Thank you, speedy Sarah Swaney. This is your day. Your turn to have your name in lights, at the top of the page on one of the last editions of the net’s most drawn out blog. Savour this moment more than any medal you have, you’ve earned it.
There needs to be a word for that feeling when your eyes are seeing something, but your brain is running five seconds late and hasn’t caught up yet. If there’s already a word for it, then I need to know what it is. It’s not disbelief, because disbelief would be the dots don’t join up. This is more like when you’re still trying to work out if they join up or not, and you’re getting all the conflicting signals.
Sat outside a cafe at lunchtime, finishing the last proper meal I’ll eat before Ironman Kalmar tomorrow (tonight’s rice cake fare hardly counts). A group of people approach the table, grinning at me. My brain is confused, and thinks I’ve committed some hilarious Swedish culinary faux pas. My eyes are trying to tell my brain that it recognises these eerily familiar faces, but my brain’s not quite on the same page yet. My mouth takes control in a very uncouth manner: “The fuck?”
A lot of people have said that the Ironman, this blog, what I’ve done over the last couple of years have inspired them. I am terrible at taking praise. I will forever be terrible at taking praise. But there’s something about five Goodgymmers – Beth, Jay, PB, Pritesh and Steff – turning up while you’re eating your lunch in a foreign country that makes it pretty undeniable that people are impressed. That, or they really fancied a trip to Sweden. It’s a lovely place to be fair.
What a bunch of fucking heroes.
As I’m sat here, chilling in my underwear before I get to bed super early (equivalent of 7pm GMT) to try and maybe grab an hour’s of uninterrupted sleep before my super early start tomorrow (equivalent of 3am GMT), it seems like an appropriate time to do the roll of thanks. I have a lot of people to be grateful for, or grateful too. Tomorrow is the big day, yeah, but that just means tonight is the end of the process. Shut up. I’m doing it anyway.
Obvious ones first. Thank you Beth, Jay, PB, Pritesh and Steff. It’s incredible to see you here. Can’t wait to hear you on the course tomorrow – show them crazy Swedes how to cheer!
Thank you to my Mum and my Brother James, who have chauffeured me here over a period of days while I ate all of their snacks. Your support has been/will be invaluable. Thank you in advance for getting up early tomorrow so I can dick about with my track pump and go do this IronThingy. They were in on the Goodgym surprise. I was not.
Thanks to the rest of my family, Dad, other brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, assorted rabble and other hangers-on for your support and encouragement throughout this process.
Obviously, thank you to the Maytree for doing that thing you do. It is truly amazing that it takes a charity to offer this kind of service. Your empathy and tireless work is incredible. Thanks for life.
Thank you to Michael, for being what a therapist ought to be, and for setting up the Maytree. I’m doing much better, thanks.
Thank you very much Coach Dan for whipping me into shape, putting up with my frustrated tantrums, lending me a turbo, and being a measured voice in my highly strung moments (I do have them, I’m not Buddha). All the best in the new house, and congratulations again to you and Mel on the birth of lil’ Tallulah. If I get a good time tomorrow, it will be largely down to you. If I get a shit time I probably crashed again and can’t swim for the next month, can we adjust the plan? Thanks.
Also thanks to Coach Tim and Coach Andrew for getting my swimming to a functional level – also the bike lessons, Coach Tim. Cadence – turns out it’s pretty important. Who knew.
Thank you to Goodgym (Lambeth Goodgym is best Goodgym) for providing perspective on the athletics shit and for being a crazy fun bunch of people. Thank you to people who turned up the the sessions I ran. Let’s do circuits again sometime. Thank you dearly departed (not dead, just on vacation) Coach Rebecca for your sage and sweary advice, and for getting me running in a sensible way.
Thank you especially to Alex Tylor, the friendliest and liveliest person you’ll ever meet. Without meeting Alex at Goodgym I would not have joined…
Thank you to the Clapham Chasers, you bunch of endurance fruitcakes. One could not wish for a better introduction to the world of triathlon than with this talented lot who taught me the ropes (and more besides). Cheers for putting up with my overly long pre-race briefings. Brush your teeth.
Thank you to Alys and Jenny who run the beginner triathlon program for the Chasers, where this one cut his teeth, and to Naomi Gaylor for encouraging me to push on to more stupid events. I would not have progressed nearly as quickly as I did without these people pushing me to do so.
Thank you to Emma, my best buddy, the Tigger to my Eeyore. Your constant forward motion in the face of the world’s woes is inspiring. You getting to Chicago in your first year made me want to go achieve great things. Don’t change. First round is on you.
Thank you John Warton. I know it was you.
Thank you to the Internet fan club, the Joanna Barlows and Sean Mackins of the world, for your digital/recently analogue support.
Thank you Wendy, because you we the first real person I ever felt okay to tell about the depression thing, and you’re an amazing soul. See you for the big day in September. I can’t drink like I used to.
Thank you Jak, Jesse, Mark, Matt and Si for helping me rinse my wallet over three hilarious years in Sheffield. We’ll still never find out where I go when I get kicked out of Corp.
Thank you to the person who made me realise that’s it’s okay to be a bit fucked up.
Thank you to the person who got me writing again.
Thank you to you for reading this.
This list is not comprehensive. I’m in race mind, don’t blame me.
Here’s some links to follow me tomorrow. The race kicks off at 6am GMT for the age groupers (ie me), so hopefully you’ll have updates from about 8am onwards.
Bedtime. Ta-ta now.
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!