The Devilla

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet I didn’t move forward.

Big mistake.  Huge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh the pressure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not a towel.

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

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

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3 Weeks Already

For anyone who doesn’t own a calendar (or a mobile or a watch with the date on it) it’s now 3 weeks in to 2018.

That means less than 3 months until Manchester Marathon. My first big task of the year. The one race I need speed for. Not the drug! Let me be clear. I mean pace.

Up until recently it’s not been there. I was panicking. Every run was ‘slow’ – not where I needed to be. It should be 8m20 pace but I was coming in at more 8m45. That’s way off! Yes I did Marcothon in December, yes it’s snowing and there’s ice on the ground but I should still be faster.

Theres been a few spanner’s in the works, a few adjustments needing made. I’ve had a things come up at work that have thrown off my routine – and my god do I hate it when my routine is messed with. I can feel the words ‘f@cked off’ burning on my forehead. But luckily, I do have people around me that understand. I started noticing more and more of the ‘head tilt’ (think Monica and Richard in Friends) and hearing more ‘You’ve not been for a run have you’. It’s ok I didn’t kill anyone. But I have started moving a lot more quickly to solution mode when this happens. Lunch runs have moved to late afternoon and occasionally straight after work.

Then there was the work trip to London for the day which meant a 5am start and a 10:30pm finish. It turned out to be a 2:30am start as my youngest was up ill in the night. This distracted me all day but I ‘coped’. His dad took the day off so I knew he was fine. I only hid in the bathroom twice when I started to panic – quite an improvement. And I was distracted by the many funny looks when ever I chose the stairs instead of the escalators. Apparently no one in London uses stairs!

And then, The Plague hit my house. Everyone- and I mean everyone – got it. First it was the youngest, then it was Joe, then Lucie. My oldest was told to stay at a friends (he’s 18, spends most his time out or in bed anyway). I sent him a lovely text. ‘Don’t come home, you’ll get sick, stay at a friends’. Best mum ever award right there.

The dogs being sick was the final straw for me. That almost broke me. I can handle most things. Holding Lucies hair back whilst fetching Oliver water and getting pain killers for Joe is fine. Cleaning up what comes out of a dog? Not so much.

Take your vitamins people!

When I eventually returned to work I was met with a meeting booked during my lunch run time. I then discovered my work had been allocated 3 London Marathon places and they had just been handed to certain people. No opportunity for selection. None of the ‘clear and transparent’ behaviour they like to drill in to us. You can imagine the rage. So when I eventually got a break I hit the treadmill. Hard. 5k in 23mins 16secs. Bye bye 8m 45 pace.

Then last night it was hills with the road runners. Now I’m most certainly not saying it was easy but it was slightly easier than last time. After checking good old Strava I noticed that my running in January 2017 was the same. It was slower. I found the month hard. The penny dropped.

Clearly, like many others, I just find January a hard month to get moving. But that’s ok. Get over it. Do your hills, do your track and it will come together.

Plus I got quite a lot of new running gear so it would be a shame for that to go to waste ha ha.

‘Moust Dash/Tash’

I’ve ran the Edinburgh Mo-Run the last 2 years with my original running buddy and really enjoyed it but life happens and neither of us did it this year.

However when they announced it would also be in Perth I checked the date and it worked for me so I signed up. Unfortunately Frazer still didn’t fancy it but my other half said he would run it. We decided to dress up seeing as we had costumes from a wedding we had just been to but we woke up to an absolutely freezing morning so Wonder Woman is going to have to wait a while for her first run! Instead I opted for my Cheshire Cat Leggings because who doesn’t want two huge cats eyes on their butt cheeks?

Joe decided not to run as well as he wasn’t keen to pay £25 to run places he runs anyway. Plus I’m pretty sure he’s about to hit me with a ‘hey I’m going to sign up to these 3 races that are £300 each, you cool with that?’. He’s playing his cards well ha ha.

My lovely Mum came down to the start too which was nice and I met up with Lorner and her eldest who were doing the 5k and a few other road runners.  Caroline was impressively colour co-ordinated with a purple wig and purple tights.  I won’t lie, the wig had me in a trance.  I just loved how it bobbed up and down very sixties style!

The 5k went off first and then the 10k just 10 minutes after.  We headed out round the Inch and very quickly I knew this wasn’t going to be a PB run with the ice on the ground but then this was a charity run – a fun run – so it didn’t bother me.  Under the bridge and we then headed in to town.  It was quiet but there were some supporters out cheering and laughing at some of the costumes running by.   Just before 1k I started passing some of the 5k runners.  We were doing the same route but the 10k did it twice.  There were quite a lot giving the 5k a go and I cheered every one of them on.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there like that, not something I will ever forget.

