The Best Day of My Life

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I GET MARRIED TOMORROW!! #debandkyledowntheaisle

So I’m going to be out of action for the next couple of weeks because Kyle and I are getting hitched TOMORROW, and going straight to Bali afterwards (those of you who have read the news…pray for us!).

Meantime, here are some photos of the carnage I had at the best hen weekend ever! Maid of Honour Emma pulled it out the bag, along with the bridesmaids and parents for the Prosecco!

Boozy afternoon tea in a castle, Mr & Mrs Games, wedding dress designing, poetry competitions, vodquila pong (don’t try this at home, folks!), face masks, pizza in pjs trip…the list goes on! Thanks to my girls for coming (and for the RIDICULOUS videos of those who couldn’t make it….played on the entire living room wall thanks to Emma’s projector!) – I had an unforgettable time!

*Speedhub please don’t drop me…I promise to stop being an alcoholic and train when I get back 😉

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Moores on Tour in Malaga

Ok ok so this was a while ago, and I have had my home henny since, BUT there is no WAY I can leave this off the blog!

I was told months ago that I was going on a surprise trip with Mum and Sisterister Emma, but I wasn’t to know where I was going (although it was given away twice, I only knew Spain!).

When I got to the airport, I still wouldn’t know probably to this day had an airport worker shouted at us in the queue to see if anyone going to Malaga would mind putting their luggage in hold!

Admittedly, I thought Malaga was a tacky place, but it turns out it is an amazingly cultured gorgeous city, surrounded by beaches and mountains, with the city centre containing stunning architecture and cathedrals. Malaga airport is just a gateway to the tacky Torremelinos or no-carbs-before-Marbs Marbella….I swear we never saw ONE English speaking person in Malaga itself the entire long weekend we were away! And I would go back in a heartbeat!

Anyway, Mum and Em hired us a villa UP A MOUNTAIN!! The taxi struggled to get us up! But the view was incredible!!! It was literally breathtaking (if you made the hike up there!). It had its own pool with views of both the mountains behind and the sea in front, and there were magnificent pine trees towering over us with….wait for it….PARROTS instead of our usual seagulls flying around us!!!

Basically, I got completely spoiled! We were drinking Tattinger pretty much the entire time, I was treated to the most beautiful spa I have ever been in (Moroccan inspired since it is just across the water!), had the most relaxed (and needed!) massage ever, and of course consumed the necessary sangria and paella in the process!

I also ran, which made it my dream trip!! A wee morning run (which KILLED me given the elevation and heat!) followed by amazing food, champage and spa treatments, and some shopping in the afternoon?! Yes please!

Oh oh and THEN when I came home Kyle proposed a SECOND time (there were ring issues and he had to choose another one)…we went on a run and he made me stop by the river near our house. I asked why (usually I am the one begging for a break!) and he went behind a bush and took out Prosecco and two glasses and MY NEW RING!!! I didn’t even realise he had left the house to plant them!

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(I had been fixing my bike so had chipped nails and bike grease on my hands but WHO CARES I had a Malaga tan!)

 

Anyway, here is a photo dump that I pray captures just how much fun we had and how spoiled I was! I cannot thank you girls enough! Love you Moores on Tour gang! ❤

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(approx 12 seconds after finding out where we were going!)

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(how incredible is our view?! and yes they had tshirts made for us!)

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(our pool – no training was done here…)

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(yes ok we didnt stick to the culture the entire time but we needed to fuel up before hiking up the hill to our hoose! aaaand Emma wanted us to taste chicken fries)

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(couldn’t not take a pic with these dudes)

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(she comes in handy sometimes – this is the walk to the house!)

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(we got lost…)

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(Mum squeezed in a wee run when we got to flat land)

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(Cheetos were also a necessity!)

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(my sister under Cister)

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(Dunkin Donuts and a massive frap tasted unreal on pier after my run from the mountain!)

 

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(Eating was a serious ordeal)

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(we had the BEST time!)

 

 

 

 

Crathes Half Marathon – Course Record and FINAL RACE AS A MOORE!

I was super excited for this one!

