Monday, December 29, 2008

And Finally...

... the year comes to a close. I know I said I probably wouldn't blog this week but I changed my mind.

I'll keep it short and sweet.

Our festive celebrations were held at Old Thatch this year with several family members coming over to us for the day. Pictured around the table are Fiona, her brother Christian and his family, her sister Jane and her family and their father (and recent heart attack victim - see previous blog) Maurice. Thirteen of us in total and, once again, Fiona did us proud (as you can see from the empty plates). It was a fantastic day and the six cousins (Erin, Alice, Luke, Joseph, Thomas and Emily) had a terrific time, as did the various aunties and uncles.

I've managed to keep extremely active this holiday, doing something every day and even including a brisk 5k run on Christmas Day itself. Other highlights included a 2km swim session, an 8 mile Boxing Day cross country run with Colin and Alex, a 45 mile solo bike ride and a tough fixed wheel bike session. I come to you today off a 12 mile brisk run at just over 7:30 pace which, for December 29th is - for me at least - a good place to be.

I'm anxious now to begin training for the new season and Sunday will see a session with Team MK specifically aimed at all of us gearing up for Ironman in the summer. Can't wait.

Last week's film quote was spoken by nobody in particular - in fact the guy who is running the whole alien/mother ship landing experiment - in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. My great mate Jonny Kurzman got it but couldn't figure out how to post on the blog... Jonny, get with the programme, mate.

Last one of 2008. Who can place this baby, and the person that said it:

"My idea of Heaven is a solid white nightclub with me as a headliner for all eternity, and they love me."

This has been my second season in triathlon and it's seen a marked improvement in my performance. Thanks are due in no small measure to many people.

First and foremost, of course, to Fiona, Erin and Alice... the lights of my life, who joined me in Austria this year and were bitten by the Ironman and Triathlon bug. I think they understand what it is I'm chasing... at least I hope they do because then they can explain to me exactly what it might be ! But for showing patience, love and understanding... my thanks and love.

Also, in no particular order...

Thanks to my coach, Mark Kleanthous, for never once doubting I could go sub 11 and training me to be at peak fitness for my one and only A race and helping me deliver a 10:42. Thanks also for holding me back when all I want to do is go out and do too much... a voice of calm and reason.

To my training buddies from Team MK, especially Graham Mackie, who made me so welcome in my first season at the club. It's been terrific to be able to surround myself with so many top class athletes and I look forward to another season in the saddle.

To Colin, Alex, Simon and all the local triathletes with whom I train, drink and laugh. Great mates and great fun. Good luck to Colin in his attempt to qualify for the GB age groupers at sprint distance in 2009.

To Tom, Helen, Gabriel and others for sharing everything, supporting from afar and the joint training sessions we've had. I look forward to more in the months ahead and good luck with your challenges this coming year.

To Rob Quantrel... with whom I've never trained but undoubtedly will soon. Thanks Rob, for shadowing me on the marathon of our epic Ironman in Austria. Congratulations on a sensational first Ironman and here's to more success in 2009.

To Cervelo for making bikes of such extraordinary genius that any more words are redundant.

To whoever up there is watching over me for allowing my knee to remain - somehow - still functioning. Just another season, honest (well, maybe a couple more after that...)

And of course, you knew you were going to be in here, didn't you... thanks to you, whoever you are... anonymous or not... for reading and being part of the blog. I hope that the year has been a successful one, that some of your dreams have come true, but enough have remained unfulfilled for you to be hungry for the challenges ahead. For challenges and struggle are an inevitable part of life and the way we deal with them goes a long way to defining how we are perceived by others and how we feel about ourselves.

Anyway... must rush... I have an opportunity now. I need to drink as much ale as possible before I give up for January.

Next week we all get to set our new year's resolutions.

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

But remember this.

Anything is possible.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Night Fever...

I've been something of a Night Owl recently and it's set me thinking about the way I'm going to operate next year in certain aspects of my life.

Firstly, to the big occurrence of the week, the 25th anniversary reunion of The Log Cabin, our infamous Manchester University home. From left you'll see myself and my great mates Mark Goodson, Andy Fulbrook, Jim Doyle and Dan Moore. I spent three of the happiest years of my life with these guys, experiencing things I wouldn't dare tell you in person, let alone publish on a blog. We've remained great friends ever since, not meeting as much as we should - like many friendships - but always slotting back into place the moment we reconvene. We were joined for a day of ale and festivities in Soho by our old university mucker Dick Durrant who proved that he still can't play fizzbuzz. We started with lunch at Soho House and made our way up to the armchairs of said establishment, leaving around 8pm as we were in danger of falling asleep. The photo catches us outside The Dog and Duck in Soho, where several more 'nightcaps' were consumed before we wended our ways home.

Great to see you, boys...

More night work this week as I've been hammering away at my film script. Actually I'm not at the script stage yet but you may remember I (foolishly) promised Agent Sean a treatment (or narrative outline of the film's story) before Christmas. I found my work during the day was prone to disruption but when I came up to the office at night, I was much more efficient. It's made me consider factoring in a late night writing session to my work regime next year.

Something else I've also been considering is whether to continue with my coach, Mark K. Mark's been extremely valuable to me over the last two years and we've made a great team. He's starting to get busy with clients, however and a price rise made me consider the validity of my having a coach.

I'm pleased to say that I've come down on the side of staying with Mark for the next year. Ironman is a lonely world and the experience and 'shoulder' of a friendly coach is a valuable commodity.

Mark... I 'm looking forward to another year in the saddle !

We're hear at Old Thatch this Christmas and shall have thirteen for lunch on Christmas Day. Our Turkey has arrived today from the free range luxury of Kelly Bronze. Suffice to say it cost almost as much as Tom and Helen's cabana!!!!

Training has been strong again this week. I've done a couple of swim session, some 10k runs and several bike rides of 20 - 30 miles. With only a week or so to go, I'm delighted that I'm weighing in at 91 kg, just under my target weight and over a stone or 6.5kg than I was weighing at this time last year. I have to think that the benefits of not having to lose a stone in weight through training will give me a flying start in January.

But there's still a week to go so I really need to keep the discipline this week.

Last week's film quote was spoken by JAMES STEWART as GEORGE BAILEY in the perennial Christmas favourite... IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

A nice easy one for you this week:

"If we're all ready on the Dark Side of the Moon... play the five tones."

Name of the film only will do just dandy thank you.

So... congratulations to you all, for all you've achieved this year. Thank you for being with me on my blog journey and I look forward to your company in the weeks ahead. I may well take a week off from blogging next week so may well talk to you next in 2009.

In the meantime, have a most festive Christmas with your friends and family.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Good Morning. Been a busy bee this week with client lunches, family parties (my brother's 40th), house duties - surely there can't be a man alive who doesn't relish the opportunity to turn his hands to lumpen blocks of ice whilst putting up the Christmas lights - and the like.

The upshot is that I must run as I have weight to shed and work to deliver to my agent. I also have only four days to do it in as Friday will see the re-union of 'The Log Cabin' - the notorious Manchester University house of too many years ago than I care to remember. Reports on that next week.

I had a distinctly average week training with all of the above and it looked like this:

Mon - brisk run of 9 miles in 1 hour 1 minute (6:49 min miles) to get rid of the energy stored up for the aborted Luton marathon.
Tuesday - no training
Weds - no training
Thurs - 25 mile bike ride with Colin, 1 hour swim session with Team MK
Friday - 10k run with Colin
Saturday - no training
Sunday - no training

Last week's film quote was correctly identified by Rob Quantrel (my how the boy has come on in recent months) as being from SNATCH.

Staying in the festive season... how about this:

"You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?"

You simply have to get that one... have to.

Congratulations this week to Tom and Helen who (once again :-)) tied the knot and who are now in Miami on honeymoon. Not that I'm jealous. Also to Conal, my youngest brother, who celebrated his 40th birthday at the weekend. Well done, big fella... I love you.

