Tuesday 31 May 2016

Take a break, it's week no. eight

Had no intention to take a break at all to be honest. But a break was had because I felt as rough as boots. Yes indeed, everything right was wrong again and it appeared everything was falling apart. I might be dramatising a little but it's amazing a how a wee virus can mess up your head space, health and outlook so much.

The week didn't actually start out so bad - I ran both Monday and Tuesday. The first run was a nice XC trek to Timm's Grove and the second was a familiar tow path commute into work. Sadly that was the end to my running for the week.

Tuesday evening and I had planned to OW swim. This didn't materialise as some fella had fitted on the train causing delays and the traffic was menace. Epilepsy must be a horrible illness and always makes me think of Ian Curtis. Am sure you don't need me to tell you about his story.

Thursday was a better and worse day. Better in that I managed to cycle some hours away but worse because that's when I started to feel ill and my training for the week came to an end.

Really was not pleased with this week. Trained for less than 6 hours. Felt rough. Oh, and my colleague Flair had left my team for pastures new too. Well wishes to Flair, will miss her muchly.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Say hello and wave goodbye (week 9)

Say hello..
Started the week well with my high intensity and frequency plan. Not only did I cycle to work and back on the Monday, I also fitted in a xc run too. Felt great to occupy my body and mind with exercise and leave the stress of other stuff behind for a spell. Yes, exercise has it's place as a brief intervention.
Ragley Lake
Tuesday was a super adventure packed day too. Like the day before, I commuted to work and back - only this time on foot (and the slight use of a car too). Essentially, I ran from King's Norton into work and then from work back to King's Norton. Once home, I ate a lovely pasta dish cooked by the Mrs and then went swimming. This swim was awesome, as it was my first open water (OW) swim this season, in fact - this year! My wet suit fitted better than it did last year (have lost just a little weight) and despite my swimming being pants, I swam better than I did a year ago too. Amazing how buoyant my wet suit was - my feet were at water level and not sinking as they usually do in the pool. I was more confident and panicked less. It was as if I could cope with other swimmers bashing into me and when I felt cramp I didn't panic and felt able to control it. I swam a good 6 laps of the half lake that was open. 6 laps x 400m = 2,400m - wow, and in less than 90 minutes which was super ace for me. The lake didn't feel cold and looked quite pretty. My buddy Phil was swimming too and Jonny Mitchum also, though I never spotted him. Oh, and this was the first time I was able to wear my previously purchased 2 piece Skins tri-suit. The tri-suit was ok - being 2 piece means that I can go for a pee quite easily once out the pool and running or cycling (have not needed to as yet) which was the only issue with my one piece Orca suit. The Orca suit was a gift from my wife last year and is my preferred tri-suit.

Mid-week menace. My extra active plans went to pot. Rain was hammering down on poor planet Earth and I succumbed to be a fair weather athlete. My car and train took me to work where I had to stay for a gruelling 12 hour shift. No exercise or training took place and my mood dipped.

Thursday was an interesting day spent in London for work related reasons. I had plans of going for a run once back home. My plans didn't materialise.

Friday was a better day and at last I managed to get some training completed. Was hard to get myself organised in the morning because a plasterer was plastering my kitchen. It proved difficult to get my stuff from the kitchen whilst a fellow was working in there - not to mention all the stuff my wife had moved and temporarily re-homed. Anyways, I got sorted enough, made some jam sarnies at my mothers and went for a cycle. I took my IM bike out on a mission where I was looking for hills. I knew I had to be back by 2 p.m. because another worker was due to look at my bathroom and provide a quote. This meant I had 4 hours to cycle some hills and get back home. First hill was Saintbury and once at the top cycled down Fish Hill. My journey then took me to Winhchcombe where I climbed Cleeve Hill from both sides and then essentially turned around and headed for home. I missed out Saintbury Hill on my return but if time had permitted, I would have climbed Fish Hill.