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It was the final race as a single woman, and the last one you’ll see on the entry sheet as Moore. There was zero pressure because I don’t consider myself a true runner (BUT I secretly put a little bit on because a) I wanted a headline saying we were King and Queen of Crathes Castle, much like he and Fiona got in last year’s race!, and b) there were dolla dollas up for grabs and we are VERY poor right now!) and the last goal of my racing season was at the previous week’s Scottish Standard Tri Champs – which I won yippeeee!

The weekend was actually all about wedding, honeymoon and hen stuff ie CLEEEEAAAN the house for people staying, start packing for Bali because we wont have time nearer the big time (and we leave the following day!) and make sure we have everything sorted for the 30th September. BUT we love to do some form of activity every day so a local race fit in perfectly!

We woke up naturally around 7am (I say naturally, but Chewy tends to sit on our face at that time purring like a helicopter), grabbed coffee and started blitzing the place. Around 9am, we had our usual breakfast and another coffee, then at 11am we headed to Crathes.

We parked at the non-visitor side of the estate, on a country road near the race route. We jogged the 1km to registration (we were one of the last people to register – we knew there wasn’t much shelter and it was POURING!) and did a few strides, then changed into race gear.

Luckily, we only had to wait about 5 minutes until the race, so no time to get nervous (although myself AND Fraser got a bit antsy when we noticed Kyle still wasn’t at the front of the starters with the 2 minute to go call) and everyone seemed to be laughing at just how bad the rain was!

When the gun went off, Kyle was asking why I was still with him one minute in.

“Oh yeah, oops. I’ll say bye now. See you soon – have fun!”

…and then I backed off. Within the first kilometre (when we passed our car) I found myself in a group of maybe 5. There was a headwind so I tucked behind some tall guy from Dubai.

On the downhill I took the lead, but then I was left there until about 5km. I turned around to try and get some help in this constant headwind but no one overtook, so I then just chose to run my own race.

At the 1st significant hill, a couple guys pulled away. I reeled one back in but the other went off. Then I noticed 2 guys had fell off the back, so I was running in a group of 3.

We hit the 1st trail section which was SUPER MUDDY!!!!! My trainers got soaked immediately but I tried as best I could to avoid major puddles. When my watched flashed the 1st mile in that trail as a 6.11 I was a bit concerned I was trying too hard to avoid mud and that might catch up with me. It was a flat mile but so technical and slippy that I should have been about 10seconds slower.

The trail lasted about 2km and hitting solid road again was amazing! There were a few spectators and dog walkers out but I wasn’t expected any given the weather, so was sure to wave at them to say thanks for coming out!

I hit 10km in about 38.30 – 30 seconds faster than my time in the Great Aberdeen Run…oops! That’s an oops to the GAR by the way, because at this point I still felt pretty good!

A couple of miles later, the rain was just turning to spray and the sun was starting to come out, so that cheered me up and kept me on pace.

Then there was a pretty big hill where those 2 guys I was with managed to get a gap on me. Grrr. I tried (and managed) to catch up, but then there was a HUGE downhill where my little legs couldn’t match their long ones and 1 dude got away and finished about a minute ahead of me.

Onto the second trail I began to lag. I think pushing it on that downhill to try and not get dropped, along with that speedy trail mile earlier, made me a bit tired. I was lagging and could have used a gel (I decided against one that morning just because it was a cool day and didn’t think I’d need one…wrong again). I was dropped by the 2nd dude and so was in no man’s land for those final 5kms.

In my head I was thinking what the worst possible pace I could go before finishing would be. Then I realised even if I did 7 minute miles for the next 3 miles I would still get a sub1.25.

So then my mindset changed after my 11th mile was a 6.34. Hmm I could get a decent PB here (I know I should be a bit faster but I haven’t done a proper half in years and my last half was hilly Fraserburgh last year!). Ideally on a course with no trails, or mud, or hills, or wind, and with specific training and a taper, I feel I should be able to break 80 quite comfortably.

