Month: July 2015

An Ode To The Wife

One of the main reasons I started attempting to get fit was my deluded mind-set and frankly appalling treatment of family life at that point. ( (its strangely emotional re-reading some of the original blog posts)

I am certainly less chubby than I was then and as a family we are definitely a million miles away from what I put us all through. Thankfully the child was too young to remember (and rather unfairly mostly thinks the sun shines out of my arse) and I think Sue has blocked out that period of time so she too doesn’t reference it.

So how have a repaid them for the faith, loyalty and belief – especially Sue – have given me in the almost 10 years we have been together.

In part by ensuring that in the last two years I have dragged them increasingly around the country to watch me bumble about at stupid o’clock in the morning dressed in some inappropriate tight fitting clothing, whilst generally swearing and being bad tempted until I am united with a litre of ice cold Fanta and the biggest possible ice cream, where upon I usually fall asleep.

I have taken Sue to such glamorous places as Chirk, Market Drayton, Flint, Conwy, Chester, Tenby, Bala, Keswick, Nottingham and Whitchurch. Sometimes I have made her go back the following year to make her stand in a similar spot in the rain again.

Hardly places which scream glamour, glitz and excitement. I will gloss over the semi exciting trip to London and Hyde park – where I ‘nearly’ beat a brownlee, as the only shop she saw all day was the KFC on the service station on the way home.

On top of this she puts up with the usual mood swings (heightened this year by the knee issues / the operation / recovery process / ‘Tenby blues’) the general tiredness, the early starts when I lug my ample frame out of bed, the daily mountain like pile of washing I generate due to my ability to sweat after 15 seconds of anything approaching exercise.

I often only do some events, because I am a medal hoebag – having never received any tangible sporting reward in my life before that first dangerously slow 10k but let’s be honest Sue deserves the biggest medal for putting up with me. She even got me a medal cake for father’s day last year (when we were all away in the lakes….because I was doing an event there)


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Clearly I don’t get away scot free from the situation – I mean I sit / sleep through a lot of episodes of Emmerdale and the such upon an evening, I occasionally have to deal with the mountain of washing I produce and put up with her increasingly vocal dismay at me still having not done all the DIY I promised last year, this year – but you know it ‘might’ get done next year.

I am not going to sit here and type that it’s all going to change in the future – clearly it probably won’t; I will likely still be a medal hoe, I will be doing two big events next year (the ironman distance ‘Lakesman’ triathlon in June and hopefully the TTT ( and no doubt if the wonderful people at 9bar haven’t figured out I am less sporty inspiration and more 9bar aholic then hopefully I will be able to do a few events for them as well, added to the fact I was promised a club place at the London marathon next year and things already look busy on the racing front……..

I used to have weekends away with my best mate – covering off the majority of the culturally (beer laden) significant European countries. I have done many a stupid thing on weekends away – I have taken part in the world lilo raft race, which akin to my triathlon performances resulted in injury and a mid-pack finish, I have spent a night in prison (it was a hostel), I stayed awake from a Friday morning till Monday afternoon in Riga powered solely by beer, flaming shots and an abundance chips, I have pretended to be homosexual to get on to a big gay party cruise liner, I have been completely lost at the world’s biggest beer festival and I have also taken part in the Pamplona bull run – which also again akin to my performance in lyrca resulted in me injuring myself by falling over.

Sue worried massively about me when I was away doing these stupid things – especially in Spain when I was getting chased by a pack of bulls and terrorised by Sangria but she didn’t voice her opinion to loudly – they were short snaps of time. I mean the bull run is pretty much less than a minute of being terrified – an Ironman swim is over an hr and given I tend to almost drown or get beaten up for at least 10 minutes at the start of that.

However when I am training and racing she has to think about all the stupid things I can do to myself for hours at a time – not knowing if I was to be the one not to return in Bala, ( or having the recent increase in cyclist accidents / incidents out on the roads on her mind whilst I am off playing on my bike, or just the general fact I seem to manage to be in some sort of situation regards of the actual situation I am in ( I mean how many people swam head first directly into a big static mooring buoy in Tenby?!?) but never once (ok, once she did) has she complained about these actual events or the consequences of training – like me falling asleep on the grass at Chester Zoo last year or the need for an occasional granny nap on the weekend or how upset I get if I run out of coffee and dates.

See what my wife lacks in height she makes up for with the biggest heart I have ever encountered.

Regardless of how big the crowd is or how much she has to fight her way through to the barriers – she always does, she is always heard loud and clear (something which my daughter seems to have picked up as well, as she was found shouting at me from on top of a bin at Chester Tri last year). And it never fails to motivate me, put a smile on my face and give me that little bit extra pace to continue to stumble towards the finish line. I only wish that at every point she has ever taken a photo of me, I could have taken a photo of her – to show her much it means to me to see her (and her smile) and hear her when times are tough (apart from at the Gauntlet this year when she called me an idiot for doing the third lap, when I could have quite happily push her into the stream)

The fact she has learnt to swim, from being openly scared of water and has taken part in two running 5km events and one 10km event delights me – despite claiming to not enjoy either running or swimming. And it fills me with an equal amount of pride as when I see my daughter practising triathlon in the back garden (although she has yet to fully master the paddling pool open water 100m) or when she shouts genuine encouragement out of the car window when we drive past a group of cyclists on a Sunday afternoon ride.

