Small swim hats and stupid noises, Tom wk. 8

WHAT A WEEK. 

We’ve bought a house and we’re having issues with completion date. The current house got burgled and my car got pinched. And to top it all off, my hamster died (rest in peace Beanie). But unfortunately, the show really must go on. 

Marc’s been an absolute saint, he’s taxi’ed me to the swimming pool twice this week in return for an overpriced £8.20 soya milk hazelnut cappuccino since I’m currently without a car. Now we’re getting in the habit of swimming a couple of times, with 2000 meters each time, I feel more like a fish in the water. Unfortunately, I’m more of a Beluga Whale than a Dolphin. The pool we now practice in is far more realistic too. It’s deeper than a meter so I can’t touch the floor once I’m in and you don’t spend half the time planning an overtake on somebody doing breaststroke stinking of piss. I’ve also been on the hunt for a swimming hat smaller enough to fit my pea head. The closest I’ve found has been one of those plastic bags you get your meat wrapped in at a supermarket until I discovered this tiny laundry basket in next home..


finally a hat small enough for my head, a laundry basket for mice…

My running has continued to flourish, with 10k’s now being the regular running distance and I’ve had every intention of doing another half marathon one morning but unfortunately it’s either been to windy or I’ve been hungover. 

Biking is, as we knew, our biggest problem. We’re looking at 8 hours on the bike during Ironman, at most we’ve currently managed 3. But we’ve had our fair share of (valid) excuses. Marc obviously bust his foot and I can’t be arsed. My intention for a 50 miler has been there don’t get me wrong, but each weekend I’ve been going out and 2 hours in I remember how boring and lonely solo rides can be. Plus my gears are knackered so the baby’s in for a service this week. I took the opportunity to head down to the gym this weekend and complete a warmer, drier 50k ride. I say drier, I needed a wet floor sign next to the bike because I was dripping. I’ve also invested in a turbo trainer meaning I can now cycle in the comfort of my home whist watching Mrs Browns Boys or whatever other twaddle is on tv. It doesn’t matter what I watch because I can’t hear it over the racket of this turbo trainer. It’s a sound very similar to that of if I’d trapped the cat in the front door, except it lasts for as long as you cycle. As you can imagine, the other half loves it as she tries to concentrate with the sound of a nuclear power station beginning operation. If you live within a 30 mile radius of me, you too may have possibly heard it. 

cycling certainly burns this weekends roast dinner and ales

But progress is being made, despite it being slow it’s positive. I keep saying that once life has settled back down I’ll be able to train harder and longer, and I’ll stick to that promise. But similar to the Brexit deadline, it continues to be postponed. 

We have also got the fundraising set up, and received some sponsorship already from friends and family – for this we are very grateful. This is, after all, the reason we’re putting our bodies through all of this stress. We’ve set a target to raise £5000 for the Movember campaign, and we’re currently in talks with a couple of companies to obtain their support. We ask though, could you please sponsor the both of us to help us reach this incredible target. You even get to the opportunity to leave a message with it, I’ll let you choose whether it’s encouraging or abusive. Just give the link below a clink and select an amount your happy to donate towards us. Even the smallest donation means a huge deal to the both of us. 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theroadtohamburg

…But you can leave your hat on, Marc and Monty’s Army wk. 7

Miles cycled: 26m

KMs swam: 4.5km

Once in a lifetime chances took: 1

So it’s been a busy couple of weeks for both me and Tom, but we’ve been getting serious about our training in the meantime. As well as other things, but I’ll come to that in a few moments.

We finally took the plunge and found a local Olympic sized swimming pool in Leeds to start building those triathlon babes bods ahead of Hamburg. I only wish we’d signed up sooner. Swimming in a 50m pool has allowed me to swerve the dreaded backstrokers (literally) and really start focusing on the distance that lies ahead. To help with our technique we’ve also struck gold in finding out a girl from work is a qualified swim coach, and trains at the pool. Kerrie’s first assessment of our swimming was to the point in true Yorkshire style..

Tom your legs are crap, and Marc, your shoulders are shit!

So we’ve got some work to do, admittedly. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. But after a solo swim session this week I smashed out 2000m in 50 minutes, making me even more determined to conquer this challenge. The budgy smugglers are in order for certain now.

