One Week To Go

One week.  In exactly one week I will be putting all my training to the test and taking on the biggest physical challenge I’ve done.

So how have I spent my last weekend before the big event?  One final long swim? A long ride followed by a long run?  Some strength work?

Nope.  None of that.

I’m hungover!

I’ve done absolutely nothing today.  In fact, I only got out of bed at about half 4.  (Before that it was just trips back and forth to the bathroom to throw up.  Yup, I was sick.  Several times). I went out last night with a few people from work for pizza and I ended up dancing the night away.  When I’m usually fast asleep in bed dreaming of the route I’m taking the next day on the bike/running I was having a dance off with a beer in my hand.

And my god am I paying for it today.

No regrets though.  It was exactly what I needed.  To let my hair down and relax.  Is one week before the race a good time to do it? I don’t know, I will have to get back to you on that one.  But right now? Yeah – it was.

Strangely enough my other half has said nothing about it.  No moans, no grumping, no comments about how we were supposed to be swimming in the Loch and he had a bike ride to do.  Nothing.  So he either knew just how much I needed it or………. something is up his sleeve.

And right enough, when I eventually made it in to the kitchen about an hour ago for a glass of water and painkillers, up on the board was his training plan for a race he’s just signed up to in August.  

But it’s ok.  Once Ironman is done – in 1 week – I can (and I should) relax my training.  Step back a little to give my mind and body a rest and to give him more opportunity to step it up.  

Will that happen? Maybe.  Ha ha.  It might last one week, possibly two.  I will let you know.

One thing I do know though…….

I’m never drinking again.

Ironman Training 

‘May the odds be ever in your favour’


Well that’s not really happening right now is it!

After Fridays fall then Sundays ‘defiant’ half marathon (yes I can do this, I’m fine, the distance isn’t an issue, oh no wait, the pain!) I’ve had a rather quiet week so far.

Running is very difficult as the movement hurts my cheek a bit too much.  At most I’ve done the odd mile on the treadmill to keep me from going insane but I’ve spent the entire time gurning like your grandfather and checking every two seconds it’s not started bleeding again.  Good form it is not my friend.

I managed a session in the pool – which was one of those where I had to guilt myself in to going – and did an ok 2000m.  My swim buddy bailed on me because of the rain and a heavy weekend but I had a set written on my hand – and I made him feel suitably bad the next day. 

I also managed an open water session at Loch Ore again.  However this time the wind was against me and it was incredibly choppy.  At one point I was at the second buoy and every time I looked up – oh yes, my face was actually in the water! – I was getting further and further back from it.  I persevered though but again the third lap was very much a ‘force yourself’ lap.  Had Joe been finished his run I would have quit at 2 laps.  It did make me feel better to hear the stronger swimmers complaining of how hard it was though.  


Any form of weights, pull ups, push ups or even some yoga has been completely off the cards this week so far.  My hand has turned a lovely shade of black and blue (which I’m taking to mean it’s getting better) and reminds me quite often it’s still not quite right.  So it’s been impossible to apply any pressure on it what so ever.

So that leaves me with only one thing I can comfortably do – and it’s the one thing that landed me in this broken bodied state in the first place – cycling. 

I’ve stuck to the spin bike as we appear to be in monsoon season right now, not keen to have another crash I thought it the sensible option.  I’ve tried following it up with a run but as I said it’s still too painful on the cheek so thats been limited to a mile.    I’m dealing with it all not too bad though to be fair.  I mean, I haven’t hurt anyone (yet, however there have been a few moments that have involved clenched fists).  There have been moments I’ve gazed longingly out the window desperate to go for a proper run, U2’s With or Without You playing over and over in my head…..

But I’m ok.  I’m dealing with it.

I may have had to look the other way when I’ve driven past someone running down the street, getting their fix, wondering when I’m going to get mine, cautiously trying not to swerve in to them out of jealousy…..

Honestly, I’m fine.

In all seriousness I should be back to running properly again by Saturday.  And even though I’m working I can still get out for my 5 miles at lunch time – regardless of wind or rain I’m running!

Then it will only be 3 weeks until event day.   3 weeks to get that last long ride in.  That last open water swim.   That last long (ish) run.  

Plenty time to change the nappy as I will be well and truly ‘filling ma breeks’ by then! 

