Christmas Fun Run

Christmas Fun Run

Due to my shifts I’ve not managed any of the clubs festivities this year so I decided a Christmas fun run was in order with my friend Lorner. No pace set, no distance set, just Santa hats and lots of chat. What could go wrong?

I picked a trail route as the streets of Perth are getting a bit boring right now and trails are always so much more fun so we headed off straight after the school drop off. (The late school drop off but hey, at least I remembered he needed a Christmas jumper!).

On the drive to Dunkeld just up the road the car was filled with our exceptional voices belting out the Christmas tunes. It’s a good thing Mariah Carey’s retired as we would be knocking her off that no 1 spot with our dulcet tones. It is quite possible that only dogs could hear our high pitched screeches at some points but our spirit was just as high.

Parked up in a very empty car park we wrapped up and went on our merry way – all set for a great run and some exercise.

At exactly 0.3 miles in we stopped for the first photograph. Oh no. This was not going to be fast run at all. What we discovered after the 20th attempt at a jump shot was in fact that neither of us were any good at timing. By the 35th time we almost gave up but not ones to quit something we had started (didn’t you stop running at 0.3 miles Ella?) we kept going and it was lucky number 47 that got us our almost ‘perfect’ picture.

Yup. That’s me squatting and her pointing and saying ‘ok we go in 3’.

We trotted on for another little bit and after several ‘nope, not this way’ moments we found the place called Rumbling Bridge. Now this confused the life out of me as I thought Rumbling Bridge was near Pitlochry, not Dunkeld. Never mind. We continued up the hill – it was ALL up hill and chatted away about how it didn’t feel like Christmas and how fast it had come around and oh my god we really are old quick change the subject.

As the easy trail path gave way to a more thinner, muddy and snow covered thin line I discovered that Lorner hadn’t actually done a trail run before. She kept disappearing behind me as I chatted on, darting back and forth over the ground, always in a forward motion. She all but stopped and was tip toeing across sections. So I did what every runner would do when their friend was nervous and squeaking like an old wooden floor – I ran on, stopped, turned round, then laughed as she emerged ever so slowly through the forest like a fairy princess trying not to get her feet dirty. But swearing like a trooper! She has such a potty mouth!

Onwards and upwards we went until we passed a lovely little cottage and came across some spectacular views. The mist was half way up a nearby mountain but the peak of the mountain was still visible. It was gorgeous. Cue another 40 thousand photos, none of which were any good, so out came Wonder Woman and Santa.

We carried on for a fair few miles after that and stopped again when we spotted Christmas trees. Obviously time for another Santa photo shoot. We headed back down the hill and I felt something hit my foot – Santa had escaped from my pocket! As I put him safely back in I felt something no one wants to feel in the middle of the woods. A very large hole in my very new running jacket. Santa’s beard was no longer the whitest thing in the forest. ‘I’ve dropped the car key’ I said to Lorner. I won’t post her actual reply but it was along the lines of ‘oh my word, that’s terrible, what ever will we do’ – just a lot more vulgar. ‘Wonder woman’s missing too!’ I was now screaming. I can’t lose Wonder Woman!!

Ok deep breaths. Re-trace the steps. We started walking back but I had been looking forward to running back along this section and found I was useless at going that slow so started lightly running. Note to self, don’t volunteer on one of those police searches, you’ll be no help what so ever Ella.

I started praying to the DC Comics gods. If you let me find Wonder Woman I promise I will learn the names of the other ones and get to know what’s DC and what’s Marvel. I promise.

Maybes she’s flown away on her invincible jet?

As we slowly ran back I kept thinking about the huge muddy puddles we had run through. If either my key ring or the car key had fallen in to one of them we were never finding it. This could actually be a bit of a disaster. Bugger.

A full mile back and nothing. This was looking grim. By now I was rehearsing the dreaded phone call to Joe. ‘So, funny story, but I may just have lost my Wonder Woman keyring. The car key! I’ve lost the car key – obviously the car keys more important, yup. And I’m about half an hour out of town. Soz.’

Could this be grounds for divorce? Well to be fair they fell out the pocket of a jacket he bought and insisted I wear so technically this was his fault. True story.

‘Oh my god there she is!!!’ Almost 2 miles back and I had found her! I felt much better. No phone call needed! Oh, no wait. The car key. Bugger. Clutching her tightly in my hand we went further back and just a few hundred metres there was the car key. Not quite so exciting but probably more useful.

Back to the car!

So the very short 3 miles possibly 4 turned in to way more with the added bonus of fear and the sense of loss followed by relief and love. (Bit far? Or not far enough, hmm). Either way it’s a Christmas run we won’t forget in a hurry and the over enthusiastic belting out of Christmas songs on the way home was truly the cherry on the pudding.

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Oh hasn’t it been a while.  Over a month in fact.  Well.  Since I am sitting recovering from my last run I thought I would update this.

