Thursday, 23 February 2012

Got the Buzz back!

The thing is with this Ironman mularky, as ridiculous a challenge as it is, its all consuming for me. I think by the end of last week I was mentally exhausted by it. I think that caused some dispondency at some confidence issues especially regarding the bike. I need to learn to rest my brain from constantly thinking run this ride that and swim the other. I also need to cut out the bullshit! With that in mind I am going to refrain from saying I am going to do this and that on this day and instead confine my blog to what I have done! My last post - prior to the two marathon filers - i waffled on about how i was going to correct my cycling slackery (I failed to do as intended) and blast a lenghty run (failed on that score too).
So, instead, heres how it panned out and its actually all good! Sat I got up late again. I was bloody furious and so I ran 6 miles. I ran it angry because i was annoyed with myself which meant I was ill disciplined in my running - ridiculously it turned out to be my fastest 6 miler and first under 50mins! This was good and matters improved when a couple of hours later I had a really good swim session knocking out 2000m in a little over an hour. So running and swimming coming on nicely.
I didnt ride Sunday as I had planned and whilst I blamed a light smittering of snow and a bit of ice deep down I know I would have used any excuse. Why? I've no idea. Going into this week then, a reduced week in my Ironman plan I knew I needed to get back out on the bike. Monday then I had agreed with my new virtual training partner @paintedrunner that we would both do a 40 mins bike session with sprints. I get fantastic support from Twitter but I failed to do my bit. I owned up and between us we decided on a 16miler for Thursday instead (Lena had done the 40mins session btw- supremely focused).
Tuesday produced a faster still 6am 6 miler at moving ave pace of 8:08 per mile. Ran with @pdchadwick who makes it look so easy and never even breaks sweat. I dont think he even has to breathe! I was really pleased with this again but for the second run i was plagued with the stitch - gotta sort that out!
Wednesday I swim with my daughters swimming lesson and her coach is giving me some pointers. This is working out really well and I did a steady 1000m or so (i lost count a bit!).
So today......yep didnt get up in time to ride so instead I rode to work. 24 miles Tamworth to Coventry and what a buzz it was. 18 miles or so of lanes followed by a quick whizz around the ring road (that got the adrenaline going) and then last 3 miles up the A45. Bloody hell them 18 wheelers can scare the crap out of you but I think the fear and risk added to it. Some cracking hills to work on to and I was well pleased with it. Happy with the average moving speed and just happy to be back on the bike.
The return journey was just as much fun particularly getting through the centre of Cov before being back on the lanes. I was accompanied by an Angel all the way back as the sun began to set and I had the Jimi Hendrix track of the same name going around my head all the way. No gear issues either way and I used them all and hit them hard which was a relief. The upshot is that I have definitely got my cycling buzz back. I will not be slacking from the bike again!
Great support as always answering my daft questions and offering encouragement on Twitter & FB from @JWUltra @scotlassruns @melliemelc @ironjack35 @tj1974 @xox_joanna_xox @teamb_o_b @dazhalfpenny @movingalong79 and the rest of you!
I am off to Twickenham on Saturday to watch England stuff it up the Welsh but I do have the odd training session planned. Details to follow.....

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

L'pool Marathon 2011 (2nd marathon experience)

I always wonder when recounting these things whether or not to go warts and all but that’s pretty much how I have done in the past and it’s the only way to honestly describe doing it! Its good for the soul too I reckon. So, Liverpool marathon October 9th. If I could describe it in one word I would have to say toss but there is much more to it than that and after a good nights sleep I can look back at it slightly differently. Running a marathon for a chubby amateur like me has a million components. You’ve got to want to, you’ve got to get your inspiration from somewhere, clothing, training, eating, drinking, sleeping, holidays, transport, mental attitude all play a part. Now the want and inspiration isn’t a problem for me, nor is the training and prep because I have such fantastic support from Mrs Brightside and everyone else.
