Happy New Year! Especially to you, Ely A, whom/wherever you are. Thank you very much for your generosity.
So, 2016. I must admit, can’t say I’m feeling it yet. There is more to this than the standard reasons: the idea of going back to work fills me with existential dread (it does), I drank too much on New Year’s Eve and spent the next 36 hours feeling like I’d been punched in the soul (I did, on both counts). No, something far more serious has happened… I have a stye.
Effects of the stye, as of last night (it’s not a lot better yet). At least, I think it’s a stye. Whatever it is, it’s making me look and feel like I got involved in the kind of brawl that would be featured on what of those late night Channel 5 telly-cop programs. On the plus side, it seems to have brought out the scar just below my eye, and chicks dig scars. It’s a shame that the general Quasimodo look spoils that small slice of silver lining. I’ve had to wear a black beanie pulled very low all weekend, in the hopes that the general public either won’t notice, or will be too intimidated by my general condition to ask questions.
This has come at a really bloody awkward time, because guess what today is? Other than the first day back at work, which has actually not happened; I’m far too headachy to contemplate staring at computer screens for more than about 30 mins at a time (hence why this post is late). Also, I work in primary schools and would probably be responsible for the nightmares of many small children if I turn up looking like this. Right now, it is a big If, because I’m also not convinced that staring at computer screens for eight hours is really going to be helpful in the headache-stakes.
Moreover, today is the first day of my official training regime for Kalmar. Or it should be. See, the problem is that it’s meant to start with a nice swimming session, 1500m, nothing too taxing. But, right now, I can’t manage to wear a pair of goggles – I’ve tried, face is too sore. That said, I’m pretty sure my depth perception is too squiffy right now to even run/cycle in a straight line, so I’m not sure what I can do until this problem is resolved. Turbo sessions every day for the next week? Oh God, kill me now. I give it about half an hour into tonight’s hastily arranged replacement session before I’m fed up and yearning for the great outdoors/chlorine.
It also makes it really tragically stupid that yesterday morning, this went up on my door.
Dedicated half-rust fans – I’m going to have to come up with a witty moniker for all seven of you, something like ‘Beliebers’ except less precocious- may recognise that lower scrap of paper from way back in the second post I put up on here. With the real start of my Ironman prep looming, I thought it was time to add a little something: something punchy, something aggressive, someone that will help me make any kind of sense out of all the 5am starts that will be greeting me over the next few months.
This was all before I had to send Coach Holmes a panicky email last night asking for extra turbo sessions (erk) and to rearrange all swimming for the near future. I’m assuming this time next week I’ll be back in the pool, arriving late on a Monday as usual to avoid getting shown up by one of the other local Tri club’s youth contingent. However, for the time being, that great big NO EXCUSES sign is just taunting me in the most horrible manner. Like it was last night, when I was trying to write this. Bastarding sign.
The difference between an excuse and an actual valid, sensible reason to not do something is, in my experience, a very tough thing to gauge. It is absolutely something I’ll need to get better at figuring out, as with the obviously intense level of training required for an Ironman, there are definitely going to be days when I (or anyone else, I imagine) will have a serious lack of fucks to give about training. The trick will be working out on any given day whether: just being lazy (soldier on), body is fatigued (like you won’t be in an Ironman, soldier on), body is broken (that stabbing pain in your leg means stop).
Of course, because I am an “intricate person” – not my words, I’ll bang in about the source of that at the end of this post – there’s also an added level of mind trickery going on. I do feel that depression is partly responsible for me having developed a very bullish approach to facing adversity. It’s a bit of a catch-22 of idiocy: any idea of quitting a task is met with a barrage of self-imposed scorn, so I have tended to either carry on doing what I’m doing way past the point of sensibility, or give I a spend the next X amount of time mentally harassing myself. This probably also contributed a large amount to the public breakdown I had a few years back, because I was very unwilling to stop and admit I had a problem. Just tough it out, you wuss, said my internal narrative. Bastarding internal narrative.
I don’t really know if there’s a similar mindset to many endurance athletes. I guess at some level you have to be driven beyond the point of common sense to do things like ultra-marathons, or an Ironman, or other preposterous things. Somehow I have to try and harness the stubborn muppet mentality, without letting it be too overbearing to the point where I start falling apart. I have literally no idea how to do this. I guess listening to your body and correctly diagnosing aches and stresses is something that just comes with experience, but I don’t feel I have a whole lot of that to fall back on when it comes to sports. I expect Coach Holmes will be getting a lot more panicky emails in the future.
Okay, so the good things this week! Because positive mental attitude, and all that. Agro is finally rideable! It turns out I just had the wrong sized Allen keys for the pedals. In the bike fit we decided to go for a less aggressive, more comfortable position, hence the incline on the bars. After my dear friend Emma popped round this evening to delivery me chocolate and drugs (neither the ‘you’ll get banned from racing’ or the ‘you’ll get banned from the nightclub’ variety, I’m sad to report) I have just celebrated with a forty minute turbo session – have I mentioned how much I hate turboing? What a beautiful steed I have. There is now sweat all over my front room. Also, I need to replace that saddle reasonably soon.
Ooh, ooh: I finally got around to implementing some of the changes to the blog that I was planning on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to change the link text colour on this damn thing, so at the moment you’re stuck with dark grey vs. light grey; not ideal, to be honest. But! There is now a race calendar, with a brief blurb about each race and some vague goal times, and a kit list, with witty descriptions (and photos when I get around to them), for your perusal! Credit where credit’s due, the kit list idea was shamelessly pilfered from Dov Does Tri. Having a public record of my goals also ties in to the No Excuses thing – it’s slightly scary knowing that if I balls up a race everyone will know, I can’t hide it; I’m hoping this will inspire me to push harder on those days to make sure I don’t feel the temptation to make any excuses and to why I nearly drowned/my knee felt like it was being attacked with a can opener/I blew up on mile X of the run, like literally, my heart exploded and there were paramedics and it was all very exciting, no honestly guys, guys, where are you going. I guess at the very least, it will be interesting to see how my not-at-all arbitrary goal settings matches up to my actual performances. I’m guessing I will be out on a few.
I also created a (deep breath) Half-Rust Twitter feed! I have never really got on well with Twitter in my limited past excursions with it, but it seemed like a very modern thing to do. There should be a scrolling feed of my latest inane witticisms at the side of the blog, but it you want more detail, you’ll have to search out that light grey link text above.
Part of this move to having a slightly more improved online presence is that, now I’m actually (40 mins of the dreaded turbo) into my Ironman training proper, I feel I should probably start plugging the whole charity aspect of this a little more (thanks again, Ely A!). I may have mentioned before that I was fundraising for The Maytree Respite Centre, but was trying not to make a massive thing about it because it was still a little early. Well, now we’re in the swing of things, I’m going to start making a progressively larger thing about it: apologies in advance; sorry, not sorry. Hopefully all this Twitter jazz and stuff will help raise a little more money for such a wonderful and significant little charity.
Almost as if by chance, in a rare moment of remembering I’m a pro adult and doing responsible adult stuff, I was flicking through old bills and paperwork today when I found an old letter from the Maytree. It was sent to me by Anja, the Operations Coordinator, shortly after my stay there (it’s where that thing about being an “intricate person” comes from). Amongst other things – there’s a page and a half of it, I’m not going to bore you with all the details – when I was rereading it, all melancholy like, there was one particular line that stood out to me. Apparently, I had at some point in conversation expressed a wish that I’d done something more active with my life: football and music are the two listed, although I don’t doubt there were more discussed. I’m not sure an Ironman would have been on the list, but hey, who’s active now? Suck it, past me.
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!