Then I realised mile 12 was up a never ending hill, where you could see the full mile in front of you. Pretty demoralising! I managed that one in 6.42 but it felt a lot worse than that. When that mile beeped, I knew the last km w05as downhill (again, back to where I parked!) so a couple more calculations later I though Fiona’s record from last year was on! I just had to run a 4minute km down to the finish.

I saw Kyle with 800m to go. He was on his cool down and did here 1st lady wasn’t too far away.

“What the hell are you doing here? That course was mental!”

“Sorry, can’t talk – think I might break Fi’s record”

“Sprint then!!”

“This is me sprinting!”

…and off I waddled to cross the line in 1.22.27 and a new CR.

Kyle was 6 minutes faster than anyone else, going 1.11 – just a couple seconds shy of Robbie’s record (if only he’d known what it was !) – so he was elated too! It gave him the confidence he needed for the Loch Ness marathon on Sunday!

What was best was at presentation when Fraser announced that the race of the day was not Kyle’s, but mine! *cue evil laugh here!*

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He then announced that it was an even more significant race for us given we were getting married 2 weeks later! The entire crowd just went “awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwh” so we laughed a lot at that!

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What made it even better was that Carolyn was there and SMASHED her PB!! She started running in January (only 3kms) and managed a 2.06 on THAT course! She is such an inspiration to working mothers out there who let exercise take a back seat for a while.

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Afterwards, Mum and Keith came over to help us sort the house out (any excuse for an Alford Tandoori 😉 !) and we had a lovely Sunday catching up on life and wedding admin!

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…Then I was headed to Paris the following day for meetings so no rest for the wicked! There were far more croissants and wine consumed so here’s hoping the dress fits ONE WEEK TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Scottish Standard Champs – 1st

I do love Knockburn! The fact it is around 45mins from my house, stunning scenery surrounds the facilty, and I don’t think you could find a flat, easy course in the area if you tried (even the swim on Sunday was hilly given the conditions!) so it’s always a fun challenge!

On Sunday, Knockburn hosted the Scottish Standard distance championships (the distance that you see them race in the Olympics). I won the title last year at Lochore Meadows, and also won the sprint distance (the distance you will see in next year’s Commonwealth Games)  a couple of months ago, one week after winning Outlaw Holkham Half Iron Elite women’s race (yes it has been a busy summer!). I hope this makes sense to any non-triathletes out there!

The field wasn’t as stacked as last year, but there were still nearly 200 entrants, so I wasn’t getting too excited. Also the fact that the previous week I had been on a surprise getaway with my Mum and sister to Spain (more on that in my next post!), where lots of champagne, sangria and Mahou was consumed, and in the days leading up to the race I had been hit with a terrible cold, meant that I didn’t have my usual mojo going into it.

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(drinking Mahou at 8am a week before race day is not conducive to good performance)

When I woke up race morning and it was pouring rain and the trees were shaking, I was actually dreading it! Again, it was awesome being a home race as I woke up IN MY BED and got to pack up THAT morning (although I was probably cutting it fine when I was cleaning my bike and chain at 7am…!) I did a wee 10min warmup on the turbo in the garage, as I don’t usually get a chance to ride at the race location because of racking bikes etc. That woke me up a bit, so had some breakfast (my usual overnight oats, peanut butter, chia seeds and banana) and coffee and headed off with Kyle as my taxi/PA.

I wasn’t sure we’d get parked at the venue as it can get pretty busy so I was thinking of options in my head. But I was pleasantly surprised when we got an amazing space with no stress – major kudos to the race organisers for that one! About 30 seconds from registration, I was straight to the front with no issues, returned my trophy from last year (which I wasn’t allowed to keep – apparently people keep losing them…boooooo!). I then sorted out my transition area (I’m so glad it was numbered so we each got an allocated place…first come first serve transitions are AWFUL!), did a wee jog with the fiancé, had a couple belvitas biscuits, then realised it was 9.50 and I should probably get my wetsuit on.

I didn’t have a tri belt!! Oops! I left mine at Holkham (oops again) and have been tattooed at my last few races that I totally forgot! I found some safety pins, got the PA to secure my number to my back, then back on with the wetsuit, and off the the loch I went!

