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T2 Trainingspotting (Andrew)

There’s a scene in the original Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor’s character, Renton, goes through cold turkey to quit heroin.

He locks himself in his bedroom, boards up the door and vomits, shakes and hallucinates a … well… there’s a reason the film was rated an 18.

And I have to say, after a week of drinking, slurping, sucking and sniffing every drug known to man – and I’m talking the real hard stuff: Lemsip, Sinex, Strepsils, cough mixture (chest and throat) and the class A narcotic known as Night Nurse – I think I’m going to have to follow Renton and lock myself away too if I’m going to quit my new vices.

But the problem is that I don’t want to quit. The drugs are just too good!

It started simply. I just want to get better to start training for Celtman. At first I sucked a Strepsil to help my throat, then I moved onto cough mixture before, just minutes later I was downing a bottle of Night Nurse and desperately searching the kitchen cupboard for the vitamin C tablets I knew were in there but hadn’t seen since the day I bought them.

I was a junkie – and it was all triathlon’s fault.

Now I know how Lance Armstrong started.

First, it was the aspirin. Then it was a flu shot. Next thing you know you’re strapped to a blood bag in the back of a bus parked on the side of hill in France and you really wanted to do was to get back on your bike and train!

It’s a slippery slope!

And the worst thing about it is that drugs are better than actual drugs: I can’t imagine cocaine is half as thrilling as getting a double blast of Sinex up each nostril. How could it be? Does it have that nostril punch of liquid snow and summer mint? Does it have that addictive rush of brain freeze and back of the mouth bitterness?

And as for Night Nurse – how can heroin compare with that moresih mix of what looks like radioactive snot? If you want knocked out, then knock back a cup of Night Nurse before bed. It’s a coma in a bottle.

The Verve sang that ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ but if they’d ever tried Night Nurse then they wouldn’t have sung anything at all because they’d have been up all night* having some of that ol’ Night Nurse!

(*well, 20 minutes, that Night Nurse is potent stuff for knocking you out).

So, as my cough  has changed from a chest cough to a throat cough to a phlegmy cough and back to a chest cough I have changed from the clean cut Andrew Todd of just a week and half ago into a full blown junkie.

And I’ve still not got rid of my cough.

So, until I do, I keep telling myself I can quit anytime. I can stop any day.

But not today.

(Or tomorrow)

Race Nutrition (Iain)

“Are you eating a Subway sandwich?” Asks a man to me.

“Yes,” I reply, as I bite into a delicious foot-long Spicy Italian.

“And your doing the Iron Man race?”

“Yes. Its going well! I’m halfway through the bike leg,” I take a drink of Coke and unwrap a chocolate Twix.

The man looks at me and then cycles off. I think he’s jealous of my mid-bike-leg Iron Man picnic.

Many folk more qualified in nutrition than me can tell you what to eat during a race. They will break it down to the exact level of carbs, protein and salt.

I say: “Eat what you like!”

If you normally have a sausage roll and bit of cake during your long bike rides then bring a sausage roll and cake to an Iron man. Your body is used to it so why have something else?

I had a full lunch on my bike leg of the Iron Man and felt great afterwards. The only time I’ve ever felt ill during a race was when I eat just gels and powders.

During one race I stopped and had a burger, beer and a desert. It was great!

The race itself was terrible. It was called the Rat Race and it took place in Edinburgh comprised  of bike/run/kayaking sections as well as puzzles.

For example one section was a treasure hunt on Arthur’s Seat. I had to find three flags. If I didn’t find them I’d get a 10 minute penalty per flag. I took one look at the massive area I had to search in and left for the next section. The 30 minute penalty was less than the actual time it would take to complete the task.

I then calculated that if I finished the race without doing any of it the penalties I would still have less than the expected winning time. So, I stopped and had lunch at a pub. Afterwards I went to the finish and took my penalties. I was disqualified as the organiser said it wasn’t in the spirit of the competition! I disagreed. I’d out thought the race and surely that’s worth a win.

I’ve never done an adventure race since but it did leave me with a desire for a proper lunch during long races.

