School Holidays

Every year my daughter begs me to be on holiday for the entire time she is off school. Unfortunately this just isn't possible. My job doesn't allow for 6 week sabbaticals and my tendency to enter event after event – and her addiction to the most expensive trends going – kind of means I need my job. 2 weeks is the best I can do.

And naturally the very first day I am off I ask her what she wants to do and she tells me she's made plans with friends! Last thing on her mind is spending time with her mum! Hmmf.

2 weeks off work also means disruption to my routine. This I dislike very much. I love routine. I need routine. I can't tell you how many times I've had a hissy fit in the changing rooms at work because someone is in my spot. I am in there everyday at 12:02pm and I use the same locker next to the same spot on the same bench every bloody day. Completely puts me off when someone else gets there first!

Image result for my spot

However. I have to work with this. I have to change some things (not my spot in the changing rooms, it's mine). So gone are the lunch runs for 2 weeks and in come the early morning alarms so I can get it done before he is off to work. Gone are the lovely field runs with fresh air and wildlife and in come the loops round and round my house beside a road, dodging the kid on the scooter who is clearly aiming for me (so much self control it took not to push him over) all to get it done.

Gone also is my 'lunch'. As in actual food. It's 3pm before I realise I haven't eaten and by 4pm my Jekyll and Hyde impression is Oscar worthy. Half past 4 and I'm crashing out for a nap. Yup, got to love being off work….

And now lastly, it's beginning to feel like my speed is threatening to go. Yes ok I've never exactly been in the league of Laura Muir but I like to think I have at least a chance of getting my GFA time for London. What if that's all it is though? Something I like to think? And not something that is a reality?

'That' Saturdays long run threw me a little. Last Saturday was definitely better. Marginally longer but no 'bathroom' issues, just a bit of a hip issue. But now I've figured out I need to run 8min 30 splits. That's a bloody huge challenge. Kind of wish I hadn't looked that up. 26.2 miles at that pace? Hmmm.

It's what's driving me though. So when I was doing park run to finish my long run and I wanted to slow down…. I didn't. Pushed on by realising someone was using me as a pacer I kept at it. Took me a while to realise I knew her, spending the first 2 miles trying to figure out who's voice it was. Of course I could have just turned round and looked but it's more fun to play the guessing game! So when I started increasing my pace near the end and I felt her slow, I shouted at her to keep going. She was truly doing amazing and came so close to getting a PB. I'm sure she was only a few seconds off.

Same again last night at the club run. After a pitiful attempt at an excuse not to go from my friend (looks like thunder she said – barely a cloud in the sky, I'm picking you up) I agreed to run with her group. Near the end though and I was slightly a bit ahead with another roadrunner. 'Heading straight back or the long way round with strides?' He asked. 'Long way round, definitely.'

I hadn't heard him say 'strides'.

'Ok, bin to bin. GO!!'

I very quickly discovered I did not have that in me. But he kept going, kept pushing, and although it was quite a pitiful attempt on my part, I got it done. No way in hell I would have done it if there hadn't been someone shouting me on!

And so that just leaves this mornings run. Whilst my youngest was at nursery, my daughter who had begged me to be off work still lay in bed (I am NOT getting up mum!), and the myth that is my eldest was also in bed (obvs, duh), I took off for my run.

6 miles.

At a MUCH better pace!

Finally!

I got home and went straight in to a cold bath. I know some people say this does nothing for you but I certainly feel better for it and even if it's only mentally, I don't care. There's a lot to be said for placebos.

Saturday is my local half marathon. And shock horror I have another challenge (because obviously the marathon isn't quite challenging enough! *cough,cough). I want my club standards time. 1hour 48mins. I didn't get it at Loch Leven and I was disappointed, those 38 seconds still haunt me.  I want it this Saturday. The last 3 miles have you go past the finish for a loop out and back. Horrendous route. So I will make sure the other half – and hopefully my mum and dad – are placed to shout at me to keep moving. It's going to be needed.

Fingers crossed! (But not toes, because I wouldn't be able to run then).

Looks like thunder my arse!

Nanny On The Run

Nanny On The Run

I am undoubtedly going to get a scolding for this post but I don’t care, it’s worth it.

My mum – aka Nanny – ran the Race For Life 5k! 

Very proud daughter here.

I signed up for the 10k and suggested to my mum she did the 5k with me straight after.  She hasn’t been out running but she does walk a lot and she enjoyed it when we ran it 2 years ago with my daughter.  So I signed her up.

