Week 22 – Wendy ran a marathon

Imagine you’re watching an old time movie. The protagonist is spotlit, looking off into the distance. The camera slowly zooms in on them, a harp plays a subtle glissando up and down (or is it a portamento? – nvm, it’s not important) and a wavy screen wipe transports the actor back to an earlier time…..

Week 15 – “I booked my flights this week. There’s no refund if the marathon is cancelled. We’ll probably go regardless. I will run 26.2 miles, regardless

Bold words.

When I wrote my last blog post in early March, I, like millions of others, had little comprehension of what was about to transpire. There were a few days around then that I still believed Gent Marathon would go ahead. Even the organisers believed it. I started following The Brussels Times, consoling myself naively that the Belgian authorities were far more optimistic than the British. They wouldn’t shut down large social gatherings.

Then the world went to shit.

To be perfectly honest, all of my energies and hopes for the marathon were dashed. I was inconsolable. I couldn’t really justify dwelling on it, because those feelings were insignificant compared to living through the grip of a global pandemic. By the time we went into lockdown, I had to contend with the heartbreak of my husband being stuck 4,500 miles away in Houston, and my parents stuck 11,000 miles away in New Zealand. No consolatory hugs. ‘Will I manage to run the distance?’ became ‘will my parents or husband get Covid-19 and be left seriously ill, alone in a foreign country?’

In classic grieving process form, I was in complete denial the week I was informed that the marathon would be postponed. I clocked up 50 miles just running, and running, and running. Then we went into lockdown. One form of physical activity per day folks.

Fair do’s, I’m okay with that. I’ll use my time indoors to plan some Strava art. Then see if I can run the routes. Which I did, and it was good fun. It was an escape from the loneliness and anxiety.

Actually amazed how much Strava art can be found in one small town, if you’re bored enough.

I’m not normally one to get overly emotional and maudlin. I had a wobble though. I’m pretty sure that I was suffering from a mild depressive episode during the second week of lockdown. Social distancing is easy when you just want to sleep all day. I stopped running as often. I stopped getting dressed in the morning. I stopped showering.

I stopped caring.

When my friends started to text and message me to check I was ok, I realised that I needed to do some work on my mental well being, and snap out of it, so to speak. The best way for me to handle change is to have a routine. So that’s what I did, and it worked. I’m not diminishing the struggle of anyone else dealing with depression. I’m recognising that I had a mild episode, brought on by circumstance and handled with self-awareness, self-care and actively seeking support from others.

I’ll bet many people have had similar experiences.

It’s now 38 days into lockdown. My parents did make it home on a repatriation flight eventually. Andy is still in Houston, working from home most days and staying the hell away from people. Especially those that follow advice from Donald Trump.

I regularly chat via video with family and friends, keep in touch with my running buddies via messenger and my garden has never looked so good. My son and I have shared some really great insights and experiences, we probably never would have had the opportunity in pre-Covid times.

I am embroiled daily in a Ryanair are Assholes type Facebook group – a great place to vent some frustration as their daylight robbing tactics to circumvent any kind of refund for cancelled flights gets ever more ridiculous.

….and I ran a marathon at the weekend.

Montrose Marathon 2020

The idea of running a ‘Montrose Marathon’ was born shortly after all our races were being postponed/cancelled/written off. Planned for 11th April, a group of us local runners figured we could just run our own, socially distanced marathon/half marathon. We had some ideas for t-shirts too (look away now if you’re easily offended).

T-shirt ideas courtesy of Keith J and Jamie K

In the end, the lockdown went on much longer than we all expected. Daily death tolls were creeping up at an alarming rate. The pressure to conform, stay home, don’t take risks and protect the NHS would make any sort of semi-organised run complete folly, and irresponsible. So 11th April came and went without fanfare.

I was tempted though.

Last week I read Pauline B’s cathartic blog post about cancelled races. These last few sentences really struck me;

This pandemic though won’t last forever and it gives you a lot of time to reflect:  On past races; On future goals; On what is the essence that draws you to running and keeps you putting in the miles.

On reflection, I had to admit that I really missed those long runs at the weekend, the ones that really pushed me and were an essential part of my training. That feeling of utter exhaustion, but sense of achievement. The time spent on your feet, gently slipping by remote places, in quiet oblivion. The occasional treat of seeing a deer, or a dramatically lit landscape. The awareness of your own breathing, the rhythmic pounding of your feet and the uninterrupted freedom to plan, ponder and conjure any idea that comes to mind.

I felt that it was time to do a longish run. I can’t justify it, and I refuse to. It’s risky, yes. It’s possibly irresponsible, yes. But it’s my risk to take, and with a precautionary attitude, I’d be ok.

So on the day that would have been the London Marathon, I set off to run Keith J’s route via Brechin. Around 30 km. I set my watch to kilometres for the first time since November, so it wouldn’t feel too ‘marathony’. I accidentally ended up running 42.2 km.

How exactly does one accidentally run a full marathon? It was a twist of fate in the end. I planned to run through the Kinnaird Estate on my return leg. I’ve driven via Farnell many times, so I know the regular route well. I’ve only once driven through the estate, and that was when I was given special permission to shoot a wedding engagement session there a few years back. When I got to the entrance, it was clear they didn’t really want you there. The gate was shut (turns out it’s always shut and you can climb over), so not wanting to break any laws (or be shot at), and especially not wanting to draw attention to myself (exactly why are you 15 km from home Mrs Adie?), I ran up the Forfar road for a bit then diverted via Farnell. This added about 4 km to my route. Not a problem, happy to carry on towards home. It then dawned on me that by the time I got home, I’d be hitting my furthest ever distance run – nearly 35 km. I was pretty chuffed with that thought for a while. Then it dawned on me that ‘haud on, that’s only 7 km away from running an actual marathon?’ Once the seed was planted, I couldn’t stop it from growing.

I got home, changed into some shorts, ditched my running vest pack, troughed a bag of cashew nuts and refilled my water. I was home for around 3 or 4 minutes. Then, in a fugue state, I found myself out and running towards my familiar 8 km route around Montrose. By around 38 km, I hit the wall. I could have walked to be fair, but I just wanted to get home, as quickly as possible. I also convinced myself that my Garmin might be running low on battery (and was too afraid to jab buttons to check in case I managed to lose my run). Then I met Angie and Graham, told them I was trying to finish a marathon and after a thoroughly uplifting pep talk, continued on towards home. It was SO hard to keep going those last few km’s. Everything hurt, I felt like a dead weight carrying a horse. But the familiarity of the route made it a teensy bit easier, and slowly but surely I passed my regular points of interest…..the crossing at The Grove, the start of Murray Street, the Steeple, Bridge St, Castle Street and last but by no means least, The Westie Dash (or The Westie last gasp that day).

