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Castle Howard Gauntlet – 1st Female/6th Overall

Our weekend in York was so much fun! We hadn’t had a road trip in a while, the weather was perfect (for spectating!), York is a beautiful city, AND the two of us managed THREE race wins over the course of two days!

We got down on Friday night, stopping at a lovely Yorkshire pub for dinner. On Saturday morning, we headed to the Yorkshire equivelant of a Highland Show, where Kyle did the half marathon. It covered three hills, had more elevation than Stonehaven a few weeks’ prior, and was ridiculously hot! He finished in 1.18 – proving how tough it was! – and won the most hilarious prize ever…

…wait for it…

…a POWER WASHER!! I think 2nd place got a BBQ!? SO random!

He felt pretty ill afterwards as he hadn’t anticipated that heat or those hills (I can vouch – I went for a wee cycle after they started and did some of the route; my brakes were screeching with the incline!!) And of course I found the steepest hill in the area with 10minutes of climbing an average of 14% – perfect prep for my race the following morning!

After repacking the car to fit this power washer, I demanded we headed to the nearby outlets – I refuse to rest my legs if outlets are in the area! Lots of spending later, we realised we hadn’t eaten, so attacked some bagels in the food court! REALLY recommended McArthur Glen; much better than what we have in Scotland!

We headed into York centre later than planned, as I wanted to hit up a local bike shop, Fulford Cycles. A couple of things hasn’t been right since we got back from the continent, and they were so attentive, conscientious, and just great banter! 45 mins and the Felty was good as new! I had so much more confidence coming out of there, as I knew the bike wouldn’t let me down (unless of course I punctured gaain…grrr).

York centre was absolutely stunning; the Shambles, the Minster, quirky shops, award winning coffee/fudge/chocolate. I had a list I had to tick off before leaving!

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An early night (finishing watching the Staircase on Netflix!), a lack of sleep due to the lurking back pain made me seriously nervous on race morning. I had no idea why it had appeared, because every other time it was while I was riding. All I was doing was walking around the shops and sleeping?

I knew I would be able to swim (wasn’t sure on how much motion I’d have but I knew I’d complete it), but then I was almost certain there was no way I was completing the bike.

Kyle kept telling me it was a training race, and I just need to give it my best considering, taking one discipline at a time. Well that calmed me down a bit, but I didn’t bother to warm up (it was already 28C at 7am, so I was melting in my wetsuit anyway!).

The lake was so shallow after the heat wave that the water was barely up to our waists! Basically, the reeds reached the surface, which meant I was about to swim 1900m in a marsh! I had to laugh at just how gross it was!

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The gun went off and I sprinted about 75m and found someone’s feet. It was a mass start, so I had no idea what guys were fast, and didn’t look at the start list to recognise any fast females. The sun was in my face the whole time (polarised goggles should have been worn…oops!) so just focussed on the feet and tried to stretch out my back.

It was an out and back swim, which broke up the pack, and after lap 1 I was feeling much better! There weren’t many people around me, so I was just praying that was because I was in the lead and not because we’d been dropped, but I had a good feeling.

At the swim finish, I tried to swim as far in as I could, because the bottom of the lake was really squidgy and I kept falling over. I heard the commentator say “and the first guys are out of the water”.

 

Grrr. I am a girl!

2nd out of the water, and as I started running up the MASSIVE 600m hill to transition, he spotted my sex and corrected himself excitedly.

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I got into T1 in 3rd and tried to take some confidence out of the my swim placing. My mantra that day was “relax”, hoping my back wouldn’t seize up!

Out T1 in 2nd I went.

…and over the 1st speedbump out my bottle went.

Oh no.

7 gels were in that bottle. But I was now well past the speedbump to retrieve it.

Could I go 20km without gels? I was going to have to.

This stressed me out, but it was done and I couldn’t do anything about it. Luckily there was a water stop put on about 5mins later so I grabbed a bottle and felt some relief!

