“Well, bloody hell”. This phrase was mentioned a lot this week. Prepare for the word vomit, this is a hefty one.
Thanks very much Karly for your donation! The Maytree fund is slowly creeping up. Also, thank you so very much Anonymous. This time, I don’t know who Anonymous is; I’m still trying to work it out. Whoever you are, you’re a star.
After a rocky couple of weeks forming the introduction to my Ironman training, I am sure everyone will be glad to now that things have settled down… well, sort of. Bear in mind that I’m writing this post on a massive high from having done a cracking swim set today (more on this later) and having just inhaled half a tub of some bloody lovely chocolate and salted caramel ice cream and it’ll make a lot more sense. No, I’ve not got on top of the nutrition thing yet (again: more on this later).
This week’s training:
Monday: 1 hr swimming
Tuesday: 1 hr turbo
Wednesday: 1 hr swimming, plus 20 mins each way cycling there and back
Thursday: 1 hr spintervals, plus 30 mins each way cycling there and back
Friday: Rest day (sorely needed)
Saturday: 4 hrs 30 mins cycling
Sunday: 40 mins swimming
This has been a very reflective week for me, in a lot of ways. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if I’m just going through another dodgy spell, or if Seasonal Affective Disorder is a proper thing, or whether working in Hanworth is getting to me – it’s the arse end of London, I swear. I used to give this noble distinction to Erith, but at least Erith has a train station so you can escape. Even the crows in Hanworth sound unenthusiastic, like being there is a chore for them. I empathise with the crows.
Life has felt very melancholy, and I have been up and down like an emotional yo-yo. I’m terrible with yo-yos, so this has generally ended up in a tangle and not in my favour. Weirdly, while being very much infatuated with the London lifestyle, I’ve been feeling the unusual pang of homesickness this week. I need a good coastal valley to go and hide in for a few hours, and spy on the occasional deer/comically overdressed hiker. Again, I’m going to blame this on Hanworth. I didn’t come to London to spend time in bloody Hanworth.
Swimming, in particular, seemed like it was a massive bugbear for me. I usually love swimming, despite my relative incompetence at it. However, said incompetence was much more grating this week than usual, and I found that rather than swimming being relaxing it was infuriating me, which made me deeply unhappy. I may have said things I will regret to Coach Dan about how I’m going to fit in another training session each week, because the regular Ironman amount is clearly not already too much for any sane person. Admittedly, part of this is the fault of my own ego; I’m not sure how, but through years of depression I have still managed to maintain a healthy ego, even if it’s usually well masked behind layers of pithy sarcasm. Depression is a very self-centred thing, I suppose, so let’s put it down to that.
I think part of this is down to my role as a the Chaser’s club captain. See, while I definitely was not offered the position on my sporting merits (unless you’re counting future ones, because that 2027 Kona victory will be damn impressive), I do feel that I have some responsibility to represent the club with at least a basic level of competency. Why would any of the club’s elite age groupers/already actually done Kona crew actually listen to me if I can’t demonstrate that I have the slightest idea I know what I’m doing? Why would the new members of the club if they can rock up and already be overtaking me after a couple weeks of training? Yes, these thoughts are patently ridiculous, because there will obviously be people who have actually swum before and they will obviously be faster than me. I think I’m going to get a Polaroid selfie to carry around with me and scrawl “DON’T BELIEVE HIS LIES” on the back, to remind me to stop being a tit at the times I’m being a tit.
Then, of course, today happened – although it very nearly didn’t, cheers Emma for trying your hardest to derail all this work I’m putting in, you beauty. Off the back of a stonking red wine hangover, I toddled back down to the pool and managed to hammer out an 8:51 400m effort. This was so unexpectedly fast for me that I wasn’t sure my watch had measured it correctly. It actually didn’t measure it correctly, because I accidentally set the pool length to 50m and it’s telling me I managed a sub-nine minute 800m which would not be too far off Olympic times. Considering my last recorded 400m pool time was 11:04 at St Ives Sprint Triathlon in October (take off a minute, more or less, for getting to transition, thinking about it), and this time last year I hadn’t even joined a club so had no idea I couldn’t swim 25m without nearly drowning, and suddenly I am very happy with my swimming again. All is right in the world. There is no need for panic. Suddenly a swim of under an hour and a half in Sweden seems like a reasonable aim again.