The problem for me is mental. It’s the mental fight with myself, it’s the craving to better myself, to make me a better person. I overheard a conversation today ‘its not your legs that stop its your brain telling them to stop’. That’s entirely true. Its 80% if not 90% mental. So you all know how I had got on 5 months ago in Edinburgh, 4:42 for my first marathon in force gale conditions and I entirely won the mental fight! Liverpool my second and I had a stinker.
I cant blame the prep, I ran, I ran distance and was confident in myself that even pushing out to 11min/mile I would be ok! I’d run 19.35miles 2 weeks before at just over 10 mins/mile and could have easily done another 6 which would have been around the 4:30-4:40 mark. I’d relaxed Friday and Saturday eaten my carbs. I bombed up to Liverpool in the morning and parked up, had a chat with a guy running in a gorilla suit @runclimbmather and then got to the start with no rush. Said Hi to @movingalong79 chatted to a marathon first timer – who looked ridiculously fitter than me! – and then joined @100mara100weeks (Si) in the blue start pen. The plan was to run with Si and this was his 32nd marathon of his challenge.
So, at 9.15am I was good to go – no real issues. 9.30am kick off time passed and nothing happened. Still nothing at 10.00am when it was announced that they were awaiting clearance from the police get out of the pens and we will call you back 5mins before the off whenever that may be. Bloody frustrating but I can’t blame that either. It doesn’t affect the run! So finally we get called back in and we’re off at 10.20 ish! Sun comes out immediately and it was hot. Hotter for gorilla man, the soldiers in full kit and the firemen in full kit! Running a marathon with 15000 other friendly, supportive chatty people and bearing in mind I was running with Si, is a strangely insular experience for me. I thought I would run better running with someone but despite the great company Si was I think the lingering thought in my mind was that I was holding him back, burdening him with my slower pace. He had agreed to run with me and could not be told to crack on without me so as I slowed, I felt worse for him which made me negative which set me up for a much tougher mental challenge. With 90% of it mental that’s not good.
First few miles are out of a park, a few streets, bridges and industrialised areas and before you know it you’re down on Mersey front. Now I felt ok but not great but then its taken me a few miles recently to get into my running. An initial pace of 9.37 ish per mile has dropped to10 per mile by 6 miles but I am ok. As we start along the promenade I cant quite pick up my running and with a quarter done I am struggling. Not through pain or discomfort I just can’t get on it. Si has been having trouble with his calf recently but today it’s fine instead its his right knee giving him pain from about 5 miles in. He just gets on with it and we run down the 2.5mile promenade back through the estates, hit a horrible looping climb section to get to the tunnel. Gotta say the support was great from good crowds, Si is urging me on, I am feeling shitter wondering how the fuck I am gonna run this when I wanna finish at 10 miles. 10 miles! 10 miles is nothing it’s a get up have a glass of water go out and piss it on a Saturday morning run but today it’s so tough. It’s beating me but its not its me beating myself. I am not running with a positive attitude, I am looking too far ahead, I am allowing my thoughts to add weight, to push me down so my head is down and I am slumped instead of head up and running (that’s how it feels anyway).
Back to the tunnel, the first mile and a half is the only time I felt in the zone of all 26.2! Probably because it’s a long downhill section. Of course what goes down must go up or something like that and so the next mile and a half of the tunnel was a nightmare, I slowed considerably, Si had his first stop to sort his knee then caught me up but by the time we came out the tunnel I was plodding. More hills followed around the city centre, brilliant crowds helped in parts but I couldn’t get going, plodded a flat straight 14.5-15.5 turned a corner and 15.5 to 16.5 was the mother of all Hints hills x 5 whilst watching the elite runners streaming down the other side of the road at about 20mph! Plod plod fucking plod managed to get up the hill then you head into Sefton Park.
Now I wasn’t really mentally prepared for Sefton and Princes Park, it was like Children Of The Corn, whichever way you ran you couldn’t get out of the fucking park. Faster runners passing you one way then you’re passing the slower runners then same again and again and again. Si had made a couple of calls on his phone to update his web page for his challenge and he had talked of doing a quick video at some point for his podcast. Fine, I know I can stop and start again, but I don’t think I had ever done it from the position of plodding along so poorly and from a position of so wanting to stop anyway! Stopped to do the video at between 18-19 miles and walked a few hundred yards while Si dealt with the technology stuff. I’d like to say it was an enforced stop so didn’t count but I think I would have walked at this point anyway. Knowing this I am pretty furious with myself and everytime someone shouts ‘Go on Sid’ when I’m walking makes me just wanna hide. Feels like fraud!
