What a Weekend

I don’t even know where to start with this.

Last year I stepped up my running and had a really good year. I wanted to do more this year but for Joe to do what he wants to do it wouldn’t be possible so I took a step back as he cranked it up. (And then of course I got injured and just wanted to crawl under a stone for the first half of this year).

Ironman 70.3 Stafford was his first race and although he was fighting fit he had a mechanical on the bike and was sat for over an hour at the side of the road waiting for the support vehicle. He had a good swim though and he finished the race with a good attitude.

Edinburgh was the big one. It was the one he had been training for over the winter months. We had both done it last year but this year he wanted to really nail it. Plus there were championship slots available – it would be hard but not impossible. As soon as he had his plan he signed up and I put myself down for volunteering.

I didn’t see a lot of him in the week leading up to the race and I will be honest, some of that was my choice! I’ve never spent so much time in the kitchen. Not cooking, don’t be silly. More looking at the saucepans and wondering just how loud the noise would be if I actually did clunk him round the head with one.

We stayed over in Edinburgh the night before. I was marshalling at the swim and had to be there for 6am so it gave some extra hours sleep and time to relax. My favourite movie was on the telly and there was red bull in the vending machine so I was literally like a pig in sh!t. Joe got the best nights sleep he’s had before a race ever so it was a real win.

Down at the swim I kissed him goodbye and wished him luck. I was soon put to work stopping people entering the swim exit. Part of me wanted to be right down at the swim but to be honest, all areas were good to be at. I got to shout and whoop and encourage the athletes on as they were a bit more ‘with it’ by the time they reached me. I was marshalling a cross over point and the lovely girl I was working with was from China. She didn’t really know what Ironman was and had volunteered as she was doing Sport and Science at University.

I had a great position to see Joe coming into T1 and true enough I spotted him straight away. He was shoulder to shoulder with Barclay, another Perth Tri Club member. Unfortunately I missed Sarah who was Frazers relay team swimmer but I caught all the others from the club and also Steven Bonthrone. What I really loved about volunteering was the smiles on some of the athletes faces when they went past to my very loud cheers that just read ‘I did it! I did the first part!’ You could see it plain as day on their faces. I loved it.

I did not love the next part. Driving by myself in to Edinburgh city centre. Nope. Not for me. But I had to stay strong. Many many deep breathes and I turned the engine on. I clicked on the sat nav. I slowly pulled out of the car park. This part was ok. This road I kind of know as it’s the marathon route. The roads are also quiet – probably because it’s 9:30am on a Sunday morning. Ok. I’m approaching the centre now. This means more turns. I can do this.

‘Road closed’

What the f@ck!!!! Ok don’t panic don’t panic. I turn left, then left again, then left again. And yup, you guessed it, left again. Road still closed. Come on!! I then go up a ridiculously steep hill (what is that with Edinburgh?!?) and can’t see where I’m going. So naturally I pull out in front of at least 3 cars then brace myself for an almighty smash. Thankfully doesn’t happen but I apologise if that was you.

Eventually I just dump it down a side street, spend 20 minutes trying to figure out how to drop a god damn pin on my google maps to tell me where the hell I’m parked before realising that I’ve got about 15 minutes to get to T2 before Joe gets there. And I’m wearing flip flops.

I take off down the hill and almost fall off the kerb that in gods honest truth is at least a meter high, phone in hand with Mrs Google telling me to turn right (well it wasn’t going to be left again was it). I turn right and see Holyrood right in front of me. Result! And here wasn’t even any tears!

I’m desperate for a wee but there’s no way I’m missing Joe coming in. I check the tracker again and do a little calculation. I soon realise that I really should do a maths course as Joe is at least half an hour away. This allows me time to pee though so it’s not a bad thing. I pop over to the finish line (after I’ve been!) to see if there’s anything I can do to help and grab a bottle of water. Then I head to the Bike In. Tracker in hand. Sun cream on. I’m in a great position. So is Joe though. He’s in front of Barclay. I can only imagine the friendly rivalry going on between them right now.

I start getting really nervous. He’s having a great race and as far as I can see there’s no issues. Everyone around is cheering but it’s a dull cheer. I’m nervously looking between my watch, the tracker and the road.

Then I see him.

Had I not been jumping around so much I probably would have gotten a better video but I really can’t help myself. I run up to the fence and across to where he’s coming out on the run where I catch him again. He’s still strong but the sun is now so hot. This is going to be tough for him.

Barclay comes through just minutes later and I catch Andy too, who by the way, completed The Celtman just 3 weeks earlier!! If you don’t know what that is look it up!

