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.

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As close as I would get (the day before)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lighter side of life 

So after deciding to dip my toe into the world of Banting and the low carb high fat dimension I am happy to say that hopefully, touchwood, I have seen some benefits in the interim. 

In the two weeks since I started I have seen myself 11lbs of the post Tenby weight, whilst only very rarely feeling hungry (mid-afternoon) or tired and without the peaks and troughs in moods which I have experienced in the past when attempting to monitor my food intake, especially at the start of the process. The headaches have come and gone (no more than in the past when I have been ‘healthy’) and I am becoming used to the rather odd feeling of being empty inside, without being hungry.

 

I haven’t exercised a lot, certainly not compared to earlier in the year, mostly running 5 days a week, now its dark till 7am and a couple of shortish bike sessions at the weekend (which felt glorious to avoid hills and not feel guilty) and I haven’t experienced any gut related issues on either. I got caught up in the Chester marathon route on Sunday on my bike and ended up doing 40 miles on a single bottle of water with no food for fuel, which wasn’t idea and after 30 miles I was probably as close as ever at bonking on the bike and getting off and have a kip in the surprisingly glorious October weather. Lesson learnt for future rides – carry food just encase and always two bottles. I think I will always use 9bars for long rides – although they have carbs and natural sugars – I need a balance between when exercising and training vs focusing on my weight, afterall this is to improve performance.

 

I have lost count of the number of times in the past I have had to cut short a run due to having the feeling of the onset of the ‘runs’ and having more than a couple of alfresco woodland moments thrown in, which although provide an interesting anecdotal story I would be keen to not experience again.

 

On top of this, it would appear I have found some renewed run speed from my previous levels. I ran 5 days in a row with distances from 5k up to 13k and all were similarly consistent in speed, comfort and heart rate. It’s still a fair way off my PB times and before knee issues pace however considerably consistently quicker than anything so far this year and running a 7:22 mile brought a massive sweaty smile to my face. Although in the back of my mind I am unsure if this can solely be attributed to the new LCHF regime.

 

After my knee got ‘fixed’ in February till the 13th September I was attempting to train for Tenby and thus was probably fairly constantly knackered for the time I managed to stay awake. I have had the best part of two weeks of not doing a lot post IMWA before starting again at the same time as changing what I hammer down my throat.

 

Granted the immediate weight loss is welcome, as is fitting in a new suit which I couldn’t before, however I am keen for this to be a long term thing and thus have set a realistic target for the end of the year.

 

With this in mind and to develop the range of ideas I seem to have a new hobby of finding recipes – much like my old habit of attempting to find new events to enter and injure myself in. Having previously never really known anything about Banting I didn’t know the wealth of recipes available online to print out and add to the impressive arsenal of the book. We now have a complete folder of print outs which cover everything from a healthy Nutella, naan breads and crazy stews to carrot cake, healthy granola and flavoured waters.

 

Again variety is the spice of life and the more different foods we find the easier it is to plan ahead for the coming week or 10 day period. Not even my first complete disaster of attempting the simple bread recipe has put me off trying again and every other meal has been a complete success – apart from when I used way to much curry powder in a jerk marinade. Even the flapjacks I made were nice, if alittle crumbly and def not suited for a bike bimble.

 

Couple of points on this; mainly I didn’t know just how many different things you can do with a cauliflower or a coconut or indeed almonds and secondly people should be aware of the start-up costs of such a project to change eating habits.

 

We seem to have spent enough to sustain food intake for the rest of the year, on vital things like almond butter, flax / chia seeds and various types of flour; which aren’t actual flour. Whilst in the interim its pricey it has to be said that so far we both (as I have subjected Sue to it as well) have enjoyed a breakout of the norm we had fallen into with similar recipes week after week. Also when you consider how much a couple of takeaway’s are its probably not that bigger gap between the two.

 

Happily gone, so far, are the similar lunches every day and in has come lasagne left overs, Mexican Caesar salads, marinated tuna steaks and hearty tomato soups.