Was pleased with this cycle on the whole. 4 hours is a long time to spend on a bike and it's my neck muscles that suffer most on a bike set up like this. I'm likely to spend around 8 hours on this bike come race day... Had plans to run today too but that didn't happen.
XC Jolly 17.7k
Saturday saw me run a lovely x-country jolly. This was the first run in my new kicks (as pictured at start of blog). I won't be running in my old ones again. Say hello and wave goodbye! These shoes (both pairs) are Brooks Pure Grit 3 and a fantastic shoe in my humble opinion. The old pair (red) have ran just short of 1,000k and were a birthday gift from last year. This new (blue) pair have run just under 18k. These new shoes were half the price of the old ones (cost me 50 squirrels) just because they are a year apart a new model (Pure Grit 4) is out. So happy with the 3's, see no need to invest in the 4! An ariel view of my run is pictured above. Tim Tom trekked to Timm's Grove on this run which is the area circled in red (below). This grove is super pretty, full of wonderful designs (which I'll photograph another time) and has blue-bell's (when in season) - a real secret garden, named after me! Sweet!
Tim Tom Taylor trekked to Timm's Grove
Sunday turned out to be quite a productive day. The morning started with a 2,650m pool based swim. The evening and week concluded with a 2 and a half hour cycle. This was a XC jolly on my single-speed MTB and all was good until I fell off, right into a bunch of stinging nettles. At least nothing was broken!

Trained hard this week and was relatively pleased. Swimming went great - swam for about 3 hours including an OW swim. Running was good too, ran just over 5 hours and my new shoes were pretty awesome. Didn't cycle quite as much as I would have liked but still spent over 9 hours in the saddle. If next week is as good as this, that'll be something. 
...and wave goodbye!

Sunday 15 May 2016

Grief. 'Good grief'. Week 10.

Oh man. Why?
Oh, the trials, troubles and tests of Tim Tom Taylor the TomTom tester, training to tackle triathlon. Some weeks are hard. This was one of them. Like the week before and the week before that.
Smile, no matter what life my throw at you (or throw you off).
I think this week was particularly testing just because of the marathon I ran the week before. My recovery was far from great and as usual I had neglected to eat healthily. Probably not a good idea for me to add the usual work menace and 'real life' into the mix. However, just because the week was a struggle did not mean it didn't end just about great. My plans were to swim, cycle and run a little easier than of late and I set myself smaller goals. I pretty much achieved my goals for each of the disciplines and, well, that's good.
Wish my nan was here to train me (knock me out).
I trained for just over 13 and a half hours this week. Spent about 2.5 hours swimming, 7 hours cycling and 3.5 hours running. Next week, I would like to add intensity and frequency to my training. Open water swimming is on the list of things to do next week too.

This week wasn't all about training. It was about eating too! I figured I should at least try and sort my fuelling options out ready for race day. With that in mind, I purchased a rice maker and a book entitled 'feed zone portables' (I think). I wanted to make delicious rice cakes - portable food that tasted yummy! I created rice cakes, but sadly mine tasted nasty. Oh, the great and impulsive ideas I have...
Rice cakes, anyone?
This week was also about remembering and being reminded of the past. The first 3 photo's were posted by others on faceBook and naturally reminded me of times past. Also, Will from the MadeGood film company got in touch with me via email. He informed that his company were going to sell the documentary that they made (where they filmed myself et al cycling the challenging 2013 LEL event). If anyone is interested in buying this super feature (with a 10% discount if they pre-order this month) then please follow this link: Super awesome LEL film. (Or contact me).
Waiting to start LEL 2013
Thank's as always to those supporting me and helping me out. Thank's to all those who have donated to my charities - I don't know who some of you are (especially the anonymous ones). Should you have a few spare coins, please feel free to donate to one of my charities listed below:
Suicide Prevention
Cancer - do one!
Don't be a dope - support scope

Saturday 7 May 2016

Week 11 (MK Marathon and stuff)

2 May 2016: This was a fantastic day. On this particular day, I was one of 7 Grumptoids running the Milton Keynes (MK) Marathon (or Half Marathon). The Grumptoids are a group of elite runners that ran this said event in memory of Martin Crumpton. As a group, we rocked! What follows now is a recollection of my story.

In the early hours of this over-cast Monday morning, a certain Elly Poole rocked up to my abode and kindly transported me to the start of the MK marathon in her automobile. We had a pleasant journey to the start and alongside Elly there was her 2 kids - Millie and Jose - and Chaz, a Grumptoid runner.

