ‘Start’ inflatable – very confusing – it’s across a small bridge.  No idea why.  We had chip timers but what didn’t appear to be a chip mat at the start so maybe it was all done by gun time.

The gun went off and I had barely taken a few steps when someone clipped my feet.  I went flying forward in that drunken comedy style and have no idea how I managed to keep up right.  Probably the fear of the fact if I had have gone right down I would have been trampled!  

Into the first mile and I surprisingly managed to keep to my plan of slow and steady, not too fast.  I was using this run as a training run for the marathon so need to practise slower pacing.  Happy to report I did not bad at that at all!

Unfortunately, I can not report that my maths is getting any better.  At mile 3 I told my self ‘1 more mile and you are half way to half way’. It wasn’t until I added 4 and 4 together then doubled it I realised this was wrong.  But no, not before I said to myself ‘how is that right? It can’t be 16, I’m only running 13?’.

Seriously god help my children if they ever want my help with their maths homework.

Gel taken at 4 and a half miles and I was good, feeling ok.  It was really hot but there were 4 drinks stations so I knew to take on water at everyone.  I also poured it over me and got that deep, sharp, shock when I did.  Which of course gave me the juvenile giggles and transported me back to the Arctic Enema at Tough Mudder.  Felt good though.

I spent the first 10 miles knowing the hill was coming and just wanting it to be there so I could tackle it.  It’s a very strange way to spend a race but it killed me that much last year I was determined not to come close to passing out again! And so started my chants of ‘I’m doing this’, ‘I got this’, and as I got more confident ‘you’re mine hill’, ‘I’m going to own you today’.

I think the sun was getting to me at this point.

I ran past the point I stopped last year very pleased that I wasn’t light headed and swaying.  It was still tough, it was still never ending, but I was still moving.  Past the 12 mile sign and even my bad maths knows it’s only a mile to go.  A little cat and mouse game started with a woman next to me and as we eventually reached the top she made a comment about it never ending.  ‘It’s a killer that one’ I replied.  Neither of us had breath for anything more than that.

Round in to the park with the finish.  Yes! Almost there! I take a deep breath for the final straight …. I got this …. 

but what happens?

Let me give you some clues.

It’s Scotland.  It’s hot.  We are now running next to a Loch.

MIDGES!!!

My deep inhale resulted in a mouthful of the little buggers and at this point I did not want an intake of protein thank you very much.  Took me all my time not to throw up.  Lots of arm flailing ensued at this point, lots.  Think phoebe running in friends and that was pretty much me.

As the finish became closer (and chance of photographic evidence of my ‘stylish’ running becoming higher) it was a case of head down and get a move on.  Across the line and I grabbed the water trying to get rid of the 3 course meal I had just been force fed.  

I headed back so I could try and get some photos of the others finishing.  Everyone found the hill at the end hard, you could see it on every runners face.  But you could also see the support from their families as the shouts got louder (there’s cake at the end! FYI – I didn’t see no cake! Ha ha) and a few children went on course to run the last bit with their parents.  I loved that.

It was quite an emotional day for some – many of the girls had blisters and it was their first half marathon for a couple of them.  We all finished though – and we all finished strong.  And I’m quite sure there were a fair few glasses of wine to celebrate after.

Did You Win Mummy?

Eh no son, no I didn’t.  But I finished and that’s just as special.

(The lies you tell your children ha ha)

Now that my pity party is done and dusted (see previous post, or you know, if you don’t really want to read someone’s essay of ‘woe is me’ maybe give it a miss) it is time to review my last race – The Tay Ten.

Man it was hot!! Last year was pouring rain and about 3 layers.  This year, if I had the confidence, I would have been running in just shorts and sports bra! Luckily for the locals, I wore my club vest. 


My lovely mother and I volunteered at registration but in all honesty we didn’t really do much.  My youngest was running riot most of the time but at least he was happy. 

We gathered at the start for the race brief – very important as the course had had to be changed slightly due to works. A polite word to the woman who’s music was playing during this and I just about caught the end of the brief – good thing I wasn’t going to be first across the line or I may have gotten lost!

