"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


so my main idea for fundraising during the race is starting to come together...

I had thought ages ago that I would like to do something in each stopover to encourage folk to donate to my charities and generally raise their profiles all around the world. my biggest worry was that they were too UK based to get foreign donations, but each charity I am supporting is dealing with stuff that happens everywhere and as most of the world is online, they all have online profiles which offer support and information regardless of location. 

the world is becoming smaller :D

when I moved to Oman I started doing triathlon. this has been the first time I have had the luxury of staying in one place for any length of time and I found lots of sport to do. I am in no way fast - I did my first sprint triathlon on a mountain bike - I just enjoy it. this has led on to doing open water swimming and a lot of running. this was my weakest discipline and it is definitely getting easier. I am even starting to enjoy it! I have now done two half marathons - Abu Dhabi was my first in 2:25 and the Muscat road runners winter series half I finished in 2:19 - I hope my times continue to get faster.

on the race, we have around 15 stopovers spread over the year we are at sea. obviously while we are sailing, I will be working hard but not getting any running or swimming (insha'allah!) in. this will be all good core stuff on board, which I am working on just now with crossfit. it is definitely helping - it knocked 6 minutes off my half marathon time!

I've decided I would like to do something in each stopover. either a 10km run, open water swim or sprint triathlon. this is going to need a lot of organisation and support. I won't have access to a bike so I'll need to hire one for each sprint tri, also I won't have a wetsuit and chances are I may need one for a swim somewhere...

I am struggling to come up with a name to join it all up. my mate reckons I should call it 'watch claire die' but I think my mum may have some objection to that one. I can't think of anything catchy and to be honest, I'm wracking my brains thinking who would sponsor me and how to sell it. this race is teaching me all sorts!

anyway, I am off to mess around on a boat this morning. I am going to try to keep this more up to date, as I only have 5 months left in Oman and 7 months before we leave!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

'hello?' *looks around with torch*

ah, it has been a while since I have typed here. whoops.

well I did the Abu Dhabi half marathon a month ago :D

me and my running buddy Caroline drove across, got quite lost trying to cross into UAE and eventually arrived to our posh hotel on Yas Island to discover some of the Formula 1 teams were still testing the cars after the grand prix the week before. the noise is indescribable. especially when your balcony opens out over the course. I dread to think how much our room cost the previous week...

we collected our race packs and went out for tea and a bit of shopping. we were both quite tired from the drive and the prospect of getting out of bed at 0530 the next morning meant we (sensibly) had an early night. not like us!

it was still dark when we walked from the hotel to the Yas Forum where the start and finish was. I was quite terrified and poor Caroline had a job on her hands getting me to the start line...

we soon settled into our pace on this lovely flat course. once we got onto the long straight road, ferrari world didn't seem to be getting any closer. eventually it did and suddenly we were at 16km. we both felt pretty good having run at a steady pace until then. at 17km I 'bonked' and slowed down a lot. I took the gu gel I had stashed around 14km but it was a bit too late. the last 4km was torture. by 19km I was running 5 lamp posts and walking 1 just to break it up. my lower back hurt and I could barely swing my legs to run.

we finished in 2hours 25minutes. I was a bit disappointed but it was my first half marathon, so the next one will be faster :D

also, I have started to do crossfit 3 times a week. this will increase my power for clipper and also help my running. the problems I was having in the latter stages of the half all stem from having quite a weak core, so there is a lot of work to be done there, but it will be really good for me. I have done a few long runs since the half and I am slowly getting quicker and my stamina is building.

hilariously, I have had to learn to skip for crossfit. I'm not sure if I ever skipped as a child. I much preferred climbing (and falling out of) trees and playing in the quarry. I am really crap at it. I have been given a skipping rope which I am supposed to practice with at home...

we have a mad week at work this week with the opera simon boccanegra going in at the moment. I have one day off on friday and I am planning to run the muscat road runners winter series half marathon. I must be mad.

