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Pickled in Estrella

What follows is the usual holiday ramblings;

It almost feels like if I don’t have Outlaw for the next couple of months as a focus I will just stop doing anything. That said the thought of doing it right now is fairly terrifying to be honest. I havent ridden my bike for longer than 60 miles in a go this yr and have stagnated after the London episode to the point where despite increase miles overall I have decreased focus. More junk miles are more miles after all, which satisfies the short term ego boost but ultimately leaves the longer term even further away or hanging on a knife edge. Going out to do a three hr session at intended comfortable pace with efforts (for me 20mph) and coming back having done low 19’s and being hammered doesn’t really appease either. 

My head still can’t get around the thought that if I do outlaw it may well, in all likelihood, be slower than when I did it the first time and that fear of being measurably slower or pulling out (let’s be honest I have form) when things either go wrong or hurt to much just pushes me closer to chickening out. If there is no likely or limited enjoyment and only a perceived increased amount of pain (with potential long term suffering) then it’s just a chubby fool chasing a medal I properly won’t look at apart from when I am drunk.

That said every time anyone asks about my tattoo I get a surge of pride, a hidden feeling rises up and makes me feel ten feet tall. The usual questions of really? Why? That’s nuts, I don’t think I could do that etc come and I admit I like people thinking I am not just some fucking finance manager for which ever company currently has the pleasure of employing me. 

That will remain regardless of if I do another 10 or never another long one again. Maybe my mind is a victim of its overinflated self selected success which is why I am now somewhat suck in this now massively elongated state of mind; nothing is good enough and everything leaves me further behind. 

I still resemble more of a beached whale than a Greek god on the beach, although I am finally coming round to giving less of a toss of what I perceive others to think of me.

That said having a little Spanish man, dressed in a bright green wrestling costume, wip off my top after being dragged on stage what’s exactly fun or reassuring. The video of said incident also served to hammer home that I will never look as good as I want. 

That’s not defeatist but a reality check – I was too big for too long and things are too far stretched to ever not have flabbiness on my gut. Unless I guess I choose to pay for some sort of tummy tuck; but then I am not a middle age mum from Cheshire with a rich sugar daddy.

Whilst away I found enjoyment in running in the early mornings; joined by a sunrise and an increasingly growing number of speedy fellow runners as the time edged closer to sensible o’clock. 

But I enjoyed getting out, I enjoyed fantasising I was on a hot weather training camp and the thought of how many courses I could eat for breakfast afterwards. I ran for fun, for the challenge of running to Alcudia along the main road or the challenge of attempting to keep up with the speedy multinational bastards hammering along the promenade. I didn’t run to push myself, I didn’t do it with any particular event in mind or target time. Just the process was enough – likewise when I swam. 

Twice it was Tenby esq rough and to be honest I was just glad not to drown whilst on holiday or engage Tenby vomit. Then the other times when it was mercifully calmer it was just swimming for (the little) enjoyment it brings. Chasing fish and generally just taking pleasure in what I could ogle at along the way, semi naked ladies included.

With that tactic I actually managed to do 10 hrs of decent exercise in the 8 days which I hope at least partially offsets the constant drinking and eating which I definitely enjoyed for 9 days. 

I haven’t enjoyed the daily 30 mins of knee exercises I have to do since January to keep my knees fit and functional and that’s the balance for the future.

If I keep pushing them will it result in longer term issues? I have loads of plans for life and none of them involve broken, dodgy knees from attempting long distance triathlons. 

Jacking the job in after the mortgage is paid off and the kid is no doubt travelling the world and doing something similar is more within my thoughts, which I presume will be easier with a semi functioning body. 

This is just a series of small rambles with no clear answer to the question which still remains unanswered.

I have thought of entering another smaller local tri – either an Olympic or 70.3 on the 11th June to see if it sparks something inside of me. On the back of that I would choose to either continue with the Outlaw plan or withdraw on the 11th (which is the next cut off of decreased refunds) but I can’t bring myself to even enter that, which I suppose highlights that deep down I don’t want to do either events and leads me down the path to just pulling out now.

Aside point I guess is I wonder when I decided in my head that a 70.3 was easy? It’s not like I am quick or threatening the top ten at them and it’s still a bloody long way for a fat lad. 

Is it a bigger challenge to go sub 5hr or at least get close in a 70.3 and not destroy my knees than chase an improbable sub 11hr and break them? 

Especially as I fly to Thailand two days later for 3 weeks; which will be more fun if I can walk. 

The emphasis on the next decision should be on which battle to select going forward and I think with that in mind I will pull out of outlaw this year, use the funds saved from hotel rooms and the refund back on race entry towards maybe a down payment on a nice road bike and see how I go at the 70.3 I have booked (more likely I will switch to the oly) in for the end of June.

Probably change my mind and find myself on the starting line in Nottingham…..

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Double or Quits?

So let’s dissect the carnage of the London Marathon – selfishly for my benefit and hopefully to reach a conclusion about what the future potentially holds.

Granted this year hasn’t been perfect, however it has been a million times more perfect than the previous two – not having a knee op this year has been a pleasant change to tradition (although I got worryingly close again) and in general the build up to the first big day out of the year what reasonably well.

I missed one long run in the general build up and although I was cutting it fine with the original plan I was going with the conclusion that a trio of 20 mile training runs would suffice and mean that hopefully my knee wouldn’t be broken come the start line.

However that turned into a deuce of 19’s and a 15 miler (where I spectacularly melted in the heat) all completed on a pace to roughly get me to 20 miles in just under 3hrs and then leave the magic of the last 6 to race day.

