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  🙂

 

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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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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!

 

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?!?!?!).

 

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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A little lost

Ok ok so I know I promised Kyle’s Loch Ness marathon recap a LONG time ago, but for those of you who know the Babez, he isn’t the best at timekeeping, reading, writing, prioritising, despite being chased up *hint hint, Kylie!*.

Meanwhile. he sends his apologies but to make it up to you I will tell you that news that I had mentioned previously.

I have not been selected as a member of the Scottish Squad this year.

Yep. You read that right. Your Scottish Champ is not on the Scottish team. Interestingly, no female Scottish champion from this year’s races (there is also the Aquathlon, Sprint, Duathlon, etc) is on the squad. Weird, huh?

I have been told a few reasons, but I have heard quite a few things, from a lack of swim potential, lack of cycling skills, lack of run potential, lack of transition skills, lack of decision making skills (isn’t that the entire triathlon race??). Way to kick me when I’m down.

Lack of swim potential: I used to be on their national team. I competed at international level and was aiming for Commonwealth Games 2006

Lack of cycling skills: I had a horrible crash just last year, that I am still improving from. Since then, I have come on leaps and bounds and am constantly improving

Lack of run potential: I haven’t been running for long, and I have never done track, but I have broken 3 hours in a marathon and won a few local races. Surely more work on speed would make me a lot quicker.

Lack of transition skills: Fair enough. But had I known that was a factor, I would have practiced a helluva lot more, and entered more races to practise under pressure

Lack of decision making skills: At the British champs, I had a horrendous swim. However, watching ITU races, those that have a weaker swim but are awesome cyclists work together and usually catch at least the chase pack. There weren’t strong cyclists in the 2nd chase pack and I did 99% of the work myself, therefore losing time on the chase pack and having to run past as many people as possible to even get a top 20.

However, at the ITU qualifier, I didn’t want anyone drafting me on the bike saving themselves for the run, so I would smash the swim and lead the whole thing. Little did I know, the decision for the squads was made pretty much on Liverpool alone (these were the only draft legal races I did), and so doing the race on my own meant that I had had zero draft racing practice beforehand. So the British was my first drafting race, and surely I can only get better with practice?

Anyway, I made myself very clear to Triathlon Scotland in a novel letter to them, and the CEO came up to meet with me. The whole thing is a joke and instead of encouraging me to keep working on my weaknesses, but that the sporting body was still behind me, I now feel like a massive loser who would have had a lot more confidence had I not been on any team in the first place. The London Olympics theme was “inspiring a generation” but leaving athletes feeling useless, disheartened, and telling them they lack potential (despite what I have achieved so far), is not a team I wish to be a part of.

To be honest, I’m not missing out on too much. Any training holidays I can do with KB (any swimmers out there who want to keep me company for that element?), meaning he wont be left with more holidays at the end of the year than me 😉 , and I can have proper training weekends, without the waiting about and travel time when I was going down to Stirling a lot. Not to mention the petrol money I’ll save 🙂

I’m sorry if this sounds like I am too big for my boots, but this whole drama has left me angry that I got involved in it at all. Yes, it would be amazing to still qualify for the Commonwealth Games 2018, but at least now I can do some of the races I wouldn’t have been allowed to do on the program, and have a bit more fun with it.

My team up here is amazing: for swimming, I have COAST that are ridiculously fast (faster than when I could properly swim) and keep me young (the majority are teenagers), coach Gregor (who I shared a lane with for 26 hours per week when we were swimmers, so knows exactly what works for me) and Patrick Miley (my friend Hannah‘s dad/coach combo) has just joined as performance coach to being a new eye to it. For cycling, I enjoyed going out with Torphins Typhoons over summer (they have a couple national champs up their sleeves to give me guidance!) and like to annoy them with my questions, so I shall be keeping that up. And for running, well I can’t seem to get rid of Kyle, so I guess I should utilise him! He has done all distances and is phenomenal at them all. For gym work I have a friendly open invitation from the guys at the Institute of Sport – they really looked after me as a swimmer and I still keep in touch with them. Now I just need to find the time to squeeze that in around a full time job and a 50 mile daily commute! Speaking of work, they are amazing too! So supportive and encouraging 🙂  Oo oo and I can’t forget Scott – we still annoy each other almost daily, but I do really appreciate his help.

So basically, in summary, I have felt unwanted and just lost in general recently. BUT that is natural after a tough season and having no serious races planned. The goals for now are to stay healthy over winter (although an ankle niggle is not helping this right now), get some running PBs, and then smash some triathlons in the summer. The distance of said triathlons are not decided yet, but as long as I still love the sport (and the sport loves me) then it will all be ok… *insert cliff hanger music here* 😉

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Scottish Olympic Triathlon Champion :D

Yay I hold a proper national title now!!! On Sunday, I won the national tri champs for the Olympic distance, held at Lochore Meadows down south!

