2019 – it starts again

Edinburgh’s New Years Day Tri was my first ever triathlon back in 2016.  I did it again in 2017 along with Joe but last year I decided to give it a miss.  Now.  Call me ridiculous, over-analytical or just down right weird but part of me kind of thinks that may have been the start of the downfall that was 2018.  Not over dramatic at all.  Not even slightly.  Believing I may have ruined my year on the very 1st day?  Slight exaggeration?  Some may say possibly.  But moving on…

So, obviously, I signed back up for 2019.  400 metre swim, 12 mile cycle, 3 miles ish (lies!) run.  Less than a basic training day right?

Oh how wrong can you be!  Even after all this time I am still making absolute rookie mistakes.  You have to wonder how I manage to get dressed in a morning some times.  (Although I did forget my shorts last month at work – long story, not a pretty picture.  It’s ok though, I at least had pants on.)

You see it may have been a basic training day, an easy swim distance, nothing I can’t do on a bike, and I am still running – but I forgot a fundamental part.  Putting it all together.  And maybe, just maybe, I didn’t really cycle that much.  Or, like, ever.  Until the night before.  (Scariest cycle ever!!  I go blind in the dark!  And before you even say it there aren’t enough carrots in the world that can cure that).

Yup.  I got cocky.  Well not really.  I always knew it wasn’t going to be an all world athlete performance.  But I probably should have made a little more effort to put it all together.

What I wasn’t expecting was the nerves.  My lord I hadn’t felt like that since the first time I was there.  I couldn’t look Joe in the eye for fear of crying, couldn’t really speak either (although pretty sure he loved that part).  It was bad.  Waiting in the queue to get my race number and timing chip there was nervous chatter all around me.  ‘I just hope no one dies like they did at Kyle’s race.’

Well that’s not bloody helpful is it!!  I moved away from them quick smart – which was probably the fastest I moved all day.  In the changing room I bumped into the fantastic physio who had got me through Race To The Stones.  Turned out it was her first ever triathlon.  She was giving it a try.  We chatted about tips and stuff and how it was just a better way to spend New Years than with a pounding headache and memory loss.  Then I headed out to poolside for the race brief – ever the stickler for the race brief.  Much to my mortification the man with the microphone decided to tell us to turn to the person next to us and wish them a happy new year.  My eyes went wide, my face went white, I visibly started shaking, nooooo!  Human contact with strangers!!  Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t.  The woman next to me eyed me up.  I knew what was coming.  It was like slow motion.  She looked, she saw the fear, she oh so briefly paused, then she decided nah, I’m going to do it.  ‘I know you don’t want to and this is probably the worst thing to happen to you but Happy New Year’.  I smiled back at her and laughed a little as I wished her the same back.  I had been too nervous to stop my reaction appearing on my face.  I had basically asked for it.

nyd 3

I watched the first swimmers take off, truly in awe of their courage.  Many were breast stroking, there were not many swim caps and there were a few even without goggles.  But they were all going for it.  They may not have been the fastest but they were the most impressive.  I headed down and spotted a woman from the tri club sitting at the side.  She was doing a relay with another from the tri club and a woman I know from the running club.  She had estimated her swim time much better than me and was starting earlier than me.  I was very concerned about my estimate as we swim at pretty much the same speed.  It’s not a great feeling being over taken in the lane by a stream of people.  We chatted a little (very hard with swim caps on your ears) and she helped calm my nerves without even knowing it I don’t think.

nyd 1

She headed to the queue and I lingered at the edge.  I knew the physio lady would be swimming down the lane soon.  Sure enough I spotted her and shouted out.  She paused and looked back.  Oh hell did I just put her off? Damn it.  I always get carried away cheering.  She was doing really good as well, looked comfortable.

Then it was my turn.  I remembered from last time not to jump in and head to the bottom of the pool instead of forward.  I didn’t get a push off the wall but it was ok.  All in all the whole swim felt ok.  I didn’t panic, my breathing was smooth, I may have hit my head on every single lane rope (I’m clearly way too attached to these things) but it generally felt ok.  I only counted about 4 people who over took me although I rarely saw anyone in the lane behind me which I found odd.  Climbing out I stopped my watch.  9 minutes something.  Appears my pace was not ‘ok’ then but more on the slow side.  Or did that say 8 minutes something?  Could be.  I would be happy with that.