The trip down was good, long and a bit boring but generally fine. The expo was smaller than I expected and I got in and out inside 10 minutes when I couldn’t find anyone I recognised and went to sit in the sunshine out the front, mindful of not wandering round aimlessly – after all I had a target to hit.

A target I thought was reasonable and achievable if I followed the plan, paced myself accordingly and held my mind together. The target was 3:59:59 – basically anything that started with a 3. I have only done one previous standalone marathon and that was Chester some 4 years ago where I hobbled over the line in 4:29 after little training and having never run further than 16 miles before.

So the goals were;

A – Go under 4 hrs

B – Beat previous PB of 4:29

C – Finish in one piece with no lasting damage

D – Enjoy it

Granted I didn’t think I could achieve D without A or B and C might and should probably have been A thinking about it.

Alphabet aside come the start line I was fit and healthy (by my standards) confident about what was going to happen, my pace for the first half, the timings of taking on gels etc. I remember sitting by the baggage drop lorry on the floor perfectly calm and relaxed – no mad dashing to the loo’s, no panic about what was to come, I was a little hungry (which has random) but other than that I felt perfect by my standards.

Maybe the confidence came from the Ironman thing of ‘it’s only a marathon’ bravado or I was over confident or just that I was happy I had made the start line after the countless hours of physio this year.

london start

I am not welsh

The weather was spot on, the atmosphere great in my blue zone 5 start area and although crowded I had plenty of room. The pro’s went off and then the walk started till we got to the corner and entered the start straight past the seating grandstand. I stupidity figured that the crowd of runners would spread out after this point, but no – everyone seemed to do the opposite and it became almost overbearing when we past through narrower streets.

Having never run that close to others for such a consistent period I really struggled to not let it affect me. The crowds were also fairly consistently deep throughout apart from a short stretch at the start and I struggled to remain calm. The only feeling I can equate it to was that it was similar to panic attacks I sometime get during the start of a deep water triathlon start. The sensation of not being in control, of not liking what has going on around me and the sense of something going horribly wrong.

The inner demons were already out at this point as through 5 miles I was 25 seconds ish down on where I wanted to be. I reconciled this in my head by assuring myself I would just do another mile past 13 at that pace and thus make up that difference.

Legs felt good, head a little less so.

Through the next 5 miles it went ok ish – my pace dropped a little but I felt comfortable and although I knew I was going slightly slower than I had hoped I was still on track to get close to 4hrs and still didn’t have much room around me to run much faster anyway. I focused on just ticking off the miles and not really concentrating on what was happening at the sides or around me.

It was good to run past the landmarks you always see on TV such as the Cutty Sark and passing over Tower Bridge was admittedly pretty special but it was at that point that I knew things weren’t right.

I was struggling to hold 9 min miles, sweating massively (even for me) and only managed it twice thereafter, then I couldn’t hold 9:30 min miles and managed it 3 times before everything came to a head.

This was supposed to happen at 20 miles, these issues I knew were potentially coming but I had planned for them later, much later in the no man’s land of 20-26 miles where I had hoped the crowds would magically drag me along and I would somehow finish in a blaze of glory chasing down a sub 4 finish.

Not after 14 miles, not with so far to go. The demons came back (the old school feelings about being useless, being fat, not being up to it, not being prepared enough, delusions of grandeur  etc. etc.) for the first time I admitted defeat to getting close to 4hrs and looking back now I probably gave up the will to attempt to get even in the same postcode as it.

3 miles later at 17 miles I just couldn’t keep running and thus begun the run / walk within which I managed increasingly less running and more walking through to mile 21 where I was then full on walking pace of 18 min miles.

My mind had gone at this point – if I known where I was, had my phone, some money or the ability to get back to the meeting place by pulling out I would have.

I would have taken the ignominy of not finishing over the humiliation of walking the rest.

Pacers charged by like regular steam trains with hordes of people hanging onto the back of the groups, pushing and scrambling to get past those cast to the sides or struggling. My rage at myself boiling over when pushed one too many times and pushing back verbally with a barrage of expletives that sweet innocent children offering jelly babies and orange segments shouldn’t have heard for at least another 10 years.

Head down, shoulders slumped, knees aching, feet on fire I plodded on.

The slow painful resentment of walking in an event yet again boiling inside me.

I know some people have strong feelings about people walking marathons or the run legs of ironmans – the completer vs the competitor syndrome. Some it appears set out to walk the vast majority of a large event, certainly London seemed to have a number of these (witnessed on the switch backs) and I have no problem with this if that is your plan.

Everyone has their own goals, their own agenda, battled their own demons to step up to the start line and their own plan to reach the finish. I would never berate anyone or belittle their achievement in facing personal battles.

But for me I absolutely hate it.

I hate the feeling, I hate the failure and I hate that I am not strong enough in both mind and body to push through things when everything goes tits up. At Outlaw I didn’t mind walking as I thought it would be the only way I would ever have the possibility of finishing a Ironman distance triathlon. It was what superhuman and superfit people did.

At Tenby I knew I would walk a large chunk due to my knees and I was fine with it (well not fine with when it started but generally fine), it was all about getting to the finish and closing the door on that chapter.

At Lakesman my guts (literally and figurerly) gave up and I could have kept going and walked the remaining 25k’s but I didn’t want to ‘just’ finish the event in 14+ hrs –  I wanted to do what I set out to do and it was the same principle with London.

