Holkham Half this weekend

Wow twice in one week…this has been unheard of recently!

 Just a quick note to thank everyone on behalf of K and I for your kind comments and support recently on our way to world domination!

The sporting community really is phenomenal and second to none!

So onto the next race: the Outlaw Holkham Half in 2 days’ time!

https://www.tri247.com/triathlon-news/elite/outlaw-half-holkham-elite-preview

It will be my first ever half iron distance (1.9km swim, 90km bike, followed by a half marathon) as Kyle ended up doing the only one I’ve entered on 3 weeks’ notice, after I was hit! My A goal is to beat his time from that race 😉 (although he is one of those people that can do everything and finished in 4.42 with a 1.15 run split!).

Training has gone really well. I am running faster than ever before and my cycling is continuing to improve. Unfortunately, I had a crash at the Stonehaven Beer Festival Sportive, on the 1st bend on the descent on Cairn O’Mount (if you have been there, you’ll know that wouldn’t have been pretty!). Although nothing was broken, I have had shoulder issues since, but I am still hoping to put in a solid performance in the elite field of the race!

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(speedhub gear is clearly amazing since there were no tears!)

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(The beer was a great painkiller…at the time! We managed to get in the local paper with this shot!)

For those looking to track me, I am lucky number 8(is that a thing?!) and my race kicks off at 6.27AM (again, is that a thing?!?!?!).

 

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My trip to Speedhub!

So last weekend I ok ok Kyle came too to share the driving drove all the way to Lutterworth to visit my triathlon team, Speedhub. I actually couldn’t WAIT to meet them and pick up my amazing kit, and get a fancy retul bike fit while I was there!

[For those who don’t know much about Retul, it’s basically where you get hooked up to these wires in order to get your optimum cycling position. I am obviously not an expert, but looking at the vast detail it goes into, I couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t done this already! There is a lot of evidence that proves it has a MASSIVE advantage in your bike split (if Team Sky and British Cycling utilise it, who am I to argue otherwise), which equates to essentially “free speed” with exactly the same fitness and effort, so it is a no brainer]

To find out more information click here!

We headed down Saturday morning and stopped at a couple of places in Edinburgh first of all (we decided to buy an entire camping set the same trip we’d be taking home a bunch of triathlon kit and a bike – rookie error, but glad we replaced the 1 Series with a Volvo in January!), then stopped in the borders for Kyle to partake in the Inter counties hill champs (this was an “oh let’s do this as we’re going down the road anyway, while training for a 50km World Champs race next month, in the middle of a billion mile week and do rubbish”-sorta race) for Scotland North (he was 26th).

We finally reached Lutterworth just in time for dinner! Next door to our hotel there was a “2 steaks and a bottle of wine for twenty quid” deal, so why would we go anywhere else 😉 it was actually lovely, but we were VERY full after starting with a huge bowl of nachos and a couple of local ales! Luckily you are spared of the pics since our phones had died!

I had every intention of setting my alarm for 6am to get a run in before my fitting at 7.30am, but alas the driving REALLY took it out of me! I opted for a rest day and showed up to the fitting refreshed!

Tim – Speedhub owner and the most attentive fitter I could ever imagine! Oh, and superstar triathlete himself (I say this in case he is reading…!) – greeted me with open arms and a coffee, and then we he got to work on my INCREDIBLE new Felt IA2 TT bike!

What I learned was just how detailed his fittings are: I did a bunch of flexibility tests in my shoulders and hamstrings, along with testing my core strength – and then I was made to do push ups on the massage table but pretty sure they were winding me up! They explained that in order to be in an optimal position, my core must be strong enough to engage for a long period of time and my shoulders must be able to take the strain. It made perfect sense!

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Craig (fellow team member and phenomenal Ironman racer!), or Twigg, came by too to say hello and help build the bike – I was bombarding them both for tips the whole day…I hope their ears have stopped ringing!

Once on the bike, I did a couple of efforts and some “easy Sunday long ride” pedaling, and was assessed via the LEDs. Luckily, most of the dozens of results were green BUT we found out my left leg is shorter than my right, so I had to get my seat lowered! I was also apprehensive about trying the Cobb saddle, as it looked to me like an Adamo Noodles’ gave me (which I know a lot of people swear by, but it hurt my fairy too much), but it was like a throne! So so comfortable!

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After the position was confirmed, a few “extras” were done on the bike (bars brought closer together for more aerodynamic benefit) and then I was good to go!

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I then went through all my new Speedhub kit, including Zoot wetsuit and trainers, POC helmets, and met the team masseuse, Mandy, at All Sports Massage, and another teammate Caitlin who has just qualified for European Juniors in Austria – way to go Caitlin!!

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I hope I’m now not just an athlete with all the gear and no idea – I have a lot of work to do to keep up with this lot! But I am FINALLY hitting training goals, so now it’s just a case of proving this in races!

Can’t wait to see the team again, but firstly I cannot WAIT to race in my new kit!!

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My 1st Cycle Race, and 1st Win :)

Ok ok so I didn’t mention that I was participating in a cycle race to many people, and I didn’t post it on the blog because (a) what if I came last (I know that reason is lame!), and (b) I wanted a low key, no pressure race just to test the legs after all the training I was doing instead of running!