Is it Saturday yet?

Too Much To Chew

Life …. is a struggle right now.  

It’s very hard to fit everything in.  I was doing ok but now I’m bouncing between wanting to get faster with my running and wanting to do better at the Half Ironman. 

A tough cycle means I don’t have fresh legs for running.  Not having fresh legs makes running fast almost impossible.  I’ve not had time to do slow, long runs yet for the marathon coming up and my last few races I’ve gone out too fast.

And paid for it.

And of course swimming.  I’ve finally got the youngest in swimming lessons but it’s at a time I’ve been doing one of my own sessions – so that one is now scrapped.  Kids come first though.  There’s no question about that.  My Monday swim has also been knocked on the head since the other half joined the local Tri club.  We can’t both go out at the same time as my mum already does so much for us.

Welcome to the pity party.

So what to do.  

I could grumble and grumble and grumble away for oh, I don’t know, a good few novel fulls anyway, but that’s not going to solve anything.  I know this.

At the end of the day I chose this.  I chose to challenge myself with a Half Ironman.  I chose to do another marathon.  So if I want to achieve this, I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up!

Now is not the time to start slacking just because it’s getting hard or because I can’t do the sessions I’ve planned at a set time. 

That.  That right there.  THATS the difficulty.  Accepting I have to change my plan.  Jiggle things about a bit.  Make the most of the sessions that I can do.  Get up even earlier to fit more in.  Force myself to cycle at lunch and not always run.  Use my running for distance not speed.  If I can only get half an hour in the pool then it’s 30 minutes more than 0. 

I don’t like it though.  Not when I can’t do what I’ve scheduled in.  I have a routine.  I like my routine.  It works for me and I work hard at it.  (I write in pen in my book, not pencil).  If it looks like I may be 5 minutes later getting out the door I panic.  How ridiculous is that?  It is what it is though. 

So what’s the end result of this?

You said it before – suck it up buttercup, it’s not over yet. You’ve got a finish line to cross.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

What a stupid saying!  I fell off twice on my last cycle!

I’m going to be honest.  The cycling part of this Half Ironman is beginning to scare me.  Reality is slowly hitting me across the face as it dawns on me that there are 2 different types of cyclist – those who are out for a leisurely cycle, and those who race.

Naturally, I fall in to the ‘leisurely cycle’ category.

Not ideal when you are racing.

I’ve looked at average times for my age completing a race like this and it has it down as 3hrs 30mins for the cycle.  That breaks down to roughly 15mph average.  I can manage almost 19mph on a 30 mile turbo ride but a recent trip to Pitlochry and back (also 30 miles there, 30 back) was more 13mph.  That’s quite a bit to make up.  

And it’s also only about half the distance I need to do…….

With no half hour stop for lunch either.

Pit stop in Pitlochry – was a good cycle with Joe

Pitlochry was Saturday and on my lunch run today (Monday) I could feel it in my legs – just above the knee on both legs.  My other half had challenged me to run sub 8min miles today, even set my watch to keep my pace so it would go off if I was too slow.

I knew I wouldn’t do it and turned off the pacer before even starting.

First 2 miles were under 8 mins to be fair.   I just knew I wouldn’t be able to climb the hill at that speed though, and I don’t like running less than 5 miles.  Maybe that’s what I should concentrate on though – faster but shorter distances just for a little while.  

I’m seeing some good progress with my swimming though.  It’s all been pool based so far as it’s too cold for open water but that’s going to be coming really soon. I’m choosing to believe open water will be easier and I will enjoy it more (I’m a huge fan of positive mind set).  I can not let it scare me.  I will allow myself one – and only one – freak out, then it’s head down, get on with business! 

On the upmost positive point though – I am dealing very well with panics when swimming.  No longer do I choke and gag in the most unsightly manner when I don’t have my breathing right and proceed to give an Oscar worthy performance of my dying moments.  Ok, slight lie, I do still choke from time to time but I can successfully recover from this and THAT is huge.  Because let’s face it, that is most definitely going to happen on the day.  I’m going to get kicked, elbowed, pushed around, water is constantly going to be where I need to breathe so if I can  calm myself down – I’ve already won.