I joined the waiting list for the Glen Ogle 33 not really expecting to get a space.  It’s a popular event that I’m pretty sure sells out every year.  For someone like me I wouldn’t call it a race.  More of a ’33 miles of trail running just trying to survive and not die’.  And the reason I signed up?  You get to run over a viaduct!  These structures were probably made ‘famous’ by Harry Potter (not that I have watched any of the movies) but I really fancied running over one!  So that was it.  I signed up when the email came through.

Night before I drove up with my friend Lorner to go and register.  It’s just over an hour away and it would give our youngest and Joe a little extra time in bed the day of the race.  Leaving straight from work at 6pm I picked her up and she produced what can only be described as a bag full of heavenly goodness.  She had only gone and bought me a packed lunch box and filled it with loads of food – including red bull!     A-mazing!  Joe had also been to the shop to pick me up a new running jacket following the weather warning that had been issued for the race.  This would later prove to be essential!

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Finding out your friend is travel sick whilst driving through the winding, twisting country roads of the Scottish Highlands isn’t great.  I’m pretty sure she was eyeing up my new lunch bag wondering if she could get away with throwing up in it.  Unicorns poop rainbows Lorner – not puke.

Registration took all of 20 seconds.  My many questions probably took about 20 minutes.  No, I’m joking.  I only had a couple.  I had a quick look at the clothes on sale but since Joe had bought me a new jacket I knew I was good.  I had forgotten my drop bag though and I did consider trying to muster something up from the local supermarket  but the plan was to be at the start line in time to drop it off so we headed back (after she had a bottle of water and fresh air.  And yes, I took it easy on the way back).

It was drizzly and cold in the morning and we arrived just 10 minutes before race start so Joe dropped me off and stayed in the car with our youngest until I started then drove home.  It’s an unsupported race and a lot of waiting around  for a 5 year old so a dvd in the car is much more appealing.  I managed to locate Scott from the road runners about 20 seconds before we started so my nerves were put to rest after seeing a friendly face.  He had sore hips and was taking it easy but I knew he would still finish well before me.  I had a very unrealistic hope of finishing in 5 and a half hours so had said to Joe I might be back just after 1.30pm.  (Alright, alright, no need to laugh quite so hard!).

Glen Ogle start

I tried to keep my feet dry for as long as possible and I think I may have even made it 500 meters before they were soaking!  That’s impressive given the small river that was flowing down the up wards trail we were instantly on.  It was gorgeous though!  Autumn colours in all their glory as we trenched up and up and up.  All I could hear around me was ‘squelch, squelch, squelch’.  The real sound of a trail run ha ha.  One of the differences I have noticed between ultra and marathon running is that in a marathon runners are most likely to dodge puddles.  In ultras they are more likely to dive straight in to the bottomless pit of a loch!  I’m still haunted by that experience at the  Ochil Ultra

Up and up and up we went, and then we had quite a steep down.  At the bottom of the hill I was met with a very friendly face.  Robin from the road runners was marshalling.  Stood out in the cold, wet and windy weather that is Scotland this lovely man was all smiles and encouragement as we all went past.  I love it when I know a volunteer or marshall but when it’s someone like Robin it’s even better.

Robin

Just a couple of miles on and I came across the viaduct.  The bit I was waiting on!  Naturally I took a video.  ‘I’m running across a viaduct!  Whoo hoo!’.  The excitement was short lived when 1.  I realised what a horrendous double chin I have and 2.  My hamstrings and glutes decided to play up.  I don’t remember them gradually working up the pain scale, I just remember them refusing to play ball.  They hurt that much I didn’t even realise how windy it was at points or how hard the rain was coming down.

I got to 8 miles and text Joe.  ‘My legs hurt, I’m struggling’.

I was in the Scottish Highlands though.  You don’t get signal.  I kept checking and trying to re-send.  The pain got more and more.  This is going to be it.  This is going to be my first ever DNF.  Well that’s rather fitting for the year I’ve had.  When have I ever not finished a race?  I can’t do another 25 miles on this though.  That’s practically a marathon.  I will keep trying to text him and hopefully he will come pick me up.

I trundled on, sometimes distracted by the gorgeous views, sometimes chatting to those around me.  The zig zag path downward was a potential ankle breaker.  Under different circumstances I would have loved that part.  Thank god I wasn’t going up it though.  Still no signal.  I saw a girl at the side of the road and checked she was ok.  Her water bladder had started leaking and I had a spare food bag so checked to see if she needed it.  Handy tip for next time!  She asked how I was doing and without thinking I replied I was struggling already.  Not the best thing to say to someone who was doing her first ultra.  But she was going strong and looked like she was going to finish well which I don’t doubt she did.

