Norseman Training Stats (Iain)

This week was the last week of Norseman training. Thank f$%K!!!

I don’t know whether I’ve done enough training. I’ll discover that in a couple of weeks time when I attempt the race BUT I do know that I’ve done all I could in the time I had available.

My aim has always been to complete rather than compete so on that basis since the start of the year my training stats are:

BIKE
Distance: 2,720.5 mi
Time: 184h 41m
Elev Gain: 100,682 ft
Rides: 164

If I was to ride 2,720.5 miles from Glasgow then I’d end up in Baghdad in Iraq. I suspect at some point in Norseman i’ll wish I was in Baghdad as even getting shot at will be more pleasant than the swim/bike/run!

100,000 ft of elevation is the equivalent of cycling 3 times the height of Everest. Which sounded impressive until I looked up what is the record number of climbs of Everest.  Kami Rita Sherpa has summited 22 times! So my paltry 3 times is just a walk in the park to him.

184 hours is along time to be biking. I could have used that time to learn to paint, speak a foreign language or more likely just watch television. 184 hours of TV means I could have binge watched:

All of Game of Thrones (63 hours)
All of Breaking Bad (62 hours)
Every Marvel film (36 hours)
Every Harry Potter film (22 hours)
One episode of love island. (1 hour)

RUN
Distance: 544.1 mi
Time: 100h 1m
Elev Gain: 37,493 ft
Runs: 101

If I’d have run from my house for 544 miles I’d have ended up in the sea but if I ignore that pesky issue then I’d have ended up in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Which until now I’d never heard of! After a quick google I can reveal the most interesting thing I could find about the place.

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On the coat of arms for the state, the symbols of Holstein and Schleswig can both be seen. The two lions represent Schleswig while the leaf of a nettle is for Holstein.

Before the Prussians took over the region, the lions faced away from the nettle. But legend has it that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck couldn’t bear the idea of the ‘Danish’ lions pointing their bums at the Holstein nettle.

Sorry – It wass not that interesting a story but its the best I could find!

SWIM
Distance 40,808m
Time 19h 4m
Swims 27

When training for an Olympics Michael Phelps would swim 80,000m a week. That’s 1600 laps of a 50m swimming pool. I’ve managed half a week of his training in six months. Which is why I don’t have any Olympic Medals but how many episode of Love Island has he seen? I bet its none. I’ve seen loads. Who’s the success now?….umm probably still him!

Hopefully I’ve reached the start line fit, injury free and happy. I can’t ask for any more than that.

(Although i have one long run and one long bike ride still to do. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!)

Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 (Iain)

 

PRE-RACE

I’ve not been ill at all this year until… two days before the race. Thankfully, it was only a head cold but it meant I had a worrying 24 hours on Friday wondering whether I’d be fit enough to take part.

I felt much better on Saturday so I headed through to Edinburgh to register. I didn’t mention my illness to Andrew. I didn’t want him to get the psychological boost of knowing I wasn’t 100% fit.

Registration was quick and easy. I spent longer in the queue to the expo shop than I did registering. I’m always amazed at the amount of tat for sale at the expo. This year’s prize for worst product goes to the IronMan door mat.

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We stayed in Macmerry, a small village near the swim start. The village is tiny but it contains one of the most important facilities in Scotland – the Royal Bank of Scotland datacentre. Billions of pounds of banking trade goes through the site.  There are no signs on the building to indicate its purpose. It looks like an anonymous industrial unit.

I used to visit the site when I worked for RBS. I joined RBS the day the bank collapsed. I don’t think those two events are linked. I’m pretty sure the damage was done before I got there.

Its the worst place I’ve ever worked! I left after six months but not before accidentally getting stuck in the door entry tube to the datacentre. I was there until a security guard rescued me. I don’t miss the place.

SWIM 

Last year we we were one of the last into the water as queuing for the toilet had taken priority over queuing to get into the water.

This year we were also one of the last in as there was still a lack of toilet facilities at the start. Hearing ACDC play “thunderstuck” is supposed to be one of the iconic moments of any IronMan race. It’s less iconic when heard in a portaloo as I tried to get my arm back into my wet-suit sleeve.

It took 30 minutes to get into the water as they only let three people in at a time. This worked out well as there was plenty of space on the swim. I never felt boxed in at any point. Although one guy did swim past me perpendicularly. I’m not sure where he was going!

I enjoyed the swim. The sea was calm. The water was warm and I felt great.