Apologies for the brevity but a more fulsome update next week...

Monday, December 08, 2008

I wish...

I wish I could tell you that I ran a PB in the Luton Marathon yesterday (that was never going to be likely to be honest). But I can't.

I wish I could tell you that I ran in the Luton Marathon yesterday. But I can't.

I wish I could tell you that the Luton Marathon took place yesterday. But it didn't.

The pic above is taken from the Luton Marathon website (where you'll also find a full explanation of what happened) and graphicaly shows the problem faced by the organisers. It's 11am, already one hour before the scheduled start and a thousand or so runners are waiting to head off onto a course that will take them directly into the path of an icy country lane, overturned car and recovery lorry. They were obviously unable to begin racing until the obstacle was cleared, by which time it was too late to start for the safety of the slower runners who would have to run the same country roads in the pitch black and icy conditions of the late afternoon.

So, nothing for it but to head home and be grumpy.

I went for a 10k run but half of the roads I run on were icy too, so... in retrospect... maybe it's not such a bad thing that the race was cancelled.

And what, after all, was this marathon? Frankly, only a small stepping stone crossing the raging river that is the journey to Ironman Germany. It's purpose was not to take part in a race the details of which I could relay to my grandchildren ("I've raced all around the world, played rugby at Twickenham in front of a full house, but to me the highlight will always be... The Luton Marathon 2008" - see, kind of doesn't ring true does it) but to form a goal, a target to which I could work with the express intention of working on my distance running through the autumn and keeping my weight at 14stone 7lb or whatever kilo that is... 92 I think.

And you know what... I did just that. So, in a way, job done. All the "I wishes" in the world won't make the race happen and, looking at it dispassionately, I'm glad I'm never in a position where I run a race and end up saying "I wish I'd done the training". Now that truly would be a nightmare.

Training this week was 'double light with an egg on top' as I was tapering for the aforementioned Mary Celeste of Marathons (and before you correct me, check it out - you'll find it's 'Mary' and not 'Marie' Celeste). It went something like this:

Mon 5.6 miles easy run
Tues 60 mins swim drills
Wed 3.5 miles easy run, sports massage with Dave
Thurs 60 mins swim session with Team MK
Fri 3.5 miles easy run
Sat 2 miles easy run
Sun 5.6 miles steady run

Last week's quote...? It was spoken by WOODY ALLEN, as ALVY SINGER in the movie ANNIE HALL. A movie I would find funny apart from the irritating self-styled 'kooky' presence of Dianne Keaton. And, as she plays the title role, that really doesn't leave me anywhere to go...

Both Tom and Rob Q have been asking for midweek clues. Frankly, boys, I'm a little disappointed. I mean... I'm training you up here. Getting some culture into your sport-filled athlete's domes. So don't question your coach. Ponder, muse, think... and ye shall gain entrance to a world of joy...

In the Christmas spirit, munch on this (easier) one a while:

"So the biblical scholars mis-translated the Hebrew word for "young woman" into the Greek word for "virgin," which was a pretty easy mistake to make, since there is only a subtle difference in the spelling. But back then it was the "virgin" that caught people's attention. It's not every day a virgin conceives and bears a son. So you keep that for a couple of hundred years, and the next thing you know, you have the Roman Catholic church."

Who to congratulate this week?

Ah yes... of course... in the words of the immortal Christopher Lambert in Russell Mulcahy's excellent 'HIGHLANDER' - "there can be only one".

One institution, that is... two people who joined it.

My great mates Tom and Helen tied the knot yesterday and became man and wife. A thousand million congratulations to you both my friends and much love from all our family. Happiness, success and challenges lie ahead. You will rise to all as the sun rises each day... indominatable and unstoppable.

And, on that happy note I shall leave you to enjoy another week.

Don't slip on the ice of life...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Feelin' Large

This is me following a training run at the weekend.

Well, not really but you get the picture. I've had three days now of eating... a business meal on Friday, dinner on Saturday night and family Sunday lunch at my brother in law's and, combined with the sort-of-mini-taper-thing that's happening before my marathon in Luton next Sunday, I'm starting to feel slightly lardy. Of course this is the way tapers work but it's not great and it feels strange to be feeling like this in winter instead of summer time prior to Ironman.

Still, the hard work of five or six weeks marathon prep is behind me and I'm glad I've done it whilst keeping things ticking over in the swim and bike departments. Watch next week's blog for progress.

Training this week was

Monday 11.2 mile run at 7:25 minute miles
Tuesday 45 minute swim drills
Wednesday 50 minute easy spin cycle, 10 minute run off the bike
Thursday 10km easy run, 1 hour swim with Team MK
Friday Easy 10km run
Saturday Steady 10km run with Colin
Sunday Day off

Not much this week... bit of swimming, bit of running, bit of biking before Sunday. Lots of sleep.

I'd like to share a poem with you this week. It's written by my youngest daughter, Alice (11) and it's about her sister, Erin (14). It kind of made my heart sing and its discovery was one of those moments that you become a parent for... (all alignment and punctuation by the author!)

A teenage girl,
Just like the wind,
Howling, shouting cooking up a storm,
Yet such a light breeze on a summer's day.
She moves as quickly as the breeze,
Soft speaking whilst gently running across
The moist grass,
Bobbing her head to music like a
Swaying in the wind.

Frankly, when eleven year olds write like that, who cares if they struggle a bit with maths.

Last week's film quote was spoken by STEVE BUSCEMI as MR PINK in RESERVOIR DOGS and was correctly identified by Carl. Duncan grumbled to me on Saturday night that he can never get the film quote and accused the Blog-ites of cheating. 'They used to', I replied, 'but that kind of behaviour is no longer tolerated and they know they must answer from memory rather than use the internet'. Dunc grumbled on about them being too hard but frankly, it's his fault for not watching enough quality entertainment.

Have a bash at this week's...

"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark."

I had lunch with my agent last week at our favourite haunt of YO SUSHI in London's Poland Street. As ever, after a meeting with Agent Sean (so named to differentiate from Brother Sean) I'm re-incentivised and have promised him a full outline of my script before christmas. So I must leave you now with one of my favourite quotations.

"I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" - Robert Frost.

Monday, November 24, 2008

No Pain No Gain...

A few things have happened this week that have re-confirmed the belief I have in this oft-quoted mantra. To be honest, it's been a part of my life since I've been young. I've always known that to go the extra yard, to get one up on the opposition, to get what you want in life... well, that stuff doesn't come free does it.

It takes effort and sweat and toil and tears.

And pain.

Sometimes physical, sometimes metaphorical but always pain.

I was most minded of it on Saturday when I left Twickenham having seen a ruthlessly efficient South Africa dismantle a, frankly, extremely poor England side. I remembered not so many years ago going to the same stadium and seeing England beat South Africa by fifty points. Now the tables were turned. I remembered that the England side which won the world cup had to go through years of building, enduring numerous setbacks along the way, losing several Grand Slam deciders to weaker teams and more than once being accused of 'choking'. They took their medicine, suffered their pain and emerged from the furnace (if you'll allow me to mix my metaphors) forged into world champions.

No pain no gain.

Colin - my good mate and tri buddy - had a bit of good news recently. His son Adam passed his eleven plus. Big moment for the boy. But I happen to know that it didn't come easy for Adam. It wasn't just show up and collect the cash. He had to work hard. He practiced and practiced and practiced until answering those questions was second nature. And you know what... come the day of the examination, he wasn't found wanting.

No pain no gain.

The sudden downturn in the weather and our speedy slide into winter has reminded me of my mate Tom's saying that 'Ironmen are made in Winter'. I took those words to heart last year and those freezing cold mornings on the bike, literally crying in pain as the biting wind attacked my fingers and toes, were all worth it come July when I sailed to a PB by over half an hour in the Ironman bike leg. This year I'll be doing much the same and, in a strange way, because the notion of embracing pain and/or difficulty has been something that's been with me for as long as I can remember... I'm kind of looking forward to it.