So that’s that. I ran a damn marathon. A completely bizarre, unplanned, disaster movie-esque, unprecedented kind of marathon, but 26.2 miles all the same. I can move on in my life, I can rest assured that when the time comes to run an actual race, I’ll know I have the inner fortitude (or inner psychosis) to complete it. I feel a sense of relief and a sense of closure. The unfulfilled months of winter training that has haunted me for weeks, finally laid to rest.

I have spent the last 4 days remembering what it feels like to really push your body. When I first took up running, each distance milestone I completed (1K, 5K, 10K, half…..) was rewarded by a day or two spent shuffling around on tin man legs with knees that refused to bend. There’s three flights of stairs in my house. Stairs are hard to descend when your hips, glutes and quads refuse to operate your knees.

All this time spent recovering has inevitably led to me pondering my next challenge. I found it. It starts tomorrow. It’s a long one too. From May 1st to August 31st 2020, I’m going to attempt to run and walk in a worldwide Lazarus Lake challenge, The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K. I’m not going to blog it though. I don’t know if there will be a random blowing of the conch or lighting of the cigarette to mark the start either.

Nice bib – I won’t be pinning it on until the last day.

I am a little sad to be writing my last blog post for a while. It almost didn’t happen. Every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t find any traction, and it made me sad. I’m grateful to everyone that has been part of this journey, I honestly couldn’t have done the training alone. It turns out that I can run a set distance alone, without a crowd of cheering spectators and my friends and family at the finish line. That’s something we will all have to get used to for the foreseeable I guess. I don’t have any sage advice, or warm words of encouragement to give to anyone reading this. I can only reflect that running in the current global crisis is something you have to want to do for yourself, with your own goals and your own motivation. I wish you all good health and hope to run with you all again, like we did before. Stay safe.

Week 15 – The beginning of the end

Fifteen weeks ago, getting to this stage seemed impossible. I mean who was I kidding? Completing one, never mind two 20 mile runs? Ludicrous! But here I am, at the start of Week 16 and officially ‘tapering’. So. The training plan has done the job for me physically. I’m tired, drained in fact. I shuffle from one nap to the next, I’ve an awfy craving for salty food, but nothing hits the spot. Mentally I feel strong, but then again, I always have. I’m ever so slightly sad that all of this will soon be over. I’m also relieved. It’s like my life is on hold, I’m in some kind of self-inflicted masochistic limbo. Sentences start with ‘after the marathon I’ll…..’ and finish with ‘…once I’m home from Gent’

I booked my flights this week. There’s no refund if the marathon is cancelled. We’ll probably go regardless. I will run 26.2 miles, regardless.

Training Schedule – Week 15

  • Mon – 5 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 5 miles pace
  • Thurs – 5 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – 20 Miles Long Slow

At the start of the week I honestly couldn’t be bothered. I felt exhausted. I’m not sure why as my weekly mileage wasn’t especially high in week 14. Perhaps Smokies was harder than I gave it credit for. Either way, I was sticking with my commitment to volunteer at Flyers C25K programme, now in it’s ninth and final week. It was actually lovely to run alongside the group, who had by this point built up to running for 30 mins. Doreen was in my wee group and I was impressed that she ran the whole way while simultaneously chatting. I also caught up with Claire who was tentatively running on her healed broken toe. If you remember, she inspired me to write this blog. I’m so pleased to see that she’s back running, she’s been so kind and supportive during these last few months, even though it must be frustrating not being able to get out and run herself.

3 easy miles banked, I decided to quit while I was ahead.

By Wednesday I started to feel a bit more energised. I clocked up 10 hours sleep on Tuesday night, which seemed to have played a magical trick on my physiology. Mad dreams though. In one, I had a full on karate battle with a couple trying to break into my house. We ran along all the roofs of the houses in my street before the finale on top of Montrose steeple where, victorious, I sent them hurtling to their deaths. I checked that my Garmin had clocked the activity before heading home.

I ran a lovely 5 mile loop with Laura and Emily C, using a route that we had previously avoided as it generally involved a nasty westerly headwind. It was great to catch up with both, and Laura was running really well, having just recently recovered from whooping cough. Running in crisp sunshine, with light winds, quiet roads and good conversation was such a tonic. Then, in a spooky twist, my Garmin somehow discarded my run. Prophetic dream.

I decided to have another rest day on Thursday. Check me, taking some time to properly recover. Sadly, my dreams were of the garden variety.

Friday was busy with work, but I had a window in the afternoon to run the 5 training miles I missed on Thursday. I had a go at fartleking, intervals conveniently placed around some Strava segments. Four segments done (including one of the local BMX track – haha) and I bagged 3 ladies crowns, a 2nd place and a 400m PB. Not bad. It felt good to engage the fast-twitch muscle fibres.

Saturday was rest by proxy. Bound for Inverness with Laura and her Dad mid-morning, I was all set for Sunday’s 7 mile/half-marathon composite with a 3 hour drive to fill with quiet contemplation. As mentioned in Week 9, I had asked the oracle that is Running Friends Scotland whether this would be a good way to run 20 miles (albeit with a slight gap between runs). The response was mostly positive. I had already run 20 miles a couple of weeks ago so the split didn’t bother me too much. At the time of asking, a lovely runner from Giffnock messaged me to say she had a similar plan. Finola (what a lovely unusual name) is training for Manchester so we hatched a plan to run in the morning prior to the Inverness half and get our 7 miles in together.

Laura and I had a fine relaxed Saturday, visiting Laura’s Highland relatives and being fed and entertained throughout. Laura’s Auntie Morag, Uncle Iain and cousin Donald made sure we had a proper feed and comfy bed the night before, while her Dad (also Iain) made sure to tell everyone that I probably had coronavirus having recently returned from Milan. I played along, allowing him to savour the few seconds before his leg-pulling was revealed. I can confirm that even though I was a stranger, the legendary Highland hospitality was very much in evidence and I was treated like one of their own.

After a decent night’s sleep and a bowl of porridge, I was taxied by Morag to meet Finola. We had chatted over messenger and connected on Strava by this point, so I was confident I wasn’t meeting an axe-wielding murderer. It’s funny how you would think twice before meeting folk you’ve only chatted with online, but if they are a fellow runner, you don’t hesitate. Finola arranged to meet at 10am as she had a commitment to run the half marathon with a brilliant organisation called JAPES, who give people with mobility challenges the opportunity to participate in running events. We needed to be back a little earlier than originally planned which worked out great as we would be done by 11.30am leaving me an hour to catch Laura and drop off my bag before making our way to the start line.