I announced it on Strava a couple days before the race, mainly because I craved the attention, because I was actually getting nervous! But I actually enjoyed the race nerves…haven’t had them in a while! My last “race” was Lumphanan, which is always more of a “let’s burn off all the Christmas food and alcohol, while laughing at how ridiculous that hill is” than a “let’s get serious” race.

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Oh wait.

I never actually did a recap of Lumphanan this year. Let’s see…after we hosted the Hogmanay celebrations with some of our closest friends, Gary stayed an extra couple nights to partake in the hangover Lumphanan Detox 10km with us. As always, it falls on the 2nd January, a day after Mum’s birthday! Because she was off getting married in New York on her bday last year, we had a lovely dinner and cocktails on the 1st, and so we were thankful for a long lie the following day! I was still on the mend from my November injury, but Carolyn taped me up, I shoved a compression sock over it, and jogged a mile warm up and it felt ok! Gary has been running amazingly (he just went 82mins for the half mara in Inverness recently, SMASHING his PB!) so my aim was to stay ahead of him! Superstar Nicola Gauld was there so my other aim was to get the silver!

When the gun went off, I managed to stick with Gauldy for approximately 37 seconds, before she sprinted off in the distance (she made that hill look so easy!). Dino (another one who smashed the Inverness Half, and even more recently slammed through the 18 min barrier, and annihilated the 37 min barrier in the 5/10km, so is flying this year!) was so supportive throughout the entire race, and we took turns leading in the wind. In the final km, we turned into the village and had a face off!! He outsprinted me, finishing just a couple secs ahead in 38.29…until next time, Mr! (Oh and Nicola beat me by 90seconds…I have a lot of work to do!). I was happy enough given the indulgence over the festive season and injury (and that it is a BRUTAL course with a massive hill and boggy terrain!)

Anyhoo, this cycle race gave me good nerves! My biggest concern was coming last, because it was a male dominated race with cycling being their only sport! At the briefing, I was SO intimidated!! Although it was pretty windy and chilly, I saw the majority of athletes in shorts – and shaved legs!! Not only was I wearing leggings, the guys had less hair on their legs than me! 😉 I also had a buff and long sleeve on, and was considering ditching my Oakleys, due to rain making visibility difficult!

It was a “neutralised start” (which I had to Google!) which meant we all rolled easy as a pack behind a few cars, one having a Saltire hanging out of it. The rule was, as soon as the flag was taken in, the race began. Well I was so far back I couldn’t see the cars never mind the flag! I just felt a massive SURGE (oh how they burned!) and tried desperately not to get dropped by the wheel in front of me!

I was taught quite a lot of rules of the road from Noodles, from the Scotland camp I went on last year, and also from my APRs at Torphins Typhoons, but still managed to get shouted at for moving into spaces that didn’t exist, and going to fast when I got to the front of the “through and off” group (sorry if my termination is horrendous…still learning! Which is exactly what I shouted to the people I was offending!).

I was pretty boxed in for a couple of miles, and realised if I wanted to do well I should really get to the right hand side of the pack. I gradually weaved my way through, and made a burst sprint to be in the first few rows of the race. About 5 miles in, I saw heard Kyle (who ran 1 loop in reverse as part of his final long run before London to cheer me on!). I didn’t see him, but he always gives me a burst of energy when I know he’s there! That was when we got to the 1st hill in the 1st loop: Brindy.

Because there were loads of people that were not local to Aberdeenshire, people were full blown sprinting up (then dying at about half way). That is where I had the local advantage! For once, I held back and stayed within myself, gradually catching up again! I think a couple guys noticed this, as I was asked a few times what Suie was like, and how long it was etc etc. I was happy to give advice…as I said, this was just an experience to enjoy!

On the descent, I was a little nervous with all the people around me. I just tried to stay out of people’s way, and that is where I was overtaken by another female (must.work.on.bike.handling.skills). There was a sharp left turn at Auchleven which was a pretty narrow road for a few miles, so I was kinda stuck at the back until the Suie. I just drafted with the pack, with the aim of conserving my energy for Suie.

When we reached the Suie, again there were a lot of people going super hard, at a pace I would never be able to sustain the whole way! This steep section really broke up the group, and I passed the leading lady pretty quickly.

At the top, I was alone. I really pushed up the hill, and I wanted it to pay off. I actually had tactics in this race! My tactic here was to crest over the hill and continue the power over and down, and pedal my heart out to try and catch up with anyone ahead who had decided to recover on the descent.

My plan worked! Although it took it’s time! I was solo for quite a while, but I FINALLY caught up with a guy who had been dropped by his group, so we worked together in the now brutal headwind, and with a small pack that caught up with us, and a pack we caught up with, we were now a power pack (with no girls to be seen…yay to my plan working!). We did that through and off thing until about Leslie, then it seemed to be an individual effort towards the base of the Suie.

When the Suie hit, I gave it absolutely everything! (the race finished at the top of it, you see!). I knew exactly how hard to push considering it is in my back garden, so as not to die on the final – and what I think is the steepest – part!