I am very excited because I will be back in scotland for hogmanay!!! I land in glasgow at dinner time, collect my sister and head to my parents. there I will probably wear all my clothes - it's sub zero and snowing most of the time it seems - and drink beer. I can't wait. it's not a long trip, only 9 days. we have a mid-season break :) I will have to update a load of kit when I get back and before the season re-starts, so I can't take too much time off.

then hopefully it's just a short five months until the end of my contract here, and time to head home to concentrate on clipper.

plans are afoot for some fundraising events while I'm on the race, but I'm trying to get a sponsor for these so I'll have to wait and see...

thanks for reading, and please remember to sponsor me on virgin money giving :D

Sunday, 7 October 2012

month to go...

so the Abu Dhabi half marathon is a month away now. 9th november to be exact. I've booked days off work and got a hotel for me and Caroline, my running partner. we are still trying to work out when to fly.

training is going pretty well. after the month off I had in the UK where I think I only ran 3 or 4 times (whoops) I was a bit worried I'd fallen behind. we've been doing one long run a week for the last few weeks and it's coming along - we're now up to 18km. for the imperial among you, a half marathon is 21km, so we are very nearly there. I'm not even sure if we're supposed to run 21km before race day!

now we have set our sights on the Dubai marathon at the end of january 2013... I am quite terrified at this prospect, but then four months ago I could barely run 3km without having to walk at least once!

also, I sold my mountain bike last week. so all dreams of doing the trans hajar are gone. I am quite gutted about this, but to be honest I don't have the time or the inclination to train for this as well. I'll stick to triathlon, marathon running and sea swimming for the moment ;)

speaking of triathlon, now I am bike-less, I am hoping to find a friendly road cyclist to team up with so I can swim and run :D

having said that, oman triathlon seem to be organising events when I'm not free to go :(

it's a conspiracy!

clipper have started to post some photos of our new 70s on the website this week. very exciting! I have added these pictures to my photo stream here and on the virgin giving page :)

the baisa box idea of ClĂ­ona and Anna at work is doing well. the opera house guys are being incredibly generous - emptying their wallets of loose baisa at the end of every week! this money is going to be logged on the virgin giving page by one of the girls at some point :)

I am still chipping away at my berth fee. I still need to write sponsorship letters, but I have no idea what to write. I have some ideas about who to write to, but no idea how to make me sailing around the world appealing to them. if anybody reading this has any thoughts, please email me on clairedoesclipper@me.com

my sister is here for two weeks soon and I can't wait!

Saturday, 22 September 2012


it's been a mad few days at work. we've had the royal philharmonic orchestra in for two days. the first night was a straightforward classical concert so I was in the control room mixing for recording, but last night was them doing a broadway concert of popular musical theatre songs. finally I got to mix a big show from our beautiful auditorium :D

I wasn't planning a very loud show, but the acoustic in the hall with the concert shell in position is incredibly lively. the phil were playing with a session band and had two singers, all of which had to be heard over an orchestra going at full tilt... it ended up being the loudest show we've ever done! it was a brilliant night though, the audience loved all the songs. they had a really good selection - shows that I knew, shows that I had worked on, along with shows I had no idea about. the arrangements were great, the conductor was bonkers, and the singers were really easy to work with. at the end, they did a medley from mamma mia and the audience were on their feet, dancing and singing along. the opera house has never seen anything like it! the ushers looked a bit terrified, bless them...

