Monday, 26 March 2012


Its perhaps getting a little bit daft now. Its daft to place so much importance on an event (or 2 in this case). Events that can be done any year. Then again its not daft to place so much on the events when you're doing them primarily to raise money for a very important charity. Its daft to risk injury to do them but then again its unthinkable to let people down (and myself). Then again is it daft to go through it all to raise just a couple of thousand pounds when events like Sport Relief with the backing of TV, Radio and Celebrity raise £50 million plus. Its not like I can prepare properly for VLM now so I cant even run based on trying to get a PB regardless of what I raise in sponsorship (which is getting harder and harder to raise). Its daft to put all your emotional stock into it. Its just plain daft!
As you can see an enforced lay off with injury may be good for the body but its horrendous on the mind! Im probably 85% of the way to be ready to bike again. This could mean I may be back on the bike before April some 3 weeks before VLM and 13 weeks before Outlaw. If I can bike I can swim but I am wholy conscious of my lurgy at the moment. My crater face stinks of rotting flesh and oozes goo. Consultant says its ok to go swimming with some vaseline on it but it cant be nice for other pool users and it is becoming a mental block to swimming (or at least the thought of swimming once my back is better!). Here is what my face looks like at the end of week 4 of 6 weeks of treatment.
 This next one is how it looks first thing in the morning before it is cleaned up. Nice eh?
Of course I've not tested the ankle due to my enforced rest but that should mean it has recovered but it does mean I have an unkown element to contend with there. Do I get running asap (same time as bike) and really get some running in for 3 weeks prior to VLM or do I sort fitness with bike and swimming (mental blocks allowing?) and just slot in a couple of runs pre VLM and hope the Edinburgh steel from May last year and Liverpool pride so tested in October can carry me round London?
If I wasnt doing VLM I would ride and swim my nuts off until I was flying and introduce the running as late as possible to ensure I get to the start line at Outlaw fit. So do I pull out of VLM? It has been suggested to me. My place at VLM is on a Gold bond ticket for Birmingham Childrens Hospital. The Hospital that treats my niece Poppy! Exactly - you see the problem - back to thoughts of letting down etc again. It has also been suggested I defer my place at Outlaw - believe me the suggestions didnt need to be made as my mind has been backwards and forwards with the issue. Particularly the 'its gonna be hard enough with good prep and training to do this so how the fuck can you do it with fucked up prep and training?'. I do understand that the suggestions have been made with my best interests at heart and I appreciate that a lot.
So what do I do? Drop VLM and concentrate on Outlaw? Drop both and hope for a better training run next year? Drop Outlaw and do VLM only? How do I make that decision? Consider the fors and against?
Reason for quitting - health, fitness, less stress and pressure.
Reasons against quitting - Poppy, Abi, Harry, Lisa, Brian, some Scottish guy I've never met or spoke to who did a 24 hr step challenge, John Bishop, Walliams, Izzard, Skinner, Matt Gadsby, @runner786 @ajh1269 @jwutra @madlot1 @scotlassruns @deedah10 @mrhappyontherun @paintedrunner @movingalong79 @ogdenrunner and many many many more I can't fill this post with, Corpl Carl Taylor "it was just one of those things", pride, confidence, heart and happiness, myself, my kids and ultimately Mrs Brightside who holds it all together, holds me together particularly when my thoughts are dark.
I got this text from Poppy's mom on Friday "Just had email from Surgeon to say Poppy's Op Mon 23rd April - St Georges Day. She will start Asprin 3 days after post op scan to prevent a stroke. She will be admitted Sunday 22nd"! This brought a tear to my eye. If I cant get myself together to run around London a bit to help in any way I can the battles these kids endure (without choice or deserving!) whether I raise £10 or £10,000, then I would be a pretty shameful character devoid of heart. So, while Poppy is prepped for the biggest operation of her life I will run round London and everyone there will know why. Then on St Georges day we can celebrate Englands day being the day Poppy was finally rid of her brain tumour! It will be a good training run for Outlaw July 1st!
So as General Custer (probably) once said "fuck it - in for a penny in for a pound".

