And then I go and spoil it all...

Monday, August 01, 2005

... by saying something stupid like, “Yeah, I’ll have another beer if there’s one going.”

I’ve always had a self-destructive streak, but being aware of it and preventing it from having an impact on my life are two very different things. Through the course of my triathlon training I’ve had good weeks and bad weeks. The good weeks have involved eating nourishing food, drinking only water or isotonic recovery drinks, sleeping for a full eight hours each night and (most importantly) six days of training and a day off. The bad weeks have involved the odd late night (occasionally fuelled by alcohol), the odd missed training session (or five), and even, more recently, the odd cigarette or cigar (see alcohol excuse above).

With one week to go until the event itself, last week constituted my last chance to do some hard training before beginning to ‘taper off’ my schedule. The problems started on Wednesday. The cricket match I was supposed to be playing in was rained off. I thought I’d stick my head round the door of the club on my way home anyway, just in case anyone had dropped in. Several jugs of Carlsberg and three cigarettes later, I staggered to the bus stop on the High Street with nothing more profound floating around my addled mind than “ooops!”

Somehow, I woke up on Thursday feeling physically fine (if somewhat guilt-ridden). I bounded through my working day without so much as a yawn, and when I got home, I jumped straight on my bike and headed for the pool. I got into the water intending to do 30 lengths, but when I reached that target in less than 15 minutes I figured I’d push on and do a full 1,500 metres (60 lengths). I finished in around half an hour, climbed out, towelled off a little and jumped straight on my bike again. Despite the beginnings of a slight weariness in my legs, I did the 4-kilometre cycle home (up a reasonably testing hill) about as well as I ever have.

I went to bed on Thursday night feeling like I’d cleared my conscience. I slept well. I woke up on Friday feeling like someone had driven a steamroller over my head. I was so tired I felt sick. Drinking hadn’t affected me much, but exercise had given me the mother of all hangovers.

Much discouraged (and utterly exhausted), I decided against a light run on Friday night, and instead went to the pub with Jamie and Gareth. I didn’t overdo it – just three pints of Guinness (and a cigar so small it barely warrants a mention) – and woke up on Saturday feeling much improved. So much improved in fact that I decided not to train.

On Saturday evening, I headed up to John’s to help him celebrate his birthday. I didn’t intend to drink, but had one beer just to be sociable. I very clearly told the Doctor not to let me have another. After the third one, I had to switch to rum to stop him giving me a hard time. The cigarettes John reluctantly gave me, I smoked purely to stop him feeling like some sort of social leper at his own birthday party.

Sunday was spent in bed, on the sofa and on the golf course. It ended very pleasantly with a couple of beers and a Dominoes pizza. Training would only have spoilt it.

I would feel guilty anyway, but due to the news of Tim’s forced withdrawal from the triathlon, I feel even worse. Despite (or possibly because of) the hours of training he has put in over the last few months, not to mention the money he has spent on gear, his neurologist has diagnosed his persistent tingly numbness as myelitis and forbidden him to race. He’s putting a brave face on it, but I can tell he’s gutted.

All round good egg (and masochist) that he is, Tim’s still going to come along this weekend and has even offered to let me use his bike. I’ll give it a road test on Friday night to see how I like it. I’ve grown emotