My Dad had a brain aneurysm in his 30s. In recent years, he has displayed symptoms of dementia and Parkinson’s but due to his aneurysm, his brain seems unwilling to commit to one affliction or the other. Some days he will have bad memory from dementia but the next it will be a shaky hand from Parkinson’s.
He took unwell and required hospitalization just before Christmas, which meant I spent the end of last year, and the start of this one, at home in the Western Isles, whilst he recovered in hospital.
Therefore, although January is the start of Celtman training it has taken second place to family issues.
It’s not all gloom though. There has been plenty of laughs. When he is in a confused state, he can be quite funny. Each day Mum asks him – does he know where he is? He comes up with some amazing replies.
One day Dad decided he was on a tram and he had to check all the tickets of the other passengers/patients. He told one poor bed ridden person that if he did not have a ticket by the time Dad came back he would throw him off the tram. The doctor came to visit Dad to see how he was. The doctor is quite a large fellow. Dad took one look at him and said, “Who let a fat man drive the tram?”
At least he recognised the Doctor was the man in charge.
If I didn’t laugh I’d cry.
Looking at my stats for the month, I am pleased to see that I did a bit more than in December.
My main aim has been quantity over quality. I’ve managed to do all the long runs and rides I had planned.
All my runs are on trail and usually hilly. All my rides are indoors on Zwift. I’m going full in on indoor training this year rather than outdoors. It’ll be interesting to see whether it works!
For the second month in a row – see Nov and Dec – I set myself the goal of looking at stats to try and be more scientific with training. And, this month, I managed to look at FTP, which is not a brown brogue allegiance for anyone who knows their Scottish football acronyms. Instead it stands for functional threshold power or, too put it simply, the average amount of power you can exert in an hour.
As I’ve being using Zwift for 18 months I already knew I could ride at over 200 watts for an hour but the test – ride for an hour in Zwift with your power recorded over a 20 minute segment – managed to confirm that I was wrong. I could ride at 191 watts. Which is good to know but as I don’t know what’s watt and what’s a watt, it doesn’t mean anything to me yet. Apparently I should now try and increase it and test myself again in six weeks. If the watts have increased then my training will be going in the right direction.
The only other stat I tried this month was to run at least 13 miles in one training run, just to prove to myself that I could run a half marathon six months before Celtman.
I went out with Iain mid-month and, as he’s training for an ultra race in March, I ended up running 15 miles, the longest I’ve run in 10 years (the marathons in Ironman UK and Challenge Roth don’t count as I walk/ran them). It was great to think I could run that far and still feel I could do more. Unfortunately, and stupidly, I ran in new trainers and ripped my heel to shreds so running was restricted to short runs for the rest of the month while it healed.
On swimming, I’ve moved up to a faster lane in my weekly swims. I complain about it here…
More cycling. I’ve been restricted to indoor cycling and I’d like to get at least one 50 mile ride outdoors, weather depending.
I studied Computing at the University of Edinburgh. I remember my first day at the University. I was informed I’d have to do a Maths course as part of my degree.
I asked “Why? I’m here to study Computing.”
The tutor replied that it was a requirement of the British Computer Society.
I said “Why? I’d rather learn something useful!”
He looked at me and said “Stop arguing. Just sign up to the Algebra course!”
At the end of the year I did the Algebra exam. I answered every single question and included my working out. I got a score of 0/30 and the tutor wrote “This shows no knowledge of Algebra what so ever!”
I finished the course with a third class honours degree. Mainly due to laziness. I hate learning a subject if it’s something I feel is irrelevant. Allot of the course was irrelevant. I was good at the things useful for a career in Computing and hopeless at the bits that wouldn’t help me get a job.
Since then, I’ve had a successful IT career and not once has anyone ever asked what I got in Uni, whether I passed algebra or whether they could they see my British Computer Society membership.
The lesson I learnt is that you don’t need to go to Uni to be successful. You just need to work hard. People will judge you on what you achieve in life, and not by what bit of paper you hold.
