I did it! After six months I got back on the horse (or in the lake as the case was) and kicked-off my five week Ironman swim training.
More on that later. The week started with a 4:20am alarm on Bank Holiday Monday (dreamy) as Coralie was racing the Thames Turbo triathlon. We were greeted at Hampton Pool by this stunning view.
Coralie decided she wanted a refresher and entered a warm-up triathlon the month before we both take on The Lakesman, which I have to admit, is a really sensible idea! The Lakesman will be my first ever tri, but I'm hoping because it's a full Ironman distance and therefore a much longer race, the transitions will be less essential...
Anyway, she absolutely nailed it, bagging herself a new PB! It was particularly awesome given how hot it was in west London on Monday.
We live like trolls under a bridge, but on Wednesday evening we made a rare midweek social outing to watch Skid Row Marathon in Kingston. Surprisingly the cinema was totally dead, but we really enjoyed the film and I'd highly recommend it to runners and non-runners alike.
On the recommendation of my fabulous parkrun colleague Jaz, who has been helping me so much with the ongoing management of my anxiety (which I've written about previously) I've really gotten into listening to music and podcasts whilst exercising.
I've always loved podcasts whilst working or travelling, but whilst running I'd always preferred silence on the basis it builds discipline and mental strength, replicates race conditions, and you can enjoy the full experience of being amongst nature.
But I've loved the last couple of weeks and the miles have flown by, finally jumping on the Marathon Talk bandwagon and finding a truly incredible conversation on the importance of sleep. Honestly, it's one of the most mind-blowing and illuminating things I've ever listened to - justifying our 9pm bedtimes! - so I highly recommend you listen to this.
The low point of the week was undergoing crown-lengthening gum surgery on Friday at Guy's Hospital, next to The Shard.
For anyone who read my blogs a couple of years ago - yes I am still having dental work! Almost 3.5 years later. I was first referred in December 2014 to have major dental work to repair the damage caused my two-year battle with bulimia, and the treatment continues.
The procedure lasted over 3 hours, during which 3mm of my gums was removed using a scalpel whilst I was wide awake, but thankfully numbed up. There's no other way to put it - watching someone cut your gums with a knife is pretty barbaric! However it was a success, although I wasn't allowed to eat hard foods for 48 hours, or brush my front teeth for two weeks!
The lighter side of Friday was signing up to the Valencia Marathon in December! It's always been a race I'd fancied doing, so I'm really excited to be making the trip. I entered Coralie into the 10k, but accidentally registered her as a man! Thankfully she saw the funny side, and we booked ourselves into a hotel right on the beach, so it should be an awesome way to round-off the year.
Anyway, in terms of hours, this week was my biggest ever training week so I'd better get into it...
As I mentioned earlier... I did actually go for a swim. We cycled to Shepperton Lake today for their official season opening. Thankfully my wetsuit was not mouldy, and did still fit me. The water temperature was a balmy 13 degrees but there was no turning back.
I managed 2,300m in total before my hands were so cold it became quite hard to swim! It actually wasn't as bad as I was fearing. I had remembered how to do front crawl, which was handy, and my breathing felt okay. However, there's no denying the fact I was as slow as a hungover sloth!
I kept chugging away, and at one point I did actually overtake someone, but I'm fairly sure it was only because he was having a wee, because he came cruising back passed me seconds later...
Coralie treated herself to a super duper dry robe and as you can see, she smugly kept herself nice and warm as she waited for me to eventually catch up, having finished her swim about an hour before me!
All joking aside, I'm well aware that I haven't done anywhere near enough swim training, and I'm not arrogant or naive enough to think it's going to be anything other than a long, hard swim for me at The Lakesman.
I have no long-term triathlon aspirations and I very much see myself as a runner, which I think hasn't helped my lack of motivation for putting in the work required. But I am very competitive, so on the day however slow I am, I will definitely be giving it everything.
The highlight of the day, or possibly even the year, was stopping off for a cup of tea at Paws for Coffee, the amazing dog cafe in Hampton Hill! Coralie and I both desperately want to get a dog, but renting in London invariably means no pets, so the next best alternative is petting other people's dogs...
Nothing really to report here. I did 40 miles on Tuesday morning around Richmond Park in the sunshine, cycled to Shepperton and back today, but other than that it was just cycle commuting.
My terrible bike aside, I actually feel okay about the cycle leg of the Lakesman. I'm aiming to do a couple of 100 mile rides in the next month and hopefully that should set me up nicely for the big day.
This week was actually a really good run week. I'm still only running four times per week, but it's keeping me relatively fresh. I've never liked to run for less than an hour and I managed three good easy paced runs during the week around Osterley Park.
I mentioned last week how I kept seeing a guy there who spends seemingly hours each week just walking up and down the steps to the house. I guessed you didn't believe me, so I managed to get some evidence for you...
Given how horribly unenjoyable my spectacular detonation was at the London Marathon three weeks ago, I'm actually really happy and surprised and how much better my legs are feeling now. Lots of the niggles I had pre-London haven't resurfaced since, and my body has responded well to my blow-out at Bushy parkrun last weekend.
Yesterday I headed down to Kent with my parkrun colleagues Glen and Bella, and legendary photographer Bruce for the launch of the NHS 70th birthday celebrations at Tonbridge parkrun. It meant a Saturday morning 5:00am alarm to cycle to Teddington to begin the road trip.
The guest of honour was none other than double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes who kindly volunteered her time to help out, and she was incredibly nice! She posed for hundreds of photos, nailed all the videos we asked her to record first-take, and is in incredible shape. Honestly I still think she could hit the podium at Tokyo 2020.
In between the photoshoots, speeches and announcements, we did get to run too. For me it meant my 13th parkrun in a row and took me to 45 - five away from the coveted red t-shirt.
After three easy longer runs during the week, I fancied another blow-out especially given the flat course. Fortunately Kelly was only jogging round, so I went off at the front just behind some faster looking runners - by that I mean singlets and shorts vs my t-shirt and leggings! As you can see, I need to work on my reaction times...
It was an out-and-back course and I didn't know the way, so my plan was to sit in the guys in front if I could and then push on at the turnaround point. However, after a very lively first 400m, the pace slowed quite a bit so after half a mile I decided to push on at the front.
None of the other guys came with me and by halfway I was quite far ahead. This meant a tough couple of miles on my own, but I was pleased with my time of 17:46. It was 20 seconds slower than my run last week at Bushy, but given the course had some sharp turns and it was a solo effort it was definitely another step forward on my comeback. Progress!
All that's left is to look ahead to next week. On Sunday I'll be taking on the Richmond Park Marathon dressed as a panda! I've done the race once before in 2016 and it's a gorgeous but hilly trail course.
The main reason for doing another marathon is to spend some time on my feet on a tough route to build up some strength and confidence for the marathon leg of the ironman, where I will have to run after around 9 hours of swimming and cycling across the Lake District.
I'm just going to download some podcasts and run nice and easy, hopefully finishing in one piece ready to go into the last four weeks of Ironman training on a high.
Thanks for reading. Tom.