Let’s rewind…

After my nightmare race at the British champs, coach Fiona said why not attempt the Scottish standard 2 weeks later. I was apprehensive as I have done zero longer runs over the distance, and am only just getting back into swimming fitness for the sprint distance. She had the “what have you got to lose” eyes, so I accepted and thought the only way to be fit enough for this race would be to train right up to the day before, and have a 1.5 day taper!

To be honest, I’ve been pretty physically and mentally drained this past couple weeks and am really ready for a few days off, but I entered it anyway for a bit of fun.

At the start of last week, Kyle mentioned he might partake in the Scottish trail running champs because a) he was feeling fast, b) some of the guys he will be racing at Loch Ness marathon were doing it, c) it was near where my triathlon was going to be so we could find accommodation and make a(nother) weekend of racing!

Hotels were expensive last minute so we decided DIY would take priority, and he would go to his race and I would go to mine and whoever wasn’t racing would help with the decking.

Saturday comes, he goes to his race, I complain because I spend a day lifting heavy planks (and dropping them on my toes), only goes and WINS(!!!!!!!), then comes back to say he has a good feeling about this weekend and wants to go to my race too, then work on decking together the Sunday afternoon (race was at 8.30am so we would have the rest of the day for DIY).

***I  was actually the proudest burd in the world on Saturday!! It’s his 1st overall Scottish title. The course suited him perfectly and, despite a 17 mile tough session on the Wednesday, he felt great and rocked it!***

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Anyway, all this DIY meant I had no time for my pre-race prep (fake tan, nails, shave legs for 1st time since the last race…), but alarm was set for 4.01am (because God forbid we get up at 4am). I quickly showered to wake up, packed up the car, made my porridge, and Kyle kindly offered to drive us to McDonalds for a strong coffee that made us high as a kite!

When we arrived at the race around 7.30am, it felt like noon! I registered, sorted  my stuff out for transition, changed and did a quick jog (maybe 5 minutes) before race briefing started at 8.15am. Setting up all the gear associated with a triathlon takes forever!

Before we knew it, it was time for a swim warm up. Hang on…why are men in my wave?!?! Cue a mild panic about me getting bashed around again like in Liverpool. Ugh, let’s just get on with it. I was at the start with the eventual men’s winner (Doug Roberts – he won by over 6 minutes!) and TS coach Andrew Woodroofe (who took the runner’s up spot!) and before we knew it, the countdown was on!

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(Triathlon Scotland has used this as their cover photo – Doug is on my right)

When the gun went off, I ran as fast as I could to try and catch Doug’s feet for at least a sprint start to get away from the rest of the pack. Nope, silly Debbie – he is waaaaayyyyyyy faster than you. Back you go with the mass swimmers who with hit you on the head and pull in a way that pushes against your shoulders so you go backwards.

14102973_1084849218247950_2975209379766442916_o(I am in the blue Aqua Sphere suit – can’t miss me!)

I was back at square one, and I could see 3 heads in the distance when I finally got my bearings back. Grrrr! I put in a surge to get away from the people I was swimming over/being swum on top of, and was in no man’s land for a bit…at least it was clear water! Turns out there was someone on my feet, but I never noticed the whole way. I just focussed on catching the person in front. In the 2nd lap of the swim, I bridged the gap and made the call to stay on his feet. I had no idea who it was, or even what place we were in the swim, so I took the gamble that hopefully I wasn’t left too far behind, and he was a good swimmer to stay on the feet of. I then kinda tuned out at this point. We were maybe 1km in, and in hindsight, it felt too easy. I probably should have fought and gone straight past him when I caught him, but at least it meant I was well rested for the bike?! Oops! Anyway, into he final 100m I pushed it a bit more, overtook him and exited the water in 3rd place, after Doug and Natalie Milne (who beat me to 2nd in the sprint distance champs this year). They had a pretty big gap, so I knew I would have to smash the bike to have any contention of being in with a win.

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My wetsuit actually came off fine (thanks to Woodroofe for the baby oil – I knew I’d forgotten something!), and onto the bike has been worse, however, I had put toe covers on my shoes and hadn’t practiced with them!! I couldn’t get my foot in!! It wasn’t until I was out of the park before I was anywhere near! I lost quite a lot of time, and was fully expecting the girl in 3rd to overtake me at this point (Alice Jenkins – she won 1st female overall at Liverpool Olympic distance 2 weeks ago, so is one speedy cookie!). Luckily this didn’t happen and I pedalled away in no man’s land for a good 20 minutes.

