Westhill Duathlon – 1st female / 4th overall (new CR?)

After Fraser called me last Thursday, interviewing me for Saturday’s Evening Express article, he planted the racing seed back in my head. I had spoken about how my training was going, but that I didn’t have many races in the diary…therefore asking why he was wasting his time calling me 😉

(He was AMAZING btw! We are blood thinner twinners, both of us coming off the drugs last week, so comparing notes on side effects etc really eases my mind. I really look up to him with all his achievements, so our calls mainly start with some questions for me, I challenge him on why such a legend is asking what I’m up to, we then talk thinner twinner stuff, then finally I bombard him with questions for the next half hour or so…!)

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(Not sure if this is readable, but it just talks about last year’s setbacks and goals for the next couple years!)

Anyhoo, as soon as we ended the call, I emailed Fiona at Triathlon Scotland asking if I could enter this weekend’s Westhill duathlon to see where my fitness was at. At that point I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d raced. Granted, it’s not like I would be tapered or anything, but it would just be fun to get out there again! She agreed and I emailed Steven (the race organiser) to ask tell him I’d be entering on the day!

Prep wasn’t great – Friday night included Indian takeaway, Saturday included leftover Indian takeaway and nearly 4 hours of training, including a 1hr40 swim at 5.30am with the COASTies, a 2 hour cycle around the Cabrach, then a 2 mile brick run. Oh, and lots of homebakes!

I woke up on Sunday still full from yesterday, but forced down some porridge, pb and a banana, and did some stretching to loosen off yesterday’s DOMS.

After packing up the car, I dropped Kyle off en route so he could do his long run (I’ll force him to write a blog on his London marathon training imminently) and I headed the 20mins or so journey to Westhill, pumping up the pre-race beats to get me motivated!

Registration went smoothly (as usual I was last minute so there weren’t many good bike spots available!) and I did a wee 10 min warm up with the drills I learned at camp (#amateur), then met the legendary Jeremy Kibble for a catch up!

(Jeremy on the left in the left pic, and middle of the right pic. Ignore Callum – this is from the Moray marathon and he was too hungover to come and support…!)

I was feeling pretty relaxed. This was just a training race and I had no idea what kind of speed I had – I was hoping to win it, but with regard to pacing etc I had no idea how that would play out!

We started on time and I was at the front. Straight away about 5 people sprinted off, but within 400m I had realed them in and overtook them. The course was 2 laps down a gradual descent, then up a steep and narrow dogwalker path (some twisty bits were involved here which I definitely lost time on!). I purposefully didn’t wear my watch (and not-on-purpose didn’t take my new inhaler. D’oh!) so that I could just run by feel and push the pace without checking my pace and getting nervous that I’d crash and burn.

There were 3 guys just ahead of me, so I kept my eye on them the entire time and tried not to let them go (JK in particular!). Turns out my 1st run was just over 2.5 miles in 14.58 (5.56 pace) so that’s exactly 10km pace which was pretty much what I was hoping for in a race of around an hour!

Transition was where I lost the 3 guys ahead. To their 31, 31, and 39 second transitions respectively, I give you my 46 seconds. WTF?! I couldn’t get my foot in my cycle shoe, forgot to unclip my helmet, so struggled unclipping/re-clipping that, then was pretty thirsty so thought I’d sacrifice 5 secs to hydrate than to crash and burn, and lose 30secs later on.

So for the 1st 10 mins of the bike I was playing catch up. It was super windy so it would have been nice to have a pack in front to keep an eye on and chase. Eventually I caught up, surprisingly on the headwind hill (!), but at that point 2 more people passed me.

The bike course was also 2 laps, making a total of around 9.5 miles of undulating and twisty roads. It was fun, though, because there was quite a lot of support that I wasn’t expecting, and I was feeling good so was happy that I wasn’t getting dropped by the now 4 guys in front.

In the 2nd lap, I managed to pass JK just after headwind hill, then pushed it to T2, spinning my legs in an easier gear with a couple of minutes to go to get me ready for the next run. I was now entering T2 in 5th.

Oh wait, now I can’t get into my trainers. Uh. With transitions of 21, 32, 30, and 21 ahead of me, I rock up out of T2 in 40. I lost more time! And now JK was back in front and I was in 6th.

