Fingers n Ears

Posted on August 1, 2016. Filed under: henley bridge to bridge, Uncategorized |

It’s never truly an event unless there is a major calamity within a few weeks of it. And you’re never sure you are truly ready until you have at least had a couple of calamities.

My preparation for the Thames Marathon had been going well. I had actually been swimming. In water. Even in open water. Drafting, racing, coaching with great friends and, in my own small way, recovering some of my love of swimming.

In fact between preparing for the Thames and for Berlin I had actually reached, and possibly surpassed, the Ironman training levels of aches and pains.

So, as I approached peak training volume I already had that feeling that calamity was galloping towards me from just over the horizon. And then she arrived, all guns blazing, reducing me to a whiny wimp in a single incident.

Waking up to head to Bolton to lead the a crack team of sherpas at Ironman UK, I had the distinct feeling that a lead footed, clod hopper had been dancing on the side of my face. Taking my standard approach to all things aural I rammed a cotton bud in my ear which might as well have been a 3 foot, metal kebab skewer. My face, ear, head and other indistinct points of my body exploded in a burning, fiery hell of excruciating pain.

Shite. Ear infection.

The first stop en route to Bolton was the pharmacy about 2 minutes from the house.

“Have you got anything for sore ears that works really, really fast?”

“It’ll sort itself out. Try this for the gunk”. (The pharmacist may not have said gunk. But gunk it was)

As I was halfway out the door…….”Can I swim?”

“Indoors but I wouldn’t recommend outdoors”



“I’m swimming 14k down the Thames in a fortnight”

“OK. Listen, there is only one option left for you to prepare for that”

Expectantly: “What’s that?”

“Find the filthiest, smelliest toilet that you can find and stick your head in it to acclimatise”


Anyway. Bolton was a kind of muted affair for me. Literally, I was functioning on about half an ear. I was probably also talking very loudly like the Major from Fawlty Towers.

Topped up with millions of milligrams of vitamin C and with a steady flow of greasy ear drops running down my neck I saw Lottie and Roar in for Ironkids and then Andrew and Andy in for the main event.

I pretty much lost my voice. My hearing. And my sanity in a flurry of bike course calculations.

As ever, Bolton threw a magnificent event and, as ever, there appeared to be a release of tear gas as the finishers started rolling in. As I say to everyone, go and watch an Ironman at least once in your life.

So after a weekend of not training it was time to get back. And I literally bought every kind of ear plug that existed before settling on wax balls. And now, with the world completely shut out, I settled into double swim days hitting up to 7k in a day. Sometimes pool in the morning and loch at night, swimming hard, yet still enjoying spells gasping in “the shallow end” with the sun on my face in the most pleasant conditions.

And this went well until last week when my fingers stopped working. I was basically suffering alien hand syndrome. I couldn’t even have the satisfaction of picking my own nose.

But it was cool because I could still swim.

And then it got worse. Basically when I reached the point that I couldn’t sleep more than 20 minutes without waking in agony. I phoned the fizz for an appointment. Helpfully for him, I also self diagnosed – I have a trapped nerve and a 14k swim a week away. HELP.

After a weekend of jogging with my arm flapping about like a whole, numb, parma ham and swims followed by muscular convulsions in my chest and my tricep I was definitely ready to see the physio this morning.

Diagnosis? My traps, rhomboids, pecs and first rib are all so gnarled that they are sitting heavily on the root of a nerve. Making my hand numb and my arm spasmic.

Prognosis? Some needles whacked into me, strapped up like Tutankhamun and some massage with a pneumatic drill today and Wednesday mean that I will be fit as a fiddle by Sunday. Go figure.

And then it will be time to swim. In shit. But anyway.

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4 Responses to “Fingers n Ears”

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Can’t recommend regular expensive and painful sports massages enough!

Liked by 1 person

You definitely don’t do things by halves, do you? Maybe the Thames water will cure you. Two negatives making a positive, or something like that. Good luck!

Liked by 1 person

sorry – P.S best of all that with the swim👍🏼


Always feel I am relatively ‘well’ when I read your blogs Dougie. Hope all else is good with you Pamela & Rory ! Keep em coming.


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