Caledonian Canal in spring sunshine (and a couple of mad 7 mile runners)

The run was perfect really. A little windy on the way out, but we soon got chatting about our respective running journeys and upcoming marathons and the miles flew in. I was surprised to discover that Finola has only just recovered from a seriously broken wrist (that she sustained during a half marathon, at mile 11, but went on to complete anyway!) It made me think about all the hardships and back story that lots of runners must carry…and that she is nails! She started her marathon journey a year ago, and 6 months ago it looked sketchy. But here she is, 4 weeks to go and killing it! I wish her all the best for Manchester and hope to see her again at a race in the future. This was her and her team on Sunday.

Finola and the JAPES team with pilot Andrew

Back at Inverness Sports Centre, I bumped into fellow Flyer Keith B and his partner Kirsty. He was looking fresh and ready to go…a PB to smash perhaps, but giving nothing away. I concluded that the route wasn’t especially hilly, the weather conditions good and his recent running form excellent, a PB was on the cards. Modest as ever, he shyly thanked me for my optimism, agreed we should try to grab a post race pint and I went off to find Laura.

Almost straight away, Laura and I were reunited and fought our way through the masses to grab a quick coffee and loo stop (this took an eternity but luckily we found some extra loos in the cafe upstairs). We were also treated to a pipe band. How uniquely Scottish!

Race HQ – taking it all in

Suitably full of beans (of the coffee variety), bag dropped and loos visited, we made our way down to the start line on Bught Road, which runs alongside River Ness. We nabbed a couple of photos, taken by some very friendly marshalls who put up with me in ‘could you do a landscape one, up a bit, down a bit….make sure you get the signs in…..thaaaaanks’ bossy photographer mode. A new Strava profile pic – win!

We didn’t actually run over this bridge, but it makes a good backdrop.

At 12.30, in the 1:50-2:10 pace group, we shuffled forward for a bit…then we were off, headed towards Inverness Castle. We passed the castle and looped back across the river at a nice 9:54 min/mile pace for the first mile. It was quite congested so we tucked in and enjoyed the atmosphere. Lots of spectators lined the streets for the next mile or so, then we started to spread out a little as we headed out of town along Dores Road. Picking up to an average 9:00 – 9:30 min/mile pace along some lovely woodland lined undulating roads, we turned left into a road along South Loch Ness trail around mile 4. After this, I pretty much lost all sense of direction so I just settled in and tried to keep to a half marathon pace of 9:40 for a few miles. Around mile 7, in a residential street, a bloke had taken it upon himself to set up a 5 piece drum kit and play some simple beats to the appreciative runners and spectators, while (his?) kids handed out sweets. On any other day, he’d have been sectioned. I wish I’d taken a photo, but I wasn’t quick enough!

By mile 8 or 9, I had to stop and do some foot taping maintenance. I had nearly fallen flat on my face on a narrow section of pavement, and twisted my foot a little. No damage done, but I felt my taping come away. It was congested with runners when I tripped, but you know, if it wasn’t for all the arms reaching out behind and in front of me, I would have fallen. Herd immunity. I’ll forever be grateful to those who instinctively reached out and saved me.

By mile 12 (technically mile 19) – we were back along the River Ness, retracing our route from earlier. Poor Laura really did have a job keeping me going. I’m pretty sure my moaning about my glutes hurting was testing her sanity. Mind you, she did have her bone conducting headphones on…maybe she just muted me. Somehow I made it through without breaking into a resigned walk, we spotted a cheery Keith and Kirsty headed for town, got a second wind, and picked up our pace towards the finish line, which is on a running track. Checking the finish time, which felt more like 2:15, we were chuffed to see it was actually only 2:06. I heard them announce Windy Wilson cross the finish line just before us (saw him after too, but he looked too knackered to approach for a selfie).

Then the highlight of my week happened. I picked up my medal and race t-shirt which wasn’t blue, grey, pink or a even a garish fluorescent eyesore. IT WAS BLACK. Those who know me will appreciate that a black race t shirt is something I’ve coveted since I started running. Better still, the design is funny and clever.

I’ll not pretend that doing the 20 miles was easy. It wasn’t, especially the final 2 or 3. But, as always when you finish a race, I felt elated to have completed them. I think I will hit the 20 mile wall in a few weeks. Time will tell if I have the inner fortitude to keep going.

The finish line and happy faces – a massive well done to Laura!!

Thanks for reading. Keith did smash his half marathon PB btw. He’ll not say too much I’m sure but Laura and I think he’s a star!

Week 14 – Maranoia

Finally, a use for an image I made back in 2010

Will I make it to the finish line? Will I get injured again? What if a family member becomes ill? What if my dog is sick? What if I GET ILL? Can you run with Coronavirus? If they cancel flights, is there a boat to mainland Europe? Will COVID-19 sweep Europe and cause all marathons to be cancelled?


This is where my head is at this week. Utterly self-obsessed, selfish and in the grand scheme of things, a little narcissistic.

Social media is awash with speculation, fear-mongering and maranoia. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think of is ‘have they announced any more cancellations?!’ (at time of writing Tokyo Marathon was cancelled, Paris Half-Marathon caput, the Health Secretary is non-committal, but not ruling out cancellation of the VML marathon). I have friends training for Manchester and London, both in April, and they are very much sailing precariously into the same state of hysteria aboard the fear boat.

I reached out to the organisers of Gent. It took them a couple of days (they are probably inundated) but I got this reply….

Dear Wendy,

We, as organisation, are in continuous consultation with the Department of Health and we are following their advice. At this moment, there is no reason for drastic changes in the planning and continued preparations for the event now. As soon as anything changes, the organisation will inform all participants about any required measures. If circumstances do not change between now and the time of the event, all the obvious and logical health measures will be taken on site, the same as the ones that are recommended for daily public life now. Best regards

Basically, we don’t know? We will let you know, when we know, but meh, we don’t know.

So. Nothing else for it. Continue as planned and hope that a 50μm virus doesn’t scupper the whole gig.

Training Schedule – Week 14

  • Mon – 5 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 8 miles easy
  • Thurs – 5 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – 12 Miles Long Slow

At least the running was good this week. Monday’s run with Flyers (in the new pacing group format) was a little faster than planned but I found myself oddly energised, despite the 20 miler the day before. Apologies to my running group buddies for informing them all just how ‘fine my legs felt’. Nobody likes a show-off.

On Wednesday, I went out with Emily C and Jane, did 8 miles and my legs felt like lead. Haha – karma is a bitch. Still did it though. Thanks to both of them for putting up with my constant moaning about how hard going it felt.

