Week 33 – get on the good foot

A rare weekly update this one, only because I fancy a moan….My last blog ended with a whine about my hurty heel and vague promises to visit the doctor. For once, I actually bothered to follow my own advice and, after the briefest of consultations, ended up with a referral to see a foot doctor, chiropractor and sports injury specialist all rolled into one. In fact the same person I spoke to 4 years ago when injury forced me out of my first attempt to train for a marathon. Good job I’m not one for omens.

I happened to casually mention this to my training chums who offered wildly differing reactions. Ben dismissed the clinic I was headed to as a hotbed of ‘pseudo-science and witchdoctory’ which immediately set my mind at ease, whereas Darryl’s sound advice was to walk in, explain in no uncertain terms that I was doing the ironman no matter what and ask how they can help me.

Deftly ignoring both of them, I decided that, if they could offer a way to fix my left foot, then I’d go with an open mind and hope for

My left foot - something's not quite right.

My left foot – something’s not quite right.

the best. In the interests of cutting a boring story short, I was diagnosed with a form of plantar fasciitis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRpeiRLPUDw), caused by my absurdly high arches creating a lot of tension in my calf muscles, which then become so tight they pull on the something medical that attaches my plantar fascia (the thick tissue that supports the arch – thank you wiki) to something foot related, creating inflammation and pain. The treatment was ten days off running and a set of custom inserts for my running shoes. Despite Wayne’s insistence that I was having a Forrest Gump style leg brace fitted, I was considerably more downcast by the prospect of having to make my running hours up on the bike than I was by the thought of embracing a life in correctional footwear.

Wayne - currently unable to look right.

Wayne – currently unable to look right.

Besides, I could have been worse off. Accompanying me to the chiropractor was king idiot himself – he’s done something to his neck which prevents him from looking right. Wayne’s been walking around work as if he’s been fitted with an invisible neck brace, shuffling along in an unconvincing impression of Ram-Man, partially paralysed sidekick to everyone’s favourite Master of the Universe. It also means he’s unable to swim or bike, which has provided me with my only light relief in an otherwise turgid week.
Writing this on the way to collect the aforementioned orthopaedic offerings, it’s currently been 8 days off my last run and I’m sick of

All bridge and no running makes fatdan increasingly miserable.

All bridge and no running makes fatdan increasingly miserable.

the sight of the bike (and considerably more sore in a range of inconvenient places). Dragging myself up and over the Phu My Bridge three times a week has lost its appeal and I’m keen to get running. That said, it is currently scorching and, having just watched Wayne and Ben suffering out on the road in the 34 degree afternoon temperatures, I’m content to obey doctor’s orders for now.

Training totals for the week:

Swim:   Plan – 3hrs        Actual – 3hrs

Bike:     Plan – 5hr30      Actual – 8hr30

Run:     Plan – 3hr45      Actual – 1hr

Successful job applications: 0

Fatdan award for (bedroom) athletic endeavour – week ending 24/02/2013

Smiley Em and Badly Dressed Phil – an enthusiastic, yet hideously attired, addition to the peloton is on it’s way. Jolly good news, well done.


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Weeks 31 and 32 – joke on the water

Swimming is usually the discipline that is loathed by amateur triathletes, regarded as something to be endured rather than enjoyed, but not by me. When I was little I used to really enjoy swimming. Summers spent in the Grandparent’s pool and holidays by the seaside mean that I was at ease in the water. I was the proud owner of a mile badge by the time I was 11 and had collected an intriguingly titled ASA ‘Ultimate Swimmer’ award before my 12th birthday. As I got older and discovered the twin joys of beer and doing nothing, swimming became the only way I was able to prevent myself from slipping into a flab-filled hell hole. I found it easy and would regularly knock out 3 or 4 miles a week.

This all meant that, when it came to Ironman training, I should be at somewhat of an advantage – with my years of experience, the competitions I’ve completed and my love of swimming in open water I was all set up for a decent tilt at a good time for the 2.4 miles I’ll need to cover in Frankfurt. At least, I was until the other week when I was told in no uncertain terms that I was doing it ‘all wrong’.

