It’s been emotional.

Day 114

My stomach is doing somersaults and the relaxing swim I had planned is cancelled due to a delivery being due ‘sometime between today and next Thursday’.  Or something.

My already nervous disposition is in overdrive as I re-read the email of final instructions I’ve received from the race organisers, Kinross Road Runners.  It is full of helpful information.  Inexplicably, I cry.

Too late, I get back to reading ‘Marathon Running for Morons’. There is a chapter about the last week prior to your first race, which gives advice on diet, hydration, mental attitude and rest. As I said, I got to it too late and am now only too aware of all the things I haven’t done to prepare me adequately for tomorrow.

If there is one positive, it is this; for the first time in many years (two pregnancies notwithstanding) I have consumed NO ALCOHOL this week. Zero units.  If I can do that, a half marathon should be a breeze.


Day 115


After a fitful nights sleep where I dreamt that I had forgotten to register and collect my number, lost my spare blister plasters and had to pee in full view of spectators and other runners halfway round the course, I get up less than rested.

The last thing I read in ‘MRforM’ was ‘Don’t try anything new on race day’.  They wrote it several times in bold so I assume it is a rule worth following.

I decide on porridge for breakfast but cannot eat more than three spoonfuls.  Instead I opt for wholemeal toast with peanut butter and mashed banana.  I manage one small slice.

I have never been so nervous. It feels like Higher English all over again.

I head down to call on V so we can head over to register when it opens at 10.30am.

We collect our numbers from the sceptical women behind the registration desk and V comments that she’d feel much better if a very old and very overweight woman walked past right now clutching one of the same imposing-looking brown envelopes we’ve been handed.  We sit and empty the contents.

It contains our race numbers, five safety pins, two small cable ties and a little black rectangular thing about the size of  pencil sharpener.  It has a sticker with my race number on it.

“Timing chip”. I say, with more conviction than I feel.  We survey these for a minute or two.  “Where do they go?” asks V.

I have, of course, no idea, but we are both too embarrassed to ask the stern-faced officials behind the desk as we already feel like complete amateurs, and their no doubt smirk-filled response would cause any tiny shred of self-belief we have to evaporate altogether.

I text R who is an elite athlete and although I know he will cast this up on many a public forum for years to come, I feel he is our best bet.  Why I didn’t think of Google then, I don’t know.

He hasn’t replied by the time we get back home so I do a web search and find that the chip is supposed to attach to one’s shoe using the supplied cable ties.  It is so glaringly obvious I feel like a prize arse.

Not for the first time during this process.

The next two hours feel like days.  I am having sweats and my stomach is churning.  I am forced to take a precautionary immodium, per the advice of  C several months ago.  There is a long and unnecessary discussion about the placement of race numbers before V’s mum collects us to drive us down to the start point. My Dad and N decide to follow on bikes – the road will be closed shortly – to wave us off at the starting line.

We meet lots of people we know, both competitors and spectators and the last 20 minutes before the gun goes off is a blur. I remember having conversations with people, but not a word of what was said.  Except a quote from a woman in her 60’s who tells a friend within our earshot that she hopes to finish quicker than last year.  “Something under 1:35” she says calmly.  V and I stare at each other and head to the back of the throng.

The weather has been wet and dreary all morning but suddenly, the skies clear and it becomes sunnier, warmer and more humid. I try to remove the safety pins attaching my number so I can take off  the training top but too late – the gun goes off and we  are swept along with the crowd.

The sun is out and we’re off! The start is really narrow and it takes a few minutes to get in to our stride and find a bit of room.

It feels fantastic.  There are lots of spectators lining the route shouting words of encouragement and clapping. For the first time, it seems to me as though we are doing something special.