 

Also having always gone down the route of counting calories before it is massively liberating to eating a ‘proper’ lasagne ( albeit with aubergine ‘pasta’) with a real cheese and cream sauce. Also previously after the evening meal we would both find ourselves tempted to snack before bed – more so when bored or when either one of us is out – but again after eating a decent LCHF meal with plenty of green veg, neither one of us has had hunger pains or reached for a yogurt or biscuit.

 

Granted we are still new to it all and probably in the rose tinted spectacle phase but we also have a lot more energy in the evenings. This again might be linked to the volume of exercise diminishing but so far I haven’t fallen asleep on the sofa at 8:30 – which I have to say makes a pleasant change. It’s almost gone the other way – with me struggling to turn my brain off in the evening’s come 11 at night.

 

Similarly I used to wake up in the morning with a rumbling stomach with food often the second thought process for the day ( the first being how ridiculously early it is ) – however I have woken each day with none of this going on, with a renewed clear thought process and focus on exercise – even after just 4 hours kip I went out and ran quicker than previously this year.

 

Hopefully this new found speed will help me get round the 9x9x9bar event this weekend – where I will maybe attempting the half ultra-distance of 17 miles. I say maybe as my knee is still proving problematic and I am especially keen not to knacker it up any more than I already have this year, especially as it will have to put up with a 4hr drive either side of the actual run. Either way it will be good to catch up with so many of the 9bar folks and witness just how amazing they are at all things endurance.

 

If I don’t manage to make the run I can be chief cheerleader or 9bar thief.

 

Shockingly I didn’t get into the London Marathon again next year, my third rejection in a row. I have been offered a club place if I want it, however I am now thinking that potentially it’s a bad idea for 2016 due to the hopeful planning of TTT being in March. I don’t really want to be thinner but injured come May / June of next year.

 

Eyes on the prize and all that.

 

272 days and counting 

So now that the dust has settled on Ironman Wales and the cloud has lifted its time to focus on next year. 

After a week of eating whatever I want and only a small run to qualify as exercise I am now excited to get back into things properly with the view to the fun times ahead.

 

After saying during and after the event that I would never do another full ironman distance again, I have already decided (with the ok from the family) that I will keep my place at the Lakesman. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t do this type of thing, why to bother training and then hurting yourself for a day, but for me it’s the sense of achievement I feel when crossing the line. I mean I still ache a little bit, but mentally I am on cloud nine – my head is full of the excitement (whether or not that will be my last full one I am not sure – I still have designs on Roth)

 

One big change I am looking at is my chub. Having stabilised around 16 stone for the best part of a year I figure the easiest way to get quicker is to lose and keep off some weight, which should nicely help with improved running and less impact going through the problematic areas of my body.

 

Having seen the success that banting has brought a number of people on twitter – mainly Barnett – I have acquired the book to give it a go myself and see if I can incorporate it with my current eating habits. Focusing on this for an extended period of time – maybe till Christmas should hopefully provide a good end of year position – something which I didn’t have at the end of 2014 due to me finding comfort in food during the post Tenby and at that point current knee issues.

 

This should set me up to, hopefully, attempt the TTT nicely in March and then be full steam ahead for the Lakesman in June and the target of finishing in less than 12 hours.

 

The target of a sub 12hr ironman distance, will mainly hinge on my ability to actually run the majority of the last leg – something which has defeated me in both of the one’s I have done so far.

 

Ignoring Wales due to nature of the course and based on my Outlaw times, which is similar ish in terrain to Lakesman (well the bike is 4000ft instead of 2000ft), it certainly backs this up;

 

Swim; 01:05:36 – category position 11th

Bike;05:49:48 – category position 27th

Run;05:36:27 – category position 77th

Transitions;00:11:45 – category position 25th

Total; 12:43:39 – category position 59th

 

One way round this is to improve my bike time by 43 minutes; however I guess this is unrealistic to think that I could hold 22mph for the full 112 miles on a course with lumps, but I think I could improve by at least 1mph on the 19.25mph I did, this would in theory give me 19 minutes of the 43 I am after, just leaving 24 minutes to find on the run and in transitions.