After that I was running on anger, passing the 2 guys who overtook me on the cycle pretty much immediately. I was back in 4th and told myself to take it easy, concentrate on my breathing and push the 2nd lap to try and get a podium spot OVERALL.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I didn’t let JK get too far ahead, but I crossed the line in 4th, in a time of 1.00.38. Grr to that 39 seconds. Maybe if I’d worn a watch I would have paid more attention to breaking the hour, but no big deal! Must.improve.transitions.

2nd place female was 5 mins behind me, but I believe she is new to cycling (and a super-fast runner!) so she could be really good soon!

Sorry I don’t have pics for you – I was too busy chatting at the race and didn’t bring my photography crew with me, so instead I will leave you with a kinda relevant motivational picture:

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JK I shall get you next year!

Next goal: podium overall

Goal after that: win overall

Goal after that: World domination *evil laugh*

(I told my friend/up and coming triathlete Craig Smith this at Monday morning’s swim training. He laughed, told me to rein it in and that it was only the Westhill duathlon. Way to kill a girl’s dreams, Craig…)


 

Ever surprised yourself in a race?

Are you good under pressure or better relaxed?

Diluting juice – yay or nay?

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Monikie Duathlon 3/3: Overall Series Winner!! :)

So OVERALL I was the series winner:

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At least, that’s the 1st thing I’ll tell people if they ask how I got on in the 3rd round of Monikie on Sunday.

After all, I don’t really need to tell people that my undefeated streak since starting multi-sport races is officially over, do I?

This pretty much sums up yesterday’s race:

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It just wasn’t my day. At the end, a lot of people asked if I was the “girl who had the mechanical”, as opposed to the “series champ”. Yup. My chain came off. Not once, not twice, but on THREE separate occasions! Why does this always happen to me?! My bike hates me (or I hate my bike).

Would I have won had my chain not come off multiple times? I’m not sure. I’d like to say yes, but that means nothing. No point in dwelling and wondering “what if”; time to stay positive and move on to the next race!

To recap, I woke up early feeling great. I had time for a long thorough warm up, set up everything perfectly in a good spot in transition, fuelled with my usual foods (apart from the addition of “Race Day Boost” – more on that later) and had not been out the night before (more than I can say for some other races).

But, when the gun went off, I had nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Oh, apart from an extraordinarily high heart rate. It shot up within seconds! I just tried to tell myself to relax (although I am pretty sure I was relaxed?) and just stick with the chasing group of guys. Around 3.5km passed and I was still in the lead, when suddenly I heard FEMALE panting. This was not good. A GIRL was about to overtake me. And she did. I didn’t push to go with her, because I thought I had a while to go and I seem to have pretty good cycle splits compared with the other girls. and tend to produce decent brick run splits off the bike. It wasn’t by much, because it was in the final couple hundred metres, but it was still a loss for me.

Trail Run 1 time: 15.55 – 2nd female, 15th overall (last time I was 11th overall so boooo to me)

Little did I know, I actually beat her out of T1, but was trying to spot her during the start of the cycle. I was in the lead but thought I had been truly and utterly “chicked”. At this point, my mental strength vanished. In fact, a girl passed me about 2 miles in on the cycle (not the same one). This exact point is where I saw Kylie Babez (he CYCLED from Stonehaven to Monikie….awesome! I wish he’d told me I was only being overtaken for 2nd place, then maybe I wouldn’t have shaken my head so much at him!) Lesson to be learned: race your own race. I lost hope because I thought the girl who beat me by 9 seconds on the run had shot off like a rocket in the cycle, but actually I had been the rocket in transition. Had I not lost hope, maybe no girls would have overtaken me (until the chain disaster of course!).

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I got my mojo back and stayed with her, only to overtake her again about 2 miles later.

This did not last long. There was a BIG hill on the way back to Monikie that I had to change into the small ring for (I am using new wheels and there are less gears (is that right?) or something, so I had to move rings). At the top of the hill, back on flat road, I went to change back into the big ring and my chain came off. I spend 3 minutes trying to put it back on, but quite a few people passed me (a few were lovely though and asked if I needed help!).

I finally got it, clipped in, cycled about 20m, and it came off again. This time didn’t take as long to put on, but the hail stones started and I was drenched and freezing (it was warm with little wind at the start so I was in shorts, and took my gloves off after the run. Bad move, Debs, because now your hands are COVERED in oil).