The course is really windy, with a couple of cat 4 climbs (on the 2nd lap I saw people on their 1st lap walking up the hills!). It kept the course interesting and time passed so quickly!

At the first official fuel station, I physically stopped. I wasn’t risking missing anything. I grabbed 5 gels and stuffed them away, and an electrolyte drink. Luckily, High5 were sponsoring the event, and they sponsor me too, so I knew exactly how my body can handle the gels and drinks!

Lap 1 over, I aimed for a negative split (given I stopped on lap 1!). Since I didn’t have a garmin, I actually have no idea, but the effort was a bit more! Plus I now knew the course!

Into T2 I was now in 6th…boo to being beaten by more boys! Trainers and shades quickly on, grab a ROASTING HOT gel (gross) and off down the hill I go.

Luckily, my foot and back felt fine! I did feel my back with about half an hour to go, but because I expected it I knew how to handle it mentally. I sat up a little more (so my lap 2 split probably was slower), and tried to stretch it every so often.

I went on effort as the run was all on either grass or trail. Geez the amount of grass we ran on was hilarious – so bumpy! I went over my ankle so many times due to the uneven terrain but, again because it was a 2 lap course, lap 2 was actually easier because I knew where the tough sections were. And also where the aid stations were, so I could look forward to them.

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I walked through every single one, given the heat and how exposed the course was. And I only felt like a wall was coming with 1km to go, so my fuelling worked almost perfectly! (suck it, Holkham Debs!)

I have genuinely never felt such comradery in a race before. The amount of fellow athletes cheering me on when I passed them was almost emotional. Luckily, I was never passed which gave me a buzz, but I got so many pats on the back, cheers, positive messages that really perked me up every time. The spectators were enough, so to get it from other athletes too was incredible.

With about 3km to go, you enter the grounds of the Castle. There is a 2nd lake, some gardens (all absolutely stunning), and then you go up this MASSIVE grassy incline. It only lasts about a minute but it feels like an eternity. You know when you’re little and you go sledging, and enjoy going down, but then each time you run back up to the top. It hurts, but it’s worth it. Well, that was me! It hurt so much on lap 2!

I’ll be honest, they organisers never realised I was finishing so soon, so nothing was announced on the speaker. The crowds knew and were cheering, because I had a different colour number to the Olympic distance guys, but I crossed the line with no tape and no announcement.

At the time I didn’t care, because people that were at the finish and knew were so complimentary and I was so proud of myself for pushing through the pain in a mature way for once! It’s just a shame I don’t have a new profile pic 😉

The finish had acoustic singers, bands and lots of food trucks. It was like a festival! And prize giving wasn’t hours and hours later like at Holkham! We left at a decent time, and headed for home, stopping in Penrith for more award winning food…this time fish and chips! UNREAL!

Happy to have executed a race I am proud of, given I am in full training for Challenge Almere in less than six weeks. Yep, that’s right…I am doing another FULL DISTANCE TRIATHLON!!!

When I told coach Lewis my plan, I finished my sentence with “YOLO”. He had no idea what that meant, laughed at me, and agreed to it. So now I am entered! I am terrified but excited at the same time! In 2015, after being hit by a car 3 months’ previous, leaving me with permanent lung and knee damage, I managed a 10.49 and stamped my ticket to Kona as an age grouper. This year, I am a pro and will be hoping to compete and not complete! Please wish me luck…I don’t have much time to be fully race ready, but “YOLO”!

Oh, but first I am heading to London this weekend with the Scottish Team for the International #mixedrelaycup … not sure how I’ll feat in a 20 minute race, but excited to race against some of the best in the world 🙂

Gauntlet

Swim: 25.18

Cycle: 2.43.15

Run: 1.32.54

Total: 4.43.15 *2nd fastest female time ever 🙂 

 

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Defending the Title: Scottish Sprint Champion 2018

After our European trip, training has been ticking over with a couple of niggles here and there. I have been having some foot trouble that we reckon is linked to my back pain. I’ve never had back pain until about 50km in to the Challenge Heilbronn bike section, where suddenly it felt like I’d been stabbed.

