Anyone who's done an Ironman will know that training is only half the battle.
Sure, you need to put in the hard yakka, spending hours on the bike with your hands freezing and toes like those of an Everest climber. You need to pound the pool until what's left of your hair stinks almost permanently of chlorine and you need to strap on those Asics and run more miles per week than you previously drove.
But once you've done that for six months and you're ready to compete, that's when the real battle begins. You need to be equally agile of mind as you are in body. A day of Ironman throws up many challenges. A two and a half thousand mass start in the swim could mean your goggles are ripped from your face. How are you going to swim two and a half miles with no goggles? Your bike punctures. What do you do? It punctures again... what do you do? Your chain snaps... you collapse on the run... you forget to take a key piece of nutrition... well, you get the picture.
What I'm trying to say is that as Ironmen competitors we need to be unflappable and calm, seeing positives in any situation. We puncture... okay, we change our tyres but at the same time, we get our heart rate down, we take on food, we fill our water bottles... we turn the situation to our advantage.
A potential spanner in the works can become an oiling of the machine.
I've been thrown a potential spanner this week as I've been given a date for my operation on the varicose veins in my right leg. These haven't been causing me problems but I'm assured they will in later years so I've been waiting (on the NHS) for a surgery date to have them removed. Following numerous meetings, scans, ultrasounds and communication by NHS letter, a lovely lady named Sally called me at 8pm last thursday night (go figure) to tell me I could be sliced open on Wednesday February 18th.
A spanner flew into my otherwise clockwork-like training works.
However, I've had long enough to think about this and, after discussions with Gabriel - my Ironman mate who's also a vascular surgeon (Rule number one , never do business with friends, rule number two, never let them take out parts of your body) I'm seeing it as an opportunity rather than a problem.
I tend to do that in life... opportunities rather than problems. Always helps keep a smile on one's face.
Gabriel reckons if I do a - and I quote - "mega ten days before the operation, then treat the aftermath like a reverse taper" then I'll be back to full training in three weeks. So we'll go for it and I'll keep you posted on things.
Training is going well. In fact, I may well have been guilty of overdoing it slightly this week. I've done a couple of hard bikes in the cold and slow winter weather (the ice makes it almost impossible to descend at any speed leading to reduced average mph times) and continued to make my Saturday bike session with Team MK the hard session of my week. I managed to stay with the top group this week for 57 miles of climbing so was pleased with my improvement on the week before.
The week that was looked like this:
Monday 45 mins swim (1.9km endurance sets), 45 mins run (35 mins in Zone 3 HR)
Tuesday 50 mins swim drills, 1 hour solo bike at 20mph average
Wednesday Long bike with Graham, 50 miles in 3 hours, followed by Back2Back 2.5 mile run in 21 mins
Thursday (rest day) 1600m very easy swim (30 mins), 15 mins core gym work, 15 mins strength gym work
Friday 45 mins swim (1.9km endurance sets), 30 mins easy run
Saturday 3 hour 17 mins bike (57 miles) followed by 45 minute Back2Back 6 mile run at 7:35 min miles
Sunday Long, slow, solo run. 13.5 miles hilly cross country. 2 hrs 20 mins
Total Training time: 15 hours 20 mins
Swim 7.05 km
Bike 127 miles
Run 31.1 miles
So... today... I'm having a day off !
No takers on the film quote last week. It was, of course, from THE SIXTH SENSE, the link being Bruce Willis who starred in both TWELVE MONKEYS and THE SIXTH SENSE. See if you can get this... again, there's a link between it and THE SIXTH SENSE.
"I haven't listened to one Abba song. That's because my life is as good as an Abba song. It's as good as Dancing Queen."
Had a fantastic week with movies. Our cinema movie this week was FROST/NIXON which I'd highly recommend. A complete tour de force of acting drama with Langella and Sheen both giving top notch performances. Shane Meadows' THIS IS ENGLAND and Wes Anderson's THE DARJEELING LIMITED were also superb. I also enjoyed WHAT IT TAKES, the story of four athletes' preparation for the 2005 Ironman World Champs at Kona, not least for Peter Reid's admission that to keep his weight down he simply buys what he needs for every meal and cooks it (then there's no extra food in the house to tempt him) and he goes to bed every night with a headache due to being so hungry!
But special pride of place goes to Sean Penn's magnificent INTO THE WILD which might just be one of the finest movies I've ever seen. A wonderful, moving and truly accomplished film. Search it out from your DVD supplier and watch it.
Now... if only I could crack this bloody film script I'm trying to write...