If you’re not familiar with SUP then Wikipedia describes it as:
“Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.”
I couldn’t find any info about who invented SUP Yoga but I’d guess they’re American and that they have an Instagram account as it’s a hobby ideally suited to warm weather and looking good in photos.
It definitely wasn’t invented by a Scotsman as my first reaction when hearing about it was – “You want to do what? Float on an ironing-board and try to do a handstand in the loch? In winter? You must be mental!”
So why do SUP Yoga? According to experts (also known as a Google search of the phrase “why do SUP Yoga?”) there are 10 reasons to try it. Google’s reasons are in bold and my response is below each one
1. SUP and yoga keeps you in the present….
It did. It kept me present fearing falling off the board into the water.
2. A greater sense of mindfulness will develop….
It did. I had to pay attention to every breath and body movement, every placement of a foot as I was mindful that any mistake would mean I would fall in the water.
3. You don’t have to be an advanced yoga student.
That’s true. I received praise for doing something I would consider easy. I was praised for standing up! The last time I got praise for standing was when I was a baby or that time I had 10 pints and fell over. “oh look – he’s standing. Well done you!”
4. Advanced students can bring another level of challenge to their yoga practice.
True – I thought I was okay at yoga but doing it on a board is so difficult my downward dog became a drowned dog.
5. The pace of your practice will slow down.
Because I was scared of falling in the water.
6. The same muscles are challenged, but in a different way.
Because you’ll say to them, “please muscles don’t fail me and cause me to fall in the water”
7. It’s like Hot yoga but with instant refreshment.
Not in Scotland – it’s cold yoga with instant refrigeration!
8. No practice will ever be the same.
They will all be the same. I always spend my time thinking “please don’t fall in the water”.
9. A chance to experience the beauty of the outdoors.
What outdoors? I was too busy concentrating on not falling in the water that I didn’t even realize I was outside.
10. SUP and yoga is fun and challenging.
Its great fun and once I fell in I realized that falling in was actually fun too. I highly recommend people give it a try but maybe not in winter!
A few years ago, I attended a Stand Up Comedy course. At the end of the course I performed a 5 minute “comedy” set. You can see the alleged “comedy” below
At the end of the gig a man came up to me to say “I really enjoyed that! You must let me know when you’re performing again”
I was pleased. I’d only done one gig but I’d already gained a fan!
I told my fan that I had a gig booked for the following week at a comedy club. He promised to attend.
I was a bit nervous before the gig. After all it was only my second ever gig but before I went on, I looked out and saw my fan sitting in the front row. I thought to myself. At least there’s one man here who’ll laugh. I went out and performed my “comedy.” My fan didn’t laugh once.
Afterwards I went up to him and asked if he’d enjoyed it. “Not really.” he replied “I preferred your early stuff!”
I never saw him again.
I was reminded of this whilst thinking about my race plans for next year. Nothing has been exciting or motivating me to enter.
I thought, maybe I should do an Ironman BUT I can’t be arsed! Last years effort and training for Norseman was hard work. I’d rather have an easier year with less pressure.
I thought, maybe I should do a Marathon BUT I can’t be arsed! I’ve done marathons before and the thought of doing another one doesn’t excite me.
What I really needed was a race that captures the excitement and feeling I get when its the first time I do it. The early stuff!
The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running for that far and long.
So as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I knew immediately that’s what I have to do in 2019.
I recently read a post about completing a marathon.
“The marathon is such a huge commitment and is a lot of work. But it is the most rewarding race I’ve ever done. The first time you cross that line is so emotional. The relief, the pain, the tears, it’s a moment that will live with you forever.”
It really chimed with me because when I first completed a marathon I felt none of those things because all i felt was my nipples. That sounds weird. Let me explain….
It took me three attempts to complete a marathon but I’d argue the first two don’t count.
