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.

 

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Time To Smell The Roses

Last week was a bit different. Well, quite a bit different actually.

I found myself running solo on Monday as I had to deal with something at work at lunch time. I knew as soon as I headed to the changing room I was going to push those first couple of miles after that and was pleased to see my overall average mile at 8:19. Every cloud and all.

Tuesday and my legs remembered they had ran the 15km Devilla just 2 days before. I got a stitch just 10 seconds in – how is that even possible?! I didn’t think I was even going to make 3 miles. In the end it was a very slow 4 and the night was spent on the torture device that is the foam roller.

Wednesday I chose a gym day so warmed up with 2 miles on the treadmill and, if I’m perfectly honest, I then ‘pretended’ to do some arm and core work. Couldn’t even tell what I did because it was genuinely next to nothing. I think I hung from the pull up bar and that’s about it.

Thursday was another lone lunch time run. Not expecting much from my legs I headed out and didn’t make that conscious effort to push. It was still wet and muddy and although I don’t actually mind the cold feeling on my legs I don’t want to fall so I don’t hammer it.

Now. I will be honest. I may not find it that annoying when I have to stop at traffic lights at lunch time. And I may, accidentally of course, or even sub consciously, not necessarily speed up to ‘make the green man’ every time. Thursday though, I had no such luck. Every blooming traffic light had s green man. On other roads I had to cross, there were no cars! Seriously people, I need a break before hitting the climb back up! Come on.

As soon as the watch beeped 5 miles I stopped. I wasn’t caring that I still had a few hundred yards to the door, I was stopping! When it uploaded I was a little surprised it was faster than Monday’s at 8:15 a mile. Clearly the need to stop pushed me on!

Friday I decided to jump on the turbo. I want to conquer my fear of road cycling but I need to be more confident on the actual bike. The other reason (and some may say the main one, it’s hard to be sure) was because I wanted to watch a programme on Netflix in peace. Yes, I am a selfish wife and mother and wanted to watch a bloomin tv show! There are no less than 5 people and 2 dogs in my house. Peace doesn’t exist unless you block the world out with headphones. (Not entirely blocked out obviously, but enough so I could watch it and the youngest had the ‘big tv’ and his Lego). We were both happy, trust me. Just not my legs. Or my under carriage. Or my arms. Why was I cycling?

Saturday was supposed to be long run day however the other half was doing the trail half marathon that I had wanted to do and had to leave at about 7am. Our daughter was also leaving to go skiing at 6am so this meant that even though I would be up early (and in desperate need of a run to handle the stress of my daughter going away) I wasn’t going to get it. My mum phoned at 7:30am to ask what time Lucie (my daughter) was leaving. ‘Eh, an hour and a half ago Mum, she’s away’. ‘Oh we were going to come see her off.’

You can see where I get my issues with time from!

My mum then phoned back about 10 minutes later to say she was on her way in to Perth and would watch my youngest so I could go for a run. We have a saying in our family – ‘You’re the best’. And well Mum, you certainly are!

I managed to head out for a few miles before Parkrun but struggled to plan a route so ended up going round the park a couple of times. Not a bad thing to be honest. I stopped at the start of Parkrun to chat to Lorner and Matthew who were volunteering yet again. Lorner said they were going for a run later but Matthews raised eyebrows said otherwise ha ha. She said I didn’t look in the mood at all and I realised at that point I really wasn’t. I hadn’t looked at my watch once since leaving home – I was entirely focused on getting the worry of my child potentially breaking every limb on the slopes in Italy out my head. My legs also felt heavy and sore. Lorner was tailwalking so I joked she would have to push me along.

Just as I was trying to tell her I really wasn’t joking I saw Mags from work. She had come down for her first ever Parkrun! Mags is a lovely, slightly older woman who did Tough Mudder with me all those moons ago. She had a bad accident on the course and burst her cheek bone which caused her face to swell up. This was just days before she went on holiday! She’s a strong woman though – nothing holds her back. Armed with painkillers and the biggest sunglasses she could find she got on that plane. I think the wine helped too.