If you are ever really unfortunate and meet Sue, she will openly tell you that she doesn’t really like me doing the long distance events and doesn’t understand why anyone would put themselves through the pain and discomfort to get to the start (let alone the finish) line of a triathlon but she never wavers in her support or encouragement and for that I will be forever grateful. She doesn’t discriminate either, seemingly shouting at everyone and anyone come race day with the same amount of volume and passion. It’s not much of a surprise that she is normally more knackered than me at the end of race day – shouting encouragement whilst being worried for hours at a time is physically and emotionally draining. After the traditional cheat meal post an event (usually the biggest, dirtiest pizza we can find) its usual for her to collapse into bed long before the adrenaline of the day has left my body and I, usually painfully and gingerly, follow suit.

Triathlon training, especially long distance, is an extremely selfish indulgence and despite my willingness to attempt to do most training at silly o’clock in the morning it still involves hours spent away from family and family activities and if I am honest as a result dictates what we do as a family.

So I feel now would be a goodtime to tell her I have entered Challenge Roth next year.

What’s not to like – it’s in Germany with a mini rave / party / beer festival, its scenic, it tends to be toasty hot and she will get to see people dressed like this, which I think would be super exciting for everyone involved.

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Only joking – I want to do it in 2017.

Then I might stop messing around with all this long distance business and focus on Olympic or half ironman distances.

Thanks for the continued support my gorgeous little family.

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This Elephant Can

It’s hard to be profound when every three seconds you are soaked to the skin in fresh sweat, from just sitting still in the shade.

The only daylight activity being getting in or out of the pool, deciding which slide to go down or which all inclusive seemingly watered down alcoholic drink to go for next.

But I am going to attempt it anyway.


That is of course excluding the three mind boiling early morning runs I managed (including a glorious 8 mile pre-dawn and somewhat hilly forest track run) oh and one attempt at proper swimming when I just basically chased fish around for three quarters of a mile.

However some important things have mentally happened to me this week whilst on the second and disappointingly last proper family holiday this year, in sweltering Turkey.

To many it will be something which wouldn’t even register with most of the population let alone the triathlon world I pretend to mix in.

However to me it’s quiet a big breakthrough in my body confidence.

I can mess around in ill-fitting lyrca in front of hundreds / thousands of spectators on televised events. But as none of them can or want to talk to me I don’t care. That and the fact that I am normally in so much pain I have to focus on moving forward rather than embarrassment at all the jiggling bits that I have going on.

The elephant in my mind is wandering around in just its baggy swimming trunks. Or if you prefer something more saucy; topless. Letting the world see the complete birthday suit, well everything apart from the Crown Jewels. Or if you also prefer, just wandering around in my budgie smugglers.


Now I can happy get semi naked in a layby to go open water swimming and fully naked in an ironman change tent to continue the suffering in fresh clothes, but the thought of walking to the hotel bar or going to the loo without covering up my moobs, brings me out in cold sweat.

See as I used to be very, very big I have a strange belly as a result of years of cake misuse. It’s granted still pretty big now but not big in the form of a beer belly which often appears from a distance to be hard ( I have no idea if it is actually hard as I haven’t yet plucked up the coverage to touch up a real ale drinker)

No I have the loose skin, wobbly like Santa and his festive bowl full of jelly. This starts from just below my ribs and once tapped produces a mini tsunami like ripple effect across my ample podge.




So for me to join in activities such as some surprisingly violent games of Turkish water polo (still child’s play compared to a triathlon swim start) and who can make the biggest splash off the pool slide (which I did surprisingly bad in) it’s actually probably more important to me than the first 10k I ever did.

It’s taken till this point in my adult life, but I think I have finally shelved my screwed up body issues. I know I am not the thinnest, or fittest or tallest or have the most muscles and judging by this holiday definitely not the most tattooed but you know what I am me and sod it, I think I might be finally happy about it.

Maybe all those beers weren’t watered down after all.

However it does make me wonder how many other males are out there with similar body confidence issues. We, rightly, hear a lot about female body confidence problems and that has recently developed into the ‘This girl can’ campaign which seems to have caught the media eye.

I know it’s not very PC, to ask, but where is the male version?

Where is the publicity for those blokes, like me who suffer with body confidence problems? I speak from ( a continued ) experience – it took a hell of a lot for me to begin running in public, because I thought people would laugh at me or judge me. That’s why I started running at 5 in the morning to start with – generally the only living thing I see is various wildlife and just the very occasional dog walker. That way less embarrassment, less opportunity to be ashamed, less chance someone would laugh at me.