Now, it was beast mode time! I was angry, cold, and just wanted to catch as many people as I could and then hopefully get the fastest girl split on the 2nd run so that all was not lost. I started picking people off (think I got about half a dozen or so, including a few more girls that passed me while my chain situation was happening).

Official Cycle time: 43.48 – 4th female (wow how did I manage that?!), 35th overall (haha watch out Wiggins)

Garmin Cycle time (it was on auto-pause): 40.56

Time taken fixing chain malfunction: 2.52 (grrrrrr)

T2 came so quickly after that, and I just wanted to get as close to the leading girls again as I could so I could still get the overall winner prize. I passed a girl on the run, and quite a few guys, so although I was nowhere near on running form,I gained some confidence from picking people off.  Oh yeah, and I threw up during the 2nd run too, but that was the least of my worries.

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Again, there are more than 2 people in this race, but it is amazing how spread out the field gets in these races!

In the last mile, I just pushed as hard as I could and when I crossed the line, I wasn’t mad anymore (makes a change!). It was actually an awesome challenge to be chasing as opposed to being chased; I just hope it doesn’t happen again! I was only frustrated because my winning streak was over 😦

Trail Run 2 time (same as 1 but in reverse): 16.30 – 1st female (finally!), 9th overall (I was 6th overall last time, never mind!)

Total time: 1.17.29 – 3rd female 😦 , 24th overall 

I did a cool down with Kyle (his injury is getting better!! Woohooo!) and he said exactly what I needed to hear! It is better for these faults to happen at smaller races than at big championships, and the way you handle these challenges only makes you stronger! I was happy I powered on as opposed to quitting, and hopefully I’ll feel better for the next race!

After feeding back to Scott after the race, turns out I wasn’t meant to take the Race Day Boost that morning (you load on it, then stop taking it the day before…my argument was their deceptive title!) and because it was my 1st time using it, my body probably rejected it (hence the elevated heart rate and puking in the 2nd run!) Trial and error I guess!

We celebrated with the BEST tapas I have had in this country, and a VERY windy walk around Broughty Ferry!

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11041807_10205042968046430_2422329033243424436_nAll in all, it was still a fun day, and I was happy with my £90 prize 🙂

Parts 1 and 2 are here and here if you missed them!

Monikie Duathlon (2/3): The Blonde Girl who won….was Me!

Yes that is correct…on Saturday – after 3 HOURS and 45 MINUTES, might I add – I went to the hairdresser and came out with an “ombre” (??!!!) ie blonde tips. All I was thinking was “I could run more than a marathon in this time…!” I take it most girls don’t say that? Well, now part of my hair matches my personality 😉

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(attempting to be a girl…wine in hand, Heat magazine waiting for me)

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(the aftermath!)

Spa days I LOVE. But in hairdressers I just get bored! Anyone else? Maybe because I know deep down it will never be maintained – I never brush/dry/straighten etc etc.

Also on Saturday, I headed to Mum’s to pick up my bike (Keith is my mechanic 😉   ).

While there, I notice THIS in the kitchen:

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Me strangling holding Emma when we were little! Mum had this AT WORK #humiliating – check out the wallpaper though!

Anyhoo, the weather was too icy to cycle outside, so I attempted the rollers again in their garage (fail) and then went on my merry way back to the flat to do a wee cycle/run before Sunday’s race.

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(I MAY have multitasked a little on the bike…good training to paint nails while cycling, right?)

After getting my hair done, I met Kyle and his Mummy & Daddy at Union Sq for COSMO!!!!! At the time = GREAT IDEA. Afterwards/race day = not so much.

Although we did open our fortune cookies and mine said something along the line of  “You have many talents”…so I took that to mean I would win the following day in a MULTI-sport race 😉 wahhooo that means I could keep eating, yes?!

