Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dancing with Bikes and other stuff...

Today's photo is from last week's swim at Brogborough lake. I was joined by my mates Simon (left) and Peter (centre). Simon is an experienced Ironman and Peter is new to triathlon. He's bound to do well as you'll see that you could fit two of him inside me.

We figured it would be our last swim of the season, but the weather has continued to hold and I swam Saturday morning and hope to get a couple more in this week. The water, however, is fast becoming colder and there comes a point where, frankly, it's all a little tiresome.

So I've gone back to the pool and am sat here snuffling and streaming due to the chlorine I've taken in. I tell you what, we athletes are often snobby about our food intake, eschewing things we feel could be damaging to us and carefully inspecting labels to seek out any ingredients which are not 'natural' yet we throw ourselves into a communal swimming pool with other unwashed bodies and bucketfuls of god-knows-what chemicals all at a temperature of 30 degrees. Surely this has to be a recipe for illness and damage... food for thought (to carry on the rather tortuous nutritional analogy).

I went out to test my calf muscle this week after it had tightened up on me last Sunday. The good news is the tightened area was fine. The bad news is that it pulled in another part altogether. Hence I've decided to have a month off running to let it heal completely. Better that than fighting an injury.

To quote the words of Tony Curtis in 'The Great Race'... "He who fights and runs away... lives to fight another day."

But I've been cycling a lot, which is a good thing. I did a couple of 25 milers and two 50 milers last week, the latter of which was with the 'Roadies' from my club, Team MK. (Team MK triathlon club grew out of the cycling club. Today the teams are essentially one large club but the roadies - for obvious reasons - don't swim and run.) Needless to say, I threw myself in at the deep end with the fast group (three ability groups ride on a Saturday morning) and made a complete horlicks of it, suffering numerous lost bottles and a crank arm that fell off. The Roadies were chortling away at this strange, muscle bound triathlete who sat up in the saddle and had a bike that was barely road worthy. They made me really welcome though and I'm looking forward to going back next week, albeit with a serviced bike.

Speaking of bikes I'm getting a bit antsy for a new one. I've got my eyes on a Cervelo RS or a Cervelo R3 and am currently performing a 'do not touch me dance' around the object of my desires as I normally do before buying anything from a pair of socks upwards. This involves copious amounts of research and pricing and looking at pictures on the internet before finally commiting to declaring my love by way of a wallet opening. Why I do it, I don't know. It's a curse. But whatever I do, or buy, I have to have researched the options first so that I can act with confidence.

I'm also performing the same courting ritual with a Range Rover Sport at the moment so god knows what will become of that. If you believe in a god... any god... pray for me, pray that I don't spend my children's inheritance in this way.

What else? Well, the good news is that since finishing up the flurry of work I'm back writing again. I'm not even going to dish out any chapter numbers but I'm making good progress and it's now become an exercise in finishing rather than in creativity. Again, this is always something that happens to me. At a certain point I simply don't want to finish what I've started. There's always something brighter on the horizon. A better idea, a funkier movie. But I identified this weakness long ago and I now know that any endeavour, especially so called artistic endeavour, reaches a point where - to use another tortuous analogy - the allure and sexiness of a two week relationship disappears to be replaced by the different reality of life with the person beneath the veneer. The hardest part is persevering to get to know the real 'person' and realising that fulfilment and true harmony rests in the soul of a person (or in this case a project) rather than its exterior sheen.

Speaking of which, I really must get back to work.

Anything else from last week? I saw Tarantino's 'INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS' (sic) which I thought to be confused and disapppointing and easily (with the exception of 'DEATH PROOF' which I didn't bother to see) his weakest movie to date.

Alice picked up a part in the school production of LES MISERABLES - a great achievement for a Year 8 student. This means that she and Erin who has a role in her school's production of WE WILL ROCK YOU will be rehearsing after school and at weekends. Which is fine, until you remember that their schools are the thick end of 20 miles away and either Fiona and I have to collect them. 'Twas ever thus for a parental taxi.