Then asked her.

It’s ok she was up for it.  I then asked a fellow roadrunner for an idea of a plan to get her to the end of the 5k and he suggested 1 minute run : 1 minute walk.  

Sunday morning I headed down to the start line of the 10k.  There were quite a few less people than what I remember from 2 years ago which was a bit disheartening.  I got there just as the warm up was finishing so I made my way to the start.  Joe was coming down later with the youngest on the bikes and my mum was going to meet me at the finish line.

There was a minutes silence so we could think about the reason for this run.  My mother in law passed away from cancer before I had the opportunity to meet her and I often think about how different things would be if she was here.  The minutes silence however was rudely disturbed by yet again someone playing their music out loud.  I was not impressed to say the least.  To show such disrespect is beyond me.

I chose not to push it – or to be more accurate my body chose to remind me I had completed a ‘rather tough challenge’ just the weekend before.  I also had a heart monitor on which, despite the doctors promise of it not being really obvious and of course I could do my usual activities wearing it, it was ironically killing me.  With every stride it was ripping a layer of skin of my chest and side.  I did however actually look like Ironman – or Ironwoman in my case ha ha.

The route took me past my friends house twice.  She had decided not to run it but had said she would be at her window to wave me on.  She wasn’t.  Her cat was, but she was not.  Pretty sure she was sitting on her comfy couch eating her breakfast in the warmth.  Yes.  I was jealous.

It was 2 laps and in all honesty nothing exciting.  I was more geared up for the 5k with my mum! I came in at a good time and Joe and my youngest were at the finish which was nice.


My mum, well, it’s my mum.  She got there a few minutes later. 

We headed over to pick up our numbers.  I had signed up quite late so they weren’t posted out.  The 5k wasn’t starting for another half an hour so I ran back to the car to get a banana.  Before long it was the starting line again.


We opted for the back of the ‘joggers’ as they were labelled and started with a 2 minute run.  I had to keep telling my mum to slow down as she was intent on going as fast as she could.  We went past Joe and Oliver which was a good boost for her.  I had text my friend to say we were coming past and true to form she was up at her window with her boys (and cat) waving away.  Obviously she’d finished her breakfast ha ha.


We went round by the river and there was a bit of a headwind but it was ok.  The walk/run/walk was working well and I was doing my best to convince her to keep it up.  One day I will get her at park run!

On to the last stretch and she pushed it that little bit more.  


You would think after doing her first 5k she would be really tired and go home and rest.  But nope.  She went to do the food shopping! 

Next year I’m going to sign her up for Pretty Muddy.  Who knows, it might be Tough Mudder after that! 

Anything IS Possible

3:15am and our alarm goes off.  

This. Is. It.

The day I have been training for 6 months for.  6 solid months.  

It’s a quick shower, a quiet one.  No music this morning.  Just focus. Upstairs it sounds like my oldest has only just gone to sleep.  Ah to be 17 again. (Actually no thanks!).

Joes made a huge mound of porridge and I try to get as much down me as I can but I don’t manage a lot.  Eating at that time of the morning is near impossible.  Aware it’s not enough I try to top it up with half a bagel.  

Into the van and we are on our way to pick up Joes dad.  First panic of the day.  Do I have my timing chip! I ‘ask’ Joe to pull over even though we are only 2 minutes away from his dads so I can get my bag from the back of the van and precede to empty it’s contents eventually finding it in the ‘safe’ pocket I had put it in the night before.

No comment needed.

His dads there bright and breezy with his coffee and we are soon on the road to Edinburgh.  Unsurprisingly it’s clear and it’s straight through.  We park up and the minute the door is opened I can feel the wind.  It’s the sea front though.  It’s expected.  I take a quick look at the water and can quite clearly see the course marked out is not 1900 meters.  We will find out soon though.

Walking in we see Heledd straight away – she’s volunteering as Kevin is racing too.  The poor soul is already freezing but she tells us she is about to be moved position so she can warm up.  I wish I had taken photo with her at the start.  At 6am we hear the announcement that they have shortened the swim – for the pros as well.  What? That’s unusual.  They normally have to do full length regardless.

Into transition for the last checks on the bikes and we see some from Perth Tri Club. I join the queue for the toilets and remain there until very close to start time.  Luckily, it was worth it and I had ‘movement’. I get into my wetsuit and we head over to the start.  