My first attempt was the Edinburgh Marathon. Andrew had entered and trained for months. I had not entered or trained at all yet I found myself on the start line when a spare place became available the day before the race. I only did it to keep Andrew company for the first half of the race. I dropped out after the half way point to catch a bus home.
My second attempt was an out and back course at the Fort William Marathon I ran out but couldn’t be bothered running back as it was a really boring route. I have never done an out and back race since.
My third attempt was the Tokyo marathon. I do not remember much about the race other than it was a bit chilly and not very scenic. Once I’d run down one Japanese road full of office blocks then I’d seen them all.
As I got nearer the finish, I felt a pain in my chest. My first thought was “Am I having a heart attack?” so I did what all men do in the face of a medical issue. I ignored it. I stared ahead and concentrated on making it to the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, the pain got worse. I put my hand to my chest. It felt damp. I looked down. My top was covered in blood. Had I been attacked by a Japanse vampire – Count Japula? I moved my hand around. I felt my nipples, I screamed in agony! They were bleeding.
I now regretted my decision to run the race in a Celtic FC football top. The thick heavy polyester of the top had chafed my nips like a cheese grater. I was practically nip-less.
Now the panic set it. Maybe I’d need nip replacement surgery! Would Andrew donate one of his to me? If he didn’t where would I get one from? Should I get big or small ones? So many questions!
I didn’t have a replacement top so after the race I got the subway and then walked to my hotel after the race in my green and white and blood top. To this day I’ve never felt the magic of the marathon as every time I finish one I immediately check my nips and thank they lord they are still there.
I grew up before sexual equality was invented. Sexual discrimination was rife against girls although very occasionally it was against boys.
At my primary school boys and girls received two physical education lessons a week. They were taken by a female teacher. The boys and girls would get changed. The class would start. The teacher would tell the boys to stand at the side of the gym. She’d then let the girls play games for 40 minutes before letting the boys have 20 minutes at the end.
She once made the boys stand for the whole hour. The boys didn’t get a single minute of exercise!
Years later I got my revenge on her. I had a job as a paper boy. The gym teacher was on my round. She liked the Scotsman. She hated the Daily Record. Whenever there was no Scotsman’s in stock I’d put a Daily Record through her door instead.
BUT what I’ve realised is that I didn’t get my revenge. What I’d done was assume a male privilege that I as a man deserved to be treated better so I must have been discriminated against. Actually what she had done was very clever. She knew the boys got lots of exercise. We played football before school, every break and after school. If we weren’t in the classroom we we’re on the football pitch.
The girls, on the other hand, got very little exercise. There were no facilities for them to play at breaks and no encouragement from any teacher to do exercise. Therefore she used the two chance she had to get them to do exercise as they needed support more than the boys did.
I wasn’t discriminated against for losing P.E time. I was privileged to get every other bit of time!
I’m sorry I gave her the Daily Record. It’s a sh*t paper.
In the six weeks since Norseman I’ve done relatively little training. The break has been good, as my body/mind were pretty fatigued, but all good things must come to an end. Last weekend, I was back running by taking part in the Arrochar 10K.
The book “The Encyclopedia of Superstitions” says:
“It is a very common belief that twins, especially identical twins, are united by a strong bond of sympathy that each knows when danger or misfortune threatens the other, even when they are separated.”
A few years ago, I did an experiment so see whether this statement was true – would I feel anything if Andrew was in pain or in danger?
We did it in a very scientific way – we formed a comedy double act. Like a teuchter Ant and Dec but with no comedy timing, jokes or ability. We were so bad the only shows we could have hosted would’ve been Britain’s Got No Talent, or I’m Not a Celeb Leave Me Right Here.
I admit now that this was not the best idea we’ve ever had. But I did have a genius idea for a joke. An idea that couldn’t fail – we’d do an experiment on stage where I’d get an audience member to hit Andrew with a rolled up newspaper whilst I looked away. As Andrew screamed from the hits I’d try to guess where he’d been struck! It would be comedy slapstick gold…It wasn’t.
