It’s National Coffee Day!!!

 

You would think as a triathlete in training I would “hale the Kale” but not so, at present I cannot function past 9am without the distinctive aroma of coffee giving me that boost. I’ve tried to quit but I don’t have the will power to both get up at 4:30am to train and not have coffee in my life. I am also the worst kind of coffee snob. No instant coffee for me, no “lets go into the office kitchen where they have a perfectly good machine”. Nope. I have to go to my barista and get the all-important skinny caramel late from them. I only have one cup a day and its got to be good. No ifs, no buts, there is a huge difference in good coffee. This morning was especially good as the tropical downpour affecting my island home for the last three days has not abated and has therefore made my training rides/runs a daily risk of life and limb. Speaking of risk to life this Ironman training absolutely sucks. I can’t even sugar coat it and say its remotely enjoyable. Last night (in the rain) I swam 160 lengths of a 25m pool to save you the calculation that’s 4km. It was dull as dishwater; there is no enjoyment until you finish. The rides have started to go beyond the 5 hour mark at the weekend followed by a run, last Sunday I did a 70.3 distance triathlon in training! I honest respect anyone who has even attempted to do one of these things. I have been on the verge of quitting for weeks now. I’m tired, grumpy and everything aches. I have an amazing coach (Kim Schwabaumber http://www.fuelyourpassion.net), brilliant training partners Danny Cummings and Andrew Kirby a squad of support “Breakaway Squad” a company that’s sponsoring us big shout out to Generali insurance and most of all the most supportive wife anyone could ask for. It takes a village to get me through this and I would encourage anyone else who does one to get a good support crew around you. The rides are long, the runs are lonely but coming back to supportive whatsapps, likes on strava and plenty of positive encouragement make you get up one more day.

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I believe that the training is the hardest part of doing a full distance Ironman, I really want to enjoy race day. A good friend was doing Ironman Italy last weekend and had to withdraw after 13 miles into the run following a fall and a nasty bout of runners trots. I was really upset for him. He had done the 2.4 mile swim in a great time he had got through the 112 mile bike and had run more than half of the marathon. I called him in Italy and was amazed at how upbeat he was, I know the hours he has put in as I have seen him out on the road as the sun is rising. We are part of the same squad. He inspirers us young 40 year olds as he is a young 50 and doing his first full Ironman, I honestly got chocked up speaking with him he was so close just 13 miles from the finish. When you watch these event on TV every single person out their could be called professional as it becomes a job, around 10-20+ hours a week training just to get to the start! Aldo – To us you are an Ironman.

So its Friday, Trump will likely offend someone, this rain might never stop, North Korea might push the button, I have a ton of work to do, Ironman is in 6 weeks, Hurricanes season is not over, and if all I am moaning about is a dam ironman then I should shut up and drink my coffee as I have it better than most.

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OMG I couldn’t believe this until I read to the end!

I’m sorry about the title but I love the way most FB posts get you to read an article by implying there is something earth shatteringly good in the text or video link. Alas I’m not sure if the below fits that category but I do hope you will read on…!

The last few months have been a bit of a blur!

I feel I have a mild case of anxiety and trying to figure out why!

Pretty sure my overreliance on coffee does not help this anxiety. So tried going without. Made it a week.

I learnt some pretty cool stuff over the past couple of months so lets give you, dear reader, a little recap. Maybe you can help answer the “what next” question.

January: Had Dad come and stay for a few weeks. He left in much better shape than when he arrived. We put him through Bailey boot camp in an attempt to try and improve his walking and overall wellbeing. Noticed him chocking on his food a few times. He entered his first running race the valentines mile, he did great! He’s not himself though and I’m worried about him. Sad when he left.

February: Some good work wins and Kym and I engineered a new service line to add to her personal training offering. My work constantly keeps me challenged, its exciting that there is so much opportunity but frustrating at the speed of which the market moves.

March: Headed back to the UK for a funeral, for my Grandmother who lived a very full life passing away at the age of 92. Her story is as epic as any person who has lived through the war years and raised a wonderful family. She was scared of being on her own more than she was of dying. Her husband of 60+ years passed away a few years before. I don’t think she ever recovered. Family was her life. She would have been proud to see how many people turned up to give her a good send off.

Travelled to LA for CoEd/Rotary to speak at various rotary clubs throughout the week, spent most of my time sat in traffic. Met some amazing people, did a 100mile bike ride with the LA wheelmen along the pacific coast highway, met a friend in Santa Monica who ticked a bucket list item for me by showing me round Beverley Hills in his 1956 Porsche speedster, people thought we were famous! He topped the week off by getting us courtside seats to the Lakers game! I’ve no idea how he managed it by Ryan Khan you are a star!

 

April: Raced in the Haines City Florida 70.3 Ironman – Achieved a PB even though I took the foot off the gas towards the end! Much to my coaches’ frustration, and mine!

