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Rach E - Members of the Month May 2007


Member of the Month May 2007

Rach E

Fetch says: Hi Rach. Congratulations on being voted our Member of the Month for May 2007. It's yet another in a string of first places for you, and well deserved. We've had a record number of questions submitted for you, which also speaks volumes for your reputation amongst the other Fetchies, both on and off the pitch. [Note: At this point, I dumped the questions in Rach's inbox, and went on holiday. Here are her answers to everything you wanted to know]:

KatieB asks: Can I please be as good a runner? Or What does she feel has made her the runner she currently is? What's the key? Is there one thing? And is it Gobi? ;-)

Rach E says: I think the one thing thatís made me a good runner is probably gutsy determination and the ability to run on balls. Oh, and a good coach ;-)

old mum asks: Have you given Gobi your soul or are you playing hard to get? :-) AND How much does he charge to give it back? :-)

Rach E says: He got my soul a while back. And I wonít get it back until I beat his 5 and 10k PBs.

Barky97 asks: What has been your most satisfying performace so far this year?

Rach E says: Probably Wokingham half. I ran this on a whim without having prepared properly. Iíd done a couple of 8 mile runs but didnít think I was in half marathon shape. I really thought that Iíd run 93 minutes at best so was very shocked and pleased to finish in sub-88 minutes. It was my first race where Iíd run a decent time on paper and made me think I was capable of more.

LorraineS asks: Before taking up running what sport did you play/take part in ?

Rach E says: I didnít really do much in the way of sport as I used to spend all my spare time playing the violin or directing choirs! I used to pedal my crate of bike a mile to the station every day and did bodypump at the gym twice a week.

Mongol asks: Why and how did you start running? Did you ever think you'd become so good at it? Thanks :)

Rach E says: Iím actually not sure why I started running. I really canít remember. I signed up for Race for Life on a whim as something to do, and it took off from there. I had no idea I was any good until I ran that Race for Life and managed to do very well (comparatively) off six weeks (poor) training on a treadmill.

Chrisity asks: do you wear earplugs?

Rach E says: No need as Iím already half deaf! It works well.

topcorner asks: What are your goals for the coming months? AND How do you deal with Gobi's relentless enthusiasm - ever get tiresome or do you revel in it?

Rach E says: My main target race for the year will be the Great South Run where Iíve managed to acquire an elite place and also the Peterborough Half Marathon in October. Iíll then judge future goals on the results of those races.

Thankfully I share the relentless enthusiasm and I am enjoying it rubbing off on me (no pun intended).

Pammie asks: Besides running do you do any form of cross training do you think it compliments your running and why? And What advice would you give someone who wanted to get faster?

Rach E says: I do a lot of core and upper body work and try and fit in one bodypump class a week. Whilst this has bulked my arms, shoulders and back more than your average long distance runner, I feel it makes me a more powerful runner. The lower body workout I get in bodypump gives my legs a good workout and really helps with strengthening my legs for running. Also, for me, weights work is an important part of strengthening my body to stay injury free.

leaguefreak asks: How do you pace your races/push yourself when it starts to hurt? Any favourite mantras we can use?

Rach E says: Iím not the best person to ask about pacing but Iím learning! I tend to go out too fast and then hang on for dear life. Whilst this works in 5ks (to a certain extent) itís caused me to have a couple of major blow outs in half marathons. I am getting better thanks to some severe (and deserved!) talking tos after races from Gobi, but I still have a lot to learn. I donít really have a mantra as such, but just try and imagine what itíll feel like to get that new PB when Iím suffering in the last stages of a race.

Too Much Water asks: One thing you are known for is your dedication to training, and having seen you race I know you put absolutely everything into that as well. Are you like that in other aspects of your life, or is it just running that you throw the kitchen sink at? How fast do you think you will run when you are at your peak? Do you think you will compete internationally at some stage and if so at what discipline? Would you spend a season focussing wholly on triathlon, or will you just continue to do the occasional tri for variation? What is the one training session / element of your training that you think gives you an edge?