It must be a week of solos, but I tested my foot for the first time on the bike on Saturday, whilst using cleats. I had the bright idea of practicing on the bike first with the cleats so my jaunt was less dramatic than Tom’s first outing which I was grateful for.

Whilst I only clocked up 26 miles, these were hard fought for. After 5 miles in I contemplated giving up. My lungs were burning. My thighs were on fire. I had almost opened up the Uber app.. but I persevered. All I kept thinking was of the challenge ahead, and the old “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” line repeating over and over. To see such a rapid decline in my VO2 output was shocking. It made my realise how much aerobic fitness I’ve lost since being unable to run since the start of the new year. The inevitable weight gain hadn’t helped either. But it’s only pushed me on further, and I’m even more determined than I ever was.

Whilst I remain positive for the most part, I had my follow up scan on my fractured foot yesterday. I was told the fracture has healed, but due to the point in the bone where I sustained the fracture there’s some nerve damage and I may be unable to run until May. Nothing like a little more pressure to through into the mix! So it’s all about the swim and cycling for now!

So why the cryptic Tom Jones lyrics you ask?! Well, where do I start.

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in 2014, and since my diagnosis and surgery I’ve been a huge supporter of the Movember Foundation and their work after they reached out to me in the early months of my recovery. In the years since, I’ve been an ambassador for Movember in raising awareness for testicular cancer and a spot of fundraising along the way.

Working with Movember has afforded me some fantastic opportunities over the years, but nothing compares to my recent escapade – and all in the name of raising awareness for men’s health. Now I’ll have to be pretty cryptic from here on in (media embargos and all that) but myself and 15 other blokes were offered a true once in a lifetime opportunity to head down to London to promote a forthcoming show on TV, supporting awareness for testicular and prostate cancer.

At first I was a little reluctant to get involved. Mainly because of my broken foot and the need to bust a few moves on stage. Oh, and getting the Crown Jewels out in front of the masses may have played a contributing factor! But after a little persuading, and support from my better half, I had to do it.

My fluke cancer diagnosis was thankfully made early on. And whilst it was a large tumour they removed along with my leftie, the cancer hadn’t spread and I was lucky to avoid chemotherapy. I know how fortunate an early diagnosis can be, and I urge everyone to cop a feel of their nether regions now and again, just to feel for any lumps or tender areas down below. It could save you or your other half’s life.

Last week I had the opportunity of meeting a few well known celebs. Even better than that, I had the opportunity of meeting some of the most inspirational people I had ever crossed paths with. 15 other men. All with their own stories of beating testicular and prostate cancer. For some it’s been a much tougher ride than my own. Some battles are still being fought. I can only tip my hat to these dudes and their families for staying strong and being so positive, even in the dark days.

These guys have truly been to hell and back. But they all wore the biggest smiles on their faces and we didn’t stop laughing once when sharing our stories. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of guys to spend two fun filled days with, and even showing the marble off to.

Being a part of Monty’s Army was a fantastic experience, and really made me realise how important this challenge is for me to complete, to live life to the full, to have no regrets. I must do it. I will do it.

1Love fellas❤️

And remember, you can leave your hat on…

Me and Tom are fundraising for Movember, a charity addressing some of the biggest health concerns that men face; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. By competing in Ironman we aim to raise awareness for the Movember and have pledged a target of £5000.

Check out our JustGiving page below👇🏻

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theroadtohamburg

Weather I can do it or not, Tom, wk.5

Storm Erik has came and hit the UK by, well, storm I guess… It also took my motivation, it took my desire and it took my passion to go for a long ride in one big Eric-like gush. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t put up much of fight, I woke on Saturday reasonably early considering I’d had a ‘couple’ of drinks the night before for usual £9 trim at the barbers down the road – something I convinced myself was crucial in order to make me more aerodynamic whilst training. 

Today’s 5k had those strong spring feels

Following my haircut and after braving the hurricane rattling round Rothwell in order to get back into my car I made the executive decision that I would be bottling the long ride today for my own safety. Cleats are hard enough to conquer on a tranquil Saturday let alone on a day where I’m forced to fight the elements. I did however manage to leave my excuses alone for half an hour and smash a 5k run out that evening and I was fortunate that the wind was behind me most of the way.