I'm mixing another two shows this week from the auditorium, so am feeling a bit spoiled :)

yesterday I swam for a mate in the first sprint triathlon of the season. I had to be at work for 9am so couldn't do the whole thing (I take too long...) but it was dead nice to just do the swim. I've not swam in the sea for ages and I need to start training properly for the al Fahal island swim next year. I want to beat my time from this year...

so I got into the opera house yesterday morning and got a text from my mum 'you're in the standard' it said. so I phoned her...

me: what?
mum: I was sitting eating my breakfast, reading the paper and I turned the page and said to your dad, 'oh! claire's in the paper!'
me: ah. they were supposed to send a copy so I could proof it. and let you know
mum: that's not a very flattering picture they've used
me: thanks...

anyway. I am off swimming with Ahmed this morning. he is training for *another* ironman, this time in australia. I would love to do an ironman eventually, but I'm sticking to sprint triathlon until after clipper :)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

level 1 and theory - check!

last week I finished my level 1 training for the race. it was BRILLIANT! I was a bit nervous about joining as it had always seemed comfortably far away... got my instructions in an email the other week and discovered I would be on 'visit finland' - the second placed yacht in the 2011/12 race :)

there were 9 of us on board learning and 2 grownups (skipper and mate) teaching. the first few days were skills'n'drills in the solent and returning to gosport in the evening. on monday we raced a square-ish course going from gosport to le havre to cherbourg to poole and back against 'qingdao' who had another level 1 course on board. they thought they won but they rounded the last mark the wrong way. so we won really :)

the wind southbound was pretty strong and we did a racing headsail change from yankee 2 to yankee 3 as the wind got up which was good fun. I went into the pulpit on the bow to hank the new sail on and unhank the old one. this is the business end of the change and you get really wet - especially when your skipper dunks you intentionally...

most folk were sea sick on the way over as the motion can be quite extreme. I was ok then suddenly went 'I don't feel well' threw up and then was fine again. I stayed on deck as long as possible then when I went to bed, got in very quickly. the less time you spend standing up below deck the better! on the way back, folk were recovering so it was more sociable and we learned about the spinnaker poles and used them to pole out the headsail as the wind dropped.

cooking was interesting...the two mother watch on sunday had to do a roast! they did a great job and we all really enjoyed it. the chickens took a long time to roast and the smell ruined my concentration :) I was on mother watch with rob, who thankfully knows a bit more than me about cooking. we had to make beef stew for tea, then sausage and egg butties for breakfast. by this time, the cooker was waning a bit and it took ages to cook. I am not that patient in the galley it turns out...

it had been in the back of my mind for a few weeks that I might not enjoy living on a yacht and I had been a bit worried that level 1 might change my mind. this could have been disastrous as I have kind of started fundraising for my charities and telling everyone that I am doing the race. this was more so I didn't back out than anything else! fortunately, I settled and really enjoyed myself. the people I was learning with were exactly what I had hoped for so that made the week really easy. also, we had two great instructors in nathan and matt. they never shouted or got annoyed - they had infinite patience it seemed.

yesterday I finished my basic navigation and seamanship - the theory part of this week's course. today and tomorrow we are with mick, who is one of the technical support team behind the race. these guys keep the boats going before we get our hands on them and teach us how to look after them during the race. they also appear during stopovers to do repairs we can't manage ourselves at sea. they are shipwrights and electricians, plumbers and sailors, dark magicians and engineers. above all they are the guys who answer panicked phone calls or emails from us when it's all going wrong on the race.

we are being trained so well in everything by clipper. it's not just how to sail the boats - it's team building and engineering. what strikes me more than anything else is how much the folk who work for clipper believe in the venture - to get as many people as possible into sailing. I have had an absolutely fantastic two weeks here learning loads and putting people to the emails or phone calls I've made since I joined up to this amazing race. it's a shame that I won't be back until June next year, but I'm now looking forward to levels 2 and 3 of training and living on board our 70s for nearly a year. I'm excited about the route, the skippers and the boats being announced and crew allocation even though they are both next year.

until then, I need to publicise more and get some events done for my charities. also the sponsorship letters need to be written and go out. everything I've been putting off because I was scared I would decide I wasn't up to the challenge after level 1.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

UK time

so I have been in the UK for about two weeks now. I arrived back the day before the olympic opening ceremony to surprise my mum for her birthday :) customs at heathrow was the fastest I have ever known it! the train from london to carlisle was cancelled though and I ended up having to go to newcastle and across to dumfries that way - slow :( I did eventually make it to my mum's friend's house where we had planned she would be and she looked really surprised when I walked in. so that was worth it :D

I had a nice relaxed few days at home and saw loads of folk in glasgow that I hadn't seen for a while, then headed back off to london town to see more folk. it was a busy but good few days there as well before I headed off to gosport to join my level 1 clipper course.