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IM70.3 Florida Finish

Experienced the Boston Marathon first hand while supporting Kym. I was certainly more nervous than her. This was her biggest bucket list item. As a runner this is their mecca, after the bombings it became even more the marathon that everyone wanted to run. You have to qualify and Kym did. All she wanted to do now was have a great race. People told her she wouldn’t PB because of the hills. I had faith she would. She kept us guessing though and at the moment of the last split coming in on the app tracker we were following I knew she had done it! I was on the phone to her parents who were also tracking, we had a telephonic celebration when her final time came in. I couldn’t get close to the finish line to see her but I was there all the way! We had arranged a meeting spot outside the lingerie store “La Perla” – we thought it funny! I waited what seemed like ages for her to appear and when she did we both cried. The relief, the congrats, the overwhelming sense of achievement I had for her and simply the love. She talked about the race with such excitement and I loved hearing about it, I will also run this race but this time was hers. Everyone who has run a Boston Marathon has a “Boston” story behind it. We have ours and we have our ending. Until the next one.

 

May: Had my uncle come stay with us for 2 weeks, it was awesome to see him enjoy the island to its fullest and re kindle his love for diving. Got to know him better. Good times.

Delivered the largest HR Conference in the Caribbean, Released an Album (Now that’s what I call HR 1 available on ITunes) met some Hollywood stars, and came first in my category in the Grand Cayman May Classic cycle series.

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Delivered a 43 page client report and wrote 2, 80 page proposals in response to RFP’s. Helped the wife launch her new business line which has got off to a great start with her new clients.

Dad got diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

June:

So it’s June and the above was only a highlight of what a 6 months it has been. It’s been incredible, amazing highs and some earth shattering lows. But that’s life. We know the next six months already has a conference in New Orleans, A half Marathon in Chicago, A full Marathon in the UK combined with a special someone’s 70th, Rotary presentations in Idaho, and a full Ironman in Panama city. All whilst holding down a day job, trying to be a good President of the HR society and stressing about family. Its no wonder the speech by Grace Byers at our conference really resonated with me. She opened with “I am enough”. It’s an amazing story and mantra which helps you to ground and take a breath, you can see the speech on the CISHRP facebook page. I’m all for YOLO, but when you try to be all things to all people it can be completely exhausting. Therefore I am going to say “no” a little more, I am going to take a breath. This doesn’t mean I will work any less hard it just means I have to be smarter with my time, and apportion it to those that appreciate it.

So now lets tackles those next six months!

Is 5:30am really that bad?

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It’s so easy to say “I’m not a morning person” I know because I said it, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly! I had myself believing it. I read a lot of autobiographies – I like to read about interesting people. They are not always about successful billionaires although many of the rags to riches stories do hold my attention, many are about those who face challenges or simply do things I think are cool. Or people who have created something, a movement, project, invention. All are driven by a unique sense of purpose which you may think is uncommon yet all these people I define as successful do the same thing. They are successful because they move themselves, they do what makes them passionate and also 99% of them get up early in the morning.

However they do it in balance – they are not burning the candle at both ends and if they do its only for short periods of time. No they simply have a wellness routine that allows them to take advantage of time that us mere mortals spend in bed. Trust me I love my bed, I love sleep, I love that feeling when you wake and can drift back off to sleep knowing nothing is making you get up, I could stay there till midday. Sometimes I do. But that’s my balance. You will hear of athletes having rest days, they are as important as the training days, your bodies chance to recover and I covert them. This is because my weekday routine usually starts around 5:30am its just about getting light and I can get 2 hours worth of exercise in before my day, normally a bike ride followed by run or a swim (still training for Ironman…).

Now sometimes its not vigorous exercise that I do, I would actually class it as positive reflection, now don’t think I’m getting all hippy here but often I will just put on some music and walk or jog for an hour thinking about the day ahead, some good things that are coming up and I often visualize what I want to achieve. It’s amazing how refreshed you feel afterwards. You arrive home around 6:45am and I guarantee you do not feel one bit tired. Have a shower eat some breakfast then begin the day. You get more done in those hours than 90% of the population.

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You can be in the top 10% of readiness for your day. I know its not always practical when you have families, but I seriously urge you to make this time at least a couple of time a week. It one of the best remedies for anxiety, stress, low energy and its free and easy. Plus you get the planet virtually to yourself as there isn’t many other people up and about, but here is something else I’ve noticed, anyone you meet at that time of the morning that is doing something similar to you will always give you a nod, or a hi or some acknowledgement. Because they know it’s not easy to set an alarm, get up, get out. They know it takes practice and self discipline. There is an immediate mutual respect. After a time getting up isn’t hard. You actually look forward to it! Crazy right!

