Lockdown Life – ‘On Yer Bike’

Lockdown Life – ‘On Yer Bike’

When we first went into lockdown I have to admit, the fact I wouldn’t be able to get outside on my bike didn’t really bother me that much. I’m ashamed to say I am 100% a fair weather cyclist.

I’m also a ‘any excuse NOT to’ cyclist. It’s too busy, it’s too windy, it’s too late, it’s getting dark, I can’t find a water bottle, I’ve got a paper cut – all fantastic reasons that have resulted in me jumping on the turbo instead.

And to be honest, when we first got the stay at home message, for me personally, it would have been the most irresponsible move on my part to hit the roads. Guaranteed I would be the one to end up crashing and need an ambulance thus putting unnecessary pressure on the NHS and being front page news of every paper no doubt along with a photo of my sausage legs in Lycra just for good measure.

However. Weathers been inexcusable/great. Daylight never seems to end. And I’ve finished reading my umpteenth book so I’ve been all out of excuses. Out on the roads it’s been.

I started with my usual out and back route. It has no turns other than at the very start but yes, I still go a different way/get it wrong every single time. A road bike on gravel is up there with swimming with sharks I would say. How I manage to still end up on that road is beyond me. Every. Single. Time. But to get used to being outside again I thought best to stick with what I know. I could squeeze 30 miles out of it but I was stuck if I wanted to go further.

I mentioned this to Joe and also about how tough the first half was as it seemed you were always against the wind. ‘And it’s uphill all the way’ he said.

What the?

How had I not noticed that?? I would even say to myself how much faster it seemed on the way back and check my splits and plainly see a difference!

That’s it. Time for a new route.

I got a recommendation from someone in the club on a quiet route, most of which I know, near where I grew up. It was about 30 miles again but had options to add to it for when I had my porridge and felt brave.

So off I went (after my usual hour of faffing). It wasn’t long before my first panic set in. In fact, it was bang on 2 miles.

The bridge.

The bridge is (somewhat obviously) on a hill. If I didn’t get straight through I would need to do a hill start on a push bike. Fucccckkkk. Last time I tried that I fell over and bent my handle bars.

I was sweating bucket loads! How am I going to do that?? Think, think, think. I took the cowards way out. I stopped on the flat before it then waited for the light to go green before setting off.

The only thing I’m missing on my bike rides is the basket of flowers on my ha dale bars it appears.

Feeling a little smug I got onto the bridge and cycled over. Mission accomplished. Just 2 miles in.

The route was good. Very quiet for most of it, gorgeous countryside and views. One road I didn’t like so the next couple of times I tried to avoid it. Very unsuccessfully the first time – I just did a loop and ended up back in the exact same spot – but quite well on the fourth time.

My plan was to cycle to a village called Abernyte and head back that way. It was only 4 miles from the turning I had been using so a nice little add on. And you never know, maybe slightly flatter.

I could not have been more wrong. The hill started just a couple of miles in. Slowly at first, just a gentle incline, easing you in. ‘Come this way, it’s gorgeous, oh don’t worry about going up, it’s just a wee bit.’

I was soon changing rings. Yes you read that right. She who has no idea about gears actually changed rings for this one. There was no choice. I had a flashback to a hill in Aberfeldy and my hand was moving before my brain could register what was about to happen. Twisting and turning and in true hill style you were NEVER at the top. Just round this corner? My arse it is. Up you go!

By now it was game on. I wasn’t quitting. If I had got this far (which was probably only about 200m let’s be honest) I was going to the top. Surely it can’t go on that long? I even had images in my head if I did one of those slow motion falls to the side I would have to somehow get back up whilst still on the bike and continue.

I received a lot of sympathetic lols from the cars that passed me – on their way down. They knew what was coming. They knew my fate. I wasn’t anywhere close to the top.

I’m sure I saw a snail go past me at one point.

Just as I was nearing the top another cyclist went past me free wheeling down the hill. Another sympathetic look to add to the bag. The temptation to turn around and join him was high but I resisted. I had the fear that what had taken me half the day to cycle up would only take seconds to cycle down and I would realise it was actually just a bump and not a hill. (It was a hill!)