Knowing that I was going to be nowhere near the time I wanted, meant that there was no point pushing on wards with attempting to trot to the next drinks station or the next corner.

Sod it – who cares if I come in at 5 hrs or 6 hrs, both are way below where I wanted.

Both would be failures in my head.

With that in mind I just walked, I blanked out the noise, the supporters and all the razzmatazz bits that go with the event and just limped along in my own little pissed off, grumpy world.

Previously at Outlaw and Tenby I broke into a run towards the conclusion of the event and these are special memories (especially finishing with Sue and Zoe at Outlaw) but not this time. I resolved to walk every last step to the line, no breaking into a trot, no smiling for the cameras or looking happy. No pretending I had run it all or was content with my performance.

I just plodded down the last bit with the crowds seemingly ever increasing, the posh bit by the palace, the bit you recognise from the TV, plodded towards the red arches and then through one of them. I didn’t look at my time, didn’t look around me and didn’t smile for any camera’s.

I was given a medal, which I declined the nice lady putting round my neck and stuck it straight into my pocket (where it stayed till I was told to put it on at the service station on the way home for a group picture some 6 hrs later)

london final

Spot the one not smiling

I took my shoes off and continued through the processing to get my various bags and then sat down by a fence, shaking.

Relived it was over, mind made up not to do anything so long again and full on plans killed for Outlaw and the Double Ironman or Equinox later in the year.

A big fat fucking failure.

I got changed and hobbled my way to the meeting point at the pub, through crowds of happy people smiling and joking in the post marathon glaze of glory.

I ordered a coke and then sat on the pavement outside alone on the strand and just sat there for 90 mins in a sort of daze. Not really talking to anyone and not really able to process my thoughts about the day’s events.

People regularly came up and asked if I was OK and offered words of encouragement, all of which fell on deaf ears to me.

I had finished a marathon, an iconic one at that, an event which I had worked hard to reach the start line but I hadn’t finished it in the manner I wanted.

In my head I had failed.

Maybe my target was unrealistic but the training I had done pointed to it being achievable, tough but achievable (Looking back if I had held the pace I had till mile 20 and then run the last 6 miles in the time it took me to do 14-20 I would have come in at 4:04 – that’s a big IF though)

Now I am left in a sort of post event daze.

What to do going forward. In the past after events it’s been quite easy to formulate a plan and dig up the resolve to go after something else;

After Tenby round 1; book Tenby round 2 and finish it

After Tenby round 2; book a flatter one (Lakesman) to beat my PB

After Lakesman; book Outlaw aim for PB and right the wrongs from Lakesman

After London;…………Who knows

During the long walk and later the long bus ride home I resolved that having done 2 marathons and 2 Ironmans, alongside 10 x 70.3’s and countless half marathons it is probably a good haul for someone who not so long ago was 22 stone.

I am still fairly chunky and that doesn’t seem to be changing, my knees are still fairly ropey and that won’t be changing anytime soon.
Seeing other people’s reaction to me finishing the event is heart-warming – I don’t agree with some of the comments I have got and think a lot of it is praise I certainly don’t deserve.

Seeing my daughters face when I came home was amazing and the fact that she has taken the medal into school today to show everyone does give me a twinge of pride. She doesn’t care if it didn’t go to plan – she just cares that I came home again, brought her a present and was fit enough to take her to gymnastics last night.

But……….

A feel like a gambler who is slightly addicted to things.

I always want to roll the dice again.

I always want to place a bet on the next event.

I always want to see.

I always think afterwards – it wasn’t so bad, why didn’t you push through it, next time you will don’t worry.

Next time you will achieve what you think is possible – next time you will run that sub 4hr marathon, next time you will go under 12hrs at an Ironman.

Do I think I have a (what I consider a) decent marathon in me? Yes but I don’t know if that’s just bravado talking or wishful thinking.

Do I want to put myself through it again?

london middle

What Goes Around Comes Around

So a month after I didn’t know what to do about all things tri in my little bubble I have come to the realisation that most of what I wrote was a little out of context.

Its easier now to say, with a bit of perspective  that coming on the back of completing the Monster middle in 5:27 I shouldn’t have actually been to disheartened with the result. Given the lack of focus, training or stable eating pattern (all my own doing) and some prolong health issues, I was never going to be pulling up any trees or troubling a time closer to the 5hr mark which I have developed an unhealthy desire for.

Granted the course is deemed fast (wind aside) but now I look back, knowing how utterly drained I was at the end with a more rounded view of the result, in what turned out to be my last triathlon of the year. Its fair to say I havent been much of a triathlete this year as i think I have only done 4 (leeds, chlom, keswick, monster) which is probably my lowest since I started.

Perspective is a wonderful thing, as is expectation and desire. Often they work together hand in hand to propel you to do things you never thought possible, sometimes they fight like little caped superheros for control – maybe a version of the angel and devil on the shoulder, a fine balance between meaning you do something amazing or failing spectacularly at something that, looking back, you would never be able to do.

I have settled on the notion that I struggle to keep them all in control in a perfect 33.33% balance. An example being watching from afar the craziness that goes on at the brutal triathlon events in Snowdonia a couple of weeks ago.

If you asked me, when I was in a good positive mood if I wanted to do it (no one has asked, my wife would kill me if I entered that) I would have said yes. I would judge that being perspective 10%, expectation 10%, desire 80%. In other words my caped superhero called desire (dressed I imagine in some sort of sexy castelli esq lryca) would trance the other two into submission despite me clearly lacking the basic requirements to finish such an event.