On Thursday night, suitably recovered, it was the return of the Flyers 5K Lion Run series. By this point, run four of four, I knew there was little chance of beating the time I got back in November. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little bit of sprinty fun. I decided to go for a 1 mile PB instead. I shot off, lungs burning, with a bit of a tailwind and a downhill towards the end of the first mile. Got a 7:20 min/mile PB and a 4:21 min/km PB, which was nice.

On Saturday, it was a rare event in parkrun universe. Once every 28 years, 29th Feb falls on a parkrunday. To mark the occasion, my local parkrun arranged for us to run backwards (the route that is, not actually running backwards). I ran (forwards) with Jo and Tasha, chatting and avoiding all the massive puddles along the route. Good muddy fun was had by all the runners and I caught up with a real life leapling at the end – Scott M celebrating his 12th ‘official’ birthday! He explained that on a non leap year, his birthday defaults to the 28th. So now you know.

Sunday’s long run was a 10 mile race organised by another great local running club, the Arbroath Footers. The Smokies 10 mile ladies race has been going since 1988. This isn’t a race report – but there is a brilliant and comprehensive report for 2019 written by a proper runner, Pauline B, here if you’re interested.

Pre race Flyers ladies L-R clockwise : Brenda, Moira, Karen, Anya, Lesley, Jacqui, Jane, Jillian C and Moi

Firstly, it was lovely to meet up for a race indoors for a change. Normally, I’m standing about chittering and chattering outside for at least half an hour before a race begins. Arbroath Sports Centre was a veritable haven of warmth and excitement, with lots of familiar running friends from both Montrose Flyers and St Cyrus Solos to catch up with (and endless selfie opportunities…oh, and loos!). It was just as well because although no-one was talking about it, the weather forecast for the outward part of the run was pretty ghastly…40 mph headwind, rain, and possibly sleet too. Did I mention the first 5 miles are uphill too? Good Lord, what was I thinking when I signed up? I had intended to do a mile warm up and cool down bookending my 10 miles…but it was so nice and warm, and, I reasoned, I’d done an extra 3 miles at parkrun yesterday.

Before long, the race briefing complete…we filed out the hall and headed to the start line. Then we were off. It was spitting but bunched together, we headed up Keptie Road and it didn’t feel too windy. I ran alongside Anya, Lesley, Karen and Jacqui until we were headed out of town, along Arbirlot Road. Then we broke off into our own pace zones. The wind picked up, and the rain started to feel like icy needles on my face, and the first proper hill loomed. I’m not ashamed to admit I just couldn’t be bothered with those hills making my heart rate spike, so I walked some parts. My pace was marathon pace anyway, so I was once again pushing the long/slow definition of my training run.

It was pretty hard to put on a smile for the cameras. A note to the lovely and talented Pete Bracegirdle who did a technically fab job photographing all the ladies at the halfway point – perhaps photographing women, digging deep, at the top of a 5 mile climb, bedraggled by the wind and rain, is not the kindest way to capture them!

Once the hilliest, windiest part of the route was over, I started to actually enjoy the run, settling into a nice 9-9.30 min/mile pace for the return. The thought of warm coffee and home baking at the end was absolutely a motivating factor. As were the fab support crews dotted around the course (Barrie M, Val T, Andrea & Pete and Jo & Tasha near the end) – thanks so much to all of you!!

Goody bag and t shirt. Top notch.

Thanks for reading and if you have even an inkling of a sniff or sneeze, don’t be offended if I back away from you for the next few weeks – haha!

Week 13 – Milestone

Technically, I’ve only a few more weeks of ‘proper’ training left to go. Weeks 17 and 18 don’t have anything greater than an 8 mile run (well, apart from the 26 miler at the end of week 18!)

This week was one of those weeks where everything went really, really well. Which is great, because the last few have been a test of faith.

Training Schedule – Week 13

  • Mon – 5 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 5 miles marathon pace
  • Thurs – 5 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – 19 Miles Long Slow

First thing’s first….the new shoes!!

The manufacturer description : “The game-changing Bondi is the most cushioned shoe in HOKA ONE ONE®’s road-shoe lineup. The Bondi 6 offers a smooth, balanced ride delivered by the full EVA midsole, the comfortable and breathable upper, and our Meta-Rocker technology. This delivers a consistent ride for all distances.

My description : “Wow, these are high. Clown shoes. Springy like pogo sticks. Excellent, my toes aren’t squished. Weird, I barely need to lift my feet to run…that’ll be the meta-rocker thingy. I like them”

I guess I won’t be writing up their marketing strategy any time soon. I gave them a proper testing on my Sunday long run and wow, what a difference it made. More on that later.

Monday’s run was with Montrose Flyers, a nice route around town and an opportunity to catch up with folk. Sticking with the ‘slow pace group’ has been my go-to for some time – usually because that’s what the training plan suggests, but also because I’ve been running longer distances at the weekend. Perhaps once the marathon is done and dusted, I’ll brave a faster paced group again. (Correction – I ran with the middle paced group last nightquite enjoyed it)

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to get out with Jake for a run to the viaduct and back. I was dying to try out my new shoes too. Jake seemed happy enough to bounce along beside me at my marathon pace, although I had forgotten how often he likes to stop, so I didn’t really get a feel for them that I’d get on a longer continuous run. What I did notice straight away is how light they felt, compared to how heavy they look.

Thursday I ran with Jane and Emily C – we had for various reasons switched our usual Wednesday run to Thursday. An easy out and back 5 miles with regular bouts of blethering, we honestly did try to stick with an easy 10 min/mile pace, but ended up running at a still comfortable albeit faster pace.

I spent some of my free time this week researching blister prevention. The new shoes certainly seemed to give my toes lots of space, but with a REALLY long run looming at the weekend, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything possible to prevent rather than treat. This article is really good, with plenty of useful advice. I bought some Kinesio Tape to try and followed a YouTube clip on how best to apply the tape to the area I was having trouble with. Think I did an ok job?

I went along to Montrose parkrun on Saturday, just to try out the taping. It all held together for a slow 5K so I was set for Sunday’s long run. Claire kindly loaned me some blister prevention power to try too.

Sunday morning was glorious. Sunny, not half as windy as it has been and not particularly cold. Nothing left to do but get this 19 mile run done! I ran two loops of Montrose Basin. The first loop was anticlockwise, a little longer, heading round the local cycle path first. I ran it solo (and a little bit with fellow Flyer Michael who caught up with me on the return leg). I then met up with Jo B to do a second loop clockwise. On the way round, I met lots of familiar faces. Colleen and Emily R were also out early on one of Emily’s training runs. She’s doing the Declaration of Arbroath Half along with many other running club members and friends. Training looks like it’s going well. On the second loop, it was clear that Sunday was unofficial ‘run round the Basin day’ as we passed Barrie M and Donny. We missed Brenda, who had been round earlier.

