‘Do you know a family member, colleague or neighbour that is looking for a challenge but thinks they might not be up to it?’
This all began way back at the beginning of the year, when Tesco Bank Tour of the Borders put on a competition. It was to give someone the opportunity to go from zero to hero in 6 months. The competition offered someone the chance to be personally trained, on a one to one level, from February until the event in September, a 120km route through the gorgeous countryside of the Peebles Borders. And, of course Phil Mack and Peebles Physiotherapy were more than happy to help support a local event and provide coaching for a budding athlete.
Willing applicants had to send an email and tell the team at Hillside Outside in no more than 50 words why they should be chosen for this awesome opportunity. Enter Katy Noble…
why on earth did I enter?
“I am a mum to two little girls, Rosie (6) and Ivy (3). I also work full time from home as a registered Childminder. I give myself very little time to do anything for myself, never mind get fit. After little Ivy was born in 2013 I suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Natal Depression. I endured a hard labour and delivery when Ivy was born. I needed intense surgery and a blood transfusion or two and ended up recovering in Intensive Care. Ivy also took unwell at 6 hours old, with Strep B. She was transferred to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to be cared for in their Intensive Care Unit.”
So, with that Katy embarked on her journey with Phil and Tour of the Borders to complete the challenge set down. It was all a bit daunting for Katy, but she came to it with enthusiasm, “Am I ready to take on the challenge? HELL YEAH! Well, not physically (but that’s where the challenge comes in. Right?) I entered this competition because I desperately need some motivation to get fit and make changes to the way I live.”
Phil was excited to be working with Katy and had this to say: “Congratulations Katy. Looking forward to working with you and helping you to reach your goal of completing the 120k Tesco Bank Tour O The Borders in September. It should be fun, and I am sure you will inspire other mums and dads with family and life challenges to join your quest, and maybe even join you for a ride or two.
There will be plenty of variation with your training, both outside and indoors, including use of Zwift virtual software, with the equipment provided by Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative. All you need now is a bike and we can get started.”
Cue Whyte Bikes, who came onboard as official bike partner for the Touro. After some good chats with Whyte’s bike expert Alan Rogan, it made sense for her to do something she perhaps should have done a while ago – commit to a new bike. Enter the beautiful Whyte Devon Compact.
Katy was incredibly nervous to start this journey, but “felt confidence from meeting with Phil. “Before I left, I met with the man who is going to run my life for the next few months – Phil Mack from Peebles Phsyio and Sports Training. I’ve met Phil briefly before at some of the Tweed Love events he takes part in, but I know him mostly through reputation – he works with some of the best athletes in the Borders and I felt that perhaps that someone like me might be a bit ‘downmarket’ for him! Far from it – he was very easy to talk to. One thing he made clear is that he gets his buzz from the client’s results.”
After an initial session with Phil to lay out her goals and create a working plan, take a few measurements (like weight, bodyfat verses lean muscle) Katy set off on her journey. “Phil clearly got the measure of me, because for the first few weeks, I am doing one short road ride and one turbo session, not enough to scare me off completely.”
This didn’t seem to faze Katy, but what she soon learnt was that she need to learn more about kit choices (more shopping), utilising all her gears, the mechanics of her bike and the intricacies of nutrition and learning to manage her time. With a busy family and work life this can often be the hardest part! And of course, confidence.
Fortunately, Katy had the support of her dad, Keith and family friend Billy on most of her rides. However, a turning point came, “In July we packed our van and headed North to Orkney. I decided at the last minute to put my bike in the van. I am so pleased I did. This was a huge step for me. This whole time my dad has been the one to plan routes and organise rides but, I was going to be all on my own… A 50km ride all on my own! And it was absolutely wonderful.”
But, there were also some darker moments, “I sat on the edge of my bed early one Sunday and just sat looking in the mirror in all my riding gear having a silent argument with myself. “I am so tired” “I really can’t be bothered”, “I could catch up with some housework”, but this was quickly followed by, “what would Phil say”, “get a grip Katy and get on your bike”, “it’ll be so good for me” to “Yeah I can do this!”
“Half way through… how did that happen?! The last 3 months have flown by in a haze of excitement, tiredness, elation, joy and a little stress at times! At the start of my Tesco Bank Tour O The Borders journey my main aims were to get some much needed “me time” which, as a busy working mum I don’t get very often, to get fit and healthy and to beat the blues. BUT, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute on my bike, the rides to start with were tough and I felt like I couldn’t do it – and I certainly wasn’t very fit. It has been a challenge, but knowing that I was doing this for my own wellbeing and my health has kept the motivation high. It can be so hard to find the time to fit in exercise to a busy life style but I found that once it’s in my diary it is so much easier to commit to.”
By three months Katy was due another weighs in and Phil was delighted with her progress. “What a delight it is to train Katy. She has done so well over the past 3 months, from falling off her bike on her very first ride, to recently completing her first 75k hilly ride. That’s a great achievement in such a short period of time. Katy is fitter, stronger and clearly delighted with her progress.