Kyle ran back up the Suie (GREAT effort from him…although he should be tapering!) to see me at the top, but by then I was getting cold (it was beginning to snow!) so he ran back to the car (and ended up doing 17 miles instead of his prescribed 13…woops) and I cycled home as a cool down and to get a shower, before heading back to the hall for prize-giving. The perks of living so close to the race!

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(no pics of me – if anyone has please let me know! – but I did capture my post race treats!)

All in all, I loved the challenge of getting out my comfort zone and trying something new, and enjoyed the different feeling of pushing myself on the bike…I think it hurts more but you recover quicker, if that makes sense? I will definitely be doing another!

Oh, and my time for the ~32 mile UPHILL FINISH (grr!) race was just under 1.35 (about 20.3mph) but that’s including that neuralised start.

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(Guilty!)

For those who are not familiar with the Suie, there is a good article on it here 🙂

 

 


Ever done a race to mix things up a bit?

Do you enjoy getting out of your comfort zone?

 

One injured but one gets a GB vest!

Yep. Stiiiiiiiill injured.

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(Punk IPA and Radical Road are good ways of dealing with injury…)

Remember that time I gave advice on how to cope with injury? Yeah do as I say don’t do as I do (I have added a couple kgs from comfort eating (“ahhh my world is ending. i will never run again. oh look, chocolate”))

BUT my best friends are now my ice pack and hot water bottle, I have channeled my spare time to more biking and wedding planning, AND I have forced Kyle on the bike with me and can even smash him pip him to the top by a couple secs now!

It sucks that the weather has been glorious (for Aberdeen) and I can’t get out at lunchtimes, BUT lighter nights mean some cycling/walking outside so that keeps my vitamin D up a little.

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(my handsome fiance/walking buddy)

I have taken out these frustration on some nearby hills! Last weekend, I did some Suie hill reps after our first meeting with our humanist (realised we needed one of those otherwise it is just a big party!), then the following day redeemed myself by cycling the entire way up the Lecht rather than stopping on the first part after my granny gear failed on me last time!

 

When I checked strava, I saw Noodles had beaten me up by 5 secs and I was GUTTED!

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(he blamed using a TT bike…clearly using every excuse in the book #chicked)

Other fun news was that Speedhub sent me an aero suit to try (tri?)…!!

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(“Kyle this is so cool – take a pic take a pic!” “Shouldn’t you sort your hair and put makeup on 1st? You don’t want them to drop you already…” …should have maybe listened to him for once! 😉 and yes my leg is taped there too)

So I’ve not ran at all and Healing Hands Helen (she fixed me after the accident) has banned me for a while, but I really hope I can come back soon! I hate to love people running so amazingly well at the moment and I can’t join in the fun!

In other news, I found an action shot from Mum’s 1st 5km!

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(she’s in the zone!)

And I also found a pic from our Christmas dance

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(I am a lion)

Another random finding was Kyle finding this on Facebook:

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(oh dear to having ZERO transition skills a year ago! JK that was our first date – looking forward to our rematch! #novice)

My sister loved her bday present

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(she is now a mermaid)

Her birthday is 2 days after mine, so I guess it’s a bit like Christmas with the giving and receiving of gifts for us!

For my birthday KB and I went to Aviemore! It was beautiful and we had the best time!

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(oh yes Kyle now has Instagram – add him!!)

Why was it so amazing you ask?

BECAUSE WE WERE ALSO CELEBRATING KYLE MAKING THE GB TEAM FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!!!

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(read all about it here!)

For those of you who don’t know, his Haworth Hobble really paid off!! I couldn’t have been more proud! It is his lifetime goal to make a legit Great Britain team and wear a GB vest to compete on a world level! I KNEW the ultra distance would suit him!

So he is off to Italy in June 😀 I’ll force him ask him nicely to do a post about his training and any team updates!

Popping 2 cherries: XC and the Lecht

Cross country. People love to hate it. They embrace the pain and come out the other side stronger and even more excited for the next one.

Not me.

That was awful! An accumulation of being ill the previous fortnight, thinking I had recovered from it, then boom(!) in a 4km race, I think 3.87km of that was pure trying-to-get-air-in-as-lungs-just-stopped-functioning. Apparently I’m more susceptible to lung inflammation after a bout of illness, making this race one of the hardest – and most disappointing – of my life!

*plays world’s saddest song on the world’s smallest violin*

The National XC Relays in Cumbernauld. The weather was brilliant, the Metro runners were amazing (I came back BUZZING to Kyle how much I felt like part of a family there!), and the banter was flowing!

I swam that morning as this was nothing near an A race for me; I had hoped for a no pressure, slip in slip out race, where I’d try my best and only improve for the next time.

Silly Debbie agreed to change from the final leg to the first leg, recognises people she likes to chase on the road, runs with them, dies, tries to catch up, goes over ankle, gets overtaken, struggles to breathe, hobbles/screeches for breath to the end, feels like she’s been punched in the stomach after passing one at the finish line, hobbles back to metro tent, lies down, tries to cool down but gets light headed and sits on grass before walking back and scrounging food off people because she left hers on the bus. That was my race in a nutshell!

