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

I was super excited for this one!

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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!*

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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!

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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.

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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!

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…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!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

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Scottish Standard Champs – 1st

I do love Knockburn! The fact it is around 45mins from my house, stunning scenery surrounds the facilty, and I don’t think you could find a flat, easy course in the area if you tried (even the swim on Sunday was hilly given the conditions!) so it’s always a fun challenge!

On Sunday, Knockburn hosted the Scottish Standard distance championships (the distance that you see them race in the Olympics). I won the title last year at Lochore Meadows, and also won the sprint distance (the distance you will see in next year’s Commonwealth Games)  a couple of months ago, one week after winning Outlaw Holkham Half Iron Elite women’s race (yes it has been a busy summer!). I hope this makes sense to any non-triathletes out there!

The field wasn’t as stacked as last year, but there were still nearly 200 entrants, so I wasn’t getting too excited. Also the fact that the previous week I had been on a surprise getaway with my Mum and sister to Spain (more on that in my next post!), where lots of champagne, sangria and Mahou was consumed, and in the days leading up to the race I had been hit with a terrible cold, meant that I didn’t have my usual mojo going into it.

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(drinking Mahou at 8am a week before race day is not conducive to good performance)

When I woke up race morning and it was pouring rain and the trees were shaking, I was actually dreading it! Again, it was awesome being a home race as I woke up IN MY BED and got to pack up THAT morning (although I was probably cutting it fine when I was cleaning my bike and chain at 7am…!) I did a wee 10min warmup on the turbo in the garage, as I don’t usually get a chance to ride at the race location because of racking bikes etc. That woke me up a bit, so had some breakfast (my usual overnight oats, peanut butter, chia seeds and banana) and coffee and headed off with Kyle as my taxi/PA.

I wasn’t sure we’d get parked at the venue as it can get pretty busy so I was thinking of options in my head. But I was pleasantly surprised when we got an amazing space with no stress – major kudos to the race organisers for that one! About 30 seconds from registration, I was straight to the front with no issues, returned my trophy from last year (which I wasn’t allowed to keep – apparently people keep losing them…boooooo!). I then sorted out my transition area (I’m so glad it was numbered so we each got an allocated place…first come first serve transitions are AWFUL!), did a wee jog with the fiancé, had a couple belvitas biscuits, then realised it was 9.50 and I should probably get my wetsuit on.

I didn’t have a tri belt!! Oops! I left mine at Holkham (oops again) and have been tattooed at my last few races that I totally forgot! I found some safety pins, got the PA to secure my number to my back, then back on with the wetsuit, and off the the loch I went!

We got a couple minutes to “warm up” but when the water is alledgedly 13C (we’re all sure it was colder!) it’s pretty difficult to get warm! I couldn’t get my face in for a while and just tried to relax.

Being called to the start “line”, we had to wait quite a while for all the people to get in (it was a mass start at 10am), it got me used to the cold water…a little.

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(I should be somewhere near the front here…)

The gun went off and I tried to sprint for a good minute to get some clear water. I swallowed soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much water from all the splashing (men – you splash a LOT!). Around the island, I found someone’s feet but after 200m or so, they were too fast for me, so I had some clear water for most of the 1st lap.

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(the masses going around the island)

By the 2nd lap, I had actually warmed up and felt SO MUCH better, and even overtook a couple people and got back on someone’s feet! The 1st half of each lap was really fun because it was into a headwind, so there were actually waves in the normally –calm water. I really liked trying to manoeuvre my way through the chop! On the way back to finish the lap, there was a tailwind and you felt like Phelps! And I use the word “felt” pretty loosely considering the 1500m took me 20minutes (fastest swim by 1 minute)… A wee leg kick appeared with 100m to go, purely to try and get some blood flow to my legs before the cycle.

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(don’t zoom – it’s not pretty – BUT if you did you’d see I literally have blue lips!!!)

