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Fiona Clinton – the Virtual Interview

Next up we have senior endurance athlete and Club board member Fiona Clinton
<img src="" alt="93914713_10157435754740292_6433523231705006080_n-2.jpg" /> When and why did you join DSD AC? I was a gymnast until I finished college. That’s when I started gaining some sense and realizing I could really hurt myself spinning in multiple directions while upside down so I decided to pick a safer sport. Mark Conway took me up to Marlay one Saturday and I have never looked back, I fully expect to be waddling around there in my 90s. What was your best event and what event did you like best? My favourite and best event is definitely cross country, there’s no tactics you just go out hard, pick it up in the middle and finish strong (easy right 😛 ?!!?) What is your favourite training workout? For me it’s not about the actual workout and more about the who and the where I train. My favourite days are in Marlay with Meghan by my (left) side and we’re pushing each other. I’ve learnt the hard way not too go out too fast at the start or you won’t make it to the end of those long Marlay session. A while back our boyfriends came on a 2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile session with us. One of them decided to push the pace out early but I was smart enough to follow Meghan’s lead and hang back at the pace Donal had set us. They soon learnt when on the last mile up the golf course hill we looked behind only to see the two lads taking the shortcut across the path! And your least favourite? The worst sessions are the ones that mentally kill you rather than physically. Today I had a 14 mile run to do from the confines of the cross trainer in my back garden. I now know the details of my garden fence intimately having stared at it for over 1.5 hours. What is your most cherished or proudest moment in your athletics career? National Senior cross country last year was pretty special. It was a particularly muddy year so I just stuck my head down and spent the first 2 laps focusing on not landing on my ass while skating across some of the worst patches. On lap 3 I heard Donal shouting at me (Donal never shouts at a race) and realized I was either doing something very right or very wrong so I kicked on as much as I could just in case.
I finished 7th, the highest place I’ve ever managed at Nationals. I still remember Meghan breaking through the barriers (with a very angry AAI official trying in vain to stop her) to come and hug me. I wish I had a photo for that moment. What is your most loved athletics sporting moment of all time? I much prefer local events when I know who I am cheering for. One race that had my heart in my mouth was watching Paul O’Donnell in the 2018 National Cross Championships. Donal had told him not to go out hard as 10k is a long race, so Paul did the exact opposite and shot straight to the leading group. Every lap I got more and more excited as he continued to plough. He was surrounded by plenty of cross country veterans but he wasn’t fazed, just put his head down and ignored all the advice from the sidelines. I didn’t stop holding my breath though till he made it across the line. What is your favourite race / athletics meet to take part in? I always look forward to the Mini Marathon, it holds such a special place for DSD athletes and the atmosphere is incredible. The support around the course is like nothing you experience anywhere else and the camaraderie from everyone taking part is really unique. What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I lost a ligament in my ankle last year, it took us months to work out what was wrong and even longer to figure out how to fix it. I was almost a year trying to teach myself how to jump and sprint again. In the meantime I took to the cross trainer in a desperate attempt to stay fit. I reckon I could be the next Sonia O’Sullivan if the cross trainer ever gets added to the Olympic lineup. What do you eat before a race and how long before do you eat? I have an unhealthy obsession with oats – if I ever got stranded on a dessert island I could happily survive on oats for several weeks. Whenever we travel to races I always have it stashed in my suitcase and am a dab hand at cooking porridge in a hotel room using only a disposable cup, lukewarm water and a plate. If David Gillick runs out of recipes for his next book I’m always happy to share my 100 ways to cook porridge. I usually have porridge the morning of a race and if it’s a late race I’ll usually eat either pasta or porridge again 3 hours beforehand. If you could have dinner with 3 sporting personalities past or present who would you pick ? Simone Biles – I think she has even more energy then me so I’d like to see how she sits still for a full 3 course meal Layton Hewitt – One of my favourite tennis players of all time, he never gives up even when he shouldn’t be able to reach the next shot. Tommy Bowe – what girl wouldn’t want him to pop over for dinner???? What is your next running / athletics goal? My plan this year was to set a new PB for the 5k so that’s still the plan. I’m not sure where or when that will be but for now I’m not worrying about the logistics of that, I’m just focusing on what I can control which is my training schedule and what I need to do to stay in good shape. How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I still get up at 6am and do my run before work. The commute is a lot quicker these days as the traffic on my staircase is quite light so I’m able to fit a yoga session into the evenings too! I realized at the start of this lockdown that if I wanted to stay sane I’d have to get creative and find new ways to keep a routine. There’s a quote I keep beside my bed that sums it up perfectly; Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? No matter how much you think you know there is always more to learn. Athletes have a tendancy to focus on the short term but coaches have the benefit of experience and can see the bigger picture. Donal (my coach) has always made sure I peak for the big events and has managed to coach me from injury back to PB shape several times, even during this latest crisis he has adopted our training schedule and continues to send us motivational videos. I have learnt if you are honest with your coach about the good days and the bad days you can work with them to achieve great things. I honestly don’t thank him enough for keeping me on track (pun intended!). Do you have any memorable or funny story from DSD that you could share? Several! My very first race for DSD was a particularly miserable day in Tymon park where the rain did not stop coming. As was customary back then DSD singlets were in short supply so we had to do the usual relay pass with them. My cousin started off the day in the juvenile races wearing our Conway/Clinton singlet and passed it onto me with only a few mud splatters to run the women’s race. Unfortunately the rain turned to hail just as we took off and I ended up flinging a soaking wet singlet at Mark Conway to finish off the day’s schedule. I still turn up to the occasional cross country race in that singlet today. Can you share an old picture from your running days
Below is photo evidence of that day in Tymon park!
<img src="" alt="94376336_10157435754730292_8190651028887044096_n.jpg" />

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