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(ignore the shaky pic – probably down to my sugar high)

RACE DAY

Ok so I didn’t wake up feeling particularly fresh – a hippo, maybe, but certainly not fresh. After my regular breakfast of porridge, pb, banana and chia seeds and a LARGE cup of coffee, packing up the car and giving a pep talk to my bike not to collapse with the weight of my Cosmo feast and I, I dragged Kylie Babez the hour’s drive down the road to Monikie Country Park for the 2nd race of their series. The 1st race came with a lot of drama, so I tried to be prepared this time and left almost an hour earlier. This didn’t really work since I realised I had to stop for petrol, couldn’t find my credit card, and stopped at a McDonalds as my bladder was about to explode (I drink a lot on race mornings…I do that when I’m nervous. Better than drugs or other “frowned upon” habits to have when nervous, I suppose).

So I showed up with minutes to spare again, but this time I racked my bike 1st then registered so I got the best spot of the bad bunch left available. A quick 5 min jog (my legs felt like lead) and it was time for “the talk.” A couple mins later and we were off!

I didn’t shoot off like last time (!), and I think it was the 2nd lead group I stayed with. The pace felt easy and I eased off further towards the end of the run so my legs felt better for the cycle.

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(I promise I’m not last! This is about a minute in and there are already divides!)

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(again, promise I’m not last! Geez, Kyle – get someone behind me in the photo next time!)

Trail Run 1 time: 16.04 (6.10 pace) – 1st female, 11th overall (And before you say anything, there were not 11 people in the race.)

Transition was ok. My hands were warmer this time and I quickly grabbed about 1/3 of a gel I opened before the race for a quick boost!

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(off I go…no chain issues this time! A marshall shouted exactly that as I left though – I am famous for being a dumbo!)

I don’t think it was as windy or cold as last time, but it was certainly more lonely! Maybe because I started the cycle with a faster run group (my chain issues last time cost me about a minute) that were even better cyclists, but they left me alone pretty quickly and I could only see a couple people in front the whole time! That I tried so hard to catch but couldn’t. Hmmph. Guys I passed = ZERO. Guys that passed me = SIX. Like I was standing still. I was mad. Come on legs why are you so slow?

Kyle did mention that I was by far the most upright cyclist he saw (will work on this!), but that can’t be the only reason I was left for dead. Yes, they are guys…but I like to pretend I’m a guy when racing sometimes so don’t like it when they pass me!

The whole cycle felt uphill because whenever there was a downhill there was a horrible wind, and whenever there was a hill, it was a hill. So it wasn’t fun and I couldn’t try and catch anyone because I couldn’t see anyone! I don’t like being lonely.

Apart from that, nothing exciting happened and I got to T2 with no issues.

Cycle time: 43.12 (speed 18.2mph maybe? tbc) – 2nd female, 21st overall (oops)

Main drama of the day: I left T2 with my helmet still on. What a dodo-head. Running back to take it off, I set off again. This time I could see 2 dudes in front that had passed me previously…result! They were on my hit list and my challenge was to catch them before end! Dude #1 was passed after about 500m (I did say well done on the cycle when passing but got nothing 😦 …Debzie naemates strikes again!) but Dude #2 took a while. My legs didn’t feel as bad as I had anticipated so it was just a case of upping the cadence and stay in the lead (I had no idea how much I was winning by, but I was pretty confident at this point). I passed Kyle at the half way mark and I still hadn’t caught Dude#2 (I shouted at Kylie that that was my aim and he got that on film!)

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(it was a gorgeous day! So pretty!)

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(I swear that is not faeces on my butt (again)! There was a lot of mud on the road and Kyle said EVERYONE had it. So there! I was mortified looking at these!)

I think there was a shooting range nearby because the gun shots were SO LOUD and scared me – it may have even made me run faster in case they were aiming at me 😉  ! Anyway, I caught Dude#2 without about a kilometer to go, said the same thing to him about his great cycle leg and off I went to try and sprint finish. Note, that was a “try” – my legs couldn’t go faster! My heart was fine but my legs were laughing at me (probably because they had been carrying all that Cosmo food for 75mins so far!).

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(just before the finish)

I came in and finished 1st female (by 3 minutes!) and 15th overall (a little annoyed at this, but lots of lessons learned!)

Trail Run 2 time (same as 1 but in reverse – interesting to compare times!): 16.49 (6.28 pace) – 1st female, 6th overall (BOOM! Died the least!)

Total time: 1.17.35 – 1st female, 15th overall 

Compared to last time, my 1st run was 35 secs faster, my cycle was 1 minute and 25 secs faster, and my 2nd run (which wasn’t in the 1st race) was only 10 seconds slower than last time. Slowly improving!