Back home and my parents had popped round for a garden chat. Restrictions have been lifted and you are allowed members of one household in your garden only. My dads not a fan of cyclists. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t just drive up it.

Looking for – and losing – a loch

Looking for – and losing – a loch

I am just SO sick of running the same route over and over again. It’s boring. And it has too much tarmac.

So. Armed with the knowledge that there was a loch nearby with a trail round it I decided to go ‘adventuring’. It did involve a mile or 2 of the same old route but knowing I was turning off of it made it just slightly better. Spotting a rainbow painted rock also made me smile. (Obsessed with rainbows right now, can’t get enough of them.)

Up the hill and past the school I went. I had been told the Loch was sign posted so I kept my head up looking for it. Past a few houses and a nice looking farm. Down the hill and…wait a minute… I know where this is. I’m just metres away from that boring route I’ve been doing for weeks! I turned round and looked back up the hill.

Nope. Not going back up there. It’s too hot. I will go down the river instead on the other side and hopefully find some trail.

Best decision ever. It was a fab run. Slow, as the path is extremely narrow, but really enjoyed it. And so quiet.

After a thorough google of where the turning should be (and several Strava stalks later) I headed back out for attempt no 2 a couple days later.

Ok I’m at the school. It’s somewhere between here and the bottom of that hill. I know I’ve to keep left. Stay left, stay left, stay left. Ooh a path!

Up the path I trundle reciting my mantra/guide ‘stay left, stay left, stay left.’ I almost enter a field before I realise it is just that – a field – and not a path. Not that far left Ella. Be careful.

Another quite steep hill bit but this time it’s in the shade. Seeing as it’s really quite hot now I decide to slow right down and take advantage of the cooler air. The forest is lovely, so peaceful.

Top of the hill and I’ve found it! I’ve found the loch! Whoo hoo. Mission accomplished. I have a short chat with a couple who are walking back (well, more of a raised voice conversation given the social distancing). They’ve just discovered the loch as well.

It’s really small so I decide to run round it before heading back home. I head anti clockwise, still with my mantra of ‘stay left’.

There’s a short bit of path and then you have to find your own way. Not a problem. I’m enjoying this! I’ve gotten so sick of tarmac recently. My mind starts wandering back to a couple of the ultras I have done and how much I have loved them. I miss running that distance. I have my goal for next year but I’m pretty sure I could fit in a decent ultra or two.

I’m still telling myself I could convince Joe it’s something I could do when I suddenly realise I haven’t seen the loch in a while. I’ve ran round enough bodies of water to know you’re not always on the waters edge but I try to have a look around. I can just about see it through all the trees. Sweet.

I continue on the path I find and it’s quite tricky underfoot so I’m being careful not to fall. Now is not the time to be needing to be saved. My thoughts turn to the most recent phone call from his doctor gently reminding him of how serious this current situation is. It’s a hard thing to hear.

This head space time is exactly what I need though and the fact I haven’t seen anyone since finally finding the loch makes it even better. It’s getting steeper and hotter and although I’m thoroughly enjoying the run, I certainly don’t have any power in me. I eventually make it to the top of a hilly bit and see nothing but open fields.

Hmm. When I googled this place on the map it wasn’t that close to a field I should be seeing. I should at this point be on the waters edge. I stop and try to spot my location on my phone using Find Friends.

I’m nowhere bloody near the loch! How has that happened? It was there. It was right there! I sit on a stump for a minute or two and try to figure out where I went so wrong. I can’t be wrong though. I kept left. Just as I saw on someone else’s. My phone must be wrong. There’s no way I’m that far from the loch. I’ve barely been moving for a start.

None the less I head back down the way I came. The lochs got to be down here somewhere. Carefully watching where I put my feet I retrace my steps. Or at least I think I do. When I look up I don’t recognise anything around me. None of it looks familiar.

Have I entered Narnia? Did I fall out the back of a wardrobe and not notice?

All of a sudden I’m at a gate to a field and being stared at by horses. Well I’m not going in there! How has this happened? Where the hell am I?