BIKE

I decided to race the bike by “feel” which is my way of saying I forgot my GPS watch! I also forgot my water bottle and my spare tube.  People who say bad luck comes in three’s are wrong. Bad luck comes in fours as I’d also forgotten my sun tan lotion!

On the bright side, this meant my bike was not weighed down with extra bits. I collected a water bottle at the first feed stop so it worked out fine.

The bike route is pretty flat (compared to where I normally ride). The long climbs aren’t very steep and the steep climbs aren’t very long. The first 30 miles are the best part of the course- good road surfaces and nice views over the East Lothian countryside. The route back into Edinburgh had some ‘interesting’ sections – some cobbled roads, a farm road and some pavement.

RUN

I was confident I was well ahead of Andrew so my plan was to run the first two laps of the course and then see how I felt on the last.

It very hot and there was no breeze on the bottom part of the course. The BBC claim it was 21C. Which coincidentally is also the race distance!

 

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I didn’t spot Andrew until the 2nd lap. I was at least 20 minutes ahead of him. I knew at that point I’d won so I took it easy until the finish.

OVERALL

The course was good, the event was well run and I got home in time for my dinner. What more can you ask for in a race?

One major improvement this year is the t-shirt. Last years’ effort was shockingly bad. It looked like the sort of design a contestant from The Apprentice would come up with when they only have five minutes left in a design challenge but hadn’t done any prep work on it.

Us

Trailfest Summer Solstice 15K (Iain)

I’ve only ran in Mugdock Country Park three times. The first time, I got lost. The second time, it rained. On my last visit, I got lost and it rained.

I have a reputation for attracting rain. I used to be a member of a walking group called Glasgow Young Walkers. Rain occurred so regularly on my walks that I received the nickname – the rainmaker.

I was reminded of this at the registration desk. One of the volunteers recognized me from my time in the club. She asked if I still went on walks.  Unfortunately, whilst I was on the committee of the group, I created a rule stating anyone over 40 was no longer young. So when I turned 40 I had to throw myself out of the club! I doubt my rain making skill is missed, all the walks are now dry and sunny.

As I registered I noticed that I was the only man registering. In fact, from my walk to the car to the desk I didn’t see a single male runner but numerous female runners.

I put it down to registering early and assumed the men were all waiting until the last moment to register.

Before the race started, the organizer gave us all a quick safety talk. I didn’t pay much attention to it until he said “There’s a prize for anyone who gets a selfie with a highland cow”

Unfortunately I did not spot any cows on the way round the course. My collection of selfies with animals will have to limit itself to a horse, a talking monkey, a cartoon cat and cookie eating rooster.

Race directors take note – This was a great idea from trailfest (unless someone had been mauled by a cow outraged at being photographed without first having a chance to put on makeup and brush their hair). I want to see more imagination in awarding prizes at races. Forget awarding the prize to the fastest. Anyone can do that. It just involves running a lot. Award prizes to the best costume, the best on course photo, the laziest runner. Anything that make the event more fun!

During the race I was reminded how few men were on the course when at one point a marshal shouted at me “watch out the women are catching you!” I shouted back “I’m just pleased to be keeping up with them!”

 

Afterwards, I checked the results and there was 59 female runners and 39 men. The only other race I can think of that has more female runners than men is the Womans 10k. It is a great tribute to the organisers that the race attracts such a big turnout of women.

 

I have noticed trail races and ultras tend to attract a high number of female racers. I think it is because the events feel less competitive than a normal road race. I’d be interested to know what other people think the reason is.

 

Overall, It’s a great race. Very friendly, well marshalled and organized.

 

I didn’t even get lost the man in front of me got lost and that doesn’t count does it? I was just following him!

 

For more events check out https://trailfestscotland.com/

 

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Stornoway Half Marathon (Iain)

There are many ways someone can start runners at the beginning of a race.

There’s the classic countdown – “3, 2, 1, GO!”

There’s the false start – “3, 2, 1, WOAAAHH!!”

And then there’s the “3, 2, 1… WTF! IS THAT DONALD TRUMP?”

The Donald was here because his mum came from a small village near Stornoway. A generation later he made it to Washington and now he’s in charge of the free world. My mum also left a small village near Stornoway but a generation later I’ve only made it to Glasgow and all I’m in charge of is a cat.  Note to self: must try harder!

It’s a pity it wasn’t the real Donald Trump. I’d like to have heard him address the runners in his own inimitable style.

“This years race is THE greatest running event Stornoway has ever seen. We’re going to make allot of runners happy today. Believe me!

