The Inaugral Great Aberdeen Run 10k – 3rd Female

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


 

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

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

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(me and Rabster)

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


 

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

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

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

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(“I’m running to beat Kenny & Espie”)

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

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

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(Where’s Wally?)

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

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

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

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

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

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(I’m in a very bad place here!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Check the special boy still wearing his medal!)

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

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London Triathlon – 5th Elite

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With 20,000 people toeing the line – or at least sculling the line – over the weekend, the London Triathlon is the biggest triathlon in the world. With that prestige, it attracts some great competitors, and the winners over the years have all been of Olympic calibre.

Needless to say, being in the elite wave was pretty nerve-racking!


It was a flying visit to London. We were in Edinburgh for commitments on the Friday night and Saturday morning, so got the express train from Edin to London on Saturday evening. With the underground construction works going on, the predicted 10 minute ride from Kings Cross to meet Vicky at Victoria (how we remember where to go!) ended up being 1hour 15, and 4 or 5 switches later. With a suitcase. And a bike.

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(who wants to baby these muppets around London with all that stuff. Vicky, that’s who!)

Getting to bed around 11.30pm, we were thankful for the race start for me being at noon. As long as we were out the door by 8.30am, we would have left plenty time to get to the Excel Centre. Vicky was definitely the Mummy, coming as lead cheerleader, but also telling us where to go, and when to RUUUN, for the next train! Kyle HATES the business of London. He is a caveman at heart, and put him in a tight enclosure with 10 other people makes him go crazy. Like a baboon.

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(Being time efficient while waiting on a train…pumping up the tyres!)

Anyway, we got there in plenty time for me to register, sort transition out (what a faff!), and relax with them with a coffee (that ended up giving me the shakes afterwards because I’d forgotten I’d been drinking High5 caffeinated tablets on the way there!). We went outside (predominantly for me to get fresh air from said caffeine overload) to check out the course and do a wee warm up.

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(Warming up)

It was super sunny and I was excited to start! I saw a couple faces I recognised so was still pretty intimidated but I did come 5th at the British, and won the Scottish a couple weeks ago over the sprint distance, and surely I have a good base from winning Outlaw, so I thought meeting in the middle with a standard distance race couldn’t go too horrendously…

We were announced to the spectators at about 11.45, was allowed to do a warm up, and I even got asked for a photo by someone in the crowd! It was pretty cool to be considered a “real” elite!

We got the race briefing, then went back in the water for the NON WETSUIT swim (ugh!).

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(I REALLY need a new suit so my name goes in the right place…Walker if you laugh again, you die)

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(How to get rid of pre-race nerves..)

Lucy Hall, who was 1st out of the water in the female race at the LONDON OLYMPICS was clearly a favourite going in to the swim. I happened to dive into the water after her, so thought it sensible to go and line up at the starting rope next to her.

The other girls also thought it best to go next to her.

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(The water was pretty choppy but that was not the reason for my average swim!)

So for the 4 minutes until the gun went off,  girls were dunking and trying to push in to get a decent spot. It was SUCH a long 4 minutes and I was MISERABLE (any experts out there – should I have stayed put, or should I have moved to clear water and just sprinted til my damaged little lungs were bursting??). A speaker announced 30 seconds to go.

Then with 10 seconds to go, a girl pushed my head right under the water and sculled on top of me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I heard the horn from under the water, the rope was lifted and I was at the back of the field!! I tried so hard to sprint, and managed to overtake a few. As I moved up to the next pack, a girl I’d overtaken grabbed my ankle so hard THAT I AM STILL BRUISED THERE and pulled me back. Ugh I was at the back again. I surged again, angry this time (but never angry enough for fowl play) and went round one group. By this point we were at the first buoy. I knew that the Olympians would be out in front with clear water, but I didn’t want to be humiliated in this sort of event. I was on the outside of a group that was slowly wittling down to finally me and one other girl. I passed her after wasting energy being side by side in no mans land, and then I saw the chase group about 15m ahead of me. At the last buoy, I tried to reduce that deficit with the plan of smashing transition to cycle with that pack rather than the pack behind me.