This last week or so has not brought many developments in my training, I’ve stalled a few times and contemplated whether I should treat myself to a rest day but I’ve realised now that if you can get yourself off the sofa and down the road, no matter how far or short it is, you’ll feel much better. I’ve forced myself into my New Balances 3 times over the last week and ran a 5k averaging less than 8 minute miles – something I’m seriously considering an achievement. Please don’t remind me however of the 20 miles extra I’ll be running when the day comes.

Lost in fog – how the weeks weather has changed

And although my running I feel is slowly coming together, the biking and the swimming continues to be the mountain in the distance that I’ll soon have to overcome. Marc highlighted the issues of swimming in leisure centre lanes in his blog last week (give it a read if you haven’t already) with most people treating the pool as either some kind of hydrotherapy session or just a large urinal – so we’ve come to the conclusion swimming will soon begin in an Olympic sized pool (we’ll keep you posted with how this one goes).

And for those interested in why the UK seems to have such un-intimidating names, the 2018-2019 storm season of which started in September has 21 names in total, one for each letter (except Q,U,X,Y & Z) and that alternates between genders in an effort to humanise them. The full list of this year’s storms are below.

My personal favourite is the ever intimidating, truly daunting storm… Wyn 

Breaststrokes and bandwagons, Marc, wk.4

So after 2 odd weeks of doing zero exercise following my broken foot as I rescued those orphans from a runaway train, I finally got back in the gym.

And it couldn’t have come sooner. After little activity since the Christmas feasting and my birthday, I knew I had gained weight. I bit the bullet, and braved the scales.. If I told you I was surprised, I’d be lying. I weighed in at a hefty 17st 3lb, inc neoprene moon boot.

Well I’ve been here before, and I know I can lose the weight if I put my mind to it, and get my diet right. I’ve set a target weight of 15st ahead of the Ironman come the end of July, so let’s get cracking.

They say you can’t outrun a bad diet. And given I ain’t running anywhere at present, it’s time to sort the diet out first and foremost.

Going Vegan… so I tried going Vegan last April for 6 weeks, and in August too to shift a little weight. Whilst I’m all for animal welfare, I have to admit my toying with veganism is a complete fad. However, watching a few documentaries like Cowspiracy and What The Health, I’ve reduced my dairy intake significantly over the last year and I can’t remember the last time I bought some eggs. As well as opting for plant based milks. I tend to cook a lot more vegan and vegetarian meals now rather than my legendary Musclefood orders too. So every little change does make a difference.

So why go vegan?🌱

For me, I found it useful to lose weight. In April I dropped over a stone in around 6 weeks without changing my exercise routine and just focusing on my diet. I’d completed Manchester Marathon in early April, and smashed a PB of 3:53, so I was riding high on the success of the diet. As well as helping me lose weight, I find going plant based lifts my energy levels and mood, as well as helping me get a good nights sleep. Whilst some people find it hard going vegan, for me it’s easy. Given that I adore Indian and Thai cooking, the meal preparation and cooking is varied and packed full of flavours. So as I wrote this blog, I’m 4 days in. I’ve not weighed myself just yet, but I already feel more energised and less bloated than weigh day, so it’s off to a good start.

As I’m starting to feel a marked improvement with my foot, I’ve been able to return to the gym and get back to swimming. Whilst I’ve been careful not to push it too much, I managed to get back in the leg press to work on the quads to build up some strength. Another week or so and I’ll try the watt bike!

So you think you’re a swimmer?… so when people found out I’d signed up for the Ironman, their second question (after “are you mental?!”) was “so is swimming going to be the hardest thing to train for?”.

Now I’m certainly no Michael Phelps, but no Eric the Eel either. I was fortunate enough to have swimming lessons from an early age so I’m a strong and confident swimmer, and whilst long periods in the pool are mind numbing, for me, the cycle leg is by far the most daunting.