We are at the back of the line but can’t see any signs telling us where to be for what predicted time so we can’t place ourselves very well.  Turns out the signs were on the inside of the fences.  Not very useful.  It’s impossible to move forward so we stay where we are.  There’s a few comments about the swim (‘may as well just chuck a bucket of water over us’ raised a fair few eyebrows around). I don’t look at the sea, I don’t even try.  I wanted to see the pro athletes but I’m tiny and can’t see over people.  I’m thankful for it though because I really didn’t want to look at what I was about to attempt.  Over the tannoy we are told it’s tough conditions and to give sharp hard kicks at the first buoy and that should get us round.

Should?!? 

We get to the front and a Marshall is there shouting ‘does anyone need goggles?’.  Nice touch have to say.  He follows it up with ‘or a choc ice or ice cream’.  Made me smile. I’m at the gate now.  I’m through the gate – my god that was fast! Joes through at the same time but he’s off and in the water.  The first wave hits me and I’m pushed back.  Holy hell.  Ok.  Just get in.  I dive in and I’m hit with other athletes trying to move forward but being pulled back.  I can still see Joe at the side of me, he’s having just as hard a time.  

I’ve only just started and I see a couple of kayaks just laden with people and pulling more swimmers out.  There’s lots of shouting but I can’t make any of it out above the noise of the waves.  I have a very fleeting thought of grabbing the kayak but I throw that out my head instantly before it festers.  I get to the first buoy and I can no longer see Joe, he’s probably already on to the second.  I’m now chocking on the sea water, badly.  I switch to breast stroke to try and calm down.  Works only marginally.  I’m swallowing so much water how can there be any left to swim in?!? 

Right, come on.  I see another kayak – swamped by more people.  I start thinking of all the people who know I am doing this, those who have donated, my kids – and I start thinking how embarrassing it would be for me personally not to do this.  The pros were out the water in less than 15 minutes.  15 god damn minutes.  Move your bloody arse Ella and get to the end.  Over a thousand people are doing this – it is NOT impossible.  Stop being a bloody wimp.  

I find some sort of rhythm and begin to go with the waves.  Front crawl works for a little while but you can’t sight and have to switch to breast stroke to make sure you’re still on course.  I take a few hits but nothing major.  Then an arm smacks me on the face not once but twice.  Goggles!! Oh my god my goggles!! I can’t get them back on if they come off!! Not in this!! They’re still on though, squint, but still on.  I feel something on the top of my neck and just before I freak out it’s a jellyfish I realise it’s my nose plugs.  I’m close to the next buoy and the waves are as high as the top it.  I consider jumping on it to get out the water and just bobbing around on it for a moment. 

It’s a nice thought.

I’m making the turn now so I tell myself I’m over half way, I may as well swim back.  There’s a new challenge now though – the sun.  I can barely see a thing.  I’m still surrounded by people so I must be on course.  The last and final buoy comes in to sight.  I turn and I’m on the final straight.  It feels like forever but eventually I can stand up. 

Well.  Wobble up.  Like bambi I make my way up to transition, occasionally trying to run.  I gave a great impression of a baby giraffe – award winning performance I would say.  I click my watch and it says 33minutes.  That’s embarrassing! I must be one of the very last out the water.  I’m trying to get my wet suit zipper down and another athlete does it for me.  I was incredibly thankful.

Just outside the tent I see Heledd shouting.  What a perfect time to see a friendly face! Gave me that moment to calm down and take a breath.  Of course I’m pretty sure my face just read ‘oh my god I almost died, why did I do that’ – but I appreciated seeing her. 

I need water.  Oh the irony!! Swallowed so much sea water I now needed plain water to help bring it back up.  I knew my transition time was going to be bad so I try to speed up at the same time as calming myself down.  I head out to my bike (still in shock) and as I take it from the rack I hear something very strange on the tannoy’

‘Joe Webley’

What? Is he just coming out of the water? I pause for a minute and fight the instinct to go back and check he was ok.  Something’s clearly happened. It’s not what you are meant to do though and he would shout at me if I did so I carry on to the bike.  

As soon as I’m in the saddle I can feel my front wheel wobbling.  Like really wobbling.  This isn’t good! What’s happening? It’s that bad I stop and check it several times.  Doesn’t feel lose when I’m stopped but doesn’t feel safe when I’m cycling.  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t find the problem but I’m not confident.  