Off and running again past a blind guy being led by his pal, a polish fella runs past and shouts ‘Sidowski (Sid-off-ski) are you from Poland’ ‘No I hail from Birmingham in the midlands sir (no oim a brummie mate)’ ‘this is my 123rd Marathon’ he leaves me with as he runs on. Plod plod fucking plod I cannot lift my legs. You could walk faster than I am running! The park is horrendous with its twists and turns, runners in all direction, no idea where you are in comparison to others running opposite you and no idea when you’re likely to hit the road home and the negativity is sat on my shoulders pressing down and smiling at me! Si wont run on he says he will finish with me and while he battles the pain in his knee the pressing gets a little more firm! It slashes it down in the park as well. Not a major problem really. So we finally pop out of the park. I had walked again somewhere around 21ish but only briefly. Bit of extra weight on the mind though! Whilst in there we’ve passed markers 18-22 and 4 miles left is nothing. Reasonable slightly faster plod along a road nearing 23 sharp right turn and bam back into the fucking park up a hill. I’ll be honest it whacked the fight straight out of me. Once you’ve walked anyway it’s easier to do again. Lets face it, it’s the easy option, the easy way out but a marathons not supposed to be easy. With all the will in the world I didn’t have it in me to run again in that fucking park. It had beaten me or rather I had beaten myself. So I walked the best part of 23-24. Cursing myself every step, hating myself, Si points out its about completing it not the time but that doesn’t help with my disgust with myself. If this had been a game of rugby I’d have taken me off at half time! All through the park was negative, ‘never again, just not good enough, who are you kidding, if you cant do this in which realm of fantasy can you attempt an ironman, whats Michelle gonna think, do I tell everyone that’s supported me that I’ve walked, does it still count’. When we finally definitely came out there was 2.5 miles to go.
I began plodding again easily 14 or 15min per mile pace but at least I am running not walking. Flat to 24.5 miles then the downhill that had so fucked me up when going the other way. Even got a bit into my stride past 25 – still great crowds urging us on and then the flat finishing mile a horrendously emotional mind bending mile until I crossed the line – angry disappointed and entirely not happy. Si had stuck with me and I thanked him for that – looking back I think I wanted him to go on without me and stay with me in equal measure. As he pointed out to me he does what he does for PTSD awareness in our armed forces – he suffers himself – and to raise money for Help for Heroes – he doesn’t do it for the times or the glory. I hope his knee is better for No.33 Amsterdam next week. So I get my medal, banana, protein shake (effin horrible) goody bag, piece of foil and t shirt, have my pic taken, lose Si and bump into Space who had been on the course but not seen me and was determined to greet me at the end. That put a smile on my face!
In Edinburgh I’d made the mistake of not having my phone. Mrs B waited 3 hours for a call to say I was ok! This time I had it in a strap on my arm but as I got it out to ring Mrs B and contact Ogden and George to meet up it was dead, fucking dead as a nail! Sadly Space’s was dead too so I couldn’t meet up with Ogden and George who had particularly put himself out for me. So I was feeling like a failure and now a let down. Brill! Trudged back to car, stuck the phone on charge, thanked Space for coming along, contacted Mrs B, unstuck my pants from where they had cut into my inner thighs, apologised to George and Ogden and set off home. Being stuck in traffic for 3 hours for a 1hr 30 min journey allows you time to think. The shooting pains in my buttocks, the chaffing and a good cry to Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, only briefly interrupt my thoughts. A 5:10 marathon is nothing to be ashamed off but failure to give 100% is. It’s a war of attrition in many ways and I am the only enemy. The fact that I succeeded in beating myself only makes me more determined to make sure that next time I don’t! I’ll be happy with 5:10 again if I know in my heart I gave 100%. From that you’ll know that I will do another, I will do it better and I will not lose the mental fight next time!

