GTC athlete of the month: Fiona Roberts

Fiona has been a regular at GTC since 2016 when she joined up with her daughter Lucy. However, she did come along to the club between 2010 and 2012, but found it difficult to make sessions because of childcare difficulties.

Her first triathlon was the Durty off-road, which at the time was held at St Mary’s Loch in the Scottish Borders. Fiona says: “In 2010, a judo friend suggested I give this race a try. I had done no open water swimming in cold water and virtually no mountain biking, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Fiona’s main sport from childhood until her 30s was judo. Unfortunately, she was abruptly forced to give this up after an injury in 2001.

Fiona and daughter Lucy at the Dundee Aquathlon.

She also started running in 1996 after a year working in Chicago “because I didn’t have a car”.

She says: “That year, I did my first women’s 10k at the beginning of the summer and the Glasgow Half Marathon at the end of the summer.

“I have done both every year since, apart from 2000 when I was pregnant and I missed one half marathon due to illness.

“I ran the last two 10ks with my daughter Lucy. They were her first two 10ks.

“I’m totally gutted the women’s 10km has been canned this year.”

Fiona, left, and friends at the Glencoe Open Water Swim.

I like two out of three sports

Fiona was initially attracted to triathlon because she likes swimming and running. She is still not sure about the cycling!

She says: “I really enjoy the swimming and running. I like them equally I think. I also like open water swimming and I did a Glencoe swim and a Corran Narrows swim with some old judo friends last year.

“The part of triathlon that I still struggle to like is cycling, which unfortunately, as I have now learned, is the key component.

“However, there is to it than that for me. I like training and racing – I prefer aquathlons for obvious reasons! – with a mixed group of ages. Other than moving between hospitals, my job as a histopathologist, is relatively sedentary so triathlon is a good way to keep moving.

“I am always happiest when I am exercising outdoors and I think the post training and race endorphins are highest when the weather is the most challenging.”

Since joining the club more recently, Fiona has seen an improvement in her  swimming. She says: “Last year, I knocked a minute off my 750m swim time, although then I added 30 seconds back on at the Glasgow University Aquathlon last month.

“It’s still a 30 second gain overall though and I do really enjoy the new swim squad sessions.

“My running has also improved, although perhaps not so much in speed but in strength and stamina.

“Last year, I did the Berlin Marathon and I was amazed that I was pretty much back to normal within a week. I feel like I push myself much harder at GTC sessions than I would if I went out for a run on my own.”

Fiona’s favourite GTC session is the winter rugged runs.  She says: “These are always worth getting up on a Saturday for – and they are even better since I have been bringing our dog Lilly. She seems to really enjoy them, too.”

Fiona assists with the guide running at the club. She says: “It is great that our visually impaired runners can join in with the group. It’s a new challenge for me because you have to be alert and pay constant attention to your surroundings.

“I would like to guide a full triathlon at some point but I will need to improve my cycling first.”

Fiona, who races in the supervet category, was third lady vet (vet and supervet combined) at the GU Sprint Aquathlon.

Sporting achievements and goals

Fiona reveals her best achievement in sport is representing Scotland in judo at the Commonwealth Tournament in 1994.

She was also ranked third by Triathlon Scotland for off road triathlon in 2012.

She says: I was surprised and amused to be ranked third by Triathlon Scotland for off road triathlon that year. I entered three events and I think I was almost last in all of them.

“Anybody that has seen my mountain biking would find this hilarious. The message is clear – you’ve got to be in it to win it.”

She started this season with a podium, too. She was third vet in the GU Sprint Aquathlon.

Fiona’s main goal for the coming season is to improve her cycling. She says: “I have been going to a spin class and I do a longer outdoor cycle once a week, as well as commuter cycling. I am also looking forward to the track sessions starting. Now that’s in writing, I will have to go regularly!”

She plans to do the Five Ferries Cycle Route with her sister next month and a couple of sprint triathlons, one with Lucy, plus the Bikeless Beastie (an aquathlon).

She says: “In addition, I have entered some open water swims with my friends from judo and then I’ll do the Knockburn Standard Distance Triathlon in September. I haven’t done a standard distance for six years.”

When it comes to lifetime aspirations, Fiona says she is inspired by older people still taking part in sport. She says: “At one of my first duathlons, I was chatting to a lady beforehand. I thought that she might have been in her late 50s. She was 75!

“I also met an 89-year-old skier on holiday this year who was still taking black runs at speed. My lifetime aspiration is to enjoy sport and triathlon as long as I can.”

Mum and daughter take part in the Glasgow Women’s 10k race.

Fiona’s tips for triathlon

Add some strength training to your workouts. It will help to stop you getting injured, especially as you get older.

Never think you can’t do anything (within reason). Just work out how you can do it

Sign up for training sessions well in advance. That way, it’s part of a plan and you have to go. You will enjoy it when you get there and reap the benefits.

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