Once Parkrun was done I headed straight home so my mum could get back. Clicking stop on my watch I was pleased I had still managed 10 miles. I was ecstatic when I saw the pace though! Average miles of 8:32 – bang on Marathon pace! That felt good!

When I woke on Sunday I was still in a happy place from Saturdays Run but also attached to my phone ready to instantly reply to any text or message from Lucie. I was planning on doing a 10k race but I didn’t want to risk missing her so I made the impromptu decision to have a complete rest day.

I made it a whole 5 minutes before the panic set in of falling behind with my training and therefore failing to make my target at Manchester and basically my entire life as I know it being ruined and the end of the world being announced.

All because I didn’t run a 10k Race.

But I might miss a text from Lucie. And I wasn’t willing to do that. So rewinding the completely unrealistic scenario that had just played out in my head I decided I would just have to fit in a 15 mile run somewhere within the next week and deal with it.

So what were we going to do now? Joe was completely broken from the Glentress half marathon (doctor suspects he has a broken toe – this was diagnosed before it by the way) so there was no chance he was taking off to train. Day out it is!

We took our youngest to the Glasgow Science Centre where he got to play with lots and lots of things, see stars in the planetarium (absolutely awesome by the way), play with body parts other than his own for a change and Run on a track in the Body Works section. It doesn’t get better than that.

So yes. I stopped and I smelt the roses. Sometimes plans don’t work. Sometimes you need to change them. The goal never moves, the goal is the goal. But the journey to the goal is forever changing. Time with my family will always be the most important thing so if that means a day off so be it. And just so you know, I got everyone of Lucies texts.

All 2 of them.

That’s right. She only sent 2. And the second doesn’t even count as it was just a ‘k’.

She was too busy skiing and thankfully not breaking bones (so far, touch wood). But the point is I got them. And I was able to reply instantly.

It means this week is going to be a tough week. But it’s worth it.

The goal is the goal. And family is key.

Headspace

Marathon – and Ultra – training requires long runs. I know right? Mind. Blown! Bet you’re glad you’re reading this.

After the last few weeks I knew I needed a long run to myself, to sort the fuzz out of my head get the fresh air circulating around in there. (Because let’s face it, there’s either too much or too little going on inside my noggin).

I politely ignored the offers of company for Saturday morning. I had to do this by myself. I also had to do it Saturday and not Sunday as it was the clubs presentation night (proof there is occasionally something going on in my head). My plan was to head out at about 7am to get a relaxed 10 or 11 miles in before Parkrun. At 6:30am my alarm went off and at 7am I eventually got up. At about quarter to 8am I was good to go. Podcast on and laced up.

I headed up to my brothers. My parents have rather inconveniently moved into his in the last few months so I’ve found myself avoiding going past their old house. I knew from the previous week it was 2.8 miles from his front door to the Parkrun start line and I also knew it was about 2 miles from my own front door to the same place so that should make at least 5 if not 6 miles near enough.

There’s that ‘Ella maths’ again.

I won’t tell you what podcast it was I was listening to but I did feel the need to turn it down when ever I passed anyone. Put it this way, my dad definitely didn’t write it!

It felt good, my pace felt good. I had a bit of a pain in my right heel but all was ok. I trundled along then started the delightful climb up to my brothers. Why did he have to live up this hill? I told myself just to deal with it and felt pleased that I was obviously over 5 miles in and still feeling good. I get to his house and I of course stop to take a photo to send to him.

‘Guess where I am’.

The reply – rather surprisingly – comes instantly back.

‘You better not have a key!’ Sheer panic. My job here is done.

I check my watch.

4.1 miles?!? Aw come on! Where am I going to go now?