No events for me now, I pulled out of The Roade Triathlon and next sunday's Bedford Sprint Triathlon due to my calf.

Someone who did have an event though was a new cyber-buddy, Todd Paul. If you're a twitter fan you can follow him at @toddpaul. What did he do, you ask yourselves, that was so special? Well, I'll tell you what he did.

He swam the English Channel in just over 13 hours.

And there's nothing more I can add to that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Strange Days...

It's a strange time of year. The six months of intense training leading up to Ironman has long gone, as has the race itself. Yet the triathlon season still continues apace, albeit approaching the end of its year's life.

I have a couple of sprints left in the diary (at Roade on Sunday and at Bedford the following week) but try as I might I can't seem to get as enthusiastic about them or about the remainder of the season as I do for the first half of it.

I suppose it's inevitable given the amount of training and focus that goes into Ironman. I reach a point where I'm a lean, mean fitness machine and, from the day of the race onwards, I feel as if I'm simply losing fitness and putting on weight which, essentially, I am.

But I understand that there's no way I can keep up the intensity of those months and, even now, when I look back and think of what went into those days, I wonder where and how I found the time. But I did and I know I'll be doing it all again come January.

So what in the meantime? Well, last year I committed to December's Luton Marathon which gave me a focus through the autumn months and ensured that not too many of the proverbial and actual pies were consumed prior to Christmas. This year I'll be doing the same thing.

I'm training most days but not with any particular heart or focus at the moment and I guess that's a good thing... just ticking over. I've had an epiphany moment with my back recently which was finally clicked back into joint by my chiropractor, John. I'm pretty sure that I damaged my back not as previously thought - in the Iroman in July - but in May's week long training camp in Italy. My thoughts are that the Ironman simply damaged it more and I realise now that I've been in pain with the thing since May and have simply been masking it or adapting my posture to suit.

But hopefully that's behind me (no pun intended) now and I can focus on good posture and a ton of core work to build and strengthen the weakest part of my phsique.

I've tweaked my calf too - did the bugger on a run at the weekend but I think I got to it in time, stopped and turned back. The next few days will tell if the muscle has pulled but with mucho love and ice, things could be okay.

The girls are back at school and I miss having them around the place. Their infectious energy and fun lights up my life and every school year that rolls around is a reminder to me that one day in the not too distant future they will be gone. All the more reason to savour and maximise my time with them. Erin has started her GCSE courses this year and Alice has begun Year 8. Time is, indeed, flying.

Work has been very busy with shooting, editing and quoting for TV commercials. In a difficult economic climate we've had a decent enough year but I've been guilty of, once again, not finishing my writing project in time. So now I must focus on that at all costs.

Congratulations to my dad who took to the stage at The London Palladium this weekend to sing with his Gold Medal winning Barbershop Chorus. Fiona, myself and my mum went along to watch and, needless to say, were extremely proud.

Congratulations to Colin who fulfilled a long-cherished ambition of representing his country at the World Triathlon Championships on Australia's Gold Coast. His diary of the event and the time leading up to it can be found here.

My buddy Tom is back in training from today. Good luck in the six months or so ahead mate. No doubt we'll fit in some strong sessions together before your jaunt to Lanza. I know it's going to be another spectacular year.

Also, 'big up' to my brother Sean who managed to take time off from jetting around the world on business to run in the annual 'Dam to Dam' race in The Netherlands, posting a great time of 1:49. I construct my life to have time available to me to train pretty much as I like. Folk like Sean have no time at all to spare and their achievements are all the more remarkable for it. Keep it up, big fella.

And this week's photo? Just me, a year or so ago, drinking too much beer. Which is pretty much what I'm doing right now (well, not now of course, more like in the evenings). But all good things must pass and it won't be long before I'm back on the straight and narrow again!

I'm sure there's more to chat about and it's a pleasure being back with you again. Hope you're all well and happy. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fast boys...

