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

I was super excited for this one!


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!*


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!


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.


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!


…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!!!!!!!!!!




Another Interview with the K-Meister, in his quest to conquer his 1st marathon in London on 24th April

Since it’s less than 7 weeks until London (that means less than 7 weeks until we go to THAILAND!), I thought I would interview Kylie Babez again with how he is progressing (you can see his 1st interview on the blog here!).

Please all pray that he remains injury free and rocks it in London, along with the billion other people I know doing it!

ALSO, PLEEEEEEEASE wish for Freyja (you’ll find her interview here!) to do amazingly at the Olympics test event in in Rio this week…she landed there last night and I have a good feeling about her booking another flight there this year..!


Ok, back to KB:



(“I’m as good as Chuck right now!” – Kyle Greig, March 2016)

1. What are your main goals this year?

Main goals this year are to:

– Make the start line of London Marathon with my shoes, shorts, vest and race number all present

– Complete said Marathon

– Get a sub 2.30 mark

– After that I intend to get PBs in both 10k and half marathons

– I also want to race in the hills with the intention of winning the Scottish Champs if the marathon hasn’t taken too much out of me!
2. What has your training be like?
In the run up to London it will be long, varied and hard (get your minds out the gutter, folks)!

Just now, I’m cranking up the mileage to an average of 95 miles per week and reducing the faster sessions to twice per week to give time to recover. To do this, I’m having to continue running double days but slightly longer than pre-marathon training. Doing more stretching, foam rolling and, err, eating is aiding recovery!

The session I’m most proud of so far in this marathon training was last Saturday, where I did over 21 miles, made up of a 10 mile tempo, followed by 10 x 1 mile repeats, with 60s recovery. My average pace for the run (including rest) was 5.44/mile, so that was a huge confidence booster for London!


3. Do you have a go to pre-race meal?
Lots of carbs – pizza and/or pasta always a winner

(This may or may not have been all for me last night…)


4. Any race superstitions?
Back in the day, I never used to have a shower the morning of or the night before the race but I got a few funny screwed up looks on the start line. Other than that, I don’t think I do. I don’t fake tan or anything, like Debbie does…


5. Do you do anything outwith actual running to supplement your training?
I like to cycle outdoors in the Alford countryside when I can – especially with big hills to burn up, and boy o boy, there are plenty in this neck of the woods! If I’m injured, I will hit the road bike to keep aerobic fitness up and I’ll use the bike for additional volume for mara training or a nice recovery ride ….followed by a beer if available.


(A Sunday post-cycle beer)

6. What is your favourite running brand?

Inov8 – their logo is pretty slick and comes from a mountain running background, which is my favourite running discipline. I also respect their shoes, which strip away most of the unwanted ‘junk’ you get in a lot of shoes these days such as cushions, posts and fancy springs! Check what the fast guys wore in the 80’s and you might see where I’m coming from!

7. Favourite race location? Favourite training location?

Race location – Anchorage in Alaska

Training location – it’s gotta be Chamonix in France. This place is a trail runners’ paradise – it even has a Trail runners’ information hut, which is staffed to provide info on the routes, sessions and races around the area. I went with Barney a couple of years back the week before the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc – looks amazing and something I would love to do when I grow up (which may never happen).


(trail runner paradise!)

8. What race is on your bucket list?

Comrades marathon I reckon is up there


9. If you were to give someone new to running 3 tips what would they be?

– Train consistently 

– Vary your workout

– Set achievable yet challenging goals


10. Who do you look up to and what inspires you?

Ethiopian star Haile Gebreselassie – a modest man yet has achieved almost everything distance running has to offer. His positivity towards life and training is something we should all aspire to. I tried not to look like too much of a stalker when we were elites together at the Great Scottish Run!


(Nope, not stalking him at all…)

Debbie, ahem, should also be up there – she got hit by a car resulting in a smashed up knee and permanent lung damage, yet still managed to achieve her goal in an Ironman by achieving qualification to the World Ironman Champs, and now being part of the relay development squad for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She works brutally hard, trains for 6 hours in a garage and gets up at 4am to go swimming “for bants”, as she puts it.


11. What do you hope to achieve in your running career?

– Sub 2.20 marathon
– 65 min half marathon
–  Sub 30 min 10k
–  More Scotland selection in various running disciplines


12. How do you balance training around life?

Even though I can be a scatter brain and forget quite a lot, I strive to be disciplined and make time for everything. To do this I get up early – around half 5 during the week to commute to work, train and then start the working day. I then have time to squeeze in a lunch run or do one after work. I should still have time to be social or relax/do chores/make dinner in the evening…

(Edit by Deb: note he said “should still have time”, yet never does…!)


13. Does it help or hinder the fact your burd is an athlete too (eg does training get in the way of coupley things, or do you support each other)?
Not a huge hindrance! It’s quite nice having the house to myself when she goes for long rides or swimming, but I tend to do some sessions with her even though the goals are somewhat different, so it all works out. We push each other and give tips when we are struggling or in need of advice, which means I have a free psychologist/masseuse on hand whenever I want!


14. What’s your favourite food and drink?
Food – Lindt chocolate
Drink – Martini Asti

15. Is Debzie Babez your dream girl?

Since Dibaba is never going to know me, she will have to do…


(if only)

To keep the suspense mounting (if you don’t already know) – Phil’s account of Ironman Sweden!

Back to reality – Sweden already feels like a distant memory despite only getting back last night! Although I still have the DOMS to prove it was, indeed, not a dream! What an experience!

I am still writing my post(s?) of my race recap, but I demanded Phil does his asap, so I have something awesome to put on the blog meantime!

He has some phenomenal mental strength! His back hurt so much after the bike that he was in transition for ages trying to physically and mentally prepare for the marathon. He is some guy! AND to top it off, he totally looked after me before the race – I was terrified!!


(3 amigos arriving in Kalmar)

Here is his account of his 3rd Ironman experience:


Bonk (cycling) definition: The catastrophic moment when there’s suddenly nothing left in the tank; when the legs turn to jelly, and getting to the finish becomes an altogether supreme effort of will –

After racing one in 38 degrees heat and also racing one in hilly Wales I assumed I’d had probably the worst of what Ironman triathlon can throw at someone. Nope, something new again!

Usually I’d keep these post-race evaluations to myself but I’ve made a deal with Debbie that if I get this report to her soon for her blog, she’ll exchange it for everything she knows about supplements (hopefully it won’t be just a Ben & Jerry’s menu). So now I’m sat on a Norwegian Airlines flight to Gatwick trying to dig back into the emotions and physical feelings of that race – expanding on the standard Aberdonian response of “it was alright”.


