Starburst & The Smiths.

Days 75 – 109

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

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

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

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

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


Day 84

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 85

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


Day 86

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

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

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

The run is actually great.

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

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

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

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


Day 87

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

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

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


Day 88

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


Days 89-91

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


Day 92

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky bitch.


“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…….

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.