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.
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.
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!
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!
(blurry parade selfie)
(there are only 4 left….blame Kyle!)
Then it was back home for some mulled wine, salad, and more donuts!
Questions for you:
Ever had a nightmare of a race?
Favourite kind of donut?