Off we went and as per my last few races, I went off too fast.  I didn’t want a re-run (ha ha) of my last ten mile race so I slowed down.  My 4th mile was 8:04 – much better Ella, stay at that.  I decided to take my gel at this point so I didn’t crash out later on.  We won’t say anything about the salad I had chosen for tea the night before….

Mile 5 was 8:29.  Hmm, ok.  It’s quite hot for me so I expected to be slightly slower, let’s not get too slow though.  

Mile 6 and my watched beeped.  8:43.  8:43?? What are you walking!!! Flippin heck love! Clearly this was pay back yet again for going out too fast.  I seriously need to go for a very slow, very long run to get in to marathon mode.

However.  Mile 7 of a 10 mile race is not the time to do this so I pick it up after a very stern word with myself.  (You’re an absolute tube Ella).  The best thing about this course this year is knowing so many of the marshals so when you get a constant cheer it gives you a great little boost.  I clock the next 2 miles much closer to 8 minutes and feel happier with that. 

At 9 miles another girl from the club comes floating past me looking like she is on her first mile not her tenth.  She’s gone within a blink of the eye.  A sprint finish to die for ha ha.


It’s a bit of a weave going from the River Tay back up to the running track – which ironically I’ve never noticed before now – and as I make my way I get overtaken by someone else I know.  All I see is the red t-shirt and the beard and Brian disappears round the corner.  For a fleeting second I think about trying to chase him down but I’m intending on doing another 5 miles after this so decide against it/choose to be lazy. 

On to the track and there’s yet more Club Runners cheering away.  ‘Go on Ella, strong finish’.  I smile my appreciation.  

That is however, until I hear the next shouts.  

‘Go on Scott, catch her up’.

Scott? I don’t know a Scott.  This doesn’t bother me.

‘Go on Scott, you can beat Ella’.

Excuse me?!?! Scott who?! Then it clicks.  I put a face to the name and realise exactly who Scott is.  

No, no, no!! I force myself in to a sprint to the finish, begging to hold him off until then but the sod gets me at the line! 

I’m going to blame the sun – it was too hot! Ha ha.

I get a hug from my youngest and he asks if I won.  I tell him no not quite and he looks so disappointed I lie and tell him yes.  He’s 3.  He won’t remember.


I wait for my friend Lorner to finish so I can congratulate her.  She was quite nervous about the race as it does attract a lot of entries from clubs but just like me last year, she did it and she didn’t really notice a difference much.  Maybe just an unusually high number of orange t-shirts from one group.  

My mum had to rush off so I didn’t manage another 5 miles after that.  Instead I took the kids swimming where yet again, I met my new arch rival ‘Scott’.  I was tempted to run him over in the car but thought that would be too obvious.  (Only joking.  Well, a little).

The goody bag was amazing – it had mini-eggs!! A caramel wafer and to be honest, my favourite medal so far this year.  It’s plain black and white but it’s awesome.


Tomorrow is a half-marathon – and as far as I am aware Scott isn’t running this one so I shouldn’t have anyone sneaking up behind me at the last stretch ha ha.  I plan on taking it slow, using it as a training run for the marathon.  Practise my pace. Then hopefully a cycle after.

The pity party has definitely left the building.  

I Think I Pee’d A Little!


Bear with me….

Not only am I trying to hit my Club Standards award this year and the Championships but I also have my eye on the Hill Series.  Oh, and the little matter of the Half Ironman that yes, im still training for.

Over achiever much?

As I sit here the day after the first hill race I genuinely can not remember why the hell I thought it would be a good idea.  My husband informed me last night he struggled not to laugh in my face when I told him what I was doing.  Hmmm.

My first ‘problem’ was thinking it was a different hill I was going to – good thing he drove this time, we would have ended up 50 miles in the wrong direction.

There were only 8 Road Runners who appeared at the start line – should have been my first clue really with over 150 members!