I started to focus on getting to the checkpoint as it was quite clear I wasn’t going to get a signal anytime soon.  I became obsessed with my watch and looking at the miles that were ticking by slower than the Brexit deal.  Eventually I heard noise and knew it was close.  I could hear a cow bell and shouting.  Yes!  I’ve finally made it!  I should get a signal now and can speak to Joe.  But…… no……..  NO…….  It was supporters at the side of the road, outside their house.  I couldn’t do anything but laugh a little inside and smile on the outside.  These people were standing in the cold and rain and encouraging us on.  They could have been inside with a warm cup of tea, sitting at a blaring hot stove, singing songs to each other all rosy cheeked.

Ok, I might be getting a bit carried away here.

Then I came across a bridge.  A bridge that moved.  A lot!  Hold on a minute!  I’ve been on this bridge before!  I don’t like it!  Code red, code red!  I almost dropped to my knees to get across it.  Clearly this was the infamous shoogly bridge.  I didn’t like it.  Nope.  I even stopped dead in the middle of it.  Never again.

The checkpoint was just at the other side and I desperately looked for shelter and somewhere to sit down.  There was neither options.  So I took out my spare food bag (the other lass hadn’t used it as it was the pipe that had come loose) and promptly sat on it.  Still no signal though.  What to do.  I very quickly began getting cold.  My legs were soaking and although the jacket was very good I was still cold up top.  Gloves were sodden and feet drenched.  I decided to change in to dry socks and put blister plasters on.  Oh yes, I had blisters.  I didn’t have anything to dry my feet though so the plasters didn’t stick.  My fingers were freezing so tying my laces was interesting.  I got my spare gloves out.  Definitely going to need them.  Then I remembered there was an Active Root station with their ginger juice.  My flasks were almost empty of my berry hydration.  If I was going to make it to somewhere with a signal I would need more.  I went over to them and cheekily asked if I could fill one of my flasks.  ‘Of course you can – do you want me to wash it out first?’.  ‘No, that’s ok thank you, I need it that much I don’t think I will notice.’  ‘Well you look really well prepared’ he said gesturing to my pack that had everything in bags to protect from the rain.  ‘and you’ve done the hardest part, it’s not bad from here’.

This made me think.   was just over half way.  Who gets to half way and doesn’t finish?  I’ve got dry socks on now and dry gloves.  I’ve got hand warmers I can technically stick anywhere if needed.  My hydration is re-filled and the short seat has helped my legs.  Can you really quit when Joe has given up his whole day for this – bit selfish to do that isn’t it?

So I got moving.  After the kind marshall put my flask back in my bag as my hands just weren’t letting me do it.

And naturally, it was straight up.  Up, up, up, up.  My legs hurt again within seconds.  It was probably this point I began wondering why I enjoyed running.  Eventually it evened out a little and I started the usual slog of cat and mouse with a group of 3 women.  They would slow down a little, I would go past, I would slow down, they would go past – your standard game on a long run, keeps it slightly interesting.  I was still absolutely loving the scenery despite the wind and rain so the phone was coming out for several photos.  And now that the field had really spread out it was quite easy to get ones without anyone seeing you and thinking ‘if she did a little more running she might be finished before christmas!’.  (I don’t think anyone is quite that negative on an ultra run, I’m just joking).

Glen Ogle trail.jpg

I hit another hill (seriously HOW is there sooooo many??!! I will be on the moon soon!! Going to need Wonder Woman’s invincible jet to get back).  My phone pinged.  SIGNAL!!!!

‘Push through!!!  How far you?’  – text from Joe.  ’24 – I sent that at 8.’  ‘Well keep it up, we are on our way’.  ‘Don’t rush’ was my reply.

I phoned my friend Lorner.  ‘This hurts so much’  I wailed down the phone.  To which she replied with some nonsense about being tired after a few miles she had run earlier and was now cosied up at home slurping on a cup of tea.  Dry.  And not being battered by the wind.  No.  I wasn’t jealous.  Much.

Munching on some of Joes homemade flapjack I made my way up the vertical ascent.  Joe’s flapjack is the best.  It’s so tasty and yummy.  In fact, it’s probably the only reason I run.  It’s so full of unhealthiness you kind of have to run to work it off.  I could eat it all day every day.  But then if I did I wouldn’t be able to run.  And collect miles and medals.  Which I love.  Yup.  I’m getting this medal.  Third Ultra medal.  It’s mine.  I want it – I’m getting it.  Time to move.

And so the slow shuffle along the very long straight started.  Through several gates (where a cheeky wee ‘rest’ was taken for a few seconds.  I did not rush through them) and onward’s I went.  When I hit the viaduct again I did not give one flying monkey about running across it.  No photos this time, no filming.  Just some very rude words.

A short while later and it was the last check point.  This was one you just run through and they check numbers then you cross the road.  Just after crossing I heard a car beeping.  Didn’t think much of it but then I saw someone waving.  It was Joe and the kids.  He pulled up just in front and got out – kids stayed in the dry ha ha.  I was very tempted to ask if he had more flapjack but thought better of it.  He was heading on to the finish but I warned him I wouldn’t be there anytime soon.