Rach E says: I do try and achieve the maximum I can out of each day, and have a naturally competitive instinct. Whilst I havenít done sport all my life, Iíve always competed on the violin and piano which I think helps give me the drive I get through running. I used to practice my violin and piano 4-6 hours a day which took quite a lot of determination!

I have no idea how fast I will get! Six months ago I thought Iíd be happy with a sub-40 minute 10k, but now Iíve achieved a sub-38 (something which a year ago I may not have thought was possible) I want to go faster. I want to ensure I continue to enjoy running Ė this is paramount Ė as itís one of the things that caused me to lose interest in music. Hopefully doing the slightly ďdifferentĒ events (such as trail runs and triathlons) will help to keep the enjoyment there.

Compete internationally? Hmmmmmm. Iím not sure. Iím in it for the long term though and thereís a huge world of veteran athletics so thatís always a possibility.

I may do more triathlons and indeed focus on them for a season, but running is my main thing at the moment. Iíll still continue to dabble in them though and will definitely enter more over the coming year just for a bit of variety.

I think my coach gives me the edge ;-) I like to think the variety of my training is the key thing Ė lots of base mileage combined with interval sessions and tempo work. I also think the miles I put in commuting on my bike helps to build my general fitness.

Snapstinget asks: Do you miss your music? Do any particular works surge through your inner ear while you're pounding the tarmac at 4 a.m.?

Rach E says: I wouldnít have expected a different question from you, Snaps! Unfortunately I often listen to music that would appall the purist in you but is essential to get me going in the early hours! That said, you canít beat a bit of Montagues and Capulets to rouse the soul.

Strangely, I really donít miss playing at the moment. I have no doubt I will get back to it at some point in life, but various aspects of it caused me to lose enjoyment in it at this point in time.

Mudmaniac asks: You are still improving. Is there a particular challenge driving you on? I notice no marathon yet?

Rach E says: I am continually striving to beat my PBs Ė I think thatís my main challenge Ė but I have no immediate plans for a marathon. I will do one at some point, but just not yet. I am very wary of getting injured again, and I would like my body to be fully strong and ready to run a marathon when I do it.

Wingy asks: What made you go in for a triathlon, was it your first tri that you won (can't remember). Did you do any specific tri training or did you just rely on your natural ability to see you through?

Rach E says: Because I cycled on my commute, I thought I may as well give a tri a bash. I used to be a good swimmer in my school days, so thought it would be a natural transition. Ironically, swimming is now my weakest discipline because my legs are so muscular from cycling and running and cause the most dreadful time-sapping drag in the pool! I donít really do much tri-specific training, although I try and make my clubís swim training session every week and my commute on my Brompton helps my cycling (a Brompton is hard work to ride, so put my on a road bike and itís such a breeze!).

I think running is great for all round fitness, so I do think this helps carry me over. Iíve managed to get a bike time in the top one or two of every triathlon Iíve done, and I think a major part of this is down to my running fitness (although brompton commuting plays a big part!).

Swimming is a bit different. I can only get in the top 20% or so in my swim as itís all about technique. Brute force will get me a bit of an edge, but I need to learn to swim more like a fish to get faster!

Su2 asks: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 non-running related items would you want with you?

Rach E says: Gobi, my Brompton and a huge box of Haribo Starmix.

Hanneke asks: One thing I am wondering though still, how on earth do you have the energy to train with such dedication almost every day and race so often, while having a hellishly long commute, a busy job and Gobi (;-))to deal with as well?

Rach E says: Iíve taught my body to sleep less! I get around 5 hours of sleep a night which took a bit of getting used to, but (apart from in the run up to ďthat time of the monthĒ) I get by ok. I also have the best vocal alarm clock in the world ;-) I use every minute the best I can Ė I have a four hour commute but use the time to study for my part-time Masters, I run during my lunchhour, rarely watch television and do all my shopping at Paddington station on the way home (although I curse those small aisles when Iím pulling my Brompton around). I gave up alcohol about six months ago which has helped me get more energy too.

