“The Hill at Mile Ten”

Monday.  Day 63

Despite the fact V has moved house, decorated almost the whole place in 48 hours and started a new job today, we are back in the saddle.  You’ll notice I take credit there by saying ‘we’.  The reality is I am exhausted after a weekend of nothing more than drinking wine and ambling through the countryside on the way to nice pubs.   I am merely tagging along in the wake of her boundless energy.

Just a short training run. We are, as a rule, hitting the duration according to the schedule but I’m pretty sure we should be going faster.  A woman passes us at a pretty steady sprint and we stare at each other in horror.  The reality of  actually coming in last is now never far from my mind.

 

Wednesday.  Day 65

Another short burst per the schedule. Feels really good tonight despite a powerful headwind.  We had aimed for 30 minutes but extended for another 10 minutes for so and get back home in pretty good shape, having completed 6.5k in just under 40 minutes.  We’re feeling good.

 

Thursday. Day 66

Had planned to do the usual run with G while rugrat number 2 is being sporty but she is working and the weather is horrendous.   Instead, we have the rugrats’ chums over to play. Should have done the run, would have been less exhausting.

 

Friday. Day 67

Have worked out a new route based on the ‘hill at mile 10’ which is whispered in hushed tones every time we mention to anyone that we are doing this run.  We plan to do it backwards – let’s make it easy on ourselves  – and join up with the lochside trail afterwards which will eventually dump us at home after about 16k or so.  The first 3 or 4 miles are on the road which will be good practice as we don’t do too much on that surface and it’ll be good to see how the knees cope.  I download a map and check the mileage, while drinking wine and eating crisps. Planning really is the most fun part.

 

Saturday.  Day 67

Best laid plans. V has to be in Glasgow at lunchtime so we need to be able to shorten the route for her to peel off after 10k.  The new ‘hill at mile 10’ route doesn’t allow for this so we decide on old faithful.  There is a small hill in there so it’s not like we’re copping out completely.

I am all set to carry on and do the full 16k as we’re making great progress and I am really enjoying the run today.  At 10k, V takes off and my positive outlook is immediately replaced by negative thoughts, aching legs and sore feet.  It is astonishing how quickly a positive mental attitude can dissolve when one is left to one’s own thoughts.  I have a painful blister on the instep of my right foot which is not helping and I manage another 3k before taking a short cut home feeling a little bit ashamed.

So, ‘The Hill at Mile Ten’ route is shelved until next week. Or, as V is away and I have family visiting, the week after.  Although we are away on holiday that week, so possibly the week after that.  But that’s rugrat number 2’s birthday weekend.

So maybe the week after……or perhaps we’ll just face it with grim determination on race day…….

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‘Rest’ and ‘lazy’ mean pretty much the same thing…right?

 

Monday. Day 56 –  Wednesday. Day 58

G has given me a book called ‘Marathon Running for Mortals’, or ‘Morons’, if you prefer. It talks a lot of the fundamental importance of rest and how, particularly for new runners like us, rest days are a vital part of your schedule.

Fine, we’ll call these rest days, if that makes you happy.

 

Thursday. Day 59

Finally dragged my carcass out for a run after a whopping 3 days off. Felt nervous before I started, and worried that I wouldn’t make the 10 mile goal I had set myself.  Those nerves were realistic.  I have a two and half hour window while rugrat number 2 is at nursery and forgot that I had booked an eyebrow waxing appointment – no self-respecting woman runs with poorly maintained eyebrows – so that had already knocked off half an hour. I also stopped to chat to a friend at the start point, so making 10 miles was quite clearly not achievable in the time I had left.

I set off and took a route that I knew gave me distance options, but secretly hoped I would manage 10k.  Something of a comedown from 10 miles I know, but that felt manageable and gave me something to aim for.  The frisson of fear that I would not make it back in time to pick up the kids kept the pace up a bit.  I hope that similar adrenalin will do well for us on race day.

I made it with a good 15 minutes to spare and used it wisely to go home and guzzle down berocca, half an avocado and a packet of chilli prawns before I raced back out to pick up the rugrats.

Showering is for girls.