By now I’ve almost had enough and stomp my way back up the hill. I know Joes going to be on the phone soon asking how much longer I’m going to be. His doctor had advised limiting the time everyone in the house was outside as well and by now I was getting close to the hour mark.

I had only gone a short way when I saw it. The bloody loch was right there. But yet again I had stuck to my mantra of ‘stay left’ and had gone too far left. Not only was I back with the loch but I was also back where I started.

It took the full 2 miles home before it clicked that although I had studied google and had it set in my head how to follow the path. And I had indeed stayed left when I began to go round it, I had to go RIGHT to actually GET round it…….

I’m now researching navigation courses because quite clearly this is not a strong point for me!

Lockdown Life – The Running Issues Continue

Lockdown Life – The Running Issues Continue

As predicted running outside isn’t getting any easier. But I’m still outside and I’m still running so really, I shouldn’t complain.

But I’m gonna!

Yesterday I came across someone who I don’t doubt we have all had the delightful joy of experiencing. Usually it’s the middle of the aisle in the supermarket or in a park or just walking down the street. They are, of course, the ones who ‘owneth the path’.

I was on my last 2 miles home and had already encountered several of the dangerous species known as the escaped families on bikes (noted in my last blog, they’re like rabbits right now, breeding daily). I had also had an elderly couple jump – no exaggeration – in to a bush when I was coming towards them. Although I do wonder how long they stayed there and what they ended up doing as I didn’t see them on the path when I looked back. Then there was the blonde lassie who got really confused over what to do when I was coming up behind her and a man was walking towards her. Talk about a deer in the headlights. The man went left and I went on to the grassy embankment, we exchanged a chuckle over that one.

But back to the one who was stomping her way along with a big black cloud above her head.

It was a fairly long straight stretch so I could see past people quite far in front of me and saw her as she was approaching. Now, there’s no law or rule as to who moves what way but common decency states everyone makes an effort to move away – create distance.

Not her though. Oh no. Not Queen Stomps-A-Lot with her hands clasped behind her back and a forward stoop that could give a certain person from Notredame a run for his money. She was NOT moving. This was her path and people, pay attention, she was walking here!

There was a couple in front of me heading towards her. They had clearly taken a leaf from the elderly couple in the bush from earlier and were, lets say, very into each other. At that moment anyway. For all we know they could have had a massive lockdown argument earlier that morning and were now declaring their undying love for each other having gotten over it. Basically they only had eyes for each other and didn’t see The Force that was steam rolling towards them.

As she approached, glaring at them, they remained locked in each other’s gaze. (Makes you sick, doesn’t it?). ‘Is she honestly going to walk right in to them?’ I thought, ‘surely not!’. Fair enough there’s an argument to say they should be aware of their surroundings but come on.

Barely a step in front of them and she ground to a halt. And screamed at them. ‘Get out of my way!’.

Holy cow, did that just happen?? The couple visibly jumped then moved quickly to the side. Looked at her, looked at each other, then laughed and carried on down the path.

Grumpy Git carried on her way towards me.

Now. I had options here. I had on my hat and my sunglasses so technically I could keep my head down, turn my music right up and bang right in to her.

Or I could just move to the side before I was anywhere near her and carry on with my run.

Which is of course what I did.

I didn’t know this women’s story. If something absolutely dreadful had happened to her and this was her first time out in fresh air for god only knows how long. If she was living alone right now because of the lockdown and struggling. If she had just discovered that Carole Baskin had indeed, killed her husband.

And of course she could just be an absolute bitch.

Either way, I had seen her, I had time and space to move, so I did. On a more positive note I’m loving the painted rocks I’ve been finding along this route. Certainly brings a smile to my face. (Have to remember to smile with my mouth closed though as the hotter weather is bringing the midges out).

Lockdown life continues.

A True Near Death Experience

After my disastrous unicorn run/walk/stumble last time I took to instagram to vent and it was mentioned that I may need more iron. My physio also explained because I had had such a long gap of not running it could have just been ‘runners stomach’. Either way, I went straight back on the iron tablets and headed out the following day for 8 miles.

