Cor blimey. Many, many, lots of thanks to: Katie ‘Welly’ Welford, Goodgym Lambeth trainer; Lucia, Emma, Anonymous (I will hunt you down if I have that song in my head for 10+ hours), Andy Lulham, Issy and everyone else from Goodgym who donated either at the social last week or after Goodgym this week, you’re all stars; another Anonymous that I have literally no clue about, sorry; Sarah and Rob who might as well have been my second parents, and my mate Stephen who has gone some way towards making up for forcing me through the indignity of trying to make a funny speech at his wedding last year; WOOHOOOOOO, who’s clearly very excited about something; Sophie, who finally figured out how to use a computer; Bonny, who kicked the most shit out of cancer of anyone I know; and Natasha, who loves a bit of late night charity donating it seems. Phew. Out of breath.
Also a special shout out to the T33 100m European Champion and record holder Toby Gold, who not only shared my blog, but also took the time to record a good luck video for me. Toby will be representing Team GB in the Rio Paralympics, so best of luck with that. My Olympic grumpiness (read on) will not extend to that race (or the rest of the Paralympics, to be honest).
Well, shit. This is it. I cannot be more prepared for this than I am now. There is no more training to do. No more skills to learn. What I am now is exactly what I have to work with on the day.
This was my immediate waking thought process on Monday morning. No, that’s a lie: this was my thought process once I’d sat down to have some breakfast on Monday morning. I get very hangry first thing. Then, over a bowl of Weetabix minis, I have my psychological crisis (plural).
Last Sunday, the thought that there was nothing left to do was a lot more palatable. When I actually got into the period of waiting for other things to happen… Well, that was uncomfortably familiar. Waiting for things to just happen and be over is a specialism of previous me, not current me. Current me does stuff. Except when he’s getting a sports massage, in which case current me regresses somewhere behind the infantile part of my mind that does nothing but sob uncontrollably and doesn’t understand why everything hurts so damn much.
It’s not like I haven’t done a taper week before, but this has been the first one where I know that there isn’t a continuation afterwards. There is nothing in my TrainingPeaks calendar past next Sunday (which, with Ironman Kalmar being on the Saturday, Coach Dan has seen fit to remind me will be a rest day). I have a few London League events over Autumn, but they aren’t year defining races, even if it looks worryingly like I have a chance at placing in the top three over the year for my age group just by the number of races I’ve attended.
Monday: Rest day, featuring the most painful sports massage
Tuesday: 30 mins running
Wednesday: 1 hr 5 mins turbo
Thursday: 1 hr swimming
Friday: Rest day, spent packing
Saturday: 1 hr 45 mins cycling, 20 mins running
Sunday: 40 mins running
To still my nervously beating heart, I tried to go back to something around the ideas I outlined in the article I wrote for Truestart Coffee about how to mentally decompress. When I had to train, I tried to make it ‘fun’ and light rather than super intense; whether this was just swimming to feel in Brockwell Lido (and rediscovering the benefits of proper forearm employment in ones catch, which was a handy reminder), or heading out to Richmond Park on the Normandy rather than Agro yesterday morning for my one solitary twat lap in aggressive black lycra and maybe just maybe getting caught up in a couple of really unnecessary hill sprints that I definitely won, or going to Goodgym Lambeth for the first time in a few weeks on Tuesday for the Inaugural GG Lambeth IronManWoman Open Invitational.
The slightly barmy brainchild of Welly Welford, the IronManWoman is possibly the finest display of sporting I’ve ever witnessed. Few things have ever been accomplished with such lack of grace or finesse, but it wasn’t half fun to watch. An incredible send off from the most fun running group in London, and part of the reason that paragraph up the top is so full this week.
For the rest of my non-sporting week, I tried my very best to not obsess about sport – in practical terms, this meant no scouring of SportPursuit for new discount kit, no sizing up my next bike when it was quiet at work, and definitely not a lot of attention being paid to the Olympics. It’s on too late and I need to be resting as much as possible, and if I’m honest the complete lack of spine shown by the IOC in regards to the whole drugs issue has really killed it for me. It’s a real shame, because I’m very much a sporting child of the 2012 Olympics, and had been looking forward to it rolling around again so I could watch it with some inkling of what was happening (in a sporting/tactical sense, not a cheating one).
I replaced a lot of this with catching up on things that have fallen down the list of priorities for me recently. There was a few new music releases I made time for (how about that 65daysofstatic No Man’s Sky soundtrack, eh). Finally, finally, I also finished moving the last of my stuff out of my old house. Only two weeks after I actually left the place. Such a smooth transition. The positive messages/lyrical kick-up-the-arses that I had stuck to my door have been torn down. They served a purpose, but it seemed about time to lose them.
Ironman peak training is a very unsociable period, so I also made a little bit of time to go out and meet some of the adoring public that I’ve met through blogs or Twitter – social media bringing people together, how’s that. Joanna Barlow has recently signed up to run Brighton Marathon next year and is blogging again, and her recently buying a bike/swimsuit was definitely nothing to do with my influence. I also stopped in Richmond Park post-being a part of the problem to catch up with Sean Mackin and definitely did not abduct him, nor did I entertain the thought (skinny triathlete vs ex-army, wouldn’t end well).
And then, suddenly, it was time. A quick emotional goodbye to Agro, who’s travelling separately, and I was bundled into the back of a car with Mum and James to take the world’s most eerily empty channel tunnel train across to the continent. Many kilometres (that’s what they use over here, don’tcha know) of motorways ensued before we ended up in Bremen for the night, where I’m now sat at a desk in a hotel room tapping this out, trying desperately to feel like I didn’t leave my heart with the most stunning service station attendant at an unassuming roadside stop somewhere in Belgium. We also went through Amsterdam but I was asleep for that. Because I’m an athlete, which means that long car journeys only involve waking up for long enough to eat anything that strays within arm’s reach. I like being an athlete.
Combining long hours of tedious roads with a very pensive mindset led me to spend much of the day – or even the last week – reflecting on what I’ve learnt over the course of the year I’ve spent preparing for this one event. What I’ve discovered about myself, how I’ve developed, other sentimental guff like that. I was planning to make that the theme of this post, but it’d be dragging on for so long you wouldn’t have finished reading this before I do the Ironman, so instead I’ve decided to split it into a series of posts over the next few days leading up to Ironman Kalmar (and because it’ll give me something to do in the car, I’m not convinced by this new Lisbeth Salander book yet). This is wifi dependant, obviously, but we’re in the modern age so I can’t see it being a problem. Prepare for a lot more words over the next few days as my nerves flare up and I unleash them on the poor unwitting public (you) in a torrent of word-vomit. Nice to have something to look forward to, isn’t it?
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!