On a good day I think those hills would be fun! The rest of my team after me did unbelievably fantastic (although I WISH Fiona had been on it!! She was unfortunately ill and had to pull out, but still came down to support like the trooper she is. AND endured my horrendous chat for 6 hours on the bus!) and everyone was so supportive! Once I recover from this, I MAY give it another go, but on Saturday I had sworn that was my first and last ever cross country race!

It was a loonnnnnggggg day (I got up at 4.45am for swimming and I got home about 8.30pm) so I was looking forward to a long lie BUT Kyle and I had arranged to tackle the Lecht on the bike on Sunday with JK (who had a STORMER of a run that day after having been injured for weeks) and Tom (who unfortunately had to pull out of the Amsterdam marathon after a knee injury, so will come back with a vengeance and SMASH 2.40 in his next marathon!).

They arrived at our house around 10am in the pouring rain! So we had a coffee and waited for it to calm down. The weather was nippy and I knew I wasn’t 100%, but I REALLY wanted to cycle with the boys, so made sure to eat a decent breakfast and wrap up warm.

It was lovely to catch up with them properly (when you’re stuck for 3.5+ hours on a bike, you’re kinda forced to chat) and we had so much fun! When we were nearing the start of the climb, the nervous energy started (I always make unfunny jokes and become even more loud and obnoxious than usual), and seeing the first climb would make anyone laugh at its ridiculousness! But the route was stunning and I enjoyed (for once!) the nice descent to the café at the bottom 🙂

Once home, we ate bread I’d just taken out of the breadmaker while the boys got changed (trying to win points!), then Kyle and I jumped in the hot tub after they left.

Unfortunately, I am back to how I felt when on annual leave, so will take a couple days off and rest up. This also might mean I miss my next race, Brodie Castle 10km 😦

Ok time to stop feeling sorry for myself and hope y’all have had a great weekend!

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(the start of my race – I’m in the black and gold 😉 )

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(pain face)

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(after I got dropped 😦  …)

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(Fiona – who should have ran instead of me, with that performance(!) – cheering me up the hill)

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(200m to go…198m to go…197m to go….that is how my mind worked here! Bad place!)

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(One big Metro family!)

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(the following day’s climb!)

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(It’s hard riding with these superstars!)

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(Proof I made it too…eventually!)


 

Cross Country: love to hate it? or hate to hate it?

Road, track, trail or xc?

Snowdon: a ‘mare of a weekend

Friday:

We leave at 11am. We are told to swing by Edinburgh to pick up another member of the Scottish team. There are major holdbacks at the Forth Road Bridge so we are at a standstill for maybe an hour. Then her train was another hour or so late. Then because we went via Edinburgh and not Glasgow, we were stuck on a single track road for part of the journey to the west side of the country. We get to England. There is a crash and we are at a standstill again for maybe 45 minutes. We then get to Wales. There is another standstill. We get to the hotel at 10.45pm; nearly 12 hours after we set off. I open my toilet bag ready to brush my teeth and go straight to bed. The toothpaste I thought I saw in it was actually Kyle’s hair removal cream that I made him use on his gorilla chest before Thailand (TMI??!). Cue us both putting our trainers on and sprinting (9min/miles) to see if we remembered where the nearest Spar was. 10.58pm, as they are getting ready to close, we get straight in, procure toothpaste, then head back to the hotel.

The one thing that kept me going:

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 (woohoo to PB M&Ms!)

Saturday:

The intention was to get up at 6am to leave by 6.30am for a 60 mile cycle. I had it all mapped out. I was hoping to take my time, take in the sights (and hills) of Snowdonia, be back by 10ish, grab food with Kyle and his fellow Scotland teammates, cheer them on at the start of the race (2pm), do a run session while they race, watch the finish, then I roped a couple of them into an open water swim in the lake with beers and sunshine, then party into the night. Sounds amazing, right?

The reality was very different. I was super tired (I felt jet lagged!) from our 4.30am wake up call and near 12 hour drive the previous day, so changed my plan to have breakfast with Babez, head out by 9.30am, come back by 1pm, see him before the race, then cheer them on/run/open water swim/beers etc. That also seemed to work. I had a printed map of my route, screen shotted it on my phone AND write the road numbers on my hand, and cycled off on my merry way up a big hill out of Llanberis.

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(stunning, aint it?)

Despite taking my time, I was averaging about 19mph for the 1st hour, when it started to get even windier and constant downpours restricted my viewing pleasure. Luckily, I had waterproofs so put them on (I was already soaked through but it would help from the wind). I was still enjoying it (it was pretty warm and the scenery was breath-taking!) After a couple hours, I was at a roundabout. The rain had taken off my ink on my hand so I referred to the map for the road number. I took the exit pretty confident and continued on that road, looking for the next road. A few miles passed and I still hadn’t seen the road I was looking for (A5). I got to 53 miles in when I was still relatively confident that I had less than 10 miles to go, I checked the map thinking the A5 would maybe only last a few miles and take me straight home. It was soaked through that I couldn’t read it. I then checked my phone (which for once was reliable and had both battery AND signal!) ready to call Kyle to tell him I’d be back in less than half an hour to have lunch with him.