Anyone that’s paid close attention to the training hours at the bottom of my blog (at last count that was about 4 of you) will be aware that I’m not always as strict with my time in the pool as I should be. Far too many weeks have gone by with a ‘0’ in the swim column, usually followed by a whiny excuse (‘ear infection’, ‘tan lines too embarrassing’, ‘inherent messiah complex means that water is easier to walk on than swim in’) and a resolve to try better next time. Besides, I was a decent swimmer and could afford to concentrate on improving my biking and worry about getting my feet wet after the holiday/post-xmas/nearer to the race. Or maybe not. A quick consultation with the calendar shows that the race can now be classed as ‘nearer’ – only 19 weeks to race day, only 16 weeks of proper training left. Bugger. Time to take things seriously.

The masters swim session at a local pool seemed like a no-brainer – specialised coaching for an hour per session, two mornings a week at the princely sum of 6 quid a time. Both myself and, a week later, Wayne signed up for a regular 6am fun-filled aquatic flogging (Ben and Darryl dipped out on the grounds that, as secondary school teachers, they were too busy before work. I’m not sure what they think us primary teachers do with our days, but I can assure them that we’re equally as tied up of a morning– that Lego isn’t going to organise itself.).

It took all of three lengths of session one before the coach was forced to stop me and, talking as though explaining advanced astrophysics to a particularly stupid dog, point out exactly why I couldn’t swim. My reach wasn’t long enough, my pull was short, my hands weren’t catching the water properly, and my elbows weren’t high enough. It all meant that I was expending too much leg energy which, in the

fatdan helps Wayne out during maters swim class.

fatdan helps Wayne out during maters swim class.

grand scheme of things, would leave me buggered for the bike and run. Fortunately, these issues could be corrected by some fairly simple drills (though not simple enough that Wayne was able to master them – it would have been quicker for him to let the pool evaporate and complete the laps on foot. He was struggling so badly that at one point I thought I’d have to bust out my rescue diver training.) which is what I’ve done. My elbows, pull, catch, reach and everything else that gets wet is now improving, and I can also now breathe bilaterally for the first time in my life.

The amount of energy I use to cover a set distance is now far less than it used to be, though sadly it seems to have come at the expense of speed – a greater emphasis on pulling rather than kicking may save my legs but it makes my pathetically weak upper body work harder than it has done in a long time. At times, it feels like I’m swimming backwards but at least it’s easy. I’m hoping that regular practise over the remaining 4 and a bit months will see my times increase and leave my raring to go come race day….


Good things that have happened since my last blog (in no particular order):

Keeping my training up over a week’s holiday with friends – I may not be any fitter, but I’m hopefully no fatter.

Getting into the Ride London event in August – 100 miles through London and Surrey just 4 weeks after the Ironman, made even better by the fact Wayne and Ben also got in. Perfect excuse to buy a new bike.

Booked my flights  from Vietnam to the UK and from Birmingham to Frankfurt for the race. Actually feels like it might be happening.

Darryl getting back in the groove – his wrecked vertebrae threatened to put him out of the race and made him bloody miserable for a week but, unlike the Pope, he’s not one to let a sticky patch (or a hushed up sex scandal) force him out. He’s back. Hooray.

Bad things that have happened since my last blog (in no particular order):

Something is seriously wrong with my left heel – it keeps hurting on any run longer than 30mins and generally tingles and twinges all day. I’m paranoid about injury at the best of times, but this one really feels like it could develop into a bad one. Self-diagnosed as Achilles trouble or plantar fasciitis or some form of tendinitis or a rare ligament wasting disease unknown to Western medical science. Doctors tomorrow. Probably.

A ridiculous inability to shift any weight – I’m knocking around 10 hours training a week. Why am I still fat?

My fiancée’s decision to surprise me on Valentines Day by affecting a South African accent and hiding in the bathroom – scared the life out of me.

Application's in the post. YES!

Application’s in the post. YES!

Still no job for next year – not technically  training related but certainly goes some way to explaining why I’ve not updated this blog in a while. Head of the Catholic Church is up for grabs – fatdanvatican anyone?




