The last 3 months have been eventful to say the least. Never a dull moment in my life. Many will know that I changed my job at the beginning of September and that has brought its own challenges and pressures. Apart from the fact that it is a challenging role, it is a little further to travel, which, of course means fewer hours in the day to train and play. And, Haseeb loves to train and play…in that order!
Having made a stupendous spur of the moment decision to have another pop at my Guinness Book of Records World Record during September I didn’t anticipate having three separate injuries. What have you done? I kept asking myself over the last couple of months as my injuries didn’t seem to be healing fast. Being an athlete I’m not particularly patient when it comes to being injured, and, I’ve had my fair share of injuries. Just not three at the same time. My ankle, an injury to a hip-flexer muscle (iliopsoas) and a neck/shoulder problem made me feel rather pathetic. I have been seeing a hospital physio who has been great and my very trusted friend and sports therapist Brian Burrows. But, to be honest the injuries seemed to be going on forever. A bit like this b blog! I really just wanted to give up the idea of going for another World Record. Is it really worth it? I’ll come back to that question in a mo.
So, I had a tremendous October with the exception of a gas leak to contend with. I went to see one of my fav bands on 22 October – Mettalica, with my brother Shazib, and they did not disappoint. I would have loved to have actually seen them as the stage show according to my brother was, out of this world. However, listening to them live was phenomenal. I’m too old now to join the youngsters in the mosh pit these days.
This particular weekend also was a great opportunity to catch up with my school friend Mark Saunders and the start of a few more reunions thanks to Facebook. I’ve had a ball getting back into contact with Matt Walkling and the lovely twin sisters who I hardly spoke to at school but seem to be chatting to them on a regular basis over the internet (Amanda and Michelle Turner). Really hoping to meet these guys in person one day or at least hear their voices. My life was suddenly even more interesting and further enriched.
I got home from London and bang I came down to earth like a lead balloon. My wife Mary had told me that the painter and decorator Barry had smelt gas in the house. I immediately called the National Grid, now called Kadent . They came out in a matter of hours and inconveniently switched off the gas. The chap was lovely but we had no friggin gas. It was luckily very mild, but how the hell was I going to cook my porridge? I don’t like microwave food. The real problem was that the gas pipes ran under the house and were concreted in. The floor would have to be taken up to get at the pipes. Our gas supply actually comes in to the house at the front so the other solution was to run the gas pipes around the outside of the house and then back in to supply the boiler and cooker. The next problem was finding a trustworthy gas engineer to do the job. Easier said than done. I Googled gas engineers and purely by luck found someone who answered the phone straight away. OK, next problem…we were going away to Cornwall on Wednesday, today was Monday and I wanted the job done ASSAP. Joe, the gas engineer agreed to come out that evening and have a look at the job with his son. They came late in the evening and seemed pretty cool. Every conversation I have had with Joe has involved him telling me that he is from a good Christian family who are close and that he has been married for over 30 years. So, while we were in Cornwall having a lovely time with my friend and copy editor Chris Mawyer, Joe popped to the house and carried out the work. When we got back to Leicester the work had been done. Joe wanted his money in cash so Mary and I agreed to meet him in Sainsbury’s car park in Wigston and handed the cash over in a brown envelope. No receipt given. With Joe happy and our gas supply reconnected, I turned my mind to getting myself back to some resemblance of fitness.
Now, I had employed a swim coach. Ashleigh Alquith has been working with me since September. I have given her one goal for us to work on. For her to improve my swim, hand over fist (with high elbow). Not asking much then. I have to say she is incredibly patient and extremely supportive. I feel I am making some gains and understanding better the elements of my technique I need to change and how. I have every faith in her to make me into the swimmer that will get me the swim time I need.
I do have a new coach as many will know who is also my guide for the World Record attempt in Barcelona in October 2018. Marc Laithwaite and I have been chatting on and off in respect of my injuries and where I need to be in respect of all the milestones I need to achieve. Marc’s a great guy and I know has a fantastic reputation as a guide. The only issue with him is that he lives in Wiggen. Anyone know where Wiggen is? Not around here at any rate. So, we will need to organise some meet ups when we can train. Don’t be surprised if I ask one of you to drive me up to Wiggen land – do I need a passport to get there?
More recently my injuries have been abating. I did a fairly easy park run at Market Harborough on 2 December and my ankle held out. It’s a nice park (Welland Park) and everyone was really friendly. I think I took Roger Pangbourne, my guide to the limit. He was a great sport and actually chuffed that there were two visually impaired runners running that day. It is a fairly narrow and challenging course if you need to constantly overtake. Doubly difficult if you are Blind. Rog did a brilliant job guiding. So much so I am doing another park run, this time in Braunstone Park on 9th December.
The following day (3rd December) Mary told me that the gas detector picked up a gas leak in the front of the house (in the hall cupboard)(. I was on my turbo, an hour in to a 2 hour 15 minute session. I stopped peddling and rang Joe (the gas engineer). It was Sunday and I didn’t expect to hear from him. He returned my call and told me he was in Peterborough but would swing by when he got back to \Leicester. He turned up around 7 pm and examined the area around the gas meter. “No, I didn’t think it was my work. Looks as though it is the alakanta, and that’s Transco’s responsibility.” He called Transco (Kadent) who came out and examined the pipe running from the pipe from the ground into the gas meter. He told us that the gas leak was caused by the soldering flux from the work that Joe had carried out. After a few phone calls to confirm that he could do the job, he changed the pipe. Let’s hope that is all the gas leaks dealt with for the rest of our lives!
A few days previously I was told that an Australian blind triathlete was attempting to go under 10 hours in the Western Austrilian Ironman race on 3 December. My immediate thought was, can he actually do it? On closer examination Gerrarde Gosens is a three times Para-lympian and an adventurer, chocolateer and the semi-finalist in the Australian version of Strictly Come Dancing. Sounds bloody amazing doesn’t he? I bet he hasn’t written a book though. Probably just a matter of time before he does that too.
Anyway, while we were waiting for Joe the gas engineer with the dogy soldering technique, I got Mary to check out the results of the Western Austrilian Ironman. She eventually saw the overall results which read that Gosens had completed a 9.15 Ironman. Game over I thought. There is not a cats hell chance that I am going to knock off a 9.15 Ironman. Not unless there is a shark chasing me all around the swim. So, I stuck something on Facebook which hinted at the fact that I might just give up the idea of going sub 10 as it had patently been done irrespective of whether it was official or not. When I read the comments, much of them were very supportive, I saw my friend Liz McTernan’s response which cheered me up. The swim had been cancelled due to a shark prowling the shores of Western Australia. That explained the super fast time. Was this divine intervention? Not being at all religious (sorry religious folk), I put it down to bad luck for Gosens and a green light for me to continue my epic journey towards another World Record attempt. Anything can happen of course between now and 9 October 2018. I’m doing everything I can to keep healthy and work on my rehab.
Thanks to all my friends and family who have stuck by me and given me the support I need. We all need people around us to keep us going. I’ve really found out who my true friends are over the last few years and few months. Thanks again and do follow my journey.