I shouldnít admit to this probably, but Iím a caffeine junkie and drink lots of coffee and diet coke which is an absolute godsend (unfortunately!).

Girlie asks: Given your half marathon sucesses, have you any plans to tackle a full marathon in the future?

Rach E says: Not for a while. I will make the jump at some stage in the future but will only undertake it when I can give it my all.

LLL No1 asks: Rach E , do you ever feel like pulling the bed covers over you head and thinking " I cant be arsed " ??

Rach E says: It hasnít happened yet.

Big Al Widepants asks: What gives you more pleasure, the training or the racing?

Rach E says: It depends on the training and it depends on the race ;-) Nothing beats the buzz of completing a tough interval session or getting a new PB in a race, but the annoyance of having a bad training run or not achieving what you thought you were capable of in a race can be demoralizing.

Fat Dave asks: With the benefit of hindsight, it looks like you've become very fast, very quickly. Presumably it's not as easy as you've made it look...?

Rach E says: Itís a lot of hard work but Iíve been lucky in the past six months to be able to train solidly without injury.

Hanneke asks: Do you have Gobi's soul???

Rach E says: Not until I beat him outright in a running race, no.

MarkC asks: Well done Rach :-) We're all very proud of you in the Oxfordshire sociial group. Do you have long term running goals? eg. 1 year, 5 years, 10 years - or are you just taking it one step at a time?

Rach E says: Iím taking it as it comes, mainly. I still havenít decided what to focus on. In the near term (i.e. in the next year) Iíll be looking to target the cross country season and get my road PBs down a little more. I guess within 5 years a marathon is on the cards and 10 years from now Iíd like to see myself as a competitive vet. Weíll have to see though!

AntBliss asks: If you woke up tomorrow and couldn't run - what would you focus on instead with your energies ? (and that's not supposed to be as negative as it might sound !)

Rach E says: Cycling!

edwardb asks: Has Gobi coached you whilst he is riding your Brompton and you are running??

Rach E says: My Brompton is pink. And even for the sake of training, I donít think Gobi would risk sacrificing his masculinity by riding said bike!

Max71 asks: Does Gobi talk in his sleep? Has Gobi ever said the following "You are right Rach and I was wrong" When are you going to do Comrades? What distance can you beat Gobster over? 18 months ago did you ever imagine you'd be where you are now? Whats the ultimate weekend? Is Ironman calling yet?

Rach E says: What, Gobi is WRONG sometimes? No WAY?!?!? Thatís not what he tells meÖ

Comrades. Not yet. I love being support for ultra races though so Iím sure Iíll be out in SA one year soon in a supporting capacity.

I can beat Gobi on the road bike but Iím still a fair way out with running. I have him on WAVA (age/sex) gradings though on 5k,10k and half marathon which suffices for now ;-) He is getting faster quickly though so Iím not sure how long thisíll last. His times are nice targets though.

Iím not really interested in Ironman, but I can see myself doing a similar length race ONE DAY. I think it would be a smaller event than Ironman though.

Woad Wunner asks: Given your lengthy lay off in 2006 due to injury, do you actively take greater active care of your body now?

Rach E says: I do more strengthening work in the gym and if I feel a niggle starting I immediately back off training. I used to force myself to finish a session through pain, and this was a major mistake. I also run much slower in training and donít treat every run like a race.

John Bach asks: What made you "take up" running/racing? What has been your favourite race to date and why? Is there a particular race you would like to do?

Rach E says: Race for Life was my original target. I enjoyed the experience of racing it so much (despite feeling like I was dying at the end!) it made me sign up for another race immediately. I think my favourite race to date is the Red Kite Challenge I did in Wales because of the challenging terrain and the surroundings. I also really enjoyed the Chiltern Chase at the beginning of June. This was a well attended race which was organized by the locals. Theyíd even laid on suncream for those who needed it! It was through reasonably challenging terrain which made it tough enough to be interesting and through stunning surroundings.

No.8 asks: Do Intervals ROCK?

Rach E says: Of course!