Last night we re-took her body fat and weight and here are the results (with Katy’s permission):
Body fat reduced from 37% to 29%
Lean muscle increased from 43kg to 46 kg
Body weight reduced from 68.9kg to 65.6kg
Wow, this is fantastic progress in such a short period of time. Well done Katy, a great achievement in only 3 months. Looking forward to seeing your progress during the next three.
And then the time had come…
Tour O The Borders in the Bag!
Here I am, sitting and reflecting, after the biggest cycling event I’ve ever done…Tesco Bank Tour O the Borders 2017 and I cannot believe it’s all over.
This is my final blog of the final two days and what an exciting, inspiring and emotional couple of days they were. The six-month long journey, from being chosen, at random, back in March, to buying my first bike and working with Phil Mack has been hard work and emotional, but it all came to a head as the weekend of the event approached.
Saturday dawned all too quickly and the time to register had arrived with the jitters. I headed down to Tweed Green with my two little girls to register for the ride, collect my number and experience the village atmosphere, which was fantastic. As I walked into the registration tent I received a round of applause from the volunteers. This was amazing and made my day. It was wonderful that people recognised my journey. Having started with no experience at all my main aim was to prove to myself I could do it, but with that I hoped it would inspire other mums to get on a bike and get out there. Phil has been instrumental in getting me to this point with monthly coaching plans and plenty of advice, so I felt fully prepared as I arrived at the start line.
Once I was registered I was ushered over to the Odlo tent in the heart of the village. Odlo were proving the official kit for the TOB event and they very kindly gave me new bib shorts, the official Tour jersey, arm & leg warmers and new gloves! This was a fantastic surprise and come ride morning I felt amazing and very comfortable. Despite the long day in the saddle my bottom felt fabulous the next day!
The village atmosphere was a real draw and made this a real family experience. The girls had great fun and were given balloons and other fun items to help cheer me on during the ride.
On Phil’s advice, once I’d registered, I was very aware of not spending too much time on my feet and so headed home to fuel and relax my body. I ate well and drank lots of water to stay hydrated. I had an early night ready for the extremely early morning.
The BIG day arrived and I was up at 5:30am to get my porridge, honey and fruit in. I got myself ready in all my new gear and woke my family for final kisses and cuddles. I was on the green for 6:40 to see my brother in law John off. My heat was No 10, so I had a little time to find the right holding pen and get mentally ready for our turn to leave. I was very nervous at this stage, but knew there was no going back and all I had to do was complete the course without any disasters. The excellent organisation meant we were off and on our way on time and from here I just had to keep pedalling.
As I had done in training, I cycled the whole route with my training partners my friend Billy and my dad Keith. I am not going to lie that I enjoyed the whole thing. There were some very dark patches, but we chatted when we could and gave each other encouragement when needed. As we got to the halfway point I felt like I could give up and my head was shouting “I can’t do this” and “what the hell am I doing, I don’t ride bikes”, but with the power of persuasion and lots of encouragement from my dad we made it to the next food station. Up to this point I had found it hard to eat, despite having lots of energy bars with me, I just couldn’t get that banana malt loaf to go down. It just went around and around my mouth until I forced it down with some water. The feed station was exactly what I needed as I could get off and stretch out my back and refresh my legs. I am convinced it was the Forsyth’s Macaroni pie that got me through the rest of the ride.
As we approached the timed climb of the day, Witchyknowe, I had a little boost of confidence and supporting hug from my mum. She was out on course volunteering for the day.
Unlike others, I knew what to expect for the day as I am lucky enough to have had the route as my training ground. The closed roads and fantastic marshalling made this a brilliant course. If you have never ridden around any of the route in the Borders you must! The scenery is fantastic. Even the dreaded Talla climb, at a maximum of 24%, is worth experiencing once in a life time. Yes, I did walk up it and I’m not ashamed in the slightest.
Tearing down the final descent and coming over the finish line with my dad and Billy was just fantastic. We had all done it! I had done it! I was given a massive hug from Fiona Dalgleish, one of the event organisers from Hill Side Outside, and as she gave me my medal for completing the biggest challenge of my life we both shed a little tear.
I still cannot believe I have completed this challenge. This opportunity has proven to me just how important exercise and fresh air is. As I headed in for my final session with Phil I felt great. Weighing myself in made me realise that, because of all the hard work, I had lost around 6kg of fat and replaced it with lean muscle. To relate to everyday items, I have lost the equivalent of 24 packs of butter…yuck…what a thought!!
My final thought or message is “you can do this too”! Don’t get me wrong, this has been a hard process and it requires a few adjustments to family life, but with these I hope I’ve not only inspired my children, but hopefully others and most of all I realised we can make time for ourselves. So, dust of your bike or trainers and get out there and get fit!!
Thank you so much to everyone who has made this possible and if this completion runs again next year I would highly recommend everyone entering for the chance to change your life!
Phil has over 17 years of experience working with professional and international athletes and teams throughout UK, Australia and South Africa, including the South African Springboks, Leicester Tigers and Ulster Rugby as well as the South African Triathlon Team.