I make no apologies for the moany nature of this blog post. I also make no apologies about the frequent references to Elton John.
Covers all basis I think you will agree.
You see I think I owe myself an apology and what the sequined maestro penned years ago rings true – sorry, does indeed, seem to be the hardest word. An apology based on my sabotage like nature, routed in the way I seem to manufacture issues for myself prior to races, to give myself an excuse if things don’t go according to plan come stupid o’clock when I am in rubber by a lake with random people. I give myself some Hard times.
I don’t have a proper plan for the year, I have a vague plan for the year and so you would think hitting and sticking to said vagueness would be easy. Generally, aside from the falling out of lofts / bike breakages I have this year; where I could stuck to my plans. Volumes have risen nicely, I have created my own little sky line as per the below, with May being on track to be the biggest training month so far ever for me – I know for many 400 miles isn’t a lot but for me it’s akin to climbing Ben Nevis without any shoes (and I have done that and it hurt a lot (although it was pretty cool)) I have also swam 3000 metres in one hit twice now – something I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever be able to do.
However I am still unlike a rocket man on the swim, bike or run legs due to my massive shortcomings in the one part of my body I don’t seem to be able to train consistency. I fear my biggest limiting factor, aside from the Santa like belly, is my own childlike, daydreaming, self-inflicting nugget. The nerve centre of it all, seems to be acting like a member of the Vietcong and a ninja rolled into one, systematically attempting to sabotage my bid by mentally self-harming myself, leaving my confidence and self-esteem blowing like a candle in the wind. You see if I eat a tray of yogurts or half a loaf of bread in one sitting it gives me a reason to blame, something tangible to cling to – it’s not my fault I couldn’t do a sub 2hr HM on Sunday at the backend of the 70.3 – it’s because I wasn’t fuelled correctly in the week leading up to the event.
As this is about honesty – I will be frank with you all. Winning the Ironman Wales entry and coaching plan is probably the worst thing that could have happened to me this year. The plan is written – excluding the races and other things I have committed to in-between and all I have to do is follow the yellow brick road to ensure that I get to the sandy beach in wales in one healthy piece, a prime specimen of manliness.
Exactly. It’s never going to happen. It’s about as unrealistic as expecting me to do run a mile with a 5 at start or swim the channel towing the Qe2 or bike 100 miles without screaming abuse at wildlife. Not in my lifetime.
It’s crazy the volumes that’s included in the plan – crazy to think I can hit those intensities week after week before now and September. I can barely cope now on the bumbling plan I have. It’s like opening Pandora’s box to just how far away I am from being ready for any sort of long distance event / challenge. Removing the blinkers allows all sorts of issues to come across my field of vision – what if I let the sponsors down, what if I don’t finish, what if I do finish but I finish last, what if I can’t get my wetsuit off in T1 and have to keep it on for the rest of the day like some sort of overindulgent gimp suit, what if I can’t find my bike, what if I forget my shorts etc.
I was always hoping that I could get through outlaw in July due to its relatively flat nature and the fact that the run is loops and the notorious crowd would get me through it. I hadn’t thought as far ahead as imagine a goal time – purely finishing it would honestly be enough. But now it’s all about maximising training time to hit target finish times which are unattainable and ultimately terrifying. Also clearly the coach doesn’t seem to understand that I break something at least every two weeks – be it myself, my wetsuit or my bike every time I go near it.
So much so, that I have taken a step back and effectively binned off the plan, saying goodbye to the yellow brick road, already and gone back to my own deluded thoughts. I don’t have aspirations to win events (although I guess deep down, we all just can’t wait to be king)– I just have aspirations to not be the fat lad I was at school, who couldn’t run 100 metres or do the high jump. I want to be able to play with my daughter and get her doing regular exercise, find it fun and have events built into her upbringing. Fun happy times, not constant pressure to hit targets – I get enough of that at work what with the cows and all.
Thing is that despite this and although I will never win an event I haven’t ever really done ‘badly’ and have only once been disappointed with a result. I have always come top half in all the events, usually top 3rd overall and then a satisfactory place within the AG which consistently surprises me – it does however make me think what I could do if I didn’t beat myself up mentally and physically on such a regular basis. What would it have been like if I had found the sport when I was my daughters age and then never got fatter than a fat thing.
I always knew it wasn’t (aint) going to be easy to devote enough time to training and enough time to family based fun – I don’t want to go breaking hearts but its massively tough the strain that is placed on a relationship when one of you wants to do an ironman. Over the bank holiday weekend we had numerous things on – mainly involving being in a pub or a situation where it didn’t allow for anything healthy to occur. So much so that I was making a massive effort to not eat too much or more importantly drink too much.
So Friday night, no drinking whilst all around were finishing bottle after bottle of wine, Sunday at a christening I had one drink then stuck to water, using the excuse of driving to not indulge and then bank holiday Monday we attended a family fun day in a pub. I had 4 pints of Guinness over a 6 hour period to be sociable, with each mouthful being less enjoyable as in my head it distanced myself from the prospect of doing ok at outlaw, then I flat out stopped drinking – despite others around me continuing. In my head I had flipped, I wanted to get up and walk home by myself – I wanted to add some distance between me and the crisps and burgers and chocolate puddings. My tolerance was broken and I just sat there like a miserable sod whilst all around me enjoyed themselves.
But I stayed and because I had beaten myself up about the alcohol intake I, despite being starving hungry, refused to eat. As a point of principle I wasn’t going to eat, so that balanced everything out in my head, ok I had 4 pints but I didn’t eat the chips. So I sat there whilst my wife and some friends and the accumulated offspring ate a two course meal. By the time we got home I was that tired and hungry that I had a bowl of porridge to eat (as everyone knows porridge is healthy) and then promptly fell asleep with my head on the kitchen table at 8.30 in broad daylight. Clearly something is up with me at the moment, a constant weeklong headache does require further investigation but I think this will magically disappear on Sunday afternoon when I hopefully have an outlaw medal round my neck.
So yes I was labelled boring effectively three nights out of four. But I don’t think outside of the little twitter triathlon community anyone I know understands the commitment it takes to get up at 4.30 and go for a 10 mile run before the rest of the house is up, before breakfast, in the rain. Sure friends like discussing it, saying wow that’s impressive but then when I fall asleep in a bowl of porridge everyone thinks I am strange. My parents are prime examples of this – despite no sporting history themselves – whenever I speak to them they seem to find it madness that I have had a rest day or ‘only’ run 4/5 miles, completely forgetting that 28 months ago I was 22 stone and I couldn’t run down the road to catch the ice cream van, despite the probable burning desire to do so.
Everyone likes the glory days – the days of the events – turning up for a few hours to watch and shout support as you cross the finish line, it gives good bragging rights to social networks but like John Terry and a trophy lifting ceremony don’t you think its plain wrong to bask in someone else’s glory unless you have gone through, at least some of, the pain yourself?
Dont get me wrong – my wife has been super supportive to me, throughout the journey to where I am now.
This is turning into somewhat of a bumbling ramble against the world, so I will end it now – however if you see a man wandering round the Holiday Inn on Saturday night in Nottingham eating a McDonalds then it will be me, committing a fast food sacrifice to the demons in my head, giving myself a good reason why potentially I will be useless come race day.
I guess – I’m still standing….
(For reference the rubbish Elton John songs in the above, in no particular order are; Hard times, Sorry seems to be the hardest word, Rocket man, Breaking hearts, Candle in the wind, I just can’t wait to be king, Holiday inn, Aint going to be easy, Sacrifice, Goodbye yellow brick road, I’m still standing)
Next week – Genesis