No pain no gain.

That said, I've signed up for the Team MK warm weather training camp in Rimini, Italy for a week at the end of April. The guys at the club swear by it as fantastic preparation for the Ironman season and I hope that this year it will give my training an extra boost.

What's been occurring this week? Well, the weekend was dented by Twickers but I put in a solid week prior to that...

Monday 17 miles long run at 2 hrs 9 mins (just over 7'30" per mile)
Tuesday Deep sports massage by Dave
Weds 2 hour fixed wheel ride with Graham Mackie from Team MK
Thursday 10k easy run, 1 hour 15 mins swim session with Team MK
Friday 1 hour 15 mins easy 8 mile x country run
Saturday Too much ale
Sunday 45 mins swim drills with paddles and floats

The Luton marathon is in less than two weeks. I'm not quite sure how I'll taper, only that my distances have to come down. I'm approaching it as a training run that has been in the diary purely to 'keep me honest' and know enough about my training and the course to tell you that the weather and my standard of long distance fitness would make anywhere between 3:30 and 3:40 an extremely good race. Still, it's had the effect of giving me a focus for the latter part of the 'off season' and keeping my weight at or just below 14st 7lb (I think that's around 92kg).

Last week's film quote was pretty tricky. It was spoken by WALTER 'THE PAINLESS POLE' WALDOWSKI (played by JOHN SCHUCK) in the movie M*A*S*H and it was notable as being the first time that the word 'fuck' had been uttered in a Hollywood studio picture. Robert Altman was a revolutionary director and this movie also marked the first time that any degree of overlapping dialogue had been used in a movie. Strange to imagine now but audiences were bewildered by the complexity of hearing people speaking at the same time, whereas now we buy into that completely and call it 'realism'.

Speaking of pain... here's this week's:

"Somebody's shoved a red-hot poker up our ass, and I want to know whose name is on the handle!"

Go on... rack your brains. You've seen this movie. And if you haven't... well, you should have.

Have a painful week my friends...

Monday, November 17, 2008

As I was going to St. Pauls...

... I met a man with seven balls... sorry, that was my old 'rugby song' training getting the better of me for a moment.

I miss rugby and, for my sins, have taken to following England as some small substitute for no longer having the fix of playing. I've travelled to both their recent world cup finals, experiencing great joy in Sydney and disappointment in Paris. I think, though, after Saturday, that we could be in for a long old rebuilding process under Martin Johnson. We were out-thought and out manoueuvred by an average Australian side.

This doesn't bode well for my trip to Twickers on Saturday to see England v South Africa. Fortunately, a day at Twickers has other things to keep me busy if the rugby disappoints! I will report back in next week's blog.

A quiet week this week, due to Monday's run. I went out in the morning for a long run and the heavens opened, fast becoming the worst conditions I can ever remember having run in. Faced with the choice of coming in (I had to pass the house four times on my various laps) or toughing it out, I once again told myself to 'iron up' and get on with it. In the end I was pleased with just over twenty miles in 2 hrs 37 mins, especially as I must have weighed half a stone more than usual due to my clothes' water retention.

I continued to train and did a tough hill session on Wednesday night at Tring running club, which included a 5 mile run and 14 x 300m hill sprints. Come Friday, my intention of doing a staggered pace (slow, medium, fast) 10k was shot down in flames when I - and this isn't something I do often - had to stop due to leg fatigue. Ah well... I guess it was just a little overload is all. It's going to happen once in a while.

This week looked like this:

Monday - 20 mile run, 2 hrs 37 mins
Tuesday - 1 hour fixed wheel bike session
Wednesday - 2km swim, 1 hr 15 mins run and hill sprints (as detailed above)
Thursday - 1 hour Team MK swim session
Friday - 10km run (started hard but ended easy !!)
Saturday - 1 hr 30 mins easy spin bike
Sunday - Day off

Seems I'd underestimated how many of you enjoyed the movie STAND BY ME where last week's film quote was taken from, spoken by THE NARRATOR (played, of course, by Richard Dreyfuss).

This week:

"All right, Bub, your fuckin' head is coming right off."

Apologies for the profanity but there's a reason for it. So tell me where the quote came from and why it's important.

And remember... no IMDB allowed... and no private emails with the answer. Post on the blog.

Happy birthday this week to Fiona. Sunday saw us travel up to London for a 'family day' at St Paul's Cathedral followed by Sunday lunch at Shoreditch House. Erin and Alice loved it and were only disappointed they hadn't brought their swim costumes for the rooftop pool. Today's photo shows Erin and Alice outside St Paul's. We all loved the day and were reminded that the best things in life aren't complicated. But you know how I feel about all that stuff and, right now... I must go. I have films to write and miles to run...

Hugs and kisses to you all...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lest we Forget...

And how does this week find you my beautiful Blog-ites? Well, I hope. Important news first. Maurice, my father in law, remains in hospital, but continues to make good progress. We are waiting for the results of a second series of tests which will decide if he is to return home or go to Harefield Hospital where surgery will be necessary. I'll keep you posted.

It's been a busy week on all fronts. My latest script progresses well and I've finally got through one of the toughest parts which is the construction of the story... what happens, who it happens to, why it happens, what happens as a result of it. As someone who just wants to get stuck into the business end of writing, I find the plotting an interminable drudge and this process represents the toughest stage of any script for me which is probably:

a. why I've not done it before, preferring just to 'start writing'.
b. why I abandoned my previous script at this stage some months ago.

Anyway, I'm a lot clearer now about the story I'm telling and the themes within it which can only be a good thing, right? The pic is the first half of the script, with each card representing a scene. The second half is on another wall but, trust me, it looks very very similar.

How was training I hear you ask. It was okay thanks. Momentous moments included a 20 mile run which pretty much wiped me out for two days. The common consensus seems to be too much in too short a time (I've gone pretty much from zero to seventeen and twenty mile long runs each week in the past month). I'm going to do another long one today and see how things lie after that. Highlight of the week in training terms, though, was definitely Friday when I met up with Gabriel for a day's training in London-town. We swam 2.2km at an open air pool in Covent Garden, taking turns at leading for 10 laps at a time. From there we got changed and went out on an (approx) 11 mile run which took us down through Trafalgar Square, along The Mall, past Buckingham Palace through St James Park and on a couple of laps around Hyde Park and its Serpentine Lake before heading back to our lockers in Covent Garden. Quick sauna and shower and then off to my club in London - Soho House - where we kicked back and enjoyed a few beers and a most nourishing roast chicken dinner. Now that's what training's all about.

Also... it wouldn't be a normal week if I hadn't purchased a new bike, would it.

A couple of friends at Team MK have been riding fixed wheel bikes and I could resist the temptation no longer. Saturday morning saw me at my local bike shop - Phil Corley Cycles - picking up a brand new Specialized Langster Polish. And jolly polished it is too. I took it out on Saturday afternoon and absolutely love the fixed wheel side of riding. It's a bit tricky to get used to though, as the fixed wheel means you have to keep pedaling at speed otherwise you, er... get thrown off.

But I'm positive it's going to improve my cycling and that's what it's all about this year.

And my running.

And, of course, my swimming.

So, this week's training looked a little like this:

Monday: 20 mile slow run, 3 hours
Tuesday: Absolutely knackered... no training
Wednesday: 1 hour 30 minutes cycling
Thursday: 1 hour 30 minutes cycling
Friday: 2.2km swimming, 11 mile easy run (1 hr 30)
Saturday: Fixed wheel bike ride - 1 hour
Sunday: Day off

What else? Well, I took Erin to see Quantum of Solace yesterday and, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's had negative publicity but I found it a well crafted and tightly plotted movie. Which goes to show you should always make up your own mind about these things.