The run is 3 laps and when Joe comes back down I know instantly he’s not feeling great. I shout to him he needs to take on water. I’m a bit concerned at how he’s looking so I head further up the route to try and surprise him at a difficult climb and give him a boost. Everyone’s struggling. The heat is relentless and it’s a hard run. I lose count of how many times someone comments on how hot it is. I see Andy coming back down the hill. ‘I spy a Celtman!!’ I yell out at him. ‘This is harder!’ He shouts back.

Steven’s wife messages to say she is at T2 and I head back down. I see her on the other side of the finish chute. Joes on his last lap and I’m not going to miss him on the red carpet. I’m gutted I haven’t seen Frazer at all but I couldn’t get him on the tracker. It’s the only problem I had with it. At the finish and I see Barclays wife and daughters. He comes in not long after all smiles. It’s an anxious wait for Joe. This is ‘A’ race this year. He wants a qualifier spot which we know is going to be ridiculously difficult but not completely out of reach.

I see him before the commentator does and I start banging like crazy on the boards. He’s had a much better race than last years and Stafford. And this is in more difficult conditions. As soon as he’s across the line I head to the finishers tent.

Where I wait patiently for over an hour for him to appear.

This is clearly a part of the day that needs more planning. That’s all I’m going to say.

He’s done a tremendous job. He really did have a good race. Unfortunately he’s not finished in the top 10 of his category but it’s a hugely competitive category. Still. I convince him to wait around for the slot allocation. If nothing else he will get to know what happens and what more he needs to do.

There’s a few hours to chill out before the slot allocation begins. Not a bad thing lying on the grass after thousands and thousands of steps. Then we head in to the marque. The awards are read out first and Alicjia from the tri club gets second in her category.

They then start with the World Championships South Africa slots. It’s a very confusing situation – at least it is for me, but it involves maths, so that probably explains that! Joe goes up. Did she say there are 34 or 36 slots? There are 34 people standing up there. Oh my god I’m so confused what’s happening?! Another guy goes up. That’s 35. No!! What does this mean?

Well basically this means HE’S ONLY GONE AND GOT A PLACE!!

This was the goal. It was THE goal and he’s done it! Holy cow!

I have a slight panic attack as I know we have to pay just now for it but they ask for credit card and we don’t do credit cards. I’m still a bit dazed when his coach comes over and says there’s a group going so it will be good and I won’t be on my own etc. Thankfully they take any card. Well, for that amount of money, why wouldn’t they?

So that’s it. Off to South Africa in 2 months time. I never doubted even for a second he could do it but I don’t think I realised just how soon it would happen. The next couple of months are going to be intense but I can’t get over just how awesome this is. He’s worked hard for it but what an opportunity.

Guess I need to stop joking at him now that it’s ‘still not a marathon or an ultra’ as you have to admit this is somewhat better ha ha.

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Everyday I’m Shufflin

The third race of the Championship and after having practically every single goalripped from under me so far this year, there was nothing stopping me from getting to that start line.

The finish line was going to be a whole different story.

The race didn’t start until 1pm (which I found very strange) so the morning was spent doing every glute and hamstring exercise and stretch possible in the hope I would at least get 5 steps before the pain kicked in. I even had porridge and banana. Oh yes. I was treating this as an all or nothing race.

Being a championship race there were a fair few green vests. The team photo wasn’t exactly a close up…..

The temperature was soaring and I considered wearing my hydration bag. I wasn’t joking when I said all or nothing! However the Marshall outside registration said the first water station was at 4.5km and the second at 8km so I left it with Joe.

The start was up a hill and knowing my goal was the finish line and not a speedy time I kept close to the back. We were given a timing chip anyway so I wouldn’t really lose anything (more on that later).

Off we went and straight up the hill. As we rounded the corner I saw a car and thought to myself ‘oh that’s quite nice, a bit like ours’. Yup, you guessed it. It was ours! The heat was getting to me already. I wasn’t interested in what my watch was saying for a change so I didn’t check my mile splits as I went. This meant no crazy maths problems to work out so I put my music on. I’ve gotten used to running without it in a race but I knew I was going to hurt in this one so I had pre-loaded lots of motivational tunes. Of course the down side to this is that I tend to sing along as if I’m auditioning for X-Factor and before I know it in my head I’m no longer running but performing the latest number one to a sell-out crowd at Wembley.

This does not help you run. This indeed prevents you running as you can’t sing and run at the same time. Fact. So all those music videos with the perfect body women running in glittery bra and pants with no wobbly bits or muffin rolls singing about feminism and how they don’t need a man? It’s all bull shit. Fact 2.

Any hoooo ….. I get to the fourth kilometre (yes, kilometre, it’s a 12km race so the signs are in km. How I managed to find such self control to not do crazy maths is amazing.) It’s hot and I’m thinking the water station is going to be there any second now. The legs are surprisingly holding up well and I’m only ‘uncomfortable’ as opposed to screaming in pain much akin to giving birth.