To test the idea out we went to a poetry night that allowed a bit of comedy because I reasonably thought nothing bad can happen at a poetry night….
When it came to our turn, we stood up and told a few gentle gags to get the audience warmed up. The audience laughed and applauded but as they’d just spent 90 minutes listening to poetry I think they would have applauded anything that wasn’t more poetry!
I stepped forward and asked for a volunteer from the audience. No one volunteered so I looked around the room and saw a man sitting by himself. He looked harmless enough. This was mistake number one – a man by himself at a poetry night must be a solid gold rocket of the highest order!
I invited him on stage and realized he was bigger than I thought. He was built like a rugby player. He was also a bit drunk. No worries – I’ll just continue the show. I handed him the newspaper and asked him to roll it up. This was mistake number 2 – never hand a man a weapon and ask him to load it himself. He rolled it very tight. So tight it was now stronger than a wooden baton.
I looked at Andrew. I could see fear in his eyes. I looked at the audience member. I could see violence in his eyes. I did what any loving brother would do. I turned to the man and said “I’m going to look away. Hit my brother as hard and wherever you like!”
This was mistake number 3 – I shouldn’t have turned my back on the scene of the crime.
I shouted “Hit him”.
There was silence and then a large THWACKKKK sound before more silence….like the silence you get after after nuclear bomb has detonated but the blast hasn’t reached you yet. Then the audience gasped….Andrew screamed. He’d been hit so hard in the balls he was now my twin sister rather than brother.
If I was psychic I should have felt something. I felt nothing! The audience member hit Andrew again. THWACKKKK….SCREAM…THWACKKKKK, THWACKKK….SCREAM! Each time he was hit I felt nothing.
As Andrew lay on the floor writhing in pain. His crown jewels having been pulverized. I asked myself “Are twins psychic?” The answer is No! I also asked are twins funny. The answer was still no.
Footnote: You would have thought Andrew would never agree to do this ever again but a few weeks later we did it in Manchester. I’ve found the footage and I put it here for all to see. I’ve never watched it but I don’t think Andrew is seriously hurt this time. Although afterwards we split up over creative differences. He wanted to go down a less violent comedy route!
Did you have a type 1 fun weekend? Or maybe it was type 2? Hopefully it wasn’t type 3!
I thoughtthe only thing that comes in types 1,2 or 3 is diabetes. That is until I read Mark Beaumont’s new book about his 80 day around the world cycle trip. In it he says the number one quality he requires in a support person is that they enjoy type 2 fun.
Fun can be categorised! Although categorising fun does seem to remove the fun from fun.
Type 1 Fun
This is fun that you experience whilst doing an activity and once you’ve finished it you still think of it as fun. For example, a post race pint of beer is fun. You’ll have fun drinking it and you’ll never regret it afterwards.
Type 2 Fun
This is fun that doesn’t feel like fun whilst you are doing it but afterwards you’ll be glad you did it. For example, if you don’t go for a pint before a race you might miss out on fun but when you wake up fresh the next day you’ll be glad you didn’t.
Type 3 Fun
This is fun that is miserable whilst you do it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it. This is when you do go for a pint before a race and then have another and another…the next day you race with a hangover. You’ll hate it whilst doing it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it.
The interesting thing about type 3 fun is that over time it can become type 2 because you might forget how miserable you felt and might actually be glad you did the race.
Most fun experts seem to stop at 3 types. I’d argue there is a fourth type
Type 4 Fun
Fun that is fun at the time but afterwards you’ll completely regret it. Which sums up any time I’ve been to Krispy Kreme.
This is my last post about Norseman. Normal blogs about any old nonsense will resume next week! Although reading Andrew’s latest post he seems to have started a week early. NOTE: He is wrong – Ryan Gosling is great. La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love and Bladerunner 2049 are all superb!
This is not the most interesting blog I’ve ever written but I thought I’d write it as it is something I looked for when I got my Norseman place – a Norseman training plan.