I got out of the water, pelted up the stairs 2 at a time to where our bikes were racked in the arena, overtook 3 or 4 girls, realised I’d just been in the THAMES WASHING MACHINE, and peuked in a bin near the bikes. At least it was clean. I have NEVER peuked in a race before! I have felt sick, but never actually been sick. It was an awful feeling but it happens in this sport. Tactics, not to the extent of foul play but apparently that’s going to become more policed, makes the sport exciting I guess.

After a solid transition (only took me a year!), I caught up with the girls in front, and we worked pretty well together. Unfortunately, it was raining when we exited the arena and I had pretty dark shades on. I never realised the roads were so slippy and skidded around the 1st bend. Apologising to the girls around me, I don’t think they liked me after that.

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(I look more fierce in black and white!)

The girls were MUCH better cyclists than the ones I was with in Liverpool. We didn’t work perfectly together – about 3 or 4 of us did the work at the front while the others were happy to sit in – but there were times when I was thankful for the rest! It was a windy course with loads of turns,totally different from previous years. Unfortunately, we didn’t ride to Big Ben and instead we did 4 laps of a twisty, pretty boring course to be honest but it was so that it was better for the spectators. Not really any hills but enough twists to make it technical (something I’m working on!).

I really tried to punish the girls with some surges and longer efforts, as I know I have a strong bike but I wasn’t going to risk a solo breakaway in an elite field, so thought if I make them work they’ll have sore legs for the run.

At T2, another smooth transition, trainers on with ease (who knew talc was so helpful!), and off I strided past the bin sheds (cue near peuking again) and onto the riverside. A couple girls went off like Bolt, but I overtook them all but 1 in the first km and aimed to keep increasing my lead. Sarah Lewis (a Paralympic Guide) had a sensational run, so I couldn’t keep up with her, so it ended up being a solo 10km with Sarah in front and a couple of groups behind.

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The run was strange: over plastic almost giant lego pieces that went over the grass, then up and down some ramps, a twist around a couple aid stations, then a lovely flat straight part. At the end of the straight, there was a 180 turn that went straight into a headwind (no wonder I felt great in the 1st mile!), then up a pretty solid sharp hill back into the Excel, then a windy maybe 600m in the arena (was SO weird to run indoors!) and you do that 3 times! The sun had come out again so it was pretty warm, but the wind actually helped. As did seeing Vicky and Kyle 6 times throughout the run!

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(Keeping themselves entertained for a couple hours!)

The last lap I died a bit and just wanted it to be over. But luckily given the out and back course I saw the 1st group was the only group ahead, so I was pretty sure I was in 5th place! I was never going to catch them, and no one seemed to be behind me, so I didn’t feel any pressure which meant I could just enjoy the moment and be proud of managing this placing after all the (literal) running around and fitting training around real life; work, commutes, travel, wedding planning, holidays, keeping Chewy alive, etc etc.

At the finish, I soaked it in and walked across the line (the finish photos aint pretty, folks), downed a beer (stupid Alcohol free again…) and met a super proud cheerleading team. They were honestly THE loudest group on the course!

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(As sobering as it was, it tasted delicious straight after a tough race!)

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We had an awesome lunch, walked around London together, then split up to catch our trains home again.

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After getting home at 2am Monday morning, my 8am meeting 6 hours later was fun…

 


AND in other news, turns out it was 3 years ago I took up this mad sport!!!

To set the scene, Kyle was training in Chamonix and I was bored. So Phil and I decided to plan a wee race. After this message, I started looking at buying a bike. I then got in touch with Noodles (HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SCOTT!). And, well, the rest is history!

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Outlaw Holkham – 1st Elite

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Well, where do I start? I’m still absolutely buzzing from the weekend! My 1st middle distance triathlon and 1st win in an elite race!

That was hands down the TOUGHEST race I have EVER done. To be in the lead by over 9 minutes off of the bike in an elite field, but having failed to fuel during the bike, meant I had to FIGHT for 13.3(hold on!) miles of hilly torture to hold off the other phenomenal girls, both mentally and physically! I joke about learning from every race I’m doing, considering I’m still relatively new to the sport, but since Noodles told me he would disown me if I mention any more mistakes, let’s just pretend I had a perfect race and came away with the win with ease and then he can stop reading here.