Training totals since the last blog:

Week 31 (a recovery week this one after the biking extravaganza outlined in the last blog):

Swim – plan: 2hours       actual: 1hour

Bike – plan: 4hours          actual: 4 hours

Run – plan: 3hours30      actual: 1hour

Week 32:

Swim – plan: 2hours       actual: 0hours (shoulder injury…)

Bike – plan: 5hours          actual: 7hours

Run – plan: 4hours          actual: 3hours

 Fatdanironman award for being hard as nails – week ending 17.02.2013

Organised Claire (again) – tough challenge this one, but we know you’ve got the sheer bloody-mindedness to see it through.


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Weeks 28 – 30 Straight into darkness

*** I’ve spent an hour messing around with the formatting of this and it’s still rubbish. I’ve given up.***

The crank arms for the pedals on my bike are around 170mm long. My pedals, therefore, operate in a fixed radius of around 340mm. This should make locating them an incredibly simple affair and would leave anyone unable to complete such a straightforward task open to ridicule and a weekend of bullying. It’s ok though, I’m over it now.

The weekend sounded like an absurd one when BenT first suggested it – 270km, the back way through the mountains from Hue to Danang. Split over two days. On bikes, without drugs. It was a ride that Phil (badly dressed) and Em (smiley) had done some months before and we were assured that not only was it possible, but it might also be enjoyable. I think it speaks volumes for the sort of company I keep that most of the idiots I train with felt it was a marvellous plan and happily signed up.

It was only after I’d forked out the cash for the flights that Phil mentioned that, due to the massive amounts of climbing on terrible road surfaces involved, it’s not the sort of ride you’d want to do on anything other than a road bike. Being the owner of a shiny carbon time trial steed, I opted to ignore this advice and hope for the best (not easily done when you’ve got Damo whining continually about the potential trauma involved in taking his Planet X up into the mountains). Luckily, our minds were put at ease over performance enhancing beers during the wait for our delayed flight up to Hue on the Friday evening, with Darryl and Wayne going out of their way to point out the massive hills on the handy laminated maps that had been provided (this enforced drinking binge also bought with it some other interesting revelations – Wayne’s obsession with hay barns and former colleagues being the most jaw-dropping).

Day one got off to a relaxed start – Phil, the self-styled expert on the trip, insisted that we had plenty of time for breakfast and we didn’t need to be on the road until mid-morning (Remember this, it may explain event s later on). Plenty of time to bid farewell to an injured Darryl – off to explore the real

fatdanironman tops - a proper bunch of cyclists. And Phil.

fatdanironman tops – a proper bunch of cyclists. And Phil.

Vietnam on his own – and pose for pictures in our magnificent fatdanironman bike tops (a very late birthday present, but one gratefully received – for the first time we actually looked like a bunch of serious cyclists. Apart from miserable Phil – he requested a sponsorship free top in protest at having his wardrobe roundly mocked by everyone on the internet).  The cycling was, for want of a better word, brutal. The first day saw us tackle 146km, with around 4,000m of climbing, spread over 3 massive hills that led up to and then followed the Ho Chi Minh Trail along the Vietnam-Laos border. The first two were bad enough, but the third, a horrible 10km or so was so bad it left our weaker riders spread out on the floor, weeping quietly to themselves (the picture shows this very clearly, with the group’s strongest – and fattest – rider stood up at the back, full of athletic intent). The final climb

Hills - good for separating men from boys.

Hills – good for separating men from boys.

also pushed Ben over the fragile mental precipice he had constructed for himself – his arrival at the top saw him throw his bike down in a childish temper tantrum before unleashing a volley of abuse at the hapless tour guide Phil. Not that Phil was entirely blameless – he had described the final climb as ‘not that long’, an outright lie supported by Stewart’s flawed pre-ride assessment of it being a painful, but manageable ‘5km’. It was only after regrouping at the top that we realised that we had a rather large problem looming – thanks largely to Phil’s absurdly relaxed start time, we only had around 30mins of daylight left and around 35km to cover , most of it downhill on roads that were potholed but lacking any form of street lighting. Splendid. We got as far as we could in the growing darkness before things started to get perilous. At this point, rather than stopping and establishing a plan B, we decided to fall into formation behind the only person with a bike light and crawl along like toddlers out on their first trikes. Not only was this entirely unsafe (you know when you’re on dodgy ground when Simple Wayne claims that this is ‘easily the most reckless thing I’ve done’), but it also meant our progress was painfully slow – around 8kmph, plus frequent stops to regroup/find pedals/not get run over.  Finally, thankfully, it got too dark to see

Too dark to continue - finally calling it quits, 15km short.