My aim was to complete not compete. I split my training into into two distinct parts
Part 1: Get fit (Jan 1st until 12 weeks to go)
My base swim fitness was poor as I barely swam in the three months previous to January but but my swimming technique is good. I was confident I would quickly get my stamina back and that I wouldn’t need to work much on technique.
My base bike fitness was good for short rides. I was commuting to work by bike four days a week (15 miles per day) and I would occasionally ride 30/40 miles at a weekend.
My base run fitness was ok for short races. I could run 10k in 45 minutes and I’d run two or three times a week at lunchtimes.
For each discipline I created a schedule but deliberately didn’t put days against any session. I prefer to fit training into my week rather than fit my week into training. I also took the view that if I missed a session, I wouldn’t try and catch-up. I’d just continue as if I had done it. That way I wasn’t putting pressure on myself if plans went awry.
Running Schedule (per week)
1 x hill run – 4 miles comprising 3 laps of a hill.
1 x tempo run – 4 miles where I pushed myself to run above my normal pace
1 x recovery run – 4 miles easy pace on flat route
1 x long run – anything up to half marathon distance at an easy pace.
I commute to work by bike which meant I could do most of my bike training to or from work. My plan was to stick to my normal biking but to increase my mileage each month. As the weather was not great this winter/spring I added in some turbo sessions with a similar steady increase in time rather than distance.
In January I did 60 miles a week, in February I did 80, in March 100 etc
I stopped increasing it when I got to 120 miles as that was about as far as I could go with the free time I had available.
On the turbo in January I did one 45 minute sessions a week, in February I did an hour and then in March I hour 30 minutes etc.
I stopped increasing the length when I got to two hours as any longer than that on a turbo was incredibly boring.
Swimming didn’t really happen. I had a plan to swim twice a week but didn’t do it. Instead my sechedule became
In April I started going to my triathlon club’s swimming session. This ws a 2K-ish weekly swim. I went most weeks until Norseman.
Part 2: Get Norseman fit
Part 1 got me fit enough to do part 2 which was to take my now increased base fitness and attempt to do longer rides/runs.
I based it on starting 12 weeks out from Norseman. I listed the one key thing I had to do each week in each discipline. I’d normally manage to run and bike outside of this BUT the priority was to do these. By only having thee key points I was able to fit them into my week. I also preferred time over distance as distance can be a cheat. A hilly 100 miler is different to flat 100 miler but five hours in the saddle is always five hours in the saddle.
10K + half marathon
HALF IRON MAN
I was 172nd in the swim with a time of 1 hr 21 min
I was 209th on the bike with a time of 8 hr 1 min
I was 41st/58th run (white tshirt) with a time of 6hr 13 min
SO I comfortably made the white shirt times and cutoff. I also felt fine all the way round. I wasn’t quick but I was steady.
Looking back at my plan I couldn’t have done much more based on the time I had available and the desire to still have a life outside of training.
The downside of my plan – I had low level anxiety for weeks leading up-to the race. Every day I’d wake up thinking what do I need to do today to get through the race? If I was to do it again I wouldn’t have that anxiety because I’d trust in my plan. I could have avoided this by having a coach but I hate being told what to do. A coach would have made me more anxious!
If you fancy giving it a go hopefully this post and the one about logistics will give you a good idea about how to do it.
If you are thinking of doing Norseman and you’re based in the UK then its worth knowing the logistics of how to get there and back and how much it’ll cost. Whatever figure you’re thinking of, double it and then add a bit. That’ll be the figure you actually spend!
There was only two direct flights to Norway from Scotland when I booked. The choice was either Aberdeen to Bergen, or Edinburgh to Oslo.
The closest Airport to the start in Eidfjord is Bergen but the closest airport to the finish in Rjukan is Oslo.
I’d rather have a short drive after the race than before so I booked Oslo. I also live much closer to Edinburgh Airport than Aberdeen.