We got a couple minutes to “warm up” but when the water is alledgedly 13C (we’re all sure it was colder!) it’s pretty difficult to get warm! I couldn’t get my face in for a while and just tried to relax.

Being called to the start “line”, we had to wait quite a while for all the people to get in (it was a mass start at 10am), it got me used to the cold water…a little.

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(I should be somewhere near the front here…)

The gun went off and I tried to sprint for a good minute to get some clear water. I swallowed soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much water from all the splashing (men – you splash a LOT!). Around the island, I found someone’s feet but after 200m or so, they were too fast for me, so I had some clear water for most of the 1st lap.

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(the masses going around the island)

By the 2nd lap, I had actually warmed up and felt SO MUCH better, and even overtook a couple people and got back on someone’s feet! The 1st half of each lap was really fun because it was into a headwind, so there were actually waves in the normally –calm water. I really liked trying to manoeuvre my way through the chop! On the way back to finish the lap, there was a tailwind and you felt like Phelps! And I use the word “felt” pretty loosely considering the 1500m took me 20minutes (fastest swim by 1 minute)… A wee leg kick appeared with 100m to go, purely to try and get some blood flow to my legs before the cycle.

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(don’t zoom – it’s not pretty – BUT if you did you’d see I literally have blue lips!!!)

Coach Broon(!!!) was there to help us blue-lipped triathletes (literally) out the water and I coukdnt feel ANYTHING to get my wetsuit off. Was very surprised my transition was just over 40 seconds as I couldn’t even feel the zip to pull down. Once down though, it flew off with ease (thanks Zoot!) and on with the POC aero helmet (which was like a HUGE warm hug as it went on!) and could barely get on the bike as I couldn’t feel my toes and where to put them! Note: I do normally love an exaggeration however I suffer from really bad circulation issues, particularly since the accident (hence why I’m either freeeeeezing or sweating like cray-cray). It really sucks (I always carry spare clothes in case either of those issues happen). Anyhoo, back to the bike.

Getting my feet in my shoes took ages and 2 guys overtook me (grrrr). I used it as a positive, however, and didn’t want to lose them! There were marshals on every turn (HUGE shout out to the Sahraies and Duncan for the encouragement while standing looking SO COLD!) and the course was awesome. Some light undulations, tight turns and a pretty steep incline in the middle of every lap. In the 1st lap, it was pouring rain, so I took off the glasses attached to my helmet (MUCH easier than I thought) and all I could think of was “but I’m not wearing mascara for the photos” *must change mindset.

Ok lap 2! OATEY was number 1 cheerleader of the day (sorry Kyle!) – he lives literally on the course, and said he’d support (albeit with no time to make a banner…)  and was cycling the course waiting for me! He did a lap in reverse, caught me and then the next lap waited for me and got in trouble for drafting! I told him I hated where he lived (we were on the steep hill at this point) and he laughed at me, shouted some words of encouragement, and off I pedalled away from him! Major kudos for heading out on the bike in those conditions!

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(I ❤ my bike!)

Lap 3 was uneventful…there were more cars on the road and all the athletes were now on the course so there was a lot of slowing down and manoeuvring, but that’s what you get at an open road race – just make it an obstacle course!

I slowed down to turn into Knockburn one hill too early (!!). There were lots of people gathered at a corner, so I assumed that was the turn off, but they were just cheering, so stupid me had to get speed up the next hill and got overtaken into transition! Got my shoes on with ease (surprising since I still lost feeling in my toes) and aimed to overtake a couple of guys I saw in front.

Cycle time was 1.10 which was just over 22mph for the 26mile course (fastest girl by 4mins).

The 1st lap on the run was fun. It was never going to be a fast time given it was pretty much cross country apart from 400m-ish of road per 5km (the rest is grass, trail and woodland narrow path) and had 2 hills in it, but I just wanted to push the effort on the 1st lap. I was overtaken by Alan Semple about 1km into the run (thanks for the encouragement later on!) and I got to see Kyle multiple times! Also, at each turnaround the marshals were in fancy dress which DEFINITELY brought a smile to my face! I tried to crack a couple jokes so sorry if they were cringey!