Down the high street and unfortunately I had to stop at the road.  A few runners in front of me had stopped and were waiting at the zebra crossing for the cars to go past.  This is the only bit that marginally annoyed me to be honest but only because it puts me off my pace.  Back on to the Inch and I knew then the course was going to be significantly short.  I was more focused on the ice on the ground though and not falling and getting an injury which to me was much more important.  It’s a long drag along the Inch so I tried to focus on catching up with Lorner and her son.  When I spotted them it gave me that little push to try and keep pace.  And just in front of them was Caroline and her purple wig.  Awesome.

The turn at the end of the Inch was treacherous and never have I been more thankful for a marshall insisting on everyone slowing down.  I slipped but didn’t fall so it was few walking steps to make sure I was steady on my feet before running again.  I kept an eye out for my mum and Joe so I could tell them she was just coming but turns out they had found refuge in a cafe!  Can’t blame them though, it was freezing.

Back round for the second lap and I was having a few ‘issues’ with my Cat’s Eye’s leggings.  The eyes were creeping closer to the ground so I was constantly trying to pull them up.  I started off discreetly pulling them at each side, watching to see if anyone was around me but I ended up both hands yanking them up every few minutes any dignity well and truly gone!  Don’t get me wrong I really love them and they are comfy but they are not for staying up when you are running any distance.  I apologize to anyone that had to witness this – it was not attractive!

Across the line and I briefly considered carrying on to make it the full 10k but quickly decided against it given it was just a fun run at the end of the day.  Plus, it was cold.  Very cold.  And very icy.

My youngest was given a spare ‘Mini Mo Runner’ headband which he took great pride in wearing along with my medal and we headed back to the car.  We had tickets to go to the cinema that afternoon and we still had the usual Sunday stuff to do.

There was quite a lot of grumbling about the course being short – and to be fair I measured it a full mile short which is quite a bit.  We found out later the course was cut last minute due to the ice which is quite clearly the right decision.  The turn to come back was treacherous enough.  The issue came because this information was not passed on to the runners at the start.  There have been a few complaining that other areas were bad so how could the closed off section be any worse but at the end of the day it’s Mo Run’s responsibility and decision.  They have since offered a free place for next year to the 10k runners which, in my opinion, is an impressive thing to do.  It’s a charity run at the end of the day so they will be losing the funds from these entries.  Although I know quite a few that ran the 5k I don’t think I am in a position to comment on them not being offered a free place so i won’t.

All I will say is I enjoyed the run.  It’s fun, the marshalls were amazing, there was a lot of them on course and I enjoyed it.  I will take up their offer of a place next year but I will make sure I raise at least the cost of my place so the charity doesn’t lose out.

And I will continue to wear funky leggings!

Losing The Battle

Defeated. That’s …. well …… that’s ……. almost how I feel about Jedburgh Half Marathon. I was very, very, very nearly defeated.

Let’s see how it panned out.

Joe came along with the youngest and unfortunately it was a quite a drive. ‘Why do you always have to do races that are so far away!’ was the general topic of conversation in the car. Luckily Jedburgh turned out to be a pretty awesome place and he found lots to do or the drive home may have ended up one person short!

I had my porridge and banana. I had my water. I had my trainers and socks (left and right, very important) and I had my chest bandaged up and my new sports bra on.

I didn’t have my gels or my clif blocks. Bugger.

‘We could find an Asda’ Joe said. I tried. I failed. I had no nutrition to take with me to help me run 13.1 miles. ‘I’ve ran most my half’s without taking gels or anything, I’m sure it will be fine. It won’t be that that causes me problems.’

Famous last words.

All registered and I quickly dived in for the team photo – didn’t miss it this time! This was a championship race so the Green Machine were out in force. It was also an out and back race so lots of opportunity to encourage others along the way. A quick chat at the start line and we were soon off.

There was a very gradual uphill at the start and when my first mile clicked in at about 8 minutes I quietly congratulated myself. ‘Well done for not going off too fast Ella! Well done!’. The first few miles were steady and everything seemed fine. No pain, no discomfort, just fine. ‘You might actually see that finish line before it gets dark!’ I said to myself. I think I got to about 5.5 miles before the lead runners starting coming back the way and I concentrated on spotting the green vests so I could shout the ever useful ‘well done’ to those clearly putting in more effort than me.

Pace Ella, it’s all about pace for you.

As I headed towards the little circle part for the turn around I started to feel a ‘pulling’. Not great. I decided it must have been the wind (in what world does that make sense?!?) and tried to readjust my bra a little, giving the area a little nudge as if to say ‘get back in there’.