Let’s ease in with the pre-race build up; that might get the memories flowing. Our accommodation seemed to be like University halls, basic but the core things you need and was only a couple of kilometres from the race start. Registration and the race briefing were fairly uneventful but I think for Debbie it started to make things more real so I tried to calm any fears and answer any questions I could. Once we’d built our bikes again (well Kyle and Keith had built Debbie’s bike, #TeamMoore) we went for a short spin on the Friday morning to make sure they had no issues. The scenery in Kalmar is stunning and like a lot of Scandinavia it has loads of cycle paths, would visit again if it wasn’t a bit of a faff to get to.


(he got SUCH a good spot…out of the way and near the exit!)

On Friday lunchtime we racked our bikes and bags in the transition area then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening stretching on the grass and sorting final bits and pieces. Coach Scott had a long chat with Debbie on Skype, I listened in for a bit while foam rolling, realising all the stuff I hadn’t done right and picking up on tips like chewing electrolyte tabs. Scott kindly asked if I had any questions too, I figured it was too late to change anything now anyway so just said, “I’m alright”.


(we paid to do this)


(can we go home now we have the merchandise?)

Race morning started for me around 4.30am, met Debbie for breakfast around 4.45am, we’d bought some porridge to soak overnight then heat up with boiling water in the morning – it didn’t work – it was pretty disgusting. We tried to get as much down as possible though as the alternative was lots of meat or yoghurts from the canteen. We headed to the transition area where you’re allowed back to pump tyres and put a few more things in your transition bags like nutrition and waterbottles, this is when a lot of people start to get really nervous, hence long queues for the toilets! No real dramas for us though, gave Debbie a big hug when she was starting to overthink it all and reminded her to just think of it one chunk at a time. Moments later she was heading right to the front of the swim start so I think she got in the zone! I hung back a little bit around the 1hr crowd due to my slightly undercooked swim training.


(Big L is full of the positive mantras!)


The swim start was in a harbour at sunrise surrounded by Kalmar locals and had a really good vibe, they were rolling swim starts so it wasn’t the usual fight of thousands that I’ve had at the other Ironmans. I was sceptical and sort of preferred the big mass starts but I imagine for those with smaller builds it’s a bit fairer. As I dived in and nearly went flying into a pod of swimmers I realised some of those who were in the 1hr group may have been thinking optimistically. So spent the first half hour or so zig-zagging from pod to pod drafting on their feet til I spotted another group further ahead. Once I realised my arms weren’t going to fall apart after half-way I started accelerating and picking them off even faster which was fun cause that was when we were back in view of the crowds. In hindsight though I should have just moved myself forward with Debbie and got on a fast pod from the start.

I finished the swim in about an hour and felt warmed up now to get started with the real race but strangely my hamstrings started cramping as I headed into transition to get changed. I don’t know exactly why this is, I don’t really kick when I swim frontcrawl, especially in open water but the same thing happened after my swim in IM Wales. My current theory, is that maybe in the lead up to the race I’ve drank too much water with not enough electrolytes/salts so any exercise would have suddenly set off the cramp. Or a combination of that with lack of swim training. Either way, both can be sorted if I do it again.

Probably time to get a coffee if you’ve made it this far through this report but it is making this flight pass faster, I’ll leave it up to Debbie to edit this down if she wants. Speaking of coffee, I cut it out for a week in the lead up to the race to hopefully be more caffeine sensitive on race day, didn’t seem to do much so think I’ll continue as a coffee junkie next time.



Back to the bike, the IM Sweden course is pretty much pancake flat but it was very, very windy. Meant it was hard to gauge how my pace was doing, once I’d done the big loop (and had therefore had both tail/head winds) I was averaging over 19mph which I was more than happy with, especially given I’d been cramping or on the verge of cramping for most of it so had to stay more in a spin gear.

After that big loop the wheels started to come off, not literally but they might as well have. One of my aero bars had come loose as I hadn’t tightened the bolt enough so was trying to manage that, then while opening up a powerbar while resting arms on said aerobars and going up a steady climb my left leg went into a full cramp spasm. A few swear words and a bit of zig-zagging later I recovered control and still had the powerbar, luckily avoiding a nasty bump.

At around mile one hundred, the steady ache in my lower back just became unbearable, felt like I was being stabbed whenever I bent into the aero position and I lost all real power in my legs. My pace dropped from the 18-22mph down to 13-15mph and it was just about mitigating damage done to my time for the final 12 miles. Earlier on the bike I thought I was on track to smash my previous best (12hrs 15), with a one hour swim and a 19mph bike I’d be going onto the run roughly after 7hrs and all my long training runs had been well under 8 minute mile pace – maybe get close to 11hrs I thought…. Not anymore. I decided if I couldn’t cycle fast back at least I could sort everything else out. At the final aid stations I made sure I ate enough and cooled myself down with plenty of water, emptied out any water I wouldn’t need to drop excess weight from the bike and started mentally going through the transition plan.



When I got off the bike I started to get the feeling that it was game over. I could barely walk. The pain was in the whole of the lower quarter of my back now and each step was agony. I’d had sore backs from cycling before and in other Ironmans but this almost had me in tears. Walking out of transition and past all the crowds there’s a feeling of shame, mixed with a spot of depression covered in a wave of embarrassment – along with the daggers in my lower back. I was not in a good place. The dream target time was over, now what.

I don’t quit. While not technically true (I’ve quit piano lessons, jobs and swimming), you don’t get into technicalities when feeling that raw. I also remembered the, very cheesy, line from Rocky I’d watched the other night “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward” so I kept moving forward.


I couldn’t eat any more, the combination of gels, powerbars and electrolyte tabs from earlier was tough enough to keep down. So coca cola would help, it has caffeine and sugar to perk up, however the coke they had on the course was straight from the bottle so still fizzy, not a good idea. I had to get through the marathon just on water. This lead to a bonk after a couple km where I just wanted to crawl into a heap on the ground and sleep. So emergency gel out, started sipping while trying not to vomit.

Thankfully towards the end of walking the first 10km (takes a surprisingly long time walking that distance), my lower back started to numb (or I’d stopped feeling pain), the gel had started to work and around the same time Debbie came flying past on her second lap with some words of encouragement. I was able to jog again, a little, and worked out that thanks to my faster bike time I could actually get near my previous attempts if I got a move on. So with that new mini goal in my head I killed myself jog/walking for the rest of the marathon to finish in 12hr40, slower than Tenby but faster than Zurich. I roared as I finally got on the finisher’s red carpet and milked the crowd then past the finish line I was taken to the medical tent cause I was a little broken.


(my FAVOURITE photo!!! This is Debbie talking and not Phil being vain.)