 

Friday.  Day 60

Day off.  V is moving house.  Three doors down. I fear for my liver.

 

Saturday.  Day 61.

Spent today in a gym hall surrounded by desperate mothers and screaming kids.  This was the Jack & Jill baby (goods) sale I had signed up for while under the influence of enough Hendricks to knock out a small elephant.

As a result, I have spent large portions of the last few days cleaning, pricing, ironing, bagging and then removing from the sale bag, various toys and items from the rugrats’ past as I’m overcome with a (very unusual) bout of sentimentality.  We really do need to keep that Diaper Genie we never used because someone N used to work with (whose name I cannot remember and whose features are even more hazy) gave it to us with a note stating sincerely that this would be the ONLY bit of baby kit we’d ever need.

We got a similar heads up about an electric wipe warmer.  Common sense prevailed, not only about the wipe warmer , but the Daiper Genie, which made it back into the sale bag and was flogged for a fiver. Happily, I made a total of about £100 but the effort of trawling through the loft and sorting all the stuff out has not enticed me to do it again anytime soon.

On the upside, spent a fun morning with A. Who, it seemed, had decanted the entire contents of her house into the back of her people carrier. I am very surprised one of the kids wasn’t inadvertently scrubbed and priced up.

 

Sunday. Day 62

V and family are still in the throes of the house move and although that should have no bearing on whether I run or not,  any excuse will do.  I tell myself I can’t run because they may need help with their rugrats and being a good friend, I should make myself available.  Both sets of parents and G’s brother are there so there is very little chance I’ll be needed but I’ve used far flimsier excuses in the past.  The next series of Masterchef starts soon and it’s not unlikely that panna cotta will feature here as the sole reason for my not training at some point in the coming weeks.

 

 

It’s all about the Jelly Babies.

Monday.  Day 49

My feet hurt and I am knackered.

Tuesday. Day 50

My feet hurt and I am knackered.

Wednesday. Day 51

My feet hurt and I am knackered.

Thursday. Day 52

My scheduled training run with G. Usual route part way round the loch with an option to extend or shorten depending on mood/conditions/pain levels.

Feels pretty good considering I have done nothing even resembling exercise for 4 full days.  Unless you count creaking back and forth to the cupboard we keep the Berocca in.

It is much milder than usual and yet again I have dressed inappropriately for the conditions.  The upshot is I am soaked, sweaty, and manage to lose a neck warmer on the way round.  The pace is good however and I am feeling pretty pumped. Perhaps less training is a good thing…?  V will be thrilled.

G exits as we pass her house and I carry on to the village hall to pick up the rugrat. I arrive with a good 5 minutes to spare only to realise that my car is parked about half a mile away outside the school.  Exactly where I left it this morning.  It is now lashing rain and the rugrat has no coat.

A sprint back to collect it and looking on the positive side – as I so often do – I realise I have completed 8k and feel altogether chuffed with myself.

Friday. Day 53

Day off in preparation for a 10 mile/16k monster run tomorrow.  I decide on a healthy homemade burger for dinner with low-fat sweet potato wedges.  I feed the kids a chippy and another layer of guilt is added to the poor-parenting sheen I already wear so well.

The healthy extra-lean steak mince burger is delicious.  Especially after I pair it with a last-minute dollop of fried pancetta,blue cheese and onion rings.  I suspect “healthy” might now be out the window.  Although it’s likely the beer, wine, port and whisky helped did for me there too.

Bit wet and windy this morning but given this is Scotland, I have come to expect nothing less.  I have learnt my lesson and have had my Weetabix, topped with strawberries; on which I will impart some sound advice.  Do not buy strawberries in winter.  They taste of ‘red’, and frankly nothing else.  I could  have garnished the cereal with delicately diced polystyrene, it would have had more flavour.

We are off to a good start and after last week and our positive outcome, we are feeling motivated.  The Garmin 10 fails us somewhat initially, and we are almost 2k in before it finally finds the GPS signal.  I take no responsibility for wasting that time at a slow jog while I try to reset it no less than 9 times without any glasses or the first idea how to work the damn thing. Eventually though, Big Brother has us in his sights and we are making excellent progress on the route from last week.

