Friday, 29 June 2012

Team Poppyfields

40 hours or so until the start gun/whistle/horn goes in the lake at Holme Pierrepont. Then I will be off on my 4th ever open water swim and my first swim over 3200 metres ever. I'll be swimming 3860 odd metres. Within 2hrs and 15 mins of the start gun/whistle/horn i will have changed into my bike stuff and embarked on my first ever ride over 88 miles and my second over 48! I will be riding 112 miles. Within 10hrs 30mins I will have changed into my running kit and embarked on my 4th ever marathon!
I wanted to blog something brilliant, something inspirational. For me personally (as this blog has always been a kick up my own backside) but also for anyone that reads it. I've already quoted others that put things much better than me and posted pics I wish I could lay claim to have created. I've watched clips of other people attempting amazing feats of endurance including the Hoyte Ironman clips (this only demoralised me if I am honest) and I've followed other peoples journeys as they run Britain or the USA, or cycle Europe or even the world, they have walked VLM in a mechanical suit, or walking near blind 2500 miles to all 92 football clubs or run for as far as they can in 24 hours or raced over 100miles or walked their first 5k for cancer research! The list is endless. These people have 'something' that propells them forward despite or is it inspite of everything.
I can draw inspiration from others, I have to. Over the last 6 months I've had immense support from family, friends, strangers, cyber mates ranging from a 'good luck' and £1 sponsorship to advice and training assistance. People have gone out of their way to help me despite being an internet stranger initially (now probably just thought of as strange). I've had brilliant bits of advice throughout from a sub culture of our society that goes against everything we see on the surface of today. They think nothing of travelling across the country for a training session or running a 30 mile ultra race on a friday so a mate who cant make the saturday doesnt miss out (of course they run it Saturday too!) or sharing a juice or a gel when racing or helping someone stranded fix a tyre or making sure someone who cant go on receives assistance before continuing themselves or just passing on nuggets (golden nuggets) of information and support. They band together like the immense unstoppable force that they are. I've a list of probably 500 people that I personally know as Team Poppyfields (to do with Sunday this is as Team Poppyfields has a far greater reach). Half of them dont even know they are Team Poppyfields but every person that has helped me is Team Poppyfields because without them I wouldnt be stood in a lake in Nottingham at 5.55am Sunday morning waiting for the start gun/whistle/horn to go!
I want to shake them all by the hand - come 11pm Sunday I'll probably accept huge hugs only - and if I could get round all of them and thank them I would. I did toy with the idea of naming them but I see the pitfalls with that - miss a few (unintentionally obviously) and I'd feel bad. So if you have read a blog of mine, or sponsored me or retweeted me or shared my FB page or wished me good luck or called me insane or lent me kit or given me advice or trained with me or followed Poppy's story or held me together or inspired me or just said something nice, whether you like it or not, you are part of Team Poppyfields which means you're doing Outlaw with me!
I will be proud to represent Team Poppyfields and welcome the Olympic Torch to Tamworth tomorrow morning, I will be proud to suffer an anxiety attack on behalf of Team Poppyfields as I register at Outlaw tomorrow afternoon, it will be my pleasure to be unable to sleep tomorrow night so Team Poppyfields can sleep soundly, and it will bring me great joy to throw up my guts sometime (maybe several times) for Team Poppyfields during Sunday!
I would love to write something brilliantly brilliant here - leave you with an original inspirational quote. All I can say however is thank you very much indeed - all of you. Good luck to all the other Outlaws - race safe and enjoy. For Team Poppyfields I will give it my all and we will conquer Outlaw Ironman!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mrs Brightside!