With just a few miles to go I went past Robin again.  He was still out in this weather.  Absolutely incredible!  He told me it was only about 3.5 miles and there was only a few bumps to go, nothing like what I had already done.  A quick photo and I was on to the last section.

Glen Ogle 1

Just as Robin had said the last few miles were ‘easy’ compared to the previous 30.  Coming down in to the village of Killin we were back on the road and it’s an old village so the pavement wasn’t designed for more than one person at times but everyone gave way and let you past with no hassle.  Dodging the wheelie bins was interesting, you don’t react very fast after being on your feet so long.  On to the park where the finish was and I heard my youngest shouting and saw my daughter at the side.  A very slow bimble round the park and the finish line was there.  Scott who had finished well over an hour before me had waited about to see me finish with his wife Kathleen.  I thought that was really lovely.

So job done.  Glen Ogle 33 completed and the year has NOT ended in my first ever DNF – thank the running gods!  I’ve been wearing my finisher t-shirt which fits me perfectly every day since then and I have a lovely new running jacket that is most definitely waterproof.  Tried and tested.

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Glen Ogle elevation

On to the next one.

I’m 50!!

Whoo Hoo!!!  I am officially 50!

Parkrun 50

I have finally ran my 50th Parkrun.  I am ecstatic about this!  50 times I have now run 5km and had my bar code scanned.  49 of them in Perth and 1 very special one in Weymouth.  Should probably do a spot more parkrun tourism actually.

It means something to me because it was a goal I had set.  Get to 50.  Yes, I sadly wanted that magic emblem next to my name on the results.  Did I do it for the free t-shirt?  No.  I’m not daft.  I know they are in short supply.  I genuinely did it because when I had ran 10 I thought I would get one then.  Turns out that’s just for the kids!  (Even though I am the height of an 8 year old but the Run Director was having none of it).  So 50 it had to be.

 

I chose to run my elusive number 50 with Lorner.  She has now volunteered 25 times with her son Matthew at parkrun.

Yes. I know.  That is much more impressive than me running it a few times.   Kudos to the both of them.  Especially for that one Saturday she managed to drag herself out of bed and in to the cold and pouring rain when I was still dying in bed from the prossecco she had forced me to drink the night before.

I didn’t race round, I wanted just a gentle run.  I had The Tay Ten the next day which I wanted to keep something back for.  Instead I chose to ‘encourage’ Lorner round the course by filming her and taking photos whilst we ran.  She may have said she hated it but I know she loved it.  And she didn’t really want to shove my phone ‘there’.

At least I hope not.

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Now that I have hit my goal it means I no longer ‘own’ Saturday mornings.  This could be an issue.  When you have a husband and wife who are both training for events and add three children to the mix, time becomes very precious.

Lets just be honest.  It can be a war zone in my house.  And the fact I used ‘but this is my 50th – that’s my goal’ in the most whiniest of voices to ensure I could run last Saturday only puts me in a worse situation to continue to have Saturday mornings.  Compromise is going to have to be made.

On his side obviously, not mine.

Joking!

This weekend it is Manchester Marathon though so neither of us are doing anything Saturday morning other than sitting in the car for hours.  Probably with me annoying him with my singing if past road trips are anything to go by.

How many times can you listen to The Greatest Showman on a 5 hour journey?

I will let you know next week.

 

Road Runners Do Tri

It’s been quite a week.

First the Perth Half last Saturday – let’s not say anything more about that. But I have picked my next half where I will get my club standards time or die trying! Speaking of ‘Tri’, the day after Perth Half was the Relay Wild Triathlon. I did this last year  but this year I was in the Road Runners team. Tuesday after that was a race at Knockhill (Tuesday, not the Wednesday that I thought) and finally last night was the clubs duathlon. So yeah, pretty busy.

Relay Wild Triathlon

This year in the team was myself, Scott and Debbie (2 road runners) and my other half. It’s a fun event rather than a serious one but that doesn’t make it easy. The distances are short which means you don’t get in to your stride before you move on to the next discipline. Each member of the team completes all 3 before passing the timing chip to the next member.

The weather was very sporadic throughout the day which was unfortunate as last year it was great and we could sit out on the grass. A few from the club came out to support as well which is always great to see. Shows how friendly a club it is. Debbie has done a few triathlons before but this was to be Scott’s first and he had joked he was going to wear his speedos as he didn’t have a Tri suit.

We were joking about before hand – Stuart had his sons (fake) swords and daggers so we were debating about taking out some of the very serious looking competition with them. At least 50% of the field was half my age and there were a lot of club Tri suits. I didn’t care, I had my HUUB suit, and it has pink on it!