As you do.

It actually went not too bad. The stomach subsided and the legs did hurt a little but not as bad as before. So the next day I decided to increase it to 10 miles.

I was sensible. I set off at a slow pace I intended to keep to. To help this I stuck to a pod cast and swerved the music. I again went along the river as Joe had been out just before me for a little tester run himself so I was following his route and adding some. I put on my hydration vest so I had water with me and a jacket as it looked like rain was imminent. And I do love a run in the rain!

Ambling along, listening to the owner of twitter talking about algorithms and how it actually works I was enjoying myself. Ok I’m no Mo Farah but I was moving and I was finally beginning to understand and ‘get’ Twitter (for someone who enjoys social media I’ve never bloody understood that platform). I stopped to take the usual arty/farty photos and carried on, telling myself this is good practice on trails for the ultra I’m doing.

Soon I see a familiar face too and yes it’s another stop but it would be rude not to and I’m not exactly going flat out. She tells me the route is 14km out and back from her house so I calculate I may have to find some extra to get my 10 miles. She also tells me not to run right down at the river as it’s not great for running and one slip will mean your in the water. Given that I am indeed that person guaranteed to fall in or be dragged in by the water I choose to heed her advice. I’ve still not forgotten the number of times water has tried to kill me! The bottomless puddle, the smash to the face of the water bottle – I’m lucky to still be alive honestly.

I see the fork in the trail and take the one away from the river. Oh yes. Today I have my sensible hat on thank you. Silently congratulating myself on acting responsibly I confidently follow the now tarmac path. Hmm. Didn’t expect to be going past houses. Thought it would still be trail. Ok never mind. I follow it round. And round. And round. And then stop.

I’m back at the fork. I’ve just done a circle. Bugger. Oh well, that’ll be some extra mileage then!

I finally find some more trail and decide to be a bit more adventurous so constantly pick the harder to follow route. Although with my sense of direction it’s not exactly my best plan. I pick my own way through thick, sharp branches and bushes and come ridiculously close to ending up the river but somehow I make it through! I head ‘back inland’ to get the extra mileage to make 5 before heading back along the same route to make my 10 miles.

Oh yes. I have a plan. And it’s bomb proof!

Not wanting to get lost I choose to run round the local park I have now found myself upon. I head round the edge and towards the play park where a couple are walking their dog.

As I get closer it spots me and starts running towards me. It looks friendly enough – ie it’s not frothing at the mouth – so I continue at my leisurely pace towards the park. The owners don’t react so I doubt it’s a ‘vicious killer’.

It gets faster towards me. It’s now bounding heavily, panting as it gets closer. I can feel the ground shudder with every thud of paw. Then all of a sudden it rears up on its back legs. It’s almost the same height as me now and this thing is big! It’s huge! The sun is blocked behind it’s gigantic figure. This dog is a tank! It’s front paws land on my leg and I’m stopped dead in my tracks. I try to stay upright because if I fall and this thing gets on top of me I’m going to be pinned. Think wizard of oz with the house landing on the winding witch. (Although not so sure why I am comparing myself to a wicked witch with a green face?)

I check my leg hasn’t snapped in two under the weight of the most solid dog I’ve seen. Still in one piece. Phew. I decide the best thing to do is to just carry on and get out of there – just in case it jumps up on my shoulders and tries the whole wrestle mania smack down on me.

What are the owners doing I hear you ask?

Laughing.

Not horribly or maliciously. But like the parent of a child would laugh at little John who just punched Sophie in the face. ‘What a scamp’ I can imaginary hear them say.

I decide it’s best just to keep running on, praying I can put run their little beast. When I get back to the river my glutes are hurting so I pause for a minute and glance down at my leg, praying I don’t see the bone.

There are 3 very bright claw marks across my leg. I immediately take a photo and text Joe.

‘You know that guy that killed a mountain lion when out running? Well I’ve just been attacked by a pug! No one died though.’

Yes ladies and gentlemen. It was a pug. One of the smallest and possibly cutest dogs in the world and I was ‘attacked’ by one. What followed in the next few days was torturous.