After time when I pondered the thought of doing the double ironman, voted one of the toughest in the world, that percentage would have been more like perspective 80%, expectation 10%, desire 10%, with perspective making a WWE style come back from the floor to take control, in just some ill fitting pants. Utterly crushing my desire or expectation to take up the challenge.

Granted I would assume a reasonable person would say that given a year of focused training and a proper build up to it, losing more weight, hitting the hills all the time, I might just about be able to complete the event at a push in an appalling time.

But I think that’s the problem isn’t it – if you overthink things you would never try. Like entering my first 10k or my first baby etape or my first sprint tri – all seemed utterly crazy when I set out to do them, but for some reason desire took over, i stepped off the cliff so to speak and I gave a nondescript website my credit card details.

The same thing has happened since the monster. In-fact it has happened twice in terms of events and once in terms of long term support. With a few ideas for something completely new to me and completely out of my comfort zone.

I wont bore you with my plans for next year, but like a phoenix rising from the sweaty ashes of a failed ironman attempt I am planning on 2017 to be the best yet and this bad boy bike is going to see alot more miles and alot more smiles.

img_6714

Perspective 100%, Desire 100%, Expectation 100% – on the assumption that an overpaid footballer who doesn’t really care gives 110% I figure I can give 300%

(One thing perspective is good for is looking back though;

https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/progress-%f0%9f%98-2/

alot can happen in 4 years)

img_6698

Put up or shut up

Most will be familiar with my grumblings this year, the same old excuses the same old issues and the same old fairly crappy results. 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; another year older, another knee operation at the start of the year, no fitter and certainly no smarter than I was in 2013 when I did my first local sprint tri. 

No structured plan, no build up, rest, build again phases and certainly no taper before the main event in the lakes. Rushing from pillar to post to cram training in to fit shortern timescales and then being disappointed at the unsurprising results. No doubt something which will be repeated at least twice more this year (chillswim coniston and Chester marathon) 

Which begs the question of just what the hell should I do about it?

Clearly one option is to get a coach to prepare me a plan and (hopefully) bully me into some sort of routine which would improve results and general happiness. Also manage my races and tell me when I am being an idiot and booking to many events. 

But will an improvement in my times equal an improve of my happiness or general well being. Is it value for money at £40-£50 a month? Does it make more sense to employ a coach and not spend as much on races in 2017? 

The other options are to keep going as I am or stop completely. I do from time to time really really not enjoy triathlons; the mild panic attacks in the swim are still occurring and my knees mean that the ‘run’ leg is frequently painful and slow. 

Would achieving a PB at Olympic, 70.3 or ironman decrease this unhappiness? I would assume so but is it worth £600 a yr to do so? 

Anyone who has bothered to read this and has had experiences of using coaches feel free to drop me a message about the subject; I welcome both good and bad comments as at the moment I feel quite close to walking away from my hobby.

I will leave you with a suitably gormless picture of the swim exit at the weekend where I struggled throughout 

A Glorious Disaster

So the glorious in and out of Lakesman ended in a disaster of sorts.

Having been rough since Wednesday afternoon and progressively worse towards Friday, struggling to eat anything substantial and culminating in two daytime naps (including a dream about getting squashed on my bike by a van during the course of the event) I didn’t bother with either of the last two bike rides which were supposed to happen on Thursday and Friday. Everything seemingly ached, especially the knee.

That said I packed without much fuss and due to feeling pants didn’t really do anything else at all. Plain food seemed to help but nothing seemingly stuck and it felt much more than the usual pre-race nerves. The constant feeling of guts churning away and a couple of close moments where a quick march to the loo saved me, did nothing for my state of mind or the state of the toilet.

Travelled up without much fuss, apart from having to wear sunglasses even in the gloom to help ease the ever increasing headache. Managed to eat in the group meet up but it was an effort to make anything stick, felt like 50% of it went straight through, however it was great to see everyone and put some more faces to names.

1

As close as I would get (the day before)

IMG_6065

Slept well, which is unusal before a race and woke feeling better but still rough in the morning, little breakfast (two mouthfuls of porridge) and couldn’t face a coffee so just sipped water. Couple more painkillers and Imodium but also three dashes to the toilet. Wandered down and set up the bike and then destroyed a loo in transition. Went down to the lake and just sat listening to my stomach turning over. Got in and warmed myself and the lake up and before I knew it, it was time to go. Quiet relaxed and found some space early on but struggled to get a rhythm for a while. At some point before the first turn I gagged and was a sick and added some of my belly to the lake. After that I found myself burping a lot which I haven’t experienced before during a swim, but nothing more came up.

FullSizeRender

The swim seemed to take ages and despite a lack of rhythm I think I was going ok. Towards the edge it was swallow and then murky and then muddy and difficult to know whether to swim or walk. Got as far as I could then climbed out in 1:10 which meant the swim was long or I really never settled at all as in training I was doing 1:03’s (the garmin measured the swim at 2.6miles, so probably a bit of both)

2

Saw sue and Zoe before the tent and gave Zoe a wet snog and went to get changed. Luckily I was the only one in the tiny change tent and took my time in necking more Imodium and also painkillers.

 

Got a shout out for my choice of cycling top, some shouts from my girls and then out on the bike. Struggled to get down on the bars early on due to it being uncomfortable for my stomach, but then that seemed to ease and I trundled on over the rolling hills. Bike course was good in the main, plenty of rollers and decent marshalling. Only negative was complete lack of toilets at aid stations and also how small they were, almost impossible to go through and grab a bottle plus a bar; seemingly one or the other if you didn’t want to stop.