E'burgh Marathon 2011 (1st Marathon experience)

Shirt through and brilliant. Number through. Steady run Tue morning and then a very steady run thu with John, Paul and Gareth to complete training. Fri my b'day chilled out and stuffed my face with a huge chinese (I am sure all marathon runners do this!). Sat chilled out with my bro and kids in the park then took Ellie dancing and stuffed my face with a bacon sarnie and a bacon & egg sarnie (I am sure all marathon runners do this also). Then said my goodbyes packed and off to airport with a lift from Big D!
Nerves a jangling at this point eased in departures thanks to U2 on my shuffle. Delayed but good flight then picked up by Nick for apartment in Edinburgh. Met a bunch of nice marathoners and was treated to a cracking high carb pasta and allsorts nosh to prep for Sunday. Hit the hay at 10.30 but very restless with excitement not really nerves. Up at 7am on marathon day. Banana, Ready Brek and Smoothie then down to start for 9.30. Quick hello to fellow marathon virgin @Deedah10 (aka Darren Carter) and then found myself stood in the purple pen, two drinks and 3 gels in hand ready for the off!
Now Edinburgh has two starts. London Road for the fasties. Regent road for the slowies and Purple is the last pen on Regent Road. This became more relevent as the race started and we moved down towards the start. I'm relaxed save for the fact I become accutely aware of the need to pee. Do I start and pee at 1st opportunity eating into my time or do I nip now before I cross the start line? Cemetary hedge job done but as I rejoin the start everyone has gone! Literally I was the last person to cross the start line. Relaxed with nothing to deal with other than running a marathon. Starting from the back of the back has two advantages-1. you get to do loads of overtaking rather than being overtook-great for confidence. 2. its easier to avoid getting carried away and burning yourself out by mile 10! So I'm off and pass 3 kilted squaddies with full 40KG packs running for our armed forces, Mr Zombie running for a cancer charity, a 70year old running in full firemans gear incl helmet running for injured firemen, Mrs 'i need to pee but wont queue for toilets so will pee like a man' and Mrs 'i've carbed up to 20 stone but not exercised ever but a marathon cant be that hard can it?' as she threw up within half a mile of the start.
The first few miles take you through and out of Edinburgh. Feeling strong and picking off runners one by one. Focus on target, pass, focus on next target, pass etc keeping a track on pace maintaining 9.30 per mile. Good crowds shouting scottish sounding stuff with 'Sid' at the end so all good. Passing Meadowbank? stadium (Hibs I think) turn up a slight incline, 1st test, a piece of piss! Hills are our friends and this didnt deserve to call itself a hill compared to Hints, Hedging or Gorsy. I smashed it, others were found out! Out down toward Leith docks and onto the coast. Running along promenade after promenade, good crowds, good runners, everyone with a cause, a desire and a belief.
Within 5miles we'd had sun, rain, force gale winds and calm cool. All thats on my mind is pace, fuel. 1st gel at 45mins remembering 'if you think you need it its already too late!' - sipping the drink little and often topping with water as I go. Pace steady at 9.30 (sub 4:10 pace I know I cant keep to that but I am well within my comfort zone!).
So we wind through a few coastal towns good support especially around the points of the relay racers changing over. I'm going great but when trying to section my race kinda think I'm at 13 miles when I am at 8.5ish. All a bit wierd and not sure why. This isnt a major problem as I'm feeling good in myself. ignoring that and popping second gel at 1hr 45 mins in I then pass half way about 2hrs 5mins or so. Thats fine and steady. As I head out along the coast road to the turn point at 17 miles or so the leaders are passing on the opposite side of the road. We go through a final town great crowds again giving it loads for the leading group on way back and us on way out. Once through there its out into the sticks.