The Grumptoids were raising monies for Macmillan and raised well over 2k!
Once in MK, we were meeted and greeted by the remaining Grumptoids - Angela, Steve, Richard, Jo and Natasha. Gill was also there and joined Elly and kids as a super supporter. We were all buzzing and maybe a trifle nervous.

Fuelling with gel before the race
We all made our way to the start where we joined hundreds of other runners in a packed line. Felt quite warm being packed in like a tin of sardines. Waiting for the start horn/whistle thing we had a good chat and a bit of a giggle. We all found it funny that Tim Tim was written on my front (name on running number and running vest) and that Tom Tom was on my wrist (my watch). Some runners had some funky running vests - I particularly liked the Drumstick and Um Bongo tops I saw. After the start whistle thing blew we all wished each other well and about 6 mins later crossed the start line and began our race.

I stuck with Steve and Richard for a short while initially (as these 2 were running the full marathon) but soon found myself running alongside a 4 hour pacer. This pacer had a big orange balloon with 4:00 written on it. I figured if I stuck with him, I'd complete my marathon in 4 hours. I soon got bored sticking with this guy and his balloon kept whacking me in the head. I ran ahead and took in the buzz of this wonderful marathon. I briefly saw Angela and Chaz as we ran past each other in opposing directions but didn't see another Grumptoid then until the finish.

Almost from the start (and right until the end) people would shout, scream and chant my name. Many offered words of encouragement. Some would hold out their hands for a high five. Others would hand out sweets. This was fun. When someone first shouted my name, I turned to see who it was (thinking that they knew me) but soon realised this was just a marathon norm.

Running this marathon was a real emotional affair and at several times I felt like crying. I didn't cry but I felt my eyes welling up. The first emotional moment I had was when I saw the back of someone's running vest that stated they were running in memory of their little star in heaven. Another time was when I read another vest that said 'an hour in my arms, forever in my heart'. I wanted to hug these people but felt I hadn't better as the race had not long started and it might just look a bit weird. At other times the voices in my head 'bigged me up' and I felt like crying then too.

My head-space was mostly filled with thoughts of my wife SJ as I ran the course. I saw her complete the London Marathon a few years back and all the wonderful things she had described were happening here. Every time I saw a running vest like those described above, I thought about my kids.
The course was lovely and what I saw painted a great picture of MK. The streets looked pretty and the parks were great too - reminded me of Arrow Valley. At the end of the race, folk asked if I saw the stone cows but I didn't notice them at all?! Was sure I ran past Stonehenge twice - apparently I did pass a stone circle and another set of ruins.

The 'Cow thing' must have been a theme, as this lovely shirt was awarded to each runner who completed the course.  My daughter Lunar exclaimed 'Daddy, I like your penguin' when I showed off this shirt.
The weather was great on the whole during this run. It was windy but warm, bright and sunny. My face got a wee bit burnt from the sun. After we had all finished, the heavens opened. Think we timed things just right.

My only real tactic during this race was to consume a gel about every 20 mins and drink water whenever it was offered. The gels were very sickly and I must have consumed about 11 in all (I had 2 before the race). The water would come in bottles, I would take a few sips, wash my hands and cover my head and face in water and then discard the bottle. I had a few sweets offered en route too. I stopped for one pee break (this was the only time during race that I wasn't running).

Running this distance is crazy and you feel like you are playing cat and mouse with other runners as you seem to pass and then get passed by the same folk and then pass them again. I felt completely fine for just the first 10k, after that the niggles started and pain never really went away. Sure, I had some dark moments but the voices in my head forced me to continue running. Towards the end, maybe the last 6 miles or so, I wished folk would stop chanting my name. My head hurt, my feet hurt and I wanted to finish.

After so long, the finish was in site. I first saw signs indicating the MK stadium was near. Then I saw the stadium. Then I ran as fast as my legs would carry me into the stadium and around it to the loud clapping and thundering cheers of the no doubt Grumptoid support crew.
Wow, that was it! I had crossed the finish line. I had ran the MK marathon! Better yet, I had ran my 3rd marathon to date and this was a new PB (personal best), as I had ran my quickest time. My official result was 3:55:02. Super pleased with a sub 4 hours. And then I crashed to the floor and could not move very well for a heck of a time!