Damn the sleep fairy... she's put none of her magic dust in my eyes and, as a result, I'm unable to sleep. So I've risen at 0530 and, with nothing better to do, figured I'd craft a few words and upload them to you, dearest reader.

The title of today's post comes from Sunday when, after enjoying a relaxing 55 mile bike ride with my mate Ben G, we toddled off to Botolph Claydon to watch the BTTC (British Time Trial Championships). Set over a 3 x 10.2 mile loop, the course offered over 30 miles of country roads for the fastest riders in the country to push themselves to the limit. The main draw and eventual winner was one Bradley Wiggins who blew the field away and claimed the Time Trialists jersey that he intends to wear in next year's Tour de France. What a performance.

The day previous to this I'd once again taken to the roads on my Specialized road bike for a 65 mile bike ride with Graham. The two rides over the weekend meant that I've got back into long distance training and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, as a consequence I've triggered off more back problems and have an appointment with the chiropractor ahead of today's duathlon at Silverstone.

With work, I've been busy as the Mayor of Busy on National Busy Day. I've finished off my latest commercial which has involved two solid days of green screen editing. This is an exhausting process of compositing (or rather of an editor compositing) layers and layers of action onto a green screen to form the background to my subject in the ad. Long days in London but I revel in them and revel in the fact that I can work in shorts and a T shirt and earn a good living for something that was and still is a hobby and that I thoroughly enjoy. Not everyone is that lucky.

I have another production this week in Manchester and on Saturday I'll be traveling up to Blackpool for the 50th Anniversary Dinner of my first rugby club... Blackpool RUFC. They were golden and happy days at Blackpool and I can't wait to see and enjoy a drink with my old buddies from up there. I'll also be joined by my brother, Sean, and my dad.

My alarm has just gone off which means it's 0630 and time to wake the girls for school.

I doubt they will move as fast as Mr Wiggins so must leave you for another week.

Kia Kaha, peace and health.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Your Country Needs You...

The week has passed in a bit of a blur. It's been more than busy on more than one front. I shot my latest ad last week but am sworn to secrecy on who it was with and what it was for until the ad breaks. Erin worked for me for the first time as a production runner. She gained a great insight into the film world and was a real help. Both girls are used to hanging around film sets and they love being a part of 'dad's work'. It's great doing something that they (and their friends) find interesting. For just a millisecond I think I might have been remotely 'cool' in their eyes.

The editing process went well and we now have an approved 'off-line edit' (the rough edit prior to the finishing process).

Wednesday saw Team MK's open water swim challenge where I swam a 1500 and 500m timed. I was a bit ropey in my swimming that morning, coming in at just over 23 mins for the 1500 and 7 minutes something for the 500m. I followed that up with a 55 mile bike ride with Graham on the road bikes. 'Twas good to be on my Specialized again and to be feeling comfortable in the saddle.

I'd entered the Bedford Sprint distance race on Sunday morning and, on hearing it was a qualifying race for the 2010 European Championships, decided to put my name down as a potential GBR team member for my age group. Fast forward to sunday and whadya know. I placed 23rd out of 264 competitors, 3rd in my Age Group and gained a place in the GBR team. So, early next July, all being well, I should be representing Great Britain at Age Group Triathlon.

I'm enjoying the short stuff and will do more next year. Photo is of myself, Colin and Carl at the Bedford Sprint.

Today's main photo is of me, Erin and Alice after our first ever open water swim together. I'd borrowed some wetsuits from fellow Team MK members and took them down to my local lake. They loved it and were like little fish, swimming almost 1km. I'm looking forward to many more lake swims with them.

Good luck to Colin who leaves for Australia this week. He's racing in the world championships and fully deserves to be there. Go fella.

Congratulations also to my mate Sam Williamson who, in his first ever Ironman distance race... won it. Yep, he won The Big Woody in a terrific time of 10:16. Sam's my Age Group (damn) and is going to be a big force I think in distance racing.

Must rush. Am just about to have a farewell dinner with our visiting Canadian cousins.

Have a good week.