So yeah, I carry on.  As you do.

I know I have to start re-fuelling as soon as possible on the bike but I can’t face an energy bar or a gel so I opt for the jelly babies I had bought last minute. Aware this was a very risky thing as I hadn’t trained with them I still put one in my mouth.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Those jelly babies were a life saver.

Nigel came past me with a cheery hello – I love that.  Then at seven miles I hear what I really, really needed to hear.

‘There she is.  Alright wife.’

‘YEAH!!!!!’ He’s caught up with me.  He’s fine.  What ever happened in the water hasn’t stopped him and he’s not in the medical tent.  He’s all smiles and laughing.  ‘What about that swim eh?’ He asks.  ‘I am never doing that again’ is my reply.  I tell him Nigel’s just ahead and I will ‘just stay back here’. It was a good boost and feeling of relief.

I know the Gifford loop is coming and at about 26 miles the course gets incredibly hard.  I’m honestly scared of one of the downhills that turns sharply in to a steep up hill so I’m preparing myself for a quick unclip – possibly even a fall.  First few climbs are hard but I do it.  My cornering is shocking but I’m still wobbling a little on the front wheel.  Still convinced it’s coming off.  I pass a few with punctures at the side but I don’t see any crashes.  Down through the first bad corner and I’m still up right.  Back up another hill.  I pass one or two and it gives me a little boost.  Further up I see a couple walking up and I use them as a ‘target’ to keep going.  Next comes the dreaded hairpin.  But – it’s not as bad as I had dreamed it was.  I slow right down but I still keep going. 

I’m still waiting on the dreaded downhill-sharp left-steep incline section when I get back in the village.  Huh? Where did it go? It was definitely before here.  I must have already done it!! Whoo hoo! Cycled the part that had given me nightmares and didn’t even realise it! 

Just a few miles on and I’m getting sore.  That love QL muscle is nagging away.  I don’t know how my youngest is as I wasn’t going to phone my mum at 6 in the morning.  My throats seriously hurts from all the gagging in the swim.  My swim was bad and I’m not convinced I made the cut off.  What if I don’t make the bike cut off? I’m well aware I’m not hitting my target time. 

So, I start singing.  

‘I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright I miss you baby, hold you tight’.

This carries on for a few miles.  

As does the wind.  At times it feels like I’m going backwards it’s that strong.  The crosswinds catch me a few times as well and I sway across the road. I don’t like cycling in the wind.  I don’t like it at all.

I count down the last 10 miles.  The cobbles were ‘interesting’.  My under carriage didn’t appreciate them.  Neither did the guy next to me.  ‘What the bloody hell is this!! This isn’t a road! And are we going up there?!?’

I got the sense he hadn’t enjoyed his cycle so far.

I knew what the last climb was and I knew where it levelled out so I went for it.  ‘Up, up, up you go Ella’ – got me a few funny looks.  I also knew the last downhill section was steep.  Taking no chances this late in the stage I kept hold of the brakes.  Maybe one day I will be confident on the bike but today wasn’t the day for risks. 

Up to the line and I dismounted. The woman next to me didn’t dismount until after the line then looked at the Marshall as if she didn’t know what he was saying.  I heard them arguing as I ran off.

Bike racked and I changed into my trainers. Ah my trainers.  My lovely, lovely trainers that meant I could now run!!! The part I love!! I know I can run 13.1 miles! My stomach wasn’t too good – still had salt water in it – so it was a quick stop in the porta loos. 

I’m out on the run and my legs feel surprisingly good.  I know it’s a flat before it starts to climb and I can already see people walking.  I pass a fair few but it’s impossible to say what lap of the three anyone is on.  I’m only half a mile in and I have a light bulb moment.  My front wheel wasn’t lose.  I was Sea sick from the swim! I laugh out loud at myself, not sure it’s something I should admit to but know I will later on.  

Top of that hill and I see a 6 foot tall ginger lad on a bike.  My arms are up and I’m waving like mad.  ‘Frazer!! I didn’t die!!’.  ‘Yeah!’ He shouts back.  What a boost to see my original running buddy at that point! He tells me Joes just ahead and I can catch him which I laugh at as this is quite clearly a lie and meant as encouragement – it’s appreciated.  

Along the first straight that goes over the tunnel and I see him.  My arms are up again.  I am so happy to be running and to see that Joe is in good form.  A high five as we pass and it’s smiles all round.  Now it’s into the tunnel which is nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.  In fact, I quite liked it! I was getting a comfortable pace through it.  Back out and the sharp incline took its toll on my legs and I resorted to a short recovery walk for 10 seconds.  

