Okay, some pretty major news on the charity front, but first: THANK YOU to Auntie Gill, Ann who’s very nearly owed some happy birthdays, another Anonymous, Rob (been an absolute pleasure to work with you buddy), Danica from Goodgym, Lyn who I hope is still keeping some semblance of order at the Cobweb, fellow Ironman-in-training and twitter/blog buddy Sean who’s already offered to help me deal with the infuriation of tapering in August, another another Anonymous, Chris (also great to have worked with you), Sam (the deal was £50 for the calendar), speedy fish lady Jenna who was there the first time I went open water swimming, another another another very enthusiastic Anonymous, and Auntie Sue/Uncle Mike. Phew.
When I set out on this then-seemingly implausible journey, I set up the Justgiving page with a modest goal of raising one thousand pounds worth of donations for the Maytree. This is a very respectable amount of money, I think. I would have been incredibly pleased to have been able to say I raised this amount for such a deserving cause.
Of course, because people sometimes surprise my cynical old soul and turn out to be awesome, as of two days ago I hit this target with another two months to go before the big day. It was a very emotional Friday evening. It’s also left me with the charity fundraising equivalent of the best first-world problem: given that there’s two months until the event and obviously I’m going to continue to push the fundraising – I don’t do the quitting thing these days – do I edit the Justgiving page to increase the target amount? One the one hand, if I’m continuing to push it anyways, it makes sense to up it to give me something else to aim for. On the other, it seems a bit arbitrary to move the goalposts every time they’re hit. I have a couple of issues with the way big charities seem to do fundraising, so I’m not massively in favour of that always-needy approach.
At the moment… well, two days later, and I still don’t know. At first I said I wouldn’t change it, but I keep flip-flopping. At the moment, it’s staying where it is. It’s massively sad reasoning, but if I was in a race and beating my goal time, I wouldn’t stop to publicise that I’ve changed my goal; I’d just finish the damn race and see where I end up, and then use that to maybe influence how I set further goals. I’m not sure this logic stands up to scrutiny. Please scrutinise it if you have better logic than me, I’m just all brawn and don’t like having to make decisions. Ta.
I assume that cosmic karma does exist and is working overtime to make up for the entire EU referendum mess, that I can only really describe as a massive fuckery whichever way you look at it, because that would explain the whole people being awesome thing. This week has also been the last week in my current job before I head off to start anew at the English Cricket Board tomorrow, and despite me thinking that would make this week really awkward – and it could have been – it wasn’t. Okay, it was a bit, but that’s only natural. It wasn’t any more awkward than it needed to be. I’ve never really left a job in decent circumstances. It all feels pretty weird. The last time this happened was following the massive depressive breakdown of 2012 where I was pretty obligated to not work for a while. Since then I’ve either been on finite contracts, or changed jobs within the same organisation. The simple act of clearing a desk was a uniquely thrilling and terrifying experience.
My two regular client sites that I was responsible for maintaining both got me leaving gifts, which make me believe I may have a bit of a reputation… champagne, and biometric running headphones. Yeah, maybe there’s a message there. It was very heartwarming, as yet again I’m not sure I’d quite realised I’d made such an impression on these people. Aww! You guys.
Continuing the trend of everything changing, I’ve recovered enough to get back on with the training. With this I move into the last phase of the training plan, the peak phase, where everything becomes a little bit intense and I start to truly question my sanity (again). This week was a pretty gentle introduction, but it’s going to get pretty hectic up in here pretty sharpish.