4

On the entire route I filled my aero bottle once, had two halves of powerbar, one mouthful of banana, and had two slips of the gel bottle. I knew it wasn’t enough but I daren’t push it anymore. I just couldn’t stomach anything at all and even the slips of water were being brought back up. Luckily there were some builders portaloos twice which I stopped at and abused otherwise I would have been crapping in fields. The weather held apart from one massive downpour and we had a tailwind on the section you do twice and I was amazed I was still pushing out above 20mph for the majority despite feeling pants.

That stopped around 95 miles in when I couldn’t get anything down my neck and even the smallest rollers seemed to be like wisemans bridge with my lack of energy and the headwind which had developed and I ended up with 19.65mph overall. Given the lack of training and the gut situation I was pretty happy to be honest! Racked the bike and then got changed and destroyed the portaloo in transition before walking out to see Zoe and pip. Tried my best to look cheery but don’t think it worked to well.

I was happy to be out onto the run at 7:02; well inside my projected 7:45 but it was clear that wouldn’t count for much.

Managed to run for 600 metres before my guts advised me to walk for a bit, they seemed to settle and I trundled on for more or less a mile and a half, through the first aid station and also the set of loos. It wasn’t pretty and to be honest that was probably the point I thought sod it, I am not crapping myself in public. Walked the rest of the lap, taking Imodium again and sipping flat coke to see if it helped. It didn’t, the coke came back up in a strange series of burp / sick moments and then I knew there really was no point. The leading man and women went past me and attempt to give me support, good job they were a lot faster than as they avoided my foul mouthed responses. I really struggle with people telling me I am doing a good job or walk it off, when I feel like curling up into a ball and sleeping.

As I got back towards the end of the lap the race director sensed or had been told I was struggling and asked if I was ok. No hesitation, no prolonging the pain and increasing the after effects, I told him I was pulling out. He walked me back to transition and treble checked that’s what I wanted to do and I gave him my chip and went in the portaloo and destroyed it again. Spotted Zoe and sue and did the slightly dramatic fingers across the throat to highlight to them that I was pulling out. Zoe burst into tears, which was heart breaking but Sue looked relived. I got my hoodie and walked out of transition and we went and lay on the grass for a bit in the rain whilst I attempted to get some fluid in me, which was vaguely successful.

I was later told that I looked worse than after I got pulled out at Tenby and my lips had turned a fetching purple colour. I got all my stuff and saw the legend that is Dave and wandered back to the hostel trying not to be sick in the middle of the town.

3

Made it back but the other end exploded pretty much straight away, I had a shower and then promptly fell asleep for an hour, woke up had a drink and then threw up in the sink twice, fell back asleep for another hour and woke up feeling rubbish. Checked how everyone else was doing and tracked folks for a bit and was a mixture of happy and sad at the progress being made without me.

Fell asleep again and then got woken up to this from my daughter, which kinda made everything ok again.

Capture

We went for a light walk for me to get some milk ( which usually helps post events) and then to find food. I picked at it but didn’t eat much and then went for an early night. I have attempted 4 ironman distances now and finished 2; it’s time to draw a line under them and move onto something different, which won’t screw with my body so much.

Thinking maybe blackjack or drafts.

Also every long distance I have attempted I have done not being fully ready or trained properly for; Outlaw was my knee, Tenby the first time not enough sea training and attempting to blag it, Tenby the second time was my knee and Lakesman was -151 days after the knee op with a bug of some sort. All great excuses but that’s a big chunk of time devoted to 4 big races.

One thing for certain is that this won’t eat me up like Tenby did and if you don’t fully enjoy something what’s the point? I started going long to be macho and prove I can do it. I have, vaguely proved it, but now it really is time to draw aline under it and look for other distances to test myself against. I don’t think I am mentally tough enough for going long and coping with the suffering and I have always said its swim, bike, run and not swim, bike, walk.

Doing a few 70.3’s where in the past I have managed to at least run the vast majority of the last leg and with it not taking as much out of me as the full events I think it’s prudent to aim for them instead. My pb is 5:21 at the moment, could I get under 5 hours with the right training and right course? Might be fun to try, similar with olympic distances – could I improve my 2:21 PB in the future?

Looking back now do I think I could have finished it? Honestly probably, but I don’t think I would feel anymore satisfaction than I do right now having walked another 6+ marathon.

hokey cokey

Innocently bumbling along, not really focusing on anything, not really training for anything with most of the key 2016 races binned off due to the knee. Weight had dropped a little and is back to being stable and my mind was wandering thinking about what to sign up for or what to do this year.

Innocent tweets get you into trouble.

Innocently asking about if others fancied coming to ride the Lakesman route at the same time as the event, then support the other loons I know doing the whole thing, turned quickly into me being back on the race entry list and due to be back at the water’s edge on the 19th June in Keswick.

You see often, things just happen for a reason, things just click, things draw you to an event like a triathlete to the latest gear at an expo.

It just happens and before long you can’t do anything about it and resistance is futile. Since signing up for Lakesman before Ironman Wales I have always viewed it as me getting back in love with long distance, that died with the knee op and it instead turned into another event I had to withdraw from.

However I kept looking at the website, kept looking at the route and kept attempting to convince myself that I could still do it. I kept dropping not so subtle hints to Sue, I kept talking to the race organisers and then I had a great Wednesday.

A really great Wednesday.