Not long after was the feed station, typically  going up a ‘hill’ also.  Although happy to be running I had had enough of hills at this point.  A Marshall came right in to my face ‘go Ella’.  A bit taken aback I almost stopped.  Then I realised it was Gosia, another running friend.  What a cheery sight! ‘This is hard’ I tell her.  ‘What did you expect, it’s ironman’ she laughs at me.  


I push on to my second lap and instantly get confused on when I need to turn in to the finish.  Counting is not my strong point when running! I see Frazer again and give him a big smile.  I saw him earlier cycling along the side of Joe which was great to see.  He was working later so I knew he wouldn’t be there at the finish.  I saw a few more I recognised and cheered them all on.  I was actually enjoying the laps (once I got in my head when I had to turn in) and it broke it up fantastically.  I passed Kevin going the other way in the tunnel – Heledds partner – he was on his last lap.  I sang a little in the tunnel too, hard not to when the tunes were blaring at the turn.

Coming down near the last section of my second lap I see Kevin at the side stretching his leg.  ‘Are you ok?’  He’s got cramping in his leg.  He starts running with me and tells me he arrived late to the start so started at the back of the pack.  He didn’t find the swim easy either.  I really enjoyed running that short section with him and as he turned up the finish I shouted after him ‘Take it home Kevin’.  (If you’ve ever listened to Lonely Island you’ll know why I’m laughing, Michael Bolton can actually be funny).  


Last lap, last lap, last lap.  I’m doing this, I’m doing this I Am Doing This.  I wanted to enjoy every last moment of this race.  There was definitely no sprints for me! Last time past Gosia and her station and what a cheer I got from them.  Put the biggest smile on my face! Through the last feed station manned by West Lothian Tri Club and lots of encouragement again.  

Final section.

I can see Joe at the side, cheering me on.

I turn up to the finish.  No one is in front of me, no one is behind me.  I fight back the emotions threatening to make me cry.  I have THE biggest grin on my face ever.  I push right to the end.


Holy shit I just did it!!!! I just completed my first Half Ironman!! How did I do that??

Finisher photo taken and I make a bee line for the food.  I don’t move from the watermelon for a good five minutes. I can’t eat anything apart from that and the orange segments.  But I don’t care.  I am officially a Half Ironman. 

Meeting Joe and his dad outside the finishers tent he tells me to quickly put more layers on before the cold hits me.  It’s been raining on and off and the wind was bringing a chill.  He also gives me an update on our youngest who had had a bad night but was ok, not to worry. 

Of course I hit the expo tent.  Card in hand. Proud memoribelia purchased.  

On the road home and I check my phone.  I  had absolutely loads of support from the road runners and friends.  How I didn’t cry when I was reading it all I will never know. It was fantastic.  

Joe and I talked non stop on the way home recalling the achievement we had just accomplished.  He had struggled with the waves and had grabbed a kayak at one point.  He knew the swim was going to be his hardest part and seeing an overturned safety boat didn’t help. He had done it though and pushed himself through.  And it hadn’t put him off.  Just made it all the more important to get more sea swim practise in.

One of the pro athletes dubbed the course the hardest she has ever done – and it makes Staffordshire a walk in the park in comparison.  That settles it in my mind for me.  It was right to cut the swim.  It was not an ‘easy’ option.  Around 50 people got pulled from the water.  Many chose not to even start and the latest figures I read quoted a 29% DNF rate overall.  The swim conditions got worse the later you went in.  

I did it though.  I did every part of it.  I may not have been the fastest, I may not have ranked high in the results but I did it! I crossed that finish line.  

So yes.  I believe that Anything IS Possible.  I’m having a couple of days rest to let my body recover and I’m going to wear my finishers t-shirt for a week! I’m in no rush to scrub off my number tattoo and my new Ironman bag will be going everywhere with me. 

I bloody did it!! 