We’re feeling good but there is an obvious silence between us which is rare during our runs, usually we’re fighting for airtime. After a couple of miles, V gestures to a point in the distance where we see a snake of brightly coloured neon.  The lead runners must be at least a mile or two ahead of us already. I try not to look but my eyes are drawn to them while I take quick glances behind me to make sure we aren’t brining up the rear.  Luckily, it looks like there are at least 100 runners behind us.

The weather is fantastic for a weekend in early May but a bit too hot for a half marathon and the first water station is a very welcome sight.

Coming around the RSPB reserve the flies which have hounded us on our recent training runs, are out in force and it is easy to spot the locals who have trained in these conditions.  We are holding a hand up to shield our faces and cracking on with our heads down, quietly getting on with it.  The incomers are jumping around, flailing, spitting and yelping like schoolgirls.

I check the Garmin and we are on pace at a 10 minute mile. We stick with the pack, which helps us to keep the pace on track.  The faces around us will become familiar over the coming miles. Apart from a female competitor in front of us who appears to be running  with a motivational coach.  He is loud and Glasweigian with a laugh like a drain. After 15 minutes or so, I can take no more of his forced joviality towards his resolutely mute and stony faced charge, and push out to overtake. If he’d been my motivator, I’d have punched him.

A few minutes later,  I hear a thudding footfall right at my back and unsure of the etiquette, V and I move out slightly, allowing a good-sized gap to appear between us.  The thudding footfalls belong to a runner well into his 70’s who shows no intention of moving forwards so we close the gap and plod on.

He sticks with us for the whole race until the last couple of hundred metres where we decide we cannot be beaten by a pensioner.

I feel great until about mile 10 when my breathing starts to become erratic.  It may be the heat coupled with something in the fields we are passing, although generally I am not susceptible to allergies and don’t have asthma, but I am genuinely struggling for breath.

This carries on for a the next couple of miles and during that time my mood crashes.  V feeds me up with a power bar but it may be too late.  My head is filled with dark thoughts and I am overcome with negativity.  This, along with the breathlessness – and my subsequent panic about it which of course only serves to make it worse – makes the last 3 miles a deeply unpleasant experience.

V is a stalwart training partner.  She sticks by me despite my seething silence and my expression resembling a bulldog chewing a wasp.

I constantly tell her to carry on without me, I am sure she could break 2 hours if she goes it alone. But she sticks with me and keeps me going with words of encouragement.  It cannot be understated that without her on those last 3 miles, I doubt very much I would have finished the race.

As we come into the last 200 metres, my feet hurt, my legs are wobbly and I feel like I am about to cough up a lung. Then I spot my Mum and rugrat 2 waving and cheering and I find I am smiling.  I see my Dad and N along with lots of other friends and I cross the line with a feeling of absolute elation.

The running club marshal removes the timing chip and I all but collapse.  I am handed a goody bag which I tip out and down the bottle of Lucozade it contains in about 7 seconds.

We are surrounded by friends and family and there is lots of photography and hugging.  I feel very close to tears as I hug V and quietly whisper my thanks.

She is the reason I finished.

Rugrat 1 runs up to give me a hug and I really am overcome with emotion now. G, my Thursday morning motivator turns up holding out a gin & tonic and although I feel like throwing up, I gamely take a swig before surreptitiously passing it to N who very kindly finishes it off for me.




Would I do it again?




Not bloody likely.






Tick tock…..

Days 92-94

Rest days.  Still feel guilty about calling them that when I think of them more in terms of ‘thank god I don’t have to run today’, days.

My sister and her family are coming today so everyone is very excited.  They live in New Zealand so this is a rare and much-anticipated visit.  They have  one night in amongst the punishing schedule of driving the length and breadth of the country with a 2-year-old and a four-year old in tow.

I don’t envy them one tiny bit.

They arrive late after getting stuck in traffic in Edinburgh so our kids are hysterical, and N and I are half-cut by the time they get here.

We have a fantastic night with them and showing a complete lack of respect for my body, my running partner and the commitment I have made to running this race,  my sis and I stay up until 2am drinking brandy.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m seeing a theme developing here.