I wrote the above a couple of months ago but never published it, not sure why as I still believe in the merits of early morning exercise. But since the throws of the Ironman event a week ago I had what I term as a “recovery week”. This meant that I did nothing, (apart from work) absolutely no exercise at all, no early morning walks even, just stayed in bed till it was time to get up. The interesting thing is I woke up at 6.30am on the dot every day. It was hard to go back to sleep for an hour or so… my body was willing me up. Towards the end of the week I caved and ended up playing squash one night and then on the Sunday I got up early (4:30am!) to support my better half who was running a 30km endurance race. I actually ran a 5k then rode on to support her during her last miles. The reason I say I caved was I sooo wanted to do something in the mornings that my body and mind were alert at 6:30am. This might seem ludicrous to most and believe me, it does to me! But it was almost like a drug withdrawal, the mind wants what it wants and I was telling it nope – turn off back to sleep. Do I feel refreshed from a week of nothing? Not really – I feel a little lethargic and my eating habits have succumb to a bit more candy and cakes…. So this week I am back into the routine, Monday night swim, Tuesday morning bike ride, Wednesday night run, Thursday am bike ride, Friday am ramp runs Fri evening long swim, Sat sleep, Sunday am long ride … Need to add in a few more runs.

early-inspiration

I suppose what I am saying is when you first start out doing anything its always hard, then it becomes habit, breaking a habit is hard but when the habit you have formed is good for you its even harder to break! I didn’t realize I had become a morning person. My teenage self hates me right now, it doesn’t get it at all, but then he didn’t fear middle age and all the wonderful delights that come with it. I emailed a group of guys I have been friends with since school. Birmingham (our home city in the UK) is hosting its first international marathon so I sent them a challenge – we have one year to get into shape and run this bad boy… all before any of us turn 40. Now of the group of 4 friends only one gave it a maybe! The resultant list of maladies ranging from shin splits to arthritic hips just made me wince. These guys who I always envision being the same guys who rode bikes, played sports and were generally active have now become a range of inactive bystanders hell bent on believing that they cant do something. When did the majority of society think this way? So you have put on a few pounds, not done much in a few years, get pain in your joins with a little over exertion, well guess what its going to hurt when you get going. It’s not pretty but the end result will be life changing. None of the physicality’s reflected in my friends responses will in anyway hinder them while running, sure they will ache the whole time but that will lessen as they become fitter, lighter and generally healthier. I’ve seen people with reconstructed knees, no knees, no legs and many other life changing issues run a marathon. The only limiting factor in someone who is physically able is themselves.

So whether its getting up in the morning, or starting to exercise you, your brain and your own desire are all that stand in the way. So get up! Get out! Learn to love early starts…..

Get out of your head – Plus IronMan Miami 70.3 Race report :)

It’s 4:45am – I am bent over the sink in our room at the Intercontinental hotel Bayside Miami, our window looks over the swim course for the ironman 70.3 Miami which is due to start in about 2hrs time. A little voice in my head is saying “go back to bed, You have nothing to prove, seriously this isn’t just a man cold it’s a proper flu, you have no voice, this is stupid…”. The past 24hrs had been spent on a plane traveling from Cayman to Miami then into the hotel to build the bike all while convincing myself I was not getting sick. I even took the Mrs B out for dinner in South Beach whilst attempting to get someone to make me a good hot toddy (Still to find a bar tender who can replicate an Irish mothers hot toddy, one conversation resulted in me trying to explain what a kettle was to a young waitress when I asked her how she boiled water and she replied in the coffee machine!). So I have now been awake most of the night as a) I can’t breath as my nose is all blocked and b) have the beginnings of what I assume is Ebola, or the plague or something equally evil that has decided to infect me on the one day of the year I need to feel at my best. Now any endurance sports types out there reading this will acknowledge that it is the one thing we all dread, even more than a twisted ankle or pulled muscle, getting sick is just not in the plan. I mean why should we be sick, we are healthy people, eating good food and exercising like it’s a reason to exist. We become hypochondriacs, moan about every single malady that could strike us down, we all have witches brews and secret potions that we are convinced only we know about but that they will cure anything… so we are the greatest at convincing ourselves we are not sick because we have not put in all that time, training and expense to let something like the bubonic plague stop us from competing on race day.

So now you have it 4:45am I have bubonic plague.

Ok it’s a man cold but I feel like sh!t. My training over the last few weeks hasn’t been great either. I’ve not stuck to the plan, mainly because I have been traveling on business and had to fit runs in where I can. It’s that plane travel that’s made me sick, I know it! Clean recycled air my arse.

I take a look at myself in the mirror and say to myself “well I will start and if I can’t finish at least I know I did all I could. Mrs B was equally doubtful. The morning was cool and calm, a little breeze and the water temp for the swim was 83 degrees. I met up with Jon, Chris and Stuart as we headed into transition to set up our bikes and prepare for the hours ahead. All of us were quiet going through our own routines; me trying not to cough was the main thing! Once we had set up our stations I went back up to the hotel room for another check of myself, more ablutions and vaseline application to parts you shouldn’t apply to in public…Stuart and I were in the same swim wave, which was nice to have a familiar face to talk to pre race and ease the nerves which were plentiful. Stu was in pique form and looking forward to an amazing time, which I hoped he would get. My goals were simple. Try and finish! If I can finish, beat time from last year of 6hrs 8 mins, if I feel great do sub 6 hours. We jumped into the water and it was soooo much better than last year, for starters not a jellyfish in sight just me and some pretty clear water. We had 30 seconds before the starter fired the horn for our wave start and I took the time to look back upon the spectators some 5000 people lining she seafront cheering on their nearest and dearest. It always makes me smile because its one of the best sides of humanity to see. Encouragement, support, love.

