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

RACE DAY

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.

WE HAVE DONE IT!

 

 

Would I do it again?

 

 

 

Not bloody likely.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Groin Strain. It’s no joke.

Sunday.  Day 68

Suffering with a groin strain so very glad this is a rest day.  Decide to make the most of the sunny spring weather and head off out for a jaunt with the family.

Beautiful riverside walk in Crieff.

Sunglasses and a picnic.

Ten minutes later…..snow.

Oh, Scotland.

 

Monday.  Day 69

Sticking with the ‘Moron’s Guide’ philosophy and resting up for another day.  Doing some yoga stretches to relieve the tightness but still finding it quite painful and walking like an octogenarian.

Tough week time-wise, so fingers crossed for a bit of relief tomorrow as we’ll be out regardless.  Remembering the current mantra courtesy of Keith Duffy, ‘Pain is temporary.  Failure is forever’.

I certainly never expected the words of a member of Boyzone to take on profound significance for me.  Just goes to show how I have *grown* as a person during this journey.

 

Tuesday.  Day 70

We are out and running after a tricky day.  Legs still sore and blister as yet, unhealed.  I spend the morning shuffling around the office wearing Uggs and a surly expression.  To make matters worse, rugrat 2 threw up at nursery and under Scots Law has to be removed from the building in a hazmat suit and quarantined.

A small network coverage issue with my mobile provider meant I was unable to answer the call.  I work in a lead-lined building which plays havoc with our telecoms.  Not ideal.

Particularly as I work in telecoms.

Luckily K, my erstwhile childminder, races to the rescue in her cape and super hero liveried people carrier.  She is surprised to find rugrat number 2 happily devouring her snack with no visible signs of illness.  But rules are rules, and the hazmat suit is donned and the nationwide alert level reduced to amber.

When I arrive to pick her up she is chipper and, it appears after less than 5 minutes, starving.  She may have smelled the chocolate digestives I opened as a ‘work aid’ while I settled her down in front of Cinderella (see that bad parenting sheen sparkling in the glare of my laptop?), or it may have been actual hunger, who knows.

Either way, we have eaten half the packet by dinner.

Working from home with an unruly and not-at-all-ill toddler is, I can confirm, quite impossible.  I am dangerously close to opening wine when 5pm finally rolls around.  It is only V’s text about our proposed run that saves the Chablis from immediate and speedy consumption.

We head out and manage a good 40 minutes.  The groin strain is still bothering me so the pace is not great but I soldier on, ever vigilant about the calories I need to burn due to the chocolate digestive binge.

 

Wednesday. Day 71

Another working from home day and the rugrat is extremely compliant.  I actually get a huge amount accomplished. Probably more than I ever do at work.

Including three loads of laundry.

Don’t tell my boss.

 

Thursday.  Day 72

Head out with G.  A great 4 mile run on a very chilly morning. Have a couple of incidences of slowing to a very easy jog as the groin strain has not improved.

Later, during the school run, I decide to seek advice from W, a nurse, only she can’t stop laughing when I tell her I have strained ‘both my groins’.  Being almost incapacitated with hysteria, she was no help at all.

I resolve to mug up on anatomical terminology so as not to embarrass myself further when next in her company.

 

Friday. Day 73

My folks arrive tonight so any chance of running is out the window this afternoon.  I frantically micro-clean the house in order to maintain the anal housewife label I pretend to hate, but secretly love.

I am rarely happier than when I have finished the high dusting.

 

Saturday.  Day 74

I had planned to take a short run this morning while rugrat number 1 is out being sporty and the grandparents are there to keep rugrat number 2 under control.  Instead I make pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup.

N does take us up a hill in the rain and mist, much to the delight of the children.  I guess that’s cross training of  sort.  I certainly burned off a few calories maintaining the constant moaning.

We have a rare night off tonight.  Out to dinner and the opera.  Let’s hear it for grandparents.

I fully intend to run tomorrow after the excesses of a slap up dinner and breakfast.

Did I mention we went out for lunch too?

‘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.

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.