I head back down the hill switching from laughing at my brother to cursing at my miscalculation. Realising I am now running my well trodden lunch time route I switch it up and take a turn towards the swimming pool. I quite enjoy not really knowing where I am going (pretty much the story of my life anyway) and just take the odd turn here and there.

I impress myself by calculating the 10 miles down to Parkrun before the start. As I come back on to our park I spot Lorner and her son who are well into their volunteering spree – must be over 20 times now I think. I stop to say hi and she quickly updates me on their own running (4 miles the day before). Have to admit I’m a little jealous her son willingly runs with her. I’m pretty sure my eldest isn’t alive between Monday’s and Thursdays and then lives in the nightclubs at the weekends – spot the 18year old. My daughter flatly refuses to run and even a bribe of a poster of her favourite boy band doesn’t work – stroppy 13 year old. Then there’s the youngest. He’s 4. Let’s just say I’m working on that one (mwah hah hah).

Off to the start line and I notice I didn’t stop my watch when I was talking to Lorner, drat. Well no biggie. I also use Strava and that has auto stop. I spot a few road runners and go and say hi. I get a few comments on my hydration vest (have you been for a few miles already?) and should probably take it off at this point but truth is I just can’t be bothered. Im well aware I look like a twat running 5k with a back pack full of supplies (my Wonder Woman keyring, plasters, spare headphones oh and water) but I’m getting cold standing around waiting to start again. Turns out I hadn’t timed it too well after all.

We all shuffle together as we are about to start and I feel these hands on my shoulders. Then I’m moving. Slightly upwards, and then to the side. A very tall man then steps in front of me.

‘Did he just move you?’ Gillian asks.

I’m a bit dumbfounded by it and just nod my head.

‘I think he did!’ I reply.

I make a joke about it being ‘game on’ (yeah ok, because the 10 miles you just ran will put you in a great position to challenge someone to a race!) the whistle goes and we are off.

It’s carnage. Utter carnage. The route has been changed to 2 laps round the Inch and it feels like everyone around us are running like headless chickens. Mr Mover is still in front of me and I see him diving here there and everywhere. But no. He doesn’t trip up.

Eventually I get a little space and just settle in for the 3 miles. I speak to quite a few others as we head round and I just stay comfortable, the pain in my heel threatening to burst out in song any minute. I wave my usual ‘morning’ to Lorner and her son as I pass by both times and to the other volunteers and cross the line in an acceptable time for what I’m doing.

I head back home and I now feel like I’ve run a bit of a distance but I feel ok. Nowhere near as depressed and sluggish as the last couple of runs so that’s good. My head is cleared! I may even thank Mr Mover slightly for his unnecessary lifting and shifting. (I won’t though, it was slightly offensive, I’m not that small, could have just asked).

15miles. I will take that. For the first time ever my Garmin recorded it faster than Strava. Looks like my auto pause wasn’t working. This surprisingly doesn’t bother me too much though. I enjoyed the run and that was my aim. I’ve still a very, very long way to go to hit my target but I’m beginning to see the first small steps of improvement.

I’ve got 8 weeks. I can do this.

Next year it’s Parkrun!

When the other half suggests we both do a race my trainers are on before he’s finished speaking.

Well. Let me tell you. What a sorry lesson I’ve learned from that!

One of his customers had told him about a hill race near where he lived. 2 days before Christmas. Im still doing Marcothon so thought I could do that as part of it.

Stupidly thought. Very stupidly thought.

It was a Saturday morning so the choice was between that and Parkrun. I chose to mix it up and go for the hill race. Why not?

It was less than half an hour away and when I looked it up on the morning of the race it was your typical small field of runners. All the feedback on it was positive so how bad could it be. There was a bag check at registration and it was a short walk to the start.

At the start I bumped into Chris who I’ve met at a couple of other races. He pointed out a bit to save energy for (Scotland’s famous for ‘fake tops) and said he ran it last year in about 55mins.