Day 95

Our Sunday run is again planned for the usual route around Mawcarse, Balgeddie and the Loch.  We find it not too shabby an effort and despite the fact the Garmin 10 has once again failed us, and I have a stonking hangover, we do OK, and feel overall, positive and happy with the distance and time (both, estimated very heavily in our favour).

Cheating oneself is a key part of our training plan.


Days 96 – 98

Back to school, so we embark on the usual scramble to find reading books, gym kit and school trousers and realise that once again, rugrat number 1’s feet have grown.  Mercy dash to M&S.

We are taking this ‘tapering’ malarkey we’ve read so much about to a whole new level, by doing absolutely zero this week.


Day 99

Rugrat 2 is back at sports class so I take the opportunity to fill my free hour with a run.  Decide not to call on G as after a lax week, I don’t want to embarrass myself.

Manage a pretty good 9.5k and get back before the class is over so despite not having the Garmin (which has proved not to be the magic bit of kit I was promised), I estimate around 50 minutes.  The truth is probably nearer 55.

I’m buzzing after a sprint down the main street back to the hall but am soon brought back down to earth as the others waiting to pick up their kids question me about the race, my training and expectations on the day.  They appear to be talking to me as though as I am some sort of authority.  I feel a fraud so mumble some self-deprecating replies, and change the subject.


Day 100

The symbolic 100th training day should be marked in some way with a grand gesture of some sort.

I spend a very pleasant child free few hours in the hairdressers drinking coffee and reading celebrity trash.

I’ll remember it forever.


Day 101 – 102

My little brother and his girlfriend pitch up for the weekend as an unexpected surprise so training is moved to the back of my mind. I cannot wait until this run is over so I can eat and drink with impunity. We spend a lovely couple of days with them and V and I arrange a late afternoon run to round off a great weekend.

We do around 10k, only too aware that this is not enough.  No one has cast an eye over the training schedule for weeks but we estimate we are probably around 10k down this week mileage-wise.

I go home and drink wine while I ponder a solution.


Day 103  – 107

We do NOTHING this week at all.  Husbands working late, children, community group commitments  –  you’ve heard it all before. The rain was also a major factor in cancelling Wednesday evening’s session.

We really are not taking this seriously.

Guilt overtakes me eventually and I manage an 8k on Thursday morning and console myself with the fact that we are supposed to be ‘tapering’.


Day 108

N is out this evening so we arrange a 10am start. The conditions are perfect and we plan the 16k route we have done before as our final long distance training run.

It is an unmitigated disaster.

Neither of us are in the mood and we confess we are finding the whole training programme tedious.  We cannot wait until this race is over and agree we will never tackle anything of this length again.  The planning and time commitment required is just too much.

The final indignity is that N and G are brownie point millionaires as a result of all the absentee parenting we’ve done of late, and they’ll be out golfing and at the pub every weekend for the next year before we’re back on an even keel.

We walk probably a third of the route, and ditch out of the last 4k as the bugs around the loch path are unbearable.  We are swallowing huge swathes of blackfly with every in-breath.

On the upside, V thinks the additional protein may be replenishing our tired muscles as we run.

I’d still rather have a steak.

Not the positive and reinforcing last long run we’d hoped for.  I go home feeling extremely deflated and as unsure of my ability to finish as I was on Day 1.

I have a gin and tonic and feel only slightly better. Bad times indeed.


Day 109

No school today so I plan to take the children on the newly completed Heritage Trail which circuits the whole loch and comes in at around 14k or so.  On bikes, obviously.

Unfortunately,what should have been a happy family day out, turns into a scene from a horror movie only 6k in.

The flies on the path are truly horrific and despite the fact we are wearing buffs, sunglasses and cycling helmets, the little buggers seem to be getting everywhere; in our mouths, noses and crawling about in our hair even under the helmets.