First of all a MASSIVE thanks to my sponsors. Without you I wouldn’t be anywhere near as speedy (and yes High5 I have already talked to you about strategy!) OR be able to literally say I have all the gear and no idea 😉

@Speedhub for taking me on and being SO FRIENDLY and banterous over the weekend! Felt like I’d known you guys for years! And dealing with my stooped questions (there have been several), you still treat me like an athlete

@Feltbikes for an unreal ride. If this novice can manage 22.2mph on those lumpy windy roads then it must be down to the IA2

@Zoot for the wetsuit (that gives me a fake six-pack and makes me look like a legit pro). It felt like a second skin and helped me chick the majority of the lads

@Aquasphere for the googles. Not once have they leaked or been pulled off. The suction is perfect and the plus is that they are green and therefore I stand out to my spectators!

@POC for the aerodynamic helmet. As a beginner I thought they would only weigh me down or make me feel claustrophobic but I was totally wrong. It was so light, the attached sunglasses kept me focussed on the road and it must have boosted that cycle speed of mine!

@Cobb saddles for a comfy seat for a couple hours…I am very fussy in this department

@High5 for fuelling me sufficiently before and after the race. But perhaps not during. But that is 100% down to me being a muppet! I have been living off of your protein hits as my elevenses (and oneses, and threeses…etc) instead of my usual brownies or tiffin

Lewis Walker (Kyle’s coach) for agreeing to take me on. He is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate and patient with me. I think we are both excited with this result, considering I never got to show my run form and he is a world renowned running coach.


I shall start by what went well and go from there. Coincidentally (not at all), that would be the swim and bike.

At 3.36am on race morning, I woke up naturally (and clearly checked the time). Not wanting to wake up sleeping beauty ugly, I came out of the tent (yep, camping was the easiest option!), stretched out, grabbed some food (I’m glad I had back up to my instant porridge…I forgot you don’t get boiling water on a field unless you have fancy camping stoves (which we do not have). Instead, I had a large pretzel, 2x zero tablets in about a litre of water, a large chocolate flapjack, a banana and some fig newtons. The previous night, I tried to eat as much as I can, and I have recently developed an addiction to Maoam pinballs, which I totally used as my carb-loading excuse 200g later.

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(bikes had to be racked the night before)

I had organised my stuff the night before (yes, Mum, I am listening!) and I headed to transition. Supporters can’t enter that area so I left Kyle to get some needed extra shut eye after driving most of the way on Saturday following his Half Marathon win in Birmingham, beating a Commies athlete in the process…But that’s for another post!

I meant fellow Speedhubber Twigg in transition, and he helped pump up my tyres and kept me calm. More to come on him later! It was super windy so I tried to make some jokes to the people around me, but realising people deal with nerves differently, I made the call to quickly set up my area and grab a coffee at the food trucks instead.

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By the time I got back to camp, it was just before 6 so I grabbed Kyle and we headed to the start area. I felt quietly confident, but was actually the most concerned about the swim. After my bike crash, my shoulder has still been bothering me and I wasn’t sure how creaky it would feel over the swim, and then being hunched over on the bike for 56+ miles. BUT I was trying to remain optimistic, thinking it’s the shortest part of the race and you can make up time on your biking and running – which, you may not believe after Sunday’s result, is actually going really well! It was the discipline I was looking forward to! But those legs decided not to come to Holkham.

Anyway, back to the swim. The elite males and females went off together at 6.27am. I got a spot at the front, which was pretty intimidating as I lost Twigg and swimming with boys scares me. They seem to punch and pull even harder than the girls (although it happens in both!) so I was fully expecting a black eye by 6.29am.

When the gun went off, I sprinted for maybe 35m just to get a wee lead on the majority of the others, then sensible Debbie stepped in (shock, horror) and told me to calm down as we had a long way to go. A lot of guys ended up about 10m ahead as they kept sprinting, but within about 400m I had reeled a few in and started passing them by the time we got to the island. On the way there, the water was so shallow that with every pull, you were grabbing weeds. I REALLY hope I haven’t been papped during the swim as one long reed got lodged in my goggle strap for a while! In training, that would totally phase me and I was do a diva strop, but I quite indifferent at this point.