I’ve had 3 children. I have earned the right to say that!

The water stations not there though and it feels like I’m running a further 5 km before reaching it. I stop to take on the water very cautiously ensuring I am looking after myself. My legs start hurting that bit more when I start running again but Christina Aguilera does a good job of distracting me by belting out that I am indeed, a fighter.

Kristen from the club is beside me now and so is Steph. Usually I would use this to try and push harder with the pace but not today. Today is just sticking to the simple goal of the finish line.

And trying to ignore my backside which I swear is now acting like I’ve sat on a bed of spiky nails followed by a sun bed for 6 hours followed by being used as a punch bag by every boxer in the U.K. Yeah. Bit more than ‘uncomfortable’ now.

Last section and I know it ends going back up that bastard hill. Kirsten’s long gone and Steph goes past trying to encourage me on. ‘Come on last push’. I try for one step and very quickly regret it. I’m shuffling just fine here love. Stick around long enough and you may even see me crawl up this hill but by god I will get that finish line! Thanks for the encouragement though. 🙂

I see Joe and he knows. He saw this ‘ elite athletic form’ at the end of Manchester. Ah well.

Ok. Job done. There’s no need to elaborate anymore on this one.

We make a ‘quick’ visit to the toy shop for Oliver – who obviously has to look and play with every single toy in there before deciding on a bubble producing gun. Which in truth is absolutely awesome.

So I’m still on track for a championship medal at least. I won’t get top 3 but at least I will complete the challenge. My heart rate was ridiculously high so I’m expecting a lecture and stern talk from Mr Cardio when we discuss my MRI results.

And the exercises for my glutes and hamstrings are finally working now – that’s the furthest I’ve ran in a very, very, very long time. So that’s a positive as well. Just got to take it slowly. And maybe stop when the pain hits child birth proportions ha ha.

Manchester and the failed GFA

Manchester and the failed GFA

Ok. Let’s get this over with.

Manchester’s done. And no. I did not get my GFA.

This time.

So here’s how it went…..

We travelled down on the Saturday and surprisingly for me I didn’t make a big fuss about not going to Parkrun. We didn’t leave until 11am so I would have had plenty of time but Joe and I have had lots of ‘discussions’ on how much I’m running and I didn’t want another one. He didn’t want me running a marathon right now anyway and Mr Cardio wasn’t exactly in agreement so I didn’t push it. I could get a few miles in at the hotel at a more sensible pace.

It was a relaxed journey down. Probably a bit too relaxed at some points as I had been forcing the intake of water for the whole week and my bladder was now having a fit every 30 minutes. This meant many, many stops for what was meant to be a five hour car journey! The youngest however was in heaven with his new DVD player. Best money we’ve ever spent!

We pulled up at the hotel and instantly the regret was clear that I had stupidly been allowed to choose it. The couple in front had a solid 10 minute argument with the receptionist over her refusal to let them use the ‘spa’ (a word I use in the loosest of terms for that place!) until she finally agreed to get them a manager.

We gave our name and took our key. The receptionist asked if we would be having breakfast (it’s food – is that a real question?) . I asked what time it was at and she said it started at 8am. Hmm, that might be too late to get to the marathon so I asked if she knew how far away the start was.

‘Marathon? What Marathon?’

It was then our turn to be stood at the desk for 10 minutes. Not arguing. Just dumbfounded. I still don’t know what to say.

I put my things in the room and headed to the gym for a gentle few miles. After much googling and phoning of NASA I eventually figured out how to use their lockers. The ‘spa’ receptionist clearly having went through the same customer service training as the hotel one. In to the gym and the smell hit me like a tidal wave. Excuse the pun but it was clearly ‘run down’. The treadmill must have been older than god himself, I’ve never seen such a thing. I made a mental note to let the receptionist know that air conditioning has in fact been invented.

A quick dip in the pool after with Joe and Oliver, a quick tea and it was an early night.

We parked at the metro/train/moving vehicle station and it was an easy ride to the start. No traditional porridge for breakfast for me as we had had to leave at 7:30am but I was lucky to find a burger van selling bananas. If I wasn’t already married I would be now! Life saver!

In true Webley style we were late getting to the start so I couldn’t get close to my pen. This didn’t bother me too much as the same happened in Stirling. I would just have to chase down the 3:45 pacer and then stick to them like glue. A steady shuffle to the line and I was off. Within just a few hundred yards I spotted a fellow PRR and instantly felt better. I ran up to Caroline and turned round to wave manically as I went by before quickly realising running backwards in a crowd of people is not a good idea.