Lost in London (Andrew)

It’s very rare that runners now get lost. We have smart phones and GPS watches. We always know where we are because we need to know where we’ve been to upload to Garmin, Strava and the world at large. It’s easy to forget that only a few years ago going for a run sometimes meant memorizing a map or route before you’d left the house.

Want to go on a five mile run somewhere new? Then stare intently at this map until you are absolutely sure how many left and right turns you need to take to end up back at the house and not in the middle of nowhere.

Last week, I went for a run round London. I thought I knew where I was going. I wanted to run to the Thames from Shoreditch then along to Westminster and back. In my head it would be around four miles. A nice 30 -35 minute run in warm sunshine and a cool breeze.

One hour and 10 minutes later I eventually got back to my hotel. I’d run nearly eight miles. What had gone wrong?

First, London streets are not in straight lines. That might seem an obvious statement but, when running round the City, it’s easy to turn left to look at a big tower like the Gherkin or the Walkie Talkie, only to turn left again and find out you’re actually running away from where you think you’re going. Roads double back. Buildings are deceptive. It’s like The Maze Runner but without the rubbish CGI spider monsters chasing you with a pneumatic saw/arm.

Secondly, London is much further apart than I’d remembered. This should also not have come as a shock. London is big. I forgot that. I used to live there. I should have known better…

Thirdly, and this was the main problem, I wasn’t carrying a map. I’d forgotten to bring my headphones with me so I didn’t bother taking my phone as I wasn’t going to be listening to anything. Instead, I had to navigate by bus signs. Every bus stop in London has a small map of the surround area, so, every five minutes, I’d stop check the map, work out if I knew the rough direction that would take me closer to Shoreditch then ran in that direction until I found another bus stop. Repeat until I finally found a street I recognised.

That’s why a four mile run became an eight mile exercise in urban orienteering. D’oh!

Getting back on the bike

They say if you fall off your bike the best thing to do is to get back on it – unless that is you’re missing a leg then the best thing to do is to call an ambulance and learn how to hop.

For me, two weeks after Norseman is the right time to get back on my bike. Nothing too strenuous, just 30 minutes on the turbo yesterday, just enough to send a signal to my brain that it’s time to start getting the legs moving again.

In this new spirit of athleticism, enthusiasm and lack of pain spasms after cycling last night, I decided to enter a few races this year. A 10k in September and a half marathon in November. Again, just a signal to my brain not to get too lazy in the next few months. But, equally, nothing too difficult as my brain is sending an emergency signal back to call for help.

The half marathon’s in Fort William in November and I’ve run it a number of times before. It has a new route this year but it still promises to be absolutely flat with the only hill being a step back onto the kerb when the pavement drops away.

But that’s not all.

I also entered the Deva Triathlon 2017 yesterday. I’ve filed this one in that part of my brain which says “File Here To Not Think About Until Next Year” and cross filed it with “Special Offer – £5 Off For Early Bird Registrations”. My brain might not be thinking multi-sports, my body might be thinking retirement, but my bank account is still thinking “Bargain!”.

Back to training (Andrew)

A full week of training after two full weeks of feeling full.

Stomach bugs are strange things. You spend your time clearing your stomach out by all means possible and, even though you’re emptier than a promise from Boris Johnson, you don’t feel like eating anything at all. You feel full and when you try to eat something your stomach complains that it’s already had enough. You full of nothing. Just like Boris Johnson.

After two weeks my appetite returned and I was ready to start training again. A swim on Monday, two long runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, three hours on the bike on Thursday and then a break to rest before another three hours on the bike today. Not the longest training I’ve done, but a good start to get my legs moving again.

On Thursday, I was in Elgin and cycled to Dufftown and back in a loop round Moray and Speyside. On the way back I had a tailwind behind me (well, it was hardly likely to be in front of me, what with being a tailwind….) and sat between 25 to 30 mph for a 12 mile stretch between Rothes and Elgin. It was easy. Too easy in fact, I then went for a spin round Elgin to get some extra miles after finishing faster than I expected.

As I cycled round I passed a street with the following sign:


And I thought that’s a funny name for a road. Imagine if more roads were named after protests. We’d have the “What do we want? When do we want? Terrace”. The “Die Capatalist Pig Boulevard” before police arrived at the “Letsbee Avenue”.