I saw a ghost in a motel in Pennsylvania. I woke up. There was a man in a checked shirt in the room with me. He walked towards my bed, I put an arm out to stop him and he walked straight through it.
Unexpected cleaners in your bedroom at midnight don’t do walk through arms. Ghosts do.
But I don’t believe in ghosts. Instead I rationalised it by telling myself that I was jet lagged after arriving in the States earlier that day and, after driving four hours, I was tired and when I woke up I was still dreaming. It was nothing but a trick of my mind.
I also don’t believe in New Year resolutions. Unlike ghosts these are dreams that can come true – but I find them pointless. Why make a resolution on the first day of January when you are almost certainly still on holiday for, if you’re Scottish, two more days. You can’t commit to a resolution when you’re on holiday. It’s pointless. I won’t eat chocolate! But, what’s that? There’s a gigantic box of Quality Street in the cupboard and 48 hours to sit in the house and watch telly. You might as well ask a lemming to not leap off a cliff. It’s against nature not to finish a box of chocolates as soon as it’s open.
That’s why I believe in New Year + 2 days (possibly more with weekends) resolutions. This year my resolution didn’t start until Wednesday 8 January as it was new year, then the office was shut on Friday, then it was the weekend, then I was still on holiday and then I finally finished the Quality Street box and the resolutions could begin.
This year my resolution was a simple one – and an obvious one for our regular readers (hello, mum!): Complete Celtman. There’s no B-plan. No backup race. My aim is Celtman and everything else is lined to that. So, that’s meant this year’s races all help with either running, swimming or cycling training and feature no triathlons. Race will be training events for Celtman.
One of those things is a quite rational fear of flying. If God wanted humans to fly he’d have given us wings and installed a parachute in our ass.
The other is an irrational fear. I’m scared of Neflix!
The fear begins as soon as I launch the app. What will I watch? Is there a new “MUST WATCH!” film or a series that everyone is describing as “YOUR NEW BINGE OBSESSION”
I start to sweat as I scroll through the menu. I haven’t seen Peaky Blinders. Maybe I should watch it but then I notice there is five series of bad hair and flat caps. How will I find the time to watch it? I can maybe commit to a couple of episodes a week but five series will take me months!
Maybe I should watch Line of Duty instead. Everyone at work is talking about it. Oh no! That has multiple series too Which show should I choose? What if I choose wrong?
I’m already stressed and I haven’t even looked at the film options.
The pressure of making a decision is too much for me. I switch off Netflix.
Therefore my best TV shows of the year are all on terrestrial TV.
Best Channel 4 Series – Who Dares Wins
A team of ex SAS soldiers test members of the public to see if any of them can pass the SAS selection process. In previous series they had only tested men but this year they tested women for the first time.
Best BBC show – Sink Or Skim
A one off show about the competitive world of stone skimming. It seems like the plot of a Will Ferrell sports movie. An aging champion who smokes and drinks has to face a young upstart who has trained all year for his one chance to take the crown.
This sounds like a rip off of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? but as it was being made Ant crashed his car and gave up TV for a year. The end result is a fun romp through their history whilst trying to reconnect to see if they can carry on as they were before the incident.
Its a surprisingly genuine show. The warmth and love they have for each other really shines through.
This year one cinema trend dominated the box office. It started with Avengers: Endgame and other films swiftly copied it.
2019 was the year of the colon mark
Terminator: Dark Fate
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Alita: Battle Angel
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The colon proved useful became it indicated a film was utter tosh!
Terminator: Dark Fate was so bad Arnie grew a beard to disguise the fact he was in it.
Hobbs and Shaw is should have been called the Fast and Furious presents: Top Bantz and Mega LOLs. Two hours of the Rock and the Stathe shouting “YOUR’RE GAY”! “YOU’RE GAYER” at each other in the misguided belief accusing a man of being gay is the funniest thing in the world. I kept hoping they would both just kiss and admit they had feelings for each other. Brokeback Mountain with explosions would have been an infinitely better film.