As I was having my little wardrobe adjustment I spotted a woman at her window waving very enthusiastically so I waved back grinning. This kept me smiling for about half a mile, she was just so energetic!

On reflection she was in the warmth and comfort of her own home, she hadn’t just ran over 6 miles and she could sit down when ever she wanted. Still. I appreciated her effort.

Past the 8 miles and I started to struggle. Just a little bit but I recognised the signs. Breathing was heavy, it hurt to take a very deep breath, my legs were very slightly beginning to get heavier.

‘Come on, 5 miles left, that’s just a lunch run, you can do that’ – I desperately tried to motivate myself. ‘Get to 9 miles and it’s only 4 more from there which is only 1 mile more than parkrun. You enjoyed Parkrun this week. You’ll be fine, come on.’

9 miles crept past and I felt like I was losing it. If only I had remembered my gels I would definitely had taken one, if not two! When have I ever had 2 gels whilst running? Never, but that’s not the point. Well actually it is because a gel isn’t going to help your chest at the moment or your breathing.

This internal arguing carried on and on and on by the way. At one point it was full blown swords drawn at dawn you’re going down love! Don’t worry though, I survived it.

I couldn’t run. I couldn’t move. I was barely putting one foot in front of the other. I saw the 10 mile sign but I stopped before it. My rule is I have to go past a mile marker sign before I can stop when I’m struggling but that was blown out the water. Clutching my chest I tried to take a deep breath to settle everything down. It just hurt. Didn’t do anything productive. My legs were now just solid lead. Two tree stumps refusing to move along in a timely fashion. I could hear them saying ‘we’re in no rush’.

Yeah no sh!t Sherlock, I noticed that a mile back!

Right. Can I do this? Can I make the last 3 miles back to the start? Do I have it in me?

I will tell you what I DONT have in me and that’s energy! Should have brought your gels.

How is that helping right now?!?!?

I shuffled my way along, one ear bud in because the other didn’t work, playing – and let’s be honest here – really crap music.

Ok, let’s change it up. Find a decent song and get a decent pace going.

I settled on Justin Bieber.

Wait, wait, I have my reasons ok, just hear me out!

When I was in London last year – not running the London Marathon, hmmf – we went to Madame Tussaud’s and one of his songs came belting on and I loved it. My daughter loved it, my mum loved it, it just reminds me of a really happy time. So yeah, Justin Bieber.

It worked. It got me moving just marginally faster than a dying snail but moving none the less. Every Marshall I went past asked me if I was ok and one asked if I wanted to stop. It wasn’t until afterwards I realised I was gripping on to my chest and looking like a contestant in a gurning competition so it must have been quite a sight! Elite athlete I am not!

Eventually, after hours of pretending I’m a runner, I make it through those last 3 miles. I. Need. A. Seat.

I look like I’ve just ran 50 miles at a 6min mile pace. Not 13.1 miles at over a 8min mile pace. Most of the Perth Road Runners got pbs on the route. I did not. I finished. Just.

It’s frustrating because I needed a certain time for club standards (oh yes, there’s never just one goal is there) and knowing most people found it a fast course kills me a little inside. But. It is what it is.

Clearly my best side ha ha 🙂

Was it the lack of gels? A friend at work had an interesting theory I was using that to try and ignore the reality of being ‘knocked about a bit’. She could be right. Or I could just be a really crap runner right now.

There’s one more championship race left and I don’t want to walk away from it disappointed with how it’s gone.

Maybe I will use Christmas songs to keep me going this time? Now there’s a thought!

The 2 Mile Wall

‘Yeah, you can run, not a problem.’ Said the doctor. This is the doctor who used to live in my house. Well let me to you this Scott! Yeah I remember your name! I will find you. I will hunt you down and I will make you fix me so I can run properly again!

Liam Neeson ain’t got nothing on this injured runner!

But. I’m not even injured. That’s the worst of it. This thing is in there for at least 3 years. If it comes out earlier it means they are putting something else back in. And it’s that that I am trying to avoid.

I tried my first run 4 days after it went in. I didn’t even make it to a mile before I stopped. My sports bra kept rubbing against it and it looked like the wound was going to split open. There was lots of stopping. My planned 4 miles turned in to just over 2 and my other half found it very difficult to go at such a slow pace. When I got back I sat outside fighting back the tears from both the pain and the frustration.

The next day I bandaged it all up, changed my sports bra to a more adjustable one (Brooks, bought at Loch Ness Marathon) and set off by myself – nothing but pure determination forcing me forward. There were still multiple stops so I could wince and grimace but it was slightly better. I managed 4 miles but admittedly that was too far. It was too painful to do anything the next day.