Now don’t get me wrong, swimming isn’t without its pitfalls. So I train at Nuffield Gym which has a small pool, Hell I don’t even know how big it is. Google can’t even help me. And without a decent Garmin watch, I don’t know how many metres I’m clocking up. 3 sessions in, and I’m up to 70 minutes continuous swimming. And by continuous I mean the inevitable dodging of other swimmers to navigate my route on each length.

At peak times you encounter the least considerate of all activities known to mankind whilst exercising – The Backstroke. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it. But to go backstroke in a tiny pool of 20 other people is just ridiculous unless you’ve got eyes like a frog sitting atop your face. Is there anything worse than a complete stranger performing a windmill slapping motion along your back as you doggie paddle in the opposite direction? Change my mind.

As well as the unorthodox swimming, you have the joyous encounters of swim running across the width of the pool, those people who socialise at the end of the swimming lanes instead of the jacuzzi, and the budgy smugglers. Oh, so many middle aged men in banana hammocks leaving little to the imagination.

So the search is now on to find an Olympic sized pool or thereabouts which is local to me in Leeds. I’ve also been recommended to get a swim coach to focus on my technique, so let’s see what adventures the next instalment brings!

Big thanks to Ozzy over at Movember for hooking me and Tom up with some training merch! Me and Tom are fundraising for Movember, a charity addressing some of the biggest health concerns that men face; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. By competing in Ironman we aim to raise awareness for the Movember and have pledged a target of £5000.

Check out our JustGiving page below👇🏻

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theroadtohamburg

Like a (not so) smooth criminal.. Tom wk.3

How’s this week gone? Well I’ve had a couple of firsts, the same amount of food and an increase in booze. Pretty good.

I’ve continued with my 7 month Training Plan which is a good sign, but on Thursday evening me and the missus went out for a bit of grub and some drinks in Leeds so come Friday I wasn’t feeling too fresh as it was, but the team at work got a KFC in and I was obliged to polish off a Zinger Tower Burger, Fries, Hotwings, Boneless Chicken Strips, some Popcorn Chicken and an original piece (plus some gravy and beans, but they’re practically veg). After work I had a few bevvies in celebration of Mr Robert Burns and plenty of chocolate and then I got home and chucked a pizza in the oven. Friday had been an unplanned day off training, but I’d consumed the calories to go for a dreaded bike ride on Saturday.

Saturday came and I woke early in order to get out on the roads with those damned cleats on with as little traffic as possible to minimilise embarrassment. I headed off the drive (already further than last week) clipped in and practised clipped out the buggers. It’s not quite mastered yet but I managed about 26 miles without falling off and I can definately feel cycling is easier with a pair of cleats rather than a chunky pair of Nikes. There were more positives to take from my ride too, I overtook my first fellow cyclist in what was probably the worlds slowest overtake and what was certainly the shortest time anyone has spent in front of another cyclist as I missed the turning going into Castleford about 40 yards down the road and had to awkwardly turn around and play catch up. I even received my first beep as well, I like to pretend that it was an encouraging beep to cheer me on but it was really because the guy was impatient as I struggling up Mount Pontefract at about 5mph. I tried to give him an ‘encouraging’ middle finger back but I wobbled,  forgot I was stuck in those cleats and almost left my breakfast on the road so I guess he came out the winner..

Then on Sunday I had my first race. I turned up on the day as I missed the online booking (very smart I know) and luckily there were places still available. The race was an introductory event for Triathlons; a 2.5k run, 5k cycle and another 2.5k run to finish. It was cold and windy and the park was although pretty just one large hill that you must go up and then down several times. I aimed for a time of 45 minutes because I really had no idea what to expect and was pleased with my 44:19 finishing time, closer to the front of the pack than the back but it was an beginners race so I’m not considering myself a Brownlee just yet. My time was particularly good considering I ran past my bike through Transition 1 thinking I had to run another lap, had to turn round and then struggle to locate my bike, like a not so smooth criminal. I quickly got into the rhythm of cycling and then out of it as I began climbing the monstrous hills. The final run was a real jelly legs moment to begin with but I managed to power through and grab a hideously green t-shirt to celebrate at the finishing line.

I’d certainly take the week as a positive, there’s been a couple of firsts and each week that goes by where I don’t fall off my bike I count as a blessing. As ever next week I’ll aim to eat less and cycle more, but no doubt it’ll be the other way round.