‘You mean to say you can’t out run a pug? How slow are you?’

‘How did that small and fat a dog manage to get you that far up your leg?! My word you’re small!’

‘I don’t understand. It’s a pug!’

It’s unclear just now if I will ever live this down but I’m trying to remain positive. I managed to continue my run after such a vicious attack from one of the worlds deadliest animals. I was able to get away without having to resort to taking its life. And I have lived to tell the tale. Even if it is a tremendously embarrassing one.

Who said running was boring?

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.

‘Moust Dash/Tash’

I’ve ran the Edinburgh Mo-Run the last 2 years with my original running buddy and really enjoyed it but life happens and neither of us did it this year.

However when they announced it would also be in Perth I checked the date and it worked for me so I signed up. Unfortunately Frazer still didn’t fancy it but my other half said he would run it. We decided to dress up seeing as we had costumes from a wedding we had just been to but we woke up to an absolutely freezing morning so Wonder Woman is going to have to wait a while for her first run! Instead I opted for my Cheshire Cat Leggings because who doesn’t want two huge cats eyes on their butt cheeks?

Joe decided not to run as well as he wasn’t keen to pay £25 to run places he runs anyway. Plus I’m pretty sure he’s about to hit me with a ‘hey I’m going to sign up to these 3 races that are £300 each, you cool with that?’. He’s playing his cards well ha ha.

My lovely Mum came down to the start too which was nice and I met up with Lorner and her eldest who were doing the 5k and a few other road runners.  Caroline was impressively colour co-ordinated with a purple wig and purple tights.  I won’t lie, the wig had me in a trance.  I just loved how it bobbed up and down very sixties style!

The 5k went off first and then the 10k just 10 minutes after.  We headed out round the Inch and very quickly I knew this wasn’t going to be a PB run with the ice on the ground but then this was a charity run – a fun run – so it didn’t bother me.  Under the bridge and we then headed in to town.  It was quiet but there were some supporters out cheering and laughing at some of the costumes running by.   Just before 1k I started passing some of the 5k runners.  We were doing the same route but the 10k did it twice.  There were quite a lot giving the 5k a go and I cheered every one of them on.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there like that, not something I will ever forget.

Down the high street and unfortunately I had to stop at the road.  A few runners in front of me had stopped and were waiting at the zebra crossing for the cars to go past.  This is the only bit that marginally annoyed me to be honest but only because it puts me off my pace.  Back on to the Inch and I knew then the course was going to be significantly short.  I was more focused on the ice on the ground though and not falling and getting an injury which to me was much more important.  It’s a long drag along the Inch so I tried to focus on catching up with Lorner and her son.  When I spotted them it gave me that little push to try and keep pace.  And just in front of them was Caroline and her purple wig.  Awesome.

The turn at the end of the Inch was treacherous and never have I been more thankful for a marshall insisting on everyone slowing down.  I slipped but didn’t fall so it was few walking steps to make sure I was steady on my feet before running again.  I kept an eye out for my mum and Joe so I could tell them she was just coming but turns out they had found refuge in a cafe!  Can’t blame them though, it was freezing.

Back round for the second lap and I was having a few ‘issues’ with my Cat’s Eye’s leggings.  The eyes were creeping closer to the ground so I was constantly trying to pull them up.  I started off discreetly pulling them at each side, watching to see if anyone was around me but I ended up both hands yanking them up every few minutes any dignity well and truly gone!  Don’t get me wrong I really love them and they are comfy but they are not for staying up when you are running any distance.  I apologize to anyone that had to witness this – it was not attractive!

Across the line and I briefly considered carrying on to make it the full 10k but quickly decided against it given it was just a fun run at the end of the day.  Plus, it was cold.  Very cold.  And very icy.

My youngest was given a spare ‘Mini Mo Runner’ headband which he took great pride in wearing along with my medal and we headed back to the car.  We had tickets to go to the cinema that afternoon and we still had the usual Sunday stuff to do.