 

Transitions will likely be the same as I frequently go for full strip off for comfort between swim to bike and then bike to run so I just need to find 55 seconds a mile for the marathon to sneak under the 12 hours. Given that in my build up to Outlaw I was hampered by my knee issues and that I didn’t run further than 13 miles in prep, I think (hope) that this will be achievable, will a proper programme of increasing running volumes and managing my knee issues. Might even pop along to one of the beasting’s the Wrexham Tri Club give out on a Thursday night.

 

Guess time will tell.

 

It’s going to be fun finding out.

 

Whether my best will be good enough to win the first annual Team Tri Bear Championships is another thing. Seemingly we have taken over the event, with numerous single female and male entrants along with countless relays taking part. It will be great to see so many new and old friends at an event and there is plenty of talk of fringe events the day before and after and special prizes for supporters etc. I am almost looking forward more to the 99er challenge than I am for the actual event.

 

Added to this is the friendly rivalry between the ‘gentlemen’ of the group, many of which have recorded similar times in the past over the long distance and with some of the forfeits promised I wouldn’t want to bring up the rear.

Ironman Wales

I won’t bore you with a long protracted preamble about why I was standing in a long line of rubber clad folk on a chilly beach in south wales on Sunday – most people know what happened last year and how it has messed with my brain for the majority of the intervening 365 days. 
We travelled down early on Friday and endured the typically stressful journey down with a car sick child refusing to sleep much and me willing for my bike to not fall off the bike rack. We made reasonable time (over 4 hours) and managed to get registered early doors and settled into Tenby life. Watching some folk running about in full kit and seeing a few out on the bikes, made me feel a little bit silly for sitting and having a Guinness and watching the world go buy. 
Early to bed on the Friday night and early to rise on Saturday to swim a couple of the shorten laps and felt comfortable as the water was brilliantly calm and hardly anyone turned up at the start, due to the Ironman last minute changes in swim timeslots.

  
 Dropped the bike off and messed around with my kit a bit more before leaving them on the pegs to the day after, hoping that I would get to use my run kit this year. After that it was the main event – Zoe doing Ironkids. 

  
She loved it and didn’t stop smiling all down the red carpet with Sue following behind. She has clearly been learning from me, as she had an excuse all lined up at the end as to why she didn’t win – with a stitch which only seemed to go away after a massive ice cream and equally big chocolate milkshake. 

I attended the briefing and the rolling swim start rumours from the night before was confirmed, which I think will benefit the slower swimmers in the pack in the long term and quite a few people were relieved in the room near me. Must be an element of health and safety involved as well. But I guess really if the pro’s get ample room – then why shouldn’t everyone else? 

Suitably full of pasta, bread, beer and pizza I slept quiet well on the Saturday, although found myself checking the time every hour or so from 1 and was up before the alarm. I set off on the walk through town listening to some motivational music and got soaked whilst waiting for transition to open to load the bottles onto the bike. The marshals were already in the swing of things heckling the early birds like me for wetting the bed etc. Did what I had to do and got back to the dry and warmth of the hotel to force down some drugs, porridge and a 9bar. Wetsuit clad I was out of the hotel by 6 for the short walk to the beach – quick kiss and cuddle for Sue and Zoe and left the purple bag on its peg and headed for a swim warm up. During which I swam straight into a jelly fish (the only one I saw on the actual day) and couldn’t stop peeing in my suit – something which I usually struggle to do. However for some reason – probably nerves – I couldn’t stop, it was like a leaking tap down there. Least it kept me warm whilst I stood around in the queue. 