Whoo. Got that out of my skin. On to cycling. In contrast to swimming’s shoddy start to the week, Tuesday’s turbo session was a revelation. After last weekend’s heavy metal-related injuries, I decided that a safer approach to livening up this chore of a training session was needed. One iPad lap-desk and a well worn audio cable later…
Apologies for the terrible Instagram filter (I do Instagram now, in case me mentioning it last week didn’t sink in, and can promise it’s not just pictures of what ice cream I’m eating this week). I can now watch films while turboing! Or could, if the bloody audio cable hasn’t since packed it in. Sigh. Tuesday’s evening viewing was the fantastic cyberpunk trappings of Ghost In The Shell. The dialogue being in Japanese and subtitled was perfect, as I could still follow what was going on over the incredibly loud sound of my turbo sounding like it was about to take off and burst through the ceiling. I’ve actually already seen the film a handful of times so knew was was going on anyway, but you get the drift. Also, robot legs! An Ironman would be much easier with robot legs. I need to get some of these, they’re the key to my Kona 2027 victory. Hurry up, future.
A quick aside: it’s worth noting that Ghost In The Shell has a fantastic ambient soundtrack, which is great for scribbling words to. I may do a post about music one of these weeks, but this is not that week.
Considering I haven’t done a spin class since I was training for my very triathlon last spring, Thursday’s spin class went fairly well, keeping to the theme of anything other than swimming being totally cool in my mental sphere. A rest day followed that was so uneventful I can’t even remember what I did. I know I cooked a bitchin’ pasta bake. I may have fought crime, but that one’s a little hazy. In all honesty, I probably spent most of the evening looking at new bike parts to buy, because that’s what I spend a disturbing amount of my time doing these days. I am having saddle problems with my male-specific parts. This will have to be rectified ASAP.
The weirdest moment of the week was probably on Saturday morning as I was getting ready for the weekly club ride. As I was donning a very fetching attire of knee-high socks and cycling tights, I had this sudden thought: less than a decade ago, I existed in seedy flats with heroin-addict social circles and friends who’d think nothing of cooking up some crack at 3am. Now I’m pulling on tights to go and sweat in a very grey, gloomy Surrey countryside. This thought was very amusing to me, and I’m not really sure why. It was amusing in the same kind of way that finding out that the back of a packet of jelly babies has names for the different jelly baby colours. It’s disturbing. Why would you name jelly babies? Are you trying to guilt me out of my sugar, Bassetts? Screw you, I need my essential nutrients.
Nutrition! Three pages in, and I’ve finally hit the point I had a vague notion to tackle before all these word things got in the way. Nutrition. I’m rubbish at it, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it – not thinking about ice cream, but actually thinking about how I’m going to improve my nutrition. Can I spare the expense to have a proper nutritionist tell me how unhealthy my diet is? Do I have the willpower to just get by on a cookbook and some internet research? Does healthy ice cream exist, and where can I find it?
The thing is, I think I actually have a bit of a fear of ‘healthy’ diets – you will quickly realise that what an actual healthy diet is and what my idea of a ‘healthy’ diet is are two very different things – because I have had issues with my weight in the past. In a strange coincidence I’ve just been listening to this short bit of a feature with an actual sufferer of Anorexia Nervosa, but I would never self-diagnose myself as having been anorexic, because it’d be plain wrong; but there were points when I was in the midst of my depressive states over the last few years where I did get dangerously skinny. I’d often skip meals, sometimes eating once every couple of days: not because I wanted to be thin, but because depression had robbed me of any appetite I should have had. On the odd occasion I was hungry, it’d be a toss up as to whether whatever benefit money I had left would be enough to cover a reasonable amount of food. Screw any newspaper that implies there to be a substantial amount of people on disability benefits that are freeloading, because I’ve done it and you can’t. It is not possible in my experience, and certainly not in London.
Sure, I am still skinny, but I like to look at myself (often, I’m pretty) and be content that at the moment I can describe myself as lean, and not see ribs poking through. I know I’m going to struggle not to lose weight with the amount of exercise I have coming up over the next few months, and that scares me a bit, because I don’t know how to eat sensibly to make sure that doesn’t go to extremes whilst still getting a healthy mix of nutrients, and not a healthy mix of pizza toppings.
To top off the reflective week: Maytree? That place that only a couple of months ago I mentioned how you only ever get to go there once? It seems I’m going back – albeit in much improved circumstances. I received a letter from them inviting me to an open day, which I can only imagine is related the fundraising thing. They are providing refreshments. There will probably be a lot of peppermint tea, which was a staple of my short stay there (especially when my appetite failed and I wasn’t eating).
Well, bloody hell. It’s been a very reflective week. I’d apologise for the word vomit, but I’m assuming if you made it far enough to read this you’re probably okay with it. Thanks for validating my Sunday afternoons/evenings.
To wrap this all, I’d just like to point out that there’s now a Useful Links section on the blog, which has internet links. To useful things, in case you didn’t see that coming. Also, I’ve not forgotten about updating the kit list with pics, I’ve just been really rubbish at finding the time. It is on my to-do list, which is a physical object, because I’m convinced that writing things in actual pen will encourage me to do them faster. It doesn’t. Sorry.
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!