Crooked Hillary was asked to start the race but she was too busy. SAD!

Lets make runners great again…..3,1, start!!! What do you mean I didn’t say 2? I said 2. Anyone who claims I did not say 2 is a liar. Fake news!”

My first attempt at this race was in 2002. I came top of my age group….by being the only person in my age group. Unfortunately, the organizers realized I was the only one taking part, they didn’t award a prize.

I remember 2002 was a very sunny day. It was the hottest I’d ever felt whilst running this race…until this year. It must have been 22/23C at the start of the race. I wouldn’t normally advocate running “taps aff” but I thought about it, until I wondered where would my race number go? Maybe that’s why men pierce their nipples – to hang race numbers from!

I felt good on the way round. It’s a great course. There’s always something to see – nice views out to sea, nice tracks over to the airport and a beautiful second half of the course running through a forrest in the castle grounds. Afterwards I didn’t feel great. I think the sun got to me. I had to have a lie down till I felt better. What is it they say about the midday sun? Only mad dogs and runners go out in it!

I didn’t win my age group but I did finish almost the exact same position as 2002. After 18 years of running I’m just as bad as the day I started 🙂

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A Gentleman Never Talks About His Training (Iain)

A famous playwright wrote:

“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”

Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?

The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day.  At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.

That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.

I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?

Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.

The “smashed it” post

The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?

I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”

The look at me post

The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.

I’d suggest post the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.

The too good to be true post 

The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all  taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.

I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.

The meme post

“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.

If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring  a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves  – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.

The blatant plug post

If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about  how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!

PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.

Caledonian Etape 2018 (Iain)

Andrew and I were nearing the end of the Caledonian Etape (the annual 84 mile cycle sportive in Perthshire) when I began to increase my speed. Just a little. Just enough to see if he’d keep up. I went a little bit faster and was starting to build  a gap when I heard him shout.

“IT’S NOT A RACE!”

I knew then that I’d won.

The Etape started in 2009. We’ve done it since 2010 and  Andrew has beaten me every time. Most of the time he wins because he’s better at biking than me but occasionally he uses underhand tactics…

  • One year he arrived at the start having bought a road bike knowing that I had a hybrid. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t keep up with him.
  • Another time we agreed at the start that if we got separated during the race we’d meet at the next food stop on the course. The race started. He immediately biked off. I didn’t worry about it because I knew I’d get him at the next food stop. I arrived at the food stop. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited 10 minutes. He didn’t turn up. I realized I’d been tricked. He went on to win the race easily because he didn’t stop once!
  • Last year, he brought a “ringer” from his work. The “ringer” was a man who could cycle sub 4 hours for 80 miles. Andrew biked behind the “ringer” to get a pull round the course.

This year he had no underhand tactics….that I’m aware of. Although, I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Maybe he upped the temperature in the hotel room to disturb me.

The weather forecast was for sunshine. It hadn’t rained in the week before the race. Unsurprisingly, it was wet at the start! We were off at 0632 which meant we got away before the majority of riders. The first five miles were uneventful until we came to a corner. I could see the road kicked up after the corner so I changed to a lower gear before I got there.

As I took the turn I heard the unmistakable sound of a gear clanking away and coming loose as some poor rider tried to get into a lower gear. I thought to myself “What idiot wouldn’t notice the hill! You’d have to be a right twat to not change gears in advance. Who’d be that stupid?”

“IAIN!!!” I heard Andrew shout. I looked round. The idiot was Andrew.

Impressively he’d managed to wrap his chain round his bike crank in such a way it was impossible to pull off. Thankfully a moto-bike mechanic turned up. He looked at it and said “Wow! I’ve never seen one wrapped that tight.” Thankfully after ten minutes of pulling and chain splitting we were able to sort it.

I could at any point have cycled off to ensure I’d win the race. I stayed. Not because I’m nice but so I could spend the rest of the ride reminding Andrew that I could have ridden off and therefore he should declare me champion by default!

We finished together but Andrew knows in his heart I won. Next year I expect him to use every underhand trick he knows to get his Etape crown back!

Some points on the race

  • The course has altered slightly this year as the organizers have added in a hill. Its not a tough climb but it breaks up the first half of the course nicely as I got nice views on the descent.
  • Their was no sports nutrition bars or gels this year. Each stop only had a banana or a flapjack.
  • The registration pack came with a complimentary bike cap. The first time the race has ever given away something for free!
  • The race used to be sponsored by Marie Curie cancer. They didn’t appear on any marketing this year. I’m not sure if that means its not more of a private for profit event.
  • It rained on the course for a couple of minutes which means we still have never had an all dry Etape.

