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.

 

“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…….

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.

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.

Infamous Grouse.

Day 9

Breaking the rules of the Beginner Half Marathon Bible by swapping our rest days. Childcare and family life are getting in the way so no run tonight.  Spend the time googling stuff about running injuries and adding more and more unneccessary items to my online shopping basket.

Day 10 Wednesday

Feeling fantastic! Apart from the small issue of soaking feet and terrifying a man staggering back from the pub. I am fairly sure he though he was being stalked by a serial killer as I kept what I like to call sniggering, but what probably sounded like the hysterical keening of a psychopath to him.  Details to follow.

We managed an epic 8.8km tonight with no stops. Need to plan our routes better though as we aren’t tackling very many hills.  A great feeling run though, it turns out the strategy of lowering the pace to a more manageable level until we can comfortably do a 10k, is a winner.  It’s when we come to add in speed and elevation gain that we’ll be screwed.

Back to the stalking incident. We come back to our starting point at about 7.5k and decide to press on for a bit longer. V is a native and therefore it would be safe to assume that she knows her way around these parts.  Apparently not.  Our throbbing metropolis –  pop. 4200 –  may as well be twinned with Beirut when the way is led by someone with the navigational skills of a teaspoon.    We take a turn into an area I don’t know at all but which she assures me she walked through to get to school…FOR 7 YEARS.  Her memory is clearly in need of a little something from Paul McKenna, as we take not one, but four wrong turns down dark lanes and blind alleys, as well as one memorable jaunt across a pitch dark, boggy, dog doo laden park.  Much hilarity ensues.  V confides that her pelvic floor is not what it once was and admits she… “may have wee’d a bit back there”.  While  joyfully reliving the moment on my run home, I inadvertently scare a chap half to death by yelping and snorting while I am two steps behind him.  The noise he made was even funnier.

Day 11 Thursday

Frustratingly, no run again.  Children and family life really are getting in the way of my training schedule.  The freezing temperatures and the fact I’d be running alone had absolutely nothing to do with it.  At all.

Day 12 Friday

Again no run.  Had hoped to get out today but all it took was a call from an old friend and the offer of a lunch date to wipe the thought from my mind in favour of a couple of hours of calorie laden pleasure.  N is out tonight so no chance of an evening jaunt.  Instead I pour a gin and plan our route for tomorrow.  We have a one hour window between hungover husbands and children’s activities.  We’re aiming for a 10k in that time.

Day 13 Saturday

Hungover husband staying in bed. Children plonked in front of telly.  Wife and mothering duties complete.  Absolutely lashing rain and freezing.  I hate this.  Am losing ability to form proper sentences also it seems.

Our plan is a 10k – ish, around the loch.  We power on through to the park and are hit by icy wind as we turn the corner to meet the lochside trail.  Curses!  Charles Charley Charles and the Admiral of the Fleet (or other similar toffs) are visiting the big house and spending their leisure time killing stuff.  Path is closed for estate shooting. Damn you landed gentry!

We are cold, soaked, losing the will to live and both have other places to be in an hour.  Have definitely found that having a planned route in advance is highly preferable to faffing about during the run trying to ascertain which route would give us the best distance/gradient/challenge.  Feel free to interchange the word “best” with “easiest”.   We plough on for 8k or so and head home a bit deflated and very wet.  There are many more highs and lows associated with running than I ever imagined.   Today was a low.