Wednesday I went out again. I set off and just as I hit the first mile I was smiling – it didn’t hurt as much! This I could handle! 2 miles clicked by and still I was ok. Then just as it hit 2.1 it must have moved or something because all of a sudden it was painful. It feels like there’s a solid box only being held up by a thin layer of skin bouncing away on my chest. For someone with no chest, this isn’t a feeling I’m used to! By 3 miles I was considering phoning to get picked up. By 3.5 I had stopped completely – finger hovering over my phone. Was it time to admit defeat?

But it hadn’t hurt at the start – so surely that means it’s getting better? I set off really slowly, face completely screwed up in pain but determined to get myself home. I very carefully chose songs to listen to that I knew would help me – and I got home. 5 miles done.

The next morning my friend Lorner was going out so I joined her. She’s skipped a few runs lately for her own reasons so we both knew we were going to be slow. It wasn’t a great performance and again there were stops but it was good to chat. It was easier at the slower pace too. I still couldn’t really manage anything that resembled a decline (which surprisingly seem to be absolutely everywhere now – when did that happen?) but it was good, even better with a friend.

Then there was Parkrun. A simple 5k – or at least it used to be a simple 5k. I knew it was going to be a test. I had to start further back, not try and go out fast, just relax.

Didn’t work. Didn’t sodden work in the slightest.

I gave my keys and jumper to Lorner who was volunteering with her eldest (how awesome are they?) and went mid way in the pack. I think I got to about 400 meters in the run before the claustrophobic feeling started to cave in on me and there were just too many people. I sprinted through resisting the urge to flap my hands and scream ‘get away from me!’.

It wasn’t a great idea.

I charged through the massive puddle and had a giggle to myself. I swear water is out to kill me! Thankfully, this time, no water wings were needed – I was going too fast ha ha.

Shortly after I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Brian who often comes down with his dad. We chatted a little but I had absolutely no spare breathe and he quickly went on ahead. I’ve found my runs this last week have been hard both on the chest thing and also on my breathing – I’m not happy about this. I can’t afford to lose what I’ve gained when I haven’t hit my 3:45 on a marathon yet.

There’s a trail section at Perth Parkrun and if I’m honest I’ve never been a fan of it. I just can’t seem to get any speed on it. It certainly wasn’t happening now. I couldn’t clutch my chest because I needed two arms to prevent me falling (how do people run with a broken arm? I’ve seen it many times, but, how?). Holding my chest alleviates some of the pain as I can ‘hold’ the monitor and prevent it from bouncing. So it hurt like a mother f@cking b!txh at this point!

Teeth well and truly gritted together I stumbled my way back to the path. There’s a very, very slight decline as you come back on to the park further on and at that point I almost had a screaming match. If it hadn’t been for the massive puddle which I could take my frustration out on (think Rihannas video to Umbrella but more Tom Holland’s version!) I would have called it a day.

Finally across the line and Lorner gave me my finisher token. I didn’t even look her in the eye as I could feel the bloody tears starting to roll down my cheeks. It wasn’t even a fast run!!

Gillian came over to say hi (and check I wasn’t about to drop down dead haha) and we chatted about her recent marathon and her new found love of coke. First ever marathon and she absolutely smashed it! I need to start chasing her when this settles! Get my elusive 3:45! (She was way under that by the way!)

And it will settle. I know this. But no, I do not have patience for it. I have a half marathon next weekend and for the first time ever I honestly don’t know if I can do that distance. Hand on heart it will be touch and go if I make that finish line.

But at least I still have a sense of humour about it. (See what I did there? Hand on heart? Heart is the problem I have?).

And The Beat Goes On – Slowly

And The Beat Goes On – Slowly

I’ve been putting off writing this one. Truth be told I thought it was going to be more of a ‘hey this is common for those who do a lot of running but it’s nothing’. Turns out, for me, that’s not quite true.

I’ve had dizzy spells on and off for as long as I can remember but they got worse this year and when I collapsed outside my house with my youngest alone still in the house it was time to do something about it. Having your elderly neighbour have to help you through your own front door isn’t the best either. She’s a great neighbour though.

At the doctors and they wanted the nurse to do one of those ECG reading things – the ones that take longer to set up than actually perform. ‘How are you feeling?’ She asked me. ‘Much better than before thanks, little dizzy but it’s nothing.’ She then says she’s just going to run it past the doctor. ‘Just as a precaution, wont be long’ she said as she scurried away.

2 hours later I’m still at the doctors and they want to do more tests. I instantly think it’s something to do with my diet and I’m convinced they are about to tell me I’ve given myself diabetes! When will you listen about the red bull?!

