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.

 

 

 

 

 

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…….

‘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.

 

 

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.