I’ll leave the post-race awards and celebrations to Debbie (so no spoilers). I could go on for pages and pages about lessons learned in this race, there’s definitely a few things I’d need to fix next time to avoid the cramping, bonk and back pain, but overall this is one of my proudest races even though it wasn’t the fastest. I didn’t quit. It was awesome doing an Ironman with Team Moore and although I haven’t mentioned him in this, I’ve got a new buddy in Debbie’s boyfriend Kyle who helped with a lot of the pre-race logistics and also collected me after the race. He’s a fun guy and definitely a keeper! Debbie did amazing and keeps on increasing my already sky high respect for her, looking forward to her race report.


(eating reindeer, witch and elk in Stockholm)


(we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Abba museum in Stockholm)


(Phil’s gift to me finishing!!! He knows the way to my heart…muhahaha to Coach!)

Onto the next challenge, after a stop at the buffet.

Thanks for doing that Phil – I LOVED reading it! I didn’t even pay him for the final statement at the end!! And an even BIGGER thank you for the M&Ms that Scott said I could have afterwards!

Kalmar Partner in Crime (hopefully!): Phil Lloyd

Hi everyone! How was your weekend? I finally got a stress-free, relaxing one! No hospital visits, no training rides that took THIS long:


(although pretty happy with this average speed on Aberdeen-quality roads and hills)

…just some last minute shopping, packing, and – as always – carb/electrolyte loading:


So in FIVE DAYS TIME (health-permitting) I will be toe-ing the start line with one of my longest friends Phil. We have known each other since learning to swim together (I was 8 he was 10). We moved up the squad ranks pretty much together (I think he was always one step ahead being older – my excuse anyway!) and he ended up being a phenomenal breastroker (the darkside stroke!). He was a fellow Scottish squad member and British finalist in that silly stroke!

This is my friend Phil:


(I am doing an Ironman with this guy)

He has already done two. One in Zurich:


And one in Tenby:


Naturally, being needy and stressed, I have asked every man and their dog what happens during the build up to an Ironman and the actual race, over the last year. Here are some questions I nagged Phil about…

What caused you to get in to Ironman?

I’d heard about the Ironman years back when I swam, at that point I mainly thought triathletes were people who couldn’t do the individual sports well (bit of a snobby thought but I was young) the Ironman seemed like something else though – a day of racing that finishes with a marathon?! Mental, so naturally I thought I had to do it at some point.

After I quit swimming I ballooned a little. I’d spent my formative years literally eating anything I wanted with no impact on the waistline so when the training stopped I had an issue. I had to find something to do, ‘cause I wasn’t going to stop eating.

To be honest I was a little burnt out with swimming so masters swimming didn’t appeal but I entered a team triathlon with some friends at work that sparked the competitiveness in me again.

The team triathlon escalated to an Olympic distance individual then a marathon then I entered my first Ironman in Zurich 2013. I also tried to raise a bit for Parkinson’s UK along the way so knew I had to up the ante each year to make it worthwhile to sponsor me. So far that escalation has stabilised but things like the channel swim and ultra marathons are on my bucket list if I can work out when.

Why Kalmar?

The race is at a good time of year and a bit flatter after Tenby last year. Plus I’ve never been to Sweden. (Also it was your idea).

How are you feeling for the race?

Better today than yesterday. This close to the race I flip from thinking I’ll go faster than last year to thinking I might not complete the swim (a real concern!). I’ve done the miles on the bike and the run but took my summer holidays over July when it should really have been peak training. Got to have some life though  I try not to waste too much energy overthinking it, just hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

How does this one differ to the others you have done?

I get a super fast, super cool buddy to do it with!

(Edit by Deb: I didn’t even pay him to say that!)

Any obstacles you’ve had to overcome training-wise? How did you get over them?

For once I’ve had a fairly straightforward block of training, the main stress being that I started a new job in January. That’s worked out okay though ‘cause it’s an ideal distance out to get some commuting running miles in.

What was a typical week like for you?

Saturday I’d usually plan to do my long ride, which would then be delayed to Sunday half the time because I’m a procrastinator. Typically head out towards Gloucester, nice country roads. Then Mondays I’d have my long run and rest of the week I’d squeeze in sprint work and 30 mile rides when I could. Earlier on in the year I did quite a bit of weights ‘cause I heard that helps with injury prevention. Didn’t really have a formal training plan just worked on speed at start of the year then getting up the distance the last couple months. Knew I needed to improve my running after you destroyed me last year!

How did you make time to train while still having a life?

I don’t have a life. Haha well that’s half true, being single with no dependents does give me more free time to work with but I also like to combine my training with friends. On the shorter rides I can convince at least 1 of the 4 guys I did LeJog with to join me to head to a café and back. On Friday nights I usually do a steady run with a best friend from my old work to catch up on the news then we’ll sometimes go for drinks after.

(Edit by Deb: oh, yeah he did LeJog – Lands End to John O’Groats – too! Legend!)

What extra steps do you take to ensure you perform at your best (diet, yoga, physio etc)?

Foam roll, it’s painful but always feel great after, don’t do it as much as I should during training but leading up to a race I make sure I’m loose. Never done yoga but I’m blessed with that permanent swimmer flexibility. My diet is a mess but maybe a fortnight before I’ll start on ‘green smoothies’ and cut out junk if I can but I’ll still be having the odd cake and pretty much a daily twix. I think generally I know what a good diet is but I just don’t want to do it. Aside from that I try to ensure I get at least 8hrs sleep each night for the week before, with work there’s some weeks I’m down at 5-6hrs average.

Goals for race day?

To finish. Although it’s my third one I’ve got a lot of respect for the toughness of the race especially if you have a bad day. I’ve got some rough time targets based on what I’ve been hitting recently in training but just doing faster than last year will be great too.

Do you reckon Debbie would have beaten you had she not had the worst summer ever for accidents/illnesses?! 😉

Without a doubt! You schooled me in that sprint triathlon and your marathon pb alone is scary enough. You’re also pretty swift on the bike, I’m still paranoid after all that’s gone on that you’ll still be overtaking me at some point (if you’re not already ahead after the swim). I have so much respect for your fighting spirit, just working out ways through all these obstacles and keeping really positive. Already saw that competitive side when you rejected my jelly baby in that sprint race…

(edit by Deb: he came up to visit family and I forced him to enter the Skene triathlon. He beat me by a couple seconds on the swim, nailed me on his borrowed bike (sigh) then when I overtook him on the run he whipped out some sweeties to give out. It was a sprint triathlon, Phil.)

What are you most looking forward to post-race?

Big breakfast. Big lunch. Big dinner. With lots of eating in between. Chilling out in Stockholm with some nice cold beers and some extremely unhealthy food. Lots of cakes, I started watching the Great British Bake Off which is dangerous this close to a race, I think I might have to raid a bakery after Sweden. Oh yeah and apart from food, the sense of achievement etc.


(Our Christmas night out! Oh and with Robbie…who just WON A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GOLD MEDAL!!!!!!!!!!!!)