I was awarded with a rather funky medal. Other runners would congratulate me and asked if I felt ok - of course I didn't, I'd just ran a marathon! Some guy took my photo with me holding my medal - I guess he'd want big bucks for the photo at some point.
After this I wandered around like a zombie looking for the Grumtoid support crew. Natasha found me and led me to a seated are in the stadium where I got much respect from the Grumptoid gang. I munched on the crisps, Mars bar and banana that was contained in my goody bag and chilled for just a short while. Not long after, I joined in the roaring chorus of cheers as Steve and Richard had entered the stadium and were running with style. So awesome to see these guys finish and to shout and cheer! The Grumptoids had completed what they set out to do!
Steve and Richard at the finish
This was a lovely day and I'm sure I'll keep fond memories forever (which is a very long time). I enjoyed my time with the fellow Grumptoids and appreciated their support, friendliness, humour and banter. I never met Martin Crumpton, but I do know that we certainly did him proud!
All smiles now the race was over!
We had much food and celebration to conclude our day. Go Grumptoids go! Then, I was transported home in the like manner I was taken - cheers Elly!

3 May 2016: Ouch. I hurt. Didn't seem to recover too well at all. Spent the day walking like John Wayne.
May the fourth be with you!
4 May 2016: May the fourth be with you. It wasn't with me! Was still suffering with achey breaky muscles. 

5 May 2016: My legs still felt a little achey but I felt able to resume my Ironman training. Started the day with a swim. I swam for about an hour but my pace was slow and the pool was over populated. Once home, I went for a cross country 5k run. Running was a little difficult but I felt better than I did a couple of days ago! Finished the day with a lovely cycle to Broadway Tower and back on my Ironman bike. Surprisingly, I felt great and hence climbed both Saintbury and Fish Hill whilst out and about.

6 May 2016: Awoke feeling awful. Thought I had picked up a virus or something. An evil migraine stuck with me for hours. Felt bad for letting Roger down as I had to say 'no' to our planned tandem adventure which I had really been looking forward to.

7 May 2016: Ugh. Back to work. Still felt awful and have now contacted conjunctivitis too. Don't suppose there is much chance I'll be open water swimming tomorrow?!

Sunday 1 May 2016

Battling the Beast! (Week 12)

My work buddy and friend Flair complained about the lazy lapsydaisy blog posts from the last couple of weeks, so I have taken the time to add more drivel and hopefully capture more of my thoughts and feelings in this post. All this on top of my demanding training and beast battling schedule. Oh the toil and labour!  
My week started with a 10k run into work. Interval style. Voices in my head were reminding me that the following Monday I would be running in the Milton Keynes marathon.  
Tuesday was a tough day. My poor wife had a bout of food poisoning so we all had a naffs night sleep before this day began. I had originally planned to go open water swimming but figured I'd stay home and look after my wife in the evening. Changed my original plan of running into work for a cycle commute instead. My mind seemed to be in a state of mindfulness as I cycled today and the ripples of water in the canal just grabbed my attention as I cycled the tow path. The ripples of water became an oil painting on a long spread out canvas, just so beautiful. The painting I could see before my eyes became 3-D as a rope swing was past hanging from a tree. Oh what fun could be had and what fun I was experiencing.
The cycle back was more interesting than usual too. A chap cycled up to me and started chatting. He had cycle envy and was telling me I had the bike he wanted. We were both cycling a Genesis Day One single-speed steed, the only difference being that mine had disc brakes and a Brooks saddle. This guy had noticed both and made much comment. His bike looked funky, it was bright orange and reminded me of my buddy Chris Hodge. I made mention to the funky colour of his bike, he replied stating that he thought all bikes should be black (but liked the military green of my bike). We spoke about cycling and his plans to ride LEL (he was impressed I had cycled same). In fact we chatted lots about Steve Abraham, PBP, routes and general cycling nonsense. We went separate ways at Kings Heath (I kinda hope we bump into each other again). As I continued my commute it started snowing and was quite heavy too. Snowing in April, how nuts! I later found out that open water swimming was cancelled tonight so didn't lose out there. Maybe I should have pushed myself and gone for a run. I didn't but had a lovely night fighting monsters with Lunar and Melody and taking refuge in our tent instead.  
A funky coloured bicycle indeed!
As an aside, I recall a conversation I had on another recent commute. Myself and 2 other cyclists were stopped at traffic lights and I noticed they both had lovely machines in a beautiful colour blue that matched my Cannondale road bike. I lost my mind at this point and thought I was cycling my said Cannondale. I commented to them both "wow, how awesome we all riding bikes this lovely exact same colour blue". I then looked down admiringly at my blue Cannondale frame to realise I was in fact cycling my military green Genesis. D'oh!  

