Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Moving the Goal Posts

The Berlin Marathon is in 5 days time! My first opportunity to run the fastest course in the world, the biggest race I’ve ever taken part in, and my first World Marathon Major. An opportunity to run literally in the footsteps of the fastest men and women in the world on the flattest course in the world, in one of the coolest cities in the world.


In theory this ought to be a prime opportunity for me to run the fastest marathon of my life and smash my previous PB to pieces; in the past few months I’ve said I’d like to earn a London Marathon ‘Good For Age’ place, which would mean running under 3 hours and 45 minutes.

bmw berlin marathonsource:

When I’ve been daydreaming in the last few months about my trip to Berlin, I’ve imagined myself running faster than ever before, Scotland flag in hand whilst passing under the Brandenburg Gate, feet conjuring speed drawn from the road where the quickest humans who ever lived have ran, and glancing at my watch in glee in the final hundred meters.

berlin marathon 2015 source:

Here’s the truth about my life lately though. It’s been eight hours a day sitting alone in the office at home with my head in my laptop, going to the corner shop to buy some crisps just to leave the house, working into the night, working early in the morning, lying awake at 4am, realising you’ve been wearing the same t-shirt for a week, 7 straight days without wearing any make up, 102 pages and 29,935 words.

giphy (25)source:

So perhaps my dreams of finding my inner Anna Hahner on the streets of Berlin next week may be a little far fetched.

anna hahnersource:

I’ve been to running club on a couple of erratic occasions during the summer, but most days it gets to time to get ready and I just can’t face it. On more occasions than not I’ve just gone out for a little run by myself the next morning, because after two or four days of sitting in the house by myself immersed in my own thoughts and working hard alone, I literally can’t face the over-stimulation of a crowd of 20 odd chatty runners. Either that, or the mental exhaustion has just got too much and I’ve just opened a beer and stared at inane nonsense on the TV until it’s time for bed, when I turn the lights off and stare at the ceiling for hours until the early morning and sleep eventually comes.

giphy (28) giphy (27)

It’s not just mental exhaustion though; much as I’m loathe to admit it, physical exhaustion is still playing a part as well. I’ve always strived to be as honest as possible on this blog, so here’s the real deal – I’m knackered. My legs are tired as hell and my muscles aren’t used to running properly any more. I’d love to be posting positive updates about how amazing running is post-West Highland Way Race and how inspired I am for bigger and better things, how I scooted out 20 miles at the weekend or how I’m planning 2016 goals. But I feel like I’m critically out of ‘running’ shape. Right now I’d settle for completing a running club session without being dropped, or somewhere in the back 5 runners. “The Slow Runners” as one of the coaches like to refer to whoever’s at the back. It still takes a hell of a lot of effort to be that ‘slow’, especially alongside the rest of my club who seem to have just got faster over the summer.

Completing the Triple Crown took a lot out of me. Of the 27 finishers in 2015, I was the youngest woman to complete it this year by nearly ten years, and one of only 7 female finishers. I don’t often remember that when I’m blowing out my arse doing hill reps with the club and falling behind yet again. The ‘multi-ultra’ lifestyle does take its toll later in the season – I don’t think many people like to admit that though.

Two weeks ago I got 1.6 miles into a gentle run by myself before I had to pull up by an empty bus shelter and take a breather as I felt physically sick. Luckily there was nobody around when I had to do a couple of dry heaves behind the bus stop. I started panicking; how on earth was I going to be able to sort myself out for a PB attempt at a road marathon with only weeks to go? And I had so much work still to do, errands to take care of, and, and, and…

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So I’m moving the goal posts. I need this trip to Berlin to be a joy and something to look forward to after a long summer of working hard. I don’t want to be dreading this as I get on the plane, I don’t want to waste the three days I have to enjoy in Berlin fretting about Sunday and whether I can achieve something I really haven’t put the work into. I really don’t need that extra pressure right now.

On Sunday, I want to have fun. I want to skip around the beautiful city and enjoy the sights, I want to soak up the international atmosphere and share the joy of marathon running with 40,000 new friends, I want to be able to stop and take a picture, celebrate finishing in whatever time I achieve, and just have a great weekend. I’ll wear my Garmin but I won’t be paying attention to it. I’ll probably start with the 4 hour pacers and see what happens. I still want to fly under the Brandenburg Gate giving it everything I have left, but I don’t care about what time is on the clock.

Part of me thinks it’s a shame I’m missing an opportunity to run my fastest ever race, but I missed that opportunity weeks ago when I didn’t start hammering out tempo sessions on the road. There will be other marathons, but only one MSc.

I still want to run faster than my husband though 🙂


  1. good honest post Rhona and it’s good you’re acknowledging the challenge before you get there. Breathe deep and relax and as you say try to have fun. Fast will be there another time when you are ready. For now you’ve had a fantastic year so please don’t burn out!! X

  2. Rhona, this sounds so familiar! While I can’t relate race for race (and wow, you’ve done loads of miles), or with the addition of a dissertation, I can relate to feeling mentally and physically shattered after a good, but intense, season. Luckily for myself, I recently just had two fun races that reinvigorated my mind and body. I hope the Berlin race has the same effect for you! (But I’ll admit I’m seriously looking forward to some quality time on the couch with the kitties. You?)

    I am glad for you, though, that you’ve recognized all of this BEFORE race day. Giving yourself permission to enjoy the day instead of being glued to your watch is so important. If enjoyment can’t happen, it’s just another slog, and seriously, who needs another one of those? And having a destination race, to me, just amplifies what we seek at “home” races: enjoyment of the race, the people, and the sights.

    I hope you have a wonderful race and a wonderful trip!!

  3. Best of luck with these last few days! Sorry to hear that you don’t feel as though you’re in your absolute prime, but regardless, I’m sure you’ll find plenty to enjoy during Sunday’s 42-kilometer tour. I’m also running Berlin – my third Major – and I’m planning on going as fast as I can. The biggest challenge between now and then will be overcoming jetlag, as I’ll be flying in from Chicago. Hope I can get that squared away quickly.

    Best of luck! Hope to read about this afterward 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Dan! I hope you had a great race – adding jet lag is certainly a layer of complication i’ve never experienced racing. The older I get, the worse my jetlag gets!

  4. Congratulations! That is quite a good time, especially knowing how you felt going into it. Well done!

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