Alita: Battle Angel is what happens when you let a video game cut scene last two hours rather than two minutes. I kept hoping an option would appear allowing me to skip the scene and get straight to the game.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gave me a headache. It is beautifully shot to look like a comic book. The action look like its taking place on comic book paper but if I wanted to read a comic I’d have stayed at home and read a comic! Its a movie so shoot the action like its a movie.
Martin Scorsese recently criticised Marvel, calling the studio’s movies “theme parks” rather than cinema. If films are theme parks then all those films would be Disneyland in comparison to one absolute monstrosity of a film – 6 Underground!
The only theme park comparable to 6 Underground would be Blobbyland
I watched 6 Underground so you don’t have to. The story was barely coherent. When asked about one important plot point a charter replied “you don’t need to know that” because even the screenwriters couldn’t bother working it out!
It looked like it had been edited together by someone with no concept of plot, story or pacing. It was casually offensive to woman, foreigners and my intelligence. The film might not have had a colon in it but that just means they have room for a sequel. Please God no.
So that was the worst of the year. How about the best.
Wild Rose is a sweet film about a Glaswegian woman with an attitude problem, is there any other kind of Glaswegian woman? Its about her struggle to break into Country and Western singing. Its full of great performance and good music.
Joker has a superb performance from Jaquain Phoenix and unlike the Marvel films it tries to do something interesting with a comic book character.
Hustlers is the true story of New York strippers robbing men. It stars J Lo and it is not the exploitative film the tag line would lead you to believe. It is beautifully shot and directed by a first time female director. A man would have made it very differently.
Once upon a time in Hollywood. If a colon is a sign a film is terrible then Leonardo DiCaprio is a sign a film is worth watching. He never gives a bad performance and this is one of his best.
But the best film I saw this year disproves everything I’ve said about colons. My film of the year is O.J: Made in America
It came out in 2015 but I only saw it this year. Its is a biography of disgraced athlete O.J Simpson. It covers the issue of race in american society, the role of sport, the rise of celebratory culture and the failure of the US legal system. Its full of fascinating interviews and history. The highest compliment I can give it is that even with a 7hr 42 minute run time it felt too short.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
Michelangelo (not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but the painter)
My aim for Celtman is to get a blue T shirt. To do this I have eleven hours to reach the start of the climb to Beinn Eighe. To get there I have to swim 3.4K, ride 202K and then run 15K.
If I take longer than eleven hours to reach Beinn Eighe then I will be sent on the low course and I will receive a white T-shirt. Although the low course does not go over Ben Eighee it is still a hard technical off-road route.
So what does it take to get a blue T-shirt?
Last year the average blue t-shirt finisher swam 01:06:50. The slowest swam 01:39:42.
Last year the average blue t-shirt finisher biked 07:07:59. The slowest ride was 07:57:16. This equates to an average speed of between 15 to 17 mph. I suspect the slowest cyclist was a very quick runner.
The run course has changed slightly this year so I can’t compare it to previous years but based on the average swim and run times I’ll need to run to Beinn Eighe in about 2 hours 30 minutes.
My plan is to get fit in two stages.
Stage 1: Get fit (Dec 1st until 12 weeks before Celtman)
My swim fitness is good. I have spent allot of time in the last year improving my swimming. I regularly swim once or twice a week doing 2K metres a session. I cope well with cold water as I swim regularly outdoors. Therefore I won’t change anything I currently do as I’m happy at my current performance level.
My bike fitness is good for short rides. I commute to work by bike a couple of times a week (16 miles per day) and I occasionally ride a 30/40 miles route at the weekend. I’d struggle with anything longer than that so I need to increase my stamina and speed over the winter so that I can cope with long training rides in the spring.
For Norseman I did allot of work on the Turbo over winter. I will repeat that for Celtman. I will aim to do 120 miles a week by the time spring comes along.