Monday: Rest day for old time’s sake
Tuesday: 45 mins running
Wednesday: 55 mins S&C
Thursday: 1 hr 15 mins turbo
Friday: 1 hr 5 mins running
Saturday: 3 hrs 50 mins cycling, 40 mins brick run
Sunday: Rest day because I was watching an aquathlon and Ironman Austria live trackers for too long, and I have a new job to prepare myself for
The key training of the week saw me back out on the horse, hitting the Saturday morning streets on a much tidier and smoother running Agro after Cycle PS kindly gave my precious steed some much-needed TLC after the Deva ‘incident’. Fortunately, they confirmed my suspicions that no serious damage was caused by the crash; the rear derailleur had been knocked slightly loose, but it didn’t require much more than an allan key to set it right. I’m back in business – and finally, after months of sticking to a clear visor or sunglasses out of visibility concerns, took the plunge and threw myself into the wild unknown of looking like a complete and utter, 100% bona fide ultra-serious mirrored twat visor tool.
While Agro didn’t suffer much in the crash, my confidence had. The first hour and a half or so of the ride, I felt very twitchy. I couldn’t quite trust myself on any corner, even when sat up and not in an aggressive aero tuck. It didn’t help that there seemed to be quite a bit more traffic at 6am on a Saturday than I expected there to be. I did eventually get into the groove though, and got into smashing out some decent reps.
That was, at least, until some walking event or the other took over the Lower Sunbury road where I was doing my back-and-forth efforts. I spotted a few walkers and marshalls earlier on, so I’d clocked there was something going on, but around the time of my sixth rep (coming back towards Hampton) the numbers swelled massively. The pavements on that stretch of road are pretty narrow – in the places that they exist at all – and simply couldn’t handle the volume of traffic, with walkers spilling out across the road. The road that I was cycling along at a fair whack, on a bike that isn’t exactly designed for maneuverability.
It’s been pointed out that Agro does have a very aggressive front end. I have been told those brake levers look downright evil, and those return-to-centre gear shifters that cost me an extra few hundred quid aren’t just for show. Let’s be clear: if a person tumbles out in front of me when I’m chugging along at upwards of twenty miles per hour, they had better hope the wheel impacts on their leg first because if not, I’m not crashing into them – I will be going straight through them. There will be blood, and I will (after probably having lost control and hit the floor at speed again) nonchalantly wipe it from my mirrored twat visor.
After a few close calls involving wayward pedestrians – and one earlier in the session where someone tried to inadvertently clothesline me with a car door – I decided enough was enough, and cut out the last two reps I had planned. But overall, I felt like despite the near misses, I had my confidence back by the end of the session. By which I mean I was back to my awful habits of using every bus lane as an opportunity to open up the legs (calm down) and try to out-pedal the cars. It’s cool, I had a mirrored twat visor. No-one could see enough of my face to figure out my true identity. Except the one Chaser that recognised me at Tooting Bec, but let’s forget about that.
Anyway, I’m back running and cycling, at least. Unfortunately, due to some open wounds that are in really inconvenient locations that refuse to stay waterproof-plastered, swimming is still off the cards for the foreseeable future. I had to pull out of another race today, the Windrush Aquathlon, which greatly aggrieved me – I did it last year, so it would have been another good measuring stick on my progress. Also, I can walk to the race from my house, and multisports is very rarely a convenient sport, so that’s something to be savoured. To compound the Sunday morning misery, I absolutely failed to get the club flag to stay upright in the damn ground. Not a great morning, all things considered.
I’ve had to make some adjustments to my training plan to account for the lack of pool time. One swim set was replaced with the first hill sprints I’ve done in about a year, which nearly bloody killed me, and the other by some strength and conditioning work. It quickly showed by the straining noises coming from my mouth that I haven’t done anything involving weights in a long time. I don’t do a great deal of strength work as it’s not strictly super-necessary in triathlon; the impetus is more on keeping the weight down and emphasising technique, not bulking up. The swimming I’ve already done this year has worked by itself to bring some kind of defined shape to my upper body and arms, but this weekend makes it about four weeks since I was able to swim with any kind of regularity; I’m slightly concerned about losing my swim fitness, but not too much. After all, I hit my goal time already; just gotta make sure I can repeat that, right? In the sea. With a lot more bodies around me. And then hop on the bike for a quick century plus ride, and then run a marathon… oh. Bugger.
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!