Debbie went first and we waved her off and made sure we were there to shout her on. She looked like she was loving it! Before long she was out and back in on the bike then off for her run. She passed the chip to Scott. Turns out, he wasn’t joking about the speedos! There’s not many almost 50 year old guys that can pull that look off. Hats off to him though, he raised a few eyebrows. Just a shame most of the females there were young enough to be his teenage daughter ha ha. (Just kidding Scott).

It wasn’t long before he was back and I was off. True to form no matter how ‘relaxed’ the race is meant to be I stood waiting for the chip saying to myself ‘why am I doing this’. I’m fine once I get going but every time before the start I get that exasperated feeling of ‘what are you doing?!?’. Also true enough I messed up my swim. I had a pre-pubescent boy continuously stroke me up the very first length. You only need to tap me once to let me know you’re there! Good thing I didn’t have Stuart’s sons dagger that’s all I’m saying. On to the bike and I felt ok. I’m still embarrassed by my bike time at Edinburgh Half Ironman so haven’t been on it since then. I wasn’t expecting much here and that’s what I did – ‘ok’.

On to the run and I remembered how bad I felt running at last years event. I’m surprised I even got round the course then! This year was different though. It was still hard and I was still breathing heavily but I was keeping pace not too bad. Stuart had come down to the run route to ‘encourage’ me on (or shout abuse, pretty sure it’s the same thing). That did stop me from slowing down though.

I passed the timing chip to Joe and as he’s now part of the Tri club and another member was in another team it was clear from the get go they were racing! Joes just a ‘little’ competitive shall we say.

His challenger finished the swim first. He wasn’t happy. I on the other hand took great delight in telling him his friend was in front of him. Until I remembered Joe was actually on my team and we needed him to win.

Whilst waiting for Joe to come back from his cycle I went and got a print out of my times. I knew my swim had been bad and wanted to see just how bad.

”7 minutes 55?!? I don’t bloody think so!! What the hell!!’.

There was no way my time was as long as that! I had it down to 4m 5 in the pool. Absolutely no way! It did not take me almost 4 minutes to walk from the pool to the door!! (You weren’t allowed to run for safety reasons).

‘Can you get it checked?’ Asked Steph. ‘I’m bloody going to!’ I’m pretty sure I replied before she had even finished. I was raging. Livid! Who do I speak to!! How dare they! Steam was actually coming out of my ears! I can’t put this in my scrap book!

Then it was pointed out to me I had asked for the wrong number on the print out. I had someone else’s times.

Tail firmly between my legs I went back to the van and with my head hanging in shame asked for the correct number.

When Joe came back from the cycle he was still behind his friend so I ran down to the run route to coax him on. I was at the side shouting and taking photos when another runner on the route apologised to me for ruining my photos. ‘Don’t be daft no you’re not love’ I shouted to her. Then she said I could help her by running with her.

How do you say no to that?

Why would I say no to that?!

So I did. I found out she had started running but hadn’t really enjoyed it so was mixing it up by doing triathlon. Her first one had been in April. I told her to keep going and that the biggest cheer is always at the end and always worth it. I ran with her until we reached her husband who got her to the end.

Lovely Woman
Lovely Woman

I went back to the others and to see how Joe had done. He had overtaken his challenger on the run and beaten him overall (he too had been quick to the van to check, although with the right number the first time…) so he was happy. Looking at the teams overall time we had done really well so looked like we were in a good position to place in the top 3 – wa hey!

We stuck about for the food and the presentation – after all, you can’t go home without picking up your prizes, that’s just rude. Debbie kept us entertained with her Yoda impression too.

The rain started again so we went in to the hall as they read out the results. The all males and all females teams were read out first. The prizes were mostly beer and yes, we did have a joke about whether they were old enough to drink it (some non alcoholic prizes were handed out, I’m sure they didn’t give underage kids alcohol!). Then came the team prize. Ok, we are up for this! I was thinking second. Hopefully first but it was quite competitive so may have just missed it. The results were read out in reverse order along with times.

We didn’t win.

I’m putting my money on the winning team being a mum, dad and their two kids! Thought this was supposed to be a fun event? Yes I’ve done a half ironman but you would never have guessed it with my performance ha ha. Joe pointed out that would quite likely be us – especially when our youngest is old enough. Fair point.

There was a prize for fastest swimmer and whilst I was under no illusion it would be me I was hopeful it may be Joe. There were two people with the exact same time. They read out the first name and there was a loud cheer. The guy went up. ‘If its you I’m cheering way louder than them’ I said to Joe.

It was Joe.

He didn’t hear it though because I was screaming. Yes, that’s me, the overexcitable supportive wife. I do like a good cheer! Just wait until your next race!

‘Slightly’ disgruntled at no team prize we still had a great day. All jokes aside it is a fun day and I would do it again. Hopefully we will get another team from the road runners next year, possibly even two. Its fantastic that some people from the club come out and support too – definitely tells me I chose the right club.