The first couple of miles is a loop and I was pleased to see Joe and Ollie so soon after starting. I thought they had headed to a cafe to get food so wasn’t expecting it. Big smiles all round.

Now. I don’t know what it is, but, when it comes to marathons, I always seem to have a ‘wardrobe’ issue for the first few miles. This race was no different. I wear 2 layered Adidas Climates. I love them. They are perfect. I have many of the exact same pair I love them that much. However, on this day, the outer layer had decided to pull right up. And I mean right up. Many a mile was spent pulling it right back down! Then my vest decided to pull up – exposing my belly. Oh the horror!! Seriously!! Parents were shielding their innocent child’s eyes as I went past – and I couldn’t blame them! Thankfully I was eventually able to sort the problem but to anyone that saw this, please accept my most humble apology.

Photo 5

Finally finding my stride I was just beginning to settle into the torture of what was 26.2 miles when my old demon came back to haunt me. If you’ve ever read any of my race recaps you will know that the element that is water has it in for me. Hands down it’s truly trying to kill me. Now, being Manchester is a road marathon with no rivers, lakes, swamps or such in sight I thought I would be safe. It wasn’t even raining!! But alas, no. It got me. Out of nowhere as well. Hit me smack in the face. How?

Water station.

A man on my right decided to reach ACROSS MY FACE for a bottle of water. The poor volunteer didn’t know what to do and so bang – literally all over me. Up my nose, in my eyes, down my legs. You sir, are a twat! That was it. His race bib was marked.

Moving on.

Not long after the water incident I felt it. I knew it was there. I knew it wasn’t going to go away. When it was still there after my sports massage a few days before I knew I was in trouble. But I hadn’t wanted to say it out loud because it would be that that would make it true. Now there was no getting away from it. I had no choice but to admit it. My hamstrings were tight. And this was already painful.

This was also only the fifth mile.

Stay positive. You never know what can happen.

I saw Joe and Oliver again. Clearly he was going for a race record of how many cheer spots he could make! I was impressed. Another smile and high five. Nice.

Trying to ignore the hamstrings I battered on. There’s a section where you turn back on yourself and you can see who’s behind you so I concentrated on spotting Caroline. I couldn’t see her and just as I looked down at my feet, debating if I had 26 miles in me I heard her screaming my name. It couldn’t have been at a better time!

On to the section where the front runners are now running towards you I start looking for Garry, also from PRR. There’s a women on my left screaming every single name as they go by. It’s nice at first. For the first 2 to 3 minutes. Not for 5 minutes solid. I am now desperate to see Garry just so I can shout louder and longer than her! Game on love!

‘Jesus Christ, someone tell her to shut the f@ck up!’.

No that didn’t come from my mouth. But I did whole heartedly agree with him. As did many, many others. And unfortunately, I didn’t see Garry.

On I trundled and couldn’t help but notice the number of properties up for sale. It didn’t seem that run down a place, how odd. The signs were odd as well. Not like your usual For Sale signs. Must be an English thing.

Joes at mile 17 and as I see him I cross over to go say hi. I go to stop and very quickly realise if I do I may not continue on so I very, very slowly go past and tell him my hamstrings have gone. He knows this already of course. He just didn’t want to say it.

I round the corner and there’s a man with a microphone. I can’t hear what he says at first but then I hear him loud and clear.

‘Think about why you’re doing this. Think of the many, many people who want to do what you’re doing but can’t. Do it for them!’

At this point I well up. He has a very accurate point. I should be grateful I am here running at all. I was very close to being pulled from doing this. Just be thankful Ella.

Mile 18 and although I’m still in pain I’m feeling in good spirits after that blast of reality. Ok so I wasn’t getting my 3:45 but I had had time before coming down to accept it, even if I didn’t actually admit it. I could still get under 4hrs. That’s the new goal. I glance at my watch and do a quick calculation.

Hold on. 8 miles left to go. I’ve been running for 2hrs 45. I can do 8 miles in an hour.

I can do this!!

I try to push on harder whilst floating on this cloud that has now appeared under me. I might actually get my GFA – Oh My God!!

Somehow in my head the number 8 was being replaced with the number 6. I blame the water incident. It knocked the numbers around.

And don’t worry. It wasn’t long before I realised my maths was indeed wrong again.

Time to put the music in. (I skipped The Greatest Showman. This wasn’t his moment.)

Mile 25 and it just took forever. I swear it must have been at least 3 miles long! I reckon Manchester stretched it out ‘just to be sure’. Bastards.

Coming up to mile 26 and I start vibrating. Who the hell is phoning me? I look at my phone.

‘I’m a bit busy dad what is it?’.

‘The feeds not working – are you not finished yet?’.

‘No dad. I’m not finished yet. I’m at mile 26.’

If nothing else it gave the runners around me a laugh.