My base run fitness is good for up to half marathon distance. I try to do one long run and one 10K a week. The majority of my training is off road on hills/trails which should stand me in good stead when it comes to the race. I’m doing an Ultramarathon in March. Training for that will hopefully bode well for Celtman.
Part 2: Get Celtman fit
Part 1 will hopefully got me fit enough tthe longer rides/runs necessary to get in triathlon shape.
I’m going to reuse my Norseman training plan. It worked well for me in terms of fitting training around having a normal life. It involves doing one key session a week in each discipline.
10K + half marathon
HALF IRON MAN
I can’t find a half ironman to enter in week 8 so I’m going to do my own instead.
I will come up with a more detailed plan for each month but this will be starting point.
I was 14 when I broke the 100m sprint world record by sprinting home in 9.5 seconds. I could have run faster. Conditions were tricky. We didn’t have a running track at our school so all sprints had to take place on the road in front of the school gates. A teacher would stand at the end of the road and stop the traffic to give us a minute to run clear before angry drivers would start to beep their horns.
Also, I was wearing Adidas Sambas, which were perfect for playing five a side football but had, as far as I know, never been Carl Lewis’s first choice to contest the Olympics. In fact, they wouldn’t have been his second or third choice either given he was a professional athlete with access to global brands and I needed a pair of trainers that would last from birthday to Christmas because I only had one pair of shoes. Sambas were versatile. (And smelly).
I must admit it was also windy. And wet. But this was Stornoway in the Western Isles and every day is windy and wet. But that only makes us run faster because everyone knows the cure to pneumonia is to outrun it.
Unfortunately, even with these impediments, and while I broke the Olympic record, I didn’t break our school record. That stood at 9.1 seconds and had been set about 10 metres earlier because I wasn’t the first to finish that day. I wasn’t even in the top three. I was sixth. I can only guess this is how Venus Williams must feel when she looks at her trophy cabinet, one of the most decorated in tennis, and then pops round to see her sister, Serena.
I was happy though. It’s not every day you beat the world record. Unless you’re Adam Peaty swimming the 200m breastroke and every time you break the world record is every time you go for a swim. Just imagine how fast he could be if learned how to swim the crawl?!?
Unfortunately, my record didn’t last long. A formal enquiry was launched, which is an elaborate way of saying Mr Dunlop, our PE teacher, scratched his head and said “This ain’t right!”
You’d have thought he was pleased, finding a generation of natural sprinters. But he called over our two fastest runners and asked them to run again, which they did, after we stopped the 44 bus and created a tailback all the way back to the Stornoway harbour.
They lined up. Standing start, none of the blocks nonsense that the professional use. How can you run faster if you have to get up first? If you’re already standing then you’re clearly going to have an advantage over someone kneeling down!
He blew his whistle and – they smashed it. 8.9 seconds. We were witnessing history. Some people say it’ll be another hunded years and at least four generations of evolution for mankind to ever run so fast – we did it twice in five minutes.
“Well, it’s not my stopwatch.” Said Mr Dunlop.
“Maybe, we’re just really fast.” I suggested.
He took one look at my Adidas Sambas and track bottoms – as I’d forgotten to bring shorts. Also I still had my glasses on because otherwise I’d never have managed to run in a straight line. And he knew that I knew that I had never shown any athletic ability what’s so ever and could only say:
“Right, either we’ve got a generation of Ben Johnson’s or one of you wee b******ds didn’t measure the course out correctly. Who’s got the metre stick.”
And with that grabbed the metre stick and meticulously laid it end to end 100 times along the road – only stopping four times to avoid being run over by passing traffic.
He came back.
“It’s only 80m – you can all run again!”
And that’s how I lost the world record after just five minutes. It turned out I never had it in the first place. But, for five minutes, I was ever so briefly, the fastest man on the planet, except for the five ahead of me, but they cheated so they don’t count.