Too Much Water asks: As someone who has seconded at ultras, what is the most important thing you can say to the runner you are looking after?

Rach E says: In track ultras, I try and give an indication each lap whether they are on pace. As the race progresses, Iíll give splits for common distances (such as 5 miles or 10k) which gives a good indication how the race is progressing.

In lapped (non-track) courses, Iíll try and give an indication of how far ahead or behind the other runners are so pace can altered accordingly.

The worst thing to do is give incorrect information!

Buzzard's sis asks: Most of the questions are already asked. I am currently stepping up my training into a more commited and focused program. I am fine with training most of the day but really struggle on early mornings. I know I am going to have to overcome this to get all my training in. Even if I get up early enough, I am just not physically ready to run. How do you ensure you are mentally and physically strong enough for a hard early morning training session?

Rach E says: Youíre doing really well at the moment Buzzardís Sis! Build up your early sessions slowly to get used to them and Iím sure youíll be jumping out of bed before long.

Set the alarm when you want to get up and never, ever press the snooze button. Donít give your body time to debate whether getting up is a good or bad idea.

If youíre doing a hard training session in the early morning, make sure you have a good meal the night before.

Lay your running kit out the previous night so all you have to do is jump out of bed, get dressed and be out of the door.

A65 asks: How come you got so fast so quickly? Has anyone ever asked you for a urine sample for analysis? ;-)

Rach E says: I have a hare to chase now in most races I do!! Thatís incentive enough ;-) Seriously though, when Gobi took my training over in October after my bouts of injury, he made sure that I put in three months of solid base training (NO speedwork) which stripped a minute from my 5k PB alone. Iíve since been slowly working in some interval sessions into my training which have definitely helped. Gobi has some great ďinterval sessions of deathĒ which hurt at the time but work wonders.

RatRace asks: Do you take an extra day's rest during the week if you're feeling really tired after hard training, or force yourself out the door? Or does Gobi force you out the door? Or do you take another rest? The marathon & ultras must surely be on the radar with Gobi being about?

Rach E says: I am good at training through fatigue, but if I am *properly* fatigued (read completely exhausted) then itís actually Gobi who stops me going out the door. Rest is important for becoming a stronger runner Ė just not too much of it (!) Ė and Iím starting to learn that now.

Marathons and ultras are not going to happen for some while yet, I can assure you. Itís actually Gobi who discourages me from doing them!

Blister asks: Do you like Marmite? :-)

Rach E says: Less than peanut butter but more than tuna paste.

Boycie asks: Did you learn to run fast in order to get away from Gobi?

Rach E says: No, in order to chase him.

Balham Bouncer asks: What is your ultimate running/sporting goal, and do you think you can achieve it?

Rach E says: I guess it has to be being recognized on a UK-level, but I have to get faster before that will happen. Never say never.

Balham Bouncer asks: Do you ever tell Gobi to shut the **** up?

Rach E says: No. Heíll just shout louder.

Buzzard's sis asks: Rach, to have become as good as you are so quickly, it must be a life-style change as well as the training. Do you have any hints on diet, sleep patterns etc?

Rach E says: My diet is poor and I admit that. I have to make sure I eat enough red meat and take my iron supplements as I suffer badly from anaemia.

Making_Tracks asks: How many hours do you spend running each week?

Rach E says: UmmmmÖ

***consults training log***

Approximately 7 hours a week (it doesnít sound much like that!)

danny wilde asks: Are you taking a week off work to answer all these questions ? (well deserved MOTM btw :-) )

Rach E says: What are long train journeys for?!

abdou asks: Well done Rach! I wondered about race tactics now you're usually up at the sharp end: do you go out with a plan to just run your own race or adjust it depending on how rivals are running? (I tried to hang on to your group at Bedwyn but ended up in my usual private tunnel of pain)

Rach E says: I have different plans for different races. For example, the track races I do in the Southern Womenís League are all races where positions mean points for the club. Iíll therefore race for position rather than time in the first instance, although achieving a good time is always a bonus (and can be spurred on by good competition). Most of the road running races I do I am spurred more by finishing in a good time, although if I am in a position for a prize itís always a good incentive to (try and) hang on. Unfortunately as I often go out too fast I lose positions later in races but Iím working to improve n this.

jude asks: Which is best: Swim: Bike or Run? well done Rach, you're a true inspiration 2012 watch out!! :-)

Rach E says: Running! I do love cycling as well though.