Just a reminder that me and Marc are taking part in Ironman to raise money and awareness for Movember – it’s a fantastic cause and we need all he support of friends, family and businesses to succeed. If you know somebody who may want to sponsor us with our equipment please do contact myself.

Broken bones, Belgium and beers. Lots of beer: Marc, wk 2.

Current weight: I daren’t face the scales..

Injuries sustained: 1 broken foot

Beers consumed: Not enough

So after last weeks blog post I was chomping at the bit. I was over the Christmas blues, and I was ready to throw myself into training.

Training in the gym felt good, I’d avoided alcohol and both me and Tom got a 40 miler in on Saturday morning. Up early to hit the rolling hills of Yorkshire. After a couple of hours in the saddle, both of us decided that we needed to really invest in all the gear to improve our training. Whilst we’ve both got decent bikes, we both lack cleats and thermal gear to keep us warm in the winter. After spending 3 hours defrosting, I set my sights on having all appropriate cycle gear by early February – our next ride to go over the 50 mile mark, and increase each month by 10 miles..

What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?..

Through our employer Minster Law, me, Tom and a few others from work were doing our volunteering day at the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield on Monday. Our group of volunteers were erecting a dead wood fence using donated Christmas trees to provide privacy to the Hospice. Due to inappropriate footwear, some wet leaves and the remains of a chopped tree, I turned my foot over the root.

The result, a fractured fifth metatarsal.

After a short and painful trip to A&E, I was given the good news it was a clean break and no surgery needed. I even managed to get a support boot fitted rather than a cast.

See below⬇️ Yes the jumper is ironic!

One of the main reasons I wanted a boot rather than a cast was due to my forthcoming trip to Brussels with my better half – we’d booked the trip before Christmas, and there was no way I was letting a broken bone get in the way.

So whilst this week hasn’t been filled with counting my macros and hitting the gym every night, I’ve made the most of my trip away with the missus. We’ve sampled all of the Belgian delights – waffles, fries and mayo, beers, chocolates, beers and more beers.

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend Brussels on crutches, it’s been a blast. And I certainly feel like I’m on the road to the recovery by being on my feet so much.

Anyhow, it’s a new week, and I’m in the mindset to get back into the zone. I’m going to rest up this week to allow a little more recovery on the bone, and then get back in the gym to work on my upper body and quads without impacting the foot. I’m confident I’ll be in the pool come week 4 onwards, and be running in no time. But best give the foot maximum recovery time by focusing on the swimming and cycling legs a little more in the interim. I could do with the cycling practice anyways..

This week is also going to be filled with focusing on our sponsorship and endorsements by contacting more companies in the run up to Hamburg. Big thanks so far to Movember, as well as Trek Bar for donating loads of samples to kick start our training and nutrition plans. The product range is fantastic, and I’d definitely recommend the peanut butter bar. It’s a winner for me.

Falls, Injuries and Not-So-Neat-Cleats; Tom wk.2

Week 2 has certainly come with its challenges.

Our work, Minster Law, give us the opportunity to volunteer with a nearby charity and so myself and Marc spent our Monday building fences out of old Christmas trees. Everything was running smoothly, the fence was looking fantastic and some serious calories were being burnt (fence building is no easy thing to do!) until Marc decided to turn his ankle over mid-afternoon and unfortunately broke a bone in his foot. I’m sure they’ll be more to come from him on this, so I’ll save it for him to explain further as I’m wary of treading on his toes…

Last week I purchased a new pair of swim shorts, as I’ve been clocking up the meters previously in a baby blue pair of short shorts, something more suitable for Ibiza rather than open water swimming. I’ve opted for a pair of tighter, snugger red and black shorts that were on sale in Decathalon. I was excited to use them, to see if perhaps now I swam more like a Dolphin rather than a Dog but frustratingly my excitement was somewhat short-lived as the nearby pool was closed for several days for its annual clean… Perhaps another day, for now I’ll continue to dream.