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Walking Dead & Early Taper?

I keep catching a whiff of something gross. Its a sweet rotting type smell and particularly today I keep catching it. It appears its me - more accurately its the smell of Protein oozing from my face as the Imiquimod cream attacks the Basal Cell Carsinoma. Nice eh? It stings and oozes and the doc has reassured me that it is working. 3.5 weeks of treatment to go so 3.5 weeks of looking not to disimilar to a freshly turned corpse in The Walking Dead. Probably smell like one too!
After my moan of a last post I'll stick with the positives from now on. I caught up on The Walking Dead yesterday as I am currently bored rigid at home unable to move about too much due to my back injury. Its a brilliant series as I love post apocolyptic stuff. I love the desolation of a wiped out world. The great thing about Zombie type movies, apart from some of the updated versions, is the way an able bodied person cannot outrun, sidestep, jump over the broken, dismembered, rotting corpse of the fumbling, bumbling undead dead! It was good to catch up on the series and I was glad I had some recorded because the other offerings on daytime TV are a perfect example of why this country has problems.
Positive news from my doc visit yesterday is that the back problem is muscular - nothing as serious as a damaged, herniated or burst disc. Anti inflammatories may help and 2 weeks of rest should see an end to it. More positive news is that the enforced rest will aid the ankle ligaments that have been causing a problem and when i return to running if I take it steady and wear a support I should be ok. Even more positive news is that the 2 lumps under the skin just near to my jaw hinge are nothing sinister and are just a reaction to the body being under stress from the lurgy and its treatment.
Granted I have had to alter my VLM training schedule as it looks like I wont be able to train until about 3 weeks before the race. Similarly it knocks completely out of shape my Outlaw IM preperations. It looks like I will now be getting marathon fit from 10 miles in 3 weeks and Outlaw fit from 1 mile swim,45 bike,10 run in 13 weeks or so. My new and brilliant plan introduces the early Taper! Now you might not find Chrissie Wellington or the Brownlee brothers banging on about this plan, indeed I dont think Paula Ratcliffe or Scott Overall use it but needs must. My 1 week of marathon taper pre VLM and 2 weeks of IM taper pre Outlaw are being taken now! Genius right? 3 weeks without training and body rested ready for 13 weeks of graft!
I am still confident I will Ironman on July 1st. The challenge just became a little tougher making the prize for success that little bit shinier.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Old School!

I am going to moan - cant do a lot else at the moment. I am then not going to moan again until this journey is complete.
I am sidelined completely at the moment. A week that should have involved 4 hours of running,6 hours of cycling and 2 hours of swimming has involved 45 mins of running and thats it! My body has broken. It clearly needs a rest regardless of what I know I need to be doing to be ready for VLM in 6 weeks and Outlaw Ironman in 16 weeks! It is broken as follows:-
1) Left ankle sprained (no idea how) - cant run!
2) Left thigh strained (again no idea how) - cant run or ride!
3) Knees painful similar to the sidelining over Christmas - cant run!
4) Lower back aching long term condition and manageable - painful cycle!
5) Upper back pulled muscles yesterday lifting a chair! - cant run or ride or swim!
6) Basal Cell Carsinoma (skin cancer) being treated on face open wound hurts while running and unpleasant and on my mind whils swimming (bloody stings after too!) - putting me off swimming!
7) Ridiculously seem to have suffered a tendon/ligament injury in first finger swollen and annoying.
8) Mouth ulcer - sure sign the body is struggling!
The plan is to rest the back and thigh until the muscles have settled and then hit the pool and bike like a madman and race back to full fighting fitness. Stay off the running until the ankle is fully recovered and hope the general fitness from bike and swim and the base of two marathons last year can see me through VLM and then be as good as I can be in prep for Outlaw. The face can just sting because the treatment is 6weeks (i am 2 in so far) so i have no time to avoid the pool! The longstanding back can be coped with. In my teens I managed it with Deep Heat! Tons of the stuff. Just soaked my back in it. Old school style. My first smell of it for 20 odd years and it blasted me straight back to the rugby changing room of the late 80's. Many a day then would have been easier for me had I not gone out to play. Even now I may have benefitted from making such a decision back then. However, now as then, I have no intention of not going out to play. The game is Outlaw and i will be in the starting XV!