LorraineS asks: Is your aim in a race to be the first woman home, the highest position in the race possible, or something else (or a combination of)?

Rach E says: See answer to Abdou.

Runs With Coyotes asks: Congratulations Rach... a well deserved winner. This may well be an impossible question to answer, because I bet there are so many runs you could choose from, but if you had to pick just one single run which one would be your best (your most satisfying, most fulfilling, most exhilerating) run ever? And why? And also... how important is racing to you? If for some reason you could never race again would you still run so much and so hard? And finally... what quality/qualities would you say best describe a good runner? :-)

Rach E says: Thank you for the congrats! This is a really difficult question as Iíve enjoyed so many races. Iíll cheat and give three races in response to your different categories: Most satisfying: Probably winning Race for Life in Battersea Park by a huge margin. Whilst RfLs may not be the most serious running events, it was fantastic to be in the lead following a police bike and finishing first in front of a huge crowd. Most fulfilling: Winning the Neolithic Half Marathon outright by three minutes. It was very satisfying to beat all the men and was probably one of my best run races so far. I paced myself well and finished strongly (which made a big change from previous half marathons!). Most exhilarating: One of my most recent races, the Red Kite Challenge at Devilís Bridge near Aberystwyth in Wales. Absolutely stunning scenery coupled with steep ascents through forests and plunging decents down mountainsides (which put the fear of god into me!). I collapsed at the end through sheer exhaustion but this didnít stop the enjoyment in any way possible.

Footpad asks: Well done Rach! Q. Will you run your leg of the Ridgeway Relay soooo fast that I can stop have a picnic and admire the scenery on my stage? (OK maybe you can make up for my slow shuffling at least?)

Rach E says: Ridgeway Relay is now completed BUT the aim was to run it at a controlled pace as it was the day after the Red Kite Challenge. Given that I could hardly walk the morning of the Ridgeway Challenge because of the effort put in the previous day, I took it relatively easily but enough to move us up a few places. Great race though!

JulesR asks: Well done Rach E! Thoroughly deserved award. Q. Which is tougher - an hour of scales and arpeggios practice on violin or an hour's hill session in heavy rain? Q. When were you most nervous: one hour before your Grade 8 or one hour before your first triathlon? Q. How did it feel to be in the lead following the pace car all the way round the race for Life Battersea?

Rach E says: Scales and arpeggios without doubt! I remember spending two hours a day practicing scales before exams and being bored out of my mind. A hill session Ė even in heavy rain Ė is strangely satisfying though.

I was probably more nervous before my grade 8 piano actually. I had more to lose. I didnít expect anything in my first triathlon and was just planning to ďget roundĒ. To get a placing in my first tri was just an unexpected bonus.

Following the pace motorbike was fantastic in RfL. I just wish heíd stayed a bit closer to me so I could have drafted him as it was such a windy day!

santababy asks: Hi Rach and well done sorry if thsi been asked before not got time to read bsck, on hols n all that.. ;) what got you into running in first place and how quickly did you become hooked? how did you *find* fetcheveryone?

Rach E says: I was one of many women who got into running through Race for Life. I canít even remember why I entered now or started. I guess I wanted something new to try and enjoyed going to the gym. I stayed firmly on the treadmill for many months before venturing on to the roads.

As for finding fetch Ė I saw the URL in *that* thread on RW.

blue (pete) asks: Do you have a pre-race coffee as part of your routine?

Rach E says: Yes, the stronger the better. Normally accompanied by a cinnamon and raisin bagel drenched in honeyÖ.

Just John asks: Do you believe in sex before a race or does it make you late for the start?