So.  Running is still there.  It’s taken a knock but I have a few races coming up that will keep me at it.  Swimming is good.  No room to slack and time to get in the ‘real pool’ but it’s good.  And cycling? Well…… just got to keep at it.  Ignore the average time as, at the end of the day, I’m not ‘average’.  I’m a first timer at this.  I will do what I do on the day.

I am my only competition.

Ladies Only

I’ve never ran a ‘ladies only’ race so wasn’t sure if it would actually be different or not.  It was held by a running club that has both men and women so wasn’t a ‘girl power’ situation (not so sure I would have went for that to be honest).  It wasn’t all ‘pink’ and cheer leading and Pom poms either.  It was just a 10 mile race.

Actually no, hold up.  It wasn’t just a race.   This run had a climb in it! First 2 miles are ok, then it goes up, and up, and a bit more up.

I decided to go for the car share thinking it would be a good way to get to know more people.  Plus I had had a slight incident in the snow last week which hasn’t exactly left me with a smooth running car!  The other half offered to come along but I knew he would be bored so this was definitely the best option.

The drive through was full of chat of running – well, what else do you think we would talk about ha ha.  The other girls in the car hadn’t ran many races so were understandably a little nervous.  We timed it well so when we got there we picked up our numbers and were soon at the start line.  I had my vest top and shorts on and received many comments from those in hats and gloves about being cold.  To be fair being bottle white doesn’t help but I knew I would be fine as soon as we started.  Took me so long to have the confidence to wear shorts and now I hate running in anything but them ha ha.


At about the 2 mile mark we had a few PRR members cheering us on.  Unfortunately the most I could muster at this point was a high pitched exhale – even though yes, it was only 2 miles in!  The photo they took of me genuinely puts frankensteins work to shame. Which they dutifully posted on the clubs Facebook page – obviously.  Serves me right for not trying to smile I guess (although that has potential to be even worse!).  Still, it was nice having people you know cheering you on.

Thinking of using this to apply for The Rocky Horror Show

The climb started from there.  It wasn’t too bad but it just kept going and going and going.  Someone else had said just look at your feet and don’t stop.  After that hill I could now draw you a very detailed portrait of my New Balance, pink and black trainers with a dash of silver on the top.  

The sun had also come out at mile 2 and combined with the climb it was hot!  At some points I could have done with my sun glasses.  I had seen some ladies were running in 3 lairs – 3 lairs! They must have sweated off at least 2 stone! 

I had ‘sub-consciously’ made a target in my head of doing the race in 1hr 20.  This would mean I had hit my age section for the Club Standards.  I knew it was highly unlikely but my first mile was 7:33 and my second 8:01.  Naturally I started doing maths (as every runner does – we should all be mathematicians).  When mile 3 came in at 9:06 (it was a steep climb alright!) I calculated I was 30seconds off target which is a doable time to catch up on that early on.

You can tell I’m not a mathematician already can’t you?

Mile 4 and it’s still uphill but comes in better at 8:28.  Ella’s maths now has her at about 1m 3 seconds over.  Still very much achievable as I like running down hill and can pick up speed there – when it eventually comes round of course.

Mile 5 hits at 8:21 but we start to go downhill.  I don’t take the water on offer as I want to make up what is now under a minute and a half in my head.

Note to self – probably best not to help the kids with their maths homework.

The next mile is better at 7:31 but I can feel myself flagging in the heat.  Should have taken that water.  Also should have had more than red bull for my breakfast! The banana and grapes I scoffed down half an hour before the start hadn’t done me any favours either.  Will I never learn?!?   At this point I think I can hear another lady from the Road Runners chatting away behind me.  I’m puffing and panting away and she’s having a leisurely chat! I’m definitely flagging.

Is it over yet? Photo courtesy of Sarah Clark

Mile 7 and I’m not feeling too grand.  I gratefully take a jelly baby from the incredibly enthusiastic supporter from Hazelhead at the side who kindly runs with me as I do.  Of course I can’t chew the bloody thing and run at the same time so almost choke on it but I am very grateful for the boost (both her cheering and her jelly baby).

How do people run and eat? I have no idea!  That is a true skill.  I mean, that should be on your resume if you have mastered that!