The shoes were absolutely everything I hoped they would be for a long run. Comfortable, roomy, light and requiring little effort to run in at a slower pace. I wouldn’t say they would be suited to sprinting or fast paced running. I did find myself dragging my feet a little towards the end, I think I pelted Jo with stones a few times as I caught myself skiffing my feet. I could just imagine my Mum saying, “lift your feet” like she did when I was wee. It was probably a combination of fatigue and the meta-rocker sole, but a small price to pay for the comfort and blister-free run. Oddly, I had none of the usual next day muscle stiffness I get with a long run usually.

In the end – I managed to run just over 20 miles on Sunday. Psychologically, this is a massive milestone for me in terms of the overall training plan. I was tired, my legs were heavy, but at the same time, running another 10K seems very much in the realms of possibility now. Jo was brilliant at keeping me going towards the end too, sharing stories about the marathons she’s run (Reykjavik and Manchester) and the strategies she used to get to the finish line. I’ll find out in a couple of weeks if I can repeat the distance without too many stops when I do the Inverness Half Marathon preceded by a 7 mile run!

I’ve signed up for quite a few nice races over the coming weeks – before Gent, I’ll be doing the Arbroath Smokies 10 mile, Inverness Half and Lathallan 9K with added training miles, to tie in with my long run schedule. I’ve been really lucky to do most of my training with others, it’s going to be strange running the marathon on my own!!

Thanks for reading. Hope to see a few of you at Smokies on Sunday!

Week 12 – If the shoe fits….

Waaahooo! Back running!

Training Schedule – Week 12

  • Mon – 5 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 8 miles marathon pace
  • Thurs – 5 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 13 Miles Long Slow
  • Sun – Rest

I started the week super cautiously. It was a bit like that feeling you have after lying in bed sick all week. You get up, a bit unsure of how your limbs should work, unfamiliar with gravity, that sort of thing. Except I could walk fine, but running felt a teensy bit odd. It took a while for my heart and lungs to kick into gear and my right leg was really tight (but not sore). I was able to do my stint volunteering with the Couch to 5K group first of all. I tail ran with Jo, keeping Neil C company as he worked through week 6 of the program. Suitably warmed up, I went ahead and did the Monday social run too…initially lost with Jo as we finished C25K last…then eventually catching up with Brenda, Graeme and Neil’s other half Jillian C, who are all training for a half marathon in April. All are doing really well! Running home afterwards and picking up my pace a bit, I realised my leg felt fine.

Wednesday and Thursday’s runs were a success from the point of view of keeping to an easy pace. I had Jane and Emily C keeping me company on Wednesday and Thursday evening was a return to the Flyers mixed road and trail route we did back in Week 2. A great route for getting away from light pollution, I spent a fair bit of the run looking up, plotting a potential astrophotography adventure.

By Friday, I was happy that I would be able to do my long run at the weekend. I would have preferred to choose the day and time, but in what now seems to be ‘storm season’ I had to find a window where I wouldn’t be fighting with gale force winds. That window was early Saturday morning. Dammit.

Up and out the door at 7.30am, I ran 13.2 miles in just over 2 hours, close to my half marathon PB, with a few stops for water and stretches. Towards the end, the wind really picked up. Glad I got it out of the way early.

My pace seems to be back on track and my leg sufficiently healed. My old nemesis, a blister on the side of my right toe/ ball of my foot was back though. It had only just healed from my last long run, and I now had a whole new one, on top of the remains of the old one. Double blister. Normally, I just leave it and it goes away in a few days. But it burst during my run, and it was bloody sore. I was hobbling most of Sunday because of it. I’ve heard about ultra runners DNF’ing because of blisters. There is no freaking way I am letting a blister sideline my training, and heaven forbid, stop me finishing the marathon!

I got to thinking about why I was getting this persistently annoying little bugger in the same place after every run longer than 10 miles. I know it’s friction that causes a blister, so that particular part of my foot/toe is a hotspot. I’ve tried all manner of blister plasters, but they invariably detach during the run, and cause more friction. Is it my shoes? My socks? Both? I have pretty decent blister preventing, wicking running socks that fit well. So my shoes?

After a bit of research, I raked out my last pair of retired running shoes (not binned yet, I still wear them for dog walking) and had a good look at the wear pattern. Well, lo and behold…distinctive holes in the upper mesh where my pinkie toes live. Hmm. I removed the insoles and stepped on them. Ha! My feet don’t actually fit. They are much wider at the toes than the insole allows. So, my trusty Saucony Ride’s are too narrow, and possibly too small – hence the black Morton’s toe! While I’ll get away with that for short runs, on longer runs they are literally chewing up my toes.

Well that’s certainly the most logical, well thought out argument for new shoes I’ve made to date.

I won’t bore you with the laborious detail of how I chose a new shoe to try. It’s 5 weeks until the marathon, I don’t have time to fanny about here. They’ll need broken in. Let’s just say they arrive tomorrow, in my favourite shade of erm, black, and they have a wide toe box, and they are pretty well cushioned. More to follow next week!

Thanks for reading, sorry for the icky foot and blister talk. The struggle is real.

Week 11 – Injury corner

I wasn’t going to bother with a post for this disastrous week, but I’ve had time to reflect and actually, it’s probably not so bad to blog about the experience. Also, if you have been following the blog (thanks!) you deserve to read about the week I had to stop running altogether!

This was the plan….

Training Schedule – Week 11

  • Mon – 5 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 8 miles easy
  • Thurs – 5 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – 18 miles long slow

In week 10, I reported that I had developed a niggle in my right calf/shin. It seemed to be sorting itself out, I managed 17 miles without too much difficulty.


Monday’s 5 mile run brought the pain right back, worse than before, and not going away afterwards. Haunted once more by the prospect of a serious injury (MTSS?), I promptly made an appointment with my close friend and brilliant physio Caroline. We live on the same street so I didn’t have to travel far.

Caroline really does know how to do an assessment well. She’s very thorough, makes you feel at ease and asks lots of questions. She likely sees lots of runners too. After around a half hour of diagnostics, resistance tests and questioning, it turned out I didn’t present as having shin splints (MTSS). Instead, I had a couple of other issues. Primarily, my right flexor digitorum longus muscle was likely the source of pain and tightness. Standing on my tiptoes on my right leg was wobbly and it was during the toe-off phase of running and walking I was getting pain. Another issue was my right hip being much less mobile than my left. In fact, by manipulating me into a pose that an expert Yogi would be proud of, I could feel the pain of an impinged sciatic nerve right down the outside of my ankle and foot.