In to transition and could I get my jumper on?  Absolutely not.  Had I swallowed half the pool and now I was carrying water weight?  This is a high possibility.  After much pulling and under the breath bad words I finally got it on and pushed my bike out with a quick wave to Joe and Oliver.  Could I remember what to do next though?  When am I allowed to get on the bike?  Is it straight out of the gate? Am I missing something?  I keep pushing it hoping someone goes by me to give me a clue.  I’m on the outside road now and convinced I should be riding the thing.  Am I going to push it all the way round the course??  I’m going to be mega embarrassed if someone shouts at me ‘do you not know what that things for love!’.  Finally I see a line on the floor and a marshall and it comes back to me.  This is whats called a mount line Ella.  Mount the bike.  Doh.

The cycle is uneventful.  The incline is hard and the downhill is fun.  I thank my lucky stars I went to the static bike sessions with the tri club as although there may only have been a few, it helped.  I consider my swim time and wonder again if it was possibly 8 minutes something and not 9 minutes.  I would find out soon.  The entire time round I am doing 2 things.  Praying I don’t get a puncture and wondering how on earth I managed to do a half ironman! Seriously?  You need to get your butt in gear lassie.  Get over your fear of the bike, do proper swim training and well, just keep running.

In to transition again and it’s out for the run.  I inevitably get jelly legs – did I do any brick training?  Can I walk out of a sports shop without buying a new running top?  – but I force myself up the hill and then back down again.  Not lightening fast but there’s the line and now my year has started right.

Caroline, the runner in the relay team, is just ahead of me at the water table.  She’s loved it.  I’m not surprised.  It’s been a great day.  I bump in to the physio lady in the changing room again and she’s hooked.  She’s definitely going to be at another one soon.  I grab some hot ginger from the Active Root stall and hold it very close to my heart – it’s the tastiest thing ever.  I may have even whispered ‘I love you’ in to the cup.  It was cold.  It heated me up.  Don’t judge.

So that’s that.  My year started the way it should be and a nudge in the right direction.  I’ve got some running races booked this year but I’m going to be doing more triathlon too.  Time to get back at it.

Oh and my swim time was most definitely not 8 minutes something ha ha.  Ah well.

nyd 2

 

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Anything IS Possible

3:15am and our alarm goes off.  

This. Is. It.

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

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

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

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

No comment needed.

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

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

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


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

Should?!? 

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

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

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

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

It’s a nice thought.

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

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

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

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

‘Joe Webley’

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

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

So yeah, I carry on.  As you do.

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

Best. Decision. Ever.

Those jelly babies were a life saver.

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

‘There she is.  Alright wife.’

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

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

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

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

So, I start singing.  

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

This carries on for a few miles.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Final section.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bloody did it!! 

Ironman Weekend – Friday/Saturday

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Just saying.

Joe.

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

Ah the practise swim.  

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

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

And just as fast – the keyboard warriors were out.

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

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

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

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

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

The Night Before Post

”Twas the night before Ironman70.3

And not a creature was stirring

Well, maybe just for a pee

Two wholesome triathletes 

A man and his wife

Were lying there ‘sleeping’

Contemplating life

Would they survive this ordeal

In the Scottish choppy sea

Or would they succumb to the elements

And walk away saying ‘not for me’

Would the jellyfish make an appearance

And sting them to death

Or would they own the waves and swim them

With every deep (or dying) breath

Would the wind be too strong

And knock them about

All through the course in Edinburgh

Oh there was no doubt

Would the climbs be too steep

And the descents be too much

For this pair of triathletes

Did they have the guts?

And if they made it to the run

And the tunnel of doom

Would they be able to climb that mountain

Or blow up like a balloon

In less than 24hrs

Time would tell

Nothing could be done now

There was no magic spell

They asked themselves ‘why am I doing this’

As they lay there pretending to sleep

Worries running over and over 

Going through their minds on repeat

I might actually die

Was initially the first thought

Not to mention the cost

Of all the gear they had bought 

But you can’t buy pride

Or being able to say ‘I CAN’

And at the very end of this

We will be able say ‘I’m an Ironman!’