Its Tuesday...Outlaw Ironman is on Sunday. This week should be a week of focus, preparation and rest. Whats it like to be days away from your first ever triathlon and its the biggest of them all? Its difficult to say. There are two close comparisons in my lifetime. The first is being sat outside of Mr Lunts (head of 3rd year circa 1986) waiting to be grilled again about a spitting incident on the train on the way to school one morning. Its fear and its huge dollops of it. Fear, I think can be channelled into positive energy. It does help focus the mind on the task as the task is the origin of the fear!
The second is being sat in the changing rooms waiting to go out for the final and biggest rugby game I played in vs The Friary circa 1990. Head hidden under a towel trying to control my emotions to psyche up for the game. Always slightly removed from the team as was my warm up but it seemed to work. I took things with me onto the pitch (no not 'things' such as a knuckle duster or packed lunch), mental things. Having not played any competetive sport for so long I have become a little out of practice but this week is bringing it all back. Its bringing it back because tomorrow, 27th June, is the 25th anniversary of the death of my mom ironically (considering the cause I fundraise for) due to a brain tumour following a 4 year cancer battle. I would draw on this loss when playing rugby to stick my face under a boot without hesitation, to take a smack in the mouth from a towering opposition No 8 without concern or two stick my head into the knees of the County sprint champion to stop him flying down the wing to score a try (or as Mrs Brightside calls it a 'ball placement'!). Then though is was a reckless strength. On Sunday it needs to be a measured and controlled strength.
At the best of times I am emotionally weird. Mrs Brightside and the Rugrats tease me whenever we watch Cars and Doc turns up in Lightening McQueens pit lane in the final race because it always brings me to tears. If I watch a re run of almost any Jonny Wilkinson England Rugby moment a tear will sneak out. Yet I didnt cry at the birth of either of my children. Mrs Brightside will tell you I am not right but the situations require different emotional responses. The emotion is real, its there when your Rugs' come into this world but it is controlled. It is controlled because it had to be. To be strong, helpful or just there for Mrs Brightside doing all the work! That control is not required when Wilkinson dropped us the World Cup against Australia (in their backyard I might add!) or Lightening pushes The King across the finish line.
Its that control and measured emotional response and strength I need for Sunday. I found it in Edinburgh, lost it in Liverpool and sort of regained it at VLM. With the additional emotions of this week I will be creating a positive energy from fear and inspiration from sadness. By the same token then this is not a negative but a positive impact on Sunday. I will draw strength from tomorrow and harness it for Sunday.
My ultimate support, strength is drawn from Mrs Brightside. I have often referred to her as being my pride, confidence, heart and happiness. She is all the time although I dont always let her know it. On my handlebars will be Superbia Fiducia Animus Felicitas (which unless my reseach is wrong is latin for Pride Confidence Heart and Happiness - oh and if it is wrong dont bother telling me as I'm not changing it!). I dont need a reminder but hey there is no harm in being prepared and who knows just how dark the places I visit Sunday may be?
Mrs Brightside has been tinkering in the last week or so. She pretends not to be interested in the mins/mile stats from my runs or average mph on my rides or wetsuit thickness levels and impact absorbtion for my kit even to the extent of falling asleep while I talk about it but I know it sinks in somewhere. Her tinkering has resulted in me being voted to be an 'Unsung Sporting Hero' and be part of the welcoming party for the Olympic Torch visit to Tamworth this Saturday. Now I am not too sure about the hero bit or indeed the sporting bit but its very very humbling to be recognised like this. I will say that it is a Team Poppyfields honour really because without all those around me, supporting me, sponsoring me and particularly Mrs Brightside I couldn't do any of the events I do. I will happily stand tall for Team Poppyfields to welcome the Torch.
Like that wasnt enough she has been badgering the local press to run another article regarding the Ironman so I spent 30 mins chatting with a reporter yesterday and they will get the story in this weeks Tamworth Herald. I also caught her commenting on FB about 'bursting with pride' at the end of this week. I'll take that into my mental armoury thank you very much!
This pic is my current FB profile pic and I love it.

Drawing on all souces I will leave you with this famous quote which I may scrawl upon me for Sunday.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually... strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"
So I am focused now for Sunday with the strength and belief of my Ironman Widow and will be using a day of rememberance tomorrow to fuel my Ironman fire!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Nothing left to do?