Woodroofe couldn’t have come past me at a better time, as I was beginning to check out mentally. Craig Dale (eventual 3rd place) had overtaken me out of transition (ahh it was your feet I was on in the swim…thanks for the pull!) and I could barely see him in the distance. Andrew passed, giving me a “woop woop” in the process, then gave some coaching tips but had passed me too quickly for me to hear them! I just kept my sights on him and my competitive drive came back!

A couple more guys on proper TT bikes and tear drop helmets came whizzing past steadily throughout the rest of the ride, so I never felt “alone” any more and always had someone to chase (and fail). It was a non-draft event so even if I could have jumped on to their wheel, it wasn’t allowed, unlike in my Liverpool race.

The bike course was perfect for me! Not technical, pretty undulating (got out of the saddle a LOT!), and with nice views to distract me (although I never noticed Loch Leven…!). In the final mile, we went through the park a different way, over potholes, gravel, sand and speed bumps, so I didn’t have the confidence for a fast dismount BUT what I did have was inflated mojo when I saw Natalie exit transition just as I entered! Ooo this could be a fun run! My shoes went on fast, I remembered to take my helmet off this time(!) and out of transition I went.

The run course was (wrongly informed!) super flat around the loch. Twice. Not for the 1st 2xkm! It was up 2 hills! But I just focussed on relaxing up them and powering down them. I kept the group of runners ahead of me in my sights and was glad I could be the chaser. It was a windy route, so I didn’t actually see them that often but I was just hoping I was going fast enough to at least keep the distance between us the same.

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(Don’t judge – I have had better looking days)

The marshals were all amazing and supportive, and it was getting warm (22C) so I made sure to splash myself with water at the aid stations. After 3km, it straightened and flattened out and I saw Kyle coming the other way (he was doing a 20 mile recovery run!!) cheering. This kept me going and I powered through to overtake superstar Nat at about the 4km mark. At that point, I didn’t look back and kept pushing in my 2nd lap so no one else could overtake me.

The 2nd lap was tough as I was really hot and didn’t have the run fitness. I just focussed on cadence (and what food and drink I was going to have to celebrate) to relax and with 1km to go, I attempted to surge, realised that wasn’t happening, so slogged my way to the finish. It was nice to hear the commentator saying I was going to win with about 200m to go because it meant no one was behind me, so I could ease in and enjoy winning my 1st national title!

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At the end everyone was so friendly! I hung out with the Roberts bros (I was picking their brains as they are superstar triathletes!) while Kyle finished his run, which was perfect timing because when his 20 mile beeped the announcer called for presentations!

We left around 12pm and headed back up the road, stopping in Stonehaven for a chipper, as neither of us had had real food all day! When we got home, decking was continued, beer was consumed and it was nice to go to bed with both of us as champs 🙂

 

 

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14163611_10208858426950518_1918632571_o(Big KG) 

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(Debbie Decked!)

Ooo I do want to correct one thing, though. I was mentioned in a couple of social media posts saying I was a professional full time triathlete. That is so far from the truth! I work full time in a very busy and mentally challenging job, commute nearly 60 miles every single day, as well as trying to fit in my training. I am very proud of this and just want to clear it up 🙂

And of course the 1st one to congratulate me was good ol’ (yep, literally!) Noodles. After asking him where my well done was, he replied with:

nood

And then:

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I love the support he gives me.

Post race interview here! Don’t laugh too much…!

 

 

 

 

 

British Triathlon Champs

Well, that one was helluva learning experience!

Biggest eye opener: be on the ball in transition!!

Now, I know Carol loves the drama so – just for her – the drama for this event was that I hadn’t checked the printing on my new Aqua Sphere trisuit, and they printed “MOORE GBR” too low on the back! This meant that my Beyoncé bootay SWALLOWED “OOR” so it pretty much read “ME”. And “GBR” was pretty much gone!

Proof:

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(and this was a better view! ugh!)

We stopped in Annan on the way down, which meant it broke up the journey. On the Saturday, Kyle did a long run as he is back in marathon training, so I did some pre-race stuff and we headed down to Liverpool in time for check in. We went for a wee paddle aka sauna/steam/Jacuzzi at the hotel, then headed to the race briefing for the elites for 6pm.

Afterwards we went for dinner in Liverpool, stopped at a supermarket for some hotel snacks, then watched the Olympics on TV into the night! I wanted a late night, so I could sleep in – the elite race wasn’t until 3pm so I had only planned a large breakfast then food after the race.

I woke up at 7 (a 90min lie in to usual), so went for a 15min swim and stretch, and back up to the room to watch Bolt’s race on iplayer with a Starbucks (there was one in the hotel too!)