The flight was 2 hours but the wait in the airport for luggage was at least 90 minutes!! My luggage could have flown most of the way back in the time it took to arrive.
Most airports don’t allow bags to be left unattended but in Oslo not only was there unattended luggage strewn all over the place there was also unattended cats and dogs.
We paid £700 for three return flights to Oslo (2 x extra luggage and 1 x bike box)
I hired an estate car so that their would be enough room for everyone and the bike.
Last time I was in Norway I wrote:
We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.
Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.
This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.
I decided this time we’d only drive half way to Eidfjord rather than do the whole journey in one go.
Cost was £410 plus the cost of one and half tanks of petrol which is probably at least another £100.
We needed 5 nights of accommodation. One to cover the first night when we only drove half way to Eidfjord. Then two nights in Eidfjord before the race, one night at the finsh and one night before catching the plane.
This was a great place. It was very quiet and recently refurbished. We had dinner in a local restaurant and I apologise to Santa but I eat Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It was one of the best dinners I ever had. The red nose was the tastiest bit! The only downside was the cost. Three main meals, two deserts, two beers and a coke came to £140! I blame brexit!
All the food in Norway was amazingly tasty. If the food didn’t bring tears to your eyes to your eye then the bill almost certainly will. There’s no such thing as a free meal here.
I was told to phone a number to let the host know we’d arrived. I did. There was no answer. I tried again and again and again. There was still no answer. Eventually we found a woman waling the street and it turned out she was the owner. She said she hadn’t received our calls. How strange!
The place was a bit of a dump. I think it must have been converted from a shop as the layout was strange and the lighting was that strip lighting you only see in department stores where they don’t want any dark bits in case you use the shadows to steal stuff!
It was fine for out purpose ie it was close enough to Eidfjord to get to the ferry on time but it isn’t somewhere you’d book if you were after a romantic getaway.
Andrew has already discussed his accommodation in the previous blog. I stayed in a holiday park chalet. Its a great place with a brilliant onsite cafe. The pizza’s are amazing! If you’re doing Norseman try to get booked here.
Night 5:£150 two rooms at Best Western Oslo Airport Hotel
Just after we checked in a fire alarm went off. It was a chilly evening so I put on a jacket before leaving the building. There was about hundred people outside, everyone had wrapped up warm except one man – he was naked except for a pair of pants. I bet he was fully clothed when the alarm went off but thought to himself – this is an opportunity to get naked. Nobody will complain and I’ll have the perfect excuse.
The hotel is very convenient for the airport as its only a 5 minute drive away. It also does a great breakfast. Unlimited waffles!
Food(£I don’t want to know)
The food was excellent wherever we went but it was also very expensive. I haven’t the courage to check my bank statement to see how much it all cost but budget to spend at least double what you do in the UK for similar meals.
It’s hard to go a race and not buy the t-shirt, the cycling top, the yellow duck dressed as a minion with a Norseman tattoo! Tths was genuinely this was for sale and Andrew bought one. Due to the exchange rate everything was at least a third more than the equivalent UK product but worth it to have a reminder of the day…except the duck. That was just burning money!
Overall (£1920 + food cost)
A famous quote says travel is the only thing you’ll spend money on but come back richer for doing so. They obviously have never been to Norway. You may have great experiences but you will definitively feel very, very poor!
Norseman is point-to-point (or fjord to peak) race starting at sea level, with a four meter drop off a ferry into a fjord. It comprises a 3.8k swim to the beautiful town of Eidfjord, then a hilly bike leg (3.5K elevation) crossing Hardangervidda mountain plateau, and finally a marathon run to the top of the 1850m peak of Gaustatoppen.
The race is limited to 250 competitors of which 160 finish at the mountain peak and the rest finish at the town below the summit. The originator of the event describes the race perfectly:
“I wanted to create a completely different race, make it a journey through the most beautiful nature of Norway, let the experience be more important than the finish time, and let the participants share their experience with family and friends, who will form their support. Let the race end on top of a mountain, to make it the toughest full distance triathlon on planet earth”.