Be back soon kids so play nice!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Ups & Downs!

There are loads! Sometimes they vary from one day to another, sometimes form one hour to the next and sometimes the rollercoaster can be all over the place in the space of minutes! This last week has been wierd. Thursday and Friday I was getting some ankle jip! It felt like I had gone over on it but I hadn't. This put me off running on Thursday and cycling on Friday. I needed to be out and so Saturday instead of a scheduled run I went out on the bike. I did a 21 mile route at a normal pace for me (about 15mph). The ride however was plagued with dark thoughts and self doubt. All the usual such as 'how the fuck am I gonna swim 3800 odd metres?', 'can I actually cycle for 112 miles and somehow find it in myself to run a marathon afterwards?', 'what if I get injured in training?', 'my running miles are too low for VLM in 7 weeks time', 'why am I doing VLM 10 weeks before Outlaw?', 'how can I get £2000 of sponsorship together for BCH for running VLM for them?', 'does my bum look big in this?', 'why doesnt my mom have a grave for me to visit?', 'what if the experts are wrong and the BCC on my face can/has spread?', 'how can they know?', 'Ive survived my mom by nearly 2 years now but am I just pushing my luck?', 'how the fuck do people cope with shit?', 'what happens if I get killed by a hit and run driver?', 'how am I so lucky to have such a fantastic wife and two tremendous kids?', 'I hope they dont put mortgage rates up', 'I want to be a better man', 'I really should have listened to the back specialist when he warned me to stop playing rugby in my teens or face a lifetime of back problems!' etc etc...
The route took me past my childhood home and I circled the park in Little Aston stopping for a moment where Mrs Brightside had a tree planted in memory of my mom. There are times I think when I need a good slap in the face, or as it was on occasions when I was a kid and had been particularly naughty (such as hitting my brother with a snooker cue) a slipper on the harris! I cracked on and whilst it was a mixed bag while on the ride it is of course always satisfying to have done it once I have finished.
I followed this up with a mile swim which went ok other than more than the usual amount of doubt. Looking back I think I just need to crack the 3800m in the pool so i know I can do the distance and crack 112 miles on the bike for the same reason. Rather frustratingly in the pool were the ' I will swim a gentle backstroke ' lady trying to talk to the ' whilst I will do a gentle breast stroke ' woman, both having a good natter and float about in the lane marked 'FAST LANE'. There are also GENERAL SWIM areas (ideal for their purposes) a MEDIUM lane and a SLOW lane. What do you do in these situiations? Every couple of lengths I had to overtake them or wait until they were far enough ahead for me to get 2 lengths in without catching them up. Do I politely highlight that whilst I fully appreciate their desire and effort to get out and do something to remove themselves from Tamworths ever growing obese population and whilst I am fully supportive of this as I am trying to do it myself - a brief lesson in reading might have been a more positive first step so they could avoid the lane marked FAST LANE! Anyway I did a little over a mile in my hour - at times I felt like the man from Atlantis and at other times I felt like Robert Maxwell!
Sunday all could get back on track with a good ride. Maybe 50 miles. I was riding with Carl so i knew it would be faster than me riding on my own. Unfortunately to get 50 in I needed to get up an hour and a half earlier and do 20 miles before meeting Carl at 7am! I didnt! I did meet Carl and it was lashing down. I wore my 2009 London Marathon reject waterproof coat (mistake), my gloves turned out to not be waterproof (cold), and I didnt fuel up properly (arse!). We did a 28 mile nice route. It started well with me smashing Hints hill (by my standards anyway) as I stayed on the big cog at the front! After that the rain and the wind probably got the better of me. Cold set in by being so wet, ringing my gloves out as I rode was annoying and nothing seemed to click. Still 28 miles is another 28 miles and as i often remind myself you cant pick your training conditions because on race day you cant pick your race conditions.