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Having my cake and eating it (Iain)

Recently, whilst queuing at a bakers, an old lady standing ahead of me said:

“Please can I have two doughnuts?”

The baker replied, “Sorry, I’ve run out of normal doughnuts. I’ve only got two two mini doughnuts instead.”

The old lady looked at the very small mini doughnuts and said “No thanks – too much sugar.”

My immediate thought: “WTF!!! They were tiny. They had less sugar than the full sized doughnuts she originally ordered! If she wants to avoid sugar she shouldn’t order multiple donuts at 0830 in the morning!”

She then said: “I’ll have two french fancies instead.”

Which made me think: “YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR BUT NOW YOU’RE ORDERING A CAKE MADE OF SUGAR, COVERED IN SUGAR ICING WITH A SUGAR CREAM FILLLING!!!”

I think in block capitals when thinking loudly.

And her purchase annoyed me as I wanted the french fancies for myself.

I was reminded of this when visiting my parents home (Stornoway) last weekend. My mum saw me and said, “You’re looking broad!”

Which is a polite way of saying “fat bastard”.

I like to think it’s all muscle but, considering I’m sitting here eating a cake, then that would be as delusional as a Theresa May thinking Brexit will be a success.

When I did IronMan UK my weight was 12 Stone. My Current weight is 13 stone which considering I’m 6ft 1 is well within normal healthy range. Strangely, although I’m heavier, all my times and fitness levels are better now than back then.

I can only conclude one thing. Cake make me faster and fitter!

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mmm – fudge doughnut!

My first race (Iain)

The first race I ever entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon in 2001. I recently tried to find my result but all I found was a paragraph in the then Glasgow Herald:

“Congratulations to the 7,625 runners who completed the race. Results will be available in Glasgow libraries from Friday.”

Imagine entering a race now in which you only got your result a week later in a library.

For any kids reading this. Libraries are like a Kindle but in brick form.

When we were young Andrew and I would go to the local library in the morning to get a book each. We’d read the book in the afternoon and then return to the library to get another book to read in the evening.

Yes – we were the cool kids in school.

Myself, Andrew and one of his friends had entered the race. Andrew’s friend arrived at the start wearing a backpack that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Sherpa climbing Everest.

“Are you off to climb a Munro?” I joked.

The Sherpa didn’t laugh.

“No. I brought the backpack to carry my juice.” He pulled out a two litre bottle of orange.

I stared at it and said: “’You do know you get water on the course? You don’t need to bring your own.”

He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I know that. That’s why I brought diluting juice!” He’d brought a two litre bottle of Robinson’s diluting orange juice.

How much juice can a man drink!? He either gets very thirsty or he was planning to open an orange juice stall.

The race started.

Someone from the crowd spotted the Sherpa and shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?”

He didn’t laugh.

30 seconds later a woman from the crowd shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?” This was going to be a long day…

My race was uneventful until I got to the nine mile point. I wanted to beat the other two. I looked at them. They weren’t paying attention so I started running as fast as I could. I’d run fast until I got to the finish line.

I ran hard. I saw the 10 mile sign in the distance. Not far to go now. One last push…I ran hard. I looked for the finish line…but there was no finish line. At this point I realised a half marathon is half a marathon and not, as I mistakenly thought, 10 miles.

I felt a bit stupid and the fast run had tired me out. I had to walk. The other two caught up with me.

“Why did you run off?” Asked Andrew.

I told them the truth…sort of.

“I was desperate for the loo….ummm…yes…that’s why.”

They continued running. I walked the last three miles until I got to the finish. I met Andrew and the Sherpa. The Sherpa offered me some juice. I said yes

He opened his bag to get it but pulled out a pair of boxing gloves.

WTF!!! Said the expression on my face. “Why did you run with them?”

“This is my boxing bag. Where else would I keep them?”

I had to admire his logic.

I’ve never seen him again since that day.

Balfron 10K (Iain)

The Balfron 10k is an ‘out and back’ course. Excuse my mansplaining but I’m going to state the obvious – an ‘out and back’ course means you go out and then come back on the same course.

I assume all runners understand that… except one man.