I had to wear a heart monitor for a week. Pretty standard and very common but it was an ugly thing. Huge! They told me I could still run with it. They lied. It ripped off layers and layers of skin and left a horrendous mark. One or two people asked what it was which didn’t bother me and that’s how I found out just how common it was to have your heart monitored like this. Everyone knew someone who had had to wear it before, mainly those in the running community I knew. Your resting heart rate drops as you get fitter, that’s just a fact, nothing to worry about.

I then had a scan of my heart. Again still common place, a lot of people have this done just to check. I even manage to look at the screen and the nurse starts telling me all the different sections. (I now know there are 4 heart chambers and there’s a flappy thing that goes up and down.). She gives me a couple of funny looks and asks how tired I am. I’m pretty wide awake love. I’m lying here with no top on whilst you roll a very cold object covered in slime on my chest. Yup, I’m definitely wide awake!

I think nothing of it at all after that. I thank my lucky stars it wasn’t diabetes and again swear off the red bull. I even purchase a replacement and it goes quite well.

Then I get a call.

‘This is consultant x from Ninewells in Perth’.

‘Oh really? Well that’s interesting seeing as Ninewells isn’t in Perth. What ever you’re selling I’m not interested thank you.’

I go to hang up, fed up of how my number seems to have made it in the cold callers list of marketing hell.

‘Mrs Webley! This is the consultant you saw at the hospital about your heart! I need to speak to you!’

He has my full attention.

They found something. Not 100% sure what it is but they think the best course of action is to implant a permanent heart monitor until it picks it up and they have the detail they need. Then they can take it from there. I don’t say much. Still waiting on him telling me it’s probably diabetes and I should be embarrassed and ashamed to have given myself that. He wants to put me on the list right now for it rather than waiting but if I feel I need to discuss it he can do that now or we can make an appointment – ‘but’ he says, ‘that will delay it and I don’t think we should do that’.

He then mentions cutting in to my chest muscle and I stop him right there. That is not the kind of detail I need thank you very much! He’s the specialist so I go with if he says I need it then I need it.

‘Can I still run?’ Is my only question.

He hums and ha’s a little then tells me they have nothing that tells them I should stop but to be watchful. That’s the same with everyone – if you don’t feel well you should stop. I understand this.

The appointment comes through and a couple of days before I realise I don’t have a clue what’s about to happen. I didn’t want to hear it before and that was my choice but now, well, maybe that wasn’t so wise. The night before I couldn’t really sleep. And going on google most certainly did not help that! (Don’t ever do that, trust me!)

In the morning I go for a run to calm my nerves and try to chill out – well aware that freaking out over this isn’t going to help matters. We then take the youngest to look for conkers before heading through. It helped, I didn’t feel too bad after that.

Sitting in the waiting area and I can’t help but notice everyone there is at least twice my age, if not three times. I try to ignore this but my other half seems to take great delight in pointing out this is proof I am really old.

For someone with as many grey hairs as he does he’s got some nerve.

In the room I go. There’s two doctors. One with a very rich Scottish accent called Scott and the other I think was called Kaiser. I start singing ‘I predict a riot’ in my head before realising the irony of it and quickly stop.

Scott tries to distract me as I’m clearly not comfortable with this. I’m trying to shrug it off but it’s about as convincing as telling the world Donald Trump was a good choice for president. I’m awake for the whole thing which has its positives and negatives.

Kaiser (?) then covers me in the iodine solution and starts poking about looking for the right place guided by Scott. I get the distinct impression Kaiser may not be as experienced at this as he is. I’m then asked to confirm all my information – name, date of birth, address. He takes a while to find my year of birth on the computer and comments it seems to think everyone that has this is closer to being born in the 30’s not the 80’s. He then asks me to confirm my address again.

‘No kidding’ he says. ‘Eh, yeah, that’s definitely it’.

‘I used to live there! When I was about 10.’

‘No way!’

‘Ok, small scratch’.

Oh you crafty git!! And that’s not a small scratch you prick, that’s more like barbed wire ripping through my chest!

I’m grumping about the distraction technique when he asks me if there is still the small white wall at the front. So he’s not lying! Talk about a small world!

This is the only time I smiled whilst in that room – for obvious reasons.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving, a joke about breast tissue (you’re not likely to find much of that on me I’m afraid!) and some immense will power to hold back the tears but that was it done, it was in.

I left the hospital with a box of ‘goodies’ and a tan that would of made that guy from bargain hunt look like a milk bottle thanks to the iodine.