Too dark to continue – finally calling it quits, 15km short.

even silhouettes and we were forced to stop 15km short, on a hillside in the middle of nowhere and hitch a ride in the back of a truck. Despite the ignominy of a first day DNF, we weren’t all that bothered as A) we were all shattered B) it meant we weren’t going to die and C) it was all Phil’s fault anyway. Day two, from the cultural hotspot of Prao to the airport in Danang was much nicer – an 80km that consisted of a lot of downhill and the promise of decent food ensured that the misery was kept to a minimum. My only complaint would be the shocking state of the roads – while the boys on the road bikes could fly downhill faster than the speed of sound (117kmph was clocked by a clearly faulty Garmin), those of us on the time trial bikes clung desperately to our bars as we hit every bump, pothole and

Phil may have mentioned something about terrible road surfaces. I didn't listen.

Phil may have mentioned something about terrible road surfaces. I didn’t listen.

stray dog on the way. My hands are currently blistered and my bike’s currently in the shop – I’ll be amazed if nothing’s broken on it. More expense. Hooray. The trip finished with a

Post-race nutrition, Mmm.

Post-race nutrition, Mmm.

gluttonous stop off at a pizza parlour (two pizzas and chips each please. And more beer.), before flying back to Saigon and bed. Overall, despite Ben’s Tourette’s, Phil’s poor timings and outright lies, and climbing 5 times the height of Snowdon, it was a splendid trip – a great combination of training and sightseeing and much better than hanging out in Hoi An with Darryl criticising backpackers. The data (courtesy of Damo’s GPS):Day 1 – 146.7km covered, 5,326 elevation, 6hrs 55mins of cycling, 6,213 calories burnedDay 2 – 78.7km covered, 836 elevation, 3hrs 06mins of cycling, 1,986 calories burned

Training totals for the three weeks since my last post:

Week 28 –           Swim     Plan: 2 hours      Actual: 1 hour

Bike       Plan: 4 hours      Actual: 5 hours

Run        Plan: 3 hours      Actual: 3 hours

Week 29 –            Swim     Plan: 2 hours      Actual: 1 hour

Bike       Plan: 4 hours      Actual: 5 hours

Run        Plan: 3 hrs 30      Actual: 3 hrs 30

Week 30 –            Swim     Plan: 2 hours      Actual: 1 hour

Bike       Plan: 4 hours      Actual: 10 hours

Run        Plan: 3 hours      Actual: 1 hour

Stupid training things I have done this week:

# 6 in an occasional series

A (fat)man in girls clothing.

A (fat)man in girls clothing.

Reckless jumper shopping – our overnight in Prao was chilly. I went to the shop next door and bought a jumper for about 5gbp. Turns out it was a girl’s jumper which only served to highlight my paunch. I left it behind. It kept my arms warm though.# 7 in an occasional series

Hurt my shoulder drawing bar graphs with my class of Year Two kids. Maybe linked to the weekend’s exploits, maybe not – they were pretty big bars. Either way, it’s prevented me from training and made me sulky.


Filed under Cycling in Saigon / HCMC, Review, Training

Weeks 26 and 27 – Fit for a fortnight

Darryl, wise, venerable Darryl has noticed a direct correlation between ironman competitors who have a tendency towards blogging and the disappointing finishing times that they clock up. With that in mind, and with absolutely nothing to do with the fact I’ve been massively preoccupied over the past two weeks, I’ve decided to give fortnightly updates a blast. And even then this is still late, still I’m in the lucky position of no-one caring. Phew.

The past fourteen days have been a heady mix of steady training, a return to work, and 9pm bedtimes. I’m not sure about how it’ll read, but I’m pretty flipping excited by the prospect of writing about it – like a sporting version of a dinner date with Charlie Sheen.

Possibly the most exciting thing has been the commencement of an actual, structured training plan, just like the proper athletes have. The previous five months have been about putting myself in a position to be able to deal with the plan, and I’m delighted to report that the early weeks have been incident free. Apart from the small matter of a near mental breakdown on the bike.