After registering, I met FREYJA and AKI!!!!!!!!!!!!! They drove up to see us all the way from Bath!!!!! AND Freyja is currently in RIO as reserve for the Olympic team!!! Her flight was on Monday morning – she must really like us! 😉 I really hope she gets to compete…she is ranked 12th in the world, yet was 3rd Brit in the qualifier so missed out 😦

Ok back to me…

Racked bike fine (pretty much copied everyone else), got a few photos, did a couple strides and headed to the start line.

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Give Aki all the photo credit here – he is a keeper, Freyja!

The start line was pretty annoying – they let us warm up, then made us swim back out to then go back in. There was a lot of sculling around but it meant you got a feel for the water. Also annoying because I had picked a good spot on the end out of trouble, but by the time I reached the start line for the 2nd time, I was forced into the middle.

When the gun went off, I put my head down and sprinted for a good 30s to try and get some clear water. Julie, who ended up 5th junior(!), was next to me, and we were in a little pyramid just off the leaders. Unfortunately, whoever was on my feet GRABBED MY ANKLE AND PULLED ME BACK!! This happened TWICE!! I also got dunked, pushed back by the shoulder, and scratched. I ended up losing the front completely and in no mans land. I tried to fight my way to the front but I was really dizzy and swallowed so much water it was a struggle!

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(me in the Aqua Sphere Phantom suit! See last pic – potentially just been grabbed/pulled back mid stroke!)

Swim time: 10.08 (just as a comparison, the winner of the race went 9.59, and there were a lot of people that made the front pack floating (literally!) around the 10 minute mark…grrr!

When I exited the water, I was disheartened, and I let the vicious swim get the better of me. Instead of running as quick as possible through transition to try and catch up with the lead pack, I tried to get my bearings and carefully walked up the steps. I genuinely didn’t think that would cost me much time – EPIC FAIL!!!

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When I watch these races in TV, the chase pack usually tends to bridge a gap on the lead pack, sometimes even catch up completely dependant on numbers, quality of the pack etc. Well, I waited for said “chase” pack and ended up leading the entire time. When a marshal yelled that we were 30 seconds down, I shouted behind me for us to work together and catch them. No one took the lead. There was maybe one other that was trying to help.

I’ll admit, I DEFINITELY lost us time around the dead turns (something I have to work on), but I was really annoyed we couldn’t work together. Maybe they were genuinely tired and not able to keep up the pace, but when it came to the 3rd lap and the marshal yelled “1 minute 24” I was so angry I shouted “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE DO SOME WORK”, to which I got a girl ride up next to me shouting some profanities that I cannot repeat on here! Kyle and Aki heard us….they said I was so polite and got shot DOWN!

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(The last one could be me getting shouted at for asking for help!)

I took my feet out my shoes too early and ended up at the back of the pack getting off the bike…another fail! And no one would let me run past them to transition (it was pretty tight to be honest, but I had hoped to catch up time on transition runs), so the race was lost by the time I got my trainers on (a speed I was actually impressed with!).

Onto the run course and I was running angry! I overtook all of the girls bar one that was in my pack within about a minute, then I focussed on picking people off from the lead group.

The run was three loops, pancake flat and the wind had died down a little. I actually enjoyed it! Chasing people turned out to be quite fun! But I ran out of time and only ran myself into 20th place. The field was stacked (a few Ozzies were over, and GB girls that unfortunately never qualified for Rio but were still out training at altitude with some of them!)…wonder if I was first full time employee?! That doesn’t matter come race day, though!

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13935041_10100558928048352_237582829879491167_n.jpgRun time: 18.49 (12th fastest of the day…not amazing but better than 20th)

Total time: 1.05.27 (winner was 1.01.41 – Charlotte McShane from Australia)

By comparison to last year, 5th place overall was 1.05.31, showing the calibre of this field (but it was raining!)!

I truly believe if I had manned up getting out of the swim, and fought my way to the front bike pack, I could have made top 10, but I have taken SO MUCH out of this race! I am disappointed, but at the same time super excited to practice skills, mounts/dismounts, transitions, cornering etc (all the things I put off!) so that hopefully I can tough it out with the best in the world, not just GB!

Afterwards, Freyja, Aki, Kyle and I went for fish and chips on the dock (and chocolate beer!) – how we never got a selfie I have no idea!

(from clockwise: Mississippi Mud Pie/Girl Scout Cookie cocktails in Liverpool Sunday night, the awesome rail service, the BEST sandwiches after stopping for lunch in Penrith, my tattoo STILL on my calves for our night out, cows blocking the road on my cycle in Annandale, and Moor Beer!!!!)

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