Rach E says: You normally donít get much choice if you live with another obsessed runner ;-)

Heavyweight asks: Congratulations on this and all your other sucesses this month, and good luck for your track race this evening. Nature or nurture - Have you always been a sporting person? does it 'run' in the family? Have your recent performances surprised you or did you always think you would be capable of the sort of times you are now producing?

Rach E says: Iíve always been a competitive person who has a lot of drive, but I wouldnít say Iíve always been sporty. I was also someone who was rather mediocre at school, but I think thatís more because all my time was spent on music rather than sport. I used to be in the choir and orchestra rather than the hockey or rounders team. If I went back to school I would definitely spend more time on sport.

My family are not sporty at all although my mum used to compete at a regional level in squash.

Iíd be lying if I didnít say I was surprised by my performances. After getting a good result in my very first ever race from just training a couple of times a week on a treadmill I guess I thought I was an ok runner, but I never dreamed of actually winning races!

Agent Orange asks: Rach Congratulations. It's good to see you winning not just for your personal achievemetns (reaching legendary status) but also for being so supportive to fellow runners. Perhaps my question should be, "Do you agree that you are a star?" But actually my question is much more profound and is, I think, the question to which everyone wants to know the answer but hesitates to ask. It's this: Have you recognised that your stunning improvements performances have really come on since I followed your suggestion to start cycling in London. Isn't it true, therefore, that your performances are down to the transfer back to you of karma from my new found pedal power and are in fact nothing to do with your training regime, dedication or commitment? Feel free to take your time answering that one.

Rach E says: Of course AO, itís all down to you. Actually, my improved fitness is all down to the fact Iím always glancing over my shoulder to check youíre not catching me as I bomb it up Constitution Hill in the evening.

Of course, if youíd bought a proper foldie you may have stood a chance against pink Brompton power ;-)

Blister asks: I remember you used to say that you didn't want to take running too seriously and just wanted to enjoy it, has that changed now?

Rach E says: I like to think I take my running very seriously but still enjoy it. Iím now racing most weekends (overracing in some peoplesí books) but I am happier than I have ever been in my life. If I wasnít enjoying running then Iíd seriously review how I train and race (note how I say I wouldnít stop!).

GreatNorthWood asks: When you're training for shorter distances or during the summer months, do you concentrate more on speedwork and racing (and less mileage) in order to get your times down? You've done amazingly well with your times recently and I'd like a bit of the action please!

Rach E says: Ideally yes I would, and I hope to do more speedwork in the current weeks in order to get my shorter distance times down. The past few weeks Iíve been racing so much itís been a cycle of taper > race > recover > taper > race > recover ad infinitum. I think keeping base mileage at a reasonable level is still important though (even if itís slightly reduced from levels over winter months).

JulesR asks: Even more Q's: How much faster do you think you can get? Do you think a sub-36 min 10k or sub 1:20 Half are possible in the future or are you just going along on a 'race and see' basis? Have you identified targets for the next year or two and is one of them to try and be a GB Age Grouper in Euro/World Tri champs?

Rach E says: A sub-36 minute 10k is definitely a target for me and I would love to get a sub 1:20 half (actually, Gobiís times are a target for me!). I definitely donít think itís impossible and itís something I will work towards. Iíll definitely be setting mini targets along the way though and will be patient.

I donít really have any want to be an age grouper in the Euro or World Tri championships. The only ďbig triĒ I would be interested in doing MAYBE is qualifying for the world Ironman championships in Hawaii.

RFJ asks: Well done Rach, you truely deserve this award, Now that you have and still are improving, do you find it difficult to match your training to the needs / goals that you have set your self...... As I know that you are often out trg very early in the morning, does this affect you motivation and desire to push on to further and better your perfornaces in the future? Again well done.

Rach E says: Thank you RFJ! I wonít pretend that itís easy to match my training to the goals I want to achieve because of my rather hectic lifestyle. However, I find that because Iím forced to fit everything in over such a tight schedule provides the motivation I need to get out there and train. If I miss a run, itís not a matter of being able to put it off for an hour as I just wonít have time an hour later. If I miss it, Iíd have to miss it completely. Motivation enough!

