Monday, April 28, 2008


Greetings all. Forgive the brevity this week as I'm about to rush off for a meeting and have, for some reason, decided I'm going to be managing my time a lot more efficiently from here on in.

We'll see.

Strange week this week - slightly inverted as I went away for the weekend on a boys' golf weekend. The Ebola Golf Society (don't ask) was formed 13 years ago and has been meeting up once a year ever since to play bad golf and drink ludicrous amounts of beer. As we've got older the energy levels have dropped but we always give it our best shot. If you take a look at the photo I'm second on the right. If you consider I'm over 6'2" you'll see it's also populated by some fair old monsters.

Anyway... the weekend was great. Just what I needed after a few weeks of what has been hard training. Too much beer but, as coach Mark wryly commented - 'at least it's good practice for being dehydrated'.

So, the week's training (nothing at all on Saturday and Sunday) was as follows:

Monday - 60 mins swim drills, 45 mins pyramid 10k.
Tuesday - OLYMPIC TUESDAY - 55 mins 2.6km swim broken sets, 2 hours 36 mile cycling to and from Aylesbury, 45 minutes back to back 10k a 7:59 min miles average
Wednesday - 50 mins 2.1km swim including broken 1500m, 3 hours 50 mile slow bike with Simon
Thursday - 1 hour 45 mins bike with Dave Harvey (torrential downpour), 30 mins back to back run also with Dave.
Friday - Long slow run. 23 miles at 3 hours 7 mins run at 75% average heart rate and taking Ironman breaks (walking for nutrition etc).

Total training time this week 14 hours 37 mins.

Film quote? Last weeks quote of:

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die."

was spoken by Rutger Hauer's character Roy Batty in the film BLADE RUNNER.

In the spirit of drunken weekends away... you should be able to get this one :

"I could hardly piss straight with fear. He was a man with 3/4 of an inch of brain who'd taken a dislike to me. What had I done to offend him? I don't consciously offend big men like this. And this one's a decided imbalance of hormone in him. Get any more masculine than that and you'd have to live up a tree. "

What was the name of the character that said this - and in what film?

Answers on the blog please, not by email to me :-)

Laters, people.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A walk in the woods...

Good morning bloggers. Here's hoping you had a productive and enjoyable last week. Slightly strange here - something of an inverted week. Our good friends Jonny and Alli came to visit on Thursday evening, bringing their two young children Solly and Matilda. Which, of course, meant that in addition to drinking a little too much ale over the weekend, most of my volume training had to be squeezed in prior to their arrival on account of me wanting to preserve:
  1. My friendship with them.
  2. My Marriage.
The girls were also back from their jaunt to Filey - which they loved (not because I wasn't with them, I hasten to add) but still on their Easter holidays from school - so it was all adding up to rather a hectic week squeezing things in. Fortunately business has abated slightly after a manic time and I'm enjoying the respite and not feeling guilty about getting to grips with this phase of my training.

The highlight of my training week was on Wednesday when spring was truly in the air. You know the thing... a certain warmth which brings out the smell of the newly cut hedgerows and the delight of the countryside and, for me, evokes memories of childhood and a feeling that suddenly, anything is possible and everything is worth looking forward to.

So, with that feeling of optimism and a celebration of the human spirit coursing through my veins I decided to make myself a sandwich and take off on the bike for a long ride. I'd never done anything like this before, with all my rides - in my mind - being 'training'. I figured it was finally time to enjoy the bike and see where my legs and lungs took me.

Northampton. That's where they took me. And, of course, back again. Against the wind. But it was a great afternoon. I clocked up 90 miles in near enough bang on 5 hours on what was quite a windy day, with the wind in my face all the way back. And I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it - which is what it's all about, isn't it?

Other training highlights? Well, I'm no great shakes in the pool and hence have rarely timed myself at 1500 metres or other distances. I'm not too bad in a wetsuit but the pool seems to slow me down. But, buoyed (excuse the pun) by last week's 6'24 400m I figured I'd stick the watch on myself for 1500m in one of my sessions. I've just switched to bilateral breathing for training sessions and although not flat out in this session was pleasantly surprised to find that I'd clocked 26'27" for the distance. That's comfortably a minute faster than I was swimming the distance at this time last year. I guess tumble turns would make a difference but some new tricks are beyond this old dog.

So, last weeks training was as follows:

Monday: 45 minutes swimming drills and broken short distances with Erin and Alice (swimming with me in the fast lane!!), 44 minutes run - 10 mins warm up, 8 mins at marathon pace, 8 mins half marathon pace, 8 mins 10k pace, 10 mins warm down.

Tuesday: Olympic Distance Day! 45 minutes swimming, 1.9km total including timed 1500m at 26'27". Back to back with - 75 minutes cycling, 23 miles at 19 mph average. Evening: 5.8 miles fast run at 6'52" per mile average.