Overall it was much better prep than last year – I was relaxed, I was fully warmed up and I had spent 15 minutes in the water before the start. I was at ease with what was to come. 
The music was hyped up till the Welsh national anthem came on – I’m not Welsh (I’m really really not) but there is something strangely emotional about hearing that anthem being pounded out of the speakers, whilst surrounded by people singing along to it. The pro’s went off and seemed to immediately split up with some looking like they were really struggling to get going. The rolling swim start seemed to work well and my plan of doing anything between a comfortable 1:10 – 1:15 meant I started towards the back of that pen. Aiming for nothing more than a comfortable pace, hoping to get on someone else’s heels and not to drink a stupid amount of water like last year. I think it took me 3 minutes to get across the line from the AG starters, but it was still quiet bumpy getting into the actual water. Although the start places you, in theory, with others of similar ability it doesn’t mean you actually get much space. Especially if people have over egged the fish like ability they think they have. 
It was choppy out to the first buoy and I went pretty wide to try and avoid most of the fight – again thinking it was better to swim further without the salt water intake. It was rough going across back to the lifeboat station due to the high rolling nature of the waves and I saw plenty holding on to the safety support. As it has every time I have swam in Tenby it was better going back to beach with the waves at your back and I had a sneaky look at my Garmin to see a 36:XX, whilst I did the small run and messed with my goggles some more, which I was happy with as I didn’t feel like I was trying hard at any stage, had avoided being punched, kicked or drinking much. Similar story on the second lap – definitely not as rough as last year but still very tough conditions to get any sort of rhythm and sight with any real consistency. Looking at my strava afterwards I swam pretty straight (for me) but think this was more luck than judgement, as I am usually especially poor at swimming straight. 
Didn’t check my watch as I got out as was trying to get the top half of my wetsuit off and then remember where my peg was before starting the run up to town. Again learning from last year, I rinsed my mouth and the drank some of the bottle of water I had left in the bag.

  
 I saw Zoe and Sue and they made me smile as I trotted off down the road. Grabbed my bag and went into the small naked tent (no idea why they don’t make this bigger considering the size of the marque – it was already laughably full by the time I got there and came face to arse cheek as I started to empty my bag) and battled to get dry and changed and out ok onto the bike. Not expecting to see Sue or Zoe till after the bike, they surprised me having dashed down the road and it picked my spirits up for what I knew awaited on the bike course. 

  
First 25 miles were ok, I ate early and stuck to the mantra of little and often to the reminder on the watch – at times forcing food down me when I didn’t want it. I saw a few accidents, including a couple of folks decking it by the cattle grid and thought to myself that people are stupid risking finishing by riding recklessly. Plodded on in and out of Angle and then coming down a steep hill, the part of the course you do once, I overtook someone but didn’t give myself enough room before a tight right hand turn, hit a bump and then gripped brakes for dear life hoping I wouldn’t end up head first into what looked like the back of the public toilets. Hit another bump and then decked it with me and the bike sliding to a stop half on the road and half on the kerb.
What a tit. My first ever bike crash; in a race I was doing to redeem myself for not finishing last year. 
I picked myself up, having typically landed on the bad side of my body – knee and calf took most of it, along with my shoulder, ribs and a nice cut to my hand / wrist. Quick laugh and a joke with the marshals, who were on the corner telling people to slow down, about Tenby always trying to kill me and I replaced the chain and gingery pedalled away. Instant but manageable pain to the knee, but my ego and confidence probably took more of a bashing. I stopped at next feed station to properly assess the physical damage and have some drugs. Luckily the calf guards took most of the impact to my leg and prevented to much blood loss. 
My bashed hand meant it was painful to hold the bars, my bashed elbow meant it was painful to get down on the TT bars, so I seemed to rotate between the two for a while, shifting positions until the ache dulled and I could start to get any sort of comfort again. Wouldn’t be me in Tenby without a disaster, or two as it turns out. Despite new tyres and tubes I got a puncture on the climb before Narberth so had to do it with my weight over the front, figuring if I stopped on the hill I wouldn’t get going again and I didn’t want to set a precedent for walking at mile 50 ish. I changed it, got covered in oil some more and then I was off – smiling and determined that that was my bad luck over with and that I just had to get through it all. Wisemans wasn’t too bad the first time and I even overtook a few and then experienced the crazy scenes at Saundersfoot. 
Best 200 metres I have experienced, seemed even busier than last year – mostly by the crap Tri loons going mental. It was deafening and brilliant at the same time. Up over the top and I was actually enjoying it, mini fist pump when I went past where I pulled out last year and away down to Tenby. Noticed the gears had started messing around, changing both cogs by themselves, which was more annoying than anything. Figured it might be crash related as never had any issues at all with that previously. Settled in for the smaller but hillier loop and had a few chats along the way – one with captain Cymru (dude with a cape) and one with a fellow Fuji lover – he had complete matching kit with his blue bike. I need to acquire some red calf guards! The wind had picked up by now and all the little rises that I didn’t notice the first time seemed like massive hills this time around. Wisemans this time was brutal and I was very close to getting off and walking. The only thing stopping me was not knowing if I could unclip whilst going so slowly at that angle without falling off. 

