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.

Half term, half measures.

Monday. Day 36

Still feeling the effects of copious amounts of alcohol and deep shame, tonight’s run is grim. Again, the weather is resolutely wintry and neither of us has the urge to train. It is now taking on average, 7 text messages between V and I before any arrangement is made to run. We both secretly hope that the other will call-off so we can stay on the couch and open that bottle of Rioja.

At this point, the fear of failure is the only thing keeping me going. Although how long my reserve will last is anyone’s guess.

We blunder on through 6k or so, amid a cacophony of swearing.

Tuesday. Day 37

I receive a text from V while at work which reads, ‘You still on for tonight? *please say no, please say no, please say no…*’ Maybe we should make this the new mission statement…?

We go anyway because fear of public humiliation is a great motivator. But we grouse about it the whole time and vent about anyone who so much as looked at us the wrong way in the last 48 hours.   There are several character assassinations during this training session. It’s bloody.

I’m plagued with pain from aching calves which I am trying to ignore but somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m wondering if I should be resting. The panic of breaking the schedule is too much though as I still cannot see a point where we will comfortably run even close to the full distance.

There is a constant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, although that is very likely at least 50% due to over-consumption of gin.

Thursday, Day 39 – Saturday, Day 41.

Away on a family half-term trip so have done nothing since Tuesday, unless you count 7 lengths of the paddling-sized pool at the hotel and the energy it takes to shovel in a full Scottish (with fried bread, toast, tea and cereal to start) every morning.

Have decided to earn it today however, by heading to the hotel gym to use the treadmill.  It is screaming hot in there and I only have outdoor running gear. I consider taking off my top after 3k, but decide the elderly gentleman doing lunges will not be fooled into thinking Doreen is some kind of high performance athletic top, designed to hug the contours of the body for maximum support and mobility.  She’s hugging the contours alright, I can hardly bloody breathe.

Sadly her function is clear, she looks exactly like what she is,  a foundation garment for well endowed and slightly portly ladies of a certain age.  He probably sees enough of that carry on at home with Mrs Elderly Gentleman, so I soldier on sweating profusely and  turning an alarming shade of purple as I clock up the k’s.

Treadmill running is mind-numbingly dull and there is nothing to look at.  Aside from myself.  The mirror in front of me tells a thousand tales.  All of them from the horror genre.

The vision I believe I present when running is so far removed from reality, I expect a crash team or a concerned vet to arrive at any moment to perform resuscitation,  or to put me out of my misery for good.

Either would be welcome, but not before my fry up.

There is no inspiration here, look away now.

Monday.  Day 29, Day 30, Day 31, Day 32, Day 33…blah, blah…

We run.  It’s wet.  It’s windy.  It’s freezing.  I am bored of this shit.

There are no highlights this week  but many, many lows.  I know runners are supposed to hit the metaphoric “wall” but  I had understood that to be actually during the race, rather than slap bang in the middle of training.

Undertaking a run in snow while Rugrat 2 is at sports class turns out to be one of many lapses of good judgement.  Even the stalwart G, peels off when we pass close to her house in search of tea and a hot shower. I plough on to the village hall in a blizzard. V’s mum passes me in her car and the look of horror and bewilderment on her face will live with me forever.

I sit dripping and shivering all over the caretakers newly mopped floor waiting for the rugrat.  She is obviously thrilled.  The other mums are laughing and joking with each other and survey me with amusement and thinly veiled pity as they play Candy Crush in their warm and dry clothing.  I now truly understand the meaning of the word “embittered”.

I get home to find there is no hot water and feel like killing someone. Preferably myself.

Saturday.  Day 34

V and I have scheduled another 10k lochside route and it turns out to be the worst run we have ever had.  The fault was all our own as the conditions were excellent.  No wind, clear blue sky, dry and bright.  Should have been great.  It was anything but.

It turns out that there are two new things to consider before embarking on a 10k:

1. Empty your bladder

2. Do not eat McDonald’s or  taste test around 30 of the 200 cream-filled profiteroles you have made for a party this evening

We stop/start almost the whole way while trying to find a suitable toilet-stop spot on one of the busiest public walkways in central Scotland.  There are none. Perhaps if we were more hardcore, we’d just have done a Paula Radcliffe, but the thought of meeting a friend or one of our children’s teachers  while squatting in the undergrowth  is just too much to bear.

Typically, this is the run where we seem to meet almost everyone we know.  I suspect they are now all deeply suspicious of any previous comments made on our fantastic progress as they observe us ambling along at a pace that wouldn’t challenge your average snail, whilst casting furtive glances at clumps of bushes.

There is very little to be positive about today.  Except of course that it wasn’t me who ate the McDonald’s.

Sunday.  Day 35

If yesterday was bad, today is off the scale. Death would be welcome and ironically, I’d do anything for a McDonald’s.

I attended a 40th birthday party of epic proportions last night (see 200 profiteroles above) and used the disastrous 10k this morning as a poor excuse to drown my sorrows.  I have little recollection of the event aside from the rabid competitive spirit that overtook me when it came to the ‘No1 Hits of the Last 40 Years’ Quiz.  I fear I may have lost some friends in the process.

It was a fantastic night ( I am assured) and the details are hazy but it appears I have,

a) agreed to take part in a second-hand baby sale

b)decided to write a book

c)proved I cannot hold my drink.

That should read ‘second hand baby goods sale’.  I haven’t got any second-hand babies, just a couple of shop-soiled ones but strangely, I am rather attached to those.  And in my defence, it was a HUGE amount of drink so I feel I can hold my head up there.

If only I could actually hold my head up.