Prior to that we'd been to the Remembrance Service at our local church - a poignant reminder of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we, the future generations, could sit here and blog. It's always very moving to see the traffic come to a stop as the lone bugler plays The Last Post at the war memorial. Sometimes it's not cool or trendy to say it... but this is one household that will never forget.

Film quotes? Yes, I know they're getting easier. But that could be a cunning ploy to lure you into my web... but let's just say if Rob Quantrel is getting three on the trot then that old web needs strengthening up a bit.

Last week's quote was, indeed, spoken by WES BENTLEY as RICKY FITZ in AMERICAN BEAUTY.

Here's this week's:

"It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of our lives like busboys in a restaurant."

Rob ?

Great to see Joe Calzaghe doing the right thing at Madison Square Garden. Well done Joe. Good work, fella. Now get retired, whilst you're still a legend.

And get better soon to Alice, who's - unusually for her - laid low with a throat infection. Too much talking probably.

Next week folks. Keep on pedaling...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Family Matters

My father in law had a heart attack yesterday.

Not indigestion or severe chest pains but a proper, grown-up, full-bodied heart attack.

Here's how things unravelled:

Fiona wakes me at 5am on Sunday morning telling me that there are two messages on the answer machine from her dad, who tells her he thinks he's having a heart attack. Following Fiona's Mum's death in 2003, Maurice now lives in the same village as us. So, in double quick time I'm in the car, hurtling round the quarter mile or so to his place. I'm also remembering that at 11pm on Saturday night there was a phone call that left no message and - though I tried to find out who'd called - the 1471 option wasn't responding.

I figure I now know who made that call.

I arrive at his house and let myself in, to find him sat in his armchair in dressing gown and pyjamas, clutching his chest. It's now 5.05 am and he'd been in that chair since 1 am that morning and having a heart attack since 11pm the previous night (when he'd called us) but the answer machine had picked up. I have a rudimentary first aid training, having completed a five day intensive St John's course recently which involved all elements of resusc. and the like.

It was pretty obvious what was happening. So... two options. Bundle him in the car and hammer off to hospital or call 999. No choice really. That's what ambulances are for isn't it? So I call 999 and give them the info they need. In fifteen minutes or so an 'on call' paramedic had arrived and put Maurice on oxygen and helped to make him feel more comfortable until the ambulance arrived which it did, some ten minutes later. They hooked him up to an ECG, confirmed he was having a heart attack (most cases of suspected heart attacks aren't, in fact, heart attacks at all) and from there it was full on life saving mode.

And very calm and collected it was too. Pills were put under tongue, injections administered and before you can say 'something I'd wanted to do since I was eight' I was sat in the front seat of an ambulance with blue lights flashing, hopping red lights and arriving at A & E like they used to when I watched ER.

Maurice's condition improved and, although they weren't able to administer the normal anti- clotting drugs due to his low blood pressure, he became more stable and was admitted from the A & E ward to the cardiac ward where he currently resides.

All of which got me thinking about a few things:

First and foremost, how we turn to our family when things are tough.

Maurice lives in sheltered accomodation with an emergency cord and intercom in every room. (He's 81 and pretty robust and has never needed the intercom or cord but has used them once or twice so he knows what to do). Yet in the midst of six hours of searing pain with - for all he knows - his life about to end at any second, an emergency cord within a hands stretch of his armchair, all he could do was focus on calling his family to come and help him. Even when they didn't... he continued to call. Apparently it 'didn't occur' to him to pull the cord. He just wanted his family because - I guess - he knew they would help.

Secondly - and this is a cliche I know - but Jeez... life isn't a dress rehearsal. It hangs by a gossamer thread which can be snipped at any time. When people say that Sarah Palin is a 'heartbeat away' from having her finger on the button I now know what they mean. This points me in two directions. One - I hope Ms Palin is kept an Alaska-ish distance from The White House and, more importantly I have had a timely reminder (which I now share with you) that we should do the things we want to do, strive for happiness, kiss your children, tell those you love that you love them, buy the car you've always wanted and chase the goals that you've always dreamed of.

Like I say... something of a cliche. But too, too true.

So I figured I'd stick a pic of my family on the blog today. It was taken the day after IronMan Austria and features my two brothers and families and my mum and dad plus, of course, Fiona, Erin and Alice.

And - trying to make sense of that outpouring, it also occurred to me that we have a 'family' in whatever we do in life. At work, we have trusted confidants and those we can turn to in times of difficulty. At play too. At least I know I do. My coach, my mates that I train with and exchange tri stories, my extended 'family' on the Tri Talk website - I know that they're there to help with any problems I might have. So, no matter how lonely it might be on an Ironman journey or the journey of one's chosen career, no matter how individualistic a route you might have taken, no matter how isolated it might seem you are - remember, there are always others around you and their help can be of practical and spiritual benefit. These are your family and you should never be afraid to turn to them.

With all that in mind... I'm looking forward to sharing a bit of training this week. I'm meeting up with Gabriel - a mate from Ironman Austria - in London on Friday where we're going to swim and run and take in a few beers. Full details next week.

This week was, again, satisfying and enjoyable.

Monday Day off
Tuesday 17 miles easy run at 2 hours 25 mins (8:22 min miles)
Weds Rest day
Thursday 12 miles brisk run at 7:30 minute miles, 1 hour swim with Team MK
Friday 1 hour 30 mins single gear (34/17) bike ride
Saturday 45 minutes easy run, 2 hour mountain bike ride
Sunday Fast run, 5 miles at 6:56 minute miles

The only downside is that I, once again, turned my ankle whilst running off road on Satuday. It means my ankle still needs mucho work to get it back to full strength.

And I hate doing all that physio stuff.

A couple of you got last week's film quote, spoken by BRAD PITT as TYLER DURDEN in FIGHT CLUB. If you've not seen FIGHT CLUB recently I urge you to give it another go. I think it will become, in time, regarded as one of the great movies.

Who said this and in what movie?

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

And so, my good and faithful friends, it is time to return to the real world. I wish you all well in your week and, as Gary Player once famously said (and I paraphrase) "Don't forget to stop and smell the roses once in a while."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Girls 2 Boys 0

I've been mulling on structure recently. As you know I'm currently in the agonising process of writing another screenplay. Why agonising? Well, because as anyone who writes will tell you... we'll do anything to avoid writing. Making coffee and tea are the favourites but we have all sorts of other tricks - 'researching' (surfing the web), 'checking source material' (watching old movies), 'housekeeping' (doing other stuff like writing blogs) 'letting things sink in before committing them to paper' (training) and so on.

A regular favourite amongst screenwriters though is reading books on screenwriting. Usually these have titles like 'From Script to Screen', 'The Hero's Journey', 'Making a Good Script Great' and my current read 'Your Screenplay Sucks'. Usually these offer the opportunity to do nothing more than delay the tap tap tap of keyboard activity for another hour or so but sometimes... just sometimes, they can throw up a useful nugget of advice.

One such piece this week, garnered from 'Your Screenplay Sucks' was to use the early stages of the writing process to forget about structure. Just have fun with your mind... see what your characters do. Commit their actions only to a series of index cards and, if things aren't working, throw them away and start again or have them do something else. Don't worry about what goes where, simply enjoy the creative process. Worry about your story structure only when you've exhausted the process of scribbling and drawing mind maps and seeing what happens if a meteor carrying alien life form hits your character's village (now there's a thought!).

So that's what I'm doing and it's very liberating.

And not a little fun.

And much better than writing.

Or working.