Weds: Long solo bike ride. 90 miles in 5 hours. Evening - Tring Running Club 8 mile run, 61 minutes at 8:22 minute mile pace, 141 bpm average HR.

Thursday: Complete rest day.

Friday: 70 minutes swimming. 3.2km non stop.

Saturday: 45 minutes, 5.8 miles tempo run.

Sunday: 64 minutes tough cross country run over Chiltern beacons. 8:09 mins per mile average, 139 bpm average HR.

Total time training this week: 13 hours 31 minutes

I'm obviously getting soft with my film quotes. Tom and my Dad both got last week's quote:

"Yeah, he's fast! But he won't go any faster. He's a gut runner, digs deep! But a short sprint is run on nerves. It's tailor-made for neurotics."

was from the film 'CHARIOTS OF FIRE' and was spoken by Sam Mussabimi about Eric Lidell.

See how you do with this one:

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die."

Who said it and in what film? And yes, I know you can find it on IMDB... but see if you can find it in your mind first.

And finally, the highlight of my week relates to the photo. Spending time with my best mates is always a highlight. And when my best mates happen to be my fabulous daughters it just makes it even better. We do lots of things together, the girls and I ( and Fiona, of course) but on Sunday the three of us went out for a walk while Fiona recovered from the weekend. We had a great time... laughing a lot and enjoying ourselves.

And that, after all, is what life's all about isn't it?

Have a good week.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A very busy week...

Good morning all. Fiona took Erin and Alice to Filey for a week's 'girls only' holiday with her sister Clare. Filey was where they used to spend their family holidays and this time round it didn't disappoint. My girls loved it and, more importantly, I had a week here to myself at O'Neill Towers.

So, how to fill said week? Well, training immediately sprang to mind and I planned a busy week.

The centerpiece of the week was to be a long ride on the Wednesday in Snowdonia with an Ironman friend, Iain Parsons. More of that a little later. It was to come after a Tuesday night visit to Anfield, where I'd once again secured tickets for a European night. For those of you who've never experienced one, they are - no matter what your club affiliation - truly nights to remember, unique amongst any other footballing occasions I've encountered. Tuesday was no exception. From our halfway line seats five rows from the pitch myself and my mate and client Paul Keen watched a fantastic 4 - 2 victory over Arsenal where the overall result was always in the balance until Ryan Babel slotted the fourth deep into injury time.

One thing that really caught my eye was the behaviour of Pepe Reina (the Liverpool goalkeeper) following the Arsenal equalizer four minutes from time. Reina was in no way at fault for the goal and turned after picking the ball from his net to find his team mates almost literally wilting before him. You could see from the demeanour of even seasoned pros like Jamie Caragher and Sami Hypia that they thought the game was all over... Arsenal's second goal had put them through on away goals and they were high fiving and celebrating a game won.

Yet Reina had other ideas. Man by man he galvanised his team, telling them that it wasn't over. That they were good enough to score again. Yes, it would take a superhuman effort but it was possible. All they had to do was believe it. The crowd seemed to pick up on his conviction and roared on the team. Within a minute they had sent Ryan Babel into the box where he won a penalty, Stevie G coolly slotting it in front of The Kop. Babel's late goal secured the win but the real hero for me was Pepe Reina and it re-affirmed my belief that most times, nothing is impossible, no matter how hard it might seem. You have to find a place deep within yourself and you need to operate what Sir Clive Woodward called 'T-CUP' (Think Clearly Under Pressure). If you can and you do... you'll win.

Following this excitement, what better way to unwind than to 'enjoy' a ride into Snowdonia from Iain's place on The Wirral... the tortuous route lasted 118 miles and took in some 10,000 feet of climb - the toughest of which was the infamous Horseshoe Pass.

The weather was suitably brutal and we stopped for an elevenses and lunch break, the lunch break being particularly welcome at the renowned Ponderosa Cafe atop Horseshoe Pass. I was over seven and a half hours in the saddle and at one point... going up 'the Shoe' I thought I was going to have to quit. But Pepe and Austria's Rupertiberg Hill came to mind and I soldiered on, manfully grinding away to the top. Another long ride in the bank for Austria. Thanks, Iain (who's now at a training camp in Lanzarote prior to his IronMan there in June) for all your hospitality and a great day.

As usual all of the training can be seen below. Another strong week with injuries, hopefully, kept at bay. The only problem at the moment is an ankle strain which is a running injury but I seem to be able to operate fine with this as long as I rest and ice post run.

Speaking of runs HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to my friends who ran the London Marathon at the weekend. Dave Jones ran another sub 4 marathon, getting round in 3:57 - a great result, Dave. Tom Williams and Helen Turton, my IronMan friends who are gunning for a place at the IronMan world champs in Kona, Hawaii, have been training furiously and were both looking for a PB in their build up to IronMan Germany this year. They didn't disappoint. Helen came home in 3:20 (beating her PB by two minutes - and mine, damn !) whilst Tom smashed his PB by over eight minutes, coming home in 2:49. Great work both of you. Keep your foot on the gas... not long to go now.