No. Nooo. NOOOOO!

I had gone on the right road in the WRONG DIRECTION!!! I was now 40 MILES from Llanberis!!!!!!!!! I was not only going to miss his ENTIRE race (start and finish) but I was already exhausted, only had a snickers and banana with me, and was already shivering in the cold having only stopped for a couple of minutes. I called Kyle crying. He was amazing – he didn’t panic and told me to just take my time, try and cycle on for another 20 miles, find a town and see if I could get a taxi from there.

I did as I was told (I am an Ironman after all 😉 …!) but the storm was so bad that I couldn’t feel my fingers/toes, despite good layering (I have terrible Raynaud’s – if anyone has tips let me know!). Even my Garmin crashed (no Strava QOMs for me!). I managed to cycle for an hour or so, took what I thought was the road back to the hotel, which was uphill all the way.

Starting to feel sick with the cold, I double checked my phone. WRONG WAY AGAIN!! I don’t normally like to give up (think Ironman 3 months post car-crash), but I was broken. I rolled downhill, found a small village, saw they had a hotel, dragged me and my bike into said hotel, begged for a hot chocolate (which they brought me with extra whipped cream and a chocolate dusted sad face on top…that cheered me up for 0.8seconds!), found a settee and blanket and preceded to use their wifi and message Kyle.

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At that point it was 2.55pm. Kyle had about 15 mins left of racing so I was on the tracker. I was hoping since he didn’t see me at the finish, he would know to check his phone (he is normally rubbish with his phone!) – which he DID!! He called me about 30 minutes after my arrival at the hotel and asked for details of my location and that he would be there as soon as possible. He never even got water he just took a screen shot of where I was and headed the 23 mile journey to get me. Is he amazing or what?!

Why didn’t you get a taxi, I hear you ask? Well because the bartender offered to call some taxi companies to try and get “local’s rates” but I was quoted £70, and I am an Aberdonian. I knew I would be waiting at the hotel for a couple of hours, but they were all so nice to me there and I couldn’t get out on my bike again. I would get really ill.

So back to the time. 2.55pm. The kitchen closed at 3pm and last orders at 2.45pm. Typical! Furthermore, remember my Garmin broke in the storm? Well it was making a high pitched buzzing noise. Only no one knew it was the Garmin making the noise. People in the hotel reckoned it was the speakers/camera/wifi etc. Guests were complaining and engineers were called in. Yep, my bad. Call out charges and loss of profits from guests leaving/not buying more drinks. I was the most expensive hot chocolate they’d ever served!

When Kyle picked me up, he brought a blanket and spare clothes for me, but no water or food for him, and the said 23 mile journey took him an hour because the roads were so hilly and bendy 😦 I felt horrible and couldn’t stop crying and apologising.

When we finally got back, I just wanted to sit in the shower in the foetal position, but we bumped into a couple of the Irish team (who were our drinking buddies a couple years ago!) who enticed us to come downstairs for dinner and Jagerbombs…! Having a joke around when them (they were walking like penguins since the race had taken that much out of them) was all we both needed to cheer up and get ready for the night ahead.

It was actually more tame than expected! We had a nice dinner, then headed outside (as the storm finally cleared and it was glorious sunshine…TYPICAL!) for the sunset.

We all agreed to get up and do an easy run in the morning before travelling, and I joined them and finished off with the run session I was due to do the previous day (a creaky 4x5mins after 80 miles and a few ciders in my legs!).

The road trip home (we took James who ROCKED the race with an 11th place debut and 1st Scot home!) was a LOT more fun than the journey there, and not just because we stopped for a dozen Dunkin Donuts en route! But by the time we got home it was 8pm and time for dinner & bed…

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(Delirious selfie after 8 hours of driving!)

I feel so much better for ranting that out to you guys…thanks for listening!

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Every got lost on a cycle/run/race?

Most you would pay/have paid for a taxi?

Hill races: awesome or hell?

Stonehaven Beer Festival Sportive

 

What an amazing weekend!!!! The idea of putting on a long cycle so you earn your beer really makes it taste so much better!


First let’s rewind to last week. After Kyle SMASHED the Westhill 10k (he won by FOUR minutes and managed a 32.47 on a hilly course and lack of training!), my chest was tight that evening 😦 Monday through Wednesday I was having similar symptoms to when I had my lung issue diagnosed (I fainted coming out of the shower and had been struggling for breath) so I went to the doctor on Wednesday (this was super difficult as the receptionist kept telling me to get off the emergency line when I took it as an emergency) and she was worried so wanted me in again on the Friday. On the Friday I had a different doctor who told me to go straight to hospital.

