Posts Tagged With: Ironman

Hard Times

Except for the lives of shipping magnates and Paris Hilton, my life is as close to permanent vacation as they it comes. Still, while I can’t ever really claim to suffer like the downtrodden workers of a Dicken’s novel, there are hard times.  Take the other day for example:

When I left Glasgow it was raining, not an auspicious beginning, but waiting for the rain to stop in Scotland can leave one waiting a rather long time. Things rapidly went from bad to worse, when in less than 30 minutes I heard the whistle of my first flat tire.  I though it was going to be one of those days. As it turns out, I was right.

My goal was to make it 100 miles (160km) to Carlisle where I hoped to couch-surf.  Not the greatest of plans, but my twenty dollar, four day budget didn’t leave a lot of room for five start hotels.  Now I’ve biked 100 miles before, but as I learned that day, biking 100 miles alone with heavy bags in the rain is a different sort of experience.  To top it off, when I arrived 100 miles later, soaked to the bone at 10 o’clock, I found out I was homeless, not just in general, but for that night as well.

2200 Calories for one British pound = Extreme budget traveling

Now, I know that most people would rather not have an experience like I did that day. I don’t blame them either.  There was a time when something as small as a speeding ticket or a missed flight would leave me feeling as upset as the Count of Monte Cristo.  Yet strangely enough I didn’t have a bad day.  Of course I’d rather have been sipping a pina colada served in a baby coconut that was picked by a wild money, but now, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances, I feet challenged and invigorated.

For those who are looking, beautiful days always come around, but the same is true for the bad days as well.  As it’s still raining after three days, I’m looking forward to better days even now, but in the meantime I’m comforted and strengthened by the satisfaction of pursuing something worth more than money.

Even rainy days present opportunities.

Some months ago when I lost my wallet in Spain, someone said they thought they saw me biking through the rain, but that it couldn’t have been me.  The person they saw was smiling. Strange, perhaps, but for, a me a better way.

“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

St. Paul

Categories: Biking, Ironman, Journeys, Words | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Bricks and other pleasant things…


So I’ve been silent for some days now.  The reason is that my life has been a sad mixture of boredom, I was sick for over a week and spent most of my time reading, and self-inflicted torture, the Ironman approaches.  I could use this blog as an outlet for my vast amounts of self-pity and whining, but I figure it’s better reserved for contemplative thoughts and feeling of joy and triumph.

The bricks in the title of this post refer to one of my new training methods, which is simply biking followed immediately by running, no break.  As I recently learned, some creative genius termed such a workout a brick, as that’s how your tired legs feel when you start running. While I’m not thrilled with the name, I can verify the feeling is none too pleasant.

I’ve also been swimming greater distances and am finally beginning to feel at home in the water.  When this all began some months ago anything more than a lap or two in the pool left me breathless, now I can go for a couple hours.  Unfortunately, I still can’t claim to have much in common with a fish, but I should be able to swim the 3.8km that the Ironman requires.

When I decided to do an Ironman a little over a year ago I thought to myself the race is only 17 hours.  How bad can one day be?  I’ll have to add that to  the list of the most foolish thoughts I’ve ever had.  The race may only be a day, but the training lasts a whole lot longer.  Still, if there is anything I’ve learned in my travels it’s that something earned is worth 10 times as much as something simply received.  Only agony can lead to ecstasy.

These cute guys must wonder what I'm doing when I run by, I often wonder the same thing...

Categories: General, Ironman, Spain | Tags: | Leave a comment

Thank You

I wanted to take a little break from my normal writing today to say thank you to everyone who is reading this.  I can’t see individual names, but I can see how many people are coming to my website.  The number of people reading has slowly, but steadily increased over time, and without that encouragement there is no way I could keep this blog going.  It takes a surprising amount of time to write and take the photos you see here and the isolation of traveling makes it easy to feel disconnected from others.  Knowing you all are out there reading is what gives me the strength to put this all together.

Next I wanted to thank everyone who has donated to my Ironman.  I have received a great amount of support without which I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing.  It’s not only amazing financial support I’ve received either.  I’ve been given great places to stay, wonderful equipment (I’m not even riding my own bike!) and fed delicious food.  I won’t bore you with the list of expenses, but even not counting the cost of living as I prepare for the race, the associated expenses of equipment, registration and travel are around $2,000.  This, combined with my living expenses, is much more than I could come up with on my own and without all of you, I’d be lost already.