Jesus Christ where is that god damn finish line?!? I’ve been staring at the blue archway for 6 years! It’s NOT getting any closer!!

I hear my name being shouted at the side just as I’m debating whether or not to do a sit down protest about how long this final straight is. Just smile and keep going. Keep going.

4:14:08.

Yes ladies and gentleman. That is a SOLID 30 minutes behind target time. I give you, the failed GFA Run. *takes a bow

To add insult to injury I am forced to hobble a further 10 miles to collect my medal and finally a bottle of water.

Who’s doesn’t have water AT the finish line?!?

I waddle past a stand with a loud speaker, protein shakes and an ice bath.

Ooooh. Ice bath.

Should I?

No. You’re by yourself. You’ll look like a twat.

But….

I hobble back and join the very short queue.

I keep my socks on. The public has already seen my belly today, they definitely don’t need to see my feet on top of that! There are 2 separate baths so you go in 2 at a time. It’s only for 45 seconds but it’s ice. I gingerly step forward after watching all the grown men jumping about. I step in. Another guy steps in the other one.

We sit down and they start the clock. He starts shivering straight away and looks like he’s having a fit. I wait for it to hit me. I take a quick video before it gets too much.

But what is this? This is awesome! It feels sooooo good!!

The other guy jumps out.

’15 seconds’ is shouted out. ‘Can I take his spot’ laughs someone else.

I’m just sitting there. Relaxed. Loving it. This is almost better than…..

’45 seconds love, you’re done.’

I don’t really want to get out.

I walk over to my trainers and that’s when I crumple. ‘Oh my god it’s so bad when you get out!!’.

I grab my beer, get my photo taken at the wall, refuse to fist pump as let’s face it that was a miserable time, and find Joe and Oliver. Manchester done.

Eyes Open

So no. It was not meant to be. I didn’t do it. I failed. Woe is me and all of the other sad things that can be said. Reality is though that anything can happen and Manchester just wasn’t ‘my time’ (oh that’s cold!). I’ve learnt from it though and that’s what makes it NOT a failure. I also had no issues with my heart and that’s a huge bonus!! The words of the man with the mic rang clear as day – I’m lucky I can run. I’ve ran 5 marathons. No I didn’t hit my goal but that just makes my journey longer. Unsurprisingly I already have a plan to get there. And this time it’s not just me. I have enlisted some help. And I have no choice but to listen to it. I will get to London Marathon.

Oh, and just to clarify, there weren’t actually a huge number of properties for sale – the area was called Sale.

My bad.

Championship Has Begun

Championship Has Begun

Well aren’t we all just sick fed up of this weather? It’s an absolute nightmare. Lots of disruption for everyone in all walks of life. Someone seriously needs to apologise to Elsa!

Race after race has been cancelled and if I’m honest, I thought the first Championship race would be too. Loch Katrine half marathon was one I was looking forward to but if it wasn’t to be there was nothing I could do. I checked Facebook every few minutes and Joe checked the road cameras too. We decided to make an attempt to get there but if the roads were bad we would turn back. We dropped the youngest at his grampaws with a box of toys and central heating and off we went. Porridge and banana keeping my tummy warm at least.

The roads turned out to be ok. We’ve driven in worse. The race route seemed icy and slippy though so there was a lot of debate whether it was going ahead. It was an out and back route and you had the choice of 3 distances – full marathon, half marathon or 10k. A lot of runners had not turned up so it was quite a small crowd for each one. Joe debated several times whether or not to run but I don’t think he liked the idea of waiting about for 2 hours for me so got changed.

I had had a slight panic in the car as I didn’t have a buff with me but luckily Joe found one in the bottom of his bag. Needless to say it was stinking. Eugh – did I really want to put this on? I decided if it got too much I could put it in my bag. I was taking my hydration vest because this was a ‘bring your own cup’ race and I’m practising where I can with it.

Team photo done and we were soon off. I had been well warned it was an undulating course and some more honest runners had used the words ‘killer hills’ , ‘vertical climbs’ and ‘Mount Everest’. I was under no illusion for this race. Focus on the turn around and then you’re heading home.

I should have been a rocket scientist honestly.

It wasn’t long before I heated up and the wind was keeping to a minimum. I may even have seen the sun at one point but I may also have been delusional and wearing rose tinted glasses. A lot can be said for positive thinking though. The route was gorgeous. It reminded me a lot of Loch Ness marathon – the give away probably being the fact I was running next to a Loch. In Scotland.

Rocket scientist. I’m telling you.

4 miles in and I was feeling quite chirpy. I had taken my clif shot blok and was playing the game of trying to get it out my teeth (so attractive). A little further on and the first runner Duncan was coming towards me. How does anyone run that fast? It astounds me. But I’m too lazy to push for that kind of speed and I know that. I was just pleased to get to 5.45 miles before he went by. This was the only time I checked my watched during the whole race.

