Well it’s been a good old slog to get to where I am today (23 September 2018). Only 2 more weeks to go until Ironman Barcelona where I go for breaking my own World Record as the fastest official Blind Ironman time (11 hours, 3 minutes and 28 seconds). If you are interested in my personal journey of how I achieved this incredible feat, you can read more in my autobiography “From Blind Man to Ironman.” Obviously not satisfied with my own World Record I decided over a year ago to give it another crack. So, I hooked up with the amazing Marc Laithwaite, multiple Ironman finisher and 1st in his age category for the last two years at Ironman UK, and, coming second at Ironman Wales earlier this month. Marc has been coaching me and we have spent time training and talking about what is possible. Marc believes, and has convinced me, that the impossible may be possible. That I can knock over 1 hour and 3 minutes off my previous record and go under 10 hours. Yes, under 10 hours!
The last year has been extremely challenging for a number of reasons, some of which are very personal. A change of job to a new very demanding role at University Hospitals of Leicester and a recent health scare has certainly made me question the decision to train for hours on end, week after week. It’s not easy. But you know that. It requires dedication, commitment, inner strength and a whole bunch of lovely people around you who support you and drive you on.
Since doing the London marathon I’ve been focused on training for 6 days a week. Reducing my 3 weekly swims to 2 longer swims, one hard Watt bike session, a couple of runs a week. I know that my running is pretty sound and it would be a matter of keeping those oh too familiar niggles at bay, and keeping my legs ticking over. A massive thanks to Chris Sherwood (my brother from another mother) for giving me company on the long runs he has been able to guide me on. It makes such a difference to bash out the miles on road rather than on the treadmill. I’ve also been lucky to find a couple of other local runners who I have very recently started running with, but more on that on another day, another blog.
So, the focus had to be my biking and swimming. Bigger gear work on the bike and more paddle work as well as changing my stroke was the focus for the swim. Both have been executed beautifully.
I spent a weekend during mid August with Rupert Simms (one of my best mates) biking over 210 miles through very hilly terrain surrounding Snowdonia. I then biked a further 120 miles including 106 with Marc when I popped up to Wigan the same week I returned from Wales. That’s well over 300 miles. More miles I have ever biked in a week. I also swam 3.8 kilometres with Marc. Again, something I’ve never done prior to an Ironman race. I guess what I am saying is that I am probably better prepped in the run up to the 2018 Barcelona race than previous Ironman races. Although, I have to say that I had done plenty of training for the other races, the difference being that I now have the knowledge and 2 years of Ironman training under my belt.
Two weeks to go and I don’t have any major injuries. That’s a great outcome even before getting to the start line. The only worry I have is swimming in the sea if the water is very choppy. But, even their I have employed my good friend Dan Leak who has worked with me using hypnosis. Marc has also given me some great tips on how to cope. So, I will tackle the sea swim in the same way as I tackle life…head on.
I am blessed with the fact that I have a number of very close friends who are coming to support me in Barcelona. It is going to be a awesome experience. My regret last time was not staying the extra day for the presentation ceremony. I am not making that mistake this time. I am going to enjoy every single minute of what Ironman Barcelona has to offer with my wife and friends before, during and after.
I want to dedicate this blog to some very close friends and relatives who are going through a tough time. I will be thinking of you, as I always do, but especially at this time. Recent events have made me think very hard about what is important in life. Some things we don’t have control over. And, we can’t change the past – stuff we should have done, or not for that matter. Well there isn’t much we can do about that. However, we can make a difference to the people around us we value and love. So I intend to do just that going forward.