Sound familiar?? This is exactly what happened last year. Anyhoo, 5 hours and multiple tests later, it was confirmed there are no (more) blood clots and I will be ok. Still not too convinced but I was glad to have all the tests done just in case. I took a couple days off last week but weirdly I feel better when I’m exercising…

 


Ok so that was Friday, this is Saturday…

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(Beer entry + hospital band = typical Debster stylin’)

Our cycle crew were myself, Kyle, Tom & Jeremy (those boys are amazing cyclists despite being predominantly runners so I was scared they’d have to wait for me) and we ended up staying within a couple minutes of each other the whole time and, apart from the death that is Cairn O Mount BOTH times, we were chatting for pretty much 3 hours solid!!

It was an early start (we were logistically challenged so the POA was to leave our car at Mum’s, Keith was driving us (he has a fancy bike rack that we need to look into) as he was doing it too albeit in a different wave (his lesson learned was if you have never done Cairn O Mount and haven’t done >1 hour cycling in 2016, you probably shouldn’t enter a 70 mile CoM double), then he takes our bikes back afterwards and we train to Aberdeen and stay at Tom’s) so we were up at 6am.Registration was a little frustrating but the volunteers were non-stop and had probably only had a couple of hours sleep from the previous night’s beer fest, so we didn’t mind the long wait too much. Those in an earlier wave, however, were a little apprehensive. We got off on time and we made our way up the hill out of Stoney towards Banchory.

All you have to know is that Cairn O Mount is one of the UK’s toughest climbs! And we were doing it from each side within a 70 miler! It wasn’t too warm at the start but the sun really came out after the first climb so the only difficulty was the wind! There was a small section after going over CoM the first time where it was so windy we were all just taking our turn at the front and no one was talking. At that point (about half way) I wondered if the wall was coming. I was fully expecting to bonk given I haven’t done any long cycles, bar a 3 hour turbo, since the start of the year. Luckily, none of the guys had either so you can imagine the banter between us!

The jokes as we were approaching CoM the 2nd time (going up the steeper side this time) kept me going. If I had been alone at this point, the hill along with the headwind could have meant I got off and walked up the stupid thing. Note: you could have walked past me at certain sections on that bad boy. Kyle’s chain came off and walked past us all at one point.

I kept picking people from the earlier waves off as I made my way up the final climb. Jeremy caught me (grrr!) before the last hair pin but I had ran out of gears and at that point was going side to side to stop me falling off!

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(at the top – the 2nd time!!)

The refreshments stops came at the perfect times and were filled with sandwiches, sausage rolls, homebakes…you name it they had it! I deffo ate more than I burned that morning!

The final climb was the Slug Road before decending down into Stonehaven again. At this point JK made a huge surge and smashed us all, so he will forever more be known as the Slug Champ. From that point, the 4 of us regrouped and smashed it back down to Stoney! We were pleasantly surprised at the strength we had for 4 hours of cycling!

Coming in, the goodie bags we received were amazing (Tshirts you could actually look cool in, waterbottles filled with fuel samples and a beer token with free glass) so we picked them up then went straight for beer! They were gone in an instant!

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…Then 6 hours later we were still standing!

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We got changed in minutes using the swimming pool next door and there were fish and chips and burgers right there, so we hardly had to move (our legs thanked them for this).

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(Slug Champ’s bike was the last one to go!)

Tom actually had to go into WORK!!! He also ended up CYCLING there!!! What a trooper! He met us for dinner that evening back in Aberdeen but he hadn’t eaten AT ALL post cycle and still managed to function. Major kudos to him.

Speaking of kudos, can I brag that I now hold the QOM for the CoM, AND that my time is faster than Noodles’!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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We also think I came in 1st lady but a) a lot of people entered the long route but did the shorter one so that screwed up the results, b) I don’t care because it was a fun long ride with beer!

The train to Aberdeen was fine, but Kyle and I were now homeless as Tom was away, so Slug Champ kindly offered us his entire flat and he stayed at Ginie’s (her legs are too long, svelte and beautiful to do the cycle, plus she is on FORM right now running-wise, so joined us for the sensible option of just beer and is keeping herself for Lairig Ghru this weekend!)

We all went for Thai food and were in bed at around midnight – it was the perfect day!

The following day, our hangover cure of choice was a long trail run up Hill of Fayre. I dragged Freyja along and what the 2 of us had agreed as a 10k easy run, turned into a 12 miler! The boys were showing off at the front but us girls were fine taking it easy (if you can say that going up a steep gradient for 10-15mins at a time) at the back!

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(them views though)

This was followed by copious amounts of Dominoes pizza and chicken fillets. I was HANGRY!!!

On Monday it was the summer solstice, so what better way to celebrate than with a late (way past my bedtime since Game of Thrones already had me up longer than anticipated!) walk to pick elderflower and make gin! Ok I lied, Kyle did everything and I stood there in my snowman pjs with a bucket. I look forward to tasting his recipe in a week!

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(Although the commute sucks, Alford is gorgeous!)

 

Ironman Sweden: The “Sideways” Bike

Sorry for dragging out this Ironman…I have so much to say about it! Swim recap can be found here!

Before I start on the bike leg, I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Planet X for sending me AMAZING bikes (I was racing on their Exocet 2 Team Carnac TT bike) and looking after me. Let’s just say cycling isn’t my forte so I needed all the help I could get with a super speedy bike! With my lack of training for obvious reasons, I was really comfortable on it (until my back hurt from tensing so much in the wind…my fault entirely!).