The subsequent relief I felt was incredible. I may have hugged Caroline a little too enthusiastically, it’s just as well we’re friends. Given the news that doing some targeted strengthening, hip mobility exercises and some cross training should see me back running soon, I left with a (slightly lopsided) spring in my step.

Week 11 was a good lesson in listening to your body. If I had kept running, I may have made the situation much worse. Instead, I did all the exercises twice a day and although I never made it to cross training, I rested for an entire week (apart from Friday night when I ended up quite drunk with photographer friends and got involved in some rather energetic dancing/jumping about at a local band night fundraiser. Good to let your hair down mid-training)

By the end of the week, I had gone from being barely able to jump on the spot 5 times, to being able to hop, skip and jump 20 times. A good test for readiness to run.

Game on!

Thanks for reading! Next week, adventures in blister prevention…you lucky, lucky people.

Week 10 – Rest and be thankful

This week was pretty tense. It started off well enough and it ended well. But somewhere in between, I convinced myself that I may have picked up a serious-ish injury. Bloody Google!

Training Schedule – Week 10

  • Mon – 4 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 8 miles marathon pace
  • Thurs – 4 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – 17 Miles Long Slow

I read somewhere (probably a half read copy of Runner’s World next to the bog) that it’s good to mix up terrain when training. I’ve been doing lots of road/pavement training runs of late so with this in mind, I nipped out for an easy 4 mile trail run with the dog on Monday. Jake was more than happy to oblige, tearing off towards his familiar routes around the Kinnaber estate. A bit gutted that the forestry work going on there has more or less ruined a wooded section that we enjoy running together. It was more of a steeplechase louping through all the uprooted trees, stray branches and muddy tracks left behind by the machinery. Actually, I think Jake did enjoy leaping majestically over all the obstacles. Me, not so much.

Mid week, I met up with Jane and Emily C (love how we’re now managing a Wednesday social most weeks). I’d been reading a old favourite book that I’d uncovered while sorting out years of clutter before our big move in the summer. I ended up spending the rest of the evening reading and not sorting out any of the clutter. Procrastination much?

Anyway, one of the experiments ‘Alternating Travel’ is a simple concept. You go for a walk (or a run) and take first road on your right, next on your left, next on your right…etc, until you can go no further. As there were three of us running, I suggested we try it and take turns shouting out which direction to go each time. We managed to avoid dead ends, sometimes forgot whose turn it was, sometimes got left and right mixed up (Jane and I) and had to try to figure out best options for getting back to the start point while keeping within the mileage goal. It was great fun, added randomness to the run that you don’t really appreciate following a planned route and we easily reached the 6 mile target in what felt like no time. Thanks again ladies! I made up the 2 miles running to and from home.

On the way home, I started to notice shin pain in my right leg that had been niggling for a week or so. I had been doing quite a lot of weekly miles, so had assumed it was just tight muscles. It tended to ease off once I warmed up, this was the first time I felt it towards the end of a run. Cue an appointment with Dr Google.

I honestly wish I hadn’t looked.

I self-diagnosed shin splints, or worse.. a tibial stress fracture. Getting a grip of myself and not succumbing to injury hysteria took some effort. Maybe it’s because I’m past the point of being able to recover sufficiently from either of these in time for the marathon, I had the fear. Obviously, it would be silly to run on Thursday. I took the day off, such was my abject horror at having to stop running altogether. By Friday, still fretting, I failed to notice that actually, my leg was much improved. I had to really poke at my calf to elicit the same level of discomfort felt on Wednesday. Still, I took Saturday off too, just to be sure. I also had a go at some calf raises, single and two legged, resistance band ankle strengthening and picking up towels with my toes….which the dog thought was a fun new game and kept running off with the towel.

I went ahead with my 17 mile run on Sunday.

Looking back, I think I have become a bit of a slave to the training plan. Having a extra rest day is just not something I would have considered up to this point. What a difference it made though! Sunday’s run was my best long run yet. Almost effortless at some points. I even added some hills. It took around 5 miles before I was convinced that my shin was ok, with every little twinge or burn given scrupulous assessment. I was hyper aware of my running form too. I hadn’t really considered before how my foot strike, cadence or posture might put extra load on my legs and bones. The best piece of advice I think I read/watched during hours of google/youtube research was to imagine your legs being light and loose. It’s hard to describe, but I now notice how over the course of a long run, my legs do get increasingly tight and rigid. Remembering to loosen up was something of a revelation. I also stopped a few times to stretch, which helped too.

Another thing I’ve noticed on long runs is how often I stop (take photos, enjoy the scenery, chat to pals etc). Sometimes a 2.5 hour run becomes a 3.5 hour ‘elapsed time’ run with all the stops. While that’s totally fine, I enjoy chatting and taking photos, I do recognise that I’m not really going to be able to stop so often during the marathon if I want to get a decent time. So I set off on Sunday with the notion of stopping only to drink water, take a gel (I forgot to bring them!) or stretch.

  • Moving time 2:43,
  • Elapsed time 2:53
  • Photos taken 0 – sorry

Pretty pleased with that!

I ran the 17 miles at an average pace of 9:39 min/mile – my marathon pace. I know, I know, that’s not what the plan says. Yet again, left to my own devices, I failed at slowing down. I’m just going to have to accept that I have a pace my body naturally likes to run at – some days it’s slower, some days it’s faster. If I can manage most of the marathon at that pace, I’ll be delighted. I have a 18 mile run next weekend, so I’m considering dropping one of my mid week runs again so I’m well rested. I’ll keep an eye on the shin too. At time of writing I have no pain, no bruising and no swelling. If it does turn out to be shin splints or worse, then I’m just going to have to accept it and rehabilitate accordingly.

Thanks for reading and if you are currently in injury corner, I have a whole new perspective on and respect for how that must feel!

Week 9 – Highs and lows

It’s halfway to Marathon day! It’s about to get much tougher.

I had a easy-ish week, but it’s been an emotional rollercoaster….

Training Schedule – Week 9

  • Mon – 4 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 7 miles easy
  • Thurs – 4 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Rest
  • Sun – Half Marathon

I started the week feeling great. I really enjoyed the back to back long runs on the weekend, for different reasons. The first was a really interesting route, the second a really useful lesson in slow-paced running. Feeling pretty damn sure that I was doing well with the training, I was looking forward to a restful week of easy running.