Going round the island, the sun was rising and was so bright that I couldn’t see a thing! I started breathing 1 in every 4 strokes, just so I could see splashing under the water to make sure I was going the right way! It got worse on the way back, and I had no hope of buoy spotting (a sport I am so good at out of the water…) so just trusted the feet in front of me. Back to the weedy patch, I looked up and noticed hardly anyone ahead of us. I had surged pretty hard, but I didn’t know I was doing this well in an elite field with dudes in it?!

After a couple of confusing weaving (turns out guy in front of me…sorry I have no idea who you were but thanks for the tow for a while…missed a buoy so I think we doubled back) we ended up at the exit. Well, almost. We were about 10m to the left of the exit. The sun was so bright none of us spotted it, so we just sculled over and out we got. By this point there was a lead group of about 5 and I WAS ONE OF THEM!

As I tried to pass a couple guys in the run to transition, the commentator couldn’t work out who/what I was. I was a male for a few seconds, then a Speedhubber, but they know Twigg and there was no one else in the elite field from that team, so there was a bit of an awkward silence until they realised I was a girl. That got the crowd going, and me buzzing, so off I went on the bike beaming with confidence.

So much so that I actually thought I could compete with these lads.

Silly Debbie.

But it is really disheartening when you have come out in the lead pack, only to be constantly overtaken by people (so what if they’re men!?).  In my head, I beat a bunch of men at Suie, so why can’t I beat them here?

In an elite field.

Where a national TT bike CHAMPION is an example of who overtook me.

…What a rookie!

Anyway, I pedalled my little heart out having not the slightest idea how much of a gap I had on 2nd girl out of the water (nearly 3 minutes), and knowing that there were a couple girls in the field that can go sub60 minutes for 25miles, I was cycling like I’d stolen something!

The Tri247 article was correct. You have to remember there is a half marathon to do after the bike. I’d forgotten about this minor detail for the majority of the cycle. Instead I was pedalling on anger, firstly because I’d been overtaken by like 10 guys, but secondly because I saw two or three guys DRAFTING, and not enough motorbikes to police this. If any of you guys are reading, just because you can’t swim and got chicked, don’t cheat your way up the field. Not cool.

The course was STUNNING. So much so that I didn’t care about the brutal side wind for the majority of the course. It passed through Sandringham Estate and some lovely holiday villages and my little tour of the area was worth it! I enjoyed the lumps on the course. They were intense at times, but never lasted long enough so they were almost refreshing and mixed up the terrain! My 2nd half was faster than the first but I think that’s more due to the road quality than conditions because the winds was coming at all angles and we never really got a true tailwind.

I’d meant to take more water at the 2nd feed station, around 45miles in, but stupid me thought slowing to what 15mph for 5 seconds would affect my 9 minute lead. Massive lesson learned as with over 20mins left racing and no water/gels/food, I began to lag a little.

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(when Kyle’s your photographer, this is what you get 😉 …approaching transition and super thirsty!)

I came off the bike on track for a course record with a 2.33 bike split, averaging about 22.2mph. I was happy given the course and conditions. Sub 2.30 I’m coming after you! Into transition, the commentator was BUZZING! It gave me such a boost. I was chatting to a guy who came in ahead of me who had to pull out with a shoulder injury – I hope you get better! This was while trying to put on socks/trainers with my mad Raynauds fingers…it was a struggle! When I finally got out onto the run I was a little dizzy but the crowds were phenomenal and pushed me up the 1st hill towards the fuel stop.

I had a lead biker with me. I’ve never had that before! Interesting fact: I did the Cuba Havana marathon and was leading, but it was a 1960’s American style motorbike that was following me, and with the fumes that omit from them, I was REALLY ill and ended up walking a VERY long way!

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Anyhoo, I HAVE TO apologise to her because I always try to be as polite, courteous and appreciative to all volunteers/helpers/supporters/spectators because without them the race isn’t possible. I usually love the water stops, using lame jokes like “I wish this was vodka” sort of banter.

Well, not today.

Today I was being chased down, running on empty, and the sun was only getting stronger. My Hyde had taken over my Dr Jekyll norm and I was shouting at her for time gaps to second place, and she had to stop/start far too many times, after my stops, walks and strops.

I stopped the 1st time right after I saw Kyle. I shouted at him too! “What do you mean looking good. I look horrendous. Go away.” Haha I am SO sorry to both of you!

