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.

 

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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.

An Ode To The Wife

One of the main reasons I started attempting to get fit was my deluded mind-set and frankly appalling treatment of family life at that point. (https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/in-the-beginning-2/) (its strangely emotional re-reading some of the original blog posts)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I am not going to sit here and type that it’s all going to change in the future – clearly it probably won’t; I will likely still be a medal hoe, I will be doing two big events next year (the ironman distance ‘Lakesman’ triathlon in June and hopefully the TTT (https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/top-to-toe-tit-testicle/) and no doubt if the wonderful people at 9bar haven’t figured out I am less sporty inspiration and more 9bar aholic then hopefully I will be able to do a few events for them as well, added to the fact I was promised a club place at the London marathon next year and things already look busy on the racing front……..

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

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

However when I am training and racing she has to think about all the stupid things I can do to myself for hours at a time – not knowing if I was to be the one not to return in Bala, (https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/its-a-new-dawn-a-new-day/) or having the recent increase in cyclist accidents / incidents out on the roads on her mind whilst I am off playing on my bike, or just the general fact I seem to manage to be in some sort of situation regards of the actual situation I am in ( I mean how many people swam head first directly into a big static mooring buoy in Tenby?!?) but never once (ok, once she did) has she complained about these actual events or the consequences of training – like me falling asleep on the grass at Chester Zoo last year or the need for an occasional granny nap on the weekend or how upset I get if I run out of coffee and dates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Only joking – I want to do it in 2017.

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

Thanks for the continued support my gorgeous little family.

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This Elephant Can

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

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

But I am going to attempt it anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

santa

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JELLYFISH BOOBIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Dave is annoying good at climbing hills

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13. Dave wants to be in Team Sky

14. Dave doesn’t appear to sweat at all

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

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

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

The Colour of Money?

I think I have blog diarrhoea at the moment – nothing for months, then three in a little over a week.

No need to thank me.

This weekend’s activities will be contrasting, in emotions, in distance, in appearance, in style and in weather but strangely not location.

The location will remain the same and that is the ever lovely Cholmondeley castle – which plays host to a Colour run on the Saturday then a triathlon ‘festival’ on the Sunday, within which I will take part in the 70.3 Gauntlet in an attempt to beat my daughter down the finishing chute (https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/picking-up-the-gauntlet/‎) for a change.

Saturday is family colour run day – the first time we as a family will be taking part in the same event. Not sure who is more looking forward to it, but it is great to see Zoe getting so excited for taking part in events. Ultimately apart from not being as lardy as I used to be, that was the one goal I had for starting to stumble about ill prepared in lyrca. Hopefully her interest doesn’t wain this week as I have booked her into take part in the Long course wales kids event (http://www.taffkids.com/) and although we haven’t officially sorted her coming back to Tenby in September the more I think about it the more I would love to see her complete Ironkids on the Saturday and absorb the atmosphere on the Sunday – having said that watching her dad wandering the streets of Tenby late at night like a drunk might do more harm than good.

I have to admit I have never been interested in taking part in a Colour run, mainly because Zoe wasn’t really old enough and also because of the price charged. To me at face value it seems very expensive for what is essentially a parkrun with a group of local youths throwing paint at you. I should clarify that I managed to snag a family freebie through work to take part (and you know I love a freebie) – but it should have cost us almost £75 for the three of us to enter, or if you prefer £5 per km per person.

Pound for km that is over two and a half times as expensive as an official Ironman is. I have done the maths trust me. That’s based on an Ironman which everyone knows is at the expensive end of the full distance spectrum – if compared against, the some would say better organised, but with less glitz, Outlaw it would be 4 times more expensive per km.

4 times!

Four times – an event which takes up to 17hrs, requires millions of volunteers, safety canoeists / boats , numerous road closures, motor cycles, draft busters, thousands of bottles of energy drink supplies, a jungle full of bananas, a warehouse of jaffa cakes and Gary Big Ears personnel supply of Ready salted crisps, not to mention the quite impressive collection of freebie magazines, bags, t shirts, medals, blisters and appalling spectator race photos you acquire from such a long time on your feet.

I get that it’s a bigger novelty event and as such you would expect to pay a premium for it on top but when you work it out, in black and white that seems an amazingly high mark-up / rate of exploitation for some paint.

Added to this is my pet peeve for sporting events such as triathlons or novelty runs.

Paying for frigging parking and insult to injury…..the bag drop.