But structure plays a huge part too in my Ironman training. So it's good to have a period when I'm training without a particular agenda. Yes, I have the Luton Marathon at the beginning of December, but mostly I'm doing what I like, when I like and paying no attention to how many hours I'm doing or what the purpose of each session might be. It's resulted in a really enjoyable period of training and will, I'm sure, set me in good stead for the structure of my Ironman training which commences proper after Christmas with, once again, my coach Mark Kleanthous guiding me through six months of sweat on the way to Frankfurt on July 5th.

Ironman's not only pain and suffering though, it's also a very inclusive and sharing community of athletes. Along the way I've been lucky enough to make some new friends, none finer than Tom and Helen who I first met at Ironman Austria 2007. Tom and H are taking on the formidable Ironman Lanzarote this year, with Ironman Switzerland thrown in for good measure seven weeks later. They are both top athletes and - all things being equal - next October should see them at Hawaii having qualified for the world championships.

That is then, though and this is now. In what is their month off training, Tom and H popped down for the weekend carrying a bag of Betty's Fat Rascal scones from Betty's Tea Rooms (one of our favourite bike stops when I go up to Yorkshire to cycle with them). Being in our unstructured phase, we did what we pleased which involved movies, chocolate, coffee, Wii, Sunday papers, log fires and loads of chilling out. I also took them out on one of my favourite runs, an easy 8 miles over some tough hills including Ivinghoe Beacon, where we watched the sun set over England's green and pleasant land.

On Sunday we went for a swim along with Alice (my youngest daughter) and, once we'd scared the bejesus out of the swimmers in the pool's 'fast' lane Tom decided we should have a girls v boys race. Being Tom, he quickly devised a handicapping system which saw a best of three race being won by the girls 2 - 0 with Alice holding off her dad in the final strokes with a Phelpsian lunge for the wall.

Which accounts for the girls looking very pleased with themselves in today's photo.

But it was a great weekend and already I'm fired up for the season ahead. As ever, I'll be feeding off their training and success and, if you're interested in their journey, you should follow their blog here.

So, all in all this week's (unstructured) training looked like this:

Monday: 17 mile run at 2 hrs 25 mins
Tuesday: Recovery Day
Weds: 2.5km swim (4 x 500m finishing with 10 x 50m on 1 minute each)
6 mile run at Tring Running Club including 4 x 6 minute miles with 3 mins recovery between each.
Thurs: 5.6 mile 75% heartrate run
1 hour swim drills with Team MK
Friday: 1 hour 25 mins fixed gear bike ride (34/19 gear)
Saturday: 7.6 mile cross country easy run
Sunday: 45 mins swimming

All in all, a most enjoyable week.

Film quotes now and I can tell I'm going soft. Last week's was far, far too easy, spoken by WILL SMITH as Captain Stephen Hiller in INDEPENDENCE DAY. Well done to Gabriel, Alex, Rob Q, Ian West and everyone else who spanked my behind on that one.

Try this on for size:

"I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. "

So, I must leave you now and go write...

or maybe I'll make a coffee...

Toodle Pip...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Farewell My Summer Love...

The cold winds of winter howled through my heart and I knew it was time. She'd been a part of my life for only a matter of months but already she'd changed me... made me a better man.

So I hung her up on the wall...


Sure I did... Hung her up on the wall, not to be removed until Spring 2009. Yes, saturday afternoon saw me doing my 'domestics' in the bike department. I bagged up my HED JET race wheels, put the training wheels on my beloved Cervelo P2C, cleaned the frame, oiled the chain, deflated the tyres and placed her gently on one of my bike racks, where she'll stay until the weather perks up next year.

But every cloud has a silver lining and I took down my Specialized Allez Road bike and prepared it (notice no gender for the second favourite !) for winter. My racing tyres were finally discarded to be replaced with Contintental Winter Tyres. The clip on tri bars came off and the whole bike was cleaned and oiled ready for a winter of hard yards. I took the 'Spesh' out for a spin and have to say it was good to be on it again. I'm quite looking forward to having a dedicated road bike again rather than the time trial bike.

Anyway, I guess I'm prepared for winter.

So... apologies for last week. Frankly I just wasn't in the mood. I was feeling a little grumpy and tired, having begun to increase my road mileage and the last thing I wanted to do was type out a blog. And ... hey... it's not compulsory. So I didn't.

But I feel refreshed and invigourated this week and - people - 'tis good to be back with you. What have I been up to the last couple of weeks in terms of training? Well, I've certainly been running. Most days I've been on the road doing no less than 6 miles. I'm very comfortable over 12 miles now and have been rattling a few of those babies off. Longest has been a 15 miler which was, frankly, tough. But I'm going to stick at it and - though I think 3:30 at Luton might be a tall order - will see what the day brings. I've still got five weeks or so of training so I'm hoping my previous fitness will click in at some point.

I've also been mountain biking with my mate Colin. Last Tuesday saw a two hour ride over and around Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs, finishing on Ivinghoe Beacon with Colin, Alex and Jo. Top riding and great for those bike handling skills.

I've been knuckling down on my film script, getting a handle on the story and working through some scenarios with my friend and fellow script writer, Jonny Kurzman. Jonny would be the first to say he's no Ironman but he's the Mark Allen of scriptwriting and his ideas help a lot.

In fact it's good to have someone to bounce ideas off. Alex was a great sounding board for my previous idea which - as detailed in a previous post - is currently resting on a shelf, much like my beloved Cervelo.

Other news? Well, we've changed Fiona's car which, after seven years I think she was long overdue for. We now have another BMW in the family - this time a 1 series. We also have a wonderfully reliable Volkswagen Golf to sell so - if anyone out there is looking - you can find details here.

Erin and I chilled yesterday and watched a movie - GONE BABY GONE - which is Ben Affleck's directorial debut. If you like your movies dark and dangerous, I can thoroughly recommend. I was mucho impressedo by Mr Affleck's work. The reason we were chilling together without Fi and Alice was that Alice and her best mate Molly were at the preliminary auditions for BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT in London's Covent Garden. Both of my girls are very artistic and theatrical (frankly, we're just not a maths kind of family) and whilst Erin is an extremely talented actress, Alice is a full on, force of nature showman. Or showwoman. Whatever, she and Molly formed a singing duet called 'Blonde Ambition' and sang Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' for a producer-type. Watch this space for news of their progress. Or not, as the case may be.

You tried hard on the last film quote and, frankly, I'm disappointed. Disappointed you didn't recognise one of the most touching quotes from one of the funniest movies ever made...

"You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in the summer with your family up in the mountains. There's a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You're a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You're very generous. You're kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel."

bears repetition. It was, of course, spoken by BILL MURRAY'S character, PHIL CONNORS, to RITA played by ANDIE McDOWELL in the magnificent GROUNDHOG DAY.

Okay... take a peek at this and see if you know where it comes from...

"Y'know, this was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooo. You got me out here draggin' your heavy ass through the burnin' desert with your dreadlocks stickin' out the back of my parachute. You gotta come down here with an attitude, actin' all big and bad... "

Well done to Boothy for completing the World Championships at Ironman Hawaii over a week or go. It sounded like a long, hard day at the office. I've yet to chat to him about it as he's still away recovering.

Well done also, to Liverpool FC, at last showing the character I've been waiting for for eighteen years. We may not win the title this year but at last we have a team that knows how important it is to the fans.

Have a good week, people...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mea Culpa...

I know... I've not done a blog this week.

And I'm amazed how many of you have emailed me to:

a. chastise
b. check that I'm alive.

Actually I'm amazed and touched.

I'm also chastised.

And alive.

And normal service will be resumed next week.

I simply didn't want to write the blog this week. So I didn't.

Or did I?

Monday, October 06, 2008

There's something I have to tell you...

Quite a few things actually.

Firstly... I woke on Sunday morning, exchanged several 5 am texts with Colin and we both decided that we couldn't be bothered to haul ourselves out of bed and go to our final Tri of the season, The Bedford Sprint. I figured torrential rain, wind and a smattering of first time triathletes could make for an unhappily memorable end to what has been a great season.