The runners opposite increase and I spend the next 3 miles or so seeing if I can see any of the other runners that I know who are all faster than me, coming past. Saw Deedah gave him a huge shout and the runner infront of me nearly jumped out of her skin. This was a great distraction and running up to 17 was great. Got to 17 and turned, last gel popped and a few whoops of 'we’re on the last leg' from the other runners seemed a tad premature to me - and so it proved. Now the details may not be entirely accurate mileage wise but after the turn you come off the coast road you're heading back on and run through the grounds of what seems to be a stately home. Here I slow down, noticeably and considerably, its the first time I start to think can i do this? Can I keep going. Some people are walking (a few have been but now its more), a few are wrapped in silver sheets being attended to by St Johns and one fella is on his knees throwing up. He gets a 'cough it up and crack on son' from me but not sure it helped. I pass 18 miles and I am struggling. For the first time I notice pain in my knees. No problem - plan for pain is ignore it I aint stopping for nothing. Plan for doubt however is draw on inspiration, strength from emotion. Problem with that is I am a bit of a crier when I get going. So I'm coming out of the estate back onto the coast road and fucking bam! The heavens open (its rained on and off but with the wind in my face this is horizontal!), slight incline, feeling myself welling up and realising I'm not yet at 19miles. This isnt 'the wall' but its not my plan either. Many around me walk while the rain lashes down I can see why because each step doesnt seem to move you forward. I aint gonna walk though I said I wouldnt! 18-19 was horrible but the route then nips off the coast road again just for the hell of it to run up and back down a road (they needed an extra 3/4 of a mile I think).
I am now seriously doubting whether I can do this. The good thing about this diversion was the crowd who were great (apart from 'mrs stereo' annoying me dancing to 'dont stop me now' by Queen) particularly a kiddie high fiving me and a few 'ge in sid' shouts. I needed that but I hadnt factored in that this would make me want to cry! Diversion short lived (and protection from the wind sadly short lived) and back onto the coast road. Rain gone but the wind is venemous. Through the sticks, winding coast road more and more people stopping, loads walking then running then walking then running (FFS run it slow or walk) and more and more dropping out (at least they didnt look like they would recover from collapsing or chucking their guts).
I'm at about 20 miles and I am dieing on my arse! Im still tring to break it down. 6 miles is tue morning Morrisons run but I cant pick up. Its all I can do to put one foot infront of the other. Miscalculating loads now too. Thinking I've run a mile I check my watch to see I've run 0.3 of a mile! After doing this about 5 times I decide to not check anymore. I'll stop if it happens again. Through a town with some crowd pick up, along a totally tough stretch past power station overtaking a guy with a false leg walking a section of the relay race I try and pull myself together because this is nothing. Nothing compared to the causes I’m running for. The wind is battering me but I have to keep running. Cant motivate with emotion because its too much so I'm fighting thoughts of my mom, poppy, cameron and Mrs Brightside because I'm in bits. I'm trying to focus on breathing, lifting my legs and not failing. Not failing myself and more importantly not failing Mrs B and everyone else.
I'm replaying rugby games I've played in my mind, I'm getting up after being knocked down each sat morning, Im smiling at Wayne Chatterton as he drops the nut on me, I'm back on the pitch when my teacher says I cant go back on! With 4 to go (just a mile oaker) we do a town where the guy outside his house on the way out was relatively quiet but since then has has downed a considerable amount of booze since then. he gives it an almighty 'GE IN SIDNEY!' (seriously i can hear it now). I cant look at him because my neck wont turn anymore but I give him a thumbs up.
Onto the last quiet stretch I cant look up because the road looks to long. My sections are now 10-20 strides ahead and thats it. Every part of me aches, internally too! 3 miles left then 2 which is a lap and a bit of the estate. It seems like loads of people are going past me but its the run/walkers brigade! Into the last town guy offering mars bars, loads of cheering. Each 'Sid' shout starts me off. Gotta control it. I'm now saying 'come on' out loud with every breath. I'm cursing my legs out loud just willing the last 1.5 miles out of them. The ends not in sight but I go into the last village - I darent look at my watch because if it said 3 to go I would have sat down! There are loads of people giving it loads and I mean loads. I'm gone now - no control over my emotions at all. Shouts of 'Sid' all around I think they took pity on the stuggling fat boy rather than cheer the now sprint finishing 'run/walkers'. Then there it is the fucking finishing line. 300 metres head down dont look keep moving you are now a marathon runner! Across the line running, stop the clock I am done! 4 hours 42mins agony and overwhelming relief and joy. A good blart, catch my breath and job done! Its a fantastic test for anybody and anybody can do it if they can overcome the battle of wills with themselves. Its entirely personal and its a good 80% psychological. So I am now a short fat bald marathon runner after 46 weeks of ups and downs doubt and joy. Its been emotional. I'm still fat!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Cycling Slackery

I've got a bike aversion going on at the moment and I am not happy about it! Should have been out on the bike last Sunday, Wednesday and today and I havent been. Its a mental issue so I have given myself a stern bollocking to sort myself out.