Coach Broon(!!!) was there to help us blue-lipped triathletes (literally) out the water and I coukdnt feel ANYTHING to get my wetsuit off. Was very surprised my transition was just over 40 seconds as I couldn’t even feel the zip to pull down. Once down though, it flew off with ease (thanks Zoot!) and on with the POC aero helmet (which was like a HUGE warm hug as it went on!) and could barely get on the bike as I couldn’t feel my toes and where to put them! Note: I do normally love an exaggeration however I suffer from really bad circulation issues, particularly since the accident (hence why I’m either freeeeeezing or sweating like cray-cray). It really sucks (I always carry spare clothes in case either of those issues happen). Anyhoo, back to the bike.

Getting my feet in my shoes took ages and 2 guys overtook me (grrrr). I used it as a positive, however, and didn’t want to lose them! There were marshals on every turn (HUGE shout out to the Sahraies and Duncan for the encouragement while standing looking SO COLD!) and the course was awesome. Some light undulations, tight turns and a pretty steep incline in the middle of every lap. In the 1st lap, it was pouring rain, so I took off the glasses attached to my helmet (MUCH easier than I thought) and all I could think of was “but I’m not wearing mascara for the photos” *must change mindset.

Ok lap 2! OATEY was number 1 cheerleader of the day (sorry Kyle!) – he lives literally on the course, and said he’d support (albeit with no time to make a banner…)  and was cycling the course waiting for me! He did a lap in reverse, caught me and then the next lap waited for me and got in trouble for drafting! I told him I hated where he lived (we were on the steep hill at this point) and he laughed at me, shouted some words of encouragement, and off I pedalled away from him! Major kudos for heading out on the bike in those conditions!

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(I ❤ my bike!)

Lap 3 was uneventful…there were more cars on the road and all the athletes were now on the course so there was a lot of slowing down and manoeuvring, but that’s what you get at an open road race – just make it an obstacle course!

I slowed down to turn into Knockburn one hill too early (!!). There were lots of people gathered at a corner, so I assumed that was the turn off, but they were just cheering, so stupid me had to get speed up the next hill and got overtaken into transition! Got my shoes on with ease (surprising since I still lost feeling in my toes) and aimed to overtake a couple of guys I saw in front.

Cycle time was 1.10 which was just over 22mph for the 26mile course (fastest girl by 4mins).

The 1st lap on the run was fun. It was never going to be a fast time given it was pretty much cross country apart from 400m-ish of road per 5km (the rest is grass, trail and woodland narrow path) and had 2 hills in it, but I just wanted to push the effort on the 1st lap. I was overtaken by Alan Semple about 1km into the run (thanks for the encouragement later on!) and I got to see Kyle multiple times! Also, at each turnaround the marshals were in fancy dress which DEFINITELY brought a smile to my face! I tried to crack a couple jokes so sorry if they were cringey!

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(up the hill I go)

About to go onto the 1st lap, I got encouragement from Michelle and Coach Broon which gave me a burst of energy, I then saw Kyle and asked how my lead was. Apparently it was nearly 10 minutes. I didn’t want to push the run too much given I had been ill and would rather finish slower than not at all, so I thought I’d do my last effort up the 1st hill and then jog it in after that (I asked Kyle permission to jog with about a mile to go, just in case!). I got pretty sniffly and mucussy (we’ll make that a word) up the 2nd hill and so I did walk a bit, but then manned up and jogged to the finish for a 41 minute split, which was still the fastest of the day! Andy Redman mentioned at the end they changed the course last year but it came up about 300m short, so they added that 300m in this year to make it a perfect 10k.

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(This is a real and not photo shopped actual smile!)

Happy to come top 10 overall, and win by 9ish minutes 🙂

And how do you end a race when Coach Broon is there? Jelly babies of course! Then straight into the shower, where I chatted with Kirsty (2nd place superstar!) for ages, then realised all my faffing meant the burger queue had started growing (don’t worry I waited – I don’t turn down free burgers)!