It’s 4 miles. Oh right. I know it’s a hill race but what goes up comes down doesn’t it? And usually much faster?

Joe saw a few people he knew as well including an older woman from his tri club and the guy who had suggested the race.

Off we went and I stuck close to the back. The Hill Series with Perth Road Runners taught me enough to know I’m a finisher and nothing more. Usually in the last 10 as well. God loves a trier though.

Flat but bumpy under foot to begin with then a bit of mud then BAM.

Vertical.

And it didn’t stop.

Ever!!!

‘It’s ok’ I told myself. ‘There’s always a flat bit somewhere’. Nope! Not at this race.

This was my 23rd day of running at least 3 miles a day on the trot. This was beginning to hurt.

Just a few steps later – yup, this really hurts.

I was beginning to wonder if I should stop. Turn round and finish my miles near the car where it was flat whilst waiting for Joe to finish. I looked at my watch.

0.6 miles!! Are you kidding me?? That’s all?!? Oh Ella maybe you really should stop. This isn’t a healthy kind of pain.

It must end soon though surely? There’s always a little flat but to recover on.

Not in this race.

The first mile eventually clicked by. 20 minutes after starting. Just don’t say anything. You don’t need to.

After 7 days and nights on the side of this hill I reached the Marshall at the top pointing me to the right. I tried to run but my legs had gone back to the car so it was more of a bambi walk than anything. At 1.45 miles the lead runner came past me. I hadn’t even made it half way yet. Joe wasn’t too far behind the lead pack and I could tell he was thinking the same as me. What the actual f@ck were we playing at?

Down the treacherous path of rocks and mud and I slipped and slide my way past Chris and a few others (all heading back of course). I got down to the ‘big rock’ and went round it, moaning as usual to the marshalls – ‘oh my god why am I doing this!’.

Now I was heading back up and I could see there were only a handful of people behind me. The thought crossed my mind I could be finishing last. I didn’t like this. Last race of the year and there was a high probability I was going to be last.

Back across the top and it was down the vertical drop we had come up. Ah, now I can make some time back and hopefully scrape back a few places.

I slipped.

Nope!! Not doing that. I will take my time thank you very much! What a stupid bloody thing to do when you’ve an Ultra to train for you stupid woman!! This is just a ‘fun’ race for you! Take your time idiot!

I went over my ankle at 3 miles and did that whole ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, keep running, keep going, does it hurt? I don’t know! Ok just keep running. Nope, it’s ok. Phew’.

Every runners done that. Be honest.

I eventually came off the side of the mountain (yes it was a mountain) and hit the flat section. Finally. But my legs were jelly. Actual jelly. I could have been a cowboy. After a few strides they settled down and I pushed on knowing the finish was close. I could see someone in front of me but I didn’t have time to catch him.

I crossed the line and promptly told the other half we were doing Parkrun next year and not this race. Nope. No sir. Not me. No hills thank you. 1hr 7 it took me. To do 4 miles!

To say I’m in pain today does not cut it. I’ve been in better shape after running a marathon than I am today. In fact, I was better after the ultra! Leg days in the gym ain’t got nothing on a hill race! And I had to run today!! Marcothon is going to be the death of me.

When all is said and very sore it’s a greatly run race. Very friendly, fantastic spread, great marshalls. The only problem is the elevation ha ha. Almost 1000 feet in the first mile. I mean seriously, who enjoys that? (Not me, definitely not me).

We Have A Runner

Today was a very special day.

Today, my youngest – Oliver, ran in his very first Junior Park Run. You’ve no idea how excited I was about this!

His birthday was Friday, I had his bar code printed out on Saturday and we were at the start line on Sunday. ‘This is my race mummy’ he excitedly said to me over and over on the way. ‘Yes it is! Are you excited?’. ‘I’m going to run super fast!’.

Heart. Melted.