So, training this past week:

Monday: 60 minutes swim drills and broken short sprints. 45 minutes tempo cycling.
Tuesday: 60 minutes cycling - brisk and steady.
Weds: 7 hours 43 minutes cycling. 118 miles, 10,000 feet ascent.
Thurs: Rest day.
Fri: 45 minutes swimming. Broken 1500m including PB at 400m of 6'24".
Sat: Back to back cycle and run with Team MK. 50 mile bike in 2 hours 53 mins. 7.5 mile run in 61 minutes.
Sunday: 1 hour recovery cycle and 30 mins running back to back.

Total training time this week: 16 hours 39 minutes.

So, just a couple of things to tie up. Today's main photo is from my friend Trevor Brown. Two years ago, his nephew Harry was diagnosed with Leukemia. During his interminable treatments and long stays in hospital he was visited by many of the Liverpool players (he is an ardent Red). I'm pleased to report that he is now in full remission and, for the game against Blackburn on Sunday was able to be the team mascot. Well done, Harry. Great result after a strong fight.

To less important things... last week's film quote was:

"28 days... 6 hours... 42 minutes... 12 seconds. That... is when the world... will end."

and was from 'Donnie Darko'. The words were uttered by Frank, the giant rabbit. For those of you who haven't seen the movie - I urge you to rent it. Make sure you see the original version though and - unusually - NOT the director's cut.

So... who said this sports-themed quote (c'mon, Tom... I have high hopes for you on this one):

"Yeah, he's fast! But he won't go any faster. He's a gut runner, digs deep! But a short sprint is run on nerves. It's tailor-made for neurotics."

in which film, and who was he talking about?

Have a good week out there...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Green Eyed Monster...

Envy is a terrible thing. It brings out the worst in all of us. But we're all humans and sometime along the ultra marathon of life it's going to happen to us. The monster will strike. So it was with me over the weekend when I took part in a small scale Team Milton Keynes training session.

Most of the club had gone over to Belgium for the Tour of Flanders bike ride, leaving half a dozen or so of us IronMen to train on our own. We organised a back to back session of 50 mile bike and 4 mile run, the bike session starting off with a 10 mile Time Trial so we could quickly simulate the fatigue of IronMan.

Anyhow... session smession... what I really want to talk about is the presence there of two Cervelo p3C cycles. Boy... what a machine. I jest you not... I have literally been dreaming about owning one this past week. And, the annoying thing is... I could go and get one. But something's holding me back. I feel I need to dedicate myself a little more to cycling before I splash out £ 4k on a bike... (having already forked out £ 1.5k just over a year ago on one which would be suddenly relegated to my winter training bike)... somehow I need to prove to myself that I'm worthy of such a carbon-built monster. We'll see how things stand by the end of summer and, if I'm still hot to trot with cycling and dedicated to keeping it high on my list of training priorities, then who knows... a P3C could be mine !!!

So, I hope you're all well. This week is London Marathon week. Good luck to Dave Jones, my good mate from Tring Running Club who is doing the marathon for the second time. Looking good, Dave... I like to think it's that little extra O'Neill training that's turning you into the fine athlete you are though! Good luck also to Tom and Helen - I hope the race works exactly as you want it and it fits into your training plans as you intended.

I decided not to run the marathon this year as I felt it took me too long to recover last year - albeit that I was carrying a minor injury which turned into a major. But my long running continues to develop and this last week saw me run an 18 mile training run on Wednesday night at an average of 7:47 per mile, whilst keeping my heart rate to a creditable 146 bpm average.

Last week was another enjoyable and fulsome training week:

Monday: 45 minutes run (recovery, tempo pace)
Tuesday: 75 minutes swim, 3.2km concentrating on technique and bi-lateral breathing.
Wednesday: 75 minutes swim, as above. 2 hours 17 minutes 18 mile run at sub 8 minute mile pace.
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 75 minutes swim, 3.2km concentrating on bi-lateral breathing. 1 hour cycling including 10 mile Time Trial in new PB for course of 25'54".
Saturday: 3 and a half hours 50 mile bike and 4 mile back to back run with Team MK.
Sunday: 1 hour bike turbo and running bricks, 15 minutes stretch and light weights.

Total training time this week: 12 hours 15 minutes

Congratulations to Tom for correctly identifying last week's film quote. The conversation came from The Coen Brothers' FARGO and the woodchipper was used to grind up the remains of Steve Buscemi's body, specifically his leg.

How about this:

"28 days... 6 hours... 42 minutes... 12 seconds. That... is when the world... will end."

Who said that... and in what (brilliant) movie?

Let's be careful out there...