I was really happy with the organisation of transition too…we didn’t have to wait to collect our stuff. They had a really good system, so I collected my bike with ease, packed up the car (ok ok my PA did it) and then chilled in the sun froze in the wind and rain until presentations. Unfortunately, this did take a while but we had to wait for every age category winner to finish, so understandable.

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I collected my prizes and got interviewed (sorry for speaking rubbish as always!) and we headed on a celebratory café trip to the Potarch for some cake and hot chocolate!

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The rest of the day was spent watching Pirates of the Caribbean by the fire and sorting out more wedding stuff….2 weeks on Saturday!!

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(I do like being asked how I balance a career with the sport! I’ve been asked that a few times so I might write a post on it?)

Interviews and race video can be found here and here  🙂

 

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!

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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Scottish Sprint Champion 2017

I have never been called a chameleon before…! Haha winning the Outlaw middle distance triathlon last week, followed by winning the Scottish Sprint Championships one week later was certainly not expected!

Driving up the road on Sunday, we were exhausted! A whole day in the sun before presentations, the long drives, being busy at work etc etc made us unable to drive the full way on Sunday from Holkham (ok ok we were planning on stopping in Edinburgh to visit friends but close enough) but we gave up and booked a hotel in Sheffield last minute, thinking at least it’s early enough to get a nice dinner and celebrate ourselves.

Wrong. Everywhere was shut and Nandos had to do.

When we finally got up the road and prepped for work again, Kyle was starting to come down with something. I have never seen him that ill before! He suffers migraines, and the occasional manflu/CBA syndrome(!), but he was floored and in bed for 3 days straight with a virus.

I think I caught a little of it because I just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t just fatigue and muscle soreness. I physically couldn’t do anything in the morning but drive to work (not like me if you follow me on strava!) and everything, even typing, felt like an effort.

I developed cold sores, sore heads, and basically was forced to rest. Which probably did me some good.

On Saturday, Kyle’s best man Matt was planning on staying and Kyle persuaded him to join us the following day to watch my race (I think he REALLY wants to enter a triathlon now which is so cool!). But he was coughing and spluttering too! Needless to say race morning I didn’t have the usual pre-race nerves and jitters. I just kinda though, meh.

As in, it would be nice to see if I have any speed in my legs, there’s no pressure considering I am still recovering from a distance 4x as long, and it will be nice to see people.

The race was in Monikie, about 90mins from us (finally a race near-ish by!) so we left around 8am on Sunday with the hungover man-flu lads, stopped at McDonalds in Forfar for our usual required caffeine fix, and got to the race about 10am. It was SO BUSY. I thought I was early! But the car park was full and I may or may not have been last to rack my bike (sorry, Mum. I was organised last week!).

The women’s race was at 11.20am, so I did a WU (ie 5min run in a wetsuit, realised running in a wetsuit isn’t comfortable, so stopped and did 5mins stretch cords instead), then caught up with Sophia and just chilled with Kyle and Matt.

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(Sophia was 1st junior and 3rd overall…I like to think it was because I sorted her strap that she smashed it 😉 !)

I wasn’t “pumped” at all! I needed the swim to wake me up! I felt heavy, slow and fatigued. But I WAS looking forward to the cycle. I LOVED the bike element last weekend and just thought “get through the swim and enjoy the challenge of cycling hard in the wind” (it’s a renowned windy bike course!).

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I toed the line next to Sophia (she is a PHENOMENAL swimmer) thinking I could at least hold on to her feet. Nope. The gun went off and off she went. I found someone’s feet (afterwards I realised the field was stacked with swimmers…a few youngsters could break a minute for 100fc!) and hoped for the best. I exited the water 15secs down on the leader (Soph) in a group of 4 girls and just tried to run up the hill and into transition ahead of the other girls in my chase pack.

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No issues this time and off I pedaled. Because we were the last wave, it was amazing because there was always someone in front to try and pick off! A HUGE contrast to last weekend, where I started with the leading men, only to go backwards as the cycle went on (and might as well have literally ran backwards on that run.).