By now the hill I was on was steep. I’m talking the kind you need to be wearing a nappy if you’re cycling down it! With the ultra being next month I decided to walk. After all, I’m going to have to walk the hills in that one so may as well get practising. Naturally as soon as I did another road runner went by, chasing down Duncan. Did I care he saw me walking? Not really. Well, maybe a little bit. But it was a bloomin steep hill!

Realising Joe would be along soon I picked the pace up. Club members seeing me walk is one thing but the husband seeing me walk? Not a chance! He went past soon enough and shouted the headwind when you turned was picking up. Great.

On to the turn and I gave a cheery ‘thank you’ to the marshal. The wind had picked up (just as Joe had said) and it was getting difficult trying to climb the hills. Strange, I don’t remember much of a downhill on the first half! My breathing was getting unusually heavily so I tried another clif block and took a short walk break to try and calm it down.

As soon as I started running again I was wheezing. This wasn’t like me. My chest was now hurting and that never happens when I’m running. It wasn’t the implant, I knew what that pain was, this was a tightening. As soon as another hill came I walked. Gillian went past with her trade mark bright smile and sun glasses. She was on fire!

I got to 10 miles and I knew this hadn’t been the race for me. I was weaving all across the road, I couldn’t get a breath deep enough in to my chest and it was hurting bad. I began to wonder if I should text Joe but then figured I was on my way back anyway so what was the point. I pulled the buff up over my mouth hoping if I could warm the air I was breathing it might have a better chance of getting deep enough. It worked very slightly but my god, what the hell was that smell on it?!

This is it. You’re poisoning yourself Ella. Never mind your chest pain or the fact you’re struggling to breath. It’s neither of them that’s going to kill you, it’s this buff that’s going to do it! I can see the headlines now ‘Woman dies from poisoning herself trying to breathe through a buff soaked in her husbands sweat.’

Oh god…..

I was dry heaving now at the thought of this. Is his sweat on this? Is that what that is? I had to stop. I paused. I nearly threw up.

To be fair the distraction got me to mile 12.

Ok just a mile to go. Then you might need to get it looked at. Just a mile.

The lead runner from the marathon went by me.

Ok he is quite clearly non human! THIS weather on THIS course and he’s running THAT fast?!

He turned his head and said something to me but I couldn’t hear him. The negative in me heard ‘for crying out loud lassie it’s not that bad, if you can’t run you shouldn’t be here.’

Obviously that’s not what he said. I’ve never heard any runner say anything along those lines before. But I was in a very painful place by then and quite frankly embarrassed by my performance. It’s more likely he said something like ‘cup of tea waiting for you at the end love, you can do it.’

Last corner and I can see the finish. I. Am. A. Mess. I’m pretty sure I walk across the line. By now I’m giving an Oscar performance of Darth Vadar and I’m horrendously close to hyper ventilating so after sitting for a minute (and giving the poor race director a fright) I slide away to the car to try and calm it down.

I don’t know what happened. It is worrying me for my chances at Manchester but as I’ve always said ‘what will be will be’. Maybe it was just too cold for me, maybe the stress and anxiety of my redundancy is affecting it and maybe I should have taken it easier. Or maybe I just had a really crap day running. Who knows. The doctor did the usual tests and my ECG now has dips in a second chamber so it’s back to Mr Cardio (and thankfully this time I didn’t answer the phone thinking he was selling me something! I’m still mortified about that!).

With that in mind I rested completely the following day and had a more relaxed week. With Manchester only 2 weeks away now I should be reducing the miles anyway, and I can only stay positive about the other things going on (Easier said than done though – I am beyond bored!).

Loch Katrine was gorgeous and I really enjoyed the challenging route. Just because it wasn’t my day for running doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great race and I have every intention of taking the kids up there for a night. Just probably in the summer. When it’s a lot warmer.

The Devilla

I ran the Carnegie Harriers Devilla Trail Race last year and I remember being really worried I wouldn’t make the cut off.  It wasn’t the type of running I was used to so I had no idea if I could do it.  Thankfully, I did manage to cross the line before the sweeper so I duly signed up again this year – as you do.  Despite it still not being my type of running.

A 15km trail race doesn’t bring with it the same fears as it used to but that doesn’t mean I’m any better at running them now.  The aim was to beat last years time but the reality was it was unlikely.  I’ve found now I’m concentrating on distance my sub conscious refuses to let me go fast (well, fast for me, maybe not compared to everyone and definitely not compared to most but, fast in my terms).