See you in Copenhagen, Phil! (He lives in Bristol now so we don’t get to see each other much…probably one of the reasons he is still my friend 😉 ….) And hear that, ladies – this guy is single! Maybe we can get you a hot Swedish blonde Phil 😉

Must go order currency and dream about how many Swedish fika cakes I’m going to have…!

Boston 5k :) …it’s all about the 5ks!

For those of who don’t know Fiona Brian (or RudBri as she is saved in my phone…Rudkin-turned-Brian), 1st of all where have you been?, and 2nd of all, she is one of the best runners in the country, with legs to die for! She is the friendliest, nicest and most modest person you will ever meet, so I will do the bragging for her!

She can kick my butt in running races (please don’t do a marathon!) and has such a great attitude! Plus, her over-use of exclamation marks makes us pretty much soul-mates. She is married to fellow speedster Tom Brian, and they were both over in Boston rocking the 5km and marathon last month! After everything that happened over there a couple of years ago, along with my interest from spending 3 months living in Massachusetts , I HAD to know EVERYTHING about their races! Fiona 1st, because she was the one who sent me her report before Tom she was FIRST NON-AFRICAN in the race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She wasn’t even entered as an elite!! 

Please read and be inspired by her race report, but ignore her use of “knicker shorts”…let’s call them “runderwear!” 😉

Whilst Debbie makes a speedy recovery to come back fitter and stronger than ever, she asked if we’d mind writing about our races in Boston last month.  I feel very honoured but can only apologise to the regular readers that this won’t be up to the standard you’re used to reading!

As part of my PhD, I spent a year living and working in Boston so when Tom got the marathon qualifying time in London last year, I couldn’t wait to go back!! 😀  Conveniently for me, the B.A.A also organise a top-class 5k race two days before the marathon attracting over 8000 runners from around the world so this seemed like a good opportunity for me to chase a big PB (and also feel like I’d done something when everyone else was running the marathon!).



We took the 6am flight from Aberdeen to Boston (via Amsterdam) on the Friday (the day before the 5k, 3 days before the marathon) so that we arrived in plenty of time for me to get sorted for the race on the Saturday (I like to be prepared and am known for turning up maybe unnecessarily early for races but I’d rather that than the other way around!).  We got into Boston early afternoon and got the T (underground) to our hotel which was right in the centre near the Commons.  The legs weren’t feeling very awake after the 7 hour transatlantic flight so we decided to head for a very brief and slow 2-3 miles in the Commons to help liven them up.  The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around soaking up the atmosphere and planning where to eat later.  There was a real buzz to the city and it was all about running!  Nothing else was happening that weekend.  New Balance in particular had some pretty cool adverts up.


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Everywhere you looked people were wearing their Boston marathon jackets from years gone by – it was such a cool atmosphere!  Tom had a guide for the best places to eat before the marathon so we chose an Italian close to the hotel as obviously fuelling for the 5k was just as important as fuelling for the marathon because both races were equally as important…!

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(Example of the amazing food!)

(A theme that I carried on throughout the holiday!!).  It turned out to be a great choice – spaghetti and meatballs – a classic pre-race dish!  With the jet lag, by 8.30pm we were pretty much asleep and as the race started at 8am the next day and I planned to be up at 5.30am, it made sense just to go to bed.  I was pretty full after the American-sized meatballs but needed to squeeze in some Cadburys Giant Buttons just to tick off another pre-race superstition (ideally it would have been Giant Buttons and chocolate raisins (preferably Sainsbury’s) but unfortunately I hadn’t had time to pick them up before we left! Obviously without these it meant that the race was going to be a disaster but somehow (probably the jetlag) I managed to put this thought out of my mind and get to sleep).


Race day

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I was awake before my alarm and up and about before our breakfast arrived.  After some cereal and coffee it was just after 7am and time to head off to pick up my bib from the international entry tent.  The race itself started and finished between the Commons and the Public Gardens (which is a favourite spot of mine and also where Tom proposed ☺☺☺!).  It was a glorious morning – not too cold or windy and brilliant sunshine and blue sky ☺ (a big contrast to the marathon two days later where there was a crazy headwind and it was Baltic – poor Tom!!).

There were so many people around and the atmosphere was buzzing!!! After getting my number on I went off to do a warm up and the excitement was building!  At about 7.45am I got into my starting zone. These were based on your predicted mile pace (I love how in America everything is done in miles even when it’s a 5km or 10km race – I’m definitely a mile girl!).  This is where I met up with Jeremy from Metro who was also doing the 5k and had arrived the evening before.  After a quick chat they started bringing us forward to the start line.

I must confess I tried to stand roughly halfway between the 5 min/mile and 6 min/mile signs but gradually ended up pushing more towards the front (this always seems to happen when i line up for a race!)  They played the National anthem which always seems to get me pumped and then then gun went!  Before this race my PB was 17.34 at the Aberdeen Parkrun where I was pretty much running on my own and hadn’t tapered in preparation so I was hoping to dip under 17.20, and for this I knew my pace needed to be 5:35 min/mile.  I felt like I was in PB shape so figured I’d just set off targeting that and see what happened.

In a 5k my first mile is usually my fastest because I like to race and get carried away when the gun goes without even knowing it but for some reason this didn’t happen here and I went through the first mile in 5:32.  This was fine as it was still under the target pace but I was expecting it to be slightly faster, thinking that I’d probably slow during the last mile.  The second mile had two underpass sections in it which don’t sound like much at all but felt like surprisingly big hills at the time – just enough to test the legs and make you work a bit harder.  As a result my second mile was slower at 5:40.  I knew then that I needed to push the last mile if I was to reach my target, so I did, and it hurt!!  But then I knew that if I wanted to get the time I was aiming for, it was going to hurt!

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Luckily the last mile goes down Boylston street and over the marathon finish line (pretty inspirational) and as it turns out is ever so slightly downhill (I’d never noticed this before but was very happy to realise this during the race!).  I looked at my pace quite a bit at the start of that mile which at times was showing 5.14 min/mile – I didn’t believe this and put it down to that fact that the signal was messed up with all the surrounding tall buildings so I just had to go on feel and push hard, not really knowing what the pace was.  After a while I realised that I was gaining on a female in a crop top and knicker shorts – I took this as a good sign as she’d only be wearing that if she was fast!!  So I used her to try and pull me on.  Just before the 3rd mile marker I saw Tom which gave me a final boost before turning the corner to the finishing straight.