Anyway, some days I have zero pain and can cycle and run no problem; other days, I can’t put weight on my foot and have to sit up to cycle on the turbo.

Stonehaven was a bad day BUT the Scottish Sprint Champs was not one of those days!

Lewis advised me that I shouldn’t race, and that I should focus on resting and strengthening my back. Sensible Debs totally agreed with him. But then Diva Debs REALLY wanted a decent race under her belt after a pretty horrendous June. I said I’d train up to the Saturday like usual, then wake up on Sunday and see how I feel.

The previous day we travelled to Forres for Kyle to race in their Highland Games. This was more of a day to spend with family after a terrible bereavement. Family was up from London and the kiddos hadn’t been to a Highland Games. Being half Scottish, we obviously dragged them out, cheering everyone up!

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The day was el scorchio; as hot as Stonehaven a week previous. And with no tents or shelter at all at the Games, we all got super burnt! Apart from the runners, weirdly!

Kyle was pretty anxious about this 10km…it’s 10% of what he’s been used to! Plus the field was actually decent, with sub 30min superstar Newsom on the line, as well as Donnie, James and a couple other fasties!

Well, he had to impress the Godson, so powered through to 2nd place! The kids were ecstatic!

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(Kyle, where has your race number gone?? What the heck happened in that 10km?!)

Afterwards, I had to go back to the inlaws and lie down, because I got too much sun (oops!). After some crackers and a LOT of water, I had stopped shaking, and couldn’t turn down dinner at the restaurant “1629” in Lossiemouth (which was INCREDIBLE, by the way!).

A late return back home, and I insisted on setting up my bike at 10pm because what if something went wrong race morning and…dun dun duuuuun…something was of course wrong with the bike. The brake pads were in the wrong place and the wheel wouldn’t go in. After nearly 45mins of Allen key makingitupaswegoalonging, we called Mark Munro, a local bike expert who opened up shop and helped us. If you are in the area, you should try him out. Really passionate and informative!

Anyway, midnight came, Kyle came back with a fixed bike, and alarm set for 6am (he is a legend!).

AND I wasn’t hobbling out of bed so I was in for the race!

Off we travelled, of course stopping at McDonalds in Forfar for the usual white coffee. Registered and set up with no issues, off we (I like to take Kyle with me!) went for a warm up around the Loch. Another glorious day, but the heat didn’t worry me after Stonehaven nothing could phase me!

When the gun went off, I entered the water first and tried to stay with the leading girls. They went out super fast, but at the first buoy they slowed a bit (I was thankful for this as it was hard staying on feet at that pace!). I felt really comfortable and exited the water in 2nd.

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(In my Zoot suit, which got lots of compliments!)

Running up the hill to T1 I couldn’t get my wetsuit off! I had to slow down and try and remember what way it went and I just confused myself! I did lose a bit of time, but not as much as when I couldn’t get my feet in my shoes after mounting!

Alas, I was now in 3rd, but I was looking forward to the bike section and within a couple minutes, I was in 1st. I just put my head down, stayed aero for 99% of the ride, and embraced the rolling hills and wind (and even rain at one point…I’d forgotten what rain was after a fortnight of a heat wave!).

I didn’t know my lead (I didn’t use a Garmin for speed either), but I was pretty confident I had a decent lead going into T2.

Run shoes on, I was pretty warm so took a gel and just tried to relax on the grassy terrain. I saw Kyle about 800m in, and turned to my right to see 2nd place still cycling in, so that gave me some confidence. Even if my foot gave way, I should still be able to jog in, in 1st place.

Luckily, my foot didn’t cause too much grief (better than Stonehaven but still not getting the oomph push off) and I tempo’d in to victory by over 4 minutes 🙂

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The food spread was incredible as always, and we stopped on the way home for BBQ nibbles and fruit for Sangria!

