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...