Finally, when the weekend came I decided to make the investment that would hopefully turn me from the amateur 30 mile rider to the slick and quick century cyclist. The one piece of equipment that was capable of doing this was a pair of cycling shoes and some cleats. For those that have not used cleats before, or know what they are, they are triangular shapes of sin attached to the bottom of your flimsy shoes that ‘clip’ into the pedals as you ride and allow you and the bike to become one. Unfortunately I learnt that getting ‘unclipped’ was a lot harder and me and bike remained as one for far longer than I wanted. This Sunday I had my first cycling fall. I had my second cycling fall. In fact I think I had 4 falls off my bike in total, all of which were on or around my drive. I decided after 40 minutes of getting on my bike, ‘clipping in’, trying to ‘unclip’ and then eventually falling off I decided to pack it in as a bad job. My knees were cut, my nice white top was covered in blood and dirt and my missus was crying with laughter. These cleats had humiliated me. I had my sights set on a 50miler today, unfortunately I barely made it off my drive. I then spent the next 2 hours watching YouTube videos of how to detach yourself from your own bike. I aim to try again later today. Maybe.

And for those hanging in suspense wondering how on earth I got on when I eventually was allowed in the pool, I managed to hop in and do 1000 meters front crawl in a relatively quick time. In fact, I swam probably the best I have ever swam, but I’m sure this was more because I’d eaten ‘tea’ prior to my swim rather than my new non-restrictive swimwear. I am however far warier of hopping out the pool with these bad boys on though now as I don’t want to give those swimming a fright since they are particularly ‘figure-hugging’.

Reflecting, I’d like to think I’ve got more gear but certainly no more idea than I had the week before.

We do want to thank those at Natural Balance Foods who sent an array of fantastic tasting Trek Bars over to me and Marc to help in our training for the next few months. These taste great and each packet or bar has between 10-12g of protein. If you haven’t tried these before, get some to make sure that when you’re snacking you’re snacking the right way!

The hard work starts now.. Marc, wk.1

Current weight: 16st 9lbs

Amount of calories consumed over Christmas: Trillions

Items of clothing that currently fit: N/A

So the idea of signing up for an Ironman came up last year, around the sizzling summer time. We were the care free, bronzed Gods of Pugneys Country Park, running our 5k distances over our dinner break. (Yes it’s dinner, we speak proper up North). We thought we could take on the world.

I remember when I signed up in September, casually saying things like:

  1. “I’ve got almost a year to train for it”;
  2. “Well if I’m going to do an Ironman, I might as well do a full one”; and my favourite,
  3. “I’ve ran a marathon so I’ll be fine I reckon”

Well we live and learn. So that was 3 months ago, and in typical fashion, I’ve done little training so far due to a few niggling injuries. And obviously consuming my bodyweight in Quality Street didn’t help either, but less said the better.

But it’s January now. 2019. New year, new me. So that means the journey has begun. The Road to Hamburg starts here. A journey that will be hard, but rewarding all the same. A journey we’ll document through our blogs and Insta, @theroadtohamburg, from food to saddle-sores. So follow me and Gilesy, as we set out to become an Ironman come July!

Doughnut Underestimate Us.. Tom, wk. 1

Image result for doughnut joke 6 pack

Approximately 32 minutes after tea (or dinner for those that say it wrong) and I’m hungry. I’ve treated myself to what’s meant to be a filling Thai green style cod with rice and veg but I’m already raiding the cupboards for the remanence of a Thornton’s Seasonal Selection or even contemplating finishing those unwanted strawberry’s in the tub of Quality Streets.

That’s the main issue, I’m a proper foodie. I make these special blueberry oat cookies in the morning to replace breakfast but I can’t help myself to a bowl a cereal for starters.. I have large lunches, normally some kind of leftovers if there’s any from tea the night before, about 8000 snacks to see me through the day and I’m constantly thinking about what I’m eating that evening. Even now I’ve got tonights pulled pork on my mind..

The main selling point of Ironman is the amount of carbs I’ll need to eat. Believe me, I don’t need to train to eat. But then there’s the oppurtunity of competing in this crazy event with zero experience in order to raise money and awareness for Movember motivating me to get out of bed and try burn those 9 and a half thousand calories I’ve destroyed the day before. It wont be easy, but it’ll certainly make me appreciate my food even more.

So give us a follow and join me and my fellow foodie Marc on the road to Hamburg to complete Ironman this July!