The Heart Will Go On

The Heart Will Go On

You’ve no idea how appropriate this title is!

After Manchester a couple of weeks ago I’ve struggled to run what I would call decent. My hamstrings are killing me, my bum has never been this sore in my life and I grew up with the slipper across my backside if I was bad! I’ve also been back to Mr Cardio who has now told me I need to be keeping my heart rate under a certain level.

Eh?? Thought the problem was that it didn’t beat fast enough? Now you’re saying it’s too fast at times?!? Somehow it’s now spiking and that’s not a good thing for me – apparently. Neither is disagreeing with Mr Cardio. He did not like my suggestion of ‘just stop doing ECG’s and there won’t be a problem’. (Although I am now becoming an expert on reading them. Silver linings and all that.)

So what’s my point here? Oh yeah. Basically my body is giving me a hard time. It’s being an actual pain in the arse. (Genuinely, never had this much uncomfortable pain before, and I’ve had 3 kids!). There’s also been other family stuff going on so I decided a trip to Northern Ireland to go and see something that’s been on my bucket list for 20 years was the way to go. Move over Kate Winslett, Ella Webley trusts Jack.

The original plan was me treating my mum to a little city break. This grew arms and legs – or rather full entire bodies – and ended up with my dad and my youngest coming too.

The running gear was the first thing to get packed.

After a short flight and a little confusion at the car rental place (no pal, I will not be leaving a £1000 deposit for a car that’s not even worth that!) we got to the apartment and then quickly headed out to the museum that was right next door.

I won’t bore you with details of the visit but we were there a good few hours and exhausted by the time we got back to the apartment. But I had a run to do. A run I very much wanted to do. My first attempt to get back out the door failed miserably as my youngest clung to my legs and well, I kind of need them minus a four year old to be able to run. Thankfully, I managed to settle him down and I was able to head out.

I got as far as the door.

Where do I go? I’m in a strange city, I have no idea where anything is, if there are any parts I should be avoiding – where do I go?

It doesn’t matter…….just…run.

So I did. I turned left along the River Lagan and just went.

And it was awesome. I absolutely loved it. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t speedy, there were multiple stops for photographs, but it was great. I ran back and forth across the same bridge 3 times – mainly because I wasn’t paying attention but also because I was trying to get a decent photograph of a statue – but I didn’t care. I may have slightly got lost but it didn’t matter, I found my way. And I saw so many things I would have missed had I not gone out.

Turning back I knew exactly where I was going. I knew what I needed to see, what I wanted to run past.

Yes that may sound really sad to so many people but I absolutely LOVE running past certain things. I can’t describe it! It just makes me so happy.

My names Ella and I am a bit of saddo.

(But I don’t care so there ha ha)

All lit up in purple against a dark sky there it was. The Titanic museum. Yes I had been there during the day and for quite a few hours but this was different. There was hardly anyone around, it wasn’t windy, the river was calm, it was so quiet.

I quickly checked around me to make sure a predator wasn’t creeping up on me. Just to be safe.

I really got caught up in the whole thing. I had been infatuated by the Titanic for over 20 years. The entire story and history enthralled me. I ran round the back and over the display that mapped out its sheer size on the floor. If you haven’t been you should go.

I headed back to the apartment and glanced at my watch. 4.3miles. I did a few circles round the outside of the building to make it up to 4.5, receiving a few funny looks as I did. Inside I was met with a content little boy who had had a bath and was ready for bed. I had a quick shower and we snuggled down together.

My legs hurt but my heart rate had stayed just below what Mr Cardio had ordered. Probably unsurprising given the number of stops I had made. It was still working though. My heart was still going on.

(See what I did there).

Unfortunately day 2’s run was not quite so successful.

After a very ‘eventful’ trip to Belfast castle that proved neither of my parents are any help what so ever when it comes to navigating I needed out. (yes I did advise my dad if he didn’t shut up I would make him and I meant every word! And I told my mum how unhelpful just ‘pointing’ at the sat nav was). Said trip also involved Oliver losing his trainer in a mud swamp and then absolutely screaming his lungs out because of it (thank god I had plastic gloves in my bag, that’s all I’m saying! Not to smother him in, don’t get me wrong, but to cover his feet in so I could get his socks back on him and then back to the car).

So yeah, I needed a run.

I headed out the same way as the night before as I just wanted to clear my mood.

I got lost.

Just a little, but I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up far away from the River. Using the old faithful google I managed to find my way back to the River and just as I was cursing myself for not sticking to going back and forth over the bridge I did something I’ve never done. Something caught my foot and I fell. I stuck my arm out just in time to stop my head smashing onto the hard concrete beneath me. It wasn’t nice. Standing up I automatically reached to my watch to pause it and could feel I had badly scratched it. Damn it! I picked up my phone to find the screen smashed. Bloody brilliant. Oh and talking of blood, I had scraped my arm too and had nice trickles all the way down it.

I headed back to the apartment completing a measly 3.3miles. I wasn’t rounding that one up.

And just to add insult to injury my heart rate had spiked before I had fallen. Great.

Back at the apartment I thoroughly checked my watch. A little bit of rubbing and the edges were back to being smooth. Luckily it was just the screen protector I had broken on my phone and the actual screen only had a small crack on it. My ankles were bruising up and my shoulder was sore but it was nothing really. Could have been a lot worse. Could have fallen in the River!! We all know how much water has it in for me! In fact, wouldn’t even surprise me if it was the River that somehow tripped me up!

End of the day I was still very happy. I really enjoyed going for a run somewhere new. Not looking for a good pace or a certain mileage just running. And I got to see something on my bucket list too. I also managed a very cheeky little run at the Giants Causeway but it’s not on Strava so it ‘doesn’t count’. (Yes it does!)