There are 9 full days or 9 and a  half days until Outlaw. My brain has finally accepted that I am as fit as I can be for July 1st. Any training now wont improve my fitness. Any long runs or rides wont be of benefit - at best they will tire me and at worst I risk injury. This realisation followed a couple of mental issues being put to bed yesterday. The first being a decent length swim in a time indicative of avoiding the dreaded swim cut off at Outlaw. I did 3000m in the pool. It went really well and took me 90 mins. I had looked up some swimming technique videos on youtube and put into place a few of the pointers. They worked well and I was pleased. Even enjoyed a few moments where I  was lost in the swim and flying along. Such moments are so great but so rare! I felt strong and the distance no longer concerns me. I intend to hone my OW technique with 3 or 4 OW swims over the next few days but I am not going to do anything daft. I am confident I will be out of the water and on my bike within 2 hours!
I swam in my tri shorts for the first time and then jogged the 1 mile home before jumping on the bike (for 'jumping' read minced about a bit making sure I had everything, had a drink, ate some bread and marmalade, eventually climbed on bike fumbled into peddles and finally set off!) The shorts are great. No chaffing on last weeks 88 miler and no chaffing today and they dry really really quickly!
I only did two hours on the bike but practised fuelling! I went with SIS gels that had got me round Edinburgh and Liverpool Marathons last year...I had forgotten how rank and sickly they are and as a result I am now looking at ways of fuelling without gels. SIS do very nice bars at double the energy impact of the gels. I am now looking at 2 of them per hour plus a Banana at the feed stations. A few jelly babies here and there and I reckon I'll be off the bike ready to run (for 'ready' read still breathing and able to stand!). A couple of little spins next few days to practise but nothing daft. I am confident I will be off the bike and ready to run by 10 hours in!
Finally I tagged on a 5.5 mile run. Previously a run off the bike usually resulted in a numb foot for the first few miles but yesterday was fine but incredibly slow (12 mins per mile). I think this was due to being tired - it was certainly slower than I expected. It felt like I got into my running around 3 miles or so and whilst only plodding I did feel like I could have plodded all day. A couple of little jogs over the next few days to keep me ticking but nothing daft. I am confident that managed properly I will cross the finish line within 17 hours! So I know I can swim the distance in the time required and I can keep my shorts on throughout, I am getting organised regarding nutrition and overall if I get that right and keep my head straight this can be done. It wont be pretty and it wont be fast but it will be done!
All negative thoughts have been banished. I did not spend most of yesterdays ride fretting about the swim, the ride, the run, transitions, nutrition, heart, mind and soul. I was not comparing my training (or lack of it) to the other soon to be Outlaws out there wishing 'if only' or unwisely comparing myself to all the people out there that push beyond their limits succesfully. No I did not! Its all about confidence and belief now. If I break it down small enough I genuinely believe!
My much better half, with whom I celebrated 14 years together yesterday, rarely comments on Ironman or her views on what I can achieve. Yesterday however she did. She believes I have not trained enough and that if it wasnt for kids like Poppy, the reason I got myself into this mess in the first place, along with the thought of letting people down, I would and should have withdrawn weeks ago. However, by the same token, because of Poppy and me not wanting to let people down I will have the drive and mental focus to do it. She doesnt think I will recover for a while because this is a challenge too far in a physical sense but one that I won't let beat me psychologically. So sadly the body is gonna have to keep up.
There is now effectively nothing much left to do but get lots of sleep and and make sure I have everything I need. My earlier realisation means that I am where I am, pushing myself now wont help, so its gonna be down to pushing boundaries on the day, breaking down a few walls and over achieving when I need to......paying for it in the days that follow will be small price to pay.
As the best mate character Ed in Shaun of the Dead said when asked for his Zombie impression 'I'll do it on the night!' 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Drill It In!

Back on a track. Thankfully my last negative post hasnt turned out to be my last pre Outlaw. I would have been very disappointed with myself had it turned out to be.
I didnt go 7 days without exercising as I squeezed in a mile swim in the pool. Some good work on speed and technique and my spirits were lifted.
Friday I managed a little 5 mile run up to Dosthill Quarry and back to check out the open water swimming facilities. Very impressive and so Saturday I got down there and had my first OW training session. It was only 800m (3000 less than Outlaw) but it was a great learning experience regarding the whole open water swimming mularky.....and I really enjoyed it. Not sure I have enjoyed a training session for a while.
Sunday and Monday passed with parties and life stuff without a chance to squeeze a session in. Tuesday saw me out on the MTB during lunch hour for a 12 mile spin and Wednesday a lovely 4 mile run with my much better half. I'd enjoyed the last 3 sessions and felt reasonably strong. The big test was of course Thursday.
I had become a little overwhelmed by the whole Outlaw experience I think and I had grown to dislike it I guess. It interferes with my family (as much as I try to make sure it doesnt) and I dont like that. Fortunately Mrs Brightside is a star whether she would admit to it or not and I have had loads of encouragement and help from you lot. Twitter friends FB friends, oh and of course actual real life in the flesh friends! @Madlot1, knowing my lack of preparation suggested I go out on the bike for a day. See what it is like being in the saddle for 8 hours regardless of speed time and distance so yesterday that is what I did. 8 hours out round Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Warwickshire. Here's Blythfield Resevoir near Abbots Bromley.