Ok maybe just a ‘half’ ironman

In Edinburgh at least

But we might go Full one day

And become Team Iron Beast

Thank You

All day.  All freaking day something’s been bothering me.  And it’s the culmination of a few things all rolled in to one.

Negativity.

Not mine.  But other people’s. That’s right, YOURS.

(Well maybe not you personally but you get my point)

Now.  Where to begin?

When I first started ‘being active’ I feared negativity.  I was convinced I was the centre of everyone’s attention as I waddled down the road, Lycra clad, trying to put one foot in front of the other at a pace faster than a granny with a Zimmer frame.  Of course I wasn’t – (the centre of everyone’s universe I mean but no, at that time I was also not faster than the Zimmer frame) – but I had that fear.  The same fear everyone does when they start something new.  But I got over it (or over ‘myself’ which is a bit more accurate – the dog chasing its tail will always be more entertaining to watch than someone running past).  It’s gone.  I moved on.

And I’ve never really experienced negativity at running races either.  At the first few I’ve possibly thought people would wonder what I thought I was playing at attempting to run but that was my own head issues.  Yes I’ve had one or two blokes clearly not happy at being beat by a 4ft midget women but I put that down to competition and the majority of us set a target person to beat anyway, it’s not that bad a thing.

But never, absolutely NEVER, have I experienced the volumes of negativity surrounding a race as much as I have of the Edinburgh Half Ironman.

Moaning about it being called ‘Edinburgh’, complaining about the disruption, bumping gums about what others call it, referring to it as just plain ridiculous.

I honesty can’t take much more.  It’s 2am and this shit is keeping me up.

Let me explain.

Firstly, the ‘Edinburgh’ reference.  Now if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ll know my geography is probably on par with a pre-schooler however, I do recognise that the race route for Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 is not entirely in Edinburgh.  I’m not sure if some people expected a new open water place to magically just appear in the centre and  for almost 2000 people to cycle and then run through the centre of Edinburgh closing even more roads but come on.  Doesn’t take a genius to work out where the route would likely be.  So having used my pre-school map and compass before entering (along with my back pack, thank you Dora), this does not bother me.  It’s Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 – says so on the uber expensive registration form.

Disruption.  Ok.  I get it.  A big nuisance to those not involved or interested in the race.  But you chose where you live.  You know it’s a popular place for events.  Roads are closed for both the safety of those participating in the event and everyone else.  EVERYONE ELSE.  Have you ever been hit by a cyclist? Has one cycled in to your car or your dog on the out-stretched lead?  Has anyone ever run in to you full pelt and knocked you over?  It’s not just us participating that can get hurt.   But yes, I can appreciate having to work around the area you live in being closed for a few hours is a pain in the backside.  Why should you have your life disrupted because some people want to have ‘a pissing contest’? (And yes, that’s an actual quote from a keyboard warrior).  There is notice that goes out so you can forward plan.  You’re complaining now which means you are aware of it and therefore have time to arrange alternative means.  I do appreciate it’s annoying, especially if it’s something you’re not even remotely interested in – But – can you not appreciate what it does for your area? No Edinburgh doesn’t need ‘put on the map’ – pretty sure Trainspotting did that very successfully, not to mention every other blockbusting movie that likes to film in the centre – but the Ironman brand is a worldwide spectacular event.  It is well known for its support, its expertise in these events and how to pull off said events in a phenomenally easy manner.   

Can you not just be the same just for one day?

So many of us have put ourselves through months and months of training to do this frightening task on Sunday.  No you may not be interested one bit in what we are doing or how we have trained or that we have had near death experiences along the way but surely you recognise it’s all for a good thing?  That it’s not just for ourselves.  That some of us are raising money and awareness for several charities (ironically my chosen charity being SAMH – mental health – this negativity does not support good mental health).  That some of us are trying to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle to our children and also to our friends and families? 

But…

It’s not just those outside of the sport either.  I’ve said before how I’ve not found all triathletes to be the most welcoming.  And my experience of Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 has not done anything to improve that.  Not just the raised eyebrows from a few weeks ago at the Loch swimming but the quick and sharp correction months ago when I mentioned on a Facebook site I was doing Edinburgh Ironman that I MUST put in the title that it was a Half Ironman.  Stupid me. I had presumed any die hard Ironman fan would automatically know Edinburgh only has 70.3 and not the Full Ironman.