Surprised that she didn’t just cycle off, she was still so supportive and even carried extra gels at the feed stations, knowing I was in a bad place. After lap 1, I had lost 3 minutes on my lead. I was hoping the worst was over and now that I had about 18 gels binged down my throat (I exaggerate but I’m not far off). My aim on this lap was to only walk at the fuel stops. Surely that would only add about 90seconds if there are 3 stations.

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(Not my best look)

So that almost worked, but I did walk up the majority of the first hill. So I lost another 3 minutes on lap 2. HOWEVER, at the end of lap 2, just before the finishing chute, the lead bike for the male race overtook me, followed closely by TWIGGY!!!! He passed me, tapped me on the butt with a HUGE smile on his face, and off he went down the finishing chute, high fiving kids and getting confetti thrown over him.

That was exactly what I needed!

My team mate just WON the entire race in a NEW COURSE RECORD!! I couldn’t let him down – I just HAD to go for the double!

This final lap, my actual moving pace was definitely way slower (the previous laps I weirdly could only either run at a decent pace, or not at all. I didn’t wear a watch but Kyle said he couldn’t catch me running 6.40s at one (very short) point). This lap was around 7.30s BUT I only stopped at the water stops, and it was the most mentally painful 4miles of my life! With 2 miles to go, I had 3minutes on 2nd. Doing serious calculations in my head of just how fast one could go, and what the slowest pace I could go to still win, made time stand still.

However, with a mile to go, there was no way I was stopping. I started lapping athletes and – again, apologies as I could not speak a word – they were all cheering for 1st lady.

As the bike reared left so I got the limelight down the finishing chute, I slowed to a walk over the line, lifted the tape, bowed to the spectators (again, you were AMAZING!) and smiled to the photographers!

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Funnily enough, all the pain suddenly disappeared and I was ready for an interview and an Erdinger! I lost my appetite for a few hours, and was a little dizzy for a while, but after a shower and some chill time watching the other finishers, I started to feel normal again.

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(such a fun day!)

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Into the afternoon before the prize-giving, it was like a festival! Food trucks, music blasting, people (ok ok mainly kids) dancing – it was so much fun! Such a family oriented event where everyone was so happy and friendly! If you’re looking for a seaside getaway with a 70mile race thrown in, this one’s for you!

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(a double for Speedhub!)

Thanks for having me, Holkham!

 

Holkham Half this weekend

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

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

The sporting community really is phenomenal and second to none!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Popping 2 cherries: XC and the Lecht

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

Not me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(pain face)

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(after I got dropped 😦  …)

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

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

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(One big Metro family!)

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(the following day’s climb!)

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(It’s hard riding with these superstars!)

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(Proof I made it too…eventually!)


 

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

Road, track, trail or xc?

Snowdon: a ‘mare of a weekend

Friday:

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

The one thing that kept me going:

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 (woohoo to PB M&Ms!)

Saturday:

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

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

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(stunning, aint it?)

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

No. Nooo. NOOOOO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Delirious selfie after 8 hours of driving!)

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

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adasd


Every got lost on a cycle/run/race?

Most you would pay/have paid for a taxi?

Hill races: awesome or hell?

Scottish Aquathlon Champs – 3rd female

Positive: Glad I did it to get the race experience, good to get used to getting knocked about on the swim (and experience racing outdoors), got some dolla dolla $$, didn’t give up after being behind after transition, it was a glorious day!

Negative: Got knocked and fell back on the swim, swallowed so much water I couldn’t run fast, couldn’t get wetsuit off, couldn’t get either foot in either shoe, transition was about 20 seconds slower than anyone else in the top 15/20, probably didn’t push the run as hard as I could have (I was apprehensive given I have been/am injured, and already admitted defeat beforehand “I can’t run cross country”)

What a gorgeous day!! There were no excuses weather-wise! Zero wind (until the relays), bright sunshine (my face is still rosy!) and warm temperature (unless you were in the loch. That wasn’t warm at 15C!).

It was my 1st mass start from the water (Kalmar people jumped in the sea in waves of their predicted time) so that was…erm…interesting. I got kicked a few times and crossed elbows after the gun went off, but it was quite fun! My Kaiman Exo goggles from Aqua Sphere were actually phenomenal! They never fogged or leaked once, and usually at races I am panicking rubbing my lenses a good dozen times beforehand!

