Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Posted on June 22, 2014. Filed under: Austria, brain training, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman tips, Klagenfurt, motivation, new ironman tips |

Whether Neville, Dennis and Oz took the DFDS ferry from North Shields to Ijmuiden en route to Dusseldorf is lost to the mists of time and a fading memory.  But, as I chugged on my first beer in 35 days, I was definitely humming Living Alright as we effortlessly glided down the Tyne and into the North Sea.


I’ve been quiet.  It surprises some people, but it’s not that unusual for me. Although far from an introvert,  I am an introverted thinker and the closer to an event I get, the greater need I have to sort stuff out in my own head.  I don’t need affirmation from others that I’m doing well – not because I am arrogant or ungrateful – but mainly because it embarrasses me and makes me feel awkward.  Well meaning support is wonderful to receive; but training data that corroborates my intuition is a more powerful motivator for me. I need to have a confidence in myself that comes from quiet introspection.

A bit deep for me on a Saturday evening on a ferry to Europe?  Maybe.  Nah, not really.  Just a preamble to what I worked out while I was thinking.

I have let my 13 hour goal go.  “WHAT?”, you exclaim, “choker, quitter, underachiever, surrenderer, DEFEATIST”.   Again, not really.  My goal is still to achieve 13 hours or faster but the purpose and the benefit of the goal has passed now.   I needed that goal to focus a year of training,  to provide my north star from the day I signed up for Ironman Austria.  I needed that goal to get up at the crack of dawn, to suffer on freezing cold nights in the garage, hell – I needed that goal to force me to wear lycra in public.   But I don’t,  definitely don’t, need it to get me round the Ironman course as fast as I can.

Contrary to popular stereotypes I am not a tight Scotsman and this is no declaration that I am aiming to get my money’s worth from the Ironman by loitering out on the course, munching gels, for 17 hours.  I am still going out there to finish as quickly as possible but with the caveat that I enjoy the day.

I have a year’s preparation in the bag.  The cake is cooked.   The only thing that is left within my control is race day execution.  The only thing that can derail my race day execution is being dumb.  The main reason I would be dumb is over-attachment to an objective. I know in myself that I can be unhealthily competitive – that served me well when all I had to do was sprint 50 metres of freestyle or butterfly – it gave me an edge to win.  In an event that lasts longer than the average working day it is my fast track access ticket to the med tent (and I picked several of these dribbling, hallucinating alpha uber athlete folks up off the floor in Regensburg).  I need to focus on cool, steady progress until at least 20k into the run and, by then, the die will be cast and my brain can go totally primal, batshit crazy and swing from the trees like a baboon.  But until then it needs to be controlled and measured.


My relationship to sport has changed over the years.   I have bucketloads of medals, trophies and national jerseys to prove the early years and, in the past, nothing would have turned me on quite like a sub 10 hour Ironman and a Kona slot. But, in my 30s I set a course that was heading speedily to an indolent and corpulent, premature checkout.

I have vices, mainly beer and burgers – like a Scottish Elvis, and I discovered that if I ran I could get away with my vices.  But crucially, I needed focus.  Therefore, I see it like this – I love to live life, training allows me to live life to the full, and Ironman provides the focus and desire to train.  People often comment that I smile the whole way round an event and always chat to and thank the volunteers.  Enjoying the event is crucial to me because that is the catalyst in a whole virtuous circle that keeps me fit, healthy and strong.  It’s just a hobby I love.  It took me a long time to realise what sporting success looks like for me as I get older and mellower; but it sits very comfortably with me now.

But the main reason I can be so at peace with letting the 13 hour goal go easily is the most important one.  I am a role model to someone very important.  I have a curious little three year old who watches and emulates my every move.  If I smile when I compete, he will too.  He knows about the hard work – he has seen me suffer in the turbo in the garage in deep mid winter, but I want him to see sport as fun.  If I go full chimp and chase a time that is slipping through my fingers then that little boy gets to see daddy on a drip with his eyes rolling about in his head and his tongue hanging out.  And that’s just not being a positive role model.  When he does Ironkids at Bolton in a few weeks I would love to see him do it with humility and grace, grinning like a loon and enjoy himself to the max, following the example his daddy sets.


I’ve done the training,  I know how to execute the race, I’ve hit all the distance and pace milestones in practice.  I just need to do that once more and stay smart. It might not be the most exciting race strategy but it is smart, safe and proven.  And that is all I really want from Ironman.

7 days to go.  My arse cheeks are now in a permanent state of clench.


 Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Bike

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond the Finish Line


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4 Responses to “Auf Wiedersehen Pet”

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Nice one! Good luck & enjoy Dougie!


Thanks Steve. Remember if the tracker freezes at 139.9miles it is ok to go to bed. I can crawl that last bit, unconscious if I need to!


I wonder how old Junior IP will be before he decides to do his first Ironman? Great Blog. Enjoy the beers, you’ve absolutely earned them! X


Good blog mate. You don’t need any encouragement, the training numbers are there in front of you. Go get that medal👍👍


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