Mile 8 and my hip hurts, my legs hurt a little, my head hurts from doing insane maths and I solemnly swear never to get on at the kids to do their maths homework because it is true torture.  I’m now lost as to where I am time wise and accept I am not making 1hr 20.  And at this point I dont care.

Then I remember my watch also tells me how long I have been running for and it’s 1hr 5min. 

Hmmmm.

15mins for 2 miles.  Which I’m pretty sure are meant to be downhill.  Of course I didn’t think to actually look at a map of the course properly – my eyes were drawn to the climb and not much else – but I was pretty sure it was meant to be downhill.  I could do 2 miles at an 8min pace.

There’s those maths skills again.

Not to worry though as mile 9 comes in at 8:23 and I truly, no longer care.  I am too hot, I need water, I need food.  All of which were my own fault.

Turning in to the sports ground and it’s up on to grass.

Correction.  Not grass.  It’s a swamp!!!!  Are you freaking kidding me?? My legs barely move through the soggy ground, of which there is of course a hill the size of Ben Nevis to climb.  (It’s about 4 steps up but that’s not my point! I’ve just ran up a bloody hill!).  The guys from the club are at the last corner but instead of waving and smiling like a normal person I pick up the pace to get off the swamp which naturally made for another ‘dawn of the dead’ photo.  Grand. 


As soon as I’m done I’m delving in to my goodie bag and I’m scoffing down the crisps.  First time ever I’ve eaten straight after a race but then I usually have breakfast – lesson after lesson with me!  I stand at the side cheering the rest of the PRR girls on (all of them smiling and waving at the camera, some doing impressive sprint finishes!).  I then go back to Kirsties car and decide to do a quick change in the empty car park.  But yes, you’ve guessed it, no sooner are my shorts off that there’s a family of 5 that walks right past.  

I don’t care.  I don’t like being cold.  I’m putting my canterburys on. 

Back inside and I decide not to join the queue for what turns out to be a fantastic spread put on by Arbroath.  Only reason being there are a few of us that were going for fish and chips after.  Everyone gave it rave reviews though. 

So, a great day all in all.  Should have had breakfast.  Was right with the shorts and vest.  Didn’t hit the 1hr 20 but I have another 10 miler in 2 weeks and I’m determined to do it then. 

Oh, and there was a small bottle of wine in the goodie bag! Result!


Sprint photo is courtesy of Kevin Kelly – thanks to all photographers for the photos (well, some of them!). 

All About The Base

I’m (loosely) following a Half Ironman training programme and this week had me doing a time trial for the swim section.  This came with more difficulties than you can imagine and it came with a serious threat of a panic attack when I was trying to plan it.

Let me explain.

Problem number 1.  I haven’t swam more than 400meters in one go since Edinburgh and even then I had what I call ‘Dip gate’.  (They changed the start, I jumped in and ended up only going down and not forward, drank and chocked on half the pool water and basically wanted to die – all within the first 5 seconds of the triathlon starting!).  Could I keep going for 1900 meters?

Problem number 2.  How do I count 1900 meters? My watch has been playing up so can’t trust it to count the lengths.  I can’t count and swim or I will sink and die. Breaking it down to sections will confuse me because, again, I can’t count past 4 before forgetting and ultimately sinking and drowning (spot the theme). 

Problem number 3.  It’s January, it’s mega busy.  I will either end up having to wait and let people past or getting really frustrated having to wait for people to hurry up. And let’s not mention the ‘I’m going to breast stroke in a medium to fast lane but refuse to get my head and hair wet and growl at those who splash me’ people.  (Stroke my ass with your arm again and I will grab your foot and throw you out the pool!)

Problem number 4.  I hadn’t been too well the few days before so the timing was all off.

Problem number 5.  I had no way of getting to the pool as the car had broken down and I was getting the blame for this.

Problem number 6.  I didn’t really want to do it.

After realising all I was doing was making excuses I decided to count the lengths in 10’s and check my watch at intervals to keep on track.  My mum has been coming swimming so she gave me a lift.  I had been a little dizzy, not at deaths door, so I was fit and well enough to do it. 

Suck it up buttercup or you won’t even make it to the start line!

I clicked my watch and off I went.  There was only 1 other guy in my 25m lane and he was slightly slower and taking rest periods so no problem there.  I counted to ten.  I got this! Start again, count up to ten.  Job done.  I checked my watch and it matched up.  Things are going great! Another guy jumped in but again it was no issue.  