With the sound of the horn I flicked the button on my watch and my race had started. I moved into some open water to the right of the swim channel found a nice rhythmical pace with few interruptions from other swimmers. The swim gives you a chance to think, reflect and talk yourself into the bike portion of the race, it also cleared out my sinuses brilliantly which I hadn’t expected and so my breathing became easy and lungs felt strong. This gave me a real lift and the hope that I might do this today after all! But this is mile 1 of 70 so lets not get too carried away. Once you hit the final buoy on the swim course and you can see in the distance those magical stairs that will take you out of the water and on to the bike its like being caught in a black hole it just sucks you in, you stay on course and for me there was no congestion as I exited the water. I took a look at my watch. 40 mins – sh!t – I had swam the same course in 32 mins last year that’s 8 minutes off the pace – immediately my head went into negative mode – “you must be sick, don’t worry just take it easy now…” but my rational side kicked in, “no way” I said to myself “ that felt good” & “my watch must be out” just keep going.

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I ran up to transition putting the swim behind me and focusing on my favorite part of the race, a 90 kilometer bike ride. The Miami bike course is pretty much out and back so you get to see the pros on the other side of the course and it always gives me a boost to see how far I am behind them etc. Especially as they started first! I flicked my watch to the second setting for bike and off I went spending only 3 minutes precious time in transition.

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Once out on the bike course I got my first shock, what felt like a hurricane of a headwind was severely hindering my forward momentum, I was looking at my speed and only maintaining around 30kph(19mph) considering I would normally average around 34-36Kph this was not amusing. You see the longer you spend on the bike the more energy you consume and I had only planned to spend 2hrs 35mins on the bike and had fueled for such. This pace would set me back 30 or so minutes which would mean I would have to grab another drink from an aid station which I didn’t want to do. So again plenty of time to think, watch your heart rate don’t over do it and remember that this headwind will become a tail wind for the return journey. So that’s what I banked on, a hurricane force tailwind on the way back, but with wind and weather you just don’t know till you turn! I don’t get passed by many other athletes on the bike section as its probably my strongest discipline, it doesn’t mean I’m the fastest but it does mean that people have to be going some and be able to maintain it to go past. I took solace in the fact that this was still holding true, other athletes were not over taking me which meant they were finding this headwind tough as well. When the turn around finally came it was with a euphoric roar that I immediately felt the release of the wind and a metaphorical shove in the back.

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It was pure joy and another much needed lift, as I was sure I could not have carried on or finished if that wind had persisted. I looked down at my speed now 45kph (27mph) wow if I could just maintain this all the way back it will be awesome. Alas the wind didn’t give as much gusto as I had hoped but it still allowed for a solid 38kph average on the way back. I sailed into the bike transition full of hope that I might get through this. Just 13.1 miles of running torture, just 4 times over that bitch of a bridge that separates downtown Miami from South Beach. You got this.

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That phrase you got this lasted until mile 4 when it turned into – You stop this now! My joints ached, my lungs burnt I was hot and quite miserable. I knew that I couldn’t stop there as I still had to get back over the bridge so I just said to myself Kym (Mrs B) is waiting at the halfway point just get to her she will make it all better. I don’t quite know how Kym was going to make it all better, but I knew that seeing Kym had to be the point of my decision. So I plodded on for 2 more miles. I saw Stu he was looking strong and on his final loop which gave me a lift. I don’t mean to sound cheesy but I do get joy out of seeing other people achieve what they want to, I know how much effort they put in. Each have their own demons, each has their own level of skill. Stu’s level is Jedi master compared to mine but either way he trains hard to achieve what he does and therefore deserves the success he achieves. I also wanted to see my other friends out on the course Jon who did this race with me last year and Chris S who has done 3 full Ironmen one of them with Jon and has certainly been another inspiration on my road to fitness as Chris battled some serious illness of his own and came through it stronger and more determined. Jon then came past in the opposite direction as he headed out on his first loop (They started about an hour after us as they are old men so were put in the geriatric wave at the back 😉 I’ll be in there age group next year, Jon didn’t notice me till I called his name, he was focused and looked really strong, I shouted he smiled and we both had said all that was needed.

As I neared where I knew kym would be I started frantically looking for her but I needn’t have worried she saw me way before I saw her and I saw the relief on her face and excitement that I was nearly done along with that look only your wife can give you. That look that says, your mad, but I get it and I love you keep going! That’s all I needed to turn round and do the 6 mile loop over that sodding bridge again. I got emotional as she ran by me for a few seconds wishing me well and asking how I was, it was difficult to talk, I think I said I’m done, I’ve nothing left. I told her I was going to the turnaround point and would be back in a sec, she crossed the road so she would be on the right side for my run back out.. During the 400 meter run to the turnaround point through the thickest of the spectators and well wishers I took stock. OK legs do you hurt? A little but we are not done yet, OK Hips, do you hurt? Yes but we are not done yet? Lungs how you doing – we are still working – It was at that point I remembered the 40% rule – when you think your done your really only 40% done, I was prepared to argue that I was about 80% done at this point but it would have wasted energy. I saw kym again then and received the lift I needed to get the last bit of this thing done. I set out on the final loop. It goes a bit blurry here lots of walking/running lots of self pep talks a bit of coughing and then as I was coming back over the long uphill part of the bridge I received a hug. It was Chris S, he must have seen me walking up the bridge and caught me up. His day wasn’t faring much better than mine plus he was still on his first loop. We walked briefly and I suggested we run back down the bridge we did but I didn’t want my slow pace to affect his if anything he had given me a boost and a distraction from my own internal monologue that got me going again. I have 15 minutes to break the 6 hour mark! Well reality kicked in I was prob moving at about the 12 min mile pace so I wasn’t going to make that, but I could beat my time from last year if I just keep moving! So following Chris’ lift I did, I urged him on at his pace and carried on at my renewed pace. It carried me into the final mile at around 5 hours 56 minutes crossing the line in 6 hours 6 minutes! A new PB Miami time for me.