My bad.

I should not be surprised though that keyboard warriors are out there and like to express their opinion.  Fine.  Everyone’s entitled to their opinion – hence this post – but I personally prefer to be supportive rather than rant and rave over something that has absolutely no effect on my life what so ever.  Yup, the majority of these ‘fellow triathletes’ aren’t even taking part in Ironman Edinburgh 70.3.  Maybe thats why I prefer being part of my running group.  At least people will say hi rather than the equivalent ‘you can’t call yourself a runner, you’ve never ran a race’.

But let’s not get in to that debate on when you can and can not call yourself a runner or a triathlete.  

It’s now after 3am.  I’ve read back through some of my own blog posts to remind myself how far I’ve come.  How hard this training has been – not just on me but my family too.  And how much I want this.  I’m doing this for me. Not for you.  Not your approval or acceptance.  But for ME.  I know for a fact Ironman will put on a good show.  I don’t doubt it in the slightest.  The atmosphere will be out of this world.  There will be many tears, probably a few moments of seeing my breakfast again and many, many souvenirs bought.

So, thanks for shitting on my parade, but I don’t need your negativity.  I will stick with being on the positive fence and at least try to see the good in all things.  If nothing else you’ve distracted me a little from my nerves.  That can only be a good thing (see what I did there, not hard is it).


Thank you.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger? Em…

Time to make the announcement…

I’ve signed up to Ironman Edinburgh 70.3!!


No apparently I don’t like living anymore and want to be dead.

If it doesn’t scare you it’s not a big enough challenge right?

Well.  This scares me.  This petrifies me in fact.  It’s a 1.9km swim in the open water.  There’s ‘things’ in open water – and I’m not talking just a few fish (which does actually scare me and make me want to vomit).  There are big fish, fish, small fish, jelly fish (oh my god what if I see a jelly fish!!!) birds, really big mother fish that can probably eat me!! There’s litter, there’s poop (probably going to be some of my own at this rate), there’s all those other people and then there’s dead bodies.

All of the above just floating around trying to kill you.

Actually not so sure I’m going to do this now.

The cycling doesn’t worry me as much.  I just need to get on with it.  And the running I think will be fine.  Obviously won’t be my best ever half marathon but I’m quite confident I will be ok once I settle into my rhythm.

So if the swimming is that bad why am I doing this to myself? 

Well.  It’s Edinburgh.  It’s Ironman.  It’s NOT easy.  It falls in to that category of ‘it would be rude not to’.

I will put in the months of hard training. I will be out there when it’s cold, dark and freezing putting the hours in.  I will put my body through hell and push it as far as it can go.  I will rock up to that start line.  I will complete that swim, that cycle AND that run.

And you’re damn right I will cross that finish line. 

Time to man up and stop being a little bitch!

(Sorry for swearing mum – I was having a moment)

Wife vs Husband – wife wins!

There’s not many races my husband and I do together but 2017 was starting with one.  Afraid of being beat by his wife he suspiciously got ‘sick’ beforehand so it was touch and go whether or not he would participate.  Excuses set however and we were off to Edinburgh.  Again.  We went to registration and I was ecstatic to discover I had jumped from 87 to 212 in the year. Joe was 336. No comment.


It was cold but not as cold as the year before.  I wasn’t as nervous as I had been either – surprisingly that didn’t hit me until I was 3 people away from jumping in the pool.  This was a change.  Previously you got in the water and waited until you were told to go.  This was new.  I don’t like change.  And I especially don’t like unexpected change.  I watched everyone getting in and tried to suss out the best way to do this.  Climb down the ladder.  Walk over to the wall and then push off.  I repeated this time and time again so I knew what to do.  