I finished that yesterday (it gets a whole post - eventually) and am now in dorset at lorna and david's. they had a baby in may and tomorrow I am going to deny satan for an hour for her christening. she is very placid and incredibly cute and doesn't mind me walking about with her talking nonsense. what a patient child :D

on monday I start my navigation course back in gosport, which I'm assured will make more sense having done level 1 already. unfortunately I can't do any more training this year with clipper, but am hoping to do levels 2 and 3 back to back next june when my contract is up in muscat and I come back home. it should go quickly, as I am back to muscat on the 22nd of august and go straight into the aida fit-up. once the season starts it'll be busy! need to get back in touch with omansail when i get back who have kindly offered to help me out on some yacht time :)

also back to normal training from monday as well - it's a bit difficult to go running on a yacht.... I also need to think about adapting my training to include a lot more strength and core work. that's going to be a lot more useful than cardio ultimately. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

back to training!

finally went to the physio a few days after the tri last month where I discovered I had damaged one leg of my deltoid ligament in my right ankle. she reckoned it could have been because I was 'scooping' the pedals on an unfamiliar bike, so at least I was not going crazy!!

two weeks of it being strapped up and a lot of ibuprofen and biofreeze made it a lot better. I managed a trip to Dubai to do a fibre-optic course (and a tiny bit of shopping...) and at work we have been doing night shifts testing the outdoor areas for next season. bizarrely even at night it is still over 40C with stupid humidity. ew.

the other day I had my last physio appointment, and Jo told me I could start gently running on the treadmill again. that made me very happy as I have been climbing the walls not being able to run. instead I have been swimming - training with my friend Ahmed who is doing Challenge Roth soon. we have been doing about 3km every other day for the last week, which is great, but I am getting quite sunburned. for some reason he insists on training between 12 and 2 in the afternoon...I am ginger!! this will change when we stop having days off at work anyway ;)

longer term plans are coming together as well. I am hoping to do the Abu Dhabi half marathon in November and the Dubai marathon end of January 2013. these will both be firsts for me and will make up for missing the Muscat half on Thursday. I am being bike support for one of my friends so I still get to do it :)

the Clipper 11/12 crew left Nova Scotia yesterday to head to Derry-Londonderry. I am imagining how they must feel on their last ocean leg before the race ends...

I go to the UK in August to do my level 1 and I am starting to get very excited about it. I can't wait to learn how to sail one of these yachts.  I am trying to think about what I will do when I get back, but that is a *very* long way away!

anyway, time to go swimming!

Friday, 25 May 2012

tri disaster

well. it was the 'beat the heat' triathlon this morning in Azaiba. I was feeling quite good about it. one of my friends had loaned me her old road bike to use - the first tri I did here I used the mountain bike, it was *terrible* - and my running training had been going well.

all week my right ankle has been niggling at me when I walk. but it has been fine when I have been running. it's been quite weird, but I wasn't too worried about it.

however...this morning's tri did not go quite according to plan. first of all I had an awful swim. I went too wide to the first mark and ended up in the last half of the pack. I managed to take back a few places but not enough of a buffer. the bike went ok in that I managed to take some time off my first tri solely by being on a proper road bike. I didn't really get on with the bike though, I am sure now that drop bars are *not* for me... if I ever get a road/tri bike, it will have bullhorn bars I think. I have spent too many years riding flat bars to change now!