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(Thanks Planet X….if I hadn’t been sent a 2nd bike after my crash I would have been out of the race!)

And another HUGE thank you to Steven at Holburn Cycles for the best service a girl could ask for! He has THE best bike shop in Aberdeen, and even gives good cuddles to girls (having just been hit by a car) when a bike accident happens right outside the door! I was an emotional wreck in his shop recently! He has kept me right and has filled me with advice over the past few months!

Thank yooooou guys!!

Ok back to the race. Transition went smoothly. I saw one other female enter the change tent after me and I congratulated her. She didn’t speak English but responded with a smile and a “F***”!” It’s funny how swear words can be internationally recognised! I let her off considering it was a challenging swim!

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I found my bike, headed to the mount line and tried to get on without falling over or taking too long. The crowds were 3 or 4 rows deep along the road we mounted on and they were going wild for the 1st female out of the water, so I had thought it was inevitable I would slip and fall flat on my face with the bike falling on top of me. Fortunately, this didn’t happen and off I went up the hill towards the Oland Bridge.

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My Garmin was playing up so I was trying to sort that while trying to work out where the wind was coming from. It felt like it was going in circles!! The direction was determined once I turned right onto Oland Bridge. It was hitting me right in the face.

I finally got the Garmin to work while on said bridge, but wished it hadn’t when it revealed my speed. 16kph. On the flat. It was laughable it was so windy! Did I REALLY have to battle through this?! Hang on, the main parts of the bike leg are going to be facing the wind side on….NOOOOOO!!!!!

This was going to be one loooonnnnnnnggggggggggg bike ride.

On the same topic, “Oland” – I found out later – means “land of wind and sun”. Why did I not know this before entering? 120km on a scorching hot, tornado of an island? I could barely hear my own thoughts with the wind hitting all angles of my tear drop helmet (sorry, Steven’s helmet – thanks again, Steve!).

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(oops – sometimes it got so windy I couldn’t stay down in the TT position – sorry coach: photo courtesy of Ambjorn Johansson)

The crowds were amazing for the first 30km of the bike leg. There were Mexican waves, samba bands and children cheerleading on their trampolines! Then, as soon as the crowds died down, in “horse manure county” as I have now named it, two pro women came whizzing past me like I was standing still! How demoralising!

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I don’t mind when guys pass me on bikes thinner than the width of my nails, but whenever a girl passed me (I think there were 4 or 5 in total? Don’t quote me on that) I get annoyed. Granted, I haven’t had much time on the bike, considering I bought my 1st one last July, only started using it in around September, and have been in and out of hospital in recent weeks, but I like to think these thunder thighs of mine can at least keep up with these super human cycling machines!

A good couple of hundred males must have passed me! I had mentally prepared for this, and I took these times as a way to learn more about how those fast guys are so speedy. Some had a super-fast cadence, others were ridiculously slow yet powerful, but they all looked amazing! I did see some struggles from those with full disc wheels in the wind though…not surprising considering I had some near misses and I only had deep rims! My way of tackling these disheartening passings? Counting how many people were called Johan…maybe 20%! I had a cheesy grin on my face when an Olaf passed me; all I could think about was how the snowman from Frozen would cope in those conditions. Hey, I had a good few hours of thinking time – I went off track a few times…!

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(stop posing and FOCUS Debz…!)

One thing that annoyed me was how much drafting went on. Maybe I was just annoyed that I couldn’t keep up on the back of those draft packs, but it was a bit of a coincidence that the majority of women that passed me were on the back of a group of at least 5 who were clearly less than the legal limit of 10m between one another. In my opinion, you don’t deserve that finisher’s medal if you draft. The wind was so strong it would save you so much time and effort if you were in a peloton. The marshals I did see on course did seem to be doing their job though; one motorbike pulled up to me and gave me an informal warning about my number being at the side. The wind had turned it to the side from the back and I hadn’t noticed!

Back on the mainland, we did a wee loop back into Kalmar, which really helped with morale for both the athletes and the spectators. Their cheer was VERY welcome and this point and when I saw Mum, Keith and Kyle after being on that island for nearly 4 hours I just lit up! It gave me an extra boost and I had my energy and mental strength back! The massive tailwind back on Oland Bridge also helped…!

The mainland 60km were pretty undulating and on old country roads. The quality of these roads were just like Aberdeenshire, which was unfortunate – but at least I was used to it! There were potholes, grit and even train lines to negotiate. There were quite a lot of twisty parts, which may have kept it interesting for the good cyclists, but my bike handling skills are still sub-par that I really struggled and lost time in these areas. It was mentally tiring when a group you were finally managing to keep an eye on in the distance would drop you at every aid station and corner, just because you have to slow down so much, and you are so tired from the unplanned lack of training that you have to come up onto your hoods a lot more because if you stayed in the TT position any longer you would rust in that position and remain in that position for the run that was to follow.

