The annoying alarm goes off at 5.35am. I don’t leap out of bed, I haven’t leapt out of bed for years, I start flexing my toes, when I start begining to feel them I start rolling my ankles. If I don’t do this there is a real chance that I’ll be unable to stand up without staggering. When I do have to leap out of bed (late night pee etc..) I pitch forward like a toddler taking its first steps, or a sensitive young boy trying his mother’s heels (and no, you’re not allowed to ask) accompanied by the sound of toes clicking like castanets. It’s not just me, I once asked Dave when was the last time he woke up and didn’t have some form of pain. Neither of us could remember when, probably just after we started adding our own sound effects when bending down but before finding ourselves really impressed by people who seemed to be able to stretch for things with ease- I’ve had to stop myself from applauding someone my age for smoothly picking something from the low shelf in the supermarket. Isn’t aging wonderful?
This morning is slightly different, I’m injured, my back, well lower back, well actually my backside is killing me. I had been away for a few days holiday, (you remember holidays, like what normal people do, a bit of time away, not going there for a race or training before Triathlon took over your life and ‘missing’ a days training became impossible) slipped, didn’t fall but jerked something and was in agony.
How much pain I wake up with is in part due to who I sleep with (before you get too excited or I get into trouble for sounding like some unlikely ageing player- the options are; my beloved partner of thirty years or my teddy bear. The bear objects slightly less my lying flat on my back and snoring but there are only so many times you can have honey for breakfast) the non-snoring option is laying on my side and deciding which shoulder to sacrifice to a painful twinge in the morning.
When I told Dave that I had injured myself he recommended a swim. To be honest a swim is Dave’s answer to anything from a bad back to war in the middle east (it’s a bit dry out there, not enough front crawl).
‘Sorry mate I can’t train today I was playing pee-a-boo with the grandkids, there was an incident with some superglue and now I’ve got my hands stuck firmly over my eyes.
You could go for a swim.
But Dave, even if I could do the leg kick I’d smash headlong into the end of the pool.
‘Sorry mate I can’t train today I had an unfortunate disagreement with a Mafia connected builder and my feet are now cast in a one ton block of concrete.
You could go for a swim.
But Dave even if I could get to Westcroft I would literally sink like a stone.
Well I did go for a swim, which lasted about 10 mins, at least nine of which was me trying to get in and out of the steps. Nothing else for it but to call Wonder Woman, WW being the osteopath who I went to see after I was hit by a Land Rover a couple of years ago. That time she managed to transform me from moving like a Thunderbird puppet with half the strings cut to a lithe and limber middle aged man who could dance (hasten to add, doesn’t dance because he has no sense of rhythm, style or grace and who is desperately trying to cling onto his last vestiges of his dignity, never easy in lycra). So I’ve been poked and prodded, stretched and folded, there’s been laughter and tears (accidental foot tickle and me just being a wuss) but with her help I am on the mend.
I had to ice and heat treat my backside. The heat thing was no problem (barley filled microwaveable pack, lavender scented so my buttock got a better night sleep than I did) but there wasn’t enough room in my freezer for any ice. Needed to clear a bit of space so made a healthy decision- sat on frozen chips, not just any chips – Sainsbury taste the difference Maris Piper chunky cut chips. If you need your bum numbing, I can heartily recommend them (why not try them flatten for extra crispiness).
The last couple of weeks therefore have been rather light on training. Fortunately pedalling has been unaffected (once Wonder Woman had freed up my legs enough that at any given stop I had a better than fifty percent chance of being able to twist my foot out of the cleats,) so I have been spinning, turbo training and even proper cycling.
For the last couple of rides the Rusty ranks have been swelled by the welcome presence of Chris and Rachel (GBers) and we have continued to try to increase both the length and average speed of the rides as we are just 20 weeks out from Bolton. First ride out after my holibobs and approaching the final hill I found myself uncharacteristically full of energy and set off legs whirling, Frome like (probably looked more like an out of control sewing machine) and started easing past people, Dave, Rachel and finally Chris who shouted encouragement and then slipped in behind me to give a running commentary ‘He’s doing well- Great work- can he keep it up around the final corner?’ (no I bloody couldn’t but I had a good go), as the top of the hill I tried not to collapse over the bars and may even have managed to speak, still taking out Chris and Rachel- not bad for a fat lad.
Over breakfast Chris happened to mention that he and Rachel were riding to their heartrate and staying strictly in zone 2. Now zone 2, as far as I can make out is the exertion equivalent to unscrewing the top of a bottle on tonic and pouring it into a glass of gin- whilst laying on a chaise lounge- having been carried there on a dais by 6 bronzed Adonis’- from a couple of hours in a floatation tank- where you listened to a whale singing the hits of Perry Como. Still a win’s a win.
Dave tried to introduce technology to his cycling in the shape of his new Apple watch, unfortunately he had to pull over almost immediately the ride began to wait for the GPS signal and to find his heartrate. This took him so much time and put him so far behind that any hopes of keeping that heartrate to any reasonable level was lost as he had to pop a lung to catch up.
I haven’t been the only one struggling with a failing body, Fed had to abandon a ride with a knee injury. Fortunately he seems to be alright now but it was a worry. The worry being that as Fed is the baby of the bunch, the least rusty of the Rusties and if he can’t keep his youthful parts working what hope for the rest of us old-timers.
One of the great benefits to myself and Dave of having better and more experienced riders like Chris, Rachel, Steve, Malcom, Ian and James is that it that it really helps to make us better, and the key is riding ‘better’ not just fitter for having done the ride, because there are limits to how much fitter we are able to get at our age, with the restricted amount of training we can put in, and how much I like a pie. Useful little tips on riding technique and also riding tactics really help. This week the penny dropped (considering that Dave and I had done a ride alone and had bust a gut going only fractionally faster) that trying to pick up time on a hill is really ineffective, it takes a massive amount of effort to go just a little faster and that effort is better saved so you can crack on the flat bits and raising the average speed that way- just like Chris led us on the ride.
Everybody who I’ve spoken to about the Ironman training and everything I’ve read mentions the fact that there will be low points- I’m hoping this was it for me. Finding something amusing to write about has been a bit more difficult than usual this week but the perpetually upbeat Dave, the Rusties and cheerful faces (obviously before the class) at spin has been a real boon.