all the way round the 20km bike route, I felt my ankle twinge. on every pedal stroke. by the time I got to T2 it was quite sore. Julie from work had turned up to watch and as I changed from bike to running shoes I told her I was in some pain. but I started the run anyway. idiot.

so I get less than 500m into the run and I have to stop and walk. a combination of heat, humidity, being tired and not being able to put my foot down properly. I walk-run to the water station at halfway, where Jon is marshalling the runners. I have a quick moan about how sore it is, take a bottle of water and start to head back. the guy who won the tri is riding up and down the road on his bike cooling down and chasing stragglers (ie. me) when I go over on my ankle and swear quite loudly. he stops and asks what's wrong. by this time I am in tears - it's very sore and I am mightily cross with myself. he decides it's time to put me in Jon's car and get him to drive me back. I am raging. and gutted. I felt good about this tri for days. I feel like the bike made my ankle worse somehow and messed up the run. I don't know how, and it probably didn't, but that's how I am feeling.

I have spent most of today resting with my foot up, using a lot of biofreeze and deciding never to do tri again. I hope I change my mind, but I had plans for the summer. it looks like the half will be out in June too if this takes longer than a week to resolve.

on a positive note, we had the Midas guys here this week for a few days and between us we have fixed the entire system in the opera house :)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

al-Fahal island swim

this morning was the fahal island swim. it was down to be the first fundraiser of my clipper adventure. unfortunately I didn't confirm my kayak/kayakers until the weekend, so I couldn't really publicise it that well :(

I did it anyway cos, you know, I'm that kind of girl :)

last night after work, I had an arabic class. I didn't get home til about 9.15pm after getting diesel and cash out etc, and still hadn't had my tea. I like to carb load before an event early in the morning cos I either a) can't get up in time for breakfast, or b) can't eat breakfast... so about 9.45pm last night I sat down to a massive plate of macaroni cheese (my all-time favourite) followed by a chocolate custard (don't judge me). eventually got to bed just after 11pm. woke up before my alarm about 4.45am and had breakfast - it was a register at 6am and swim at 7.30am so I figured it made sense.

the fahal swim is really well run. everything is very tightly timetabled and there isn't any time to get dead nervous :)

met up with my sea support and got them set off about 6.30am - they had to kayak out to the island before the race meaning they travelled about 9km total. thankfully they both had big wide-brimmed hats on so were easy to spot! we numbered off, got our photo taken on the beach and then ferried out to the island in a small fleet of motor boats. our guy let us stay on the boat til the last minute so we didn't waste any energy treading water...

the orange rib arrived, and we numbered off again to make sure everyone was there. then it was the start. first thing to do? find my kayak! considering there were around 90 swimmers, all with support, it was a bit of a melee for the first five minutes... there was 1.5knots of current this morning so we all had to head to the right hand side of the bay to avoid being swept round the corner into the oil refinery. jamie and mark (my kayakers) did a perfect job of aiming me so I didn't get stuck. all I was looking at was the hull underwater! it meant I didn't have to sight, which was good otherwise I'd probably still be out there, or in Iran...

there were loads of fish and stuff that I was trying not think about as well, but I did really well at not thinking about them :) the water was so clear I spent most of the swim being completely transfixed by my hands and the bubbles they left in the water... annoyingly my sea goggles leaked a bit, probably not tight enough. I ended up having to stop every 400m to empty them. mark reckoned I would have been under 1h30m if that hadn't happened :( someone at the end said we should take 8 minutes off our times to compensate for the current though, so it's not too bad :)

I would strongly recommend anybody doing an open water swim NOT to google 'sea snakes' the night before - it is just not going to end well. they are pretty big. even though I had read that they don't attack humans, my friend Lea told me this morning that if they do attack you, they kill you in ten minutes. thanks Lea...