It is very wet and we are sensitive about getting our feet soaked early in the day. The paths are so marshy that there is a lot of dainty  – and on my part, not so dainty – hopping over puddles, jumping bogs and general buggering up of the pace as we try to get moving in ankle-deep mud.  Eventually we get on to the road and pick it up a bit.

The wind is against us most of the way round and we are happy to note it doesn’t make a huge difference.  We are making good pace and our time is pretty much the same as last week, which was calm and still.  We may actually be FIT after all!

Being relatively new to this lark, we are trying out a range of energy boosters.  So far Starburst have worked well, but today Lucozade tablets get an airing.  An airing is exactly what they need as unfortunately, the only pocket in my running tights is right at the small of my back so they are a little soggy once we are 5 miles in.  As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to scratch them from the list, they are rather powdery and trying to breathe through your nose while eating them can result in choking. We had a bit of a hairy moment where I thought I may have to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on V or bundle her over my shoulder and sprint the rest of the way home.

Luckily for her, I managed to eat mine without too much drama, having to drag my heaving carcass into a fireman’s lift could quite possibly have killed her.

We will try gels next week. Watch this space for more in-depth analysis on training aids.

In order to make up the 10 miles we are so keen to get in the training diary we have to run through the park and then out to the end of the village and back up the hill to V’s place.  A slow and gradual hill isn’t really the way either of us want to finish but we arrive at the park making good time.  It is a quagmire and deeply unpleasant, particularly now that we are tired, cold and hungry. The lucozade tablets have given us neither boundless energy, nor the will to carry on.

Sucked in again by marketing hyperbole.

We make it half way up the main street when we hit the magic 10 mile mark and agree the rest of the way can be classed as ‘cool down’ if we stop and walk.  It is amazing how one can jog along, one foot in front of the other, for many, many miles but as soon as the decision is made to stop, the effort of taking another step, even at walking pace, becomes almost too much.

We agree that stopping en route come race day MUST NOT HAPPEN, as I doubt either of us would find the will to get going again.

I test out the theory by running from V’s place to mine – about another 1k – it is the worst feeling in the world and I am perilously close to collapse and tears by the time I get home.

The next sensible steps are: rehydrate, shower, eat a high protein meal and rest.

As you will have probably realised, I laugh in the face of conventional theory.  Or, if you prefer, never learn.

Instead, I throw together an enormous club sandwich with a side of crisps and wash it down with yet another Berocca.  Then I hastily shower, dress, and hot foot it out the door to S & E’s place to drink enormous amounts of alcohol and eat them out of house and home. While displaying a blatant disregard for parenting of any kind.

The rest is hazy, but both we and the children make it home unscathed. Social services are kept at bay for another day.

There was a small incident with a pair of rather expensive Ugg boots and some glitter glue, but as N is still terribly sensitive about it (they were a birthday gift), I shall say no more.

Sunday. Day 55

Rest day, except that N and rugrat number 1 are climbing Ben Vrackie so rugrat number 2 and I are left at home.  I can’t speak for her, but I’m feeling lazy and a little ashamed about sitting around on my ample rear nursing aching limbs and a fuzzy head.  So, once the ever-present rain has abated, we hop (I use the term loosely – I doubt a ‘hop’ ever involves groaning), on the bike and head out for a jaunt around the loch.

Exhilarating and highly recommended after a night on the sauce, but very tough on the thighs.  We run out of jelly babies after about 6 miles so have to turn back.  If you have learned nothing from this – and if you have, god only knows how – you must at least be aware that you cannot take small children on outings without the appropriate supply of jelly babies.

Forget the gels, next week…..it’s all about the Jelly Babies.

Morning sickness.

Sunday.  Day 42

Checking out of the hotel today so sadly, no time for training what with all that packing, organising and hoovering up of the breakfast buffet to be done.

I console myself that lugging cases, coats and  wellies back and forth probably burnt off 100 calories or so and helped build my upper body strength.  I check the Garmin 10 (which I have become obsessed with) and note only a measly 21 calories!

Clearly, it is malfunctioning.