BooBoo LaBon asks: Not sure if this has been asked yet: Rach, would you quit your job and do this running thing professionally (NOT that you aren't professionally - of course!) - or do you prefer running because you can? Me x

Rach E says: Even professional athletes have full time jobs Ė look at the likes of Liz Yelling and Hatti Dean. Iíd therefore have to be of the goddessness status of Paula Radcliffe to even contemplate giving up work. Whilst Iím ambitious, Iím also a realist, and I know this is one goal thatís a little too far!

asks:

asks: I would like to get my working hours adapted a little more so I can work at home more often and give myself more time to train.

Killerkane asks: Awesome mileage Dude....Where do you get your energy and motivation from ?

Rach E says: Thanks KK. My mileage isnít as high as some!

Energy is a simple recipe: Over zealous portions of Gobi combined with generous helpings of caffeine.

GordonG asks: belated congrats Rach, extremely well deserved. I know this is a running site but my questions relate to the non running stuff. All i know is that you're "Rach E" and that you run further and faster that i ever could (although admitedly that last bit also applies to most of the runners on this site!) Without wishing to be nosey i was wondering if you could tell us about your life outside running: likes/dislikes, other interests/hobbies, what you do for a living etc. I won't ask any direct questions, but leave it to you to decide what you'd like to tell us about yourself. cheers and well done again.

Rach E says: I could write a novel here, but here are a few of my non-running relating facts:

Likes: Haribo starmix, wine gums, fish and chips, sweet and sour chicken (notice a pattern here?), cheesy dance music, Dolly Parton, Hymer campers, running statistics

Dislikes: Anchovies, potent cheese, olives, McFly, London bus and taxi drivers, pedestrians in cycle lanes, Hyde Park Corner, Nissan Micras

As most people know, I used to be a professional musician (violin, piano and organ) so I still list this as a hobby. I rarely play these days which is sad, but I am sure Iíll get back to it one day soon. Iím also studying for a part time MSc in the Information Science. This is admittedly quite difficult to fit in around everything else, but I tend to work on my assignments on my train commute.

As a job, Iím a research manager for a strategy consultancy. I specialize in pharma and medical type research which means I have access to lots of resources that can help me with my running! Iím lucky in that they let me start early enough in the morning so I can get a decent training session in at lunchtime.

Weíre currently relocating 20 miles down the road to Newbury (currently live in Wantage). The small barrier of a house sale is holding things up though. Sadly, Iíll still be at the mercy of First Great Western every day. I just wish theyíd install treadmills on the trains so I can make the most of the delays!

Buzzard's sis asks: How much do you think can be achieved by anyone? I mean, can you take up running at a late stage in life and, with hard targetted training, do well in the vets at club level, or do you have to be a natural who began running before they hit 35?

Rach E says: The good old nature vs nurture debate! I think thereís a lot that can be achieved through hard training but I do think you need to be lucky enough to acquire good genes in order to be the absolute best. Thereís a lot to say about the genetic build-up of East Africans and why they have the genetic advantage in distance running over Caucasian athletes. Paula is obviously an exception to this though!

I think success can definitely be achieved by everyone but at their own level. Whilst I can compete now at a regional level, Iíll need to get some quicker times down in order to compete at a national level. And then thereís international level Ė say no more!

Balham Bouncer asks: Who has a nicer bottom, Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie?

Rach E says: Angelina Jolie without a doubt.

LorraineS asks: Will Rach have time for racing this weekend when she's answered all these questions ;) ?

Rach E says: I am a good multitasker. I even managed to talk to my estate agent when running the Ridgeway Relay this weekend.

Fetch says: And that brings us to the end of a marathon session of questions! Thank you everyone for submitting them, and also thanks enormously to Rach for sacrificing so much time to answer them. If you don't know Rach by now, pop along to one of the Oxfordshire socials - but whatever you do, don't challenge her to a race!

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