Fortunately whilst I have slacked on the bike front my running is going really well with each 'short' run providing faster and faster average times ( ) and a great 10 miler last week at a steady 9mins/mile. This improvement will be tested tomorrow morning with a 13 miler and I am really hoping to dip below 2 hours for it. (@JWUltra training programme means I have too!). The cycling (when I do it!) and swimming seem to be providing huge benefit to my running.
Training is all about getting started ie. getting my lazy arse out of bed and doing it! Thats why its so much easier to do with someone else because you know you're meeting them and you have no choice. If you're mentally weak like I can be at times you can easily cave in to the 'stay in bed' voices! This may well be the bike issue. I've always got Mr J, Mr P or Mr C to run with but cycling is not so simple. A big step to resolving my cycling slackery will take place Sunday morning with a planned 50 miler with Carl (its almost certainly gonna break me!) then as additional punishment I am going to hit the bike hard next week (despite the training schedule indicating a reduced week). I will reduce the running and swimming as the plan allows but maintain the cycling to ensure i am bang on track for the following week.
As ever its been a week of ups and downs, excitement and nerves. Outlaw never did reply to my query as to whether snorkels are allowed but many Outlaw vets on Twitter put my mind at rest regarding any swimming issues. Basically I just need to be at the front!
I will be able to eat my bodyweight in lard this weekend after a half marathon, 2000m in the pool and 50 miles on the bike and still come in under my weekly calorie limit. With that I will wish you all a good weekend of training, racing, families, takeaways, binge drinking, wife swapping, clay modelling or whatever you're up to.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Specsavers - The Dogs!

Where am I? Week 3 of a rolling 4 weekly increase cycle of 10% each week. Does that make sense? Week One 600mins - Week Two 660 mins - Week Three 730 mins - Week Four 50% of week three. Anyway I'm 300 miles towards 2012 in 2012 after this mornings fast (for me) 50:24 10k run. Added to Saturdays brilliantly enjoyable -8 degree 10 miler at 9 mins/mile. I was very happy with this being my first run into double figures since Liverpool Marathon Oct 2011 and subsequent knee problems. No sign of any problems other than my lucozade sport froze! Added to the swimming from last week including Fridays 49min 1500m and a vastly improved stroke following Wednesdays coaching session, I'm happy. Unfortunately I've not been out on the bike for over a week. I blamed snow initially which was fair but since then I've let myself down by just not getting up and out on it! I aim to correct this situation with 3 brilliant rides this week starting tomorrow morning! Cant let myself down - too much effort invested already! Gonna be a tough week from here on in (complicated by the fact my lunchtime swim couldnt take place because half term meant the pool was full!!! Grrrrr!!) but I am really looking forward to it!
Aiming to end the blog on a high let me tell you about Specsavers. I wandered into Specsavers Tamworth on Friday night. Asked if they did prescription goggles and they do. My father in law (Poppy's grandad) asked if they'd do them for free because the Ironman (and VLM) are for Poppyfields/B'ham Childrens Hospital. Specsavers have supported us in the past with their staff wearing silly socks on silly socks day and a few other things. I then get a call on Saturday asking me to come in for a meeting. They are looking to fund my goggles, glasses for the bike and run and any other kit I need (tri suit, trainers, running vest, whatever) as long as I carry their logo. Fair swap no robbery I am very happy with that. It's brilliant as I self fund the challenges. Should have gone to Specsavers - I'm bloody glad I did!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Swimming - for beginners!