Monday. Day 43

V has an after work meeting so I’m on my own.   You’ve heard it all before.

It is freezing……..please enter here any negative and uninspiring text you can recall from the huge range available in any other post I have published…..I arrive home and cry, vowing that after 10 May, I will never run again.

Tuesday. Day 44

V sends me a text heavy on the words ‘cry’, ‘couch’ and ‘rain’. My resolve wavers as it so often does, and I check the wine rack to see what we have in stock, just in case I need to go round there and, *make sure she is ok *. Unfortunately for her, there are only 7 bottles of champagne, a mulled wine from 2 years ago and N’s birthday bottle of Cloudy Bay.

I consider the mulled wine.  Even V, who is wonderful in every way, is not worth Bolly on a wet Tuesday.

Instead, I sigh and pull on my running tights.  By ‘pull on’ I mean of course, lie down, panting, as I squeeze my over large calves into lycra.

It seems that running four times a week does not offset 4 cooked breakfasts, three 4 course dinners, a case of wine and several whiskies.

Who knew?

The results of our run are slightly better than expected given the conditions and the horrors of Monday’s solo effort. I am feeling positive. I say again…

Who knew?

Thursday.  Day 46

G is as usual, drafted in for support.  We set off and it is soon clear to me that something is very wrong.  I feel nauseous and dizzy.  I press on anyway but a couple of miles in I confess that I feel unwell.  When questioned, (G is a medical professional and always ready with good advice. But on this occasion I know what the problem is and fear a ticking off.) I admit that for various reasons, I have failed to have any breakfast.  G tutts.  I decide it is probably unnecessary to add fuel to the fire by mentioning that I only had a half portion of some indiscriminate leftovers for dinner the night before. Or, that despite having insufficient time for food, I did manage 2 large glasses of wine last night and vacuumed the whole house this morning.

Skewed priorities.

Not where the wine is concerned, naturally.

I spend a couple of horrifying moments at the side of the trail choking back bile and hoping that none of the golfers on the fairway opposite are known to me.  My symptoms subside enough for us to carry on – walking.  Just around the corner we meet C walking her dog who is so supportive and complimentary about this whole endeavour, I feel like an utter fraud.

On the upside, lesson learned. In every sense, Weetabix is more important than hoovering.  A philosophy I promise faithfully to live by from now on.

Sunday. Day 49

A beautiful, bright spring day with the sun reflecting on the loch and a dusting of snow on the distant hills. Undoubtedly a Persephone day.  But, as usual, I’m stuck with good old reliable Doreen.  Even she however, cannot drag down my high spirits. It is cold, dry and clear, ideal conditions for our longest ever run. I’m feeling really good about today.

N has worked out a route for us based on his cycling expeditions and it’s only when we set off I realise that it is very likely a hill you run up, will appear steeper than one you cycle up. I decide not to share this groundbreaking observation with V.

We are off at a good pace and although the route is much more challenging than the well-lit flat pavement pounding we are stuck with during the week, we manage the hills like (horrifically injured) pro’s with no stops and very little in the way of foul language.

At 12k, we are close to a potential end point.  We’ve given ourselves several options on that score with final distances ranging from 12 to 16k.  At the beginning we were all about 16k. By now, our feet and legs really hurt and we decide with very little discussion that 14 will do it.

During the last 2k I check the Garmin every 90 seconds and feel every footstep.  However, we complete 14k in 1hr 32 minutes and are absolutely delighted with our achievement.

Endorphins! We’ve missed you!

I get home exhausted and starving.  I check the fridge and plan a delicious deli plate of leftover nibbles from the dinner party we had last night for my cousin L and her husband N. Visiting us on a whistle-stop tour of the UK from Zante, where they very sensibly live an idyllic existence in a sun-drenched paradise. In my eyes at least.

I have chorizo, artichoke dip, humus, marinated anchovies, crostini and those little hot peppers stuffed with feta.  I decide to have a long, hot shower and then prepare myself a delicious mezze platter while I rehydrate with lots of water.

What I actually do, is stuff the whole lot onto a slightly stale baguette and eat it standing up at the sink before I fall asleep on the couch.

I don’t even take off my trainers.