At this point the crowd was deafening, there were so many people!!  For a 5k!!!  It was amazing!  I crossed the line after an attempt at some sort of sprint finish and stopped my watch and saw 17.08.88.  I thought I’d feel amazing but I was just confused!  I thought it might be a push to dip under 17.20 so to go 10 seconds faster than that seemed a bit crazy – I didn’t really know how I’d done it!?  After the disbelief subsided and I realised I had actually run a big PB, I was delighted!! 😀  I’d lined this up as a target race ever since Tom got into the marathon and luckily all the preparation had gone to plan (well apart from the chocolate raisins, although I’m now starting to rethink those…maybe they’ve been holding me back this whole time!?) and now it was time to enjoy being back in Boston, eating burgers and drinking Sam Adams (Summer Ale for me!) and getting wrapped up in the marathon buzz and supporting Tom (which I suppose was the main reason we were over!!).  As an added bonus, I was 13th female overall and both the men’s and women’s American 5k records went in that race so it was great to be able to say I’d been there too!   If you’re heading over with someone who is doing the marathon or just fancy a great (if slightly expensive!) 5k, I’d definitely recommend it!!

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I love Boston and I love racing in America.  I’d actually done the 5k race before in 2013 when I lived in Boston.  In that year the 5k was the day before the marathon and actually finished on the marathon finish line.  Unfortunately, as we all know, the marathon in 2013 will be remembered for very sad reasons so it was great to go back for the marathon weekend this year and see how much the running community and Boston as a city has come together after such a tragic event.  I wasn’t even doing the marathon but got so swept up with the whole atmosphere from runners and non-runners alike that I found myself wanting to do it, wanting to be a part of such a special race that the whole city was behind (and I usually don’t like racing further than 10k!).  Although having said that, I then realised I would have to run another marathon first to try and qualify which would be tough, and when Marathon Monday came around, I had such a great time spectating and supporting Tom that I decided maybe it’s best if I just stick to 5ks and supporting him in the marathons for now…plus I hear New York has a fast 5k…! 😉

I don’t think my description does justice to just how phenomenal the atmosphere was the whole weekend.  You could feel the anticipation for Marathon Monday building even before the 5k!  I could probably write a whole new piece on the spectating experience!  Whether you were a runner or not, the marathon was all that was being talked about (well apart from me who was also talking about the 5k ;-)).  I think this should definitely be on your list for next year Debbie (forget Chicago!! Or maybe just do both?!) and for anyone else that has the qualifying time!  And this is coming from someone who didn’t even run the marathon!!  And if marathons aren’t your thing then the 5k is awesome!  I’ll definitely be doing it again when Tom goes back to run the marathon in nicer weather with a tail wind!!

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Interview Numero 6 – Lorna Smith

This is Lorna:


We 1st met when we were at the age we called them “swimming galas”, at the time we still wore our goggles around our necks (for those of you unaware, this is NOT cool).

Then, we raced together (she ALWAYS beat me) in the same events, so we were always marshalling together.

We were even featured on CBBC together (interviewed by Lolly herself!) for some documentary on swimmers!

She was always one step ahead and we tended to only ever see each other at races (unless we were staying with each other for the weekend!): when I got a District record, she got a Scottish record; when I made the Scottish squad, she was in the British squad; when I went to the British, she was at the Europeans or Commonwealth Games…She is/was UH-MAZING! I don’t think I have met anyone as strong-willed as her – if she puts her mind to it, she WILL do it!


(She is the pale one in the middle 😉  )

I call her my twin. Not because we were the same speed (I WISH), or that we look the same – she has gorgeous blonde hair and pale skin… like see-through pale 😉  ! I am brunette and fake tanned – when we went on holiday to NYC together, we got a lot of attention because of how different we were! But because we ALWAYS had the same ridiculous dramas going on in our lives! Gotta love being a teenager! We have never fallen out and, although we struggle to make time to visit each other, when we do see each other it is like we are 14 again!


(At the Commonwealth Juniors….see if you can spot Robbie, too!)

Ok, this is my interview with one of my besties, Commonwealth Junior Games medalist and Commonwealth Games athlete (she came 8th in the 400IM final, and 6th in the 4×100 medley relay, as well as holding Scottish junior records for the 100m, 200m backstroke, 200m, 200m individual medley, 800m, 1500m freestyle, and Scottish senior record in 100m, 200m backstroke, 200m, 400m individual medley!):

What is your most memorable moment in swimming?

Oh that’s a hard one.. I find it really hard to pick out one specific moment.. As there were many at different stages in my swimming career…
One would have been when I walked out onto the poolside for the final at commonwealth games in Melbourne. I hadn’t heard anything like it – it was like walking out into a football stadium.. I will never forget tha feeling

What about outside of swimming?
Outside of swimming… Debbie these are hard…!
Probably all the places I’ve luckily visited around the world… Including New York with you of course!

What was a typical training week like?

10 pool sessions a week.. 4 land sessions..

What was your favourite training session?

30×100 max.. Was always my fave set.. Mentally challenging and was always determined to do quicker times than the last time I did that set.
Favourite pool to race?
Would be Tollcross it’s where I trained and have a lot of good memories and races in that pool.

Favourite place to train?

Mexico I trained there for a month for an altitude training camp.. The facility was amazing.

What was your greatest achievement?

Competing in the 2006 Commonwealth Games!

Did you cross train?

Not really no!
Did you perform better individually or under a team environment?
I would say I enjoyed both just as much my performance in a relay was always more rewarding as you were celebrating with more than just yourself.
Do you miss it?
Do I miss it… At times yes – I’m still involved in the sport a lot through my job as a Swimming Development Officer. I’m still a very goal driven person and get that from my swimming career I don’t think that will ever change. Maybe masters should be considered. I have enjoyed taking up other sports netball football things I never had time for when I swam.

Which takes me on to next question..

Let’s race a Master’s event!!

(edit by Deb: bring it on 😛 !)

3 pieces of advice you would give athletes?
To always have fun it’s difficult to remember why you love the sport when it becomes serious.. So always remember why you love it..

Do it for you.. Not anyone else.. There’s a lot of pressure from coaches, parents etc. Remember it’s YOUR sport, it’s YOUR race

To always have outside interests, hobbies.

Do you miss competitions with Debbie?!
That is one amazing thing that came out of being a swimmer. We have been friends for years have each other’s backs. She’s still a competitive freak im now to laid back. But I’m sure one day we will compete against each other again for old times’ sake.. X

(Edit by Deb: no matter how hard I train and how little you train, you will always be the faster fish! Or mermaid – that sounds better!)



So there you have it…my twin and one of my best friends, Lorna Smith. She is fiery, fierce and fast!! Love you, Laerno! xx



(on the Brooklyn Bridge! We walked to Brooklyn and taxied back to Manhattan!)


(About to head to the top of the Empire State Building!)

Interview Numero 5 – Robbie Renwick

Some of you may know Robbie Renwick as a double Olympian, Commonwealth Gold medalist, British record holder, multiple Scottish record holder; but I just see Robbie as Robbie!