Not Up To Standard

If it was easy everyone would be doing it and it would be boring. Right now I think 'infuriating', 'annoying' and 'aarrgghhh' are more accurate in describing how it is and feels.

No I didn't get my club standards time. Not even close.

The day started well. It's an 11am start so no rush in the morning. I even made my own breakfast of porridge and banana (I never cook. I hate it, detest it, will go to bed hungry before I cook. Just one of those things) but because someone wouldn't wash up the saucepan HE had used I ended up making it. So I was quite impressed with myself. Not so much with the 'top guy'.

Frazer aka original running buddy came round as he was running in the Half and Lorner was too. Lorner had her cat at the vet so was running a little late and we ended up getting a lift to the start instead of the bus – where unfortunately my parents had gone to surprise us and wish us all luck…. (sorry mum and dad).

This was Frazers first half marathon and he had a rough time in mind but ultimately just wanted to finish. Lorner has run one before but has had some injury issue in the last couple of months so she also just wanted to finish.

I wanted under 1 hr 48.

Club photo done and it was off to the start. Frazer and Lorner headed a little further back and continued their chat of alcohol , how many gels they were going to take and whether or not you could get alcoholic gels. They were also trying to calculate how much iron is in a pint of Guinness!

I placed myself quite near the front before the start line. It was gun time and not chip time so every second counts. Beside me another road runner was pacing his friend who had previously run 1hr 47 so I thought to keep her in sight. Another road runner was possibly looking at 1hr 45 depends how she felt. Definitely too fast for me so I was thinking more dot in the distance on that one.

Off we went and it's straight on to a trail path of loose rocks and gravel. I knew I had to concentrate on foot placing until I got to the road so it was head down most the way. I was joined by a guy who went to the first running group I went to and we chatted away for a couple of miles until I realised I was going too fast and needed to focus more so I dropped back a little. I had my goal and I was getting it.

It's a very mixed terrain course so you are jumping between the small rocks and gravel through fields and farms then on to road then in to woods. You get a bit of everything. No real elevation though apart from 2 very short sections. At the first water station I saw a woman from work who had volunteered and shouted out a hello and a wave as I went by.

On to a section of road and we were told to keep in as it wasn't closed roads. Rules state no earphones now for safety reasons but there was a guy in front close to the middle of the road. Cars were going closely by him but he wasn't moving in. Yup, he had earphones in. I couldn't help but think what a twat. He could have been hit by a car he couldn't have heard coming if he had tripped or swerved out and it could have shut down the event. Further on and I was throwing myself down a hill (still on route, not randomly) when another runner, this time female, ear phones again, moved out in front of me and I had to think fast. Now, she would have heard me coming there's no doubt about that. Pretty sure my mum and dad heard me at the finish line at this point and I was still 7 miles away! I spent the next couple of miles writing a strongly worded letter of complaint in my head to the organiser regarding people using their earphones and the dangers they cause.

I spent a good chunk of the second half on the heels of another road runner I know is faster than me. I didn't know what time she was going for (she may very well have just been running it with no time in mind) but I knew she was a good paced runner so tried to stay there.

I kept checking my watch a lot during the race and I felt I was doing good time. It was going to be touch and go but I remained focused. I absolutely detest running fast (I may have mentioned this before like, oh I don't know, 50 billion times!) so I really didn't want to have to do this again. On to the main road and I was feeling it but I was still on the heels of the other runner. If I could just get to the Inch (big park in Perth) and hopefully get pushed on I could make this.

Over the bridge, turn to the right and I see my mum. I start laughing as I know what's about to happen. She sees me and frantically waves to my dad on the other side to say I'm coming. She then looks at her phone…..and looks at her phone….. and looks at her phone…..I go past and she's still trying to turn the camera on on her phone. Every time.

I hit the Inch and that's when I begin to lose it. I'm no longer on her heels, she's 20 metres in front. Scott goes past and I try to use him to push on but he is flying! It's almost a sprint finish on the last 3 miles for him! I desperately need water but haven't seen a water station for miles, there has to be one on the Inch! Then I remember from last year they didn't have one and I genuinely start looking around wondering if I know anyone I can ask if they have water! I need it that badly! I swear at myself for looking and pausing at my water bottle earlier that morning and deciding not to take it. Twat.

Creeping up to the last mile and I tell myself I need to push it along the last, long stretch. It's straight, it's flat, you can do this. Last section then you don't have to run fast again for a while (lies I know but still, you'll tell yourself anything at this point).

On to the very, very long straight and I'm going. I've got good rhythm, my arms are going, I'm not sprinting but I'm going steady. I can make this 1:48! I'm over taking the odd person but there's not many other runners. Where is the finish?? I can't see the finish!! I can't see where I'm aiming for. There are NO other runners here!! I feel like an idiot. F@ck!!