The first half of the Balfron 10k is an undulating farm road. When I wasn’t running up a hill,  I was running down a hill. The second half of the race is on exactly the same road as the out section (except for a short bit at the end)

I got to the turnaround point and I mentally prepared myself to run up and down the hills again. The man behind hadn’t prepared himself. He turned round and said:

“Who put that hill here?”

How could you forget. You were just on it! Have you got the memory capacity of a goldfish?

He screamed “aaaarghh” and fell into step running just behind me.

We came to another hill. I know because he said

“Why is there another hill here?”

Because we ran it on the way out!

He screamed “aaargh” again. and continued running just behind me.

We came to the last hill. I know because he said “Fuck off hill!” and then screamed “come on!”

At this point he ran past me. I noticed he had headphones on. His music was loud. Why is he talking to himself whilst simultaneously blocking all noise! Is it rude to wear headphones when you are talking to yourself? Does he turn to himself and say “You’re not even listening. You’re too busy listening to music!”

I got round in 45:42.  I was happy with my time as (a) it was was faster than Andrew; (b) it was faster than last year; and (c) I got home in time for lunch.

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Aerial Yoga (Iain)

On vacation I tried aerial yoga. Which is also known as trapeze yoga, flying yoga or “OMG, I’m going to die yoga!”

It’s a modern style of yoga that incorporates a low-hanging soft fabric hammock as well as a mat. Moves are done on a combination of mat and hammock or just hammock.

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Not me

There was only four of us in the class. My partner, who is a yoga teacher, a German girl who is a yoga teacher and the yoga teacher. I’m not a yoga teacher, I’m not even a particularly good yoga student. I realized I was more out of my depth than a dolphin summiting Mount Everest.

The teacher asked me to test the aerial hammock by sitting in it and then spinning round 360 degrees in the air so he could see if my head touched the ground as I spin past the floor. This didn’t seem the most safety conscious method of testing a hammock. It’s like testing a gun by pointing it at my head and asking if I see a bullet comes out when the trigger is pulled.

I spin 360 degrees in the hammock. My head flew past the mat. My hair nearly touched the mat. The teacher said “you need a higher hammock!”

He adjusted the height higher to remove the risk of decapitation but kept it low enough that there was still a chance of serious head trauma.

We started with some sun salutations. Some moves were done with the hammock i.e. leaning on it, or putting a leg up to it. This meant the moves were harder and more intense than a normal sun salutation.

“Good. Now you are warmed up we can start the class.” The teacher said.

I thought that was the start! I looked at the clock to see how long I had to wait until I could escape my aerial  deathtrap. Those salutations better count towards my time.

“We will do some inversions. Sit in the hammock. Put your hands like this.” He demonstrated a way to wrap the hands round the hammock. I copied him.

“Now spin round. Don’t worry, you won’t fall out”

I wasn’t worrying about falling out. I was too busy concentrating on my hands but, now that he’s mentioned falling out, that was all I can think of!

I tried to spin. I failed miserably. I can’t get my legs over my head. The instructor came over. He watched as I feebly tried to do it again. When I failed he grabbed my legs and before I could say “NO! I DON’T WANT TO DIE” he’s spun me 360 degrees!

“Excellent,” he looks pleased. “Now do it by yourself”

He went to help someone else. I tried to spin. I failed. So instead I stomped my foot loudly on the ground. He assumed the noise came from me stopping after doing a spin. “Did you succeed?”

I looked him straight in the eye and told him the truth “Yes – all the way round. I did it twice just to make sure”

“Great. Do it again so I can see.”

“Umm. I’m tired now….ummm…I’ll show you next time.”

The others stare at me knowing that I cheated.

The teacher heads back to the front of the class. “Lets do some High Intensity Interval Training….”

“Let’s not,” I think.

He demonstrated an upside down hanging in the air stomach crunch.

“Do it 20 times!!!”

I successfully crunch zero times.

Whilst hanging upside down trying to crunch I notice a man staring into the studio. I imagine he’s saying.

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – its Superman….sorry. No. On second glance it’s not superman, it’s Iain. It looks like he’s hanging from the ceiling in a hammock. He doesn’t look well. His face has turned a funny color of red…”

At the end of the class the teacher asks “how are you all doing for time?” He doesn’t wait for an answer “Great. Lets continue!”

Noooooooooooooooooooo!

After another ten minutes of “flying” we get to leave. As I head my partner asks if my stomach muscles hurt after doing the HIIT crunches. I say “No – they feel fine!”

They did feel fine….until the next day when I feel like I’ve been used as a punchbag by Anthony Joshua.