  
At the top I stopped and stretched my shoulder but I knew I just had saundersfoot to go again and then it wouldn’t be long till the finish. Not sure of time at that point as auto pause on Garmin kicked in on the issues, but knew I must be well within the cut off and stopped being a pussy and got on with it. Less crowds second time around but still a great experience to go up it for the last time in my life. Down into Tenby and one last final climb which was horrible then time to get naked again. I got off the bike and very slowly walked through transition to find my bag. Lubed up everywhere twice and I was on my way. The Plan was to leave my ego in T2 and just do enough to get home, sticking to the plan to do a 6 hour ish marathon. Within which was to run the flats and downs and walk the ups for as long as possible. Saw Zoë and sue outside the hotel and they both looked on good form and I think I told them I was ok at that point – probably more of relief at actually getting off my bike. 

  
It lasted a lap. 

  
The hills are just nuts and seemingly never ending at certain points. I don’t think even if I was 100% fit I could ever run a lap of that course without stopping to walk pace. Saw Dave a few times as I was coming back into town and he was flying – surprised he hasn’t come past me on the bike (figured he had when I was either on the ground or having one of my many pee stops on the bike) and he said he would catch up in a bit – which gave me a nice bit of motivation to run a little further to make him work to catch me up. We had a chat about the usual stuff – swim, bike, guts etc. but I wished him well and told him to stop walking with me and crack on and get the beers in at the end. 
I saw Sue and Zoe and tried to hide the pain coming out on to the second lap; my guts were churning and all the aches and pains were coming to the surface. Also saw the Team Bear Support and gave Amy a high 5 as I plodded on (turns out that my daughter thinks she is amazing for supporting her dad and also knowing impressive facts about elephants) 
From then it was about trying to hold 15 minute miles on the course, up / down or flat to get me through. Original realistic race plan was for a 6:30 marathon and as it goes, although I didn’t know it at the time, I got surprisingly close.
Through town the first 3 times was oppressive – people willing you on to run but every time it lasted about 5 strides before I was back to walking. I was a mixture of being annoyed with them for wanting me to run and happy that I was getting it done, slowly but surely. Left hand side shoulder continued to ache, from the crash I assume which at least made me think of something other than my lower half. Took on a few bananas and tried a gel but it was utterly rank ( banana and strawberry flavour – who the hell came up with that ?!? ) so stuck to flat coke to keep the rumbling stomach at bay. Popped more drugs for pain and to stop a nasty accident happening and plodded on into the dark and a short but torrential downpour. Last lap was tough – I couldn’t even hold 17 min miles and made a deal with myself; finish and then never do another long distance again. 
It’s swim, bike, run and both times I have finished an ironman distance it’s been swim, bike, run for 10-15k Max and then walk to the end. 
Plus the emotional strain it puts on me and the family I just don’t think it’s worth it in the future. 70.3 yes, 140.6 No thanks. I am booked into Lakesman but I think a rethink is in order. 
Maybe it’s because of the last year and being focused on Tenby for so long, maybe at some point in the future if I get fitter and drop a load more chub and things become easier I might reconsider – but for now as semi enjoyable as it is I am done. Maybe that’s why I was so calm in the last week before the race – I had stupidly built it up for months and months and taken some of the fun away from the journey to the start line. 
It was somewhere on the last lap in a dark stretch of road, with the rain hammering down I had a little cry to myself. A happy, relived it was almost over cry. A cry for all the stress and all the disappointment of the last year, a cry to finally banish demons and look forward to other events. A cry to say, you know what. Fuck the naysayers in my life and more frequently in my head – it wasn’t pretty it at times wasn’t fun but it was going to get done. Back into the town for the final time and a bloke said I looked like I need some encouragement – so he shouted my name down to his mates and they started to go crazy just outside a pub on the corner; hurling encouragement and patting me on the back. He reached forward and said something to me which I didn’t hear and I joked that I thought he was giving me his pint of Guinness. I had mentioned before the event if u were allowed alcohol on the run I would fancy a Guinness at the special needs section of the run. Well it didn’t do me any harm and I drank a beautiful long sip as he walked 10 metres or so with me. I hugged him and told him he had just ticked the last box on my Tenby adventure. (Technically I know this was outside assistance but by this time I had a hunch that I might not be Kona bound) 
In and out of the streets of the town, up the now stupid little hill again and attempted to work out my race time by the church clock – my brain couldn’t compute what 10:15 at night from 7 in the morning equated to in a total time and I thought I would be finishing in heroes hour – but turns out my head couldn’t work out that actually the event didn’t finish till midnight. Finally I could turn left instead of right and head up to the finish. I hoped to see Pip and hear Sue and sure enough there they were on the right hand side – I pointed and waved and high fived her – heard Dave (I think) shout Jude at me and then had my hobbled moment. 