I also want to thank everyone who has emailed or posted comments here for that encouragement.  It may not sound it, but wandering the world can be lonely at times.  Even the most beautiful place on Earth can feel empty when you’re away from your friends. The emails, Facebook comments and blog comments all help me immeasurably.

In short, I’ve received more support already than many people get in a lifetime, still for those of you interested in helping more, these next couple of months will be particularly difficult for me. As race date approaches my training hours continue to go up.  Also, in all honesty, I’m broke.  Work hasn’t been as easy to come by here as I hoped, but I’ll eat from a garbage can before I give up.  That said I’d rather not have to, so for those of you who haven’t given already, donations are much appreciated and quite needed!  (To Donate Click HERE) For those who aren’t into donating, I do sell prints of all the photography you see here, plus a good deal more.  Aside from purchasing a great decoration or gift, you’d be allowing me to keep this website going. Finally, I know not everyone has money to spare, if that’s your situation, emails and comments really do make a difference.  Not everyone sees what I’m doing as a life well spent, and a little encouragement can make the difference between an exhilarating training session and one that feels like torture.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and finding a little time for adventure of their own!

Menorcan sunsets.... another thing to be thankful for.

Categories: General, Ironman | Tags: | Leave a comment

Casting Iron

Among the things I’m most often asked about are my training regimen and how my preparation is going.  The second question is easy.  It’s going well.  The first question, well, that’s a bit more complicated. If you go to a bookstore and wander over to the sports section, you’ll find a part of it is dedicated to triathlon training.  If you happen to be near a large bookstore you may even find specialized books just about the Ironman.  Pop one of those books open and you’ll find several chapters on techniques and drills, followed by page upon page of schedules and nutrition regimens, complicated stuff.

Rather than use one of these elaborate schedules I have created my own unique training plan.  I have named it the WFR plan.  It stands for “Whatever Feels Right”.  Now I know this must sound crazy to some people.  The people who wrote these books are experts and should know what they’re talking about.  In all honesty, I’m sure they do, but that’s not the point.  When I decided to give up a life shackled to a desk, I wasn’t just giving up the desk and the office.  I wasn’t even just giving up the mind-numbing, soul-sucking work or the immoral, zombie taskmasters I had to pretend to admire.  Nope, I was giving up the whole enchilada and that included the slow monotonous march toward death known as routine, whether it be work routine or Ironman routine.

Before I go off on a rant on the evils of office life, let’s get back to the Ironman plan.  WFR means every day I wake up and at some point I try to exercise, a lot. It seemed like a good idea to bike to Spain from England so that’s what I did, because it felt right.  I felt my biking had gotten quite strong for the trip so it felt like it was time to focus on running a bit more.  I don’t like swimming very much so I relocated to a beautiful island because I knew it would make me feel like swimming more.  Now I swim whenever I happen to be by a beach, which is a whole lot of the time.  No schedule, no regimen, just WFR.

Now WFR should not be confused with the closely related but completely useless WFG, or Whatever Feels Good, plan.  I can assure you that a great deal of the time what feels right is very far removed from what feels good when training for an Ironman.  Still, I know the end goal and I know my body, so I push my body towards the end goal and it’s pretty much as simple as that.

Bike paths like this make self inflicted torture easier.

Finally a little disclaimer, I pretty sure following a strict training schedule would make me faster, but here’s a spoiler: I’m not going to win.  Given that cold, hard reality I prefer training the way I do.  If you want to be a pro get a schedule, a trainer, a little scale to weigh your food and an oxygen deprivation tent to increase your red blood cell count.  As for me, I’m tired of society telling me I have to be the best at everything.  I don’t want to be the best triathlete in the world, or even the best I can be, since other things mean more to me.  I just want to finish one of the hardest races in the world and have fun doing it.  That’s good enough for me.

Categories: General, Ironman | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano…

Or as we now say, “a sound mind in a sound body”.  I was always much better at the sound mind part, but since my return from the monastery I’ve been engaging in some serious German cross-training.  My training partner is nine years younger than me, recently left the navy and has an abundance of natural athletic talent, which essentially means he kicks my ass all over the place.  Here’s a little highlight from yesterday’s mountain biking:

I jumped like twice as high. We just don't have it on film...

Today we went for a short 8k trail run through the hills.  If the humiliation was good for anything, it’s reminding me how much work I have to do before I’m ready for my Ironman.  The bike ride to Spain should be a good appetizer.

Ok, I’m too tired to be witty.  I need to get my rest.  I’m pretty sure tomorrow won’t be a day off.

Categories: Ironman, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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