‘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!

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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!

Getting Wet In Weymouth

Getting Wet In Weymouth

When I was in college – just a ‘couple’ of years ago – one of my assignments was to promote Weymouth. Being the young, care free gal I was back in those days I had no real idea what activities were done in Weymouth so came up with the slogan ‘I Got Wet In Weymouth’ to sell t-shirts on the beach. Ironman was a comic book character at that time, not something I would ‘half’ be several (hundred) years later.

Weymouth 70.3 was Joe’s ‘A’ race for the year. The one he wanted. It fell just after our youngest’s birthday so we decided as we would be down that way to take a slight detour to CBeebies Land for him. The slight detour ended up being many additional hours as we hadn’t really taken into consideration just how often we would hear ‘I need a pee!’ in a frantic voice. And let’s not mention ‘I need poo’…..

It was worth it though and he had a great time. Lesson learnt though – it would have been better after the race. Less stressful.

I had really, really wanted to do Weymouth. A perfect one to sign up to after Edinburgh. But this was Joes race so I had to set that jealousy aside and I love going to his races and supporting anyway (even if I’m ‘not invited’). Weymouth is a about 30 miles from his side of the family so I also messaged the aunties and cousins to ask them along as a surprise for him.

4am and the alarm goes off.

We have rented an uber cool pod lodge where we shower and get ready. Half the site is filled with athletes so we aren’t the only ones up and don’t have to worry too much about being noisy. We put our son in the car and drive to the car park where I will sit for an hour before heading down – Joe heads straight to the swim start.

Now. I was going to try and sleep for another hour in the car but I was awake. And excited. I may not have been racing but I really do love chasing him round a course. I also love instagram. So I made a few videos. During these videos I was spotted by a couple of people going by and let’s just say I made them smile ha ha.

Whilst messing about in the car at 6am I found Joes timing chip. Uh oh. I phoned him to tell him before he frantically tried to search for it. I would have to get it down to him. The plan was a slow toddler paced walk down to the swim start but this had now turned into a frantic move-as-fast-as-you-can-whilst-carrying-a-4yearold-and-a-heavy-rucksack. Thank god I ‘occasionally’ do strength work! Jogging (yes, jogging) to the swim whilst politely telling people to move Joe suddenly appeared behind me.

‘Chip!!!’

‘Back pocket’

And he was gone again.

Who says romance is dead?

I headed up to the rocks in the hope this would cheer up my now unhappy toddler but he was having none of it. We weren’t close enough to spot Joe anyway so it wasn’t proving to be a good idea from any aspect. We moved round to the back of the start and as we slowly wandered down I saw Joe waving. Talk about luck!

I was able to calculate his swim start was roughly 7:13am so from there I could again roughly predict what time he would exit. Oh yeah – this isn’t my first time supporting – I’ve got skills in this area! CV worthy skills!

We went down on the beach so Oliver could throw stones in to the water and I was struck by just how many people 2600 are. The start queue for the swim was huge!! I think it may have taken up to half an hour maybe more to get everyone started.

Oliver got bored very quickly so the first chocolate snack/bribe was administered. Yes, shoot me, I gave my child chocolate at 7:30am. It cheered him up ok. He doesn’t usually have such bad things so early but this was a special event. We found a good spot on the swim exit and plonked ourselves down. I pulled out the sign Oliver had made and proudly placed it in front of us – yes, I am that person. He would hear us before he seen us and he would definitely see us.

However, Oliver had other plans. ‘I need a pee’. ‘Daddy will be out any minute now can you hold it?’. Cue wailing and crying to further cement me in to the bad motherhood society. That’ll be a no then! Off we went to the portaloos. One of the good things about this race was the number of toilets so no long queue.

I was quite sure we would have missed Joe coming out of the swim so decided to plonk ourselves about 70 metres down from the bike out. It was another great spot. I was ridiculously nervous Oliver would wander on to the road in front of a bike and get seriously hurt and knock a rider off. There was no reason for this train of thought – he had never done anything like that before, was aware of the fast moving cyclists and had clamped himself to my legs anyway. Still, it was nerve wrecking. Only to be made worse by witnessing a bike crash in to another and one rider go head over heels. It looked painful and I’m not sure the rider continued! And of course it was at this time Joe came passed. And he looked right pissed off! (Excuse my language). Looking at the time I took an educated guess he wasn’t happy with his swim. He was out though and on the bike, his favourite section.

I updated Facebook (life’s priority ha ha).

Looking for somewhere warm Oliver and I headed to the Sand Sculpture place hoping for entertainment for him and a cup of tea for me. ‘Do you have a warm cafe in there?’ I asked the women at the desk. ‘Yeah we do’.

Lies!!!!! Absolute lies!!! It was a TENT. And a leaking one at that! Bloody freezing! Colder inside it than out! Olivers lips actually started turning blue so it was back out and a walk up the promenade whilst wondering why we lived and raced in such a cold bloody country. Decision was made then and there to emigrate.

We found a proper cafe further up and warmed up whilst I amused myself listening to the waitress continually saying she didn’t understand where all the people had come from and that they were experiencing their busiest ever Sunday. Every customer in there had Ironman merchandise on – including Oliver and I – obviously. The road outside had been closed for the event. There were signs everywhere stating ‘Event’.

I just smiled at her and shrugged.

We met up with Aunt Jackie who phoned from right outside the shop I was in. Shortly after Aunty Maria and the cousins appeared and all of a sudden it wasn’t just Oliver and myself – we had a full on cheer squad! Amazing!! (Unfortunately Aunty Julie was full of the flu and being on a beach front isn’t the best place when you are ill but she was there in spirit).