We are the same age, started swimming around the same time, and trained around 26 hours per week together (we got on each other’s nerves a lot!) for about 6 years (with only 2 weeks off per year…)!

So yeah, we have known each other nearly 19 years I’d say, love picking on each other, but have also had lots of banter and great times! He lives in Stirling now, but whenever he is up we’ll meet for lunch or dinner (or the occasional cocktail if he doesn’t have a big meet coming up!).




His best times include a 49.17 for 100m freestyle long course (47.96 short course), 1.45.99 for the 200m freestyle long course, and 3.40.22 for the 400m freestyle short course. Unbelieveable! Although, I moved into top squad approximately 1 month before him, so I beat him at one thing 😉 !

Ok, now on to my questions…!:

What is your greatest sporting memory?

Winning commonwealth gold at Delhi Commonwealth Games!

Favourite place you have trained/competed?

Favourite place was at the University of Florida training with the Gators and swimmers such as Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte. Worked really hard and partied hard too!

(Deb edit: if you watched “What would Ryan Lochte do”, he even featured in it! I love reality garbage!)

Give me a day in the life of Robster!?

Get up at 6:30am, go train for 2 hours, then a gym lifting or circuit session. Then back to bed and back at the pool again for 3:00pm for another 2 hr swim. Chill out in the evenings!
What is your diet like?

Quite good – I eat very cleanly during the week and weekends allow myself some bad food and beers. Always trying to watch my weight as i swim at my best with low skin fold.
Do you find time for a social life?

Yes, it helps most of my friends are swimmers and weekends are generally quite free.

Do you ever get time off?

We get a week here and there but our main break is after summer competition usually about 3 weeks long, it goes by fast!

What are your main goals this year?

To win a medal at the world championships in Russia, Kazan – our 4×200 relay team is looking in good stead for a medal this summer which is exciting!

Pre-race superstitions?

None! I stay away from superstitions.
What are your future goals?

Rio 2016 Olympics –  to come home with a medal of any colour!
3 pieces of advice you would give young athletes?

Don’t always listen to your coach; listen to your own body and trust that the most.

Have fun and not take it too seriously;

Have other passions in your life to break up your time so you have things to look forward to in your time off.
Favourite training/racing kit? 

Adidas AdiZero suit is my favourite suit and Speedo goggles.

What makes you love swimming?

Trying to be the best and compete against the best in the world.

Who/what inspires and motivates you?

Gold at Rio 2016 is huge motivation, i motivate myself.

What is on your bucket list (doesn’t have to be swimming related!)?

To go travelling for a while see a lot of the world, i have been to most places around the world but only the hotel and the swimming pool!!


Do you miss the swimming world when Debbie was in it?!

Haha yes! 🙂


Now that I have bigged you up Rabster, you can cook for me after the Scottish duathlon champs in Stirling next month m’kay? Cool.


His next comp is the Edinburgh International meet in a couple weeks (if I remember correctly!), so wish him luck! Can’t wait to watch you in Rio, dude!!

Interview Numero 4 – Fraser Clyne

He is probably the most respected, down to earth, passionate, smiley and successful runner in the north east. Everyone who is into running knows who he is, but he would never be the one to tell you.

If Kyle hadn’t mentioned that he was a 2.11 marathoner and Commonwealth Games athlete before my 1st interview with him a few years ago, I would have just thought I was being interviewed by a good sports journalist who was having a slow week. Albeit a looks-like-he’s-built-for-running journalist…! (Note: not once have I called you old, Fraser!)

Fraser Clyne has won some major marathons around the globe, and has been successful in all distances from the 3k to the 100k (holy smokes, that sounds harder than an Ironman!). He has travelled the world, trained and raced in some of the most beautiful places on earth, met some amazing and inspiring people, has written a couple of books (and is currently in the process of writing one on running, guys!) and now spends time PRing (Public Relations, not Personal Records!), and writing sporting articles for the newspapers – interviewing slow pokes like me. Fraser, I hope you don’t think you’re wasting your time when you’re listening to that dictaphone and typing away – we should be the ones interviewing you!!

That being said, I know that the local running community who read this blog would LOVE to have someone interview Clyney for a change, so I have tried my best…!




What is your favourite sporting memory?

 I have loads of great sporting memories but the best ones aren’t anything to do with me or any major events. I simply love seeing the smiles on people’s faces at the end of a race in which they have achieved their goals or realised their dreams, at no matter what level. These are the best memories.


What would you say has been your best achievement?

 Hmmmm…….if we are speaking about running….. then there’s no single achievement that stands out, but I have many good memories.

I guess winning my first marathon in Oakland, California was special, and finishing second in the US championships in Sacramento, California (which was totally unexpected). I was always proud to represent my country and enjoyed competing for Great Britain in three World Cups and for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and five world cross country championships. I represented GB and/or Scotland on the track, roads and cross country at 3,000m, 5,000m, 10,000m, half marathon, marathon and (whisper it), 100Km. Oh… and I did the world mountain running championships once (it was on the bucket list).

I competed all over Europe, the USA, Asia, Africa and Australia and I ran 22 sub 2hr 20min marathons, including at least one every year between 1982 and 1992, all of which I’m sort of happy about.


Where was your favourite place to train?

 As you might guess from the previous answer, I loved running in California. I spent a lot of time there in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I competed in 10 marathons, a half marathon, a 20Km and a couple of 10Km races in places like San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego. There are so many beautiful places to run and the climate is wonderful. Everyone was so positive as well, which makes a big difference. At home I always loved running the woods at Hazlehead, Countesswells and Tyrebagger. Nowadays I also enjoy running at Scolty and at Balmoral.



What was a typical day for you back then (if you remember!)

 That’s a bit cheeky asking if I can remember!! So the day would be simple …

I trained twice a day most of the time and I also had a full-time job although I was lucky to be given additional time off for international trips. I started work early, did my main training in the middle of the day with a second session in the evening.


What is a typical day for you now? 

Interviewing people and writing articles about it must be so interesting!

 Yeah, there’s no such thing as a typical day. I am self-employed and every day is different, which is fantastic, although there’s obviously deadlines to be met all the time. I write for a number of newspapers, magazines and web-based outlets; I do PR work for a few major events (eg RunBalmoral,  Loch Ness Marathon); I give talks about running and training to clubs, companies and other organisations; I am involved with the Running the Highlands training weekends at Balmoral Castle; I do a bit of personal coaching which means I try to run most days; and I’m currently working on a new book (I’ve written a couple of football books in the past but the next one will be about running). I love going to races, chatting to other runners and meeting so many fascinating people with wonderful stories to tell.


What was your race prep like? Pre-race routine?

 I liked get to the venue early to begin my warm-up and check out the course. I preferred being on my own in the final 20-30mins before the start of the race just so I could get my mind focussed and go through the routine of getting into the zone (as you might say now). It’s important to concentrate on the task and not be diverted by anything. You wouldn’t want to ask me anything in the final 10mins before a big race!