The first few post-xmas sessions weren’t pretty – gasping for breath on a 12km run and struggling to keep up with Damo on an easy 75km ride didn’t do wonders for morale but I managed to get close to the required 8 hours and, these incidents aside, I felt week 27 didn’t go too badly. Until it came to the long ride on the Saturday.

I knew I was in trouble when my alarm went off at half five. This isn’t pleasant at the best of times, but when you’re facing the prospect of 120km off the back of a massive 2 hours of jet lag disrupted sleep, it’s positively horrible. To compound my misery, I knew that there was no hope of an easy session due to half of the group having shiny new Christmas bikes to show off and new year egos to wave all over the place. As it transpired, this was the least of my worries as I’d forgotten that we were being joined by Todd (The human equivalent of a coked-up Duracell bunny. Incapable of feeling pain and with a reckless disregard for other, fatter people called Dan who may happen to be part of the peloton). Todd likes to be the fastest person on the ride, which can be a problem as that’s traditionally Wayne’s job. And Ben’s. Luckily for all three, the issue was resolved this weekend by the appearance of Kristof – a man with a habit of winning triathlons in very fast times (and, slightly more bizarrely, chasing down motorbikes –http://tritwins.blogspot.com/2009/09/snatch-thief-vs-triathlete.html?m=1).

The results were predictable. The healing properties of the coca cola company enabled me to hang on for the first lap but, as the second loop started to creep towards 40kmph, I began to sulk. No sleep, no food and cycling with idiots makes fatdan a moody boy. It wasn’t long before I folded and made the humiliating journey home on my own. After the most painful solo 40km I can remember, I managed to crawl fully clothed into the bath and promptly fell asleep, waking only to devour a sandwich and chips thoughtfully provided by my good lady.

Not feeling great about myself, and with no real desire to socialise, that evening’s staff party was just what was needed to cheer me up. I was especially grateful to Ben (“pathetic”) and Darryl (“you had lots of excuses, none of them valid. You did the right thing, when the going got tough, you stopped”) for picking me up from a real low point.

Week 27’s been much better. I’ve managed to get over the 8hours 45 that I needed, including this morning’s ride with same crowd as last week, and still keep my job, which is nice. Only 168 days to go.

Training totals:

Week 26
Swim – plan: 2 hours          actual: 0 thanks to a reoccurring ear infection. Doctor’s advice was ‘stay away from water’. Should make Easter’s dive trip to Indonesia fun.
Bike – plan: 2 hours 30               actual: 5hours 30
Run – plan: 2 hours 30                actual: 2 hours

Week 27
Swim – Plan:2 hours           Actual: 0
Bike – Plan: 3 hours 45       Actual: 6 hours
Run – plan: 3 hours            Actual: 2hours 30

Stupid training things I have done this week:

# 6 in an occasional series:

Made the transformation from somebody with a (childish) sense of humour, to complete dullard. My back wheel has had it. I went to the local bike shop and had a twenty minute conversation with another male about a broken rear rim and didn’t once find it funny. Not a single snigger. What have I become? 

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Weeks 24 and 25 – Drunken Lazy B*stard

Christmas, in the words of the noted yet bashful social commentator shy Ken Stevens, is a time for parties and celebration. However, we all know that there’s more to Christmas than giving and, more importantly, receiving. It’s also the season of love and understanding and at this special time it’s important to remember those who see this part of the year as one of hardship and sacrifice. I’d like to ask you all to spare a thought for those who have been lacking in 2012 Xmas cheer – the poor, the oppressed, non-Christian religious fundamentalists and, most importantly, self-absorbed amateur athletes desperately trying to maintain a semblance of fitness. We’ve all got it tough this year and, while I can’t speak for everyone who isn’t feeling festive, I’m happy to give you a brief window into the depths of my Yuletide misery.

I left Vietnam a fortnight ago feeling fitter and healthier than I’ve ever done in my life. I was able to bike further and run faster and I could confidently fit into medium sized clothes without the need to suck in my rippling beer belly. A lot can happen in two weeks. I’m now lethargic, boozed up and live in a state of constant guilt every time I pass my running shoes in the hallway. It’s been a fairly dramatic transformation, but in true Ironman fashion, one that I’ve been relentless in my pursuit of. That’s not to say I’ve been able to make the change from fairly fit to fantastically fat all by myself – there are a number of factors that have been really helpful in allowing me to return to the familiar surrounds of square one.