Even on this holiday whilst getting lost in the Turkish hills running, with my green 9bar team vest visibly drenched in sweat I was conscious of the potential comments that might come my way, which considering I only saw a solitary Turkish farmer was ridiculous.

I know it’s a mind-set thing (I now generally take it as a badge of honour to leave a pool of sweat behind me, after training) but that first stride on that first run is difficult for everyone and not just women.

With this new found confidence I might even venture into the pool over the winter and actually do some swimming, although if I think I might have company if I do, seen as the family all seem to be turing into water babies.



An interesting couple of weekends have been and gone and I have learnt a number of things, which I thought it prudent to share;

1. Colour runs are actually bloody good fun. Regardless of cost per km or car tyre the fun we had as a family that day was brilliant and something which I think will be repeated in the future.


2. A good swim, a good bike and a crap run = a crap time. Having had time to reflect on the Gauntlet event my lasting memories are of disappointed and realism about where I am body wise. The swim was steady, the bike felt great (again getting some comments about being hard to catch / being good for a big lad) but the run was fairly horrendous from the 3rd mile. Knee issues remain and I think they will have to be carefully monitored in the lead up to Tenby. I am bigger than last year, that is not in question and its now time to do something seriously about it.


3.Children are very inspiring little things. I am glad I finished the Gauntlet, at the time I was going to pull out Zoe said just one more lap then we get to run down to the finish together, so off I hobbled for another lap. I know I can walk, in pain, a half marathon in around 2:20 – that might be an extremely important piece of information in September.


4.South Wales is a long way from North Wales. I have been to Tenby 3 times in my life now and each time I am surprised at just how long it takes to get there – either this is my stupidity or it is genuinely a bloody long way away when stuck behind caravans, tractors, vans, lorries………

5.Children are very inspiring little things. Zoe took part in the Taff kids event on the beach pre my swim on Friday and proudly charged around the course in her bright orange future outlaw top, in and out of the surf and along the beach to collect her medal, beaming from ear to ear.


6.Jelly fish feel like I imagine fake boobs feel – every time during the 2.8 mile swim I touched / bumped / came face to face with one of the little buggers I thought of the little silicone implants, which descended into imagining how cool it would be if I was swimming in a sea of boobs. My mind wanders at the best of times when swimming (probably to take my mind off how occasionally terrifying I find it) but when I don’t really have to sight – as I was in big groups all the time – it seemed to go into overdrive, least it helped pass the time and took my mind off getting punched at every turn buoy.


7. Fist pumps are amazing – when I climbed past the point at which I dropped out last year on the bike course, I was actually pretty emotional inside and I am sure my smile / fist pump as I rounded the roundabout would have made a brilliant event photo.

8. Coping strategies are weird and wonderful things – during the long course bike I was trying to mentally count down the climbs I knew I had coming up – ok going through Narbeth the second time, when I was struggling to move I knew I had 2 proper climbs left. Just two. The bad two – the two which hurt the most, at the end of the joint longest bike ride of my life. But its only two – two is only a small number, I have done like 10 climbs today which I have complained about inside. Stop being a bitch and keep going. Don’t you dare stop or put your foot down – its 16% who cares, keep going almost there- oh look a pigeon, suffer but don’t give up – this isn’t last year, just anohter 5 minutes……..

9. It’s not worth risking injury for 5 minutes over 8 hours. During the 8hrs I was on, sometimes in, and around my bike on Saturday I can recall 3 serious accidents which I saw. I am not pinning blame on the cyclists in these instances however two involved a wall which I am pretty sure hadn’t moved in almost 100 yrs and one was a van which was half in a hedge with the cyclist appearing to plough into the other half. Clearly the last one is up for debate, however happening upon the scene it seemed clear that the rider had overshot the tight country lane corner and smacked the van and not the other way round. I later found out he broke a couple of ribs and punctured his lung – which would explain why they closed the road on the second loop – a price worth paying for going a little quicker? I climb slowly due to being me, but I descend slowly (some would say sensibly) because I don’t want to end up in an ambulance or injure my pretty bike.

10. Falling over at a feed station is very, very embarrassing – especially when at the time I had just spent an age changing a puncture and having the sweetest cup of coffee known to mankind.

11.Thinking / talking about punctures always ends up with acquiring at least one. Myself and Dave mentioned punctures numerous times on the first lap of the course – he buggered off and I got two in the space of 10 miles. I blame him, the smiling assassin.

12. Dave is annoying good at climbing hills


13. Dave wants to be in Team Sky

14. Dave doesn’t appear to sweat at all

15. The Tenby demons from last year have been laid to rest. I know I can do the swim, I know even with two punctures, falling over and stopping at every feed station I can do the bike in under 8 hours on a bad knee. That means I would have around 7 hours to complete a hilly marathon. If I can walk a half in under 2:30 then in theory I should be able to as a worst case walk a complete one in under 7 hours. Hopefully it wont come to that, but you never know.

16. I now have a mixture of excitement and nerves about September 13th but by god I am now looking forward to closing the chapter behind me.


Plus I am going to eat the biggest ice cream in the world afterwards