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So I started this with “get out of your head”. I was in and out of my own head so many times during that race, I was ill, I know I was but it didn’t stop me. We spend so much time deliberating in our head whether we should do something or not that very often we choose not through procrastination. I said I would do 3 Ironman 70.3 events this year. I said I would get enough points to qualify as an all world athlete. I said I would get down to 250lbs by the end of the year. Well 2 out of 3 isn’t bad and the year is not over!

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Don’t let your head get in the way of a good idea. As Nike says – Just Do It!

 

 

NB: The swim course was slow as the tidal current was against us so everyone was slow! Phew! And my bike 2hrs 36 mins – we don’t talk about the run 😉

Words that can turn a man cold!

The following words will normally fill a man with dread – “Honey can we try the sustainable food restaurant on Sunday evening” “Sustainable food”? I ask, “Yes” she said – it serves mainly vegetarian dishes, you eat off wheat based cutlery, oh and it does a great Lionfish curry. It must have been a weak moment for me because normally I would be clamoring for a Sunday roast or at least a meat based hearty affair washed down with a nice red wine. Alas, as good husbands do from time to time I simply said “sure, why not”. Although I could think of a million reasons why not my head was saying, but she wants to and you always eat what you want.

So with very little enthusiasm (from my part) we set off for a new sustainable eating restaurant called Vivo, it’s based on north west point road in West Bay Grand Cayman. Only a 5-10 min car ride from seven mile beach. Its located in a popular dive spot/hotel. Upon arrival I was not bowled over, metal chairs no cloths and a take out style inner room. However you sit outside looking over the ocean which surprisingly is not that common as only a few of the restaurants her come with ocean views. Our server Lori, greeted us with a warm smile and “sit wherever you like guys” which I immediately warmed to. It made me realize that look, dinner doesn’t have to be stuffy just go with it try something new and relax! Lori immediately bought over the iced water some table mats and asked had we visited Vivo before. She explained what the restaurant was all about and made some recommendations for the starters which we took her up on, plus a couple of glasses of bubbles for good measure.

The appetizers of falafels and egg plant roll arrived with a mint dip and another dip that looked like honey but actually had a nice spicy bite to it. The egg roll was like a Quesada and was delicious and the falafel was actually pretty tasty and more like a samosa. Both were filling without making you full and I was impressed! Other diners were enjoying their food also and plenty of   yums and wows are being heard. For mains I had the Lionfish curry (Lionfish is an invasive predator fish to Grand Cayman and needs culling so it is sustainable) and my wife had the vegetable curry, simply put both were fab.

Plates finished wine drunk and some happy banter with our waitress Lori who made time for everybody in the restaurant. We asked her to thank Chef Marie who had whipped up our food in no time chatted some more then made our way home happy in the knowledge that we would come back here.

So the morale of this tale – Those moments you keep missing by sticking to the norm, this could have been one of them! Take a chance on something new. I am always berating myself for predicting the outcome of something based on preconceived ideas which have no foundation, just because I’m not a vegetarian in this case. But even then sometimes the food doesn’t matter but the time you spend in the company of someone you find very important.

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Things you can learn at a finish Line

You just have to believe!

No I don’t mean in the biblical sense, I mean you just have to believe in yourself and believe that you can!

Yeah, yeah, yeah why are you telling me this I’ve heard this all before… well you perhaps have but I bet you haven’t done this…

I would like you to seek out a marathon run near you, don’t worry you don’t have to do it, yet. I want you to go to the finish line around the 5 hours plus mark. After 5 hours or more of continuous exercise you are fighting some pretty awesome demons. Just as many as the sub 5 hour people but now they have turned even more evil!

After we finished the Miami half marathon this weekend in Miami we went back to the hotel had a hot shower and then said we would go and watch the marathon finishers. Something we had never done before even though we have taken part in several now! Hands down it was the best part of the whole weekend for both of us! We screamed and shouted for every random stranger that ran over that finish. We felt every bit of emotion with them, so many people shed tears of triumph as they crossed that line and we were right there with them.

Why? because you know their pain so their accomplishment just reminds you what yours felt like, and you know what it makes you want to do it again. Every person that finishes the dreaded 26.2 has a story to tell, they all did it for a reason, many will do one again.

But that’s not what this post is about, if you have not done one you wont be able to relate to those feelings however you can see it in others. No, what I want you to notice is the sheer diversity of people and body types that cross that finish line….. disabled athletes, Amputees, Large people , small people , young, old, athletic, not athletic, every race color and creed, the finish line lets everyone pass and that’s the take away here.