And a merry Christmas to you too.

Britain – good for swim training.

First up is the magnificent British winter. While I appreciate that there are worse places in the world to spend a fortnight’s festive break (Syria, Jimmy Saville’s caravan) the constant cold, wet and darkness don’t make training easy. With the temperature under ten degrees and the rain lashing against the window, motivating myself to head out of the house has been a challenge. The few runs I’ve done have seen me wrapped up in more layers than a dead Pharaoh – tracksuit bottoms, long sleeved top, t-shirt, rain jacket, hi-viz vest and hat. And I’ve still been freezing. The upside to all of this has been the opportunity to run in the fresh air and through some fairly pretty countryside, which makes a welcome change from looping around the same neighbourhood, dodging motorbikes in HCMC. I’ve also enjoyed a bit of variety, mixing up longer runs with some short, fast hill sessions – which, given that Saigon is flatter than a Dutch pancake, have pretty much broken me.

Training inhibitor number two has been my Mum’s fridge. A combination of hosting a family Christmas and having all of her children returning home at the same time, has resulted in my mum emptying the shelves of the local Tesco directly into her fridge. By a happy coincidence, she seems to have bought all of the things that I really like eating which means that, whenever I venture into the kitchen, there’s always something delightful to scoff. Now, some would argue that the sensible thing to do would be to eat in moderation and spread the tasty treats out over the festive fortnight. In reality, I know if I don’t eat everything in sight, then my brothers will and I’ll miss out. So, it’s been with steely determination that I’ve been snacking every hour or so. In your face, siblings.

The final tinsel wrapped nail in my athletic coffin, the end of level boss in my Christmas exercise regime, has been my old enemy, alcohol. The little brother’s wedding – congratulations Ladies Shoe Drinking Tom, by the way -, a series of sessions with my mates and a desperate need to stop my hands shaking have seen me hit the Guinness with a vengeance. Dry-throated, head thumping hangovers and a warm bed have resulted in me missing more days training than is really sensible. Normally, after working all week that would make me feel guilty, but now that I essentially do nothing but watch TV, it’s made me feel terrible. The only way to drive the demons away has been to go drinking again. And eat more.

Still, at least I’m being true to the original fatdan. I return to Vietnam tomorrow and need to get back into the training habit fairly quickly (next week is the halfway mark) or this race isn’t going to be pretty.

***For anyone who hasn’t visited the fatdanironman playlist page, you really should – it’s worth it for this week’s video alone….Drunken Lazy Bastard***

Training totals:

Week 24:
Swim – 1 hour (back in the local pool, complete with thick layers of dirt on the bottom, rampant athlete’s foot lurking around every corner, and the all-pervading stench of cheap perfume following the painfully slow old ladies on their afternoon length and a half. All for the bargain price of £4.30. Without wishing to sound too ex-patty, I MISS MY PRIVATE GYM AND POOL).

Bike – 0 hours (tricky to do with my bike on the other side of the world)

Run – 3 hours 30

Week 25:

Swim – 2 hours

Bike – 0 again, but I did read Bradley Wiggins’ autobiography.

Run – 1 hour

Fatdanironman guide to useful Christmas presents
New Bike Gloves – the old pair were so dirty and sweaty that they made the house stink for a couple of days. We genuinely thought that something had died behind a wall. No longer – thanks Tom.

The new He-Man?

Wheels, the new He-Man.


Wheels – the age old tactic of complaining that ‘all my friends have them’ has paid off once again. Only this time, I’m not 7 and the proud owner of a new He-Man figure, I’m 34 and have some shiny carbon race wheels. Pathetic really.



Compression socks – I didn’t think it was fair that Wayne was the only one looking like a complete tool, so I treated myself to a pair. Not

Closet triathlete?

Closet triathlete?

only will (hopefully) protect my calves when running (reduces the movement in the muscle, apparently) but they’ll also come in handy as emergency tights should I ever have need to attend a J. Edgar Hoover party.