There was quite a lot of grumbling about the course being short – and to be fair I measured it a full mile short which is quite a bit.  We found out later the course was cut last minute due to the ice which is quite clearly the right decision.  The turn to come back was treacherous enough.  The issue came because this information was not passed on to the runners at the start.  There have been a few complaining that other areas were bad so how could the closed off section be any worse but at the end of the day it’s Mo Run’s responsibility and decision.  They have since offered a free place for next year to the 10k runners which, in my opinion, is an impressive thing to do.  It’s a charity run at the end of the day so they will be losing the funds from these entries.  Although I know quite a few that ran the 5k I don’t think I am in a position to comment on them not being offered a free place so i won’t.

All I will say is I enjoyed the run.  It’s fun, the marshalls were amazing, there was a lot of them on course and I enjoyed it.  I will take up their offer of a place next year but I will make sure I raise at least the cost of my place so the charity doesn’t lose out.

And I will continue to wear funky leggings!

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!

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.

So….. yesterday.  Yesterday was the next instalment in the hill series that I’m just ‘loving’ (if loving actually means hating with all your might and would rather be watching paint dry that is).  

The difference with this one though is that I’ve ran it before – twice! And whilst it’s got its steep as hell climbs, it’s also got flat sections you can recover on (well, as much as you can during a race).  It is however longer than all the other races, and it definitely makes you work for that medal.  Bonus on this run though is that my other half was actually sponsoring it, he had designed the finisher t-shirt and was volunteering. 

There were quite a few Perth Road Runners volunteering also and many were marshalls round the course so there was lots of encouragement.


It was meant to be a long run day so I decided to run to the event and run back.  The youngest had other ideas though.  He gets a bit of separation anxiety from time to time so when I tried to drop him off he wasn’t all for it.  I know he’s fine within minutes of me leaving but when you don’t really need to leave straight away (because I could drive there) I find it more difficult to go.  In the end I managed to run 3 miles before my dad came along, picked me up and dropped me at the start.  3 miles was better than nothing and as expected my mum had text me before I had even hit a mile to say Ollie (my son) was playing happily.

Frazer – my original running buddy – was also running this race and his girlfriend Kirsty and daughter Jessica had come along too, as well as their dog Ruby.  

We were called to the start line about 10 minutes before the scheduled start.  Although I knew I would be passed I still went near the front as it was an instant climb and I didn’t want stuck behind someone or forced out the way.  This wasn’t a race I would be happy to just finish.  I wanted to improve last years time.  

I looked around and Sonjia, Stewart, Mark, Dave and Ronnie were in front of me.  Hmmm.  No Heledd.  Where was Heledd? I tapped Stewart on the shoulder.  ‘Have you seen Heledd?’ ‘No’ he replied.  Then a glint in his eye.  ‘Does this mean?’ 

I grinned.

‘I don’t know, I was sure she was coming though’.

Then Sonjia turned round.  ‘Heledd’s not here’.

She had the same grin as me.

‘Check you girls out all competitive!’

‘Not at all! Just friendly banter! But if she’s not here, more points for me’ I laughed.

Facts are facts, both Heledd and Sonjia are faster than me so yes, the only way I could ‘win’ was if Heledd wasn’t running.  Then I would be the only female that did all 6 Hill Races and the nightmare that was Birnam Hill (the first hill race) will most definitely have been worth it.  Sort of. Maybe.

‘Oh hi Heledd’.

Aw no, she was at the registration tent. Game over.  

She snuck to the back a little embarrassed that it looked like we were waiting for her but it wasn’t 11’o’clock so she wasn’t technically late.  ‘You’ve still got a good few metres on her’ Stewart said.  ‘I’m going to need it, and much more!’ was my reply.

Off we went and up the zig zag hill that is right at the start.  Not even a few metres to turn the legs over, you’re going straight up. I saw Kirsty at the top corner and a few steps passed her I heard ‘oh no, Ella’s already gone past’.  I think she was taking my mums place in the ‘missing the moment’ gallery ha ha. I gave her a wave to say I had heard her though.