They didn’t know how we would be able to tell when Joe was coming but I was all over that. I can pretty much pin point it to the minute. I’m telling you, skills of a ninja. His doppelgänger did throw me off though I have to admit. This guy was his absolute double just slightly taller – and not wearing a Perth Tri Club Tri suit but it was blue and he had the same visor, glasses, beard and compression socks.

As soon as I saw Joe that was it.

HERE HE COMES!!! I screamed at everyone. Cheer squad assembled and we roared waving our banners. The grin from his face was worth it – he clearly hadn’t expected it. The run route was 3.5 laps so he he came back the other way less than 10 minutes later. Cue more shouting, cheers and frantic waving. Oh yeah, we owned that promenade!

He seemed in good spirits and he didn’t look like he was hurting too much. By the next time round I could see the pain on his face though so we cheered louder (hard to believe but a group of 6 women, 1 teenager and 5 small children can always get louder! Ha ha).

After his last lap past us we headed towards the finish. I knew it would be difficult to see him but miraculously we got there just before he went up the red carpet, cheering him on the very finish.

After he was done and came out the finishers lounge we all headed for something to eat. It had been a long day for everyone but worth every second. You just can’t beat having support like that. He’s always said he doesn’t ‘need’ it but I think we’ve proved how great it can be. Especially when it’s unexpected. It was a good event and one I think we will be back at next year.

You Did Not Defeat Me

Some may say I’m stubborn – some may say I’m determined. Whatever word is used to describe me, the fact remains, I did it!

Hill Series – you are complete!

Wednesday saw the last run in the series and that’s what kept me going. It was the last one. None of the series has been easy. I’ve had to walk in all of them, faced near death in many and required a change of underwear more times than I wish to admit to. So I was expecting another ‘kill me now’ 4 miles in this last hurrah.

It didn’t start off grand. I thought it was about a 20 minute journey but then I saw a Facebook post about a car share leaving an hour and a half before the race! A quick google told me there were two places called gateside – one 25 mins away and one over an hour. Oh hell.

A few panic stricken moments later I realised it was in fact the 25min away place I had originally thought it was but I had no hope of making the car share. The other half said he was coming with the kids and another road runner kindly offered to pick up my number for me so worst case scenario would be I would get dropped at the start line whilst he found somewhere to park. (Luckily though, we found a space).

The usual chatter at the start line and a few runners started talking about the route. ‘It’s undulating’ – great, my ‘favourite’ word……. ‘you get rest breaks’ – oh I fully intend to be taking rest breaks trust me. I only need to finish this race. This is the last one. Then they pointed up the hill. ‘We head up to that tree line, go through it and back down.’

What that tree line way over there?!? That’s going to be more than 4 miles! I must be looking at the wrong one. Nope. There is only one cluster of trees up there.

Great.

There was a handful of road runners there which is always great to see and I was able to ask someone about their trail shoes – an item I really should have purchased before now. I’ve been wearing New Balance road shoes which suit me but they don’t suit this type of running – as I’ve found out several times, much to my peril.

We were off and just 100metres in we were running past what I presume to be a local lad playing the bagpipes. Have to say I really did like that. Great touch. Took my mind off the fact this was a hill race (well, for a split second, as we very quickly started going up).

The first part on tarmac was a steady climb. One of those where you’re thinking it’s fine I can do this, but I would really like it to be the top right about now, oh come on how much further? Can’t stop now or I will look pathetic.

To my surprise my first mile came in about 8mins 40 – unusual for me on a hill race. It’s normally well over 10 minutes and my vocabulary has turned from someone who doesn’t like swearing to someone who could give the drunk vicar on Father Ted a run for his money. However I was still smiling. This was a positive.

Or did this mean death was actually just round the next corner in the shape of mud, rocks and vertical ascents?

Wasn’t that bad to be honest. I glanced at my watch and it said 1.76. And I wasn’t dying? I refused to be drawn in to a false security. This was a hill race after all, you will probably have to walk the next bit Ella. You’re not a hill runner. (And no, the Aviva Hill doesn’t count).

But I didn’t walk. I forced myself to the top of the track I was now on and begged my legs not to stop just yet. Imagine if I ran for the whole of the first half of this race! I would be very pleased with that. Rounding the corner it was tough but then, as advised, it evened out so I could get a rest.

Still no walking.

Through the heather, over rocks and mud, careful not to go over my ankle – but still running.

And then those magic, magic words.

‘Along to the fence then it’s down hill.’

Oh I love you Marshall!!

Staying steady but trying to catch the guy in front I stretched my legs out and started striding down. Gets a little tricky at parts but it’s not as bad as Ben Sheann. I genuinely feared for my life on that ‘run’ (I use that word very, very loosely). I’m soon back on the tarmac and retracing my steps from the start of the run. I like this. I like this a lot. This I can handle. Down, down, down we go.

Then we hit the bottom.

And it’s back up from here.

Well that was nasty. Still running though! I know I must be close to the finish – can’t stop now, must keep going, you might actually finish this race running all of it! Turn to the left and on to the cricket pitch. I hear my kids and spot the other half.

‘I’ve ran the whole way!!’ I say to him as I trundle past. I hear him laughing as I continue.

I don’t have a clue where the finish is. Can’t see it at all. So I just follow those in front of me deciding to stop when they stop. We go round the pitch and I only know I’m finished when a young lad offers me a bottle of water. So no sprint finish but….

ITS DONE!!!

No more hill races, no more death defying descents or heart attack climbs up to the sky. I am done! The nightmare of that first race has now been put to rest and justified now that I have completed the series. It was ‘almost’ worth it.

Will I do it again next year? Not a chance! Not now I know what a real hill race is. That’s a whole new level of crazy right there. I will stick to my sea level road races thank you very much. A challenge it most certainly was and I may have moaned and groaned my way through it but I did it.

Those hills did not defeat me!