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(up the hill I go)

About to go onto the 1st lap, I got encouragement from Michelle and Coach Broon which gave me a burst of energy, I then saw Kyle and asked how my lead was. Apparently it was nearly 10 minutes. I didn’t want to push the run too much given I had been ill and would rather finish slower than not at all, so I thought I’d do my last effort up the 1st hill and then jog it in after that (I asked Kyle permission to jog with about a mile to go, just in case!). I got pretty sniffly and mucussy (we’ll make that a word) up the 2nd hill and so I did walk a bit, but then manned up and jogged to the finish for a 41 minute split, which was still the fastest of the day! Andy Redman mentioned at the end they changed the course last year but it came up about 300m short, so they added that 300m in this year to make it a perfect 10k.

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(This is a real and not photo shopped actual smile!)

Happy to come top 10 overall, and win by 9ish minutes 🙂

And how do you end a race when Coach Broon is there? Jelly babies of course! Then straight into the shower, where I chatted with Kirsty (2nd place superstar!) for ages, then realised all my faffing meant the burger queue had started growing (don’t worry I waited – I don’t turn down free burgers)!

I was really happy with the organisation of transition too…we didn’t have to wait to collect our stuff. They had a really good system, so I collected my bike with ease, packed up the car (ok ok my PA did it) and then chilled in the sun froze in the wind and rain until presentations. Unfortunately, this did take a while but we had to wait for every age category winner to finish, so understandable.

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I collected my prizes and got interviewed (sorry for speaking rubbish as always!) and we headed on a celebratory café trip to the Potarch for some cake and hot chocolate!

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The rest of the day was spent watching Pirates of the Caribbean by the fire and sorting out more wedding stuff….2 weeks on Saturday!!

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(I do like being asked how I balance a career with the sport! I’ve been asked that a few times so I might write a post on it?)

Interviews and race video can be found here and here  🙂

 

The Inaugral Great Aberdeen Run 10k – 3rd Female

This was always going to be a fun run for me. I knew a lot of people doing it, and after how successful the Tour Series was in Aberdeen, I was hoping for a similar atmosphere; people you recognise everywhere, lots of positive people cheering, beers flowing and the sun shining! To be honest, part of me thought it was a given that I would get a PB. My training has been better than ever and my current time is when I had to stop and walk for a few seconds, as a glute injury had flared up. So I was more excited than nervous; guaranteed PB, lots of friends around…well that didn’t go exactly to plan!


 

So one of my great friends, Robbie Renwick, was actually asked to start both the Half Marathon and the 10k. We had been having banter in the weeks leading up to the event as he was also partaking in the 10k (loser buys the beers etc etc).

I was looking forward to seeing him because each time I’ve met him since Rio (he lives in Stirling now so it’s not that often) he has promised to bring his silver medal but always forgot it! Well THIS time he HAD to bring it, so I was sure to act like he was a major celeb and take a pic with it.

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(me and Rabster)

He and his lovely girflfriend Jodie and I had breakfast together after the race and I forgot how hard swimmers find running (I guess I have got used to it over the years – or have I?) so they were pretty happy to get just under the hour!


 

Kenny (men’s overall winner in the 10k) and Espie (men’s 2nd place in the 10k – and previous blog post about him!) had a sleepover at our house the night before which was so much fun! I attempted to cook and we caught up while playing video games. #ladsladslads #crispylasagne

In the morning, we forced Espie to drive so that Kyle and I could have beer at the end

*note: remember Kenny and Espie got a gold and silver but never drank…Kyle and I both got bronze and chose to drink. Who are the sensible ones here???*

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(“I’m running to beat Kenny & Espie”)

We arrived and got a space about a km from Union St. We didn’t have too much time to WU but I followed Kenny along the route to the 1st km and back and then it was a quick strip and to the starting pen. That is when I saw SO many people I hadn’t seen in ages, so lots of hugs and kisses later, we were 3 minutes to the start and the blind runners were off.