When the weather gets better, I am definitely going to work on transitioning and bike skills (standing up, positioning, corners, hills, signalling etc) and get in more brick workouts – I really like them!

The rest of the weekend was spent annoying chatting to Noodles on the phone (bad mistake, because he made me do 2.4km swim after the race on Sunday!!!), watching movies, and more eating!

Thanks for being cheerleader and photographer Kyle! And thanks Mummy Daddy Kyle for Cosmo (it was worth the extra weight in the race – extra training in fact 😉  !)


Questions for you:

Who had a race this weekend? How did you do??

Other weekend activities?

Monikie Duathlon (1/3) – My 1st Official Duathlon Win!

I wasn’t too nervous for this race: I am not the strongest of cyclists (as I’m sure you are all aware of by now), and the run was only just over 4km so the cyclists would have the advantage for this race in the series (there are 3 races in the series – the next 2 are run/bike/run, but this one was only run/bike), and I took a couple of days off last week with my cold. Despite this and my weekend of fun, I was still determined to give it my best shot!

However, it wouldn’t be me without some sort of drama.

Ok, so we wake up nice and early (race started at 11; we got up at 8). Immediately, I realise I haven’t used my bike outside since before Lanzarote, and haven’t even thought of pumping my tyres up or lubing the chain etc. At 8.05, after a mild panic, I call mum and Keith offers to do all that if we bring the bike over to them. I thought “great – plenty time” and that we could take the back roads to Stonehaven from their house.

A quick pack (yes, I know I should have packed the night before but it’s Christmas and I wasn’t as organised as I perhaps should have been…), then we were off.

Kyle was very (I mean VERY) hungover from his work night out. But I can’t be mad, because he still managed to get up and ready early to come with me (I only knew a couple of people going and they both had to pull out – Phil was stuck offshore, and Jim, quite rightly so, didn’t want to risk racing in this weather – more on that later!) I am needy and must know people at races. However, hangover Kyle = silence in the car. I love to rap, sing my heart out to a Disney soundtrack, play eye spy, chit-chat etc on road trips, so I knew this would make for a long ride.

Anyway, back to the bike. Apparently the back tyre only had about 50% of air in it (oops). I do have a pump and the flat but noone has been able to get it to work (am I allowed to blame Amazon?), but my next task is having all this ready at mine so I don’t need to venture the 8 miles to Mum’s every time for my “bike service” – Noodles come home because you were only a mile away to help me!

I’m glad it was worth the trip (Mum also gave us a bunch of homebakes to take away with us!) and we were off! Those backroads I was telling you about? Sunday morning drivers were taking them up and, combined with icy roads and incredibly strong gusts of wind, the journey took a lot longer than I had anticipated. Luckily, for once, my Google maps app was working on my phone – so we never got lost – but registration closed at 10.40am and we arrived at 10.39am (this is not a joke – I couldn’t believe how tight on time we were!) I apologised profusely, got my race number/chip while Kyle put my bike in the last available space in transition (furthest away from everything – maybe adding 5/10 secs each way from the fast ones in the prime spots), and I got my transition box opened and laid everything out.

I didn’t even look at the course, nor did I pay enough attention at the race briefing because I was putting my bib on. That meant I missed the fact the run was ON GRASS. IN MUD. I was wearing RACING FLATS. The two, I was about to find out, DO NOT GO.

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We were whisked to the start line and I made my way to the front. Stupid hasn’t-managed-a-warm-Debster, as soon as the gun goes off, does a Usain Bolt in her over-excitable attempt to warm up and, seemingly, attempt to win the entire race:

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(in hindsight, I am quite the idiot. 10 metres in and I am winning by 3. I would pay for this later, do not worry)

Ok so about a mile passes by and I am goosed. Probably shouldn’t have gone out at the speed of light. A girl overtakes me (I found out later this girl won the World Age Group Duathlon Championship earlier this year). I don’t recognise girls in triathlon/duathlon yet, so I go into competitive mode and want to beat everyone. I therefore overtake her and try to extend my lead.

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The wind was HORRENDOUS (my chubby cheeks were like chipmunks sneaking acorns) and my mindset was horrible. I wasn’t warmed up, the conditions were horrible, I went out to fast, and now I was paying for it. I just tried to hold on and not let any of the guys I was running with go.