I have, since March being attempting to get a curtain nice new job, moving from the wonderful world of Muller and the dairy industry and instead moving to a new role in the fantastically marvellous world of CAKE! That’s right CAKE! How perfect is that for someone of my err…… build and fondness for CAKE. I have had numerous interviews including a lovely long drive down to St Albans and finally had the confirmation on the wonderful Wednesday. Literally about an hour later and still giddy on the prospect of staff freebies of CAKE I received a message from the organisers of Lakesman.

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Having seen my tweets seeing if folks fancied a bike bimble they offered, despite the fact that entries had officially closed, to allow me to sneak into the race via the back door. Granted at that point my furthest ride was 35 miles and furthest run was a 10k, I had nowhere to stay and no buy in from the boss at home.

Needless to say I handed over my credit card details without a second thought.

Sometimes things just feel right.

My wife was as ever wonderfully understanding and although not happy with it is resigned to another day of standing around waiting for her stupid husband to finish beating himself up for his own pleasure.

After the reality hit home I reread my Ironman Wales blog, almost made myself cry and then settled on some sort of 3 week training plan to get myself to the start line in the best possible chance of finishing it. I don’t have any preconceptions about posting a decent time, I just want to finish (ideally under the Wales time) and in daylight if possible, but I will take a finish first and foremost.

I have been massively lucky and special mentions to Rach for helping on the accommodation side of things, although I am still not that comfortable with essentially stealing her room to house Team Jude.

So after the reality set in the plan became to bike as much as possible in the interim period to ensure that I at least get off the bike with the potential to walk the run leg if required. So since Thursday I have managed to bike 240 miles, split into chunks of 45 miles, 25 miles, 60 miles, 40 miles and 75 miles yesterday. My ‘bit’s hate me but my legs feel surprisingly ok, especially considering in May I completed my biggest ever training month.

The plan this morning was to attempt to run for 90 minutes, utilising some sort of run / walk strategy to stick with going forward and use on the day – something I have never mastered before and something which always hinders me.

Generally once I start walking I stay walking as I find it extremely difficult to get going again. Apart from dodgy guts for myself and the pooch the plan worked fine and I did 10 miles in the 90 minutes and felt ok throughout. How far I could keep this going is another thing, but least for the first time since Tenby I have on foot got to double digits.

The bike is not as hilly as Tenby, but hillier than Outlaw, the water is not as salty as Tenby and the run is certainly not even remotely as hilly that run course. With that in mind and with the prospect of me having to walk a substantial chunk again I think it’s probably likely to give me an overall time somewhere right between the two previous races. I seem to remember walking massive chunks of Outlaw (shockingly due to the knee) so hopefully my time might be on a par with that – but really, who knows.
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The interim period will now involve some further decisions – its only 2 weekends till I am in the Lakes. This weekend I am supposed to be doing Bala 70.3 and the following weekend Leeds ITU. Leeds ITU will definitely happen and I cant wait to charge around the streets I used to drunkingly live on, despite the seeming logistical nightmare.

Bala is another issue, I have a free Saturday and Sunday this week as the family is busy doing birthday parties and girly catch ups. So do I ride long on the Saturday and attempt to reach a confidence boosting ton and then run a confidence boosting half marathon on Sunday.

Or do I ride 50 ish miles on Saturday, run for an hr off the back and then go experience the fight at Bala in the water, do the hilly bike leg and then pull out of the run on the Sunday?
Either way 151 days after my op I will be clad in rubber, probably weeing down my leg, waiting on the shores of Keswick to put myself through the first Lakesman.

To be honest I am in the perfect place of fear and excitement right now.

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Semi Pro

I finished the last blog with;

Life is short – might as well try and enjoy it – if that doesn’t involve long distance tri then I am sure I can find something to occupy my time….

That was the 23rd December and since then I have had a whole 2 months of doing chuff all. Sitting around being ill a couple of times, sitting around and trying to rest my pre op broken knee and then sitting around attempting to aid recovery by resting a post op broken knee.

Sitting around is surprisingly tiring, especially when struggling to sleep at night but managing to nap on the sofa during the day, surrounded by coffee cups and biscuits.

I love a good vicious circle me.

During the period I had the wonderful task of cancelling race entries and accommodations for the three original A race’s for 2016; London Marathon, Weekend Warrior and Lakesman; figuring I should do it early rather than leaving that carrot dangling over myself and the potential to rush recovery rather than just getting things sorted correctly.

So finally after 4 years of trying I get an entry to London I then have to cancel my place – typical I guess. Least if a miracle happens and I manage to stay injury free over December ’16 – February –’17 I will be able to use my deferred place then; what’s another year between friends. Will be a nice novelty to be able to go for a run in January.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; after the cortisone injection didn’t work pre-Christmas I managed to get the operation booked in for the 20th January and to me that represented good progress ( a whole 6 weeks earlier than last year’s op schedule) – one of the joys of worshipping at the altar of the cows I guess is free private health. The subs must have gone up judging by the copies of the bills I keep seeing popping through my door.

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The operation was successful and they did more than expected by removing some tendinitis’s knocking around inside my knee as well, hopefully meaning that its stronger than my right knee in the future. Granted this pushes out the recovery time a little bit but in theory will benefit me in the long run and I am especially keen to get out of the cycle of having an operation every chuffing year. Also the other big change this time around is that I have managed to source a proper physio recovery session / planned timeline which I am attempting to follow as closely as possible, including weekly sessions where they make me almost cry by stretching me to weird and wonderful shapes.