  
I wasn’t walking the red carpet though, so broke into the best I could at the time – a shuffled amble. I got the whole Ironman nine yards – Paul the voice of ironman was on the mike, no one else was around me, I had it to myself, I had just seen my wife and daughter and now I was going to finish and finally tick the Tenby box. 
I got a welcome from Paul
I got a high five from Paul and had the carpet to myself. No one to steal my 10 seconds of fame, no one to share the moment.  

  
I heard him say the words I was longing for and I think I roared outwards / upwards / internally and sort of raised my hands as I crossed the line – I didn’t care or look what the time was, all that mattered was that it was finally over. 

  
Not just the 140.6 miles on the day – the recovery from knee surgery in February, the struggles to sort my mind out and the grey cloud had finally gone from above me.

  
 It started in Tenby metres from where I now stood at the end whilst self-harming myself by watching others finish in 2014 and it left me when I crossed that imaginary line late on Sunday evening. 

  
I staggered to get my medal, found a spot and sat and unashamedly had another little cry to myself. A medic came and asked if I was ok and I told him I was broken but the tears were of happiness and I wandered through to grab a drink and my t shirt then straight out as the heat was oppressive in the tent and I couldn’t stomach the thought of any food. I hobbled out through transition to the street and found Sue and Zoe straight away and had the biggest family hug of all time.  

I promised never again to the two most important people in my life and I meant it. Fearful of sitting down and not being able to get up again I got all my smelly gear and used the bike to support me back to the hotel. On the way I offered Zoe my medal and for only the second time ever (the other being outlaw) she refused and told me I deserve it more. Cue more emotions. Bloody children. Back in the hotel room I drank 1.5 litres of full fat milk and lay on the floor shaking. Where I hoped I conveyed to my daughter why I had put myself through today. Whatever she wants to do in life she can – with hard work, determination and pure bloody stubbornness you can banish demons, you can do things you never thought possible. You can prove people wrong. You can prove yourself wrong.  

To be honest she was knackered and probably thought I was nuts, rubbed my shoulder, told me she loved me and went to bed and fell almost straight asleep. I welled up again and checked the small but impressive damage down my left hand side; shoulder, ribs and hand along with the cuts to my knee and chuckled to myself again that I always have a disaster in Tenby. I couldn’t stomach any food and fell asleep almost straight away. I woke myself up at 2:30 with the shakes, drank some more milk and set about answering the fantastic messages of support on Twitter and Facebook. It’s great that so many of us track each other doing events and the support is fantastic it really is. Very humbling and moving to read the comments afterwards and have updates thought out the day from supporters at the race. 