Monday night was a combo of C25K volunteering and a social run with my running club. It was good to be amongst the positivity felt by the C25K group when they smashed their first 3 minute intervals. The social run was a lovely easy paced jaunt to Ferryden and back, although I was super sad to see the state of my buddy Jo’s flat as we passed. A house fire in the flat above earlier that day had done untold damage. Thankfully no-one was injured.

On Wednesday, I ran with the dynamic duo Emily C and Jane out to the lighthouse and back. The weather was perfect and we spotted some seals just off the rocks. Pace was good, a little faster than planned marathon pace, but managed fine.

Incidentally, Jane has a great eye for a pair of running leggings and she did not disappoint when she rocked up in a pair of zig-zaggy, rainbow striped awesomeness. I knew what the dress code was in advance so I braved wearing a pair of bright blue Mexican skull emblazoned Tikiboo leggings I picked up for £2 in a local charity shop (they are a size too big as it turns out, but what a bargain!) Before I left, I thought the waist tie would be a bit annoying, so I whipped it out. I then spent the run constantly hauling my breeks up. Lesson learned.

On Thursday, it was my running club’s third Lion (Bar) run of the series. The idea is to beat your previous 5K time from weeks 1 and 2. On the first run, I went all out and got a time of 25:19. Now I know for some, that’s pretty slow, and for others, it’s fast. For me, it’s about as fast as I can physically run 5K. That’s me, all out, huffing and puffing, burning legs and lungs, every bit of mental strength I can muster to keep going even though I desperately want to stop.

I got 26:06 (I think, it was hard to tell from the time sheet as it was dark). I ran pretty hard, or so I thought. I was kinda disappointed with my time. Then I got myself caught in a downward spiral of self-doubt and anxiety that my fitness was actually getting worse. I felt pretty damn crappy about myself. I chatted with Emily C and Jane about it, and they were both quick to point out that I have been running lots and lots, I’m not losing fitness, I’m running on tired legs! Glad to have such positive people around me, I agreed they are probably right enough, and I also think there’s something about running exclusively slow and easy paces over longer distances that makes you less adapted to fast short distance running. It’s also a lot of speculation for just one not-so-great timed run!

With one bad run behind me (and many, many good runs) I had a brilliant weekend of running ahead.

On Saturday, my Mum finally decided she wanted to try our local parkrun. She’s been keen for a while, but I think she just needed a running buddy to go with for a bit of support. She picked a good one for her first. As a warm-up, in honour of Rabbie Burns, we were lined up and treated to some heee-ooch music, and a round or two of Orcadian Strip the Willow. Great fun, brilliant idea!

Mum did so well run/walking the course and I’m really proud of her.

Photo by Jamie Kinghorn

I had been hoping to do a half-marathon race as per my plan on Sunday. Turns out there isn’t an official half-marathon in Scotland, at the end of January. The alternative was much more fun!

Anya and Lesley had said the previous week that they were hoping to do a half marathon distance on Sunday. Perfect timing. Lesley is a run leader at the running club, making up lots of varied and interesting routes for us all. I was honestly chuffed when she said I could plan a route for us, loosely based on one Claire had sent me (but avoiding too many out of town windy areas).

With both of them doing RED January and to add a bit of challenge/interest, I made it into a sort of treasure hunt. We were going to run 13.1 miles, while photographing as many red things as we could. With both of them as snap happy as me, it was a brilliant run, and really great fun. We ran around town, up and down streets and sneaky paths, passing a few fellow flyers, all the while grabbing photos of anything red, silly selfies and some great jumping shots. I hardly noticed the running part. Thanks ladies!

In other news this week, I’ve signed up for the Inverness Half Marathon in March. It coincides with my 20 mile training run (the longest in the plan) so I’ve decided to do 7 miles before the race, then run with Laura for the half. Yes, it’s a novel approach to the long run. When I asked the excellent community Running Friends Scotland if this was something to try, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Thanks for reading and well done to all the Red January people this month – just a few more days to go!

Week 8 – Pushing the envelope

Primary 6 school report card – ‘Well she’s certainly tenacious’. I didn’t know what that meant when I was what, 10? I thought I was in trouble.

Determination and a bit of stubborness was required this week. Being face-slapped by freezing headwinds on Wednesday would test even the hardiest of souls. Thankfully, I had Emily C with me to help push through a particularly brutal section of run. We saw the funny side later.

Training Schedule – Week 8

  • Mon – 4 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 7 miles easy
  • Thurs – 4 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 15 miles long (slow)
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

The week started with a cyclonic weather bomb (aka Storm Brendan). Great. Winter training seemed such a good idea at the time…..

Monday morning was actually okay weather wise. I had planned to do a running club activity in the evening, but decided instead to hedge my bets and go out before the storm. Half asleep, I plodded around the beach on my own, making a work to-do list in my head. The storm later that evening certainly delivered. Dodged a bullet there.

It was STILL windy on Wednesday but I went ahead anyway. Chummed by Emily C, we went out around the beach before heading to Kinnaber to make up the 7 miles. On the way out, helped along by a tailwind, we chatted happily, passing through some nice wooded and trail sections. We had to battle our way back into town though, at one point barely able to talk, or hear each other. Madness really. We chose to do this, we enjoyed our run, we decided what great resistance training it was! Haha, runners are oddballs.

On Thursday night, mercifully, the wind had abated. I ran with the running club to Ferryden, with a healthy dose of hill running thrown in. Elaine K and I chatted for most of the route, both managing to make it up the hill in one go, which was decent. I also had a good chat with Moira about changing up my long run route at the weekend. I’m getting a wee bit bored of the repetitiveness of local routes. Great because they are door to door, but really fancied a change.

Something else I’ve noticed this week is my appetite, which is verging on ravenous some days. I’ve been pretty good at managing to eat at regular times. Lots of pasta, rice, couscous and tatties….alongside veg, fish, pulses, cheese and the occasional sweetie or chocolate. I get by fine on that, my weight has stayed much the same for a few months now. I don’t eat before running, I can’t stomach it. I don’t feel especially hungry after running normally. This week though, I could eat aaaall the food….and at random times too (10.30am – is it time for second breakfast yet?). You should see the state of my feet, perhaps I am turning into a hobbit?

On Saturday morning, the weather was actually lovely. Cold, crisp and sunny. I decided to go ahead and try a new route. I’ve always wanted to go across the Tay Road Bridge on foot, never have, despite living in the vicinity of Dundee for years. I was surprised to discover it’s actually only 1.4 miles long. It does have a slight gradient (downhill towards Dundee) and there is good pedestrian access from both sides. There’s a newish memorial for the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster on the south side, about 5 miles from Olympia car park (£3 for the day on a Saturday) so I headed there via the road bridge. I ran through Newport on Tay, on to Wormit, then after faffing about with Google maps for a bit, found the memorial.

