A new year, a new chapter

Posted on May 30, 2012. Filed under: escape from alcatraz, Half ironman, Half marathon, ironman, man flu, regensburg, run, triathlon, virgin london marathon, vlm |

It feels like time to dust down the blog again.  It will give me a chance to do some good and it will give you the chance to smile while I break my body and suffer a little more discomfort.

Like me, the blog has been resting since last year and as I resuscitated it this week two things came to light.  First of all my url of ironman39 is a bit “last year” these days but apparently ironman40 is taken so I will have to come to terms with my age being frozen in time in cyber space.  And secondly, the blog has had on average 10 hits a day even though it has had no updates.  I became horribly alarmed, and terribly self conscious, when I realised that most hits came from google searches for “bulging speedos”.  Had my blog been infiltrated and hacked by some devious porn barons?  No, it all became clear that my review of the Ironman Regensburg swim “The Swim – Froth, Speedos And Bulging Eyeballs” was the source of the attraction.  But it is fair to say that the goolie googlers have let me feeling a little grubby.

Since Ironman Regensburg I have been considerably more effective talking about my historic achievements rather than doing anything.  I’m like a second division footballer turned pub bore who can talk his way through all 14 hours and 58 minutes of Ironman pain and 30 weeks of preparation.  However, after Xmas I thought to myself I should probably stop talking about it and get out for a trot given that I have a marathon to run.  That seemed like loads of time to train, ride any bumps in the road with the weather and injuries and still put in a decent show in London.

And then I got man flu.  Seriously, it started as man flu but then after three trips to the docs (I know! At my docs it would normally take two years to squeeze in three visits with their waiting times) it was diagnosed as a respiratory tract infection – oh yes, it was a proper illness.  So, me and my proper illness spent 5 weeks convalescing eating Yorkies and watching the telly and talking some more about being an Ironman until I felt good enough to run.  Getting back out running was fantastic, fresh air, the dull ache of tired muscles.  Bliss.

Symmetrical Bandaging

And then I got blisters!  I should be able to laugh in the face of a blister – after all I frequently say that you can’t stress a man who has run 4 hours knowing that his toenails are falling off but this was different.  Now the theory goes that my immune system was compromised because of my proper illness but quite quickly I went from having blisters to having elephant toes.  However, I ran on.  Then, as normal, a few weeks before a marathon I went to see a chiropodist to get my feet race prepared (or as my training partner would far less kindly say – get a pedicure).  As I was taking my socks off I warned her that my toes looked a wee bit alarming but not to stress because I could still run fine.  Her response of “you know its not good to have pus seeping out of your toes, right?” did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  In fact, I think she was just downright rude to then put a mask and rubber gloves on!

Anyway, we started an old school negotiation – “you wouldn’t stop running if I told you to would you”, “mmmmmm”, “OK, do you think you could keep you’re toes dry for 3 days?”, “mmmmmm, I could try”, “right, lets try something pragmatic then”.  And so the next hour went on where she asked me questions that she already knew the answer to until we settled on a topic I was more comfortable with “what would you really want at the end of a marathon?”.  Without hesitation “beer and pizza!”.  Der, obviously!

So, after almost nearly keeping my toes dry for three days while I tried not to run too much, the pus stopped seeping.  Several weeks later my pinkies are still a different colour from my other toes.  They look like they have been strangled…….but at least they are not sore.

Even the dancing shoes were bled on!

On the fourth day after the pedicure I was getting on my turbo trainer in the garage when I slipped.  To be absolutely crystal clear on the degree of stupidity involved in this, a turbo trainer is my bike, securely fastened to a stationery roller that will not move under any circumstances.  It’s like falling out of a car seat…….with your seatbelt still on!  Now, when I say I slipped – I’m not actually sure of the exact dynamics or chronology of the tumble but my later crime scene investigation suggests that my shin made contact at high speed with the teeth of the chain ring.  I’m a big boy but I am prepared to admit it nipped and I may have uttered the eff word, however, what I wasn’t prepared for was the blood.   Describing it as a gushing torrent would be like describing Niagra Falls as a trickle.  I hobbled to the kitchen leaving a trail of gore and used most of a roll of kitchen paper to stem the flow but it just wouldn’t stop.  After 10mins I thought I might have to go to work without biking so I hit the first aid box and kept applying plasters until it stopped bleeding.  And then I got on the bike and rode for an hour.  It was sore, I was bruised and eight weeks later I still have a hole in my shin.  OK, maybe the photos don’t look that dramatic.  But it was proper sore.

Avert your eyes if squeamish

Just to to top things off, after managing my longest run of 13miles, while on a plane back from London I felt the familiar rasp, then the nose run.  The man flu was back!

And then on the Thursday before London I went for a lovely run along the canal for 13 miles with Shakey.  The next morning I woke up and wee Roar clearly wasn’t at his best.  I guess with hindsight the projectile vomiting was probably the giveaway but I seemed to be more focussed on his pink cheeks. Inevitably, two days later I fulfilled the olympic ideals of further, faster, stronger in the new event of barfing and remained nil by mouth (with the wonderful exception of chicken noodle soup) until the Thursday before the marathon.  As anyone who knows even a little bit about marathons knows that this is carb loading time my preparation couldn’t have been more imperfect.  My target was that if I couldn’t eat a meal on the Thursday I would withdraw.

There is a lot more to follow in the coming weeks as I tell you how I fared in London and a bit more about my “Escape”.   Which I guess I haven’t mentioned!  In January I discovered in that, against the odds, in the second ballot for international “athletes” I had been accepted to Escape from Alcatraz.  So with that and some other open water swims coming up there is a lot more to come and I will need all your support through the summer.

If  you want to get notified of updates to the Blog you will need to put your email address in the “Don’t be shy, subscribe” box on the right hand side of the page.  However, in the meantime let me introduce you to the charity that I am raising money for this year.  Just before Christmas I was involved in a charity “Jailbreak” for the Make a Wish Foundation organised by a very dedicated colleague and I am exceptionally proud that we raised £17000 in just a few days and granted some wonderful wishes.

Let me tell you a bit more about the charity…….the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK is a charity with a single purpose – to grant magical wishes to children and young people aged 3-17 fighting life-threatening conditions.  Make-A-Wish has granted more than 7,500 magical wishes over 25 years. The wishes transform lives!  This year alone 1,400 children will ask to have their special wish granted. And they want to grant a wish to every one of these.

For many families the Make-A-Wish memory can be the last happy memory they have of their child having fun in a magical world, surrounded by family and friends – rather than memories of days and weeks of painful treatments and hospitalisation. The memory of the wish may be of their child laughing and enjoying being a princess or zoo keeper for the day or meeting a favourite celebrity. In years to come, the family can look back and remember that special time.

It’s important, it makes a difference and you can help me.  Please give as generously as you can.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!



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3 Responses to “A new year, a new chapter”

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Phew…you are still with us…if only just by the sounds of it. I did ping you an email a few weeks ago re London, but I guess you were probably up to your neck…in something! Look forward to the updates, will of course pledge to the great cause & hope we can squeeze in a mid year catch up post ‘escape’…good luck bud.


The little sticky plaster on the floor highlights the size of your life threatening gash!




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