About a mile in, I saw Sophia at the side of the road – her chain came off! I shouted something I hoped would keep her spirits up, and felt good so upped the pace to try and get the lead.

I passed last year’s winner after about 3 miles and never looked back.

There was a dodgy patch right at the finish, where the parked cars were that were too late for the over flow car park. cars were coming in the opposite direction, so I had to slow down a few times and let them pass. I was just hoping everyone behind me would have to do the same!

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(coming into transition)

I enjoy the bike course at Monikie – you can’t hide in it! It’s an honest course, with decent undulations and super brutal weather. I’ve never had a calm day there! It had about a third of the elevation of Holkham last weekend, but no steep inclines so it keeps it fun 😉

My cycle time was 2 minutes quicker than last year over the 13.3mile course, so that was promising!

In T2 I got my shoes on no problem (hooray!) and off I ran. Now, before the race I was SUPER nervous for the run. What if my training sessions were just a fluke? What if I am just slow now? I hope I have enough of a lead on the bike to hold off any super fast runners (think Beth Potter at Blenheim!).

Well, when it actually came to the run (2 laps around a couple lochs) my mindset completely switched and I just thought to extend the lead and keep pushing, rather than pray that noone catches me. I ended up having the fastest run of the day by 25 seconds and winning the race by over a minute, which was EXACTLY what I needed given my injuries and poor performance last weekend in the run part!

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When I crossed the line, I was happy I managed to pull off a good performance given my prep. Now I can say I’m Scottish champion at all sprint and the standard distances, which is promising for Commonwealth selection.

What was horrendous was at the finish area. I waited around for the next finishers to come in to catch up with them about the race. I went up to shake the girl who came in 2nd’s hand (she won it last year). She tapped my hand, turned her back, and left me in no mans land. I have NEVER in any race I have ever done (including primary school sports day) seen a sheer lack of sporting camaraderie. I’m glad a lot of people saw, including head of performance, Fiona Lothian. I hope she gets an attitude adjustment because we ultimately do sport because we enjoy it and people should be happy they are able to race.

2 years ago I didn’t think I’d ever be walking again, never mind racing again! Geez, people need to chill out.

Oo and just to compare from when I did it last year (albeit with food poisoning)

Swim: 10.58 (2016), 11.01 (2017) (oops, last year I even went the wrong way!)

Bike: 38.43 (2016),  36.07 (2017) (nice one!)

Run: 20.41 (2016), 19.17 (2017) (don’t judge – it’s cross country!)

Overall: 1.10.22 (2016), 1.07.21 (2017) (last year’s winner did 1.08.04 so I have to be happy with that time!)

 

Next up: London Triathlon in a couple weeks 🙂

 

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!

 

Your Long Awaited Race Recap: Ultra World Championships, Badia Prataglia, Team GB

http://www.scottishathletics.org.uk/world-trail-champs-review/


I am not just saying this because I am about to be his blushing bride or because I am bursting with pride (poet, don’t know it) BUT this recap is phenomenal!!

I WISH y’all knew just how hard he works. He’s too modest so I’ll boast for him! To balance working in a high level position, commuting >50miles per day AND having to put up with his high maintenance bird, all while training to be one of the best in the world…against FULL TIME athletes….that LIVE in those types of mountains….just leaves me speechless! Well, almost.

Here is the champ’s recap of his 1st (hopefully of many) race as a Team GB athlete.


World Trail Running Championships Badia Prataglia, Italy

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Now that I have come down from cloud 9 after my first Team GB call up and best race of my life, I thought I will share with you my build-up of the race, the race itself and the aftermath!

After doing the trial race at Haworth in Yorkshire and squeezing into the GB team, I felt I had a lot to live up to even though I am relatively new to the Ultra racing scene. After a couple of weeks recovery from that race and 3 weeks of training, I had the small thing of running the London marathon which was going to be my A race had I not qualified for the World Champs.