Rugrat 2 is behind me on the rear seat so is somewhat sheltered and is happily singing to herself while number 1 is totally freaking out.  It is a horrible sensation and the swarm in so dense it is really rather frightening.  In his agitated state, number 1 keeps stopping and gasping for breath by removing his buff.  We abandon the cycle and turn back, crossing onto the road to get home in a fashion less likely to cause a walker to call social services due to the screaming – from both of us.

When we get home, we remove his buff and the mouth area, wet from the tears and snotters episode, is black with bug carcasses.  I feel a bit ashamed for being cross with him now and revert to my usual parenting style; offer chocolate as a poor substitute for understanding and patience.


Day 111

Last run before the big day.  It’s a beautiful evening but we’ve been here before and it ended up in ‘eye-gate’ where V carried off a rather delightful bug bite on the eyelid for a day or two.  With this in mind, we circumnavigate the woodland, who knows what dangers lurk within.

The pace is good and we complete 8k in 40 minutes.  Bearing in mind we need to keep that up over 2 and a half times that distance, we’re satisfied.

We are both terrified, but despite knowing we are overall, probably about 40k down over the whole training schedule, I am still convinced we’ll finish.  And right now, that is all that matters.


Day 113

V is over-thinking an email we were sent by the race organisers. There are only 29 recipients on it and the medal ceremony is due to start at 3.15pm, after a race start time of 1.00pm.

I calm her down telling her that there definitely more than 29 competitors, it is not a race only for elite athletes and yes, we will probably still be running long after the medal ceremony is over.

I use soothing words and I think, project an air of being totally unconcerned.  Afterwards, I rush home and ponder the wording of the email for good 20 minutes before going over all the race data stored in the Garmin and calculating our ‘true’ finish time.

Sometime before dark is the best I come up with.


Starburst & The Smiths.

Days 75 – 109

We’ll call it a recap. I think I prefer that to the rather dull reality of work, family, school holidays and all round laziness as being the reason for my lack of motivation.

In the past few weeks, we been running and not been running. I’ve decided to list only the highlights, which should go some way at least to making this thing a whole lot less tedious than usual.

So sit back and relax. I am about to impart a host of amusing, entertaining and inspirational anecdotes. Honest.

We are away at our family holiday cabin in the Cairngorm National Park for the Easter holidays and despite the fact it’s one of my most favourite places in the world and where I feel most relaxed, I am aware of the niggle in the pit of my stomach that has been getting more and more apparent as race day looms closer.

We arrange to meet friends who have a nearby cabin and I’m hoping that F will be a willing running partner during the week to help keep my motivation up. That illusion is shattered when they arrive and she gets out of the car looking fantastic, and very, very pregnant.


Day 84

8 – 10k on the agenda for today. The weather is beautiful and I head off through the village and down the street known locally as ‘Millionaire’s Row’, passing some truly amazing holiday homes.

There are so many paths and trails in this part of the world I just take the first sign I see for Kincurdy Wood. I regret it as once I hop over the stile, as I come to a hill with what looks like to me, a 30% gradient.

In normal circumstances, I’d simply walk it but given that I have passed hikers, dog walkers and another jogger, the fear of losing face drives me on. It is exhausting and covered with fallen pine needles which lends the surface the air of an ice rink.

The full tilt belt down the other side was ace though.

The forest path is not great for running and I spend the whole time watching my feet and avoiding tree roots and rocks so the pace is far from record-breaking.

The weather is great however and not knowing the route seems to work well for me, I always find I manage to run for longer when I have no idea what distance I’m doing and only a vague notion of where I’m going.

I come out of the wood onto the cycle path and turn back when I reach the main turn off for Aviemore. The return leg is great as it’s a gradual but constant downhill. I enjoy it even more when I come across another runner singing along to Bon Jovi on his iPod. I deliberately stay behind him to see how long it takes him to realise I’m there.  Not because I’m desperate to hear what the next track might be.  Selfishly, he turns off before me so I never got to hear the end of ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’.