Ironman Weekend – Friday/Saturday

The weekend did not start out great.  Our youngest started coming down with something on the Thursday night and by Friday evening it was clear we couldn’t possibly have him with us for the event.  Nothing quite sets you back as much as not having your kids there and not having your parents there.  Yup, it was Nanny Netty to the rescue again (and my dad) They kindly had them and stayed at home whilst Joe and I ran around all weekend.
On the Friday we went to register and attend the novice briefing.  We may have done a few triathlons but we haven’t done this distance and I didn’t want anything going wrong.  I knew they had strict rules on things and I didn’t want to be DQ’d over something I could have learnt at the briefing.  I picked up some good tips.  Best place to put your things, what to do if you panicked in the swim, a reminder of the drafting rules and a joke or two about the ‘flat’ course. (I think the comment was who ever designed the course has a wicked sense of humour).  


We bought a t-shirt each from the expo – the one that has everyone’s name on it – but I didn’t want to tempt fate and buy the actual Edinburgh Finisher tshirt.  I did however plan exactly in my head what I would be buying when I crossed that finish line.  (So many more things than that tshirt ha ha).


Once the briefing was done we did a recce of the run route as it was close by.  ‘It’s not too bad, you get a flat start then it just climbs slowly’ I said as we walked up the first section.

Then we kept walking up, and up, and up.

‘You were saying?!’ Joe said as he turned to me with raised eyebrows.  Hmm, this wasn’t going to be as easy a run as I had pictured.  We went to find the now infamous underground tunnel everyone had been raving about.  It was dark.  It was wet. It was creepy.


I insisted on walking all the way through it to ensure there was no where someone could jump out and try to kill me.  I refused to read the graffiti on the walls as I was convinced it would say ‘R.I.P – what made you think you would get out alive?’

The only way out the tunnel was up another steep hill.  It was short though.  Think positive Ella.

We had to head back through on the Saturday to rack our bags and bike and go to the practise swim.  Tensions were high! Let’s just say we spent a large portion of the day ‘discussing’ things and these ‘discussions’ only got hotter and hotter.  Much like the temperature that day.  There were many clenched fists in the mouth moments.  (Our own clenched fists in our own mouths I hasten to add!) Could have been avoided though, had someone stuck to the plan. Or even made a plan like he was supposed to but no.  Someone knew better.  Because someone  knows everything.

Just saying.

Joe.

Anyway.  A few back and forths, a few u-turns and fast accelerations (I won’t mention the parked car incident) and we headed to the practise swim.

Ah the practise swim.  

It was not smooth.  It was not calm.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to get my wetsuit soaking and not dried before the actual swim so when I saw how rough it was, I said ‘no thanks’.  Yes ok I chickened out.  But I wasn’t alone.  There were a lot of people there and not many who actually got in the water.  No I didn’t expect it to be very calm but I also didn’t want to get a fright or a panic the night before so I passed.  A few from Perth Tri Club went in and they all came out saying it wasn’t as bad as it looked.  A few also came out with cuts and grazes.  I pushed this to the back of my head.  There was already chat about the likely hood of the swim being cut due to the conditions.  I had mixed feelings about this.  I really wanted to do the full distance.  I had trained to do the full distance.  But I had never swam in choppy water like that before.  

As soon as we were home the email came in.  ‘Potential shortened swim’.  

And just as fast – the keyboard warriors were out.

‘That’s ridiculous if they cut the swim, it’s not even cold!’ ‘If you can’t handle a sea swim you shouldn’t enter a 70.3!’ ‘Wales 2015 was much worse and they didn’t cut that’.

Oh my god get over it!! 2015 was 2 years ago!!

The decision would be made at 6am.  And that decision was final.  It would be what it was.  

A quick trip to the supermarket to get a couple of back up gels and I picked up some jelly babies as well to try and eat on the bike.

We packed our bags with the last of our stuff and went to bed early.  Nerves were ridiculously high.  My daughter kept sending me snapchats of her and our youngest which were really cute and helped remind me of one of the reasons I was doing this.  I watched a ridiculous amount of motivational videos on YouTube that I have become addicted to.  I visualised myself at the finish line over and over again.  That was where I was going to be just after lunch time. On. That. Finish. Line.

Face Plant

‘I’ve signed you up for a charity cycle’ – text received from Joe.

Cool, sounds fun, I’m up for that.

Keyline was the company that had organised it to raise money for Prostate Cancer and Joe was a regular customer in there.  They knew he liked cycling so asked if he wanted to join them.  He asked if I could come along and signed us up for day 3 of their 4 days.  Loch Lomond to Fort William – roughly 80 miles.

