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.


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.

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. 


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!). 

It’s A Doubler

Run two races in 1 day.  Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but I didn’t exactly go looking for that challenge.  I ran the Mo Run last year (in atrociously cold and wet weather) with my original running buddy so when he said he was doing it again I signed up too.  I did try to grow a moustache for it but his was better.  

Then I saw the Supernova run which I didn’t do last year but did really fancy.  Just a 5k at night round the illuminated Kelpies.  So yeah, signed up to that too.  Didn’t think to check the dates.  Oops.

I know the Mo Run route – I have ran that monstrous hill more times than I want to remember – so I knew it wasn’t ‘easy’.  My only goal was to beat last years time but make sure I would still be ok for the Kelpie run later on that night. It started off cold but it was dry.  I had chosen not to dress up (not so keen on the attention that brings) and opted for shorts – just can’t let them go yet.  I might not have the best looking legs but I’m very attached to my shorts now so if you don’t like seeing the cellulite on my legs just don’t look ok. I’m that small I’m pretty sure normal shorts look like trousers on me anyway.

First time up the hill and yup, it was as my legs remembered.  Well almost, I have been doing some training.  Don’t get me wrong it was in no way easy but I didn’t get to the top and think my lungs had collapsed. I began to pass the tail end of the 5k runners and have to admit, I did wonder why I hadn’t chosen to do the shorter distance.  At 4KM I caught up with Brian’s dad Mike – I’ve met him a couple of times at park run.  He was doing  the 5km and I think this was his first official race.  I gave him a few words of encouragement before pushing on for my second lap.  As I passed the park where the finish line was I heard behind me ‘and here comes Mike Spence’ – made me smile and I clapped.  Probably looked a right moron but I didn’t care.  Up and round a second time and I was a bit lost in my thoughts as I went round the loch at the top.  That was until I passed a guy and heard him say ‘I’m not being beat by a f….. girl’. 

Game on mate.  He sped up past me and received my best dagger look as his sweaty being went by.  I knew there was another very slight incline before the downhill so just kept pace.  Typically he was one of those that passes then goes directly in front of you and slows right down.  Hairy twat.  Up that last bit and it was on! I may have short legs but I know how to lengthen my stride and I’m not scared of going downhill anymore.  It was worth the risk of falling anyway.  (Obviously I can say that now given I didn’t ha ha).

I beat last years time but didn’t quite get under the 50mins.  Brian wasn’t far behind me then in came Frazer with a slightly less ‘pure anger’ face this year followed by Ginnie in her blue London top I have extreme envy over. 

We had time for a cheeky wee hot mint chocolate before the train home (I could drink 6 of those in a day!).  Poor Frazer was working at 5pm but given he had just gotten a 10k PB on a hard course he was in a good mood. 

My lovely mum picked me up from the train station with my youngest and I had time for a nice hot shower before planning what to wear for the Kelpie Run.   They encouraged you to wear neon clothing and glow in the dark accessories but naturally my organisational skills had not allowed me to prepare – oops.  In the back of my wardrobe I found bright pink leg warmers which obviously every girl has, and I had bought reflective spotty running leggings the night before so went for that.  My mum picked me up and we set off for the Kelpies with the ‘trustworthy’ google maps.

Just one wrong turn later and we arrived safe and sound if not cold.  I was glad for this race I had put on some fun clothing because almost everyone was full on 90’s glow painted up! The queue for the toilet was bad so unfortunately I didn’t have time – not great for a woman who’s had 3 kids! In fact, probably not great for anyone who’s about to run.  I said to my mum I was likely to be about 25/26 minutes.  Then quickly corrected it to 20 minutes.  It wasn’t going to be a fast run but my mum is late everywhere! 

Off we went and I have to admit it looked great! Everyone had to wear a headtorch and at some points in the course you double back so you can see all the lights behind you.  My legs were a little heavy and I still wanted to make a good time so I didn’t do my usual stop and take a million photos.  Strange for me I know!

I was huffing and puffing like a choo choo train round the course, the cold air getting to me a little and the earlier run having an effect on my legs, when I was overtaken by another woman runner.  Not unusual, however, as we passed one of the friendly marshalls she gave an easy ‘thank you marshall’ as opposed to my grunt of a pig.  How do people do that? Even running slow I can’t talk without sounding like I’m about to throw up a lung.

In the final kilometre I was passed by about 4 more women.  This didn’t bother me but did make me wonder what I could have done if I had been fresh.  As it was I still managed under 23 minutes – and I’m very pleased with that! My mum even managed to be at the finish line ha ha.