In hindsight it was probably a little worrying that I wasn’t nervous. I more felt like I was going for a hard run with friends. When the gun went off, immediately some douchebag with massive headphones, sporting a baseball cap and about 30 extra kilograms than his “rivals” in our starting area who had found himself RIGHT at the front, started off at a 10 minute mile pace. I was angry but shouted something trying to be funny and a couple people around me laughed, so that put me in a better mood (since it is a rare occasion when someone laughs at my jokes).

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(Where’s Wally?)

Back to the race, Kenny shot off like a rocket. He was so far in front even after 40 seconds, that I felt like I didn’t have my legs today. But then I realised I was next to Fiona and Nic, so that couldn’t have been a bad thing? Down the short steep hill after about a minute of running, Fi shot down superfast (but how? She weighs nothing!? Surely fatties like me should be overtaking everyone at this point?!). I have NEVER been a good descender so sprinting to try and not lose her was mistake number 1 (of many!).

I carried that momentum to about 2km and found myself leading (idiot.). But I felt really good, I promise!

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3km came and we were on the beachfront. It was the 3 of us girls and a couple guys; one of whom was very keen to chat about the weather. I couldn’t string more than a few words together so ignored him, but managed a laugh when we started to pass the blind runners who were chatting about the McGregor/Mayweather fight that had happened that night!

Then suddenly, just after the 4km mark, Fiona went off and I had NOTHING. But I didn’t just lack the surge speed. Suddenly I lacked any speed at all. I’ve gone out and died in races before but this felt different. Every step was a struggle, even on the downhills and the second half contained underpasses and short sharp hills so I just admitted defeat.

I tried to find a rhythm and not let any girl pass me (there were plenty guys!). Shout out to Stuart Milne who passed me at the Mounthooly underpass and shouted at me to stay with him, and I couldn’t even grunt back at him! Sorry, Stu!

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(I’m in a very bad place here!)

There was a car wash style shower on the road with just over a mile to go, so I went in that just to wake me up (I was actually sleepy at this point?) but that was a STUPID mistake because for photos afterwards that combined with sweat made me look like a drowned rat compared to the two goddesses who beat me.

Anyway, it woke me up a little and I was able to muster together some faster cadence in the final 800m or so when the crowds started to appear. They were cheering so loud it was awesome!

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(Nicola, Fiona & me…the clock still reads 39 behind us so not much time to chill!)

Happy to come in 3rd but unhappy with a personal WORST (apart from Lumphanan a couple years ago and also the Balmoral 10k that I did straight after the 5km race and after maybe 4 or 5 proseccos in the corporate tent that was downed in between. For those who don’t know, I ended up in A&E that night after falling down my stairs…so I don’t count either of those races!)

One downside to the 10k – other than that it should have been done in REVERSE – was the presentation. They told us it would be at 10.50 (the race started at 10). The average finisher of a 10k, when around 5000 people are doing it, is probably just over the hour. So Union Terrace Gardens was dead!

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(What I meant when I said it should have been in reverse! Photo courtesy of Kenny and his splits…definitely not mine!)

Also, Nicola’s Mum was running in the 10k with a goal of breaking the hour (which is a huge achievement!) and so not only did her mum miss seeing her daughter get her medal, Nicola couldn’t watch her mum over that finish line.

Furthermore, there were no signs (that I saw anyway) saying where and when the ceremony was, so the guys doing the half mara that would have had plenty time between watching and warming up to race, had no idea and so Kyle and Tom (Fi’s husband) missed us too!

The half ceremony was done a good time after the better guys were done. They also had a brutal course AND the sun really came out for the them, so they were all pretty tired by the end!

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(Go Metro! Ginie came in 5th but has been off with a stress fracture for ages – great to see her back!)

It was amazing catching up with people and seeing friends every street you turned onto, but this meant that we were all getting pretty HANGRY at this point as we were constantly stopping to chat! We ended up going to Spin, a burger/record place, and got peanut butter burgers and chilli cheese dogs, before doing a mini pub crawl and heading home.

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(Check the special boy still wearing his medal!)