By the end of this post I'm 283/2012 toward @2012milesin2012 which by my reckoning isnt poor form. Ive got there this week so far with a 5 mile freeeeeezing run at 6am Tuesday, 750m in the pool Tuesday Lunchtime, 1000m in the pool Wednesday and a 6am 6 mile run this morning. It leaves me with a 20 miler on the bike tomorrow (weather permitting - please DO NOT snow), 12 miles or so run Saturday followed by a mile swim and a 50 mile ride on Sunday (see previous weather request!)!
My lunchtime swim was my first swim (other than the odd 'I'm gonna get fit during this holiday and swim everyday brief first day of holiday before the idea wains' swims) for a very long time. I joke about my red swimming badge (10m) circa 1977 but I am sure I got up to my 800m badge at some point in my youth. I also swam in pyjamas but I'm not sure if that related to learning to swim or a drunken night out! Anyway at Coventry Excel Centre I can leave my office at 12 and be in the pool by 12.15 - swim for 30mins and be back for 1pm! A few difficulties were encountered. The first being that without my glasses I cannot see a thing. I cant see the clock in the pool which is annoying and length counting is a ball ache! Also and unfortunately, old people flock to swimming baths in the daytime it seems and float about in the way! So rather frustratingly it was probably 50/50 front crawl and breast stroke. 500m took me 16 mins of OAP dodging. At that pace the 2.4 mile swim (3862 metres) will take me just over 2 hrs (ignoring the fact its 2.4 miles and in open water at 6am)! So I know where I am and know what needs to be done. I then did a warm down 250 metres in 9 mins just because.
Wednesday started badly with me failing to get up for a ride out to test my repaired, tweaked and now supposedly hunky dory gears. Now, to be fair to the guys a 2wheelsonly they hammered the bike on the turbo in my presence and changed every gear under extreme pressure (the guy had the brake on, was hammering the pedals and changing up and down the gears). I so so hope they're fine now and it is making me wonder am I doing something wrong when I change gears? I know its just a click of a lever. Could I get that wrong? I wouldnt put it past me! Anyway, by way of idleitis payback I took my swimming trunks to my kids' swimming lesson in the evening. Their instructor had previously kindly offered to give me some tips and help me out with the swimming. I did a few lengths and he gave me some pointers, I did a few more and he added some more suggestions and so it continued. By the time I had finished 50 lengths (incorrectly pleased with myself that I had done 1250m {was gonna write swum but should it be swam? is swum a word?} because I mistakenly thought the pool was 25m and its not!!) I was knackered, concerned and wandering if I have the concentration to swim 2.4 miles front crawl. Its a bit like golf - there are a million (well about 20) different things I need to concentrate on to swim economically and well. For the length or two I got it all together it felt like I was effortlessly gliding through the water - for the other 48 it was a battle with myself. It ended on a high - and believe me this IM journey is the manifestation of a rollercoaster ride - because afterwards he said my technique was pretty good (I'd have taken that at the start) and with enough practice, effort and concentration he reckons 2.4 miles in open water should take me 1hr45mins at current level but I could get that down to 1hr20mins by July 1st. Loads to work on but as so much of this exercise mularky appears to be, swimming too is 90% in the mind! He is going to let me swim during the hour class for free each Wednesday which is a major bonus in my time and costs juggling! So the journey is now well underway with all 3 disciplines getting it!
Quality 6am 6 mile run this morning saw my best mins/mile ave for a while of 8.5 and a fastest running mile for @lbmagicmile of 8 mins dead!
I mentioned the Poppyfields Ball and its on March 31st. Thanks to @dazhalfpenny and others we have some brilliant auction items including a £1000 hospitality package at AVFC - Sunderland Apr 21st for 4 people, a Villa in Florida for 2 weeks that sleeps 8, return tickets to New York with Virgin and loads of other stuff. If anyone wants a list if they are interested in making a pre ball blind bid to go into the auction with just let me know.