I end up winning the female run by over 30 seconds, and went into transition in 11th place overall (I wasn’t happy with that, but this was a big learning experience).

I nailed it to my bike (the people in around the same time as me had their bikes right by the timing pads so I was annoyed with myself for being late), I throw my stuff on and head over the timing pad to mount my bike for the 21.5km cycle. My chain is off. I never checked my chain when I took it out of my car. What an idiot. And I panicked. I had no idea if you put it on and back pedal or pedal forwards. Yep, I chose to go backwards and the chain stayed off. I am so fortunate that a marshall helped me and I was on my way after about a minute of struggling:

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(hard to see but that’s me not being able to understand the physics of bike chains)

And I was off. During this struggle, 2 females passed me. I went into beast mode and passed one girl in the 1st mile. The wind was on our backs for the 1st maybe 5km and my speed was in the 50kph+ zone! Mental wind!! The hills werent huge so I used a lot of momentum in the downhills to make the most of the uphills. I was passing people with fancy helmets and bikes – I was so mad at myself I took it out on the bike! I was just hoping I could hold on! I passed the other girl after about 10 mins, when we were into a strong headwind. Then I just tried to keep my cadence and keep picking off people ahead of me.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not the best cyclist. So guys came flying past me as well. But I tried to stay with people that looked fast to me, and even managed to overtake on uphills!

Turning corners was a MASSIVE problem for me! I don’t have the skills at the best of times, but the wind made me terrified that I would come flying off. So I took them ridiculously slowly. Even on the straights, when a gust of wind hit me, I had to work my butt off to stop my bike veering off into the field! Any tips on what to do when the wind hits you would be much appreciated!

The final turn brought the wind to our back again and we had about 5km to go. No girls had passed me (yay!), I was back in 1st, and I felt I had so much energy! I used the last 5km as a time trial and caught up with a group in front! It was so much fun, because we were flying (thanks to the wind!) and it was a straight road! I powered past 1 of them, but when we got to the last junction, he passed me again (skills, Debbie, work on skills). The marshall at the junction shouted “you’re safe to go lads” and I shouted back “I’m a girl!!” and then we turned back into Monikie park and I sprinted as hard as I could to the finish line, pipping one guy over the line!

It ended up being so much fun (apart from the times I thought my life was at risk) and knowing I gave everything I had (given the circumstances) was a great feeling!

Oh, and TO ADD TO THE DRAMA, we had a flat tyre!!!!! We got help fixing it (thank you!!) and had to drive home under 60mph (if you know me, you know this was a very difficult task. Especially since it had to be in silence for Mr Drunk!)!

Now next time I must pack the night before, have my bike ready the night before, arrive in plenty time, warm up, wear appropriate clothes, get a good spot in transition, and try not to get a flat tyre en route. I also must work on skills such as changing shoes, having warm enough fingers to clip my helmet (that took a while – they were numb!), and learn to turn corners faster!

I was 1st female and was pretty surprised that my bike split was less than a minute faster than the woman who came 2nd, considering I was over a minute faffing with my chain! The 3rd fastest bike time was another 3 minutes after that!

To celebrate, Kyle and I went to House of Farnell for some lunch and a look around (it was very Christmassy, but I don’t think they had their heating on….we were frozen!) and came home to laze around and cure his hangover with nice food and Walking Dead (he said he’s never drinking again but considering IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY ON FRIDAY, he will shortly change his mind, I’m sure…!)!

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Run Time: 16.39 (1st female; 11th overall)

Transition Time: 48 secs 

Cycle Time: 44.37 (2nd female; 24th overall)

Overall Time: 62.06 (1st female; 17th overall)


Questions for you:

Ever raced a duathlon? How was it?

Worst weather in a race?

The Win that Wasn’t… – Inverurie Duathlon 2014

Spoiler: Had I finished, I would have been 1st female by over 8 minutes. But we can’t say that, because I DNF’d (no thanks to Alpine Bikes)…

This is a novel post by the way people, so get comfy…!