First mile down and I chose not to look at my watch, there’s no point in Hill races.  I knew Heledd must be right on my heels and right enough, at 1.35 miles in I heard the ‘Hi Ella’.  ‘Hey’ I managed to gasp back.  She looked a bit white, not her usual self.  I wanted to ask if she was ok but I couldn’t gasp that out.  I passed her just a few minutes on which surprised me as I don’t think I’ve ever done that so tried to take advantage and not slow down until she had passed me again.

Around 2 miles and there was a woman at the side with a hurt ankle.  I asked if she was ok and told her friend I would let the next Marshall know.  He ran on but kept looking back wondering if he should have stayed with her.  

3 miles in and past the water station.  I didn’t take any as Heledd still hadn’t passed me and I knew the second I stopped or slowed down she would fly right by.  I also knew the worst Hill was coming and I would have to walk/stumble up it.  One of the Road Runners was the Marshall at the bottom of it and I had to ask her why she wasn’t running it.  She just looked at the hill and we both we knew she had made the smarter decision, not me! All the way up I was just waiting for Heledd to go past.  I’ve spent enough time behind her at these races to know she could most likely run this bit! When she didn’t pass me here I knew she wasn’t 100%.  Hoping it was more a case of she was ill and not a case she was hurt I kept on.  

Back up yet another hill and this one was one we had come down.  The Marshall – Sylvia I think it was – tried to be encouraging by saying something like it was the last hill, or it wasn’t far.  It’s quite hard to remember as I was so close to death through lack of oxygen.  I did manage a reply of ‘if I had the energy I would kill you for lying’ – she knows the route, she knows the truth ha ha.

As soon as I hit the ‘top’ and knew it was more down hill then up I kept at it.  Mile 5 and I did something I never do during races – I started to look behind me.  Yes I was trying to see if she was on my heels.  It kept pushing me forward though as every time I turned round I expected her to be right at my shoulder.  I knew where the final uphill was and pushed myself up it.  Then down it went.  Past Eleanor another road runner at a Marshall point with her daughter, cheering away, still pushing on.


She’s going to get me, she’s going to get me. This is going to be like the hills on Thursday when Mark lapped me right at the finish line! Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop.

I hit the zig zags and saw Kirsty again.  She started to run with me down them.  I found this hilarious and tried to shout ‘are you challenging me?’ but all my energy was going in to not being overtaken at the end. I had also calculated that if there was a team prize I may have been third female PRR as Marlena was between Sonjia and myself! (There wasn’t a team prize but still, it was a nice thought!). 


I turned the last corner and I heard footsteps. NO!!!! I was NOT giving this one up!! Unable to breath I somehow moved my legs faster.  Who ever this was was not getting past me!! 

It’s ok, they didn’t!


Across the line and a few very deep breaths later I went and collected my medal.  I saw Stewart and yes, I admit, my first words were ‘I beat Heledd!’ however this was very quickly followed by ‘but I don’t think she’s feeling very well, she’s not having a great race’.  I saw Kevin her partner and went over to speak to him.  He confirmed it, she wasn’t very well.  I felt really bad.  She came in just a couple of minutes behind me.  It’s all friendly competitiveness but I did feel bad for her.  She obviously wasn’t on top form or she would have wiped the floor with me.

Frazer came across the line in just a little over an hour which was phenomenal for his first time doing that run.  He was quite rightly pleased.

I love this picture of Frazer ha ha

And so on to my run home.  Well that didn’t go to plan. It was roasting hot, I didn’t have my sunglasses or a hat and my legs decided the 10k trail race was enough.  I had to make a call to my mum at 3 and a half miles in to get picked up before my hamstring went ‘ping’. 

All in all a good day.  I knocked 3 minutes off my time from last year which was the main aim.  But best of all there’s only one more hill race!!

Yes!!! 

Photos courtesy of Ethan Lee and Gordon Donnachie – they are at most races in Scotland kindly taking photos on their own time.  Much appreciated! (Except the one you get of me every time where you age me at least 30 years! Ha ha)


 The Alexis Rose Trail Race is a local families legacy race for their daughter who passed away from meningitis when she was only 19 months old.