If you can honestly walk away from that finish line and think “I could never do that”, you have missed something. You don’t have to run a marathon, but if you think you can then I promise you, you can. You just have to believe in yourself!

 

Remember the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”…

I watched a good friend of mine cross the Ironman finish line after 15 hours of pain and fatigue. A friend who only 12 months ago tore his patella tendon requiring surgery. He never thought he would do it. To be honest a few of us who have trained with him also had doubts as to whether he was fit enough etc…

I feel ashamed to admit but my friend does not look like an ironman. He has a sturdy build and like me is not the svelte like Adonis we generally see on the triathlon circuit. I know I have had and still have nagging body shape issues but then I realized that not many people look good in tri suits!

The reason I feel ashamed is that I judged my friend on whether he could do this epic event by the way he looks. Something that people judge me on. I gave him no credit for his mental ability and that is what an ironman is all about. The race is won or lost in your mind. Not many people gave me a hope of completing the marathon but I never had a doubt I would complete it. Just like my friend he never doubted he wouldn’t finish the Ironman as long as his knee held up.

The elation on his face as he crossed the line, the hours in training the mental win that he did it. He managed himself through that event and he can call himself an ironman with all the accolades that should bring.

For me, a realization, that whilst I never wished him to fail, I judged the book by its cover and knowing how that feels vow never to do that again. I should have realized that of course he was fit enough, after all he put in the training hours, so if he can do it in training why couldn’t he finish. He is a man of great resolve who has completed everything he has put his mind to, from making a film to setting up an ironman type event here. He has proven beyond a doubt that he has the strongest will there is and only something catastrophic would stop him for achieving what he wants.

I’m sure he will come across this missive over the next few weeks, I hope he understands my mistake and that the transparency of our friendship means he is not offended as this is really an admission of guilt for assuming he was weaker than he is. After all he is now an Ironman of Iron will! Congrats Buddy

The Chicago Marathon 2015 – Part 2 of the 640 Challenge – An introspective

It was dark, somewhere in the darkness an owl hooted, ok it was not an owl but the alarm clock in our hotel room going off at 5am! Actually 5am is probably a lay in compared to the 4am training runs, but sh!t the day was finally here! We had survived training injury free (Well relatively Kym had fallen over taking all the skin off her knees only 4 weeks prior!) we had survived the 12 hr travel, 2 flights numerous security checks and the bags had arrived. The hotel had our reservation and all of the worries associated with the trip just melted away because now was the big one. Now was the day, cometh the moment. 26.2 miles of who knows what.

For someone who has never run a marathon before this was the day I would check that bucket list item, I had always been fascinated by endurance running and secretly always wanted to do one but had switched the marathon off to watch football after 10 minutes, because lets face it, it was very dull to watch on TV. When I had tipped the scale at 300+ lbs my dreams of doing a marathon we a distant memory, there was no way within 12 months would I be heading towards a start line.

We picked Chicago simply because people who had done it before said it was EPIC. They said the crowd will push you along, the city loves the marathon! I have to say they were not wrong.

So having woken with the realization that it was go time I jumped out of bed and immediately ordered coffee and oatmeal from room service. We needed to be at the corals for 7am so that gave us about an hour and a half to brew for a … lets call it a solid constitutional. Bowel movements and marathons are the thing of nightmares, if you haven’t gone before the race you are most certainly going to need to go during it, you do not want to have to visit a marathon day portaloo! So stretching and coffee were my remedies of choice and thank the lord we had lift of. A few pounds lighter Kym and I headed toward the start line along with the 40,000+ other people giving this running thing a go.

I had been honest about my time, as mentioned in previous blog posts I have what I call a steady plod its not going to break any records but it will get me to the finish. I had said I would do it in under 5.30mins so into Corral G I was put. Kym on the other hand wanted to do a qualifying time for Boston which is something like 3:45 for her age group. An ambitious target for her first marathon. So with emotional hugs and lots of good lucks we parted at gate 3, her to run her race, me to conquer mine.

Of course being in a coral near the back meant I had a bit of waiting to do but I enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere chatting with their runners and just being thankful that I was there.

I heard the announcer send off corral C where Kym was and sent up a silent prayer to whoever listens wishing her an amazing race. At 8:15 I crossed that anticipated start line, I was off. Wooooshhhhhh a release of adrenaline, I had planned my playlist so that I had one of my favorite running tracks playing as I crossed the start – AC/DC Thundersturck if you have not heard the opening guitar riff of this song I dare you to listen to it and not be moved…

As we passed under the first overpass I think half of the runners stopped for a pee! Simply hilarious! As we headed out into the city Chicago came alive, the noise of the crowd reaches you first and it never leaves. I had my name on my running shirt and therefore complete strangers would shout go Chris! Your looking great! You can do this! If you ever want to see the amazing side of human nature in action go and stand along the route of a marathon. Not only is the support from these people amazing but every single runner is running for a reason whether its for themselves or for a cause there is a reason and the inner battles that take place along the 26.2 mile route are the things of legend and movie sets.