After a recovery day on Sat, where went to the gym with Lucy and played on the treadmill (and by play I mean 10 miles and Solitaire) while she nailed the weights, followed by LOTS of sushi and a girly catch up, I woke up on Sunday morning with my legs still quite sore from Friday’s BEAST of a day! Not to worry, I wanted to do the duathlon just to see where I was at in terms of cycling (and running after being injured).

Let’s rewind to the service. I DO NOT recommend Alpine Bikes. I don’t like negativity on the blog (more to come on that later). After my crash, I took my bike in 2 days later for a full service and for the parts to be replaced. They told me they have everything they need and, as it was a manufacturer’s fault (or so they thought), it would be ready in a couple of days and it wouldn’t cost me anything. I asked them to phone me if this wasn’t the case. Three days passed; no phone call. I called them and they told me they had to order in a part but it would arrive the next day. We were now in to the weekend, so I waited until the Monday to call them back. No part had arrived. Bear in mind I was doing all the calling – not them. I proceeded to call them daily, when it was on Saturday they said the final part had arrived and it would be ready for me to collect on the Sunday morning; exactly 2 weeks after my crash. I showed up on Sunday lunch time after my 18 miler and not only did the boy not apologised, but tried to charge me nearly £100 for the privilege. The lawyer in me came out and I argued my case for several minutes, before the manager came out and allowed me to take it away for free. Woopdie-friggin-do – I still hadn’t cycled for a fortnight and that is my weakest discipline of the three so the one I NEED to work on as much as possible!

Back to Friday. Every time I changed gear, my bike chain was clicking and forced us to stop ~5 times. I am obviously still learning the ropes, but even the amazing Ian couldn’t understand why the gears would be doing that when I only just got it back from Alpine Bikes after a full service.

Why was my chain making a noise after I had allegedly been given a new derailleur, a new hanger and a new chain from Alpine Bikes? Anyway, I managed the cycle and Ian said he would look at it before the race on Sunday to make sure it was rideable, and then I could take it back to the shop to complain.

Race Morning

The race didn’t start until 11.30, but I had to register on the day as I missed the deadline online (sorry again, Steve!), so I needed to get there in plenty time to register and set up. Kyle was running with Barney and McDougall around Bennachie and their plan was to finish their long run before I finished, then pop by and watch, so he left early. I procrastinated a bit (as I usually do!), then headed to Ian’s house for a quick bike check-up! I wanted to ensure I would be safe riding at race pace considering Friday was just long and easy!

He assessed the gears and they were ok, but a link in the “new” chain was damaged. It took him a while to try and align it and, after him putting a good shift in, he told me I had to go to Alpine Bikes that afternoon to complain because no way was that a new chain, but that it should be ok for a ~40min cycle.

 The Race

Ok, so neither myself nor Ian thought it would take as long as it would to fix the bike (since we never realised the extent of the damage), so I was big time rushing around at the transition and start line. They called us up to the start and, not only had I not warmed up, I also forgot to put my chip around my ankle. What a ‘mare! Luckily, Steve Barrett, the organiser, knows me from the Aberdeenshire triathlon series so, as soon as he realised what I’d done, he announced “90 secs to gun” to allow for me to run back and get my chip. Thus, I got my chip AND my warm up, albeit a 90 second warm up!

The gun went off and I tried to stay with the lead pack. There were a lot of good guys there and I just wanted to see if my running speed was coming back! The course had a couple of steep climbs and some rain-soaked grass, but it was a fun 2-loop course and the sun was shining! Oh wait, my chip has come off. I must have put it on wrong in my rush and it fell off cause I was going at the speed of light (that part’s a joke). Oh dear. I hope they don’t DQ me.

I got into transition in maybe 8th place? The timing organiser noticed and was nice enough to put a new one around my ankle while I got ready for the bike, and just put a made up time for the 1st run. Judging by where I was in the field I would guess my actual time would have been about 17.05ish? Note: it was NOT an accurate 5km course! I don’t care what people say – I can’t run that time on flat, never mind a hilly muddy course! I heard a couple people say about 4.7km so I’ll take that!

Just as I got on the bike, my chain made that clicking noise again and came off. Ugh!!! Steve ran over and helped me (he knew the reason I entered on the day was because I had had bike trouble), and I was off again, after about a minute and about 10 people passing me.