With 5 miles of good running in the bank, I headed back towards Dundee. Knowing that the bridge was slightly downhill, I couldn’t resist upping the pace for the return leg. I did regret it slightly for the last five miles though…clearly the muscle memory didn’t want to fade and I found it quite hard to get back to a slow, easy pace along Riverside then back to town via Perth Road (except for the hill past the Botanic Gardens – that was tough going).

15 miles done with lots of scenery to enjoy made the trip worthwhile. But I was annoyed with myself. My average pace was 9:19/mile – which is pretty nippy for me. Certainly not the long, slow pace recommended in my plan. So I did something naughty. I went out again on Sunday with my running buddies Lesley and Anya, who are the queens of conversational pace running. I messaged Lesley on Sunday morning to see if she would be doing one of her Red January runs that I could tag along on, thinking maybe a 3 or 4 mile run? She messaged me back saying that would be great, we’re heading round the basin! I went anyway, and it was perfect. Zone 2 pace and HR all the way!

Photos by Lesley Strachan

I am writing this with a massive caveat for anyone thinking it’s perfectly okay to go on an 11 mile run the day after your longest run…it really isn’t recommended I’m sure. The truth is, I felt recovered enough to go, and I was well aware of the risk of injury if I hadn’t recovered sufficiently. I won’t be making a habit of it. The benefit will in time outweigh the risk, I really did learn a lot from my pacing dream team!

The Gent Marathon organisers released their route map this weekend. It looks an amazing way to see the city, with some nice out of town canal paths and countryside making up the 42.2km route. Their video shows just how far that is! I’m sticking with mile laps for now, 42 laps vs 26 laps – hmmmm – wwyd?

I heard today that the Angus Coastal Ultra has been postponed until next year. Not sure if I should feel disappointed or relieved. It will mean I’m free to do this instead 🙂

Thanks for reading, looking forward to a easier week 9!

Week 7 – Uncharted territory

OK, that’s a bit dramatic. My first ‘longest ever’ run was this week, by about 1/4 of a mile. Nonetheless, it’s a psychological and physical milestone, and I was a bit anxious if I’m honest. I remember reaching the end of my last longest run (Glen Clova Half Marathon in Nov) and thinking there was no way I could have continued running. Nope. Dead legs, ragged breathing, finished, done. Add to that a fairly punishing midweek mileage increase, poor weather and a niggly right ankle, it could have all ended in tears.

It didn’t, and here’s why;

The training plan is very clever. I have faith in it. It has become my mentor and friend. It gently boosts my confidence by pushing me along outside my comfort zone, then cajoling me back with a week of easier running. It is flexible, I can switch days if necessary, I can stop anytime I have a concern of injury (I have also run further than the plan dictates on occasion). It’s simple. Just running, easy paced.

I have a huge amount of support from friends, family and fellow runners. During this particularly hard week, I had both Jane and Caroline join me on training runs. I was late for Montrose Flyers Monday social run after volunteering with the C25K group (which was really well delivered to a group of slightly terrified looking new runners – well done Emily C). I still managed to do my miles afterwards on lap 2 of the group run with Colleen and Elaine K then with Emily C and Sarah R. I have had amazing support from Strava followers too – so many taking time to leave helpful and positive comments on both runs and blog posts. At no point during this training have I felt on my own. You are all amazing!!

Training Schedule – Week 7

  • Mon – 4 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 7 miles easy
  • Thurs – 4 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 14 miles long Weather so bad, they cancelled parkrun
  • Sun – 14 Miles long

So yeah, quite a jump then. I’ve not once moaned about the runs being too short this week. Monday and Thursday were easy enough, and as mentioned, I had company so really didn’t notice the miles.

Wednesday was a longer midweek run than I’m used to and I didn’t think I needed it for the distance, but I should have brought water. I also took a grass verge with a little too much enthusiasm, went over my ankle a teensy bit, but kept running as it felt fine. It was also fine on Thursday. On Friday, I was limping up stairs (only upstairs, not down, and not on the flat). Out came the compression socks and plans made to wait and see before running 14 miles on Saturday.

By Friday night, the decision to swap my long run to Sunday was made for me….the weather forecast for Saturday was shocking. High winds, rain, yuck. No chance was I going to attempt 14 miles in that!

With a night off on the cards and a lie in on Saturday for once, I caught up with a couple of documentaries recommended by Colleen earlier in the week. Turns out during that conversation I had managed to mix up Nicky Spinks with Fiona Oakes. Nicky is a farmer, Fiona runs an animal sanctuary (not the other way around). Both are incredible female ultra runners. I often mix up things when I run…brain oxygen diverted to my legs, I expect 😀

I found both documentaries completely fascinating. Mind-boggling distances. Put my mere marathon into perspective anyway! There’s an ultra marathon happening close to where I live this summer. I’m so tempted to enter. I’m going to. I may not run it, but then again, I might.

I woke up really early on Sunday. It was still dark. My ankle had miraculously healed. No pain. It was on then….14 miles!

I’m not sure why I decided to go for a route with hills and some coastal paths. I mean, it would have been easy to just stick with something flat and predictable. As the sun came up, I saw that there was going to be amazing light and views over the North Sea, and to get to some of the best viewpoints would mean a bit of a hike. I had made a plan to meet Caroline for part of the route and it made sense to do the bulk of the distance first, then run the last 5 miles together. I got my views, the hills were ok and I really, really enjoyed the run. It seemed to transcend the level of effort I was expecting. Just bumbling along deserted country roads and dramatic cliff tops, not thinking about the miles ahead, but the mile I was running at that time. How Zen.

I passed various folk including my neighbours and fellow Flyer Karen A on my way back from the lighthouse. I then passed them again (with Caroline), which was highly amusing (or confusing). Caroline is training for her first triathlon, and I quote, has a love-hate relationship with running. We completed our first 10K together, and our first 10K race, and she has been running consistently since the start of the year. So she was delighted to be dragged out to the lighthouse on a Sunday morning. Just kidding, we had a fine chat, and despite some brisk (freezing) headwinds on the way home, kept a steady pace. I felt fairly comfortable towards the end, a little stiff in the legs, but no ankle pain, and I felt I could have kept going further. Which I didn’t. Sensible.

Next week I’m up to 15 miles. I’ve recently discovered a great community on Facebook called Run Mummy Run. I was discussing long run distances with some other ladies training for spring marathons and one commented how they’d soon be saying ‘just nipping out for a cheeky half-marathon’. Haha!

Thanks for reading!