For London, although I was now training for the World champs, I genuinely believed that I could still PB of around 2.23/2.24 despite interrupted training and a lack of marathon specific training due to the tapering and recovery of the trial race. On race day, everything went to plan and my spilts were bang on target…until mile 17! These final miles, I was hitting high 5/low 6 minute miles and with my ‘sensible head’ decided that the legs haven’t got the PB in them and tried to ‘enjoy’ the atmosphere running a 2 hours 29 minutes (which was well off my best 2 hours 25 minutes!).

Lesson number 1: look back on your training and assess whether the target is realistic – in this case, I hadn’t done enough mara specific sessions!

Luckily enough, my strategy worked in terms of recovery time after London – if I had tried to race it after the legs started falling off, I would likely still be recovering now! I managed to get back into a decent volume of training even after a week of easy running after London, which meant I had a good few weeks of building some decent sessions and specific for the World trail champs. I really had to do 3 things: a few steady long runs including a long decent 50k run simulating the elevation (although I fell 2500 ft short!), maintain high mileage/volume, and a decent paced session on trails

I also ran the Inter counties hill running championships and treated this as a ‘C’ race due to the training required for the worlds. So after a heavy week of training, 2 weeks after London marathon, severe grassy climbs and only 10k of work, made a lactate inducing hard run and certainly a great workout for the main race. Although I was slightly disappointed with my placing, when I reflect back there is little wonder I didn’t perform higher up the field!

So a couple of weeks before the worlds, we all received our GB kit, which made the whole trip feel real and based on my long and promising 50k effort the week prior, I felt fired up for this race and knew that I have done everything I could to train for the race including saunas 3 x per week to cope with the heat!

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(Loved the kit they gave me!)

I met up with the Scottish contingent of the team, Adrian Stott (one of the team managers), Jo Zakrzewski and Helen Bonsor at Edinburgh Airport and we made our way to Italy (Bologna Airport).

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(Leaving Debbie at the train station. Just before this, a lovely stranger shook my hand, asked what sport I did and congratulated me!)

The Thursday was a long day, but when we arrived at our monastery accommodation a few miles outside the race village, we met the whole team for dinner. The meal wasn’t the greatest to be honest – mushy meatballs and tomatoes…WHERES THE CARBS MAN!

That night, after being trapped on a plane and in a car, I went for an 11pm run around the forests where my race was taking place. It was a full moon and I could hear the wolves (yes WOLVES) howling and I risked not taking a head torch. The area we were staying in has very little phone signal and is almost completely in the middle of nowhere with many monasteries, ancient forests and a huge amount of history.

On the Friday, funnily enough, I felt quite tired after all the travelling but after a fairly modest breakfast of dried bread and cornflakes, we had to go down to the race village for doping control and health checking. We then recced the first couple of miles of the course (it would have been a bit more if we hadn’t done 3 miles off course! I soon found out that the first few miles was going to be uphill, which after trying to jog up on the Friday, I was worried I was going to be heavy legged on race day…

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(chilling with the team after arriving)

We then had the joys of going to opening ceremony at the castle overlooking Poppi, which was absolutely stunning!

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(Team GB at the opening ceremony. Photo credit @IRunFar)

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(Kitted out for the opening ceremony. Photo credit @TaritTweets)

After our meal there, we headed back for an early night and made sure we had all our race kit in order and our fuel for the 2 manned food stations (where the team managers Sam, Spencer and Adrian would be). In my head, I already had a race plan/strategy which had been prepared in the weeks building up to my training so I was fairly confident I was on the right track!

On the morning, we headed down in the race bus at 6am after another uneasy breakfast where I searched high and low for muesli and they never had any! So I had cornflakes instead but had some more white carbs and a decent meal the night before made sure that I was adequately fuelled and hydrated!

Lesson number 2: Take all your food that you eat to your races especially ones where they may not have the food you crave!

After our kit check, shoved my way to the front of the start line, which although only 10 people wide meant that I would be out of the way of people in front of me and had nothing in front of me to trip me up!