What would you say your toughest race was?

 All races were tough! I trained hard so I could race hard. But some stand out as being not only physically tough but also mentally draining. My first significant track international was at Crystal Palace in front of a capacity crowd in a live televised international just before the 1980 Olympics Games. I finished last and that was a sobering experience, but it made me determined to do better. The 1986 Commonwealth Games marathon was also hard because I’d been struggling with lower back problems in the months leading up to it and I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in. I struggled from the start and never felt comfortable. I felt as though I was running with the brakes on. It was so frustrating to be competing in front of a home crowd knowing I couldn’t do as well as I was hoping to. I finished 10th but it was physically and mentally exhausting.

The 1989 Houston marathon was probably my toughest day.I ran the first half in 65min 5secs, which felt ok, but after 18 miles I really began to struggle. I battled on and, despite struggling, at 23 miles I was still on schedule for a 2hr 13min time. I ended up finishing ninth in 2:16:11. A guy passed me with 800m to go and beat me by a minute!! Pretty awful.


What did a hard week look like?

 I’m gonna bore you with more than one week’s training. So here’s what I did between the Berlin marathon on 30th September 1984 and the California International Marathon at Sacramento on 2nd December 2004.


Sun 30th Sept: Berlin Marathon, 6th, 2:15:21 (Finished strongly, feeling I could have run much quicker).

Followed by two weeks of easy running.


Sun Oct 14: 22 miles steady

Oct 15: AM 8 miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 16: Am 4 miles; pm, 2x6x90sec hills, 1x3x45sec hills (4 mins recovery between sets)

Oct 17: pm: 10 miles

Oct 18: am 6 miles, pm 8 miles

Oct 19: am 9 miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 20: 3x6x90sec hills, 4 mins recovery between sets; pm: 10 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 102 


Sun Oct 21: am 14 miles

Oct 22: am 6×600, 6×300 alternating, 60secs recovery between each rep.

Oct 23: am 9 miles, pm 5 miles

Oct 24: am 8 miles, pm 2×1000, 10 miles, 1x1000m

Oct 25: am 8 miles, pm 5 miles

Oct 26: am 6x1200m (hilly mixed terrain), 3 mins recovery between each

Oct 27: 20 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 101


Sun Oct 28: am 14 miles including 60mins of mixed fartlek

Oct 29: am 7miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 30: am 4x5mins, 4mins recovery; pm 5 miles

Oct 31: am 8 miles, pm 12 miles

Nov 1: am 6x600m/300m, alternating, 60secs recovery; pm 6 miles

Nov 2: am 10 miles

Nov 3: am 10 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 90


Sun Nov 4: am Ayr half marathon, 1st, 64min 53sec

Nov 5: pm 11 miles

Nov 6: am 20x200m back to back followed by 20×200 with 30secs recovery; pm 5 miles

Nov 7: pm: 19 miles

Nov 8: am 4x5mins with 4 mins recovery; pm 5 miles

Nov 9: am 10 miles

Nov 10: am 10 miles; pm 6 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 100


Sun Nov 11: am Aberdeen 6 mile road race, 2nd, 30min 00sec 

Nov 12: am 11 miles

Nov 13: am 5 miles; pm 4x5mins with 3 mins recovery

Nov 14: am 5  miles; pm 10  miles

Nov 15: am 6x1200m with 3 mins recovery; pm 5

Nov 16: am 10 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 17: am 10 miles


Sunday Nov 18: am Edinburgh to Glasgow relay, 7 mile stage in 32min 05sec.

Nov 19: am 10 miles

Nov 20: am 7 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 21: am 4x5mins, 4 mins recovery; pm: 10 miles

Nov 22: am 10 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 23: am 5 miles; pm 6x1200m mixed terrain, 3 mins recovery

Nov 24: am 14 miles; pm 4 miles

Total weekly mileage: 100


Sun Nov 25th: Travel to San Francisco

Mon –Sat: easy running, 30mins per day, 20x100m strides on Saturday.

Sunday Dec 2nd: California International Marathon,Sacramento 2nd 2:11:50



The steady runs were all done according to how tired I felt. The midweek 10’s were all generally very fast (ie not much below a 5min/mile to 5:10 average).

The long Sunday runs were of variable pace, but usually included a fairly hard 10-14 mile block again at not much below 5 mins 20min pace (although they were run over mixed terrain including forest trails).

I would normally taper for the races done during the build up, but on this occasion I wanted to experiment by easing off very little for races such as the Ayr half, the Edin to Glasgow and the Aberdeen 6.

Usually I would recommend taking it easy for 4-7 days before any significant race


Earlier in the year I did a lot more hillwork, sometimes doing the hill session three times a week, sometimes twice a week. This was generally 3 sets of 6 reps up and down a tough hill which took about 90secs to run up. The recovery was a jog back down. The recovery between sets could be 3 or 4 minutes.


 Did you cross train? How often?

 Not really. I did 10-11 running sessions every week which left little time or energy for anything else! I did a bit of cycling if I couldn’t run, but that was about it.


Do you have any regrets?

 Running is such a fantastic sport which has, and still does, give me lots to be happy about, so I have few if any regrets. I’ve been fortunate to compete all over the world in major championships and big races and I’ve met so many friendly and interesting people along the way. I guess if I was doing it all again there’s a few things I’d do differently. I’d probably try to be more focussed. I was so keen to try anything and everything that sometimes I wouldn’t channel all my energies into one big important challenge. I loved running in marathons, but also liked 10Km and half marathons. I enjoyed track racing (a bit), cross country and hill running, so I was too easily distracted. 


What 3 pieces of advice would you give newbies and to current elites? 

 The advice is the same whether you are just starting out or whether you are striving for the the very top:

1) Surround yourself with positive people all the time…they will help motivate you to achieve whatever you want to get from your running.There is no place for negativity.

2) Always have dreams/goals/targets. Work towards achieving these, step by step, and never let anyone tell you anything is impossible.

3) Listen to others, but believe in yourself. It’s amazing what you can do if you are willing to learn, to experiment and to keep pushing your own personal boundaries. 


And I have a fourth one:

Always enjoy it, make it fun. If you enjoy it, you’ll do it forever.


 What was your diet like? 

 Ha, ha. The morning of my fastest marathon my breakfast was a piece of chocolate cake, a cup of coffee and a glass of water. That sorta sums up my diet. I’d eat anything and everything. It was often difficult eating enough to keep the fuel tanks up to capacity.


What are your hobbies outside of running?

 Eating, drinking and hugging!


Who is your favourite person to interview (*cough* Debbie *cough*) – haha who was actually your favourite and why? 