Luckily, I felt GREAT and was picking people off for a good 10km of the cycle! I’d never felt this fast on the bike before! It was still pretty windy, but I loved that there were always guys ahead of me (still no girls – none had passed even after my chip/bike drama) that I could aim to pick off! It was fun pushing myself to try and keep up with real cyclists!

The views were great (sun shining over Bennachie) and I felt fit and fast when suddenly, just after a sign that said 2 miles to Inverurie and the final hill, my chain SNAPPED and I immediately clipped out. Enraged, I ran down the hill (luckily I was only a couple minutes from a marshall – great organised race, guys!), and asked if I could get a lift to the transition area, ditching the bike for the sweeper bus. At that point, I didn’t care if my time didn’t count, but I wanted to see what kind of time I could have achieved, so I wanted to start the run at the same time as the cyclist who I was riding with at the time, hence I NEEDED to be at transition in time for him arriving. Running down to the marshall, moving the bike over a dyke so it was safe and getting in the car, meant that I got to transition just behind the guy I was riding with. Great!! I shouted to the organisers what had happened and they allowed me to finish the run!

Again, I felt awesome and during the run I’m pretty sure my legs felt fresher than some of the other guys, as I was overtaking quite a few! My run time was the only REAL time they clocked for me, since the 1st run lacked a chip and the cycle lacked a bike, so I wanted to see how fast I could go. I finished 5th fastest run time OVERALL (17.29!) for the 2nd run. My results ticket said my time was 1.20.07 and, given what happened with the chain situation at the start, I’m hoping I would have just slipped under 80 mins, maybe even quicker had my bike been working from the start. Even with my 80 minute time, I would have won the women’s race by over 7 minutes (and 3rd place by nearly 10 minutes!). It’s annoying but these things happen, and I’d rather they happened now than in big events!

Post Race

Superstar runner/journalist Fraser Clyne (who could STILL whoop fast runners’ butts now, let alone 30 years ago!) was there at the finish to ask what happened!! He had heard of all my dramas and was just laughing at me! He probably regrets asking now because I ranted to him for ages about my stupid bike!

On reflection, I shouldn’t put all my trust in a bike shop but I think that’s only natural?!?! DO NOT GO THERE!! I will be sticking to Steve @ Holburn Cycles from now on! I only went to AB since I was due my service anyway and it was only a coincidence that I crashed!

I would also like to mention that I received a couple of negative comments after the race, all cycle/Ironman related. I understand that I need to work my butt off on the bike if I stand a chance of qualifying for Kona, but I have never been one to go into something half-heartedly, and I want people to know that. I only started running at the end of 2011 and I’m sure not many people thought I would be able to run a sub-3 hour marathon at the start of this year. But I did it. Back when I was a swimmer, a lot of people didn’t think I would make the Scottish squad and win national titles. But I did it. Even from a work point of view, my ditzy personality meant that a lot of people were surprised I got into law at the number one ranked university at the time, never mind get a 2:1 from it. But I did it. And finally, being the youngest/most inexperienced in my team at work shows that I put 100% into everything I do and always aim high. If it goes wrong on the day, it goes wrong on the day. But I promise I will make that start line knowing that I did everything I could in that year to be the best I can be. And that’s all I can ask.

Ok enough emosh chat – on to post race! Kyle, Stu and Barney were too late to see me finish (Stu had done AMAZING in the Valencia marathon, then had done 2 proper sessions this week and I think a long run was a little too much for him, so they were a little slower than anticipated! I didn’t care – if he keeps going THAT FAST, I don’t care if he’s late!) but they were there in perfect time (conveniently!) to enjoy the post race sandwiches! We waited for the sweeper bus to get my bike back, and we all headed home. I Skyped Noodles for ages about how to move forward and what next, brought my bike back to AB (they offered to replace the chain immediately), went for a Toffee Nut latte in Starbucks, and headed back to the flat.

Mum and Keith then came round with A DOZEN KRISPY KREMES from their weekend in Edinburgh (!!!!!!) and we all headed to the parade that Emma was in (!!) where they turn on the city’s Christmas lights 🙂 I am feeling festive already!

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(blurry parade selfie)

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(there are only 4 left….blame Kyle!)

Then it was back home for some mulled wine, salad, and more donuts!

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Questions for you:

Ever had a nightmare of a race?

Favourite kind of donut?