Well, kind of. It’s still too warm. I’m wearing my winter coats and scarves with a determined grimace, hoping for a Christmas miracle: if I wish really, really hard that it’s bitterly winter cold, then this late lazy autumn we’re having will pass and the world will freeze over for a fortnight.
Why, why oh why would anyone want it to be cold? That’s a good question. It’s not because I recently caught the first episode of the Fargo TV remake, and want to troop about a frozen landscape in a parka, putting that hard-earned criminology degree to use. Totally not that. Nor is it any longer about the whole ‘it’s too warm too feel like Christmas’ thing because that ship has sailed, my friends. Hope you had a good one, of course. I’m in the envious position of having family spread all over the south of England and am doing the visits this year, so at the time of writing I’ve currently just has Christmas two of four. Bath tomorrow, Cornwall the day after.
To understand why I want it to be colder, you’re going to have to cast your minds back to the Chrissie Wellington talk I might maybe, perhaps have mentioned in passing a while back. There was a short segment, I’m sure I have probably also mentioned before, about how everything in triathlon is linked, and making gains in one area is going to involve making sacrifices in the others. You need to balance up your strengths and weaknesses and gameplan appropriately for best results.
I still am under the assumption that global warming or whatever hasn’t yet entirely murdered our seasons and left their bloody carcasses in a ditch somewhere. They definitely seem to have been on the ropes for the past few years, but they’re still out there somewhere. For every weirdly warm December that we have, at some point there’s going to be a winter cold snap. And I have a training plan – that’s going to be a harsh shock to the system as it is – starting in a fortnight.
I really, really hate the cold.
There’s a lot to be said for training through adversity. There’s a lot to be said for embracing the grind (one of my favourite I’m-a-real-man sayings). When it comes to the cold, all of these things can be said very far out of my earshot. Rain, wind, hail, Stalingrad-esque urban siege warfare; these are all things I can and will train through. But (much like in Stalingrad) the kind of bone-crushing cold that seeps into your bones, so much that it physically hurts you to warm up again? That just ain’t my jam. In modern parlance: get to fuck, anything below a balmy ten degrees; I’ve got no interest in you.
The cold will be particularly unwelcome after the next couple of weeks when my training plan kicks in properly, and I don’t want it challenging my motivation from the off. Currently I’m probably more excited to get going as I have been since the first adrenaline rush – the heady days of oh my, I’m doing this. I guess if it starts off in horrible sub-zero conditions it will only get better as I race towards the warm, sunny climates of Sweden’s summer city, but I’d like the weather to be playing ball, please. I will pray to ancient, unheard-of deities to achieve this. Happy to sacrifice a goat/bull/family member if needed (to the family members reading this, I’m going to leave it up into the air as to how expendable each of you are).
Before you accuse me of being a wimpy whinging man, consider three points. One, the whole depression thing means I’ve beaten you to that accusation by, oh, a decade or so. Two, this time next year I will have done an Ironman (so goes the plan), and that doesn’t seem like a particularly wimpy thing to be doing. Three, race will be at the height of Kalmar’s pretty decent summer so I need to be training for heat more than I do the cold. Race how you train and all that. Along the same lines, I’m going on protest at all these hilly club rides, I don’t need none of that. A jaunt up Toys Hill holds about the same attraction for me as a trip to fucking Mordor. You may come up with your own jokes about chainrings.
Of course, it’s a bit hypocritical for me to be haring on about about training at the moment, because it’s Christmas and all I’ve been doing for the last few days is sitting on my skinny ass and preventing myself from getting shitfaced drunk purely on the amount of wonderful food I’ve been ingesting to combat the alcohol. Uncle Mike has just suggested coming up with a pub-sports triathlon, and I’m thinking this idea could be a winner. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d be infinitely more qualified for that than an actual triathlon.
My one sole concession towards drilling it in to various members of my family’s heads that I’m an athlete now, don’tcha know, was hopping off to Didcot early Boxing Day morning for the parkrun. I’ve come second at a couple of these this year now, and was kind of hoping to be top dog for one before I have to give them up next year in the pursuit of cycling excellence. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be; a flat course was deceptively slow due to three laps of a pretty wet field that slowed me down, and I lost by a good twenty seconds to a bloody pimply-faced, puberty-challenged teenager despite being slightly faster than him on the paths. This meant that actually the athletic hero of the morning became my brother – the one who thinks that anything without an engine is a stupid waste of time – who decided on a whim to do his first parkrun (in borrowed kit) and came a healthy 27th, and I sulked away to indulge myself in a bunch of new kit.
Between Christmas gifts – still two sessions to go, as well – and my own casual spendthrift nature, I have obtained or will soon be in possession of: new goggles, new cycling jersey, new cycling shorts, new foam roller, new sleep headphones, new triathlon shoes, new visor, new wetsuit and three new pairs of running trainers. I’ve also booked in to get a proper bike fit for Agro (and get the damn pedals attached), which means that the only piece of major expenditure left for Project Half-Rust – barring the unforeseen tragedies that I’m sure will arrive soon and screw absolutely everything up – is a Tri top and Tri shorts.
This is a subject of some internal debate on my part, largely as to how much of a complete self-indulgent twat I’m comfortable with looking; bearing in mind there will be pictures of me taken during this event that will never, ever come down from my mantelpiece, and I will have to look myself in the eye/lycra every day and justify these fashion choices. First, I toyed with the idea of getting a custom design one with the Maytree’s charity logo on it, because I’d look absolutely dashing in a nice dark green, and marathon runners get charity vests and stuff don’t they? Eventually it was decided that it was probably a bit much and I’ve put the idea on hold. The Cornish flag/Cornwall Triathlon design was then amusingly suggested and mulled over, before I sobered up. Besides, any joke that needs explaining loses any humour it had, and I’d spend the whole time explaining that one. All the time.
As it stands I will probably go for a Chasers club kit – because I very much like them (the club and the kit), and I’ve already matched the rest of my kit to those colours – so long as I can work out our supplier’s slightly awkward sizing charts. Measure an existing piece of kit you have that fits well and consult the following only really works if you have an existing piece of kit; I’m not sure who thought that system up but it’s a pain in the ass for a rookie club member. Trials and tribulations and all that jazz.
With all that said, I hope you’ve all had as good a festive season as was hoped, and have a grand New Year’s. I’ll probably be drunk somewhere (this is a worrying recurring theme as of late). Not sure what the plan is for next week, but as it will be the day before the training plan starts, expect some sentimental gush. Onwards, to better and brighter things!
Also, part of the reason I’m doing this is to raise funds and awareness for The Maytree Respite Centre, a small charity in North London that provides support for people going through a suicidal crisis – so if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please click here. Thanks so much!