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...