Sod it. Had enough. Can't do this. I HATE THIS.

My watch hits 1:48.

I run to the end but shake my head as I read 1:49:07 on the clock. I didn't do it. I lost it. It wasn't even a PB. I didn't even come close. Over a minute too slow. I'm miserably disappointed.

I take my water and bag – of which I don't even look in – and head over to my mum and dad. A few minutes later my daughter comes bounding over. She and my other half have just got here. I tell him I didn't make it and await the 'told you so' from him but instead says he had spoken to another runner who had said it's not really a PB course. I don't say anything. Because of the loop on the Inch Lucie – our daughter – knew where Lorner and Frazer were and knowing how awful that last stretch was I head back down to try and encourage them on. They both found it hot and hard but they both finished and that was their aim.

Frazer was working in a couple of hours so we headed back. It was then I saw the water station hidden at the start of the Inch. I had gone right past it and not seen it. Turns out many people missed it too.

I could give a number of excuses as to why I didn't hit my goal. It was hot, I didn't have enough water, I went out too fast, it wasn't a PB course (yet someone in the club got a PB and by quite a chunk! Well done him!), it wasn't completely on road like I'm used to etc etc.

Truth of the matter is though I just didn't run fast enough. There's no other reason than that. And there's nothing more disappointing than that. I'm now going to have to find another Half so I can get my time. This, I am not happy with. But it's got to be done.

That, or I could strongly contest why the club standards time is so ridiculously difficult to get. Demand to see stats of the club of how many have actually achieved it, how many are capable and how many realistically can not (like me, right now). Oh yes, when I was running I was writing this letter too! 'Dear Chairperson, I would like to know who decides what time …..'.

Maybe I will just keep my mouth shut though and (try to) run faster! Isn't that the point?

Still disappointed though.

Aviemore Half – the truth

Aviemore Half – the truth

Warning – if you have a weak stomach probably best not read this.

I started my blog as a way to track my progress, remember the good bits and learn from the bad. 

I learnt things in Aviemore.

My friend picked me up the day before as I was staying at her holiday lodge which was only a few minutes away from registration – fantastic.  It was about a 2 hour drive what with the road works on the A9 but the kids kept us entertained.  It was tea time when we got there so food needed ordered.  After a quick check of the takeaway menu (and a phone call to the other half to check to see if I liked cannelloni) it was off to the supermarket to pick up breakfast for the morning – something I had forgotten about.

When tea arrived I was starving and really looking forward to being able to eat quite a bit.  So when I opened it up and saw this…..


I was more than disappointed.  It may have been really tasty but new born babies eat more than that!  So I filled up on Asti – great choice ha ha.

Morning of the race and I put my big girl pants on and walked to registration all by myself! I collected my pack and put on my timing chip, sat for a minute whilst waiting on the buses – all by myself! No tears, no panic, nothing! Progress indeed.  I even sat chatting to a lovely girl on the bus.  She lived in Aviemore, had forgotten she had signed up to do the 10k so was expecting to walk quite a bit.  ‘God look at all these athletic types’ she said as we set off, (clearly I didn’t fall in to that category in her eyes).  We had a laugh about it being downhill anyway so we could just tuck and roll.  Turns out her sister lived in Perth not far from me as well.  Small world.

Off the bus and it’s a walk to the outdoor centre where the start is.  They had put up a big marque with hot drinks and a little music so I headed in there and got chatting to another woman.  She had only started running this year and had ran Loch Ness 10k.  She suffered sciatica quite badly in her leg and her aim was just to enjoy it today.  She found it funny there were people wearing plastic bags and I told her about my jumper I had had to leave at the start in Loch Ness (I’m still not over that).


I found the other road runners for the group photo before we started and headed for the last toilet break before the race got going.  I was aware I had not had my morning poo (disclaimer at the start of this post!) but it wasn’t happening.  I decided not to have my gel at the very start just in case it started movement so carried it with me.

I was only about 400metres in when my stomach started lurching.  I ignored it.  It screamed louder.  I focused on where I was putting my feet as it was loose ground.  My stomach was about to explode.  I briefly looked at the bushes but didn’t want to have to stop so early on so kept running.  I took a deep breath and tried to suck everything in, clenching with all my might and kept going.  

Around the 1 mile mark another woman took off in to the bushes and I was seriously tempted to follow suit.  There were no actual toilets along the route so it would have to be a bush.  But, I was wearing shorts and there was no toilet paper out here.  Also, the track was muddy and wet and I was aware I already had mud up my legs.  What if I came out of the bushes and people behind me saw the mud and thought it was something else? 

Yes, this is the kind of thing I worry about. 

So I didn’t go.  I sucked it in even more.