On Wednesday, I took the opportunity to go swimming prior to my urgent care meeting. Had hoped to swim long and far (in light of the fact that I didn't open water swim the previous day). My pool based swim felt long and far but I only managed 2,500m in the space of about an hour and a half. When I swim, I pretend I am in the lake during my pending Ironman event - perhaps I shouldn't do this because I only really ever cover the equivalent of 1 lake lap and am aware on the day I have to complete 2! And in under 2 hours 20 minutes.  

Thursday was another bike commute to work and back. My head was filled with thoughts of beast slaying on the way into work. Each time my eye caught a glimpse of the disc rotor on my front wheel my mind pictured an ancient chariot wheel with spikes.
On my return route there was no time to think. All my concentration was required to stay on my bike as a horrific wind was trying to throw me off my steed! Such menace!

Friday was planned to be my most intensive training day of the week and I guess it was. I didn't really push myself and only trained 2 disciplines of my planned 3. I think the pending MK marathon gave me excuse enough to not push myself too hard. My day started with with a cycle to Broadway Tower and back. It took me sometime to decide on which bike to ride - I rightly chose my IM bike. Saintbury Hill was my hill of choice to get me near Broadway Tower and I think this was the fist time I used Kay-O to cycle up it. Flew down Fish Hill at about 60 kph but my bike was making a strange whistling sound. Stopped at the bottom and inspected my bike - a brake block had come loose but thankfully hadn't come right off. A quick stop, tighten with Allen key (multi-tool) and off I went heading for home. Route there and back was in a challenging side wind. About 15 minutes before reaching home, the heavens opened and threw hail at me. The roads were wet and that meant that I got wet, especially my backside, Grr!

Once off the bike, I slowly changed into my running gear and went for a wee brick. My run was just a trek through my village running as many different roads as my legs would allow. It made a kinda pretty pattern once uploaded onto Strava.
Was going to finish the day with a swim but ended up watching 'The Durrells' on catch up instead.   

Saturday was a weird day. Motivation and fear were playing havoc with my mind space. I wanted to swim but couldn't decide which pool to use (and times were limited on a Saturday) and ended up not heading to one. Wanted to run but wasn't sure if I should in the 48 hours before my planned marathon. Is hard to explain the feelings of guilt that I feel when I don't train and the fear that my Ironman will be a disaster.

Facebook informed that it was 5 years since SJ's first 10k race - she hasn't run in a while. Am hoping she'll join tri-club soon and get her running legs back and try some other sports too. Am sure she'd like it. 
SJ's first 10k race, (27/12/2011)
Sunday was a day spent fretting about the MK marathon. Should I run or swim today or shouldn't I? I didn't. I took my own monsters out with a plan to complete a gentle walk and find some blue-bells, we found no flowers but found a Maccy D's. 
A couple of my monsters, blue-bell hunting apparently?!
So at the conclusion of this week, I was a tad disappointed with my training. I had cycled long and far enough - just didn't complete a super long single distance run. Only swam about half the time I had planned for (and no open water swimming). Hardly ran at all, hope this was a wise move with the MK marathon being tomorrow.

Pay day has been and gone. If anyone has a few spare gold nuggets left, please consider sponsoring one of my following charities: CMaD or Macmillan. Thank you :)

Happy New Year 2022

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