Now for those of you not in the know about the location of said castle, I am happy to report that it is here

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I think by anyone’s estimations that is in the countryside – so options of how to get to the event are fairly limited; no public transport goes that way generally, let alone at stupid o’clock on a Saturday morning, so unless you plan to cycle at least 15 miles each way with your small family (its aimed at youngsters after all) its either a horse or using the good old fashioned car. With no alternative parking to be had nearby for said motor vehicle or said horse.

So per car they charge a staggering £10; regardless if you have crammed in 8 or are by yourself. You have no option – it is akin a tax on happiness. Using Ironman as a benchmark again, that percentage is like turning up and then being charged £160 to park the gear laden car, to do an event you have already paid a small ransom to take part in.

I get they are in it to make money, it’s a business after all, but surely the parking ‘costs’ (although what cost of allowing people to park on a field there is I don’t know – especially because it is free to park in the same field the very next day to participate in the triathlon) could have been absorbed into the margin charged on entry. Again if you do the maths 2000 (ish) people at a rate of 3 people per car equates to 667 cars, at £10 each is a return of over £6500. But at what price? Would that extra price stop an additional 250 ish people taking part in the event in the future, I guess you would never find out if they haven’t come to support family or friends this year due to the high price of parking.

Would those people then go on to spend money on the (expensive) merchandise and maybe buy some post event grub, then go home and tell everyone how much they enjoyed it and then have the ‘we all should do it next year’ conversation and thus starting the snowball effect for the next year.

Ok Ironman is expensive – but least they don’t charge you £2 a bag to place inside a tent for an hour to look after all the things you don’t want to get covered in paint – after all who would want to get covered in paint……

That said I hope it’s at least two and a half times more enjoyable then I found Tenby last time around.

Top To Toe / Tit / Testicle

This will shock you.

I like a moan, probably more than most.

However it is clear that Tenby has become the all-consuming beast in regards to my attempts of sporting ability. I have mentioned before I feel a little bit like it has at times been built up in my tiny deluded little mind to be bigger than it should be – at the end of the day I attempted it and failed.

I didn’t like failure so I signed up again to right the wrongs – I am behind the eight ball on righting those wrongs, however I still think I will finish this year and readjusted my mindset accordingly – something I am much happier for. Maybe I will finish just outside the Kona slots, but it goes without saying I would snap your hand off at a finish of any sort this time around. Especially if it doesn’t involve puking everywhere.

With this sucking of fun (not like that I have been married for 6 years) I wanted a focus outside of Tenby and so rather wonderfully decided to lump in on a long distance tri for 2016 – the newly formed, rather wonderfully named Lakesman.

Bet you can’t guess where it will be held.

I love the lakes and have done other events with the company and they were fantastic, plus they had a payment plan where you can drip feed payments, plus they had a special 100 club (for the first 100 people to sign up) plus they promised me I would get a tailwind all the way round and a beer at the finish line. Anyway I have been to Keswick before and it has millions of ice cream shops.

So that’s every box ticked.

So that will be my main focus next year, to not come last in the lakes.

It’s kind of catchy isn’t it.

However – something has been itching deep inside me, that not even Sudocream will solve. That itch was heightened by Denzil ‘ How hard can it be events’ / ‘Mr 9bar’ last year when he did it and more recently (last week) Phil ‘the legend’ Collard. That ‘event’ is to cycle from the Top to the Toe of Great Britain.

I have christened it TTT (top to toe) as JOGLE is a bit pants I think and also means that if I have to quit at say the Midlands it can still be TTT (top to tit), or indeed if I got as far as Somerset it can still be TTT (top to testicle)

I know I am not fit enough at the moment, I have only once ridden 112 miles in one go, but it would give me a great base to work towards longer term on my biking ability and also the mental toughness to go day after day, but as ever the fundamental questions surrounding commitment to setting a date are cost, time and family buy in.

The quickest time ever was a mere 44hrs – more reasonable timelines are between 6-9 days, with clearly there being a benefit of less accommodation if less nights away, less nights away means less holidays from work, which means easier to get sign off from the boss (the proper one at home), which means it could become a reality. However the shorter the number of days equates to longer sessions and time in the saddle each day.

I have hundreds of unanswered questions; route to take – quickest vs safest, size of group to do it with, organised vs DIY (much preferred), camping vs hotels vs places to crash for free, cost expectations, time of year, could I use current bike, how much kit would I need, will I be sponsored next year (could they help support it), can I live in bib shorts 24 hours a day for a week etc. And no doubt I will be begging people for information from social media in the coming months to pool the collective knowledge to help the dim witted one.

Fundamentally I am writing this to drop the hint to my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant, intelligent and sexy wife, that I would like to do it, but also to see if anyone fancies helping a fat lad cycle the length of this wonderful island.