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Coming back round to the boathouse, I passed a couple of people but kept swallowing water (ewwww to drinking a litre of lake water in under 10 minutes!) then out I got with a stomach sloshing away and failing to unzip my suit because I wasn’t feeling great. When I got to my shoes and eventually pulled off my wetsuit, despite my towel lying there, I couldn’t get my feet dry enough to fit into my trainers! Cue a bazillion people leaving transition before me.

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I kept trying to pick people off, particularly on the wee hill we went up a couple of times, and by the time we got to the forest, I was about 30s down on Julie (who smashed it and came 2nd overall!), and could just about see her in the distance. I managed to narrow the gap in the 2nd lap, but not by much, so I crossed the line in 3rd place behind Natalie and Julie! I’m really glad I got the experience and it gives me more confidence for future races with outdoor swims!

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(Top: girl winners, Middle: age group winners, Bottom: overall winners)

 

Mixed Relay

A couple hours later, we were taking part in the mixed relay. There were 2 Triathlon Scotland Performance teams going head to head, and I was to go last in our team, comprising of Stefan (a PHENOMENAL para-triathlete!), Sarah (who is flying having broken her arm recently) and Kate (she is in the youth squad but could kick all the senior boys’ butts in a track race 😉 !)

Because I had 2 swims, I brought 2 wetsuits, keeping my Aqua Sphere Phantom wetsuit for the relay to try and win for the team! Fiona was calling out splits, so when Stefan slapped me and it was my turn to go, I was just over a minute behind the other TS team! I swam hard (perhaps venturing off course slightly…oops to getting overexcited and forgetting to look where I was going), managed to get my wetsuit off in good time this time, but couldn’t jump on the bike (get some confidence girl!), so another poor T1 time for me!

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The wind had really picked up now and I was riding solo, but I felt strong going into the dead turn. After probably the slowest turn of the day, I got round the cone and tried really hard to nail it up the hill into the headwind. When I got back to about 200m from transition, I had to slow down for an ambulance who had come to rescue Tracy (she broke her toe after a nasty crash…SPEEDY recovery so you can SMASH Celtman in 4 weeks!), which again made me panic a bit getting of my bike, so coming off my shoe hit the ground and came off the bike.

The run was pretty slow for me. My legs were a little tired from earlier but I just kept trying to pick up the cadence. I was 40seconds down on the other TS team after the cycle so I tried to keep pushing so catch him! Again, the run was just that little bit too short and I managed to close the gap to 15seconds behind them. Grrr!!!! Next time!

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It was a really fun day and getting back home around 4.30 meant we could get the BBQ we bought on Saturday going, and have a few protein shakes beers in the sun before it disappeared and the working week started again!

Hope you had a good weekend and IF you happen to be reading the Scottish Herald on Saturday, look out for a certain Debzie Babez…! 😉

A Cancelled Race but the Redeeming Hot Tub

First of all, I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas, that Santa was great to you and that you gained at least half a stone from totally-worth-it food!

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On Christmas Eve, Emma stayed over and we baked (a lot!) and had some wine, watching films by the fire.

(obviously we didn’t bake the popcorn, but it was too yummy not to post about it)

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(while the cinnabons, buckeye brownies, and cake batter krispy treats were baking, Emma lit her first fire!)

Christmas morning was spent at Mum’s, then I drove up north to Kyle’s family’s in the afternoon so I could get two dinners to see them!

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(We met up with Matty after dinner for a walk and a festive pub visit. Yes I got strange looks for my jumper and hat. I am not a local.)

On Boxing Day, Kyle and I headed down the road towards Clitheroe for the Ribble Valley 10km. After about 3 hours driving in a storm in the car, we were discussing the race and wanted to check the start time, so I went on their Facebook page:

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And we had had no idea! We were psyched to run it! And the forecast looked better and better every day. We were pretty annoyed we hadn’t received any prior warning that it might be cancelled (I’m guessing they would have known it was a possibility when the flooding started?) BUT safety comes first and we can’t go complaining about a 7/8 hour round trip and missing the race when people have lost their homes. Wishing everyone down there a safe and healthy 2016.