I hobbled down to reception to attempt to get pointed in a direction of food establish likely to be open at stupid o’clock in the morning but the lovely staff sat me down and opened up breakfast about 4hrs early. To which I drank two jugs of ice cold water and ate the slowest, smallest, best tasting bowl of cereal ever whilst randomly watching a horror movie with the two night shift workers. Bloody superstars. Although they wouldn’t cook me a fry up the meanies. 

And that’s about it – I wrote the majority of this, apart from minor tweaking, at 5:15 unable to sleep, or walk properly on the Monday morning. In the hotel room next to my brilliantly beautiful snoring wife and daughter. 

Tenby you have been amazing – the course is tough and the conditions were at times brutal, but it is a course which is doable if you refuse to give in and stick to the plan you set and the circumstances you go into the race.

It’s been a blast – but I sure as hell will not be back to this particular seaside town again. 

Update; 

Somewhat more impressive than me finishing ironman Wales in what turned out to be 15:15, was the amount of food I ate in the following 12 hrs from the 5:15am on Monday morning;
2 litres of full fat milk

1 bowl of cereal

Full fry up x2

Crumpet x2

Toast x6

Yogurt X1

Tea x3

Pastry x2

Hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream x1 

Snack sized sausages x most of one pack

Chicken fingers x most of one pack 

Chocolate sweets – jazzies x a large handful

Extra-large Big Mac, chips and chocolate milkshake 

Rocky road

Cadbury yogurts x3 

Chicken Kiev, wedges and peas 

Pint of homebrew. 

I didn’t feel even remotely full once. 

Think I might become a professional eater instead of this triathlon business. 

Upon reflection I don’t know whether I was hasty to say I would never go long again. Do I enjoy it? Really deep down I do, I like proving people wrong. 

I did Outlaw in 12:43 on a bad knee on a basic bike having never ridden the distance and I have done one of the tougher Ironman courses in 15:15 – could I do better? I think if I was probably sorted on the right (flatter) course with some decent training behind me I think I could get close to sub 12 hrs. 

Do I want to put myself through it again?  

 Would it be different if it wasn’t Tenby focused? 

After all what else would I do with my time? 

Suppose I could get fat or catch up with some DIY……

  

Got my mind set on you

I heard a song today and now its stuck I my tiny little brain, going round and round and dovetails nicely to the countdown to Tenby.

As the countdown begins properly, not in a excited days till Christmas kind of way but more the end of the world is coming we are all doomed kind of reasoning the more and more thoughts have turned to standing on that beach on the 13th September.

Not just waking thoughts either, drifting off in meetings to daydream about finally heading down the red carpet, but increasingly in my dreams nightmares, where I am woken by the alarm, up in a semi panicked state as I think I am climbing the hills of Pembrokeshire, to go and climb the hills of North Wales, usually in the pre-dawn gloom. 

The below sums up where my head is at, it’s my ode to Ironman Wales, quite possibly stolen from George Harrison, with my thoughts to the side – but don’t let that put you off….

I got my mind set on you – IRONMAN

I got my mind set on you – IRONMAN WALES

I got my mind set on you – TENBY 

I got my mind set on you – 13TH SEPTEMBER 

But it’s gonna take money – £400 TO ENTER!?!

A whole lot of spending money – NOT TO MENTION HOTELS, TRAVEL, FOOD 

It’s gonna take plenty of money – NEW KIT, NEW SHINY BIKE, KNEE SURGERY, ROCK TAPE, PHYSIO SESSIONS 

To do it right child – IRONKIDS AS WELL, BALLS BETTER BOOK THAT FOR THE NIPPER

It’s gonna take time – WELL I HAD A YEAR FROM LAST YEARS DISASTER

A whole lot of precious time – ALL THOSE DARK MORNING RIDES AND RUNS

It’s gonna take patience and time, um – ONLY 25 DAYS LEFT….