So now I am officially an Iron Woman ha ha, just not the kind I would prefer. Plus I’m more a Wonder Woman fan but ah well. It hurts. I won’t lie, it hurts like hell right now. I woke up crying from the pain, poor Joe didn’t know what to do. I usually only cry when he says I can’t sign up to a race. I’ve spent all day resting – which I’m my world means I’ve been bored to death all day. I’ve had to cancel my race at the weekend which, at first I was annoyed about but now, I know I couldn’t do it. There will be no swimming for a couple of weeks. I will run next week but it will be very slow and careful.

I’m still kind of hoping they turn round to me and say they all got it wrong and it is in fact something that can be cured with a vitamin or a change in my diet. At the end of the day this heart has got me through 2 marathons, a Half Ironman and an ultra – and that’s just this year! So it can’t be all that bad.

My trainers are most certainly staying on my feet – just not for the next few days.

Ochil Ultra – And The Fear Was Back

Ochil Ultra – And The Fear Was Back

I’ve noticed a trend in my thinking.

I came across a new race that would start in Glen Devon and end in Perth. I live in Perth. So where did my head go? Why would I not do it?

It’s an Ultra. You have the choice of 50 miles or 30 miles. After briefly contemplating the 50 I very wisely chose the 30. There’s pushing yourself and there’s outright stupidity (and let’s be honest, I do enough stupid things without needing to add to them).

It’s 6 days after Loch Ness Marathon.

Stupid.

I signed up.

It was sold out but luckily I was able to get a place from another road runner who had decided not to do it as he had a lot on. One of the many benefits of being in a club is finding places for races! Although I did have to chase him down to give him the money for the place but I just used that as training ha ha.

Turned out that quite a number of road runners were doing it. 4 others were running the 30 miles and there were 2 teams of 5 doing the relay over 50 miles. That’s a lot of Green Machine! The club also had people marshalling the course.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really think about it a lot until after Loch Ness. That was the race that started out as my intended London GFA – my golden goal, London. Until I had to take that step back so as not to ruin my love of running. London will come though! My YES magazine is out next week!! (Positivity is key).

So The Ochils was my ‘let’s see if you can’ race. Run. Not a race, a run. I tried to work out the route but it was a new one and over trails so couldn’t really. Hmm. This could be difficult.

‘Could be’. Oh how I laugh now!

I took advice where I could get it. What was a drop bag? Why would I need one? 30 miles is only 4 more than a marathon why on earth would I need to stop twice to eat?!

Oh how naive you are Ella.

I messaged another club member who I knew had done a few ultras to try and work it all out. Then, list at the ready, headed to the shops.

My biggest worry was getting lost. (No not to the shops! On the course!). I’m notorious for taking the long way round when I’m driving or walking somewhere. I didn’t want to be doing that on the run. I must have begged at least 5 people to follow me on the tracker and promise to phone me if I went the wrong way. It was honestly worrying me. Over a 30 mile course I knew there would be times I would be completely by myself which I’m ok with but has greater risk of getting lost.

The night before the run I picked up my route book – along with my tracker – and poured over it, pretending I knew what I was looking at. Seeing the section that read ‘no clear path’ didn’t fill me with joy.

The bus was at 6am – not that I was going to sleep much anyway the night before. I realised I hadn’t felt like this before a run in a while. In a strange way I missed this. The not knowing if everything will be ok. I took it as a good sign (my names Ella and I appear to be a weirdo). We were dropped outside a small Inn which unfortunately didn’t want to let us in, much to the very loud annoyance of a fellow road runner ha ha. Some of his many comments being ‘I should have got the cheaper dentures because all this teeth chattering is going to break them’ (I liked that one), and ‘what’s wrong are my hints not loud enough’. Turns out they were as the RD came along quite furious the Inn hadn’t let us through the door. Teething problems I don’t doubt will be fixed for next year.

We headed off to the start line which was nothing more than a field and a flag. This wasn’t a big fan fare type of run with the music blaring and motivational quotes over the tannoy – and I liked that. Didn’t know what direction I was going but I liked it. We were off.

Within 20 metres we had to stop to walk over a cattle grid. Yup, this most definitely was not what I was used to.

500 metres later and my feet were soaking and already caked in mud. Welcome to trail running. The first few miles were up hill but I felt good, better than ok. People were friendly, there was some chatter, and I ticked off each arrow I saw with a thumbs up and a ‘well done Ella’. It’s the small things.

6.8 miles in and I climbed a very steep hill. I’m talking crawl and pull yourself up. At this point I was thankful I had done the Hill Series in the club. The runner beside me commented ‘They don’t call it the Ochil Hills for nothing’. I was instantly thrown back to the Knockhill Race a few months ago. For crying out loud Ella you would think you would learn!