Kyle world start

(The start: I’m on the right of this pic. Photo credit @TaritTweets)

The gun goes, and someone rips my number off!! So I took my time to put it back on, which meant I took the first mile uphill very easy and ended up running in around 70th place! A couple of miles into the race, I was grateful to see two of my GB pals Gareth Hughes and Math Roberts next to me and throughout the first half, we ended up running together for quite a lot of it. Early on the start, I continued my tradition of falling over on what could be described as the easiest and most runnable section of the course.  I bounced back up and felt nothing of it other than a few cuts and bruises afterwards!

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(I must have been feeling good here! Photo credit Prozis)

The first half of the race was fairly cool as it was mostly in the ancient forests and good runnable trails. From the get go, the 3 of us, were gradually pipping people off and not many runners went passed us. There was one tough point when it started heating up and we climbing well along the ridge, where Gareth magically whipped out some KENDAL MINT cake, which for me was better than any gels I had been taking – it melted in your mouth, instant sugar hit and had a refreshing after taste!

Lesson 3: Buy Kendal mint cake NOW!

The latter half of the race began to get interesting and very warm – reaching 27 degrees Celsius on the exposed sections. I managed to pull away from Gareth, who wasn’t far behind me but still felt fantastic. I had no idea what position I was but at around mile 20, I was in the top 20! There was a huge climb still to come which, for me, was make or break and I took every opportunity to drink and fuel even if it meant I stopped. I had to weigh up stopping to top up my water bottle for a few seconds versus another 2 miles of no water could mean a slower overall time.

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(One of our fuel stops. Photo credit @TaritTweets)   

In the full heat of the long climb up to the exposed ridge, I started to get cramp in my inner thighs, which is something I have never experienced but I was aware I had to ensure I was getting fluids in meant that I could keep going. I knew everyone was going to be struggling in the heat, so it was just as much mental as it was physical. Along the climb, I went passed Tom Payne (flag bearer and leading Brit at the time), which was one of only goals of the race was to try and get first brit. Anything else would be a bonus!!

After a brutal, sluggish climb it was fairly undulating and with only(!) 6 miles to go I knew I just had to hold on after I heard I was in 25th place! I now had one final descent of over 3 miles and with my quads severely bashed and my calves begging to cramp up, I was worried I would do a Jonny Brownlee and be nowhere near the finish line! I could hear the finish and started rehearsing my finish line celebration – a Czech guy called Tomas shouted ‘GO KYLEE, GO KYLEE, YOU CAN DO IT KYLEE’ as he whizzed passed me on the descent. So thanks Tomas, for keeping me going.

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(Going up one of the brutal climbs!)

I then turned round and there was the finish line – 40 metres, 30 metres, 20 metres and UH OH…my right calf cramped up and pointed down to the ground with little to do than hop to the RAMPED finish line…the crowd really got behind me and lifted me to the finish line. It wasn’t the celebration I was hoping for but I was delighted that the cramp only kicked in with 20 metres to go!

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(I am NOT impersonating Bolt. I was mid collapse and Bolt just took over my body!)

When I slumped my way onto the finish line, I was soon hoofed over to the physio who pushed calf back into its rightful position and Sam the team manager sorted me out with fluid and ice for my neck. It was great to be finished and when I heard I was 26th and top Brit I was absolutely over the moon.

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(Receiving help within seconds. Or were they just trying to get rid of me?)

The rest of the guys and girls in the team did amazing. The guys ended up being 9th team and the girls were 4th team! Individually, the guys were Gareth in 33rd, Tom in 38th and Matt struggled on the day, but managed to finish.

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(From left to right: Gareth, me, Tom & Math. Photo credit @TaritTweets)

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(My cheesy grin at the closing ceremony)

An incredible experience, great support from the team and friends and family back home and to Lewis who gave me some fantastic sessions to make me race ready. Debbie was a real mess – she sent me a selfie of her crying and made the excuse her training was sacrificed due to watching it on the live stream!!