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(after we found out the news)

(pitstop at House of Bruar to cheer us up!)

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We had both been quietly confident we could get PBs, but we can use that aggression for our next race! I was also meant to have a retul bike fit at Planet X, however, after more Googling we made the call that it may have been too dangerous, so we decided to postpone it. Thank you for being so understanding PX!

The good news was that because I am an amazing planner on our return to the house, Keith had already snuck in to set up Kyle’s 30th birthday present…a HOT TUB!! This was meant to be a surprise on our return from Prague, but there were delivery issues so Mum kindly stayed in to receive the order, and Keith agreed to set it up while we were away! They are awesome.

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(I think he was excited!)

Speaking of Mum and Keith, they are off to New York this morning to GET MARRIED!!!!!! Many congrats to them and I wish them all the happiness in the world!! ❤


Favourite thing you ate at Christmas?

Best gift you gave/received?

Ever had a race cancelled on you?

Lumphanan Detox 10k

I did NOT wake up feeling particularly fresh on the 2nd. My legs were sore from the previous day and I was in no mood to race. But I knew it was going to be good fun and that there would definitely be a good couple of hundred people a lot more worse for wear than myself!

We entered Keith as part of his Christmas present, but he hadn’t run in over a month (this was the kick start he needed – he is doing the half iron distance tri with me in May) and Kyle was confident he could win but was not going to push himself.

The weather was stupidly cold. Not as cold as Ribble Valley, (speaking of which, we got an email last night saying we “forgot” our prizes for that race. My £10 for 9th and Kyle’s £20 for 7th!! Must have been a big race. Normally anything after 3rd gets nada!!) but cold enough for there to be lots of ice as well as complaints! Parking was fine (about 1km from registration) and we had plenty time to do a wee warm-up (we went up the infamous hill to remind ourselves how brutal it was) and then to the start line we went. As I was in no mindset to race, I decided to wear a skirt (don’t worry, people – Scotland is windy so I was sure to wear shorts underneath!)

We caught up with a few people we hadn’t seen at the start line and before we knew it we were off! My race report would go something like:

As soon as the gun went off, Fiona (1st female, runs times I could only imagine to run and someone I have a girlcrush on!) shot off and left me lagging behind, so my rubbish mindset decided to settle for 2nd and go at this comfortable speed for 10k (unless another female were to overtake me, then I would speed up). I did try my best going up the ridiculous hill but my quads were shot and my coccyx still hurt on the downhills from the Ribble Valley fall #Debzielovesanexcuse. Weirdly, only the impact of the downhill; uphills I am fine. Does anyone know how long recovery time is for these kinds of falls? Anyway, the uphills were hard, the downhills were sore, and there was ice everywhere and the 2km trail section made me realise I need to work on offroad stuff. I came 2nd. Didn’t even break 40. I should probably stop eating and drinking so much. The end.

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(Around half way up the hill. I’m in the skirt and pink socks.)

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(so happy to see that finish line)

Splits: 7.17 (stoopid hill), 5.59 (downhill – that’s my current pace on a flat 10k), 5.52, 6.18, 7.21 (I can’t run trails), 6.25 (hurry up finish line)

Kyle’s report would go something like this:

I thought I had it in the bag. Someone made a surge at the top of the hill. I didn’t recognise him. I therefore wasn’t going to let someone I didn’t recognise beat me. I ended up running very hard and fighting to the end. I won by 10 seconds and was the 4th fastest time in the history of the race.

It turns out 2nd place wasn’t from Scotland, had some excellent running times and didn’t know what Kyle was saying at the end (but then, who does?). So that was that.

The above contrast shows how mindsets can really have an impact on a race. Something I really need to work on!

Keith finished in 49 minutes and his recap would go something like this:

I really should start running again

Race aside, it was so much fun catching up with people and I’ll definitely do it again! It is certainly not a PB course though!

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(After the race with Stuart, McDoogz and Ron (he was more of a mess than me after the previous day’s antics)!)

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(The race made the paper too! Well done speedsters!)

At night, me, Kyle and McDoogz went to see Unbroken – WHAT A FILM!!!!!!!! We are now fully inspired to get back training and race hard again!


Questions for you:

Are you able to change your mindset for races?

Any inspirational films you recommend?