So that's confession number one.

Number two is that I'm not doing my sit ups and press ups. I know... I know... I said I was going to. But I just stopped, alright. One day I was doing them and a week later I wasn't. I have no excuses. Guilty as charged.

Confession Three? I've ground to a halt on my screenplay. Can't move it forward at all. Suddenly it's making no sense and appears to be the biggest pile of poo ever committed to paper. That's the way it goes with my writing. The good news is that I've picked up a screenplay I wrote a year ago in a bit of a rush and am exploring a way to make it work. I'm very fertile on this subject at the moment and am hopeful that this will be something I can drive forward. Funny how it works but it's always been the same with me. I've a wall full of ideas and sometimes, if one can't go forward it's time to pick up another. Anyhow... I'll keep you posted.

So that's my True Confessions this week.

I've also entered the Luton Marathon in December as an attempt to keep in reasonable shape between now and Christmas so have started to up the mileage a little. I'll keep increasing for the next few weeks and would like to think I can run Luton in a steady 3:30 or so, even though I'm not in tip top shape. My foot and ankle are still sore from their injury but I'm hoping this will fade.

Training this week was pretty good:

Monday - 10km run
Tuesday - 750m open water swim (last of the season!)
Wednesday - 9 mile run
Thursday - 1 hour taking the kids at Team MK swim session
Friday - 11.5 mile run
Saturday - 2.5 hours mountain bike with Team MK
Sunday - 5km run

I'm still training how and when I like and enjoying its freedom - though it was bloody cold in that lake on Tuesday. Congratulations to Peter Wade who braved it with me for his first ever wetsuit swim. And yah, boo, sucks to Colin Bradley for wimping out after 50m, complaining that it was too cold.

Film Quote time... thought someone would have got this. Actually, he did (Jonathan Mulcahy) but didn't post it on the blog. The immortal 'negative waves' quote comes from DONALD SUTHERLAND in KELLY'S HEROES.

This week is all to do with cold weather...

"You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in the summer with your family up in the mountains. There's a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You're a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You're very generous. You're kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel."

Nobody picked up the extra points last week either. "Mrs Roosevelt" was the original title of the song "Mrs Robinson" which Paul Simon had written about Eleanor Roosevelt (check the lyrics... "we'd like to know a little bit about you for our files" etc). When asked to write for THE GRADUATE, he changed the title and - Bada Bing - a classic was born.

All my good luck space this week is devoted to one man... stand up, Boothy. Mark Booth of Team MK qualified at Ironman UK this year for the Ironman World Championships after ten years of trying. He flew off to Kona on Saturday and will race this coming Saturday on 'The Big Island'.

Nobody deserves to be there more than this exceptional athlete and top bloke.

Good Luck, Boothy...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Get on your Hoss and ride...

Got myself a mountain bike the other week and have been fiddling around with it getting ready to ride. I picked it up second hand and have tried to spend the minimum possible on getting it (and me) ready to go on the road - or rather, off the road.

Fiona's face yesterday when I mentioned I 'needed' a new Cervelo road bike indicated to me that I'd done the right thing in limiting my financial exposure to the MTB side of things.

Anyway, finally, I decided to go out on the thing for real, with my far more experienced Team MK mates. I was a little 'trepidatious' (as our US cousins might say), having visions of them on their super lightweight carbon MTBs hurling themselves along roller coaster like dirt tracks followed by me plodding along on my Kona Hoss (so called because it's something of a Clydesdale MTB - built for the heavier rider). But you know what... I needn't have worried. I had a great time. We were out for two and a half hours on the Woburn Estate, crashing around and the Hoss was fantastic... and the amount of pummeling that it took indicated to me that I did the right thing buying a heavier frame.

The MTB discipline is amazingly different to road biking with a real focus on pedaling technique, gearing and handling. The hills are a completely different experience with the low gearing allowing you to grind up fearsome looking, slippery hills, but only at huge debt to your heartrate. My Garmin (heart rate, sat nav monitor) told me that I'd reached 99% of my Maximum Heart Rate on one climb - something I've never done on a road bike.

Afterwards we went for a short half hour run in the woods but I turned my ankle slightly which went to show that it's not completely healed yet. No serious damage though and great fun. I'm looking forward to being able to off road on a regular basis over the winter.

The week that was looked like this:

Monday - 10km run
Tuesday - 2 hour 'gentle' MTB ride, testing the bike
Weds - 10km run, 45 mins bike
Thurs - 2km pool swim
Fri - 27 holes golf ! 27 pints of Guinness :-)
Sat - No training
Sun - 2.5 hours MTB, 30 mins gentle run

Thursday, friday and saturday morning saw me in Dublin at the Citywest Hotel and Golf Resort, playing with my mates from Woolton Hall at Manchester Uni. We get together every year for golf, beer and laughter and it never disappoints. The lads fly in from all over the world and this year's event was one of the better ones. It ended with me slinking off to bed at 2.30 am on Saturday morning, ready for my cab to pick me up at 5.45 am.

Tired and emotional probably describes my condition. Still, you've got to let your hair down (figuratively speaking in my case of course) out of Ironman season.

Many of you got last week's quote spoken by MARGE GUNNERSEN played by FRANCES McDORMAND in FARGO.

I've recently changed my signature on my Tri Talk and Team MK forum posts. Needless to say it's a movie quote. See if you can tell me where it's from and who says it:

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?"

I'm about to try and enter what will be my final race of the season, the Bedford Sprint, taking place on next Sunday. I'll be racing against my great mate Colin Bradley who's been having a very strong sprint season.

So, in the meantime... here's to you Mrs Robinson... and, for an extra point... anybody know what the title of that song originally was before Paul Simon was asked to write the music for THE GRADUATE?

See you...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Full time Dad...

Fiona's been away for a few days. In Spain with her sisters. Which has left me here to hold the fort with my best mates, my girls Erin and Alice.

It's been great.

Suddenly, it seems, my little girls have turned into walking, talking adults (or mini adults at least) and I'm reminded of how precious my time with them is. As someone once said "you don't own them, you just rent them"... meaning, of course, that in no time at all the children you have created and loved and nurtured like nothing you ever have before or will ever again... those children grow up and leave you and it's time - in no time at all - for them to do the same with their children.

And so the cycle continues.

It's been a commitment of mine to myself to maximise the time I'm able to spend with my children. I've restructured the way I work and have been fortunate enough that my business has allowed me to build offices in my garden. That way I can enjoy their company in the mornings over breakfast and be here when they're back home from school. I can help with their homework and take them to swimming and... well, just do all the dad things that so many miss out on.

Naturally, the office at home means I can train a little too. Not that I've been doing much of that recently. I'm still in 'end of season' mode and doing what I please, when I please. The blog for instance - didn't fancy it yesterday. So I'm doing it Tuesday. Big deal. It's the off season.

Monday - 5km recovery run
Tuesday - 10km run
Wednesday - rest day
Thursday - 70 mins bike, 60 mins Team MK swim session
Friday - rest day
Saturday - 8 mile off road run
Sunday - no training but setting up my new mountain bike

Highlights this week have been getting my mountain bike sorted out. I bought a heavy duty Kona Hoss from a Team MK mate who was getting rid of it. It's pretty much ready to go now and I'm looking forward to getting out in Brickhill Woods with the Team MK guys over the winter. Erin and Alice came with me to the Team MK swim session on Thursday nights. Erin is in the lane next to me with some of my training mates who were very complimentary about her abilities. Thursday saw us doing 90 lengths as pyramid sprints...

Last week's film quote was from JAWS and was spoken by MATT HOOPER (Richard Dreyfus) on board the ORCA.

Any ideas here?

"OK, so we got a trooper pulls someone over, we got a shooting, these folks drive by, there's a high-speed pursuit, ends here and then this execution-type deal."