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(Came to her work as soon as I arrived in Aberdeen, where she greeted me with cake, a card and a coffee!)

Now that this is over, I am looking to get into the ultra-scene but also keen to keep working on the slightly shorter half marathon to marathon distance with some high profile ultra-races in the upcoming years. Hopefully, with the runners I was racing against and beat (such as Sylvain Court who was 2nd at last years’ world champs) I can be a force to be reckoned with!

If anyone had any races in mind please let me know as I am in the middle of looking for races to keep my head in the game!!


5:10:15 is the magic number for my ridiculous finish 😉

Race video can be found here if you can’t stream the above 

 

 

British Elite Champs – 5th

 

Ok you caught me – I wasn’t going to mention I had the British Champs at the weekend because a) I didn’t want to steal Kyle’s thunder 😉 and b) I had NO IDEA how it would go because a) I was injured for most of the start of the year, b) it is my first real race this year, and c) I am training for my A racing being a half iron distance triathlon next month!

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I thought the best way would be to go there, trust the training that I’ve done, and know that my swim won’t be as good as the young whippets that swim 6+ times a week to my 2/3, use my Chris Hoy thighs to overtake as many people on the bike as possible, and then hold on for dear life on the run.

For those that get confused with all the “qualifiers” and “team gb” athletes in these triathlons, if you are an amateur athlete, at certain races if you come within 10% of 1st place in your age group in the triathlon, you qualify for the world age group champs. So if there are 100 people in your age group racing and you come 10th, you can self fund yourself to a world championship essentially.

Not this race.

There were WTS girls and an Olympian! This was the Elite British Sprint Championships, where the race is roughly an hour long. Blenheim consisted of approximately an 800m swim, 400m transition up a hill, 20km bike on a single road track within the ground of Blenheim Palace, and finishing with a 5.8km run around its lake.

Kyle came with me, and after work on Friday we stopped at the Lake District to camp (what a gorgeous area we found!), then on Saturday we drove towards Woodstock via Yorkshire where Kyle did a low key half marathon (he was due to do that distance as a tempo anyway!), ended up breaking the course record and winning £300 in the process!! He is a mental case! We continued down the road, staying in Banbury and having the most phenomenal meal we’ve had in months! I had a ridiculously sized hot wing sauce pizza, K had a huge bbq rib stack and we may have had honeycomb and butterscotch cheesecake for dessert #realathletes. No pics as our phones died and apparently you don’t get electricity when camping…

A quick clean of my bike (there was a billion bugs on it from the 500+ mile journey down), lay out of kit and a quick stretch, it was early to bed and up at 6ish to get ready for my race which started at 8.55am.

Getting to Blenheim was easy enough but I’d forgotten how much of a faff getting everything sorted was! Registering, putting tattoos on, setting up transition, then there were weird rules about not allowing to take bags out of transition area but not allowed to keep them there anyway (cue Kyle acting as my coach and saying he had to have my bag), walking to swim start, warming up, hiding clothes in bushes for after race (I sink without a hoody, shorts and trainers from warming up), realising your engagement ring could come off in the water so arguing with Kyle as to the responsibility of such treasure…etc etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, we were called to the start area where I saw Julie and Iona, walked to the pontoon (we were the keen beans first in line so the camera was right in our faces..!) and as it was NON WETSUIT!! (the water temp was 21C!) we were all pretty nervous! In the water we got, I went over to the far right as that seemed to be where the fasties had gone in previous years, goggles on my forehead looking out at the further buoy, the gun goes off!! Ahhhh!! A profanity may have been used (sorry Mum), before quickly putting goggles on eyes and head down and kicking like I’ve never kicked before! Hannah Kitchen was a good body length ahead when I looked up for the 1st time, with clear water in front of me. I wasn’t getting a draft, but maybe I was doing well? So I kept following her.