I had no whimsical beliefs that I would be far up the remotely small field but I was confident I could finish and hopefully not be too far back, maybe middle ish.  After much discussion on why we weren’t carrying full body waterproofs on what was the hottest day of the year so far and several looks we were off.  I glanced back and saw what I now know was a bit of a smug look on my other halfs face.  

I’ve walked up Birnam Hill before – at least I thought I had.  Turns out I hadn’t been anywhere near the top.  Well, I was about to go there.

We all started running and it was a very comfortable pace, everyone was aware of the climb up ahead.  We had been told we were running up the steep side too.  Great.

Very quickly the elevation started.  Ok fine, I knew it would.  Just keep moving your feet one in front of the other.  I’m doing that but then, they aren’t really getting in front of the other.  It’s very baby steps.  I look up only to see the trail.

I have to look up to the sky to see anything other than path! 

I’ve stopped ‘running’ now.  I’m taking big steps (well as big as I can for a child size adult).  My legs hurt already, I’m out of breath, everyone around me is walking up this vertical ascent.  This isn’t running.  This is dying slowly.   How is this a race?? 

I’m so out of breath I’ve started the whole ‘why are you doing this’ in my head.  Why am I doing this? I’m not built for hills.  I don’t like steep like this.  Roads don’t make you walk.  What the hell am I doing?? I genuinely wonder for a good 5 seconds if I should stop and admit I shouldn’t be here.  Slink away with my tail between my legs and stick to running road races, staying at the back.

I’m too scared to look behind me in case the only person there is the tail runner.  

Or you know, the 95 year old great grandmother of 20 who does this every day.  Wouldnt surprise me.

I glance at my watch and genuinely almost cry.

Half a mile!!  I’ve only gone half a mile!! 

And it’s been 10 minutes!!

Am I honestly about to hit a 20 minute mile?? Has anyone ever gone that slow?? Babies crawl faster than that!

Of course, as soon as you think you’re at the top, you see another hill.  You’re not at the top.  You’re not even close.

I’ve pretty much given up on EVER running again.  This will be my last ever ‘run’ I swear to myself.  You know, you gave it a good bash.  You did ‘not bad’.  But your time has come Ella.  Time to end it.  Just stop all this nonsense now.

I slip many, many times going up the hill (yes, you read that right, I slipped going UP).  Not tragically enough to justify a DNF or a medical team to the rescue but enough to make me go ‘for f@ck sake!’.


Eventually – and I mean eventually – I reach the top.  ‘That’s you at the top now’.  The marshall informs me.  

Pretty sure I gave the poor soul the look of death.  Very much ‘if I’m dying I’m taking you god forsaken people with me’.  He laughed at me.  Can’t blame him.

At least it was downhill from here.  I like downhill, I LOVE downhill.

I did not like this downhill.

This is where I truly lost many, many years off my life.

I don’t like swearing, I rarely swear, there’s no need for it.  Call me a snob whatever I’m just not a fan of swearing.  But on this race, on this downhill, I was swearing my arse off!

‘Holy shit’, ‘oh shit, oh shit, oh shit’ – was pretty much my mantra until the end.  At one point I was flying down a vertical drop – an actual vertical drop – and I kid you not I think a little pee came out I was that scared.  


 Nope, I don’t like this.  What the hell was I thinking.  Where’s the road.  Where’s the GOD DAMN ROAD.  I’m a road runner.  Not a bloody fling yourself down the side of a mountain kind of girl.  Stuff this.  STUFF THIS.

The last stretch did not include a sprint finish.  It included a shout of ‘I’m dying’ to the husband as he laughed when I went past.

My first words when I met up with the 7 other brave souls from the club? 

‘I hated that!!’

They loved it.

Weirdos.

How do I feel the day after? Well I actually am dying.  My legs are so, so sore.  I went out for my long run and for the first time ever I bailed on a run.  My legs just went ‘nope, this isn’t happening, I am boss, I say no’.

Even walking hurts.

The medal for the Hill Series better be worth this!