To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it – I JUST WANT TO FINISH, I JUST WANT TO FINISH 

To do it right child – BLOODY CHILD WILL HAVE AN IRONMAN MEDAL BEFORE ME

I got my mind set on you – IRONMAN

I got my mind set on you – BLOODY HILLS

I got my mind set on you – BLOODY BIKE

I got my mind set on you – BLOODY CHAFFING 

And this time I know it’s for real – I WILL NEVER GO BACK TO IRONMAN WALES

The feelings that I feel – TERRIFIED, NERVOUS, EXCITED, EMOTIONAL 

I know if I put my mind to it – ITS JUST LIKE OUTLAW WITH A FEW LUMPS 

I know that I really can do it – I WILL NOT END UP IN AN AMBULANCE THIS TIME  

I got my mind set on you – BLOODY WAVES

Set on you – BLOODY BIKE CLIMBS 

I got my mind set on you – BLOODY HILLS ON THE RUN COURSE

Set on you –BLOODY HILLS

But it’s gonna take money – OH MY GOD – SO MUCH MONEY

A whole lot of spending money – HYDRO TABS, 9 BARS, POWER BARS, SOCKS, SHOES, PROTEIN 

It’s gonna take plenty of money – WHO MUCH TO VALIDATE MY KONA QUALIFICATION….

To do it right child – BE CHEAPER TO HAVE ANOTHER BLOODY CHILD 

It’s gonna take time – WELL A MAXIMUM OF 17 HOURS 

A whole lot of precious time – NOT SURE I CAN STAY AWAKE FOR 17 HOURS LET ALONE MOVE FOR 17 HOURS 

It’s gonna take patience and time, um – HARD TO BE PATIENT WHEN YOUR GARMIN IS AUTOPAUSING DUE TO GOING SO SLOWLY UP A HILL

To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it – JUST KEEP GOING 

To do it right child – NO AMBULANCE THIS TIME 

I got my mind set on you – FINISHING

I got my mind set on you – IRONMAN

I got my mind set on you – WALES

I got my mind set on you – FINISHING 

And this time I know it’s for real – NO EXCUSES (WELL APART FROM THE KNEE)

The feelings that I feel – PAIN, DISCOMFORT, TIREDNESS, CHAFFING 

I know if I put my mind to it – GETTING ALL THE BUTTERFLIES FLYING IN ONE DIRECTION

I know that I really can do it – STUMBLE DOWN THAT RED CARPET, AMONGST THE MUSIC AND EMOTION

But it’s gonna take money – WHAT EVEN MORE?

A whole lot of spending money – I FORGOT ABOUT ALL THE FINISHER MERCHANDISE 

It’s gonna take plenty of money – EVEN A CRAPPY TSHIRT IS LIKE £30

To do it right child – BET THE CHILD EVEN WANTS MORE OF THOSE FUTRUE IRONMAN T SHIRTS 

It’s gonna take time – OH MY GOD ITS RUNNING OUT

A whole lot of precious time – 61200 SECONDS TO BE PRECISE TO FINISH 

It’s gonna take patience and time, um – A 6 HR MARATHON REQUIRES MORE THAN PATIENCE GEORGE

To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it – 17 HOURS OF SUFFERING 

To do it right – BUT NEVER SURENDERING

Set on you – FINISHING

Set on you – FINISHING

I think it might need some more work, but hopefully you get the general idea. I probably should have gone into the music business instead of finding fame and fortune with cows.

Currently the body and mind feel like they are on a knifes edge, teetering on the crest of a hill (see they are everywhere in wales) but hanging there not sure if either has the will or the power to keep going. One moment I am excited about the possibility of the finish chute, the medal and the glory, but this often disappears to the memories of the gloom and pain of last year and the struggles at LCW in July. The overriding feeling right now is just wanting it to actually be over.