Day 85

Rugrat 2 is having a birthday so no run today. We spend the day with friends eating cake and drinking fizz but I do manage a cross training/cake-offsetting cycle around Loch Morlich.


Day 86

We head out with friends to Loch An Eilean and take a leisurely stroll around the loch as a warm up. Watching them eat their picnic half way round isn’t the best fun.  But I know to my cost that eating anything less than four hours before running results in vomit and this being a National Park, that’s probably considered bad form.

The plan is for me to run the 16k back to the cabin and M is concerned about my lack of food or water for the run. I assure him I’ll be fine. He is a cyclist and runner and properly built like one with an obviously super-fast metabolism. I run and cycle but am built for eating crisps and sitting on my ass. I eventually choke down half a banana to keep him happy.

I wave them off at the car park with only 4 Starburst, an eclectic playlist and an aura of negativity for company.

The run is actually great.

The route is varied and the weather is perfect. About 9k in however the landscape changes and the temperature rises considerably. I am plodding on through a heather moorland hot, thirsty and nursing a painful blister. Matters are not improved when I hear the opening bars of ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ ringing in my ears.

However, after about 10 minutes, this being Scotland, the skies darken and it starts to lash rain, just around the time my playlist reaches the Prince medley. Life is good again.

I get back to the cabin nothing short of elated. I have made it without stopping and the family are still out so I can get straight to my post run protein boost. Or, if you prefer, ‘standing at an open fridge devouring everything in it until I feel sick’ boost.

The glass of Sav Blanc I have 3 or 4 hours later is the best I have ever tasted.


Day 87

Feeling really good today. A little tired but no aches or pains, which is just as well as rugrat 2 is having birthday party number two and we have 8 family members on their way to the ‘cosy’ cabin, and I am a little concerned about where we are going to put them all.

Soon, they arrive, both sets of Grandparents, an Aunt, my sister, her two children and a Jack Russell called Molly.

It is a lovely afternoon, not least because we haven’t seen my sister for 3 years and have never met our nephew.  The children get on like a house on fire and we spend a wonderful few hours devouring 3 birthday cakes (poor communication between myself and Granny), and several bottles of fizz.


Day 88

Pack up time and we arrive back home mid afternoon. V texts me to let me know she too has completed her training run and done a not at all shabby 15k in 90 minutes.  I am deeply alarmed by this so I invite her up for a post run glass of Rioja. After she’s finished the bottle and the couple of ports I foist upon her, she is well aware that leaving me in a cloud of dust on May 10th, IS NOT PART OF THE TRAINING PLAN.


Days 89-91

Stuff happened. None of it running related. Unless you count the usual wet Monday night, ‘back-and-forth-and-ultimate cancellation’, text-based discussion.


Day 92

We curse our cancellation last night as a fuel spill on the Forth Bridge has pretty much cut off everywhere north of Dalmeny for several hours.  N eventually makes it home after a hideous 3 hour 25 mile drive and is THRILLED to see me in my running gear whizzing past him and out the door before he’s even had a chance to take his shoes off.

It is a beautiful spring evening and we decide on a hill route through the next village, over the motorway and back around. About an 8k loop.

We make it up the hill pretty well and are enjoying the easy downhill and through the wood on the other side. We are full of the joys of running by the time we make it home and both feeling frankly, smug.

I receive a text message with attached photograph from V about an hour later.

She looks as though she has been punched in the face.

It appears that during our delightful jaunt through the wood, we were not alone. Some bug or other, has bitten her on the eyelid.  Her eye is very swollen and almost completely closed. It looks pretty hellish and despite my concern,  I don’t mind admitting I had a fleeting moment of jealousy when the thought that she’d have to pull out of the race due to being blinded by a midge, popped into my head.

Lucky bitch.