I need to sort my hamstrings out though so that’s my focus. And the whole heart thing. I don’t understand why I’m suddenly getting sharp spikes and I really don’t want Mr Cardio to say no more running so I’m going to slow it right down. Give it a few weeks and then plan for GFA.

I’m away again in a few weeks. This time for our wedding anniversary. But I know what the first thing getting packed will be.

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Why would I NOT want to?

I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge.  I didn’t do it intentionally, it kind of just happened.  The city I live in has a Half Marathon race which I couldn’t do last year as it was just after an operation so it was on my list for this year.  I also came across a race early this year that has you running across the Forth Road Bridge so I jumped at that.  The views and the feeling of running over it will be worth more than the medal! So I signed up to both.

The Forth Road Bridge
The Forth Road Bridge
It wasn’t until about a month ago I realised these races were a day after each other.  Saturday is the half and Sunday is the bridge.  It’s not that big a deal but it’s definitely going to be tiring.  And each run brings its own difficulties.  There is a bit of a trail part on the half which last year had some big complaints about.  And of course if you’re running over a bridge in Scotland you’re guaranteed wind – the question is how strong? 

So I’ve tried to be sensible this week. Helped by the husband encouraging/pushing/forcing me to go swimming (triathlon next weekend you see).  However looking back, maybe there’s one or two things I should have/shouldn’t have done.

I got a PB at Parkrun on Saturday which I’m pleased at.  Not my fastest ever 5km but fastest at Parkrun.  Sunday was 12miles and my left calf was in quite a bit of pain in the last few miles so I jumped straight in an ice cold bath which helped. Took me straight back to Arctic Enema at Tough Mudder and genuinely thought I was going to turn in to an ice sculpture right there and then.  Mouth wide open, arms outstretched, half naked in the tub.  Nice!  I spent 6hours after it wrapped in a duvet ha ha.

Monday was the gym and Tuesday and Wednesdays were lunch runs. 

Then.  Thursday.  Yesterday.

At work I got the usual message – ‘Runching it today?’.  ‘Yup’.  The bridges route was suggested which is downhill to start and a slow climb back.  In my head it was going to be just a little over 5km, straight down to the bridge isn’t far.  I had Roadrunners at night and it was hill repeats so figured that route would be fine.  My left leg had really loosened off so all was good.

10km later…….

Yes, you read that right, 10km! How I got that wrong I still don’t know.  Why I insisted on a lap of the car park to ensure it ended on the 10km is something else in itself.  

And yes, I still went to Roadrunners.

My face says it all ha ha
7 laps of the middle loop later and I was burst.  So much so that to ensure I didn’t get up today and ‘try’ to go for a run I threw all my running gear in the washing machine! 


So today has been spent doing the usual housework, watching the olympics and having a good think about the next 2 days.  Tomorrow I am going to have to be careful on where I put my feet.  It might be muddy, it’s going to be a little busy, but ultimately, I can do it.  Sunday is a ‘feel good’ run.  Gozia from one of my running sites will be marshalling so a guaranteed smile and high 5 and I’m going to have to focus on NOT stopping to take a photo.  I was also reminded this morning that it’s a bridge so obviously there is elevation.  Hadn’t thought of that…..

This Is Why I Love Parkrun

One of my personal goals this year was to finally drag my now slightly smaller behind to Parkrun.  I had always found the concept of Parkrun a bit daunting – it may be fewer people than the usual type of event I go to but the chances of seeing someone I know are increased phenomenally and that in turn increases my anxiety.  The very first time I went I was actually sick behind a park bench. 

It’s ok no one saw.  I don’t think.

However, ridiculous issues aside, I do enjoy it and I do try to go when I can.  (I no longer throw up by the way).  So this past Saturday when I discovered my other half was not working I decided I should go.  I rock up just in time for the little de-brief.  It’s raining but the course is ok just now, round of applause for the fabulous marshalls who will kindly be standing in the rain and a shout out to those doing mile stone runs.  

It’s not my best pace.  My left hamstring is slightly niggly – I’m definitely feeling the ‘running on tired legs’ I’ve been told I need to practise.  I try to keep up with a girl who’s usually about my normal pace but quickly decide not to risk pushing it and instead let my mind wander as I go along the river.  It’s very therapeutic running in the rain along the trail, I do enjoy it.  It’s an out and back route with a bit of an uneven section and my mind wanders to the trail race I’m doing next weekend.  Now that’s a tough route! 

Back on to the concrete path and as I near the last 500metres an older gentleman comes up beside me and says ‘thank you for being in front of me, an inspiration to keep going’.  

I can’t help but smile and laugh a little.  I ask him if this is where he takes off and does a sprint finish.  He replies ‘oh I don’t think I have that in me’ but he does slowly pull in front.  He reminds me of Rob on the TV show Stella.  He’s wearing one of the Parkrun 50 T-shirts, red with the big ’50’ on the back.  As I watch him near the finish I realise that,  just a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been there, At best I would have had my earphones in refusing to make eye contact with anyone and staring at the ground, literally running off as soon as I had finished.  

Yet, I was here.  

And here was this gentleman too.  Politely speaking to me – a stranger – for more than his fiftieth time at a Parkrun.  He may have said I had helped inspire him to get round that day but truth be told he inspired me to keep going with my goals.  To continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and to continue doing what I have found I love – running.  

After I get my barcode scanned (very important, don’t ever forget your barcode!) I see him stretching his legs out before slowly wandering away, saying hi to several people with a friendly smile and I find I’m smiling too.  I feel comfortable.

This is why I love Parkrun.