I stopped the watch each time I stopped to consult the map (thank God for Samsug Galaxy Maps bloody ace), have a snack or rest or to take a pic (I realise I won't be doing that on the day) hence the ride time is 6hrs 16 mins with actual moving time of 6hrs 6 mins (10 recognised by Garmin as when I am at a junction, lights etc etc). I managed 88 miles at 14.4 mph ave. Two huge plus points are the ave speed and the distance being closer than I thought I would get to the Outlaw 112. It was also as hilly as fuck and particularly around 60 - 70mph I died on my arse! This could be down to poor fueling. My SIS drinks and Lucozade are fine but it seems a Kit Kat, bag of Walkers, Yoghurt bar and a can of coke arent quite as refueling as having a gel every 45 mins! Nutrition/fuel I am working on to make sure I get off the bike ready to run!
Here's yesterdays jaunt and I tip my hat to you cycling bods. Credit to you 'cause it aint easy!
The route profile looks to be more taxing than Outlaw so if I can keep focused and keep steady and keep fueled I would be disappointed if I wasnt on the run by 10 hours in at Outlaw!
Last night my legs were shredded but after eating my bodyweight in chicken and bacon, a cold shower and a sleep I feel suprisingly good this morning. I have had a chat with coach Vann and a cyber chat with coach @JWUltra and as a result all seems to be falling into place. Even felt strong during a lunch hour 3 mile loosener of a run!
Dont get me wrong I am aware of my poor preparation and lack of training and that Outlaw is going to be a lot tougher than I could have made it but I will be ready. @ironholgs rightly pointed out there is nothing that can be done now other than maintaining fitness and starting fit. No risks required trying to regain sessions that are lost. As he put it (and I paraphrase) 'be ready and drill it in!'. I think I know what he means and i will be ready.
I got this quote sent to me by an old school chum today - 'Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.'
Thomas Jefferson

I dont normally like quotes but I did like this one (probably due to the sentiment and support intended). I heard Mark 'waste of space' Lawrenson commenting on the football the other night quoting 'there's no I in team'. My blood boiled but as I rode yesterday I convinced myself that there is no IF in 'Outlaw I am gonna fucking ave ya!'
Everyone is confident that I can do this - some have even suggested that I am Awesome ;-) On July 1st I believe I will be. Buckle up we're going in!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Last Negative!

Today, if I dont run, swim or cycle will be the seventh day without exercise since a 48 mile cycle commute last Thursday. There are no excuses. No real reasons. For this last week and this last week alone I am a twat! I've wasted a bank holiday 4 day stretch where there were no kids Gymnastics or Dancing to get them to so I could have 5/6 hours to myself to train no problem. I've wasted the kids being off school this week meaning a training session could start at 5 or 6 and run through to 9 without the interruption of getting the kids to school.
Probably the most annoying thing is that this comes off the back of a good couple of weeks and will set me back a good couple of weeks! Set back a couple of weeks with 3 weeks and 3 days to go is crippling. I have let myself down and if I could I would kick the crap out of myself! Honestly I cant see Outlaw as being possible. It seems now to be an impossible task. That means I will be taking it on lacking in belief - sometimes belief is everything. If I dont think I can do it I will either fail or make an already difficult task much more difficult.
I could say I am going to do this and that to restore my belief, to boost my confidence but this will only add to my fury when I dont do it. I could rake up a few excuses - a twinge here, a tweak there but the truth is I am an inherantly lazy twat! A lazy twat used to leaving things to the last minute and fluking stuff. In all walks of life. I did it through school, I've done it throughout my working life and I hate myself for it! I seriously doubt that an Ironman Triathlon can be fluked. I tried to fluke Liverpool Marathon and that caught me out. I fluked VLM because I did it in fancy dress to hide my lack of preparation.
I've 3 weeks and 3 days until Outlaw. 3 weeks of training left if I train up to Thu 28th! Tapering has never really suited me but that is probably more to do with my 'leave it until the last minute' attitude rather than tapering not actually suiting me. Although to be fair you need to have worked, pushed it hard in training to benefit from a taper. I've not done that.
This will be my last negative post - it may be my last post pre Outlaw. In fact it will take something bloody brilliant to happen for me to be able to face (albeit in a cyber sense) everyone with another post. For that same reason I may be laying low on Twitter and FB while I see what I can salvage in the next 3 weeks.
I did consider not blogging but hey if I can bring this on myself I may as well share it with you lot too!