Did You Win Mummy?

Eh no son, no I didn’t.  But I finished and that’s just as special.

(The lies you tell your children ha ha)

Now that my pity party is done and dusted (see previous post, or you know, if you don’t really want to read someone’s essay of ‘woe is me’ maybe give it a miss) it is time to review my last race – The Tay Ten.

Man it was hot!! Last year was pouring rain and about 3 layers.  This year, if I had the confidence, I would have been running in just shorts and sports bra! Luckily for the locals, I wore my club vest. 


My lovely mother and I volunteered at registration but in all honesty we didn’t really do much.  My youngest was running riot most of the time but at least he was happy. 

We gathered at the start for the race brief – very important as the course had had to be changed slightly due to works. A polite word to the woman who’s music was playing during this and I just about caught the end of the brief – good thing I wasn’t going to be first across the line or I may have gotten lost!

Off we went and as per my last few races, I went off too fast.  I didn’t want a re-run (ha ha) of my last ten mile race so I slowed down.  My 4th mile was 8:04 – much better Ella, stay at that.  I decided to take my gel at this point so I didn’t crash out later on.  We won’t say anything about the salad I had chosen for tea the night before….

Mile 5 was 8:29.  Hmm, ok.  It’s quite hot for me so I expected to be slightly slower, let’s not get too slow though.  

Mile 6 and my watched beeped.  8:43.  8:43?? What are you walking!!! Flippin heck love! Clearly this was pay back yet again for going out too fast.  I seriously need to go for a very slow, very long run to get in to marathon mode.

However.  Mile 7 of a 10 mile race is not the time to do this so I pick it up after a very stern word with myself.  (You’re an absolute tube Ella).  The best thing about this course this year is knowing so many of the marshals so when you get a constant cheer it gives you a great little boost.  I clock the next 2 miles much closer to 8 minutes and feel happier with that. 

At 9 miles another girl from the club comes floating past me looking like she is on her first mile not her tenth.  She’s gone within a blink of the eye.  A sprint finish to die for ha ha.


It’s a bit of a weave going from the River Tay back up to the running track – which ironically I’ve never noticed before now – and as I make my way I get overtaken by someone else I know.  All I see is the red t-shirt and the beard and Brian disappears round the corner.  For a fleeting second I think about trying to chase him down but I’m intending on doing another 5 miles after this so decide against it/choose to be lazy. 

On to the track and there’s yet more Club Runners cheering away.  ‘Go on Ella, strong finish’.  I smile my appreciation.  

That is however, until I hear the next shouts.  

‘Go on Scott, catch her up’.

Scott? I don’t know a Scott.  This doesn’t bother me.

‘Go on Scott, you can beat Ella’.

Excuse me?!?! Scott who?! Then it clicks.  I put a face to the name and realise exactly who Scott is.  

No, no, no!! I force myself in to a sprint to the finish, begging to hold him off until then but the sod gets me at the line! 

I’m going to blame the sun – it was too hot! Ha ha.

I get a hug from my youngest and he asks if I won.  I tell him no not quite and he looks so disappointed I lie and tell him yes.  He’s 3.  He won’t remember.


I wait for my friend Lorner to finish so I can congratulate her.  She was quite nervous about the race as it does attract a lot of entries from clubs but just like me last year, she did it and she didn’t really notice a difference much.  Maybe just an unusually high number of orange t-shirts from one group.  

My mum had to rush off so I didn’t manage another 5 miles after that.  Instead I took the kids swimming where yet again, I met my new arch rival ‘Scott’.  I was tempted to run him over in the car but thought that would be too obvious.  (Only joking.  Well, a little).

The goody bag was amazing – it had mini-eggs!! A caramel wafer and to be honest, my favourite medal so far this year.  It’s plain black and white but it’s awesome.


Tomorrow is a half-marathon – and as far as I am aware Scott isn’t running this one so I shouldn’t have anyone sneaking up behind me at the last stretch ha ha.  I plan on taking it slow, using it as a training run for the marathon.  Practise my pace. Then hopefully a cycle after.

The pity party has definitely left the building.