An out and back point of the course meant a 180 turn (#fail) and “only” 30km to go to the end of the bike leg. Granted, my nutrition hadn’t been as planned, so I started to struggle a little. Basically, I thought I could master both filling up my Profile aero bottle with water AND grabbing a Powerbar at every aid station, but alas I only managed the former. I had had zero solid food on the cycle and had just relied on the 10 gels I diluted into my water bottle in my bike cage.

Not to worry though, I didn’t have long to go, and the further I went, the more dense the crowds! Although the smell of their bbqs mixed with my lack of solid food reeeeaaaalllllllyyyyyyy played on my mind.

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(nearly there….stop thinking about bbq burgers…)

Finally, I passed our hotel which was only a couple of kms from the transition area and smiled the whole way in! You couldn’t help it with the crowds! The winds were less severe as we were sheltered with more buildings and trees, and I got some motivational words from people that passed me/the small number of people I passed that were bonking pretty hard. As I heard the commentator’s sound on the loud speaker, I know I only had a few more seconds before I could get some relief from sitting on the bike for 5 hours and 44 minutes – WOOHOO!!

I was now down to 2nd place. Time for the run…

The comeback is ON…kind of.

Yesterday the hospital cleared me to swim again!!!!!!!! My wound has finally healed!!!

What awesome news to end such a fun weekend!!

But first (turn down your volume!):

(Kylie in red)

(finishing straight)

The Baker Hughes 10k was on yesterday (Aberdeen’s biggest race)….Kylie Babez decided – on Friday night I believe – that his Achilles was good enough to race. So what did he do? Decide he needed new racing flats, buying them from Milnee at Run4It the next day.

“These are really light.”

“Maybe you should have bought them a few days ago, Kyle.”

“Nahhhh that would be too easy.”

“Are you at least going to try them out beforehand?”

“No, duh – today is my day off – the race is tomorrow. Why would I run the day before?”

“Why would you buy new lighter-than-all-your-other trainers the day before?”

“Because I am Ironman.”

“No. Next week you will be a HALF Ironman, Kyle. If these trainers don’t injure you more.”

[asks Stuart if they have his size. Stuart offers him the size DOWN. Kyle takes them anyway.]

“So you are wearing brand new shoes. Lighter than others you’ve had. While coming off injury. That you’re not going to try out until the race? That are a size too small?”

“Correct.”

Anyhoo, I have never seen Kyle so relaxed before a race! He had no pressure on himself since he knew he was not in 30min shape, BUT he still smashed it and got 3rd place in 33.06!! His time from Lumphanan, we worked out, would have won the entire race, never mind his PB from Ribble Valley!

 

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Afterwards, we had brunch with Andy and his kids (they helped me with cheerleading duties!), then got ready and met Fiona (who SMASHED the women’s field by over a MINUTE in a flying 36.18!), Tom, Phil, Kayleigh and Nick who all did amazing (yes Phil I’m included you for your excellent marshalling skills following a puncture!) for a few {too many} drinks and curry! It was so much fun!!!

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(Princess Fiona, Phil, Kyle, Tom and I – last ones standing!)

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(twinnies!)

Although it is always nice to be a part of the race experience, watching thousands of speedy legs flying past me only gave me more motivation to push through the pain barriers and get fit again!

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(my cheerleading squad!)

Waking up the morning after the night day before is never too much fun, but knowing I had the hospital for what I had hoped would be the final appointment got me weirdly excited. As soon as the words “you can swim again” came out of the surgeon’s mouth, I don’t think I heard much else (although I vaguely recall an appointment for an MRI scan to be determined was discussed afterwards)!!!

So what did we (Emma and I) do? Went for coffee of course! We have to follow tradition of the last 3 weeks! We tied it in with heading to her uni to print off and hand in her FINAL essay for her Masters Degree (in Project Management if anyone can give her a job??)!! Well done sister!

THEN we went swimming!!!!!!! I did 5x400s on 6.30 mixing up some pull, kick (with fins) and swim and trying to get as close to 30 seconds rest as possible. It happened, but it was A LOT harder than usual!

And so the comeback begins. I still can’t bend my leg enough to run or turbo, but I WILL manage to elliptical and stairclimb.

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(Ignore the cellulite we can pretend is bruising. Fake tan hides a multitude of sins. I miss fake tan.)

Not being one to brag (!!), I actually managed like 5 full cycles on the stationary bike a couple of days ago. Yes, I cried. Yes, it was painful and no I wouldn’t have managed it had Phil not been there to shout at me. It went like this:

“BEND THAT LEG. YOU HAVE NO BROKEN BONES AND NO TENDON DAMAGE (WE KNOW OF). IT IS JUST SKIN. SO BEND THAT LEG!!”

Ohh, how I cried. Funnily enough, after a couple of mojitos on Sunday, it bent a lot more easily 😉

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(mid-tears…)

So here goes. It will be a couple more weeks before I can cycle or run properly, but the rehab has begun!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE for their kind words; calls, texts, emails, private/public messages, messages to family, cards, gifts, visits, taxi rides, gym trips, kidnapping for cakes/sleepovers….you know who you are and I will never forget that!

Planet X & Hi5 please don’t ditch me yet! And thanks for all your support through this so far!

Love you all & thanks again! ❤