We met up with the group at 8:30am.  There was only one other female (Hayley) but that didn’t really bother me.  Everyone introduced themselves and after seeing the extent of the sun burn on a couple of them I gladly accepted the offer of the sun cream!  The brief was simple (even for me) – we were cycling on the A82 heading to Fort William. Straight road.  Easy.


We set off and man it was difficult trying to figure out what position to put myself in.  Do I push? Do I do a comfortable speed? Do I hang back with Hayley and keep her company? Oh my word the pressure!  

But…. oh my word… instantly the views were gorgeous.  We were going along Loch Lomond and I couldn’t resist a photo or 2.



The road was bumpy in places and about 3 miles in one of the guys hit a kerb.  A small bump but a bump none the less.  On to the road and it was a lot smoother but quite busy.  At 15 miles it was decided the next part was too dangerous for a big group of cyclists as it was full of twists and turns with very few passing places for the impatience cars and vans.  The bikes were loaded in to one of the support vehicles and the riders went in the mini bus behind.



A few miles down the road and we all got out and got our bikes.  Cue fall number 1.  I stupidly tried to clip in whilst pushing up a gravel path and promptly fell over – slow motion of course.  No biggie though.  It happens.

I decided to stick back with Hayley for a wee while and started chatting.  She was doing all 4 days and had the attitude of ‘I will get there when I get there’.  4 days for someone who only really cycled to and from work was a bit of a difference! 

Glancing down I noticed my handle bar was bent.  Oh you’re kidding.  How could a simple fall like that have bent my handle bars?  I was going to have to see if I could get this fixed.  I shouted to Hayley I was going to try and catch up with Joe and see if he could sort it.  ‘See you soon’ she said.  I put my foot down and pedalled harder.  

It was busy but it was ok.  I see another from the group just in front of me.  As I began to catch up with him I see a large sunken drain in the road.  I turn to my right to make sure I have space to go round and I’m met with a van so close to my face I could have stuck my tongue out and licked it.  I swing my head back round but the gust from the van pushes me straight in to the hole.  As I bump out of it I throw myself to the left and away from the road.  The force of the bump has me flying over the handle bars.  I see a solid iron man hole cover and thank the lord I’m wearing a helmet as I hit it face first, my left hip stopping my motion on the side of it.

I roll over and instantly throw my right hand on to my face, knowing I’ve hit it quite bad.  It’s wet.  Ok I’m not moving my hand.  I lie there for a few seconds a bit shocked.  Did that really just happen? I move my legs still expecting them to be attached to my bike (I’ve never crashed before! I’m amazed they unclipped!).  Legs are fine – I can still run.  I try to move my left hand which is sticking awkwardly out.  Nope! That isn’t happening without considerable pain! Oh… shit.  Ok, leave it there.  You know Hayley’s not far behind you.  

The rider that was in front of me is now at my side.  I suspect I let out some hell of a yell or made a very loud noise as I face planted a solid object.  Soon enough he says ‘Here’s Hayley now, it’s ok, she’s a nurse’.  There’s a few people round me now.  I feel a bit of an idiot.  This wasn’t even 20 miles in! She asks me to move my hand and I garble some rubbish about there being blood – like she can’t see it!  The support vehicle pulls up and she shouts for a first aid kit.  

I’m lying on the ground focusing on my breathing trying desperately not to cry or think about what the hell my face looks like when there’s a thump on my cheek.  For a second I remember back to Mags hitting her face at Tough Mudder, sneezing and her whole face blowing up.  Please, no.

‘Fraser!’ ‘Jesus Christ!’.

Turns out Fraser had thrown the first aid kit across the road and hit me square in the face with it.   No, I don’t blame you for laughing out loud at that.  Comedy gold to be fair.

Hayley patches my face up with some steri strips and a bandage.  She tells me I’ve punctured it and will need to get it looked at.  As she’s doing it I ask if my bikes ok.  I’m convinced I’ve buckled my wheel and I’m worried about Ironman in just 4 weeks time.  Luckily it was just the other handle that was bent and a couple of the guys managed to push bits back in place.  I sit up and try to move my shoulder, which I can do but bloody hell its sore.  I can’t really move my left hand either but it’s not really grazed or anything.

I decide to carry on.  I know that if I don’t get back on that bike right now Ironman will be over for me.  I won’t make the start line.  Everything still works on the bike and the support vehicle is right there.  I start off with Hayley and agree to take it slow but as soon as I’m confident the bikes ok I speed up.  I think the adrenaline just kicks in and I refuse to let ‘that fear’ creep in to my mind.  My hip is screaming at me and I can’t move my left hand but I am doing this cycle.