Back at the car and we had a cup of tea from the flask my husband had made for us. Perfect! And of course some more selfies.

Today I’m sticking to a rest day.  Giving my legs a break.  They might not have been big distances yesterday but it was still a challenge.  Would definitely do both of those races again.

Moody Cow

Yup, that would be me. Last Saturday. And continued in to Sunday.  In fact, it’s taken me until now to write this from a more ‘adult’ perspective than what was going through my head a couple of days ago.

And the reason? 8 seconds.  8 lousy bloody seconds.

It was park run, and it was pacer week.  A great opportunity to try and beat my PB before settling down in to the slightly slower runs through the winter.  I’ve never used a pacer before but thought I may as well give it a go and see what happens.  Nothing to lose at the end of the day is there.

I’ve no big running challenges coming up but I do have my next triathlon on New Years Day so I’m having to increase the swimming and I’ve taken to the turbo or the bike at the gym.  Nothing too strenuous but it’s a start.  So the week leading up to ‘8 seconds’ was a standard one filled with lunchtime runs, swimming a few times and a couple of turbos.  

Morning of park run and it was freezing – standard for Scotland.  I wasn’t keen I won’t lie, in fact, if my mum hadn’t been coming over to watch the kids for me I maybe wouldn’t have gone at all. But I did.  That’s what you do.  I hadn’t fully decided to go for it either.  I was still debating it over but I clocked the 24 min pacer and thought worst case scenario I will just make sure he didn’t pass me. Very quickly we were off and I didn’t push it the way I usually would if I was going for a PB.  I saw the 23 min pacer though and that was it – decision made, I’m going for it.

Worst decision ever.

The first mile wasn’t as fast as I usually would have done but then I know I’m not one of these negative splits people. I do slow down over distance so I just reckoned following the pacer would keep me at a steady pace the entire course.  And I was fine, kept at pace perfectly fine over the path.

But the path turns in to grass and a muddy section which I don’t cope with that well so I knew I would slow a little.  I rather naively thought that since the pacer was also the guide for a blind runner they too would slow down at this section, at least a little anyway. I was wrong.  I slowed down and they got further and further away from me.  I should have known this as I know the guided runner is super fast.

Ok well my PB is 23 mins 17.  As long as I’m not too far behind I can still do this. 

But I couldn’t.  AND I DONT EVEN KNOW WHY!!!

The grass wasn’t that slippy, the course wasn’t too busy, the wind wasn’t blowing me backwards, my legs didn’t hurt they just wouldn’t bloody move!! 

Gone.  My PB was gone.  Forever to stay at  23 bloody minutes and 17 bloody seconds. 

I came in 8 seconds slower.  8 god damn seconds.  That means I have to do it all over again.  I hate running fast.  I hate sprinting, not being able to breathe, pulling faces that make you look like a dog being chased.  Hate it. 

8 bloody seconds.

So I left.  As soon as my token and bar code were scanned I was storming back to the car, scowl well and truly plastered on my face, kicking the leaves out of my way and slamming the door.  Don’t. Speak. To. Me.

My mum didn’t stay for a cup of tea.

I was reminded of how I felt the night before.  It didn’t help.

As it was bonfire night that same day I took a walk to the local supermarket to get sparklers for the kids.  The below almost had me throwing an almighty tantrum in the milk aisle.

So what caused it? Haven’t got a clue.  All I know is it didn’t happen.  Am I over it now?  I would say about 75%.  That’s an improvement. I’m still not talking to the course and think time apart will do us good.  I have the Movember run and Supernova run this Saturday so a good reason not to see it.  We will see how a bit of distance serves our relationship. 

8 seconds though…. sake.

Up, up, up, and more up

‘I’ll let you go past, you like the downhills’.

Exactly.  So why on earth was I running this race?!?

That morning my first task was to get myself there.  It’s a small village I have been to many, many times so it should have been an easy task.  I set my google maps on and was confident I could do this… until I drove past the village I thought I was going to and then, according to the map, past 3 signs that all clearly stated Milnathort this way (Milnathort being the destination).  So after a quick tour of where a Scottish music festival used to be and an impromptu u-turn I eventually found it. Deep breath, it’s ok.

I collected my race number and joined the queue for the bathroom.  All around me all I could hear was nervous chatter about the race.  I wasn’t hearing or seeing the usual ‘look at me, I’m faster than Mo’ type runner, it was more ‘just hoping to finish’.  


Then it was ‘its fine if you make it to mile 9.’


And hold on. It’s only 13 miles.  9 miles is two thirds of the way there!!