Aviemore is a race of two halfs really.  The first has a very steep but short hill and is on forest track and the second is on the road going slowly downhill.  I knew once I hit the road it wasn’t too far. I was finding it harder than expected but I’m putting that down to having ran a marathon just a few weeks before.  Another lesson I am learning through doing – or not doing – the importance of recovery.  

When I hit the road I took my gel I still had.  A big risk but I was just focusing on getting to the end (i.e. A toilet) as fast as I could.  Of course I couldn’t really pick up the pace as it would ‘move’ things but I could stay steady.

As I came in to the final stretch I could hear my friend shouting my name at the top of her lungs and it made me smile.  ‘You’re so loud!’ I shouted back at her laughing.  Through the finish line and I met my other half with our youngest on his shoulders.  It was lunch time so we decided to head back to the lodge for food and get heated up.  Joe had parked at the supermarket and I glanced longingly at the toilet but I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick in and out job so got in the car.

At the lodge I finally got to the toilet. But….. nothing.  Stomach still sore but nothing was moving.  Had I actually sucked it right back up so it wouldn’t come out? Can that happen? There’s no internet in Aviemore so I couldn’t google it (and no doubt find out I had caused myself a very slow, painful death).  I jumped in the shower and when I came out tried again but nothing.  All that time trying to keep it in and now when I wanted, no needed, it to come out it wasn’t moving.  Great!  I tried some toast hoping that might shift it and even had some chocolate which usually opens flood gates for me but still nothing.  Car journey home was going to be fun!


Now usually I’m one of those that tells their partner everything (yes, I know, very sad, but I’m sure he loves hearing about how I almost got a paper cut opening the post or how I only drank a third of my last cup of tea), but he has a thing about that, this is where he usually draws the line.  So the fact we got about 2 miles in to the journey home before I told him was somewhat of a miracle. 

‘I knew as soon as you sent that picture of your tea last night this would happen’.  Eh? He said I would like it? ‘You shouldn’t change what you eat the night before, you know this’.  

The penny dropped as soon as he said it as to why it had happened.

But just the penny! 

It was after 8pm before relief came.  And naturally I announced it to the entire household.

So yeah, nice race, nice weekend, more mistakes made, an insight in to my bowel movements (or lack of) but most importantly….

Progress on being in crowds! 

I see that as a good result.

Pretty Muddy Race For Life


After what felt like the longest week in the history of long weeks I had Pretty Muddy to look forward to.  A 5km obstacle race for a charity that means a lot to not just me but many, many people.  I run Race For Life in memory of my mother in law – a remarkable woman I never had the privilege to meet.  And right now, I can’t tell you just how much I wish she was around!


My dad had his operation on Monday, it went well but he has picked up a slight chest infection.  His mood is up and down and as much as my mum says she is coping, it’s hard for her.  My chest pain hasn’t eased.  Life is difficult.  Running is the only time it doesn’t hurt.  So 5km on Saturday was just what the doctor ordered – literally! 

I picked up my friend and we had a good old gossip about kids, work and refusing to admit how old we are. (She’s older than me – by a whole year!). As we pulled in to the park there was a bit of drama over the traffic, a couple of guys got out shouting, we were stand still for a good ten minutes before things started to crawl.  It wasn’t the best.  Once parked we waited for a few more people we were running with and headed to the toilets.



The warm up was good, the sun was beginning to come out and I was finally relaxing – whilst doing high knees ha ha. Then it was straight to the start line and we were off to the familiar tune used on the adverts.  I won’t lie, I love it!!

I wouldn’t really say they were ‘obstacles’ as much as they were inflatables in the way but this race isn’t designed to test you.  It’s about getting together and doing something to fight cancer.  It was never going to be difficult and I don’t say that ignorantly, it’s just fact.  Yeah it’s hard for some but I applaud anyone who tries something new. Whether or not my friend admits it she definitely found it easy.  She runs well – she will have you believe she sucks at it but she really doesn’t.  Everyone enjoyed it and the chocolate chip bread at the end was lovely!


The drive back (when we eventually got out the park, poor organisation I’m afraid) was filled with chatter again.  I say chatter but I found myself on the receiving end of her ‘Humour’.  She finds it hard to believe I can’t touch my toes and as I was explaining how running tears your muscles she cuts me off and says she’s surprised because I am so close to them! Cheeky cow, I’m not that small!  We get on to the subject of my dad and I see her stifling a giggle through the corner of my eye.  ‘I’m so sorry’ she says, ‘but there is a cow humping another in the field behind you and it’s so funny’.  I’m telling her about my dads life saving operation and she’s laughing about 2 cows getting freaky!

But that’s what friends do.  They make you laugh when you need it the most.  They can say anything to you and you can say anything to them without fear of offending.  I needed that. 

Next year I hope my mum does it with us. She would both love it and hate it but my dad at the side cheering her on would be worth it! Tough Mudder is next weekend and they are both gutted they can’t be there.  I’m focusing on positivity though. It’s the only way to be.