I stop at the round about.  Naturally both exits say A82.  I wait for a minute or two to see if the rest of them catch up but all I can think about is getting to the next stop (The Green Welly Boot) where I can get red bull and pain killers.  So I carry on.  The van goes past me and I give it a wave to say I’m fine.  Not so sure my face said that though.  I was extremely aware of how close some of the cars and vans were coming and after my fall I was what can only be described as a small ball of utter fury.  

I’m about a mile and a half out from the stop when this blue crappy fiat 500 literally skims past me.  I blow my top shouting and screaming at it and try to chase it down – fully intent on banging on the window and letting all my rage out.  It’s a car though.  It has an engine.  I don’t catch it.  

When I finally arrive at the stop Joes standing waiting there.  ‘You alright?’ He asks.  ‘I need red bull and pain killers’.  We walk round to the van to get his wallet and I scan the car park for the Fiat, just in case.

I am genuinely fine.  The bleeding doesn’t feel like it’s stopped yet and the pain is ‘a bit much’ but overall it’s not stopping me from cycling.  I can’t really eat anything as I can’t move my cheek but I can drink my red bull.  What more do I need? Ha ha.


Back on the road and the wonderful sites continue.  I draft Joe along one section and enjoy taking it that bit easier.  Every time we stop and I put my left foot down I get a shooting pain right through my hip so I don’t stop for many photos.  The faster guys in the group go on ahead and stop for selfies.  This gives me a bit of a chuckle as I go past grown men in Lycra cheesing at their phones.  Only for them to go past again and it all to repeat.  


The views are what keep me going.  Gliding down through the hills past Glen Etive – it’s astounding.  Despite the pain I was enjoying it.  


We were booked on the last train back to the start so it was a race against time to get there after my fall.  At times I wasn’t sure we would make it and we would have to bail.  With 15 miles to go I have to admit I was cracking.  There was another hairy moment when another hole in the road appeared and it was a close call.  There were tears shortly after that.  As I counted down the miles I just wanted to get there.  

The final stretch to Fort William was bad with cars and vans.  They seemed to be in a competition to see who could get closest to us.  Joes temper was going at this point so when we finally saw the group it was a great relief.  I wanted to punch the air but my I couldn’t raise my left arm and I couldn’t hold on to the bike to raise my right.  Lots of hand shaking and well dones all round – and a few ‘you’ve got bigger balls than me lass’.  
Unfortunately we couldn’t wait for Hayley and Fraser to come in as we had to get the train.  I went to shop there to get more painkillers.  ‘Oooh that looks sore’ the woman said.  ‘It is, can I have you’re strongest pain killers please’ I asked.  She didn’t take card but she insisted I take them with me as I hobbled back to Joe to try and scrape some change.  

Waiting for the train and I spot the drink and food trolley.  ‘Are you going on this train?’ I ask her.  ‘Yes I am love’.  ‘Oh thank god, do you take card?’  – ‘yes, signals not great, what is it you’re after?’ She asks.

‘A cup of tea, a sandwich, biscuits – actually, everything.  I will take everything’.

I’m hungry now – so is Joe.

3 hours on the train back to the start and surprisingly I can move when it stops.  Pain killers were doing their job.  A quick call to my mum to say I was having to nip to the hospital to get my face seen to (no jokes please) and we were back on the road heading to Perth. 

For a late Friday night the emergency room was really quiet.  I was seen very quickly and thoroughly checked over.  An X-ray showed a tiny fracture in my hand which I thought was just bumped hard.  They were a bit concerned on my hip.  Said it should be ok but if it didn’t get better to go back.  And I got away with glue in my cheek as the puncture didn’t penetrate all the way through.  

I’ve spent the day after resting and frustrated.  I missed park run, I’m tired because it was a long day and an uncomfortable sleep.  I have a half marathon race tomorrow.  It’s a championship race.  I really don’t know if I’m going to manage it.  If I do get round it’s not going to be in a spectacular time, so for me, it won’t be a race.  But I do want to see if I can do it. The positive is that I cycled 75 miles yesterday and my legs are fine.  

It was a spectacular day, there’s no denying that.  Some great people and laughs (including the bag to the face!) and the scenery.  I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to do it and I admire Keyline for encouraging its employees to do it also.  It’s got me thinking what I could do at my work!

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.

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.