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Week 23 – Sleeping Lessons

There’s a general acceptance that getting a decent night’s sleep is vitally important for anyone in training. Finding increasingly painful ways to smash yourself during a swim, bike or run session is only going to have a positive effect if you give your body time to rest and recuperate (http://www.trifuel.com/training/health-nutrition/sleep-your-way-to-better-performance). This is annoying because, if I was going to average around 7-8 hours sleep a night since I began my training, I would essentially need to sleep for the next 4 days straight to make up for lost hours since last July. Working for a living, as well as having an unhealthy interest in drinking lots, are it seems, detrimental to ones chances of a good night’s kip. My chances of getting the required levels of shut eye have been further diminished by an unpleasant recent development in my training – the early morning bike ride.

Getting up at 6 to go to work is unpleasant. Getting up at 5 to go out for a bike ride is rubbish. Riding at half five on the roads of HCMC with no lights on is stupid. An hours training before school meaning that you’re late for your early morning football club is unprofessional. Unpleasant, rubbish, stupid and unprofessional (Coincidentally, all adjectives that can be found on my most recent performance management review at work). Sounds like a sensible thing to do then?

After getting over the initial shock of the alarm going off, the two loops of the tunnel road are, when the sun emerges and you can see where you’re going (and what’s driving the wrong way down the road towards you) is actually enjoyable. A decent training session out of the way before breakfast is a nice feeling, it’s also good practise for the training plan that’ll kick in post-Xmas as there’s no way I can manage 12+ hours a week without morning sessions. Compared with after work rides, the traffic is almost non-existent and there’s a large number of Vietnamese cyclists out and about to act as pacers, though they seem to spend more time stood around by the river talking rather than in the saddle. There’s also the added bonus of mentioning it to your training partners and making them feel bad about not doing the same.

A different race across America

A different race across America

I’ve also decided to man up and not whinge about the lack of sleep – I had an epiphany of sorts during my flight home for Christmas that made me realise that I don’t have it so bad after all. This epiphany centred around a documentary I watched somewhere over Eastern Europe on the Race Across America (http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/). The RAAM is a coast to coast bike race, over 3,000 miles from San Diego to Atlantic City. Sounds tough enough as it is, but there’s a twist as the clock never stops – the winner is the rider who can ride the fastest while also making fewer and shorter stops. According to Wikipedia, the winners usually ride for 22 hours a day, for around 9 days while over 50% of competitors usually drop out. On the movie I watched (Bicycle Dreams – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l8lHC8KK24 ), there was one bloke who’s neck muscles had slowly deteriorated from hours of holding his head up on the bike. Rather than quit, he got his mate to tape an inflatable travel pillow around his head for support so that he could finish. I get up an hour earlier twice a week and act like a martyr about it.

An additional bonus of my long haul adventuring has been a chance to reacquaint myself with my old friend jet lag. The past few mornings have resulted in 4am wake ups, which would have been ideal for using as an early morning training session if it wasn’t for three important issues – the UK is dark and cold and wet until about 10am (after that, it’s just cold and wet). No one in their right mind would get up and train in these conditions, so I’ve opted to stay in and eat mince pies.

Training totals for the week:

Swim – no
Bike – 2 hours
Run – 3 hours
Sleep deprived flying – 15 hours

Fatdan award for athletic endeavour week ending 16.12.2012

The little brother, Tom. Rugby is a strange sport, played by large, brutish chaps who have a penchant for casual violence. The little brother

Large, brutish with a penchant for casual violence. And drinking out of women's shoes.

Large, brutish with a penchant for casual violence. And drinking out of women’s shoes.

started playing a couple of years ago and is, it appears, a natural at it. Saturday afternoon was spent at a freezing and muddy Kings Norton Rugby Club, drinking Guinness and watching the aforementioned brutes run into each other. A close game was won right at the death when my brother managed to get over and score the winning try. This was good as it A) justified me going to watch even though I’d landed only 5 hours previously, and B) meant that I could write about him and reuse this photo from Week 1. Good work all round.