I have only ever cycled a 100 mile bike ride twice before. The last time was IronMan UK back in 2015. I had never done a non-stop 3.8K swim. My only two times doing so had involved loops with an Australian exit. I also had not ran a marathon since IronMan UK.
Basically I prefer shorter events.
Despite this I’d always wanted to do Norseman. I think it’s the jump off the ferry start that attracted me. I grew up on an island and regularly travelled by ferry to the mainland. It was a very boring journey and I used to joke with my brother that one of us should jump off just to add some excitement to the trip.
I decided from the beginning that my aim was a white t-shirt so I wouldn’t have to worry about how fast to race. I would instead concentrate on being fit enough to do the distances.
Swim (1hr 22 min)
The race starts at 0500 which meant getting up at 0230 to catch the 0400 ferry. What they do not show you on the videos of the event is that the ferry has a very comfortable TV lounge. I sat and read a book on my Kindle. It helped keep my mind off the race.
At 0445 I went down stairs and entered the water using what could only be described as a belly flop. I didn’t see many other people use this technique. Possibly because upon entry most of the fjord ended up on the ferry.
It was a short swim to the start line. I’d swam the previous day in skins so wearing a wet suit meant this felt tropical in comparison.
I kept a steady pace for the swim. It was very easy to sight the route. I kept the land 20m to the side of me and followed the coastline back to town. Occasionally the water would get very cold. I suspect that was the points streams were entering the fjord.
I reached the exit and stood up and promptly fell face first back into the water! I always struggle with staying upright after a swim. I paused for a minute and then tried again. Thankfully this time I stayed up.
I ran into transition and was met by Nic. She said she’d won a bet with Andrew as she thought I’d be out in 80 minutes. He thought it would be at least 90.
BIKE (8 hr 10 min)
The bike leg starts with a 40K climb. I’d broken all the climbs down into units of measurement known as “crow roads” The Crow Road is a climb starting at the back of my house up the side of the Campsie Hills.
I find cycling more manageable if I break objectives down into things I know I can do. The first climb is five Crow Roads. Similarly, for the flatter section I’d think of in terms of how many commutes to work it would be. My normal commute to work is a 8 mile cycle so when cycling the plateau I’d calculate how many commutes to the next town.
This made the experience manageable but I do not particularly enjoy long bike rides so its always a struggle to enjoy it. My support team said I was like a stroppy teenager. One minute I’d be demanding a banana but then as soon as they got one I’d say “Why’d you get me a banana. I wanted an apple!”
Because I don’t ride long distances often enough I also struggle to refuel on the bike. I prefer to stop at a cake shop and enjoy a break so I did the same here and enjoyed a particularly good bakewell tart from a shop in Geilo.
Other food delights on the bike (other than gels and bars) were a Twix, a chocolate brownie and an ice lolly which I refused to take as even I have limits of what should be eaten in race!
RUN (6hr 3 min)
My aim was to get to the bottom of Zombie Hill in 2hrs-ish and then walk from there. The great thing is from that point I could have a support runner. I was really looking forward to having someone to speak to but after my stroppiness they probably weren’t looking forward to speaking to me!
I made it to Zombie Hill in good time and thankfully Nic was pleased to see me. She’d filled a bag with food so we were good to go. I felt good so we were able to walk quickly. I’d cycled zombie hill a few years previously o I knew roughly what to expect when climbing. That made it easier to do.
Thankfully I was not in the top 160 so I got to head to the village rather than the summit.
The village finish is 10 laps of a hotel complex. There’s a great atmosphere as competitors finish, music blares out and Norwegians wave flags.
I was happy to cross the finish line in under 16 hours as I was desperate to get to the pizza place in Rjukan before it closed 🙂
Norseman is the ultimate triathlon experience because its about sharing the journey with friends and family. We all had a great time in Norway with experiences that’ll last a lifetime.