Monday, 28 April 2008

Its gonna be a hot one

Well not so sure about being a better person through ironman but I am definitely a happier one. Did my 48 hr sojourn to lanzarote and discovered it is a) very hilly b) very windy and c) very hot. Spent best part of weds doing 100 odd miles around the island followed by a 30 min run off the bike and then finally a 30 min swim in a lagoon near club lesanta. A solid days work with Declan who plans to claim be the fastest irish ironman sometime this year and who gave me a good working over on the bike.

Learnt about the joys of getting a speed wobble at 40+mph (I touched my breaks and the world went wobbly as I hurtled down a hill). In the time it took me to stop after crossing the white line twice and avoiding two almost certainly fatal collisions (through no skill or effort on my behalf- it was all I could do to hang on) I thought about several important things. I realised how much my two children and wife mean to me and what a stupid way to die having a bike crash would be; I realised I am not quite so tough as I thought and would pay a lot to avoid a repeat of that situation and I realised how I really should have tightened up my front skewer a bit more when I put the wheel back on.

Advice as to how to get out of a speed wobble appears to be as follows.

1. Accelerate out of it- so I am doing 40mph all over the road and I commit to going faster....
2. Grab hold of the cross tube to dampen the vibration.. so I let go of a bucking bronco and try and get hold of the tube, by which time I have wiped out big time.
3. you'll like this.. do a bunny hop... at 40 mph FFS
4. try cadence braking... my bake does not come with ABS

or my solution hold on for grim death, pull on brakes as much as you can and shout loudly " am not going to f34king crash and die today thankyou god.

That aside Lanza was great even the 10 km run (1 lap of the course at race time 2p.m.) in 31 degrees of heat and wind. So I am working on how to stay cool in the heat, which is why I have added a picture of Torbjorn Sindballe in his hot weather gear!!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Organisational chaos

Never having been a A plus student in the organisational league I tend to structure my life in a way that minimises the need for being too organised. That is not to say that I don't plan things and that I don't make lists and the like. It is just that I usually lose the list and change my plans so neither are desperately helpful.

Triathlon and in particular Ironman impose the demands of organisation upon me by matching my desire to achieve with a recognition that it needs focus, planning and assessment of where I am going with it all. Through Ironman I have become someone who (nearly) always makes a packed lunch, who knows what they are doing a week next Thursday and who can have frank discussions with themself about how things are going both in and out of training. Equally I now have tremendous indifference to the car I drive, the latest trends and so on.... unless of course we are talking about carbon fibre bikes or the latest swim suits.

So this Tuesday I am flying to Lanzarote for a 48 hr training camp. This has required some organisation staring with a prolonged campaign to persuade my partner of the benefits of said camp which I will be on my own for. In 2 days I hope to cycle the Im lanza course 1.5 times. Swim in the sea twice and manage 2 runs. How do I plan what to take.. write a list and then carefully assemble everything in to my bike box. No. I start by dissembling my bike, as I do this I start to collect things I think I will probably need, gradually box gets fuller. When I can no longer close it I take the odd bit out and then seal it shut. Should work.

So does this make me a better person. I doubt it, but I am more aware of how my desires impact upon those around me, and the need to have other things under control while I pursue my hobby. I am better at committing to what I will and will not do and prioritise all things. The issue that remains is always how highly you prioritise your training especially the long runs and rides which are demanding mentally physically and temporally and therefor have the biggest impact on life outside IM.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Fitting it all in

One of the biggest challenges to a working father is finding the time to fit the training in without alienating yourself from family, friends and work. Sometimes it runs on a knife edge and the stress can start to effect all things. Achieving the balance requires planning, flexibility good time management and motivation.

Ironfit by Don Fink gives some inspiration (but not much). Fitting a 20 hr training week into a 50 hr working week and still being there to pick kids up from school and taking them to swimming, generally be dad and be a support to my partner requires a lot of Juggling. Luckily the nature of my work enables some flexibility as I am to some degree my own boss. A fixed and fairly rigid schedule outside of work and maximising the use of early starts is the main key for me. The last part is an endlessly tolerant partner who reminds me of the necessity to participate rather then just be present for the family (although sometimes I can only just about manage being present) and who will challenge my need to train when it encroaches too much on the rest of the activities.

To this end I am early to bed and early to rise. An hour run is often snuck in before the family gets up on a weekday. A regular 3 hour ride on thursday morning, starting at 04:30 is another key session. My long ride at a weekend is always done by 12 on a sunday and saturdays as often kept free from any peak time training (so again I get up early and I am often back by 9 having done a 2.5hr brick session).

Funnily I often feel I have more time than I used to. I always make a pack lunch to ensure I have what I want to eat when I want to eat it and do not waste time queuing to get it. I organise my work diary to maximise effectiveness at work and to eliminate dead time and avoid taking on projects that do not have clearly defined endpoints or outcome measures. Finally I still watch tv but not as much (I was once a full blown couch potato) and usually only watch specific programmes that I have recorded.

More and more I try to make my training part of my lifestyle, such that it no longer feels odd to excuse myself from company to go and do a 1 hour run (like when visiting friends) and then pick up where we left off.

Mind you we all need a rest sometimes and I look forward to tapering in 4 weeks.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Where it began

So I thought I would have my own space to work out why I do ironman and how it can make me a better person.

I have been doing triathlon since 2005. This followed a painful first london marathon in 2004 after which I swore I would never do anything like it again. My training prior to this had been a decade of sleep deprivation as a junior doctor, at least 20 cigs a day and the very occasional game of 5-a-side which was largely undertaken at a walk.

From my first sprint triathlon at Blenheim 2005 to Ironman Austria 2007 was a fairly seemless progression up the endurance scale. Having got there I found an event I wanted to do again and learnt some hard facts along the way. Not least I was suprised on the impact for good (mostly) that doing triathlon has been and how I hope it continues to do so.