Come on folk... you can do it... think... who said it... what film?

Moscow... I'm Russian... :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just a tiny prick...

Most of you know by now that I'm a bit of a wreck, hanging on in the world of triathlon by a fine thread, a body held together by spit and the thinnest of ligaments.

My rugby career was huge fun - the best time a sportsman could ever have, but it took its toll physically. I have ear problems due to my cauliflour and the subsequent operation I had to have there, I broke my nose twice, fractured my right cheekbone whilst playing rugby at university, suffered a triple fracture of my left cheek and eye socket playing for London Irish against Gloucester (resulting in an operation where the surgeons inserted a crowbar into my skull above my left ear and warned me there was a 'very slight chance we'll hit the optic nerve and you will lose your sight'), I've broken my hand (London Irish v Orrell) my right ankle (Manchester University vs Liverpool University) and numerous toes.

But these injuries pale into insignificance when I offer up my right knee. The original injury occured when playing for Irish against Vale of Lune up in Lancaster (this was the days pre today's league structure). The ball shot out of a scrum and I lunged forward with my right leg to try and poke it forward, just as Vale's scrum half tried to fall on it and smother it. Unfortunately I got there first and he fell on the outside of my outstretched leg, buckling the knee into the Lancashire turf (as a Lancastrian I'm glad it happened there rather than Yorkshire). Long story short is that I've had constant problems and three subsequent operations on said knee which has been reduced to bone on bone operation without cartilage for many years now.

None of which was much of a problem before I decided I'd like to swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run a marathon in the same day.

Managing the mobility of my knee has become an integral part of my training and preparation for Ironman and triathlon. I use a sports physio - my Ironman mate Dave Harvey - and need to have rest periods factored into my long distance training. My coach, Mark K, works schedules around it and more often than not a long training session will see me sat in a freezing cold bath followed by hot shower, followed by knee sweep (where I elevate the leg and use my hands to brush away all the fluid that collects there as it swells) followed by knee compression bandage. Usually that means I can train the next day.

It's pretty obvious to me - and to anyone with half a medical brain who ever treats me - that I'll need a new knee at some point in the future.

But that will be then... and this is now. All the more reason to get Ferrous and push this ailing machine I call a body!

Why am I telling you this? Well, the only reason really is that it's kind of cathartic for me to remember and also, as part of ongoing treatment for a back problem I visited my chiropractor and he decided to take a look at my knee.

More specifically, he asked me if I'd be open to his using accupuncture. Now, not everyone from Blackpool is a closed-minded neandrathal. I have a very open mind about these things and my philosophy on medicine and healing is that the body responds to all forms of treatment, from conventional medicine, through healing, hypnosis, reflexology and the like. Whatever rocks your boat, kind of thing.

So what's a little prick between friends (no, that's not this week's film quote though I suspect it might have been used in a 'Carry On' film). In went the needles and, simply put, the knee loosened up almost immediately as blood flowed into the constricted areas, attracted by the presence of the needles (at least I think that's what happened). It's not the cure for all my knee-ly woes but it certainly helped short term and I'll re-visit it as a form of treatment as and when I need it.

It certainly loosened up the leg for me to compete in the Eton Sprint Triathlon on Sunday at Eton College's amazing rowing facility in Dorney. I was competing with a mate of mine, Dan. Dan and I lived together at university, part of the notorious 'Log Cabin' in Manchester's now infamous Longsight area. Little did we think that (he) greying and I (balding) would be competing in triathlons together some twenty five years down the line. He did really well and, with a time of 1 hour 25 mins, has already knocked 5 minutes off his earlier season's sprint time on the same course.

I had a good race, coming in at 1 hour 10 mins, feeling strong in the swim and bike but dropping off slightly on the run where I became aware of my non-training over the past month and the fact that I was holding back slightly due to the recent ankle injury. Still, a performance I was pleased with and, I think (official results aren't up yet) enough to get me into the top 20 of all male competitors.

I think I might have won my category for Male over 45 with dodgy knees.

Training's been better this week too:

Monday - 10km run, gym work
Tuesday - 2km run, gym work
Wednesday - 2km swim, gym work
Thursday - 10km run, gym work
Friday - gym work
Saturday - 2 hour mountain bike, gym work
Sunday - Eton Sprint Triathlon (no gym work - damn ! double today to make up)

Last week's film quote was spoken by TIM CURRY as FRANK N FURTER after he had dispatched EDDIE (played by Meatloaf) in the freezer. The movie? THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

In the spirit of comparing injuries... who said this:

"Mary Ellen Moffat. She broke my heart."

And don't anyone say that I don't give you easy quotes.

Anyway, must go... I have an appointment today with a vascular surgeon to talk about stripping some veins out of my right leg...

I guess reading back over the catalogue of injuries... 10 hours 42 mins isn't a bad time after all...

-- sigh --

Monday, September 08, 2008

'Ave it...

So... this week I finally discovered mountain biking. Here I am, flying through the air on my new £ 5,000 mountain bike.

Actually it's not me. It's some bloke called Stewart from t'internet. I'm running late here and searching for a photo, so old Stewey boy will have to do.

But it does kind of sum up the exhiliration I felt zipping through Woburn Forest's off road tracks in the rain and mud of Sunday morning with my Team MK mate Graham Mackie.

Several of the guys (and girls) from Team MK go off-roading in the winter season to keep their cycling skills up to scratch and to take a break from the dreaded turbo trainer. Needless to say I've got the bug and am looking out for an inexpensive mountain bike on which to join them. I'd have more success searching out Lord Lucan, me thinks.

Training has been better this week... not too much but increasing steadily and my mojo is returning, though it's still - I think - on its annual holiday to wherever mojos go for their vacations.

The 'Mojove' Desert maybe?

Monday - no training
Tuesday - 1km open water swim
Wednesday - 5km run
Thursday - 10km run, 1 hour Team MK swim session (pool)
Friday - no training
Saturday - no training
Sunday - 1 hour mountain bike, 3km run, gym work

Fellow Ironman Gabriel started blabbering on something about doing press ups and sit ups every day for 100 days. So I've decided that for the next 100 days, I'm going to do 100 sit ups, 50 press ups and 50 weights bar curls to keep my core strong. This will be in addition to general training.

Busy at work, busy in life, Fiona busy, Erin busy, Alice busy... frankly, we're all busier than the Mayor of Busy on National Busy Day. This week should see my latest commercials 'put to bed' leaving me free to finish off my film treatment. I'm thinking about taking a week away to focus in on it and get it finished. But then again, I'm thinking of not doing that too...

My mate Andy Fulbrook from Wellington, New Zealand correctly identified last week's film quote as being from GONE WITH THE WIND and being spoken by RHETT BUTLER played by Clark Gable.

And this?

"One from the vaults... Don't be upset. It was a mercy killing. He had a certain naive charm, but no muscle."

A clue - it was a spoken line from a musical.

Ironman UK took place yesterday and what a nightmare of a race it seems to have been. Tough, tough, tough. It didn't stop some great performances from the Team MK athletes so congratulations to all who took part, you know who you are. Big, huge, massive Kona-sized congrats to Mark Booth, though, our Team MK top athlete, who secured a place at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii with his fantastic third place in age group performance at IMUK.

'Ave it, Boothy... 'Ave it...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Goodbye doesn't mean this has to be the end...

... faded dreams grow cold as ice
And I have a feeling that we will meet again
when we return to paradise...

Ah... Bernie Taupin at his finest.  Well, not actually his finest but a song that I like to sing to myself in my inimitable out of tune drone when I'm alone in the car.