As I “hi-fived” the crowd I  read motivational posters there are a few which stuck out in my mind:

“This is the worst parade ever” made me laugh

“The Kenyans are drinking all the beer hurry!”

“Never trust a fart”

“If a marathon was easy it would be called your mother!”

Best-Marathon-Signs-2015

There were so many of these and just brilliant support from all the crowd which was some 1.5million people! Chicago you represented!!

Running through the 13.1 mile sign letting us know we had officially done halfway also marked the furthest race I had done thus far which again lifted the spirits knowing that each step now meant a step closer to the finish! It also meant a step closer to the furthest I had run in training, about 16 miles.

I had followed a training plan but it had to also include swimming and cycling in preparation for the upcoming 70.3 Ironman only 10 days after the marathon, plus a trip to vegas had also got in the way! To top it all I simply got bored of running on my own in the dark in 100 degree heat. So I had assured myself that I had the mental ability to push myself an extra 10+ miles on the day… I hope.

I think I hit my wall about mile 18 – the legs had started to seize up and my quads felt like lead weights – I fuelled with a gel took a couple of Tylenol washed down with Gatorade and had a conversation with myself. “You only have 8 miles left, that’s not far, your not really in any pain just enjoy the day look someone’s giving out bananas got get one….. That’s how I got over my wall, simply talking to myself and picking out something of interest up ahead and saying “go on lets go see what that is. Then I would laugh at myself as I arrived a sign saying wine only 6 miles away.

20 Miles – I got a text from Kym – “Done!!! –no idea on time think 3:40!! Hope you are ok thought of you all the way.. let me know how your doing!! Love you xx” – I fired off a quick congratulatory text saying I was at mile 20. I shed a tear out of pure joy for her achieving her goal that she had worked so hard to accomplish. An amazing time sooo pleased for her. It motivated me I wanted to see her at the finish and share that hug of relief that we had done it, the training had paid off and wow!!

I plodded on like this until around mile 22 – this is where it got really tough. Allot of people were walking and struggling, I didn’t want to struggle I can do this, I don’t want to walk but yet I’m walking – Your mind starts going a little crazy you think you are running when actually your are at a slow crawl! I crawled until mile 24 – then a sign said 2 miles to go, that was it, I was running home I was going to beat this bad boy – I was going to run a marathon. 50 meters later I was walking again! The legs had gone and it was all I could do to keep moving one foot in front of the other. Which is how the weight loss had started. Put one foot in front of the other and move. Just move. 1 mile. The crowds were thick here screaming at everyone telling us how great we are, telling us we were nearly home. 800 meters said the sign, I’m not walking now, I have a slow jog on and I’m picking up speed, I see the finish, I know Kym is waiting ready to celebrate both our achievement.

I crossed the line. 5 hrs 19 mins

Wow its done – where is kym…. My father text me my time, he had been following on-line along with my mum and kyms parents plus friends here in Cayman. A flood of texts came in all very humbling and amazing to receive. Again people can be so thoughtful, this meant so much to Kym and I plus the charity and these people supported us. Amazing.

Kym and I met up and had our hug and photos – we talked of our individual races our own struggles and high points and where we hit our lows. Each of us inspiring the other. We began the 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel. It hurt, but I didn’t care.

We had done it.

The 640 Challenge continues in earnest as I get back on the bike and in the water this weekend in preparation for the Ironman 70.3 in Miami next weekend.

I spoke with the legend Derek Haines this week who completed 6 Marathons in 6 Months at the young age of 66 and he did Paris and London within a week of each other. He actually went quicker in his second marathon, which is simply stunning and quite inspirational.

So there is hope that my legs will recover from the Chicago marathon in time! Thus far only 3 toenails have turned black, I will spare you the pictures as some things should not be shared! A great line from Mr Deeds “The hideousness of that foot will haunt my dreams…”

For someone who has only just scratched the surface of endurance events The last triathlon being the sprint triathlon I have certainly jumped in with both feet going straight for the 70.3 distance Ironman.

The euphoria of finishing my fist marathon has definitely given way to the dread of this upcoming challenge. However the sense of achievement in finishing the marathon can only be heightened by the possible completion of an ironman event. I doubt it will lead its way into the full ironman but for this year with 2 more challenges ahead it will have to do!

I’m doing these events and challenges in support of two wonderful causes – the Life foundation here in Grand Cayman which provides literacy and learning for those that require support. The other cause is the Guatemala literacy Project a simply epic sustainable program that helps beat the cycle of poverty through education in Gutemala. I currently support two children through this project by paying for their schooling. The letters they now write and hope for their future is heart warming. Until you have seen 3rd World poverty up close and personal its hard to imagine what these families go through. Everyone can make a difference.

So I know we are all asked to give a plenty to various great causes. I can’t tell you this one is greater than any other. But I can tell you your money makes a difference, plus it truly helps me get across these finish lines!

Please support: 640Challenge

Up Next!!!! 640 Challenge art 3
Up Next!!!! 640 Challenge part 3

Breaking your cherry…..(marathon style)

T-Minus 5 days until the start of my first marathon – Chicago – There are a million questions going round in my head and for anyone who has ever trained for a marathon or any endurance race they are they following:

Have I trained enough
Have I trained right
What if I get cramp
What if I need the toilet
What if I don’t finish!
What if I’m tired before I start as my coral is near the back!
What if What if What if…..