Of course I was ready just in case he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it. I had a plan. If he said no I would only ask him a couple of times and then we would come home. I would then go for my run later and wait until then before alternating between crying and screaming, shouting ‘why me? why my child? What did I do wrong?’ in true tantrum style. Then I would return home and try again the next week.

However, this didn’t happen. He wanted to run! Well actually he wanted to climb the tree first so we compromised. He climbed – then he ran.

At the start and everyone was very friendly. I checked I was allowed to run with him (if he let me, if not I would be just at the side anyway) and checked the distance. 2km. That’s quite far for a 4 year old. We will see how it goes and if it’s too much then we just stop. At least he will have tried. There were a couple of shout outs for those who had reached milestone runs and then I heard Olivers name! He got a shout out for it being his first and only just being old enough to do it! I have a suspicion the shout out may have been a little for me too but hey, I will take that! ‘That’s you Ollie, yeah!!’. Oh yes, I safely secured my position as embarrassing mum at that moment.

We did the warm up (well, Ollie ran round in circles like a dog chasing its tail but it was a warm up) and we went to the back of the pack to start. He wanted me to run with him and hold his hand (heart melting again – he knows how to get me). Count down done and we were off.

Yes. I turned my garmin on. I was recording this proud moment!

We ran about 30 metres before turning on the big straight that goes through the middle of the park. We pretended to be airplanes and a couple of times he wanted to show me how ‘super fast’ he was and would take off. He got almost to the end of the straight before he had a little walk. Then he carried on and we played airplanes again. The tail walker did catch up with us when we were about half way but it was Kirsty from the road runners so she took his other hand and helped him on which he loved as now that meant he had ‘2 hands’.

As we got to the finish funnel I had to let go of his hand so he could run through it by himself. As he did he went past another boy just before the end! Yes I know that’s not what it’s about but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a slight grin at this point. Push to the end, that’s my boy.

The grin when he had finished was ear to ear – his and mine. I was so proud. We had a little play at the park (after many photos, of course) before heading home.

18mins and 22 seconds. Not bad for a 4 year old! Mo Farah – he’s coming for you!

Moody Cow

Yup, that would be me. Last Saturday. And continued in to Sunday.  In fact, it’s taken me until now to write this from a more ‘adult’ perspective than what was going through my head a couple of days ago.

And the reason? 8 seconds.  8 lousy bloody seconds.

It was park run, and it was pacer week.  A great opportunity to try and beat my PB before settling down in to the slightly slower runs through the winter.  I’ve never used a pacer before but thought I may as well give it a go and see what happens.  Nothing to lose at the end of the day is there.

I’ve no big running challenges coming up but I do have my next triathlon on New Years Day so I’m having to increase the swimming and I’ve taken to the turbo or the bike at the gym.  Nothing too strenuous but it’s a start.  So the week leading up to ‘8 seconds’ was a standard one filled with lunchtime runs, swimming a few times and a couple of turbos.  

Morning of park run and it was freezing – standard for Scotland.  I wasn’t keen I won’t lie, in fact, if my mum hadn’t been coming over to watch the kids for me I maybe wouldn’t have gone at all. But I did.  That’s what you do.  I hadn’t fully decided to go for it either.  I was still debating it over but I clocked the 24 min pacer and thought worst case scenario I will just make sure he didn’t pass me. Very quickly we were off and I didn’t push it the way I usually would if I was going for a PB.  I saw the 23 min pacer though and that was it – decision made, I’m going for it.

Worst decision ever.

The first mile wasn’t as fast as I usually would have done but then I know I’m not one of these negative splits people. I do slow down over distance so I just reckoned following the pacer would keep me at a steady pace the entire course.  And I was fine, kept at pace perfectly fine over the path.

But the path turns in to grass and a muddy section which I don’t cope with that well so I knew I would slow a little.  I rather naively thought that since the pacer was also the guide for a blind runner they too would slow down at this section, at least a little anyway. I was wrong.  I slowed down and they got further and further away from me.  I should have known this as I know the guided runner is super fast.