It was a lovely day, but on a serious note there is a lot of work to do if I want a decent 10k time soon!

Guest Post: James Espie

Since Debbie is all busy with being all grown up and stuff planning this wedding, she asked if I could help keep those awesome (her words not mine!) blog posts coming in her absence! Well for those who don’t know me I’m James and I’m another one of those weirdo hill runners (again, her words not mine). I don’t own a fancy watch nor did I know (until a couple weeks ago) what those calf guards people seem to be wearing were supposed to do.

Edit from Deb: Espie is SUPER modest and even if he doesn’t have all the gadgets or outfits, he is world class!!

I just love Scotland and being in the hills, blasting ceilidh music in my Seat while driving to and from those hills.

The last 2 years, I have joined Kyle in the Scottish Team for the Snowdon International Hill Race.  

Edit from Deb: Wait til you find out how he got on this year!

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(From last year’s race. Yes I survived and lived to tell the tale of an entire journey from Wales with Dumb and Dumber!)


Here is my recap of my 2017 race:

My preparation for Snowdon had been quite varied, lots of quality mountain running punctuated with occasional sessions and a sensible number of races. I ran the half Ben Nevis on 2nd July which was an excellent warm up race and confidence booster after an injury struck Spring.

This year the Scottish team was made up of 6 runners, myself and Kyle Greig (a last minute substitute from his sick bed) being the only two returning from the 2016 squad. We traveled down en-mass on Friday and arrived armed with our brand new full Scottish kit supplied from Macron. I went for a quick walk up the bottom third of the race route to stretch my legs and remind myself of the first steep climb up the road and the slightly cramped first section on the hill. We fueled up on Lasagna, baked potato and salad and headed up to the hotel for a decent nights kip.

The race was brought forward to 12pm which meant a healthy breakfast, a team meeting and then pretty much out into the crowds. I kept to myself during the warm up, I was there to do a job and was confident that once we got going my ‘race head’ would kick in and I’d be fine. A bit of last minute panic when I considered taping my ankle- this would be the first serious race without tape.

No kit to be carried so we sauntered up to the chute, white race numbers depicting us as international runners and just a few short words from the commentator before shuffling to the start line amongst 750 others.  I knew it was misty higher up and a fair wind was whipping up the flags.

On the claxon the scrum for room began and lasted for a good 400m. I drifted through the gaps, allowing people past and concentrating on starting smoothly. The lead group composed of Italian blue, English White and Welsh red quickly opened a slight gap and pulled a few others along- Too fast I thought to myself, I’ll see a lot of you again!

At the bottom of the steep tarmac out team manager Kenny Richmond appeared beside me, a very well established hill runner at 46ish he was handy to have as a reference point. I got my head down and stuck in up the steep, passed the leading lady and waited for the grind to be over. The sharp rocks, loose gravel and cheering crowds were a welcome relief as we turned left and my race started proper.  In front of me were Kyle and Robert the other Scottish men so I tucked in with them and our Navy blue trio began picking off the fast starters and worked into a rhythm on the trail towards halfway point. 3mins slower than last year at half way but I feel like I’m running fast, What’s going on?!

“Forget your time Espie”

Kyle is 31 and just back from the Ultra Trail World Championship where he was 1st GB runner home and 26th overall. His 4 words spoke volumes, this is mountain running, time is irrelevant.

After halfway the path becomes rockier and steeper which suits my slower cadence and powerful frame. Ok, I call it power, Kyle prefers fat boy-slim but really it’s my forestry background that has given me real strength on the tough bits of races. In the mist I left the Scots behind, caught and passed a stream of struggling runners (These guys were probably all serious athletes but were struggling with the gradient, race walking whilst I bounded past them. My climbing legs had arrived. (I now know I was 17th at halfway up.)

By the ridge along the top I was quite lonely, just one English vest visible ahead and a plethora of tourist groups heads bent to the wind. The first runner descending passed me, Italian, Englishman, Italian, Englishman, Englishman, Serpentine! I’m still behind a club runner. The top, in 9th I think, 46:01 3 seconds quicker than last year.