And by the way, I know it was 6.8 miles in because I took a video to record it. I recorded all my moments of pain that day.

First check point was just shy of the 10 miles. I didn’t feel I needed to stop but everyone else did so I took some flap jack from my drop bag (homemade by my other half – I love it!). I was reminded to get my chip scanned and then I was off again.

The terrain got a lot more tricky after this and there were a lot of bumps and divets on the ground. At 11 miles the worst happened – I went over my right ankle and heard a crack. My other half had strapped it up again for me the night before for reassurance but it wasn’t going to stop me going over in this. I did what every runner does in this situation and immediately carried on. If I pretend it didn’t happen then it didn’t right? I was able to put weight on it so it couldn’t have been bad. The crack I heard couldn’t possibly have been what you first think of. I distracted myself with thinking about air which causes your knuckles and back to crack and wondering how air got in to my ankle. I then had more flap jack in case I was beginning to get delirious.

I was having a lot of pain at the ‘v’ at the top of my legs. (I’m not a doctor, I don’t know what the area is called!). This was causing me a lot of issues trying to push on. Unexpectedly I came across Daile from the club who was marshalling and that was a great little pick me up. She was in one of the relay teams and had done the first leg. Have to admit, I was slightly jealous she was already finished. After seeing her I tried to break my run down in to sections and originally started with the next one being 15 miles however that had to drop quickly to half marathon distance. At about 12 miles I had to climb a wall with a ladder and jump down in to what can only be described as a bottomless river! To say I wasn’t happy about this is an understatement as my Instagram showed. Raging. I was raging! Then I had to run through a nettle field with nettles taller than me!

Who comes up with these routes?!? Why the hell would you think it’s a great idea to have people running through sh!t like this! I could have drowned! I honestly could have drowned! What then? Another runner comes along and discovers my blue and bloated body just floating in the river? That will make for a great race photo – cheers! And if the river doesn’t finish you off the giant nettles will!

No. I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t easy. All made harder by the pain.

Once at a farm I decided to strip off to my shorts. Again something I would never do on a marathon – stop and change. But I thought if I put my shorts on I would feel better. Could probably have picked somewhere more remote than a working farm but I’m not so sure I was thinking straight at this point. A lovely older woman got a right eyeful of my rear end as she went by me but hopefully she’s seen worse. Either that or I gave her a memorable moment of the race ha ha.

Through the wind farms and I found I was by self. No one in sight. But I was fine with this. The noise of the turbines was company enough. Reminded me of my brother who works on them (I use the word ‘work’ very lightly) and who’s house I would be running past if I made it that far.

Down a very muddy path and I have to walk for fear of falling. I wasn’t going to make up any time on the downhills on this run. I passed someone walking up who gave me a cheery ‘well done’ and I couldn’t help but think why would you walk up here?! Then realised she must have been a Marshall. Time for more flap jack and maybe a piece of chocolate too.

Just before 19 miles I get a text from my lunch time running buddy asking how I’m getting on. I tell him where I am and that I’m in a lot of pain. I get a reply of ‘you’re over half way, stay focused, baby steps’. I tell him it is baby steps it’s that bad and ask how his birthday is going. He’s not feeling well so I tell him to stop whinging – great coming from me right now! Good thing I wasn’t expecting sympathy! I also start getting messages from my mum but she’s using WhatsApp and they aren’t coming through great. I consider texting her and trying to tell her to use text but it’s my mum, best not complicate things for her ha ha. My friend is trying to track me but she’s struggling to use it. She does however successfully send me a picture of a bottle of prossecco she has bought me to celebrate at the finish – love her!

My focus is now the second check point. I’m not sure where it is but it can’t be far. I see some people in the road and my Sherlock Holmes detective skills tell me they must be waiting for someone. As I very, very slowly get closer I hear my name. It’s the Reid’s from the club! So happy I am to see people – and people I know – I almost miss the check point! Steph had ran the first leg of the relay and was already washed and changed and out supporting everyone else. Stewart came over and asked if there was anything he could do to help me. ‘Run the last bit for me’ I jokingly said, although was I joking? That check point definitely gave me the pick me up I needed though. Encouragement, smiles and a reminder that no wonder I was finding it hard, I had done a marathon just 6 days before. After Stewart opened my chocolate bar for me (it seemed my fingers weren’t working any better than my legs) I was off again, with a very slight spring in my step.

I was down to my last 10 miles. The last leg. Closer to home. I can do this! I am over the bad bit!

Nope! No you are not!

You know Moncrieffe Hill Ella. It’s. Hard.