A couple of days before and the weather returned to it’s usual troublesome self.  Jack Frost seriously needs to do one and let the Easter bunny make an appearance.  Shorts and a vest were unlikely.  But trousers could cause issues when caked in mud and at this race, that was a guarantee.  I decided to make the decision when I was there so packed both.  I also packed a towel for a shower after, congratulating myself on being organised.  For once.

Suitcase in hand I went along to registration where I was handed a bottle of beer.  Scheihallion to be exact.  I rarely drink but I do like this craft beer.  I briefly considered opening it pre-race, you know, for that extra boost.  That little drop of Dutch courage.  And if I’m honest, the only reason I didn’t was because it wasn’t cold (sacrilege).  The entire walk to the start line I was debating whether this had been a good decision or not.

I went with shorts – the cold was no longer keeping these cellulite enhanced legs covered up – and a long sleeve top under the club vest.  At the start I bumped into a few fellow road runners.  We had quite a few running the 15km and some doing the 5km.  No one was drinking the beer – yet.  I also saw a couple of people from our local tri club who came over and said hello, so quite a few from Perth!

We started talking about what was ahead and Catriona, who had also ran it last year, reminded me of the bottle neck section.  She mentioned she had been caught up in it last year and had had to wait to get through.  I remembered people just stopping in front of me and trying to go round them.  I looked up and realised we were probably starting a bit too far back and were likely to get caught in it this year.

Yet I didn’t move forward.

Big mistake.  Huge.

The whistle went and we found we were walking to the start line.  And then walking past the start line.  And then still walking.  Nope, nope, no.  This won’t do.  You’re meant to be running!  I veered left and tried to cut my way up through the pack.  I managed to get some room and then we went off the forest track and into the woods.

The path shrunk. We were no longer on a wide forest road but we were on a single track.

The mud didn’t bother me, it’s a trail run, you’re not going to stay clean, and the pre-race email made it very clear wearing brand new trainers probably wasn’t wise if you wanted them to stay looking new.  However, it appeared some people were determined to do all they could to stay pristine.

‘Come on man it’s only mud! Get in there!’

A fellow runner took the words out of my mouth.  I enjoyed this race last year but this part was frustrating like hell.  Who stops in the middle of a race? You just go for it!

We eventually came to a little fork and the path on the right slowed way down again so I went left.  Good move Ella, I thought to myself.  You’ll get round the ones not moving and be able to keep running.  Pushing forward I was still in my smug state when I glanced over at the fork on the right only to discover that the people I could now see where actually behind me before I had taken that turn.  No.  I was not so smug now.

We joined up with the original path and again I went to the left to try and weave my way through, crashing through the bushes and going knee high in the mud.  There was no way I was beating last years time now but I could still push for a good finish.  Back on the forest track and we had more space – finally.  Now it was up hill and I could spot Nigel from the tri club in front of me.  Slowly I creeped up.  Not in a stalker ‘I’m going to kill you’ kind of way, but more of a ‘this is a steep hill and walking would be faster but I’m stubborn’ kind of way.  As soon as I was within ear shot of him I took a deep breath and shouted out ‘Nigel, I’m coming for you.  Very slowly but I’m coming!’.  He didn’t turn round.  Oh my god is that not Nigel? Mortified I didn’t know what to do. The runner on my right turned to look at me, clearly wondering who I was taking to. Oh my god could this get any worse?

Ok do I slow down and let them go then hope I don’t catch up with them? No, they will get to the finish line first and therefore see me when I finish and no doubt point me out as the weirdo who thought she knew someone but didn’t and then was too slow to keep up.

Oh the pressure!

Ok. You’ll need to speed up and get past them. Then you’ll need to stay past them. Oh god I can’t run that fast for that long!

I put my head down and slowly, very slowly, get alongside ‘not Nigel’.

It IS Nigel! Oh thank god! He says hi as I go past and I oh so very briefly get the lightest of reliefs that it is him and I’m not quite that weird.

Then realise how stressed out I got about the situation – which lasted all of 10 seconds by the way – and have to admit defeat. I’m a bit weird.

Thankfully there are no further issues and I even manage to keep my hands to myself and not have the same intimate connection with the bush at the infamous plank as I did last year! The 10km sign is still in the wrong place but I’m ready for that. I do giggle as I remember the older guy from last year and his comment of ’10km my @rse!’.

Approaching the finish and I manage a little sprint to get it over and done with and I can hear some lovely people shouting my name as I do. I’m not going to lie. I love that.

Gillian is just seconds behind me and Nigel is just behind her. Poor Gillian fell over in the mud and as she shows me her completely covered right hand side she points out my leg is bleeding. Oh yeah, I picked up some more war wounds! My right leg is scratched like a cats post. Seasoned runner right here ha ha.