I seriously have run out of running Mojo, its supposed to be a glorious taper time…. but I cant even be bothered to run the 3 mile taper runs this week! Its a real force to put the trainers on a get out the door! I just want it to be over! But I also want to enjoy it and its way too late to worry about the training. I’ve got up to 16 mile runs, I know its 10 miles short of the distance but I was soooo bored running in 90 degree heat and I didn’t feel it was lack of fitness it was more lack of motivation. I live on a small island so the scenery whilst beautiful is the same and when you have to run in the dark (as its too hot for distance running in the day) there is not much to see. I have listened to all of my music so many times that Im sure i’m not even listening to it anymore. Therefore I have run out of running mojo. Yet I am excited for this coming weekend! I am now committed to the fact that my time wont be quick, in fact it would rival that of a slug wading through glue, a determined slug at that and thats where I think Chicago will come into its own. The crowds the scenery, the other runners, the atmosphere will hopefully allow me to forget that at 17 miles this is further than I have ever run before. That at 18 miles my legs will be hurting, That at 19 miles there are still 7 more to go! So please Chicago if you see a man wearing a 640 challenge running top on with the name Chris on cheer loud for me I will be a hurting but determined slug.

Ticking the marathon bucket list box whilst doing it for a great cause is also the most motivation I will need on the day! http://www.facebook.com/640challenge part 2 here I come!

You have been doing conferences all wrong – Try this!

#SHRM15

So I am currently stuck in the Las Vegas Airport – don’t you just love when they don’t tell you about a schedule change, which causes you to miss your flight! So I have a 7 hour wait plus I missed my connection so have to overnight in Miami before flying home. Trying to see the upside in every situation I thought I could bang out a couple of missives. Mainly because the people I met at this years SHRM15 conference were simply amazing and some of the best bloggers in the country.

Before I left for SHRM15 (Which is the biggest HR conference in the world) I had already made up my mind that I was going to do this one differently. For the last couple of years I have attended this event in Orlando and Chicago and its done on a simply epic scale. 20,000 people hundreds of sessions and probably over 1000 exhibitors in the convention hall. It is mind blowing. But I think many people miss what a conference is all about. They spend hours ruminating over which session to go to, who is going to be good what topic they want to learn about . They busy themselves by scheduling everything so that their days are locked in, it’s almost like being in school. I have honestly seen draft fanatics spend less time figuring out their strategy than some of the HR folks spend figuring out their session planner. But they miss the biggest fundamental reason that we go to conference for. Meeting people!

I asked a colleague who was “locked In” how many people they had met or connected with their response “I haven’t time for all that I need to learn stuff”. Now forgive my cynicism but how much are your really going to learn in an hour session that would be worth more than connecting with an expert that you could pick up the phone to later down the line?

So I mixed it up:

  • I didn’t plan one session
  • I went to the networking sessions
  • I reached out to a couple of people I was interested in meeting as they would be at the conference plus they were also speaking
  • I let people know I would be there in case they wanted to meet me.
  • I only booked one evenings entertainment (A show, it is Vegas after all)

The result:

  • So much more relaxed
  • I met up with a great speaker buddy called Tim Sackett and we hit the convention center together. He is a pro at this and knows everyone so I got introduced to plenty of people as we hit the booths. Made some great connections
  • A by product of this was I was allowed access to the bloggers lounge, guess what I met more really interesting people who were the writers behind many of the blogs I read so for me it was like meeting celebs. I connected in person with around 10 members of our blogging community who we have swapped details and a few stories. Plus they were all interested in coming to speak at my conference in Cayman.
  • All of them are experts in different levels of HR and many have held the very top jobs in our industry so I f I need to learn something, guess what I’m picking up the phone.
  • It was interesting to hear who they were going to see speak and see them speak, so my sessions revolved around who was saying something the blogging community thought was interesting rather than just blindly picking horses (you get what I mean). In turn I attended several really interesting session that gave a different insight or some big data revelation’s.
  • I was invited for drinks with a few of them so I went, lets just say its Vegas, it got messy and we ended up in a penthouse suit of the cosmopolitan at a small private party!
  • I attended the international networking event – but I participated and did the “passport game” (You have a card and you have to get people from different countries to sign it then you put it in a draw for a prize) – I met a bunch of people from all over the world and guess what – I won a prize in the draw a new Ipad which was awesome as mine had just broken. I had done this event for the last 3 years and always just talked to the group I knew. So it paid off big time.
  • I met up with a couple of people who reached out to me on twitter, they were great meetings with something coming from both of them.
  • Within just 3 days I met more people and went to some of the best sessions I have been to simply by allowing myself to be flexible and understanding that I know nothing about where is going to be the right event or session.

So in summary I will never do a conference the old way, this one was so much more fun. Made more so by they accepting nature of a few new friends that allowed me to tag along, were accepting of the introduction and happy that I was happy to meet them.

Tim, William, Laurie, Jennifer, Dawn, Jess, Matt, Career builder, Mel, Sarah, Merren, Robin, Heath and the many others – thanks