And rigidly sticking to what I am told to do; including some pelvic thrusts, squats and standing on one leg with either my eyes closed or with someone throwing a ball at me to catch. Sexy it is not.

I have even been swimming in a pool! Twice! Which is 100% more than last year’s swimming pool time.

Due to that process I am confident of this time around being fully fit earlier in the year and not missing many of my rearranged race schedule for the year. I mean this time last year I hadn’t even had the op and I was back at the Market Drayton 10k, albeit unfit, so hopefully this time I am back with an improvement over last years’ time.

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My 2016 potential race calendar now, hopefully and rather wonderfully, looks a little bit like this;

 

Market Drayton 10k – May 8th

Shin Dig In The Shire – HM – 21st May

Bala 70.3 – June 5th

WTS Leeds Olympic – June 12th

Titan 70.3 Brecon – 18th June

Castle series 70.3/ oly  – June 26th

Chirk HM – July 10th

Monster 70.3 – 21st August

Coniston end to end swim – Sept 4th

Castle series – September 25th 70.3

Bangor HM 8th Oct

Flint 10k – 23th Oct

Conway HM – 22nd Nov

Sunrise to sunset challenge – 27th Dec

Plenty of variety this time around, half marathons off and on road, 10k’s, a marathon swim, a ultra (hopefully after 2 years of trying to reach start line of the same event) an Olympic distance triathlon in my second hometown and 5 (that might need revising down somewhat) x 70.3’s. I will attempt to approach all of these with a sense of fun and relaxation and just half an eye on PB’s and times overall.

I need to get back into things as my wife seems to have turned into Paula Radcliffe this year; upping mileage, frequency and reducing times – she won’t admit it but I am pretty sure she almost likes running now, almost. And I am not having her beat me, seen as I am almost semi pro like.

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The positive effect of this is that my daughter seeming likes running as well and I can’t wait for the moment when all three of us can go for a little plod together. So much so that I picked some of the above events based on if they do a fun run / 3k / 5k race before the 10k / HM I hope to enter.

 

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Thanks to the ever wonderful people at 9bar for continued support in the face of my general uselessness that I provide and for again welcoming me back as part of the team alongside the amazing bars they allow me to feast on and race with, the luminous race kit, the brilliant race entries and constant mickey taking on social media.

Looking further ahead I will have the rearranged the London marathon place and weekend warrior slot for 2017, so that’s a pretty good start and I do fancy racing aboard somewhere with the iconic challenge Roth (if I can ever get a slot) or Challenge Poznan or Ironman Barcelona (fast and flat) or The Brutal (because its nuts) all options if I do go long again, or maybe a nice long walk somewhere slightly hilly could potentially be on the cards.

Gym Candy 

If I need an op – it makes more sense to be lighter as it will be quicker to recover and less impact on my knee.
I have lost that spark – I remember the weekend in Leeds where I was happy and healthy and dancing on tables – because I had more body confidence, I had more energy and I didn’t have any embarrassment in my mind about my size. It probably helped that I was a tad merry on steins of German beer, but it hasn’t just that. I used to shy away from dancing even when extremely merry – but in recent history I have been dancing around the kitchen with Zoe. 

I felt good, because I thought I looked good – I was in clothes which were smaller than ever before. I don’t want to go back to the old days of baggy clothes, big jeans and covering up. I want to wear all the nice clothes I bought, I want to feel fit and healthy and I want that zest for life back again. I want to become the person I was before and I want that feeling to last this time.

Banting works – without a doubt it properly works, but I can’t cheat on it. if I cheat on it, it makes no sense. If I want results I need to ensure that I follow it – there is no one else to blame in this – ultimately it’s down to me and only me what goes into my mouth. We as a family can plan better, we can keep healthy snacks around but it has been me who has eaten bad food – it has been me who has stolen biscuits, it has been me who has eaten yogurts just for the sake of it. I know some simple things can make massive differences – give away yogurts (only get when Zoë needs) and when I get them stick them straight into the boot of the car and offer them round to people – don’t stick them in the back seat and then eat them on the way home. 

21st December was ground zero in many ways.

Regardless of how the injections went I had decided it was to be a restart for me. I had 6 weeks off – moaning about my knee, over indulging and being a pig. Let’s see what the next six weeks bring –granted over Christmas and new year and my birthday it probably won’t be easy but least if I try it’s a start. Least if I keep it in my head it’s a start. 

The steroid and cortisone needles procedure went well – I was expecting it to be numerous jabs, but after they did the first one they said I was done – much to my surprise and happiness (they mix it all together – who knew?) The injection itself was actually ok, better than some of the long tattoo sessions I have had, but strange to see a needle on a ultrasound screen go into your knee, whilst feeling the pain and pressure. 

Even after 3 days of eating better again I felt happier, I have more energy and I have more focus back in my life – despite 2 boring days in the office and one at home pretending to do stuff for work. Clearly I am not doing to lose the weight in the space of 3 days, but I already didn’t feel as bloated as before and have more bounce (as much bounce as I can cope with due to the stupidity sore knee and noticed that toilet breaks improved immediately.

I am still (semi) confident of being able to complete the London marathon – but the only chance I have is to be a lot lighter when the knee is better and back to full fitness.

A question will remain about if I should attempt London or not as it will no doubt jeopardise my potential involvement in a single entry form to Lakesman (although this can be altered to a relay, with the potential to maybe do Ironman Mallorca on 24th Sept instead) I also said I only wanted to do London when I was 100% fit for it – even if I wake up tomorrow fully mobile I doubt I would be ready for the start line. 