Monday is my rest day (although that may soon change) and then Tuesday I ran a lunchtime 4.5 miles. Sub 9mins/mile and comfortable. I didnt push it at all. All felt fine until in the middle of the night I tried to walk on my ankle and it was very painful. My back was hurting from the rides. My thigh felt like it had been torn and ridiculously it feels like I have strained a ligament in my finger! My face is burning and oozing. By the time I got up this morning (and didnt go for the planned 16 mile ride) I felt like my body had broken! I have a 1 hour swim scheduled for tonight. The oozing face should be ok and protected by a vaseline smearing (although this doesnt stop the throbbing while running) and I may then look at re-evaluating my training schedule. I have got to get distance runs in asap or I wont get around VLM but my ankle wont let me. I have got to get distance in on the bike but my ankle and back wont let me. I can swim however as much as i like. Can I get marathon fit by swimming alone? Currently its the only option.
I am not gonna panic....yet! VLM can be a training jog and nothing more. I dont have to race it! I can still raise money for BCH I wont let them down. I can swim myself fit and then nail the bike with some distance and the little run at the end is just about putting one leg infront of the other. Time and time and time again.
In other news I am overwhelmed by the support in getting Poppy's video clip seen by the world. Her op is likely to be at the beginning of April. In preparation for her losing her hair she had 10" cut off and donated it to make wigs for children losing their hair through illness/treatment! Thankyou all for sharing the clip all 100+ of you. Forgive me for not thanking you all individually but it would take forwever. Needless to say I am very grateful! In 4 days more than 3200 people have watched it. Thank you!

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Energized by my 48 mile cycle commute last Thursday I rested Friday and arranged a 7.5 mile cross country run with #TNSG (the not so gorgeous I think) Saturday morning. I met @JWUltra @Madlot1 @Jules_perox at Sutton Park at 6am! Brilliant run around the park, plenty left in the tank and a not too shabby 9 mins/mile pace anyway! Really enjoyed the run and great to not be running on the road for a change. Great company (although I think they may have taken it a bit easy on me for my first outing!) and picked up a few nuggets of info for Outlaw. I am struggling somewhat to shrug off some horrific mental images regarding @JWUltra's bathing habits but my councellor thinks that with time I should be ok.
After the run I drove to Twickenham for my first ever International rugby match. Brilliant day of brilliant hospitality, fantastic atmosphere, great game (save for the result) and I got to say hello to a couple of England Rugby players. Got a programme signed by Simon Shaw for the Poppyfields Ball! It was of course emotionally draining. I tend to put to much emotional stake into Englands rugby matches and the last 5 minutes I became an emotional wreck. From where I was sat, 7 rows from the very top of Twickenham about a mile above the pitch, I can say with absolute certainty that Englands last second try was definitely a try! England can be proud in defeat, they gave it their all and I'll be hijacking some of that pride and effort for Outlaw.
Sunday morning I was out on the bike with my previous running coach now soone to be triathlete @johnsupermole Unfortunately he has transferred his running skills to the bike effortlessly. The upshot of this (only his second outing on the bike) was that he pushed me really hard and we clocked 20 miles at 16.2 mph average. Easily my fastest ride. We tagged on a 6 mile run too and it was a relief to me that I found it comfortable and that I had plenty in the tank.
Monday was lurgy day. Consultant confirmed it is Low Grade Basel Cell Carcinoma and as its on the surface he thinks 6 weeks of cream should clear it up. If it doesnt they will cut it out but he seemed confident. He was clear that it is not something that can spread to other parts of the body. Also the treatment won't interrupt training!
This lead on nicely to a 5 mile lunchtime run on Tuesday, a 10 mile cycle Wednesday morning and a mile swim Wednesday night in my new Specsavers prescription goggles. What a difference they made. I can now see when swimming and they dont mist up. Nailed a mile in 45 minutes and got some great swim tips off an Ironman veteran!
Thats all for now as each day I seem to have less and less time. As ever fantastic support from everyone particularly my virtual training partners @movingalong79 @ogdenrunner @paintedrunner and many more and of course the rock that is Mrs Brightside!