Descending behind the Englishman Tom Adams we flew down through the mist. I collided full body with a runner coming up, shouted at a few tourists, split another group in two and a struggling red vest appeared ahead of me, Mr Serpentine couldn’t run down hill, past him.

“Go on Jill”

Several people had shouted at me but I was gone before I recognised them, Jill Stephen of Scotland was just in a bit of a gap and I shouted my encouragement.

More rocks, steep, loose section, past Tom. Through the tunnel, marshals, runners, tourists, unicyclist – yup you read that right- ‘the cheese grater’, survived it all, flat out across the boulders. Helter-skelter across a scree slope, there’s an Italian, looks like Bamby on Ice, past him, tourist woman not looking, ran into her and bounced off.

Tom was still with me as we reached the trail again, then he wasn’t. He literally disappeared into the mist ahead of me- I really need to work on my leg speed and flat running- maybe It is fat Kyle! Past half way down I was beginning to hurt, not as much as one English athlete who crashed out with a fall and bang to the head.

In the final section on the hill I caught another Italian- this guy was 3rd at the top and the TV cameras included ME in the race highlights!

Crazy times, tear down the road, cowbells ringing in my ears, heals on fire I still expected to be passed again. On the final straight I heard the commentator:

“James Espie of Scotland…he’s smashed it this year”

It wasn’t quite a Brownlee stagger across the line but the highlights cut as I fall out of the picture in 1:09:56 (If you manage to catch the Channel 4 program.)

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The team results were:

Men: James Espie 5th, Robert Simpson 10th, Kyle Grieg 14th. Men were 3rd team.

Women: Louise Mercer 2nd, Miranda Grant 6th, Jill Stephen 8th, Ladies were 1st team.

Open: Kenny Richmond our team manager won the V45 race.

We had a fantastic wee celebration at the prize giving, Kenny and the Ladies all got on the podium and I snuck on as they gave prizes to 5th. So there I was, the guy from rural Aberdeenshire that no one knows, mostly self-coached who generally just goes off and gambles about in the hills and calls it training, on a Podium with serious international athletes.

It was a great atmosphere and fantastic to belong to a Scotland squad that looked like a team and one that could get results!

Edit from Deb: 5th! 5th!! To be 5th in a race with an international field is PHENOMENAL! Well done Espie…now for our head to head on Sunday… 😉

 

As if I wasn’t busy enough… The Dam and Landan!

…I got the opportunity to head to Amsterdam to visit one of Subsea 7’s pipelay vessels during one of its scheduled dry docks.

When I was a graduate I actually went offshore on a diving vessel, but it was puny in comparison to the Seven Oceans!

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Training took a back seat but I managed a 10.30pm treadmill run after a day of touring the boat, and a selfie with my colleague/foodie expert Andy to tease Kyle! at the Canal Lover’s Cruise…!

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(how romantic)

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The day after I got back, it was time to head to London to visit Kyle’s cousin, give the flower girl Queen her dress to try on and watch the Athletics! I.e. Bolt’s last ever race in the 4×100 relay (I think we know how that went….!) and Mo’s last (official) track race (I believe he is doing a couple more local races).

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I wish Bolt got up “Cool Runnings” style and hobbled to the finish, getting the relay the slowest time in history but then again I have never had hamstring cramp and I imagine it is pretty painful!

And what are the odds/how cool is it that we ended up sitting directly in front of one of Kyle’s Scottish team managers and his wife?! Malcolm is super knowledgeable on the sport so was interesting to hear his insights!

The weather was perfect and we managed to run in the morning, have a lovely brunch both days, shopping, then prosecco on the Thames until we headed to the stadium…my idea of heaven!!

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(cousin Vicky)

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(my fiance is so macho)

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(brunch with the gang!)

 

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(we act like a couple sometimes!)

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(“you kiss like you’re related!”)

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(the perfect way to end a run)

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(they NEED to have these sippy cups for grown ups…no-spill wine!)

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(cheers, Belle!)

 

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(And to finish…the “Horniman”…sorry, Mum)