And finally, I gotta mention @lisalynch who you should follow on Twitter. Nothing to do with marathons, running, swimming but in the midst of a world of shit she stands out as funny as fuck and as poignant as something really poignant (and she is so much better with words than me) whilst dodging lifes cock spanners!

Monday, 6 February 2012

There May Be Trouble Ahead

If my blog is warts and all that means everything goes in right? Problem with that added to a once a week update is very long posts! I barely stay awake typing them so no idea how any of you get to read one all the way through!
Last week was my first week of my 22 week IM plan and was 10 hours of all 3 elements! The Biopsy on Monday meant the 3 swim sessions were cancelled! The bike sessions were cut midway through session No 2 when my fucking gears started jumping again and despite them being sorted at the shop (I am again assured it was a minor adjustment to the gear cable required after a week of wearing the new one in) the snow that then fell Saturday cancelled cycling session No3 on Sunday. So that left running! Thank god for running. Two really good 6am 6 milers Tue and Thu with ave speed down around 8:30 mins/mile. I failed again to get my arse out of bed for Saturdays 10 miler. No excuses sometimes I am a twat to myself and make things harder than they are. Someone did say to me always take a chance to exercise as you never know what might come up that ruins a planned session. It also dawned on me that the only way I will do myself credit at Outlaw is to give this 100%. Its not even so much about July 1st, its about giving 100% in preparation and being true to myself. So having missed the Sat run the snow then fell! I had spent Saturday alternating between decorating the kitchen (god do i hate decorating) and slamming my fingers in drawers as punishment for laziness. As I hit the sack Sat I had pretty much written off Week 1 with a plan to hit Week 2 very hard and get on track!
Before going to sleep I spent a good hour in the church of U2 cleansing my mind and soul with the preachings Bono. If you're on FB you will have been bombarded with the youtube links. I wont put them all on here but this one is a fine example It must be great to follow a faith and have something you entirely believe in no matter how implausible it may be. I've never been a believer in religion, reincarnation, ghosts, spirits etc etc. I've always rejected religion as nonsense for the insecure. After all it is entirely nonsense in my opinion but you can kind of see the benefits of being immersed in it. My much better half is more open minded particularly regarding spirits (not the 40% proof ones!) and likes to tie things together. It is of course always explainable by coinsidence but I will admit to it being on my mind that my mom appeared to me in a dream recently (such occurances are becoming sadly more and more rare) and then just days later the dreaded C word is mentioned regarding my face. Make of it what you will but an hour of U2 quality kind of eased my mind.
So Sunday morning brought with it 6" deep fresh snow. I have to walk Stanley anyway (choc lab/springer cross) so I thought sod it I'll take him for a run. Never tried it before but he was brilliant. Never strayed, didnt make me keep stopping and only got in the way occasionally. I thought I would just jog around the block a couple of times with him but ended up running up the canal (difficult to tell where path ended and canal began in some places) to Hopwas Woods, through the woods and back. It was just over 7 miles and slow because of the snow but it was so much fun! I can see where the buzz is for Ultra all terrain runners like @runner786 (speedy shoulder recovery btw) and @leepeyton (wow) and @takeachallenge and multiple marathon runners like @ajh1269 (4 in 4 and 10 in 10!) I felt like I could have kept running and running and running (of course weekends with kids doesnt allow that). Only slipped 2 or 3 times and never actually hit the deck. Felt strong and was glad that whilst Week 1 hadnt gone to plan it had ended on a high and I had a new training partner!
A big thank you to Mrs Brightside for her unflinching support and everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement. I'll keep everone posted on C watch but nothing is likely to happen until Week 5 and biopsy results. Boring run this ride that swim t'other posts until then.
Final thankyou to @dazhalfpenny for getting us in touch with a contact at AVFC who have now provided a decent Ball prize for the Poppyfields Ball taking place at Drayton Manor March 31st. I should say it is fancy dress with an Olympic theme. £25 pp incl 2 course meal, auction, raffle, The Take That Experience, loads of laughs and all the money raised on the night goes to Birmingham Childrens Hospital and their research into child brain tumours. Let me know if you want to come whether just a couple of you or a table of 12 I'll make sure you're looked after.