I head to the showers with my bag so I can get changed before the cold sets in. I pull out my clean clothes and my towel and……

It’s not a towel.

It’s a tiny piece of material you use for the turbo or spin bike when you’re really sweaty! I may be small but I’m not that small. Trying to get a wash and shower with that was not fun.

So no. I didn’t beat last year’s time. But I did feel I ran a better race. Excluding my little detour of and starting too far back. The beer is still in the fridge and I have great plans to drink it this weekend after my long run. There is every chance that one beer will have me drunk but hey, it’s worth it.

Next year it’s Parkrun!

When the other half suggests we both do a race my trainers are on before he’s finished speaking.

Well. Let me tell you. What a sorry lesson I’ve learned from that!

One of his customers had told him about a hill race near where he lived. 2 days before Christmas. Im still doing Marcothon so thought I could do that as part of it.

Stupidly thought. Very stupidly thought.

It was a Saturday morning so the choice was between that and Parkrun. I chose to mix it up and go for the hill race. Why not?

It was less than half an hour away and when I looked it up on the morning of the race it was your typical small field of runners. All the feedback on it was positive so how bad could it be. There was a bag check at registration and it was a short walk to the start.

At the start I bumped into Chris who I’ve met at a couple of other races. He pointed out a bit to save energy for (Scotland’s famous for ‘fake tops) and said he ran it last year in about 55mins.

It’s 4 miles. Oh right. I know it’s a hill race but what goes up comes down doesn’t it? And usually much faster?

Joe saw a few people he knew as well including an older woman from his tri club and the guy who had suggested the race.

Off we went and I stuck close to the back. The Hill Series with Perth Road Runners taught me enough to know I’m a finisher and nothing more. Usually in the last 10 as well. God loves a trier though.

Flat but bumpy under foot to begin with then a bit of mud then BAM.

Vertical.

And it didn’t stop.

Ever!!!

‘It’s ok’ I told myself. ‘There’s always a flat bit somewhere’. Nope! Not at this race.

This was my 23rd day of running at least 3 miles a day on the trot. This was beginning to hurt.

Just a few steps later – yup, this really hurts.

I was beginning to wonder if I should stop. Turn round and finish my miles near the car where it was flat whilst waiting for Joe to finish. I looked at my watch.

0.6 miles!! Are you kidding me?? That’s all?!? Oh Ella maybe you really should stop. This isn’t a healthy kind of pain.

It must end soon though surely? There’s always a little flat but to recover on.

Not in this race.

The first mile eventually clicked by. 20 minutes after starting. Just don’t say anything. You don’t need to.

After 7 days and nights on the side of this hill I reached the Marshall at the top pointing me to the right. I tried to run but my legs had gone back to the car so it was more of a bambi walk than anything. At 1.45 miles the lead runner came past me. I hadn’t even made it half way yet. Joe wasn’t too far behind the lead pack and I could tell he was thinking the same as me. What the actual f@ck were we playing at?

Down the treacherous path of rocks and mud and I slipped and slide my way past Chris and a few others (all heading back of course). I got down to the ‘big rock’ and went round it, moaning as usual to the marshalls – ‘oh my god why am I doing this!’.

Now I was heading back up and I could see there were only a handful of people behind me. The thought crossed my mind I could be finishing last. I didn’t like this. Last race of the year and there was a high probability I was going to be last.

Back across the top and it was down the vertical drop we had come up. Ah, now I can make some time back and hopefully scrape back a few places.

I slipped.

Nope!! Not doing that. I will take my time thank you very much! What a stupid bloody thing to do when you’ve an Ultra to train for you stupid woman!! This is just a ‘fun’ race for you! Take your time idiot!

I went over my ankle at 3 miles and did that whole ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, keep running, keep going, does it hurt? I don’t know! Ok just keep running. Nope, it’s ok. Phew’.

Every runners done that. Be honest.

I eventually came off the side of the mountain (yes it was a mountain) and hit the flat section. Finally. But my legs were jelly. Actual jelly. I could have been a cowboy. After a few strides they settled down and I pushed on knowing the finish was close. I could see someone in front of me but I didn’t have time to catch him.

I crossed the line and promptly told the other half we were doing Parkrun next year and not this race. Nope. No sir. Not me. No hills thank you. 1hr 7 it took me. To do 4 miles!

To say I’m in pain today does not cut it. I’ve been in better shape after running a marathon than I am today. In fact, I was better after the ultra! Leg days in the gym ain’t got nothing on a hill race! And I had to run today!! Marcothon is going to be the death of me.

When all is said and very sore it’s a greatly run race. Very friendly, fantastic spread, great marshalls. The only problem is the elevation ha ha. Almost 1000 feet in the first mile. I mean seriously, who enjoys that? (Not me, definitely not me).

‘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!