Walk it. I’m going to walk it. Run until it gets really steep then walk. That’s the reality of it. So I run through the village we have now reached and along the road to the dreaded last hill. I think I know the turning but there’s no Marshall and no sign so I keep going and continually look behind me to see if anyone is there or if anyone turns up that way. I can’t really see anyone. There would have been a sign I tell myself. There have been many, many signs up to now you wouldn’t have missed it.

Aw god what if I did miss it? And on the last section? How embarrassing! Please don’t say I’ve missed it. Keep going just a bit further and if you don’t see a sign stop and check the map. Please don’t say I’ve gone wrong!

Then in the distance I see someone dancing in the middle of the road. That must be a Marshall surely! Who else would be out here? And by themselves? Sure enough it’s not only a Marshall but it’s Barry from the road runners. ‘You’re doing good’ he says.

I love how folk lie when you’re running.

Re-assured I’m on the right track I keep going. As I climb further up the hill I get more and more messages from my friends. I’m less than 10 miles away now. I know I can run 10 miles. I’m not going to give up now. I start counting them down – albeit very slowly. The climb is hard so I stick to running the flat and walking the up hills. I’ve nothing to prove, my goal is to see if I can do this.

Further in to the hill there’s another surprise Marshall in the form of Brian from the club. He’s set himself up with a campsite! It’s amazing! ‘Do you need anything? Do you want some water?’ He asks me. ‘I’m good thanks’ I reply as I trundle by. I wish I had taken a photo of his station, it was amazing.

The advantage of knowing the hill is knowing where the actual last climb is. So when that was done I could ‘relax’. Then I realised I had just run 2 marathons in 6 days as my watch went past 26.2 miles.

Happy Ella!

Well almost. Once off the hill I follow the road out and I know it’s a rolling road. I don’t let this bother me though as this is where my brother lives. I almost let myself think he will be there to wave at me as I go by but it’s Saturday afternoon – he will still be in bed. The only running he does is to the bar when they shout ‘last orders’ ha ha.

Ok, last few miles, and I’m going slower than a turtle through treacle but I’m going! I’m joined by a woman out for a leisurely run. She asks me if there is a race on and I explain it’s an Ultra. She then asks if I have far to go and I tell her I’m on my last couple of miles. She says she is thinking of doing a marathon then asks me how many km a marathon is and is it 20.

I stop running with her.

At this point I see Gair – also from the road runners, we are everywhere! – sitting in his van. Oh how much do I need to sit down and get off these blistered feet! I give him a cheery wave and a smile as I trundle on. Happy that I’m almost finished.

Just round the corner I spot my mum. It’s roasting now and she has a long thick cardigan on. It takes her a good few minutes to spot me so I wave to make sure she knows it’s me. She tells me Joes at the finish line and she’s going to phone him to tell him I’m coming. ‘I’m not going to be there any time soon’ I joke with her. She then starts running with me and it’s awesome! My dad shouts after her ‘Netty, you’re going kill yourself’. ‘Not at this pace’ I shout back at him.

Through the Inch and I have to cross the road at the other side. There’s a Marshall there who pushes the lights for me and a car stops right in front of me. Oh please don’t make me stop I’m begging you! I won’t get started again! My face must have been a picture of despair as he then tells me to go behind the car, clearly unable to solve this problem alone.

On to the finishing straight, I got this! Where’s the finish? Where is the finish? I can’t see anything indicating the finish! Surely there is more to the finish line than a couple of people standing at the side? I’m just about to ask them when I catch a glimpse of the all too familiar inflatable arch way. It’s right there! I just need to go round the corner and back again! I hit the corner and force myself in to a sprint. I can sit down as soon as I cross that line!

Move, move, move!

Ok stop, stop, stop!

The man holding the medals is braced for impact. This about to go badly wrong! Luckily I grind to a halt just in time.

‘Oh god!’ I say as I finally manage to breath. ‘I’ve had quite a few people call me that today’ the Race Director replies quite pleased with himself. ‘I’ve a few names for you, not sure God is one of them!’ I laugh back at him.

That’s it though. That’s it done. I just ran an ULTRA!!

I need a seat!

Joe was there with Ollie and Lucie and Lorner was there too who promptly presented me with my prossecco – love you! My mum and dad then appeared and I managed to get a photo of everyone.

I may have had the odd moan and groan but I loved this run. I loved the fear, the change in terrain, the people, the marshalls, the different things it has opened my eyes to – I loved it! Would I do it again? Definitely! I can see my running taking a new direction after this!

Scott from the club came in first place and Marlena was first female. Amazing achievements and great for the club! We had so many people running it, out supporting or marshalling – it was amazing!