It was a pretty awesome weekend!

Results here

Triathlon Scotland recap here!

Video here…Speedhub DEFINITELY has the best kit!

 

 

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Stonehaven Half – Greig Double :)

Stonehaven, you mofo!

On a day where hundreds would flock to their harbour for ice cream, Kyle and I decided to do a half marathon in the sweltering heat and super tough inclines.

It will be sheltered, he said.

We’ll get a cool sea breeze, he said.

Neither of these were true.

To be fair, I don’t know about you guys but I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week with this heat! We recently got new windows and doors and what a difference!

Our tip is to build a wall of pillows in the middle of the bed because God forbid in the middle of the night you touch by accident and share body heat.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that all week I have felt really tired and dehydrated. That, along with the fact I haven’t run due to foot issues (most likely caused by cleats?), it was a hard slog of a day.

If you want to test your fitness, Stonehaven Half Marathon is the place to do it. There is no hiding! 8 miles of up, including 2 miles of undulating trails, then 5 of steep descending.

When the gun went off, I knew I wasn’t anywhere close to good shape so I was sensible and didn’t go out with Kyle and the other lads like at Crathes! I took it easy and hit the first uphill mile in about 6.18. Mile 2 was about the same, then mile 3 was up an even bigger hill and I was around 6.50. At this point the hills seemed relentless and never ending!

Why do the trees have no shadows!?!!?!?!?!?, was a question I asked many times throughout my 90minute (yep, you read that right) experience.

I loved the trail part. It is in a section of Fetteresso forest, which is an amazing place to run (and get lost…done that a few times!) if you are ever in the area!

I caught a couple of guys at the out and back forest turnaround (about 10km in), which was a good point to look cool as it is where Kyle passed me and gave me a high 5, and I was trying to cheer on as many metros as I could!

Then stupid Debbie was in a world of her own and at the start of the out and back went the wrong way! It meant that the two guys I caught got away from me AND that I missed a water stop! Well, this is a lesson learned on mental strength as I just gave up here. I could have really used those dudes as it was a solid mile up the trail. I started walking (boooooo) and was super thirsty.

I walk/jogged that mile in nearly 8 minutes, got to the highest point of the course at 8 miles, and then really tried to enjoy the remaining downhill miles but I had nothing left! The dudes had dropped my by far, 2 more guys passed me, and then when we got back to Stoney I was passed by a guy like I was standing still (also the heavy breathing sounded like a girl so I was so glad when he passed that he was a guy…sorry if you’re reading this!).

I guess it was a good thing I had such a lead at the half way point because I was stopping at the water stops and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Yes, I hear you say I shouldn’t have gone out that fast but I genuinely didn’t think I did! Maybe the 3 hour cycle that weekend, and lack of run training with foot troubles didn’t help?

Anyway, when we entered the field at the finish, we ran around it about 500m maybe? I kept looking back just to make sure I could jog it in, and I walked across the line just over the 1.30 mark.

Immediately I downed water, then immediately after that I puked up that water in a nearby bush. I’ve never puked after races so that was an experience!

The food spread was unreal (my favourite was the phili cheese dip in a bread bowl!) which I managed to stomach after about an hour of trying to be human again, and it was so nice catching up with people at the end in the sunshine and go over the experience together!

After prize giving, Kyle also wasn’t feeling great (despite getting the RECORD!) so while he was off with stomach issues, I got my bike sorted and cycled almost 50miles home J Don’t worry, Mum, I had plenty water with me and fuelled up beforehand! The fish and chips and Punk IPA waiting for me when I arrived home made it all definitely worth it!

All in all an absolutely STUNNING course! I love a challenge and really feel I need to do it again to redeem myself!

Interestingly, it was my 1st ever race win 4 years ago, in my 5th half marathon maybe? So it will always be close to my heart! Big love to Stonehaven Running Club for putting on a fantastic, well organised race, with perfect weather [for spectators!!!] ❤

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