Up to 30, then 35 – half way! Oh no wait.  You’re doing 76 lengths.  What’s half of 76? 35 isn’t it? No it can’t be.  Must be 36. How can it be 36 when you need to do 76? Is it 46? 

WHY CANT I DO SIMPLE MATHS?!?

Oh holy …. What length am I on?!? 

Right, calm down.  You were thinking you were half way when you were on the other side over there so you must be one number up from that so half way is 38 which means you are on 39.  But you can’t be on 39 as that’s an odd number and you are heading back to the shallow end – the shallow end is even numbers! 

This goes on for what feels like an hour (reality is 30 seconds) until I get to 40 lengths.  

Yes! Only 26 to go!

40 plus 26 is not 76 Ella.  It starts all over again.

In the end I somehow figure it out and then keep a very close eye on my watch as I count down the last 400 meters.

Hitting the wall at the end I click my watch and take a breather.  Despite all the chaos in my head (anyone else hear the voices? No? Just me then) I’ve done pretty well.  Not spectacular compared to some but for me, pretty god damn well.  I may look more like a sea urchin coming up from the dead than Ariel the mermaid but I feel good about the swim and that’s what counts.

Plus now – I have my base to work on.  I have my first time I need to beat.  And I have 5 months.  A lot can be improved in 5 months.  Maybe not the counting issue (I’m sure that’s a medical condition). Or the voices for that matter.  But definitely the time.

Game on.

Training Update

Almost 3 weeks in and time to recap how the training is going.

Starts with S and ends with It.

No only kidding.  It’s ‘going’ shall we say.     I’ve discovered I need to do a hell of a lot more on the bike than I thought.  The cycling is putting additional pressure on my rotated pelvis so getting comfortable is hard.  Oh how much do I want to just reach in there and ‘rotate’ it back.  (Don’t worry, I know that’s impossible).


Luckily I have found a really good physio to get it realigned Ina regular basis and although it can be uncomfortable the sessions aren’t torture and he has a good sense of humour so I can have a laugh when I am there.  

I also have no idea what people are on about when they use their favourite buzz words such as ‘watts’ and ‘rpm’ and ‘cadence’ when it comes to cycling.  I’m still very much in the frame of mind of sit on the seat and peddle. I guess I need to do more research.


Swimming is definitely improving.  Slowly but surely I am breaking that barrier.  Still have occasions I am convinced there is a shark in the pool right beside me about to kill me and yes, I have freaked out when something’s touched my foot when I am the ONLY one in the lane only to realise later it was my other bloody foot but hey, I’m still swimming.  (Took a good few weeks to realise I was kicking my other foot but surely I’m not the only one to have little freak outs like this?).  More focused drills seem to be helping my speed instead of going Dory style and just keep swimming.

That leaves my running.  Now I truly love my running.  It’s my release, my ‘head’ time, my listen to music that no one listened to when it was released time.  

But.

Back at the Road Runners after not going for club runs for a couple of weeks and I got a very hard, sharp wake up call.  I’ve never been ‘fast’ – yes I can run and I’m happy with my pb’s to date – but I will never be first over the line.  And that’s not because I have more chance of getting lost (which coincidentally is true), I just run because I simply enjoy it.  I didn’t however enjoy finding out I have lost some speed.  The cycling seems to be having more of an affect on me than I gave enough thought to.  I couldn’t keep up on my first run and ended up doing the last 2 miles solo.  It was embarrassing.  I was really down about it. Perseverance is key though and although I was last again the following week on the hill run it was slightly better. Just need to keep at it and stop ignoring the fact I need to do speed work.  GOD I hate speed work! What is the point of running when you can’t bloody breathe?! What is the point of pushing your body so you hurt the next day?! Collapsing at the end picturing your grave site?!

Oh yeah, because you need to do it.

Races have cut off times.  If I pull myself through the water and drag myself round the bike course you’re damn sure I’m putting everything I have in to MY run.   No it won’t be a time that will impress everyone but it will be my time on a Half Ironman course! 

Not going to stop moaning about speed work though.  Ha ha.  Kind of also got to remember in doing a marathon before the Half Ironman too!