What are you doing with my phone?


Last year, in Elie (Fife) I was walking on the cliffs above the town when I came across an iPhone lying against a post. My first thought was “I’ve found an Iphone. I can sell it and make a few hundred pounds!”  Thankfully, my second thought was “someone has lost an iPhone. How do I get it back to them?”

I picked the phone up and looked through the contact list for a “home” or a “mum” who I could phone and inform that their partner or son had lost a phone. Unfortunately there wasn’t any obvious names.

As I wondered what to do next a man ran up the path to the top of the cliff. He took one look at me and said “For F*&Ks sake!! What are you doing with my phone??”

I replied that I thought it had been lost as no-one was present. I was looking to return it to whoever it belonged to.

He continued to swear profusely and eventually explained that he’d set the phone up to record his attempt at running up the cliff. The run was “famous” and he was going to post his best time to a hill running forum.

Personally I wouldn’t leave my £600 phone out where anyone could walk of with it!

Since that day I’d always wanted to try the run. Luckily, this weekend, I was up tin Elie. I ran the route and I can honestly say it isn’t worth videoing! It was short and not that difficult. I think his friends should thank me because if he had videod it, I bet he would have bored them with it again and again and again….



Worseman (Andrew)

Saturday 7 November 2015

I’m not ready. Not physically. Not mentally.

I’m currently injured. A dull ache in my hip has developed into sharp pains in my lower back when I ride a bike or stretch forward. Other than a weekly game of football I haven’t done any exercise in a month. Not that I was doing that much before. I completed Iron Man UK in July and since then I’ve been ticking over, the occasional long ride or run but only when the weather was good and, even then, only when I felt like. Which again, hasn’t been often.

After Iron Man I promised myself I would never attempt such a distance again. I enjoyed my Iron Man experience. I had a perfect swim (for me), I enjoyed the cycle and I managed to grind out the run by running and walking. I wasn’t fast but I wasn’t competing for a time. I just wanted to get round and enjoy it – and to be able to walk again the next day.

Now, four months later, it’s catching up with me. It’s like the film ‘It Follow’. A monster slowly walking, always walking, until it reaches and kills it victim. Perhaps Iron Man is my monster and its only four months later that it has finally caught up with me. That dull ache was the warning. The sharp pains, the monster striking. And it couldn’t come at a worse time.

I’m in Norseman. The world’s toughest triathlon. A 3.6km swim in a freezing Norwegian fjord. A swim that starts by jumping off the back of a ferry. A 112 mile cycle though freezing mists, snow, hail, rain and across five mountains before a marathon run to the summit of another. This wasn’t my choice.

Well, not quite. Although I promised I would never attempt such a distance again, I knew I was lying. I’d caught the bug. I’d pushed myself as far as I thought I could go and I found I could have gone further, I could have gone faster. I’d not found my limit. I wanted to do more. But not next year. Not in 2016. Instead, in the back of my head I thought of two races I would love to do: the Marathon Des Sables (a five run across the Sahara desert) and Norse Man (the world’s toughest triathlon).

Both races are tough to enter. The Marathon Des Sable is fully booked two years in advance, you enter now for 2017. Norseman only has c250 places but nearly 3000 people enter. After that it’s a lottery. I had no thought of entering Norseman in 2016 but when the organisers announced that they’d changed the entry rules so everyone who missed out on a place in 2016 would have an increased  chance in following years I thought it would be daft not apply. Why not increase my chances for the times I wanted to apply?

Instead, I was lucky. Or unlucky. I was in. First time. Bugger.

I couldn’t not do it, could I? I couldn’t reject a place in an event  I may never have the chance to do again. This was a lottery, and my winning number was NorseMan ID3047.

So, here I am, sitting in front of the computer, wallet in my pocket, credit card on my desk, looking at the entry form and getting ready to press ‘submit’. I’m not ready, physically, or mentally. Jump off a ferry, swim a freezing fjord, cycle through a blizzard or run up a mountain? That’s for other people. Not me. I like cake. But this is it: a decision, a moment, nothing less than a leap of faith. I’m in.