Nope, I was in no man’s land. When I breathed to my left for a change (I never do this) pretty much the entire women’s field were over there. Ugh!!!! So I headed over there to try and get some draft, but I was about 2/3rd down in the pack to made a wee challenge of overtaking as many feet and shoulders as possible. This made time go quit quickly and soon I found myself trying to get out of the water as quick as possible! Up the ramp, I was expecting the 400m hill so didn’t go mental, but within myself. It was more like 200m and then it totally flattened out, but not to worry I would just smash the 1st couple minutes of the bike with my reserved energy…

Swim time: 10.26 – 12th

I actually had a decent transition!! I did a “flying” mount – ok ok plodding mount – and quickly got feet in shoes and just picked off girls in front of me. The 1st group were all over the road so I had to shout where I was…I was a bit scared of a collision but was in race mode so was going to go regardless.

Using the bike leg as pretty much a TT, I didn’t look at sitting in with a pack, I wanted to overtake as many girls as possible.

A girl managed to go with me and we worked nicely together. Rather than shouting to go harder at each other, we made jokes about trying to make as much time as possible as Beth Potter was behind us! And despite my confidence in ability, I’m pretty sure I’m not in 32 minute, Olympic-qualifier type 10km shape.

Near the end of the 1st lap, there was a motorbike next to me and another camera in my face. I was so confused. Surely I’m not in contention here? I had what I thought had been a terrible swim, so could only assume I was in a top 10 position. I had been going flat out for nearly 10 minutes here so the last thing I wanted was a camera, but secretly I was liking it because it must have meant I was doing well. Like, Channel 4 commentators don’t go “and in 28th position, this girl doesn’t look great now does she?” [camera close up of Debbie dying on bike]. So hopefully it was a good sign.

 

Turns out I was in 4th! I knew I couldn’t catch Sophie, who I heard on the speakers was in the lead and she just got 4th in Yokohama after leading with Flora Duffy for the entire bike leg, BUT I was certainly going to try! From this point, I did most of the work, particularly on the hills, and by the middle of lap 2 we caught Hannah, who came out of the water as leader.

Now there were 3 in our group. We didn’t work amazingly together, but we weren’t enemies. If I was to look back I probably wouldn’t have spent so long in the front, as I did struggle on the run.

Anyway, we powered on to try and make a gap on a chasing pack. At transition, admittedly I got to the back as I was scared I’d cause a crash with my lack of speed, but turns out I got off the bike just as fast as the other two girls, transition 2 went well too (yay!) and I was out on to the run in 4th place right behind Hannah, already having a gap on 5th.

 

Bike time: 33.15 – 3rd

As we turned a corner, we were told the chase pack were 1 minute down on us, and someone shouted we had to speed up if we were to hold onto 3rd and 4th. Well, silly me treated it as a 1500 race you’d think, as I stayed with Hannah who then slowly started getting further away from me.

At the end of the 1st lap, I was in 4th. I kept telling myself I must have more endurance than the others, but that wasn’t the case either! With about a mile to go, I heard heavy breathing and knew exactly who it was. Beth passed me so quickly and looked so graceful! By this point we were on a hill and could really have been finished there. The remainder of the run was uphill, and my legs were crumbling underneath me!

When I went over the bridge for the last time, it was a run over some grass and then the finishing straight. Lots of spectators were out cheering and I didn’t want to look back in case someone was coming. I had secured 5th place, with about 80second gap on 6th and had to be happy with that with zero sprint training!

Run time: 21.14 – 4th

The girls ahead of me were really nice and supportive and I had lots of fun! Kyle was there at the finish and looked super proud! I didn’t want to let him down after my HORRENDOUS performance in Liverpool, and also wanted a decent race so the 10 hour car journey home would have some happy chat rather than the alternative.

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4th Brit and £600 later, it was a successful Mooreig weekend! Although Monday morning in the office was not as productive.

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My 1st Cycle Race, and 1st Win :)

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

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

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Oh wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Guilty!)

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

 

 


Ever done a race to mix things up a bit?

Do you enjoy getting out of your comfort zone?