And it was with a certain sadness that I bade farewell to open water swim training this morning. At least on a regular basis.  5 am starts have become a thing of the past recently, where pre IronMan they were commonplace.  So rolling out of my bed at that ungodly hour was something of a shock to my system especially when I was confronted with driving rain, heavy winds and a tar black sky.  But it's not called 'Iron' for nothing (my mantra when things get tough) and I headed out to Brogborough, east of Milton Keynes to meet up with the few stalwarts left of our Team MK swimming group (several others swim at another lake).   Here we are in this week's photo.  From left... myself, Corinne (age group GB representative in Vancouver this year), Martin Paul (IMCH this year and IMUK on Sunday and Graham Mackie (IMA with me this year).

I'd not swum for a few weeks with various injuries so the quick 1km burst added to Saturday's 2 hour bike ride has brought some much needed movement to my muscles.  I'm easing back to training and trying to approach it sensibly so I don't strain or pull anything.

Actually, it's been an informative period of relative inactivity.  To go from so much training to so little has made me realise just how 'tuned' my body is to the training regimen.  My muscles, bones and indeed everything that makes up my body's modus operandi is tuned in to a frequency that involved huge amounts of cardio vascular exercise.  To suddenly stop results in a 'sag' of muscle and bone that can lead to injury.  I've certainly noticed that my posture has changed, as has my general demeanour.   Neither for the better.  So I'll slowly be increasing the training to a comfortable level to maintain levels of fitness and mental fulfilment. 

On Saturday I'm taking a trip up to the Vit to watch Tom, Helen, Robert Quantrell, Colin Bradley and all the Tri Talkers taking part.  I'm not regretting my decision to withdraw and am looking forward to a good morning with my mate Graham Mackie including a stint on one of his mountain bikes which will be my introduction to ... well, not surprisingly, to mountain biking.

Oh.. where would we be without the opportunity to keep spending money on bikes?!

It's been an enormously busy week or two which accounts for the tardiness of the blog.  I shot my commercials on Tuesday and Wednesday last and have been editing them over the past few days.  There are meetings on grading, music composition, sound and final edits today with all these events scheduled over the next couple of weeks.  Each commercial utilises almost fifty technicians - all employed on a freelance basis by my production company and we rent all the enormously expensive equipment on an 'as needed' basis.  

I could tell who the ads were for and who they featured but I'd have to kill you... which, as those of you who have been reading the blog since its inception some two years ago will remember, is a paraphrased quote from TOP GUN.

Which in turn brings us neatly to this week's quote.  Nobody had any ideas on:

"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big!"

The quote was from one of the greatest New York Stories... GHOSTBUSTERS and was spoken by Bill Murray as DR PETER VENKMAN.

Couple of quick stories about GHOSTBUSTERS.  To this day I still maintain that the most exciting moment I've had in a cinema (leaving aside schoolboy incidents) was in 1984 when Ghostbusters opened in London and Fiona and I went to see it at THE ODEON LEICESTER SQUARE.  A screen the size of five football pitches and thousands of people packed into the enormous auditorium, witnessing the (then) very latest in cinematic entertainment.  Fantastic.

And also... when we were wandering around New York recently, we happened across a familiar fire station.  That's right... the very one used in the movie.  The firemen were very pleased to have us there, nodding understandingly when I seemed more intent on recognising their environment for being in a 24 year old movie than their recent heroism in saving lives.  

As the theme of today's blog seems to be 'goodbye'... how about this quote:

"No, I'm through with everything here. I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Great, great movie.  Who said it?

So... Ironman UK is almost upon us.  Good luck to (in no particular order) Boothy, Sean, James, Kevin, Andy, Martin, Lee, Ollie and all the others from Team MK doing the race.  Good luck also to the Vitruvianers... have fun and race strong.  To my mate Gabriel who is labouring with an injury... get well soon and, to all of you... until next time...


Monday, August 25, 2008

There's no place like home...

Well, we're back from New York. We arrived on the red eye back from JFK on Friday morning, only for me to be whisked off to a day of preparation for the two TV commercials I'm shooting tomorrow and Wednesday. The flight was great though and enabled me to catch some much needed sleep before a full on day of work.

Truth be told, I'm always a bit grumpy when I'm back from a holiday. It takes me a couple of days to settle back in to 'life' here and the time spent in transition isn't always fun. But at least I know it's going to happen and I can prepare for it. Forty eight hours on though, I'm right and ready, delighted to be back in Blighty and locked and loaded for the next few days.

I've come back from New York with a renewed appetite for my film script which has undergone a hibernation period during this busy commercials time. There's nothing like being in the place you're writing about to have it all become real and feed story, character and location ideas into the mix. Once I have a moment I'm going to download them and get back to work on that baby.

Unfortunately, New York has its problems... one being that you tend to walk everywhere (well, on Manhattan, you do) due to the deceptively simple nature of the street layout. Getting from Madison and 41st to Broadway and 29th? Easy, three blocks across and twelve down. Only trouble is... it's bloody miles and it takes a toll on you. So I've come back with a back that's out of kilter and my chiropractor hasn't been able to see me this weekend... and I can't see him until Thursday at the earliest due to work commitments. So I'm waddling around like a pregnant duck until I can get 're-aligned'.

Once I do I'm going to get back into training. It's impossible for me to keep in shape if I'm not training. So, even if I'm not at Ironman level, I'll need to have some sort of regime to keep me in shape through the winter as I'm commited to arriving at IM training in the New Year in better shape than I did this.

I'm thinking of having a late season marathon to aim for as well as starting up with the mountain biking. That, combined with the pool swimming should keep me honest.

More photos from New York this week. I hope you like...

I know the film quote has been burning a hole in your minds for two weeks now. To be honest, I thought some of you movie buffs would have got this:

"It must be hard living your life off a couple of scraps of paper. You mix your laundry list with your grocery list you'll end up eating your underwear for breakfast"

The quote comes from MEMENTO and was spoken to Leonard (Guy Pearce) by Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss). If you haven't seen Memento, do yourselves a favour. Buy some beer on a friday night and sit down and enjoy. It'll make your head hurt though, so have the nurofen handy.

How about this week's offering. Big clue... it's a New York story...
"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big!"

So, my Blogettes... onwards and upwards.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Greetings from The Big Apple...

I'm writing this from my hotel in New York City. Fiona has repaired to bed for an afternoon nap following a visit out to Coney Island so I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up.

We touched down at JFK Airport as an electrical storm shut the airport. We were held on the tarmac for an hour and then for a further three hours in the baggage reclaim as the handlers couldn't retrieve our bags. So not the best start then...

We've followed that up by three great days, visiting Little Italy, Chinatown, Soho, Greenwich Village. We've seen the Dali Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and checked out the lesser known Tenement Museum down in the Lower East Side. On Sunday we headed out to up and coming, Bohemian area, Williamsburg in Brooklyn for brunch and on Sunday night we dined in style at Cipriani's overlooking the main concourse of Grand Central Station. Saturday lunchtime saw us up on the roof terrace at the NY branch of my London club Soho House feeling like extras from an episode of Entourage.

Tonight we're meeting up at Smith and Wollensky's for a steak with my brother, Sean, who's in town for a couple of days on business.

So it's all good. But bloody tiring!

The girls seem to be having a great time in Florida, though how long that will hold with the impending hurricane due any moment is anyone's guess.

I'm going to try and put on a few photos taken from my iphone but, needless to say, I don't have the right cable to do that so I'll have to re access this blog from the i phone. Anything could happen. - Edited later - sorry, couldn't manage this so have to make do with generic NY shots !

How's my foot do I hear you asking? I did hear that, didn't I? Well, not too bad actually. Sore, yes... but not half as bad as it could have been. That said I've withdrawn from The Vitruvian and will re-commence light training on my return to Blighty.

I'm getting extremely frutstrated with not training, so much so that I had to strip off and plunge into the sea today at Coney Island and hammer out a 20 minute session. I feel much better for that but find myself absent mindedly pinching my arms and waist to see if excess skin is forming due to non-training. Do you think, perchance, I'm becoming obsessive?

Film quotes next week.