I also never thought I would say to someone (and mean it) 'please don't tell me if you see anything in the water, unless you think it might eat me'.

it was a great event though and hopefully I'll do it next year - with a faster time :D

photos as soon as I find anyone who got any of me!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

biathlon news

so the biathlon was last thursday. it was pretty hot but not unbearable. the sea was really calm so the swim was ok. the run was fairly horrific though. I need to work on my running - get faster and build distance. in this heat and humidity (we went from 0 to about 80% overnight this week - helpful) intervals could be too hard. I think distance is more important to me at the moment, now I have signed up to do a half marathon on the 21st of june. also, a 'beat the heat' triathlon on the 25th of may. yes, 8 days after the 4km island swim. send help.

work-wise we are just getting through our maintenance lists. it is pretty luxurious to get a weekend every week! I have also *finally* started an arabic class. been here for 10 months and not learned any except vital words like thanks, enough, for the love of god etc...

I am starting to think about my sponsorship plan now. who to approach, how to approach them, what they could get out of it, what to ask for. there is a lot to consider. I don't want to promise too much, but at the same time I don't want to sell myself short. dilemma.

training is going ok. swim next week. have found a volunteer to kayak for me! just need to find them a kayak...

clipper-wise, I am now booked onto my level 1 and theory courses in august, so I will be in the uk briefly :) then straight back to start the second season in muscat.

I did put some (fairly embarrassing) photos up from the biathlon. thankfully none of the run! more will follow after the fahal swim :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

more firsts

today is a day of more firsts for me:

1. the first time I posted my blog onto facebook
2. the first donation to my charities - making me feel all warm and fuzzy, and making it all more real
3. the first decision about events

I signed up to the PDO biathlon on 3rd May. 600m swim and 4.5km run. this is the last one of the season before it gets insanely hot out here! I'm using it as a warm up for the Fahal island swim later in the month. Fahal is going to be my first fundraising event I've decided, as long as I can get a kayaker as my sea support. the swim is around 4km and we need someone on a kayak to escort us in case we have to be rescued. I am optimistic I won't need rescued, but the organisers won't take my word for it :D

I am also a little closer to booking my first training with Clipper. I don't think I'll really settle until this is done and I have passed it. 

until then, I need to train and stretch, work, plan, work, train and stretch, work, plan, train and stretch.

I think it's going to be a good 16 months :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

first post

well I applied, was interviewed and accepted for Clipper 2013-14. I have thought long and hard about the amount of money I need to pay to do the whole round the world race. finally I am comfortable with it. I am going to look for some sponsors to cover part of the berth fee, and others to provide clothing and equipment. hopefully :)

so far, I am staying at the ROH Muscat until end of May 2013. this means I can go straight back to the UK at the start of June and complete my levels 2 and 3 before joining the yacht which will be home for almost 12 months. fingers crossed, level 1 and theory will be passed by the end of the summer this year. this will be a landmark point for me, as it means I can then concentrate on fundraising for my four charities and searching for sponsorship.

my charities are:

RNLI - a charity I have fundraised for in the past and will continue to support in the future. if I lived near the sea in the UK I would apply to be a volunteer lifeboat person.

Maggie's - such an important charity for cancer sufferers and their families. I have done the pedal for scotland in the past for Maggie's.

SANDS - losing a baby at any stage is tragic and incredibly difficult to deal with. I have seen family and friends go through this. please support them.

STEPS - as a child I was diagnosed with CDH (congenital dislocation of the hip) and underwent many months of traction, surgery and plaster cast immobilisation. thankfully after all that I am only a little bit wonky. I have never let my wonkiness stop me :)

as I research and accumulate challenges to do before the Clipper Race starts in July 2013, I will blog about them and add them onto my virgin giving page. any money donated on this page is split equally 4 ways between my charities. none of the money donated on virgin giving goes towards my berth fee. if you would like to donate to my berth fee, please email me on clairedoesclipper@me.com