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Weeks 21 and 22 – Look back in Angkor

Whichever way you look at it, this training lark is a fairly selfish thing to be doing. Not just in terms of the after work training hours, but also little things like flagging energy levels enforced changes in diet and, as has been the case with me over the past two weeks, childish moods and sulking. To be able to achieve any form of training consistency, especially considering that things are only going to get worse in the coming months, you need to surround yourself with some very supportive people (unless you live the life of an international playboy, then you can do whatever you want, Damo).

It’s certainly the case with my training group – I’m sure Wayne, Ben and Darryl would be the first to say thanks for the backing they get from their respective families, at least they would if they weren’t too busy blowing their kids’ inheritances on new bikes. And I also need to say thanks for everything Hay’s been doing to make life easier over the past few months. It makes a massive difference to have some decent food ready and waiting after a training session and someone not taking the piss when you head to bed absurdly early (34 years old, bed at 9pm. There are 6 year olds in my class who stay up later.).

So, in a gesture of selflessness and early Christmas goodwill, I’ve decided to share this (2) week’s blog with some other deserving amateur athletes. It has got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that writing about myself is getting so tiresome, even I can’t be arsed to read about it.

Last weekend, a group of my sport obsessesd colleagues headed off to Siem Reap in Cambodia for a half-marathon around the Angkor temples. All of them have lives devoid of anything entertaining to do and so had trained properly in the months leading up to the race. This is the praiseworthy yet dull tale of how they got on – http://www.sportstats.ca/displayResults.xhtml?racecode=103630

These people have no life outside of sport. Pathetic.

These people have no life outside of sport. Pathetic.

First up for praise are the double act of Emma and Maz. Long suffering wives of Wayne and Ben, these two are relative newcomers to the world of training and racing. They’ve been a regular feature of evening runs around my neighbourhood and it has been interesting to mark their progress as the race has got nearer. Buoyed by a well-followed training plan (clearly more influenced by Ben than simple minded, push yourself to the brink of collapse Wayne) and despite being weighed down by a combination of massive knees and even more massive hair, Emma and Maz were able to smash their goal of going under two hours, finishing with times of 1.58 and 1.56 respectively.

A well done is also due for Damo. I know how hard he’s been training as I’ve been trailing in his wake on a series of longer, shorter, and interval run sessions over the last couple of months. He had two goals – one was to not get beaten by his friends, the other to finish around the 1.35 mark. His finishing time of 1.33 not only meant that he finished 28th overall in his first race at that distance, but also offered a beacon of hope to chronically obese people everywhere. ‘Put down the pie, lace up your trainers, do as I say and look at the god you can become’, as he’s been overheard saying to his Year 13 class.

A final honourable mention should go to Damo’s vanquished, yet valiant friends. Sophie and Ben (Gentle, not BenT) have both worked hard for the race and were rewarded with finishing times of 1.45 and 1.38. John (technically more victorious than vanquished) pipped Damo

This man does have better things to do with his time. That's why he took an hour longer.

This man does have a life. That’s why he took an hour longer.

by 2 mins, finishing in 1.31 and another Ben, a man who didn’t work incredibly hard for it, lumbered home in 2.29, not bad off the back of one 14km training run.See, I am capable of being nice about people. A big well done to all of the above, now bugger off and talk about me again.

Training hours for week 21

Swim – 1 hour
Bike – 3 hours
Run – 2 hours

Training hours for week 22

Swim – 0 hours. I know, stop nagging me.
Bike – 6 hours 30
Run – 2 hours 30

Stupid training things I have done this week

# 5 in an occasional series

Playing football. Wayne got injured in a tackle last week and hasn’t been able to run. He was just about getting better when one of his kids at school gave him a kick and aggravated it again. I had only just finished laughing at him when I turned my ankle during a kick around on Friday (It’s spelt K-A-R-M-A, as in chameleon). Not too severe, but a warning that I should maybe knock it on the head until after the race.

Fatdan Ironman award for athletic endeavour – week ending 9.12.12

Cricket scorer, star trek geek and runner.

Cricket scorer, star trek geek and runner.

Organised Claire – ICT teacher, control freak and experienced cricket scorer (seriously). She’s also, after last weekend, a proper runner. Her slavish devotion to order and planning helped her to follow a couch to 10km programme and meant that she completed the Angkor Wat 10km in just over 70 minutes, without walking. A good show, we’ll done.

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