Ok well my PB is 23 mins 17.  As long as I’m not too far behind I can still do this. 

But I couldn’t.  AND I DONT EVEN KNOW WHY!!!

The grass wasn’t that slippy, the course wasn’t too busy, the wind wasn’t blowing me backwards, my legs didn’t hurt they just wouldn’t bloody move!! 

Gone.  My PB was gone.  Forever to stay at  23 bloody minutes and 17 bloody seconds. 

I came in 8 seconds slower.  8 god damn seconds.  That means I have to do it all over again.  I hate running fast.  I hate sprinting, not being able to breathe, pulling faces that make you look like a dog being chased.  Hate it. 

8 bloody seconds.

So I left.  As soon as my token and bar code were scanned I was storming back to the car, scowl well and truly plastered on my face, kicking the leaves out of my way and slamming the door.  Don’t. Speak. To. Me.

My mum didn’t stay for a cup of tea.

I was reminded of how I felt the night before.  It didn’t help.


As it was bonfire night that same day I took a walk to the local supermarket to get sparklers for the kids.  The below almost had me throwing an almighty tantrum in the milk aisle.


So what caused it? Haven’t got a clue.  All I know is it didn’t happen.  Am I over it now?  I would say about 75%.  That’s an improvement. I’m still not talking to the course and think time apart will do us good.  I have the Movember run and Supernova run this Saturday so a good reason not to see it.  We will see how a bit of distance serves our relationship. 

8 seconds though…. sake.

SPIBelt – A what belt?

I love Instagram, I’m forever on it (tri.runner.ella), posting on it, hash tagging a hash tag, commenting on the new Pokemon go craze.  So when someone I follow kept mentioning her SPIBelt I clicked on the hashtag and had a look.  One thing led to another and I was very kindly sent one to try out and review! 


SPIBelt stands for Small Personal Items Belt.  A belt that fits those things you really can’t leave at home when running like the front door key or a gel if you’re anything like me and have forgotten to eaten so need a boost! It’s essentially an adjustable strap that goes round your waist with a stretchy pocket.  Sounds perfect right? 

I decided to try it out at Park Run this morning as I have no pockets in my shorts and dare I say it I drive there (yes I know, extremely shameful, I won’t tell you how close I live but if you squint you can probably see my house from one place on the route).  So I always have at least my car keys and I take my phone as a safety net.  I got the belt in light pink with the black strap and to be honest it goes quite well with my other brighter pink tops.  It’s not in your face and demands attention which, for me, is a no no.  

At the start line and I put my keys in and zip up.  I’m a bit worried it’s keys in a pocket and they are going to jiggle around attracting everyone’s attention so I know the minute that happens the belts coming off.  The horn goes and we are off. I click my Garmin and focus on trying to beat last weeks time.  To my surprise it’s over a full kilometre in before I even remember I am wearing the belt! The keys are not jiggling, the belts not moving, there’s no rubbing – it’s all fine. A little further up a friends partner appears beside me and says hello.  I self conscientiously put my hand to the bottom of my top to make sure it’s not riding up and my ‘mum stripes’ aren’t on show and it’s not! It’s not moved.  

On to the end and I thankfully do beat last weeks time, still not my best Parkrun but it’s getting there.  Maybe next week ha ha.


So the results of the SPIBelt are all positive.  It’s comfortable, there was no rubbing.  It’s not in your face so doesn’t make you feel a bit self conscious.  The items don’t move around inside.  It doesn’t pull your top up.  I actually can’t find anything wrong with it.  They are even surprisingly inexpensive – my husband may very well be receiving one in his Christmas stocking this year!  I have a 10km trail race tomorrow so will test it out again on a further distance but I can’t see there being any issues.  

Check them out at http://www.spibelt.co.uk and check back on my blog too as hopefully I can get a discount code for you!