Oh Christ. I can’t feel my legs. Send help.
Monday: Rest day. Lazier than a sloth on ket.
Tuesday: 1 hr 5 mins turbo, 25 mins running plus 15 mins each way cycling to Goodgym and back
Wednesday: 15 mins physio, 15 mins S&C, 25 mins each way cycling to a family do and back
Thursday: 5 mins drowning, 15 mins running, 15 mins physio, 10 mins S&C
Friday: 3 hrs cycling
Saturday: 3 hrs 30 mins cycling, 50 mins swimming
Sunday: 4 hrs cycling
Over the last three days I have cycled over one hundred and seventy miles. That’s like cycling from London to Leeds, and still having a little bit of pocket change. To say the state of my legs right now is fragile is a gross understatement. They are withered and broken, only held together by being so inanimate they haven’t yet clocked on to the fact that they need to obey the laws of physics and drop off entirely. It’s worrying that this is only about fifty percent more than I’ll have to actually cycle in Ironman Kalmar – and that comes with the added battle of already having battled Neptune and his entire realm for an hour plus, and then still having enough in the omnipresent metaphorical idea of a ‘tank’ to run a marathon.
Still a beaut. I’ve given up on the rear bottle cage rack for now though, I need to rethink this. By which I mean, I need to buy a rack that moves less.
Let’s briefly go over the training stuff before I move on. After last week’s complete failure, I started again on Monday – oh, wait, no, that was a day off. I did absolutely nothing, save for cook lots of food and accidentally cheesegrater my own fingers. I don’t even think it’s the training I’m most worried about; it’ll just be a miracle if I manage to get to the start line of an Ironman without having inadvertently hospitalised myself at this rate.
Okay, I started again on Tuesday with the best intentions of hitting everything that I had planned for the week. This was foiled on Wednesday by my Mum coming up to stay in London for the night before flying off to Spain, so I thought it was only fair to make the effort to go and be a dutiful son (model of a modern gentleman, me).
Then on Thursday, I woke up with a terrible crick in my neck. No biggy, I thought, I’ll go stretch it out in the pool. Do you know what you can’t do with a crick in your neck? Turn your head to breath, that’s what. That was an embarrassing five minutes that I’m not getting back, in time or respect from the lifeguards at my local pool. This was followed by coming home and utterly failing at a core strength swiss ball workout. I’ve decided there isn’t enough air in my swiss ball. I’ve decided this because the alternative reasons why I sucked so very, very hard at this seemingly simple session are almost as embarrassing as nearly drowning ten metres down the length of your local pool.
Other than that, it’s been a pretty strong week. The running has continued to slowly build, and as of Friday morning I’ve been cleared by my physio to start doing some continuous running (no more than 25 mins to start with, let’s not go mental now). This hasn’t come in time to salvage Brighton Marathon, which I’ve decided that I’m 100% pulling out of now – a shame, but it’d be stupid to try and work towards it, the focus needs to be Kalmar in August. The one decent swim set I managed to complete this week was done at a very fair clip; considering a month or so ago I just sneaked under an hour for a 2500 metre timed swim, I think completing 2400 metres of drills in just over fifty minutes this week shows not just that I’m improving my technique, but that I’m getting a better idea of what levels I’m capable of pushing my body to.
Really, as I reflect on where I am post-injury crisis, I’m most happy with where my cycle is at. A good session with Coach Tim on Friday has given me a lot more confidence of where I am and where I need to be aiming for on the bike, and this showed on Saturday’s very hilly jaunt around Kent, where my initial (hungover) misgivings eventually evaporated and I managed a pretty strong showing. There’s still a bit of work to be done on nailing a decent cadence consistently, and I need to remember to actually check this damn watch thing I paid £200 for so I can be more consistent with my HR zones, but yeah. Didn’t do too bad. Not too shabby. Alright.
Right. Training stuff sorted? Good. While the training this week has been good, it’s been entirely overshadowed by something else I have on my mind. No, Granddad, I’m afraid I haven’t got married to a top-heavy blonde yet; something else-else.
I’d received an invite a couple of weeks ago to go back to the Maytree for an open afternoon, which happened on Friday. I have explained previously that you don’t get to go back to the Maytree, it’s part of the agreement. Going back after two years was, accordingly, pretty turbulent. I very nearly repeated the same sequence of events from a couple of years ago, when I got to the door and couldn’t bring myself to open it, continuing to pace around the block a couple of times before I could manage it. This time there was other people already waiting at the door (Hi Sandy!). That made it easier, I guess.
It was a very interesting and emotional afternoon, even if I hid some/all of that with my usual air stoic apathy. It was kind of nice being back there, as it very much exists as a ‘safe place’ in my head, but at the same time it was a bit of a struggle to not let it bring up too many unhappy memories about where I was in life the last time I was in that house. Most of the other attendees of the open day seemed to be people doing research, fundraisers, patrons, and local Councillors (I think one was the local Deputy Mayor). That I know of, me and one other were former guests of the Maytree, but I didn’t speak to everyone in attendance; there were probably a few more.
Heartwarmingly, after two years, three months, a new athletic build and a hobo-chic beard, there were still a few staff and volunteers present on the day who remembered me (I am kindly letting them off the fact that my name was on a printed guest list as I’d had to RSVP, so they may have had some forewarning). I clocked this when I caught Dave, one of them, staring at me across the kitchen. It may have been because I was staring at him, wanting to be remembered. I can’t remember.
I had a good catch up with Dave, a volunteer at the Maytree, and Anja, one of the staff who I spent quite a lot of my time there talking to. She wrote the above letter following my stay there, which still lives in my Box of Important Things, and was responsible for putting me in touch with the therapist I saw for a year and a half afterwards. I’m not sure why I’m posting a picture of the letter, but there it is. Warts and all, I guess.
I think one of the things that most surprised me is the scope of the place is completely different to what I remember. During my stay, for a large chunk of it, I was the only guest present (another left early on my second day, and one arrived as I was preparing to leave). Apparently, they are capable, and often run at a capacity of four guests at a time. More surprisingly, I’d assumed that there was a pool of about thirty to fifty volunteers helping keeping the place ticking over. That number is actually close to two hundred. When you think about what problem they are tackling, what’s at stake; and they do this work outside of the NHS, without any government funding – that’s incredible. That’s a lot of people giving up a lot of their own time to help a service that needs to exist, but there’s absolutely no mainstream provision for. Staggering, really. I have come away absolutely even more 110% sure that this fundraising thing is the right call. Time to set Hootsuite up for the next phase of Operation: Half Rust in earnest.
Anyway, enough of my soapboxing. Guess what I’ve got lined up for next week? A visit to Ashmei HQ, where I’m hoping to be selected as one of their brand ambassadors for the coming year. If you saw some peacock strutting around Brockwell Park in his lycra one-piece on Thursday evening, that was me doing a photoshoot so I have a few photos to bring. I’m less a fan of the part where I ran so fast I collided with a small flock of pigeons. I’m more a fan of this one (and will be even more of a fan once I’ve digitally touched it up). Massive thanks to Ax from Goodgym for doing the camera stuff!
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!