I was counted down to my time and then climbed down the ladder.  The ladder ended.  My feet didn’t touch the floor.  I kept going down.  And down.  And down.   Not forward.  Then I couldn’t find the wall. What the actual hell was happening!! Eventually after 6 hours I reached the surface, grabbed the wall and pushed off.  I say pushed off but it was more of a duck under the water and back up again – there was no movement forward.  The next guy had already climbed in.  So naturally panic set in.  I couldn’t breathe, I was swallowing soooo much water.  I was petrified of how deep it was (I hadn’t touched the bottom despite plunging deeper than the titanic) and it was twice the length I am used to swimming.  I stopped half way through the first length chocking on the water.  This was awful.  I got to the end and tried to calm my breathing.  Someone passed me and that was it again – panic stations galore – I even started breast stroking for a few seconds! Now I’m not knocking those that breast stroke, Christ many are faster than my front crawl, but I had practised front crawl and I wanted that sub 9minutes.  

I remembered what Joe had said to me the first time I had done this triathlon. Very basic, very straight to the point.  ‘Calm. Down.’ (Was a bit more colourful than that but it worked).  I eventually found my rhythm and slowly started to get through it.  I even managed to pass a few people who had obviously gone out too fast. 

I was too embarrassed to turn round and see if I could see Joe when I climbed out the pool so I just ran to T1.  As I went through the doors in to the cold I heard ‘It’s Ella!! Go Ella!’.  It was Gosia from one of my running groups.  She was volunteering as a Marshall.  That cheered me up no end and put my mind back in a good place.  Thank god!


I couldn’t get my trousers on over my Tri suit but I knew I couldn’t handle the cold without them so I persevered.  I was slow, very slow,  but I needed to be.  And do you know what, that’s ok.  I wasn’t out for the win.  I didn’t want to risk catching a cold because I didn’t spend that extra 10seconds putting a top on.  I could have gotten changed indoors but I braved the outside.  

Off on my bike and could I get my bloody gloves on? Could I heck.  I ended up wobbling dangerously side to side to put them on.  3 times round Arthur’s seat.  3 times up that hill.  Up.  That.  Hill.  However.  I was on a better bike than last year, and I like to think I am a little bit fitter than last year. (Think a lot of yourself there love).  I did find it easier, and I enjoyed it.  Most of all, I didn’t die.  There was a man in a long army style coat standing at the side cheering everyone on so I smiled and thanked him that first time and had a joke with him the second and third.  I saw a few numbers in the 300’s go past me but I expected that.  There’s always a few elite types.  I kept watch for my husband as I had expected him to catch me in T1 but hadnt seen him yet.  

On the downhill I decided to go for it and went flying down.  A bit too fast as I was yelled at to slow down and if I had had my porridge like I should have done it would have been making a reappearance.  Good thing my clothes are black that’s all I’m saying.  

In to T2 and surprisingly I didn’t fall off and I was able to run ok.  Well, as good as you can in cleats.  It felt like I was trying to run on heels. Not great.  I frantically looked over to Joes section to see if his bike had gone genuinely believing if he hadn’t passed me he must have pulled out.  He really shouldn’t have done it as he really wasn’t well but apparently winding him up that I was going to beat him was too much for him to take.  His bike wasn’t there so I knew he must have been out on the course.  

Trainers on and I grabbed a gel and took off.  Then quickly went back to take my helmet off.  It happens.  It was only a few steps, no big deal.  My legs were ok to run on which I really was shocked at given I had just ran every day in December (and the last 3 in November, that’s an important point).  I did find the hill quite hard but another smile and joke with the man in the long coat and I made it to the top.  All the while watching over my shoulder for Joe.  Downhill and I tried to give it the last of what I had in my legs.  Up the last incline and through the finishing banner.

I went straight over to the transition area and looked for Joes bike.  It was there so I searched the crowd, couldn’t see him, so went back down the course.  The marshalls asked if I was supporting or gloating.  ‘A bit of both’ I cheekily laughed.  To be fair it wasn’t long before he came up that last hill and yes, I made sure he knew I was there.  


It was actually quite nice cheering him over the line for once.  It’s not something I normally get to do.  He hasn’t done any races himself so there’s been no opportunity for me to play the eccentric, supportive wife screaming from the sidelines.  It will happen though.  And he will love it!

Of course I know I didn’t actually beat him.  He started a good 10 minutes after me and was only a few minutes behind me finishing.  

But.  I was first over the line.  That is an actual fact.  

He pretty much died after it and is still ill but that’s what stubborn does to you.  We have a race we are both doing next year and I am more than aware he will beat my ass.  But for now, I won!

Love you.