Monday, August 24, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life...

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, with nothing to do but sit around and be with my girls. England had won the Ashes, I'd run 12 miles at 7:20 min/miles, had a delicious pasta dinner, half a bottle of champagne and found myself reposing in front of the TV watching the final episode of season 3 of The Wire which I've recorded on Sky +.

It hit me like a lightning bolt. Jeez, what a great life it is. How lucky we are to be able to enjoy the simple pleasures and how rare it is that we sit back and appreciate it.

So, this morning, via you guys, I'm busy counting my blessings.

To be fit, healthy and for those you love to be in the same position and close to you, either physically or spiritually is surely the most important thing in the all too brief time we spend as living things. Haven't we let other, more complex issues get in the way of this? Aren't we all guilty of succumbing to pressure about what we should be doing with our careers, about how we're perceived by others, about issues outside of our immediate circle when really, the secret of true happiness is to be balanced and healthy both as an individual and as a family?

Starting to sound evangelical. But its simple really.

If I look back to the happiest moments of my life, those that I'll truly replay at the moment my brief candle is extinguished, they won't be moments of work, nor of triathlon, but familial moments. I'll remember walking in a sunlit countryside with my dad when I was no more than six or seven years old having illicitly been allowed to take a day off school. I'll remember the moment I first kissed my wife and how I knew we'd always be together, I'll remember the birth of our two daughters and seeing their tiny eyes lock onto mine for the first time. I'll remember running with my eldest daughter (then only five years old) across a beach in Devon when - for one glorious moment that seemed to stretch into an eternity - everything moved in slow motion and, with her running next to me, golden hair flowing in the wind, tiny feet leaving all too brief footprints in the wet sand - I experienced a moment of true wonder that will be with me for ever. I'll remember the tiny arms of my youngest daughter as she wrapped them around my neck and kissed me and told me she loved me and I'll remember how I knew without any fear that I was anything other than 100% sure, that she absolutely, unequivocally... did.

So why, when these are the things that we cherish the most, when these are the life experiences burned into not only our memories but our soul, do we not allow ourselves to focus on these truly important things on a day to day basis. Why is it we submerse ourselves in less important issues and only allow our appreciation of the wondrous things in life to emerge when we take a lid off our innermost thoughts and emotions once in a while.

Maybe we need to keep reminding ourselves is all.

Maybe we need to get more into the habit.

I for one shall be trying to.

Seems strange now to blog about triathlon or career or other things. Not sure where all the above came from but it feels good to have written it.

I hope this finds you well, healthy and happy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We're bloggin...

... we're bloggin', we're bloggin', we're bloggin', we're bloggin' and I hope you like bloggin' too.

Paraphrasing the words of the immortal Bob Marley, of course.

It's been tricky getting back into things following my holiday in Portugal. We had an amazing time over there where we were joined by three other families. Fiona's brother Christian, my brother Sean and my best mate 'Arps all brought along their two children (and partners, of course) and were staying within a few miles of each other.

The kids had a blast, hanging and playing with cousins/friends on the beach, swimming, exploring caves etc. The adults had a great time too, doing the more sedate adult things like BBQ's and drinking far too much Sagres (pictured left).

I'd picked up a TV commercial before I left, so had to find a local internet cafe to do a little work every couple of days but that didn't in any way take the gloss off what was a great time.

Getting back into the swing of training has been tough. With this year's Ironman challenge all done and dosted, the only thing left to keep training for is the sprints that I do towards the end of the season. I felt sluggish on my return - even though I'd knocked off a couple of 15k runs with my brother when out in Portugal - and have forced myself back into fast twitch training.

It's been tough.

But rewarding.

In fact, so rewarding that one aspect of it set me thinking - on a subject the like of which I've blogged about before. I'd been busy all day yesterday and, as I couldn't make Team MK's 10 mile Time Trial, I decided to take out the bike and do my own TT on the course that Colin and I use to test ourselves. The weather was good and I was feeling frisky. A PB beckoned I thought.

The ride went well. I pushed myself hard (never easy when you're on your own) and, with the sweat pouring out of my aero helmet (no gags please) passed the 10 mile mark only to see my time was 23'39" (my PB is 23'16"). Gutted doesn't do it justice. I'd felt fast, my legs were pumping and I was hammering a big gear. Why the hell handn't I PB'd? I twittered as much and, sure enough, a reply came back from my mate Tom who said "you can't be Iron all the time."

I thought about this. One thing you learn about Tom is that he's usually right. I heard what he was saying but what was the essence of it? There was something deeper than 'keep your chin up'. And here it is. I felt better having failed in my ambition than having not tried to achieve it. And I realised (once again) that 'failures are the building blocks of success' (I just made that up... use it if you want).

Keep trying. Whatever you're trying to do and, eventually, you will do it.


Or... Full Stop; if you don't want to adopt an Americanisation.

I'm going to enter my remaining events tomorrow so will let you know next week what they will be. Lots of sprints. I'm also thinking of another marathon this year. Amsterdam is tempting in mid October.

Fiona and the girls are with my brother and his family in Amsterdam at the moment so I'm missing them terribly but I'm busy enough for the time to pass quickly. Before they went - on Saturday night - we dropped the screen in the cinema and watched 'Edward Scissorhands' together - a movie I hadn't seen for years. What a treat! Fantastically visual movie - Tim Burton at his simplest and best. See it again if you haven't seen it for a while.

I've been thinking of ditching the blog but, to be honest, I've enjoyed writing again this week. Sorry it's been such a long time but a boy occasionally needs a break.

Speak soon...