Monday, 14 June 2010

I'm Spartacus

Well not really but I am the midnight centurion. Midsummer is soon upon us and a Tri London tradition of celebrating with a century ride around Regents Park is bout to be reenacted. This will be my fourth 100 mile outing (that will be 38 laps as you ask) with the record currently standing at 4hrs 45ish mins as fastest and 7hrs something as slowest (the Nadir in both time and light as it was done on the darkest and coldest night in December 2007).

Last year was done as a TT and we will repeat the effort this year, but hopefuly as a 2 or 3 up TT team, with full aerokit to boot. This fulfils a whole range of things. Firstly it is clearly atypical behaviour and therefore a good thing! Secondly it is a good test of aero position and bike kit prior to an A race and third, I had my best IM race ever last year after doing it so clearly I need to do it again.

The enjoyment I get from this sort of activity is not appreciated by most but reading stories of endurance runners doing the Grand Union Canal Race or the run across America suggests that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Part of me is long since acclimatised to working long nocturnal hours since as a junior doctor I used to go to work on Saturday at 8 am and return from work on Monday at about 7 pm and could sometimes go the whole 60 hrs on 4-6 hrs sleep. I know some countries (USA for instance) still work their juniors this hard but thanks to the European Working Time Directive this is now illegal. I think on balance this is a good thing but still feel that the self awareness and discipline that I learnt through working in theses conditions are not easily replicated elsewhere.. and when I engage in these activities I find my self saying "well at least I have a choice over this and it is not work!"

I know for instance that by about 0800 tomorrow after a night with minimal sleep I will still feel pretty lively, that I will start to dip around lunchtime and that unless there is something I have to concentrate on sleep will beckon. I have learnt that a shower and shave is worth about an hours sleep (you'll have to trust me on that one) and that a good breakfast will help offset the fatigue (especially a high protein and fat fry up) and finally that a 20-30 min powernap can leave me ready for a further 4-6 hr stint. Finally I have also learnt that If I am not asleep by 10 pm I may find my body tired nut unable to switch off due some strange affect of the fatigue. This was all supported by research in which I was a guinea pig but I seem to remember it also involved drinking, something else that also seems to no longer be quite such a part of the junior doctor curriculum.

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