I am sure it would be more fun, not to mention safer, with at least one other person and I have no idea what the optimum group size would be, but for some reason I am thinking three or four (mainly because that seems a sensible group to ride as and also would give me plenty of time hiding behind the other two or three)

At present I am thinking around Easter in 2016 – which is late March (I think) to utilize the bank holidays to ease the holiday required from work (think it would still be 4 days annual leave) /although I have issues over the weather (although judging by June so far it wasn’t that much worse in March) and available daylight hours at that point in the year.

As mentioned I really know nothing about this – all I know is that you have to get to the start, cycle to the end and get home again afterwards – everything else is completely up in the air a little / a lot.

Clearly if I have hundreds of responses then I will hold some sort of X Factor audition where on a sliding scale of criteria you will be judged. At present this involves, the ability to change a puncture on MY bike, how good your bum looks in lyrca, the ability to provide cake and tolerance levels to smelly 33 year old men.

Anyway enough of the semi-serious guff – who’s in?

Send CV’s with photos of cake and you in lyrca to…….

POWER

After the ‘achievements’ of Chester (within which I include winning a man vs food burger challenge, not falling over and getting Joe to buy me a drink) my plan was to continue the build towards Tenby by utilising the wonderful welsh countryside and attempting to drag my lardy, lime covered slow ass up some hills.

Frequently worried about what awaits in September I have nicely forgotten the fact I am doing the Long course weekend swim and bike in 12 days’ time. The event which was / is going to be a confidence building exercise is fast approaching and I will be going in as usual under cooked in the training department and over cooked in the feeling injured and generally abit shit department.

So a nice bit of panic training has ensured that I am suitably knackered and thus was sat on father’s day in the kitchen moaning and generally being a grumpy sod about what to do. I did my longest and hilliest ride, which doesn’t say much, of the year on Saturday in the rain and mud (which included getting lost looking for the Cholmondeley Castle Gauntlet bike route) I found it both mentally and physically tough and with no one around to chase down due to the weather ( I love picking off folks out on bikes – it makes me feel quicker than I am) I resorted to singing to myself and frequent bursts of shouting POWER at the top of my voice as I attempted to get my legs to stick to the 20 mph average I wanted.

They didn’t listen.

However this was rudely interrupted when during a burst of ‘raw power’ I shouted something alittle silly about cows and hills and welsh people, whilst going past a garden – which turned out to be full of people attempting to enjoy a BBQ in the drizzle.

Judging by the looks on their faces I am guessing they didn’t have a choice but to listen. I was quiet after that for the rest of the ride.

Capture1

So on Sunday – randomly the daughter was the one who pushed me out the door to do some miles. Everyone knew I was tired, I knew I was tired but I figured that least afterwards I would feel tired but with some more miles in my legs and with a big fat roast to look forward to I went out. Mainly because she was going to the park having managed to fly round the garden on her new bike shouting ‘I can do triathlon’ and wanting a big space to mess around in, we were forced into a photo shoot by the wife and her shouts of good luck perked me up abit.

Capture

So off I went and just couldn’t get going at all on the bike – no comfort (these Pella bib shorts are about as effective as sitting on a dishcloth with the added bonus that I now have a new fragrance – sudocream) and a clear downturn in my ability to push. It’s strange how 0.5 mph average difference makes such a huge mental difference to me. Being new to having a garmin where I can see such exciting things as average speed I have become increasingly focused on looking at my watch and then getting annoyed with myself as it falls below 20 mph.

Even a drop from 20.1mph to 19.9 mph gets me swearing quickly – I don’t know where I think I have got my god given right to be able to cycle consistently over 20mph up hills without sweating, but anything slower annoys me greatly. I think part of it boils down to the fact that I have a better bike this year, but due to my lack of fitness, my love of cake and various injuries my average speeds haven’t gone up much (well not as high as I was expecting) when I compare some of my times to previous years I am still well down on what I hoped for.

I have accepted that it’s going to take a long time to get back to running quickly (for me) although running off the bike is improving – I did a 7:08 mile the other day – but I had hoped for a more immediate upturn in my cycling speeds, which hasn’t been the case.

Must mean I was super fit before on my old bike or that I am super unfit now. I would suggest it’s the later.

So a nice reality check of a weekend ahead of 6 events in 3 weekends. I would love to get close to my ‘usual’ time of 5:30 for a 70.3 this weekend and I think it would be a good sign of improvement versus the fact I was 25 mins down at Outlaw. That said I ran a 1:47 HM at the end of Cholmondeley castle last year and I don’t have a cat in hells chance of doing that this time around.

More of a realistic test will be to see if I am in any fit state afterwards to eat a massive burger