However long term concerns remain over ironman distance events and I have been making peace with the thought of potentially never doing another long one again. To be honest I don’t know why I hold them in such high regard. Granted I loved Outlaw as I never thought I would be capable of doing one, and Tenby had its moments but now they are just events in the history. They are the two medals I look at the most and I take great pride, for different reasons, on the finishing times in those events, but they are part of the story to do date – not the last chapters.

As when you weigh everything up, and once you have done one or two, they are probably the least enjoyable race to do. 

I have done 9 70.3’s – 9! Not bad for a fat, unfit and generally injured bloke and I find them more fun, less stressful and a damn sight easier to train for and recover from. Granted if I was in with a chance of a Kona place or wanted to do 15 of them to get a legacy spot it would appeal and I would keep going. But I am not so really what’s the point?

With the TTT not happening in 2016 but with potentially some great event opportunities out there it seems pointless to be glum about the situation. I never thought I would enjoy open water (or pool / although I sit hate that) swimming but the prospect of doing a marathon swim at Consiton end to end in September fills me with the perfect mix of excitement and nerves.

Life is short – might as well try and enjoy it J if that doesn’t involve long distance tri then I am sure I can find something to occupy my time….

Waffle 

There are many ongoing conflicts. 

Progress has been made in some regards, setbacks have arisen in others. 

Mentally and physically in the last month I have been as low as I can remember and undoubtedly the two are interlinked.

Have I learnt from previous mistakes? Have I put in coping mechanisms to control things to stop myself slipping into the doom and gloom? Have I focused on the positives and dismissed the negatives? 

Well clearly not.

However I have managed to catch things quicker this time around and for the first time ever, put my big boy brave pants on and have had discussions with hopefully those qualified to deal with these type of situations. Unsurprisingly answers aren’t immediately available, I fear that many needles will be involved in helping to get to some of the answers but the other answers may remain slightly more difficult to pin point and solve. 

At least I can now hopefully see a glimmer of murky sunlight though the cloud and drizzle.

The knee is now, to me at least, back to where it was pre the op in February in terms of pain and lack of usability. Consultants have been consulted, physio’s have flexed and scans booked. I have resolved to the fact already, that I will be needing another operation early 2016 as the worst case scenario. 

I have resolved in my mind, and it took a while, that I will likely miss all the key booked events I had in for 2016 – mainly because they all fall within the first 6 months of the year, guess no London marathon again, no weekend warrior and no Lakesman.  

Some think I returned to quickly after my op this year, too quick to start doing the things I love again, however during the training and racing (aside from the gauntlet where my knee systematically removed itself from normality and I stupidity kept going) I felt no post op pain. During Tenby it was pain management during the ‘run’ to get to the finish, but it was pain of doing a hard ironman being a chubster, not the pain of having a knackered knee. However it seems my falling asleep in a strange position on a plane coming back from a long weekend has put the knee back to the same state it was in roughly this time last year. i.e. a little bit knackered.

I have determined that long term health is a million times more important than scrapping a top third finish covered in snot and dressed in lyrca. I have a very real fear that potentially any sort of triathlon involvement in the future might be limited to little and not often.

This presents an issue though in the other side of my brain. If I am not training to compete or competing then why bother to look after myself? Why bother to turn down that slice of cake, why bother to turn down the chocolate, why drink water instead of a pint with tea? Especially as its Christmas.

The self-harm, which is what it is akin to, has started, been recognised and then begun to stop already but within that timeframe I have felt like a small furry pig for science; within which the experiment could have been called – eat crap, feel like crap, treat people like crap, moan like crap. 

Admitting to myself that I needed to talk to someone and then utilising certain people to support this, seems like a small step and I guess many reading this would feel like this is blown out of proportion, however to me it seems massive. No one will know the full extent of the situation apart from my wife however those I communicated parts of the situation to, through social media – those who won’t be mentioned – I thank you for the advice and support you have shown.

I struggle to vocalise my problems and issues – almost like if I say them out loud then it makes them true. Much easier to write it down in a tweet or message or letter – much warmer, much safer. To vocalise things is scary, it’s out there then and can’t be deleted, bad enough with the person I love and trust most in the world, but knee sweating and terrifying for me to do it with someone I have never met before who I want to help solve the problems.

My circle of close friends is slim and the chances of talking about these types of things with them even slimmer. I think I present myself as a big tough man’s man – I probably don’t – but in my mind I do, but often that’s a million miles away from the reality bubbling under the surface.

Like a giant made of glass, filled with melted chocolate.

 So I apologise. I apologise for hiding.

Storm warning 

Eating well is, with planning, actually very easy.
Keeping it simple is difficult.

Getting injured is annoyingly easy.

Staying cheerful and happy is difficult.

Falling into self-made traps is easy.

Being told to rest is difficult.

Eating to forget is easy.

Suffering stomach cramps and sugar cravings is difficult.

Drinking copious amounts of beer is easy.

Soul searching is difficult.

Eating a chocolate is easy.

Stopping at just one chocolate is difficult.

Admitting you have issues is, sometimes, easy.

Doing something about those issues is difficult.

Living with me can’t be that easy.

Same old same old is difficult.

Looking forward to next year’s events is easy.

Doing no training to prepare for next year’s events is difficult.

Hiding the issues in my head is less easy.

Dealing with the storm inside my head is difficult.

Writing this down has been, surprisingly, easy.

I feel doing something about it might be more difficult.