 Well, there’s a very talented young Aberdeen athlete who is preparing for her ironman debut this year……ha ha.


I enjoy speaking with all runners but I guess the most memorable interview experience I’ve had was with Finland’s legendary distance runner Lasse Viren. When I started running Viren was my hero. He was Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion in 1972 and 1976. A few years ago I was invited to Helsinki before the IAAF world championships. During the trip I was given the opportunity to meet Lasse at his home in Myrskyla, which is about a 60min drive from Helsinki. I was there for a couple of hours and we chatted about his career and running in general.Fascinating….and totally inspiring. He wasn’t too impressed by the fact that I had a faster marathon time than him. He simply asked: “But how many Olympic gold medals do you have?”


Most importantly:

When are you making a comeback???

 Ha, ha. The last race I did was in February 2003 and since then I’ve not been doing any structured running at all. A few months ago, however, my good friend Alison inspired me to get a little more organised (basically by telling me I had no real excuse to not be running again). So I’ve been training more and getting fitter (which wasn’t hard given how slow I’d become), although one of my achilles tendons keeps complaining…. and that has held me back. I know I can’t run as fast as I used to, but I’d like to be as fit as I can be and I know I’m well short of that! However, if the right occasion presented itself I might be tempted to look out the retro racing gear and make an appearance somewhere!


(New Year’s Day after Ron, Kyle and I did our double parkrun *cough* debbiewastheonlyonetowinbothafterallthosevodka/whiskey/wineshots *cough*)

Well, you heard it here 1st folks – he might be tempted to race again!!!

And TWENTY TWO MARATHONS UNDER 2.20?!?!!?! WOW!! Safe to say I think I could only have beaten you in that final 800m in Houston, although I would have been <1 year old so perhaps not (although I was a fast crawler?)…Now I’m calling you old, Frase 😉 …!

Whenever you are feeling de-motivated, just re-read the above! If I manage to do half of what you did, Fraser, I will be one content little athlete!

I hope this has inspired you to reach your goals as much as it has done to me!

If there are any other questions that I missed/keep missing then PLEASE let me know! I can annoy ask Kylie Babez, Freyja and Ismael as much as you want!

Speaking of Freyja, SHE HAS (FINALLY!) STARTED A BLOG!!!!!!!!! If you like my over-dramatic, over-exaggerating, and overuse of exclamation marks and capital letters, she can not only match that, but while I am here trying to make the Worlds, SHE is trying to make the OLYMPICS!!!!!!! Road to Rio here she comes!! Find her HERE now – she is currently in Florida at the World Cup so pleeeeeeeease wish her luck!

Fraser – thank you so much for letting me pester you! I believe I can speak for all of us when I say we can learn soooooo much from you; you are truly an inspiration to us and we love seeing you at all our races!

Interview Numero 3 – Ismael Ortiz

Once upon a time when I was still a swimmer and training at Pine Crest, Ft Lauderdale (MUCH hotter than Aberdream!), I was fortunate enough to be training in one of the best facilities you could imagine….it was a public school as opposed to state school, so a lot of money went into the building of it.

It was JUST like the movies!


(one of the high school buildings)


(the football stadium)


(this is maybe one quarter of the gym..!)


(the diving pool)


(the short course pool – 25yds)


(the long course pool – 50m)

Anyway, while I was there, I was training with some pretty amazing guys! The head coach has been introduced into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame, a lead coach was a 2-time Olympian who once held an Olympic record in freestyle, the head dive coach was a high dive world record holder, and a few of the athletes were Olympians (my room-mate Catherine was not only a swimmer but also a L’oreal model) so it was one surreal experience!!

One of my best friends while I was there…Olympian Ismael Ortiz. He swam in the Athens Olympics for Panama (sprint freestyler) and, since then, became a country celebrity and was even on their version of DANCING WITH THE STARS!!!



(he is a MASSIVE poser 😉 but you have to have an ego to be a great sprinter, right?!)




SO, I Skyped him recently and told him he MUST answer some questions for me! Here they are:

What is your greatest sporting memory?

Has to be teaching a blind girl how to swim.


Favourite place you have trained/competed?

Favorite place was Chile because I made my Olympic cut there for 2008 (edit by Deb: Despite qualifying with a 22 second 50m freestyle, domestic political circumstances prevented him from competing in the Games, causing a small public outcry in Panama…)


What would a typical day have been like for you at the peak of your career?

Sh*t hahahhaah I wake up at 7, train for 2 or 3 hours, rest , lunch, rest, train for 2 or 3 hours, sleep hahahah not that complicated.


What was your diet like?

I eat everything because i burned it all on those days hahahaha!


Did you find time for a social life (I already know the answer to that from your mental nights out…I was sadly underage 😦   )?

At the beginning i didn’t  have any because I though it will distract me from my performance, but my nature is to be social so when i grew up i find time to perform and be social!


Any regrets?

Losing focus at college swimming but I learned from it, so i don’t know if it is a regret!


What were your pre-race superstitions?

No superstition i will always think im going to win no matter what hahahah 😉


3 pieces of advice you would give young athletes?

Follow your dreams

Everything is possible

Do not disappoint your parents!


What made you choose swimming?

I flooded the house when i was a kid and my parents decide to put me in swimming!


What was it like seeing your face on the billboards when you went home (Ish trained/lived/studied at Drury University in Missouri and didn’t go home often)?

It was fun but I actually see my face more on billboards now than back then because of DWTS hahahahah


Did you feel like you’d made it when you went on Dancing with the Stars?

DWTS was so much fun… But it was a full of emotions at the same time hahahah can you imagine?


Who/what inspires and motivates you?

There are different types of people that surround me. I try to learn from everyone!


What is on your bucket list (doesn’t have to be swimming related!)?

Hahahahahhaaha none
I will have to make one after this question!


Don’t you miss Debbie soooooo much?

I miss Debbie!! We Skype a lot and her accent is fun!!! (edit by Deb: he spent a good hour a day asking how to say different things in my accent! And he taught me some interesting phrases in Spanish too!)

There you have it! Despite being from Panama (not really known for it’s swimming), Ish’s crazy personality, generosity, intelligence (he conversed no problem with the Italians, Czechs, Brazilians and French athletes while they had to speak English to me…I hate how ignorant we are expecting everyone to speak English. Deduct cool points from Debster. Anyway…), speed and energy made him a celebrity over there! Not only that, but since retiring from the sport, he is now a successful artist!


(how cool is this?!)


(I got a good tan when I stayed there!)


(told you he was crazy!)



(and the above 2 are of my roomie, Cat!! A French-Canadian beauty!)

Ish I miss you (I’m sure my Mum does too since he made her chat to him on Skype to laugh at the Scottish twang!!) and Cat I miss you as well!!! It can be a small world but it can also be too big to organise reunions 😦 !!