Good thing I was already in the queue for the bathroom that’s all I’m going to say.

Off to the start line and the same nervous chatter continues.  I stuck to the back but I did hear them say they had accidentally ordered sparkling water instead of still for the finish.  That’s if I finished of course.

Slow and steady, that was my plan.  And I stuck to it.  Or more accurately the hills made me stick to it.  The first six were ok as it goes.  I had the right trainers on (lesson 1) and the right socks on he right feet (lesson 2).  I had eaten breakfast and I had drank a good amount.  There were no head phones as it wasn’t closed roads – although I think a maximum of 2 cars went past the entire race – so I stared singing my 80’s ballads in my head. ‘Here I go again on my own, walking down the only road I’ve ever known’.  Over and over that time went through my mind as I made my way through the country side. 

I found myself following a woman from a local Tri club who was with a guy with an Ironman tattoo on his leg.  I can only presume this was a training or recovery run for them or maybe they were coming back from injury, but, in that moment, yup, they were my competition.  I think everyone plays this game.  Picks someone out and uses them as their challenge.  Helps to push you. 

As I came down a steep part just after mile 5 I could see in front of me what can only be described as an actual mountain.  My jaw dropped, my knees started to shake, I genuinely began to wonder how on earth I was going to get up it without proper climbing gear.  Thankfully I saw the marshalls directing us left and not on to the monstrosity.  I was saved! I joked with the marshalls as I went through and asked them where the taxi was that I had ordered.  

They just laughed.

Probably because they knew what was coming.

If I thought the other mountain was steep then this was just down right vertical! I would love to know who chose this route. Saw this part and thought ‘yes, this would make an ideaL running route, slap a big mother f…. hill bang in the middle of it!’.

Sadists, the lot of you.

The song in my head quickly changed to ‘I’m just a sucker for pain’.  

I did manage to run up the whole hill although I do use that term very, very loosely. A cup of water at the top was much needed and very appreciated (and thankfully not sparkling ha ha).

There were very occasionally downhill sections and I was able to speed up a little.  I managed to pass Ironman and Tri Woman at these points but they always caught me up at the inclines.  And there were not many downhills. 

Mile 9.  I need to keep going to mile 9.  Just think of mile 9.  

Onward and forever upward I kept going.  The couple were still in my sights but only just. Despite the elevation it was still a nice place to be running.  The sun started to come out as well and it soon heated up.  Shorts and vest a good choice, well done Ella.  I had been really worried it was going to be windy but there was just a slight breeze.  

Eventually, after about 10 hours I think, I knew I was coming up to the sought after mile 9.  Come on, keep going, keep running, you can do this.  Of course it was still a 13 mile race but all thoughts of the last 4 miles just didn’t enter my brain at this point.  It was mile 9 I had to get to and that was my achievement. So naturally, when I did, I took a photo of the sign, as you do.  

It generally is downhill for the last 4 miles so I turned my attention to my watch and aiming to come in under 2 hours.  Ironman and Tri Woman were still in front so I lengthened my stride to try and make up time.  Slowly I caught up with them and just as I did a car came so we moved to go single file to let it past.  ‘I’ll let you go past as you like the downhills’ she said. ‘It’s the only parts I can run!’ Was my reply.  This did make me wonder why I hadn’t checked the details of this run before entering.

At 12.5 miles I heard someone coming up behind me and I thought to myself ‘damn it, they are going to over take me again’.  By this point I couldn’t really be bothered with the cat and mouse game so just stayed at pace.  It wasn’t them though.  It was a fellow Perth Road Runner.  And she didn’t just creep past me she sailed past me.  What the…. Where did she come from?!?  Are you kidding me? Speaking to her later on that night she told me she had been following me from early on.  She must have done what I was doing with Ironman and Tri Woman.  That will teach me ha ha.

Down the hill and round the corner and yup, you’ve guessed it, it was back UP hill to the finish.  Seriously guys come on! Who puts the finish line up a hill?!? What is wrong with you! 

Needless to say, no sprint finish.  Just no.

I collected my medal and got a ‘well done’ from another road runner.  He had finished at about the time I was at mile 9.  There are no words for that!  I checked my watch and was just thankful I was under the 2 hours – 1hr 56.  I will take that.  

Back to the car and I take my phone out for a photo only to discover the dye from my hair I had done the day before was now flowing down the side of my face and all over my shoulders.  Yet another lesson.  I should write a book of what not to do.

A tough route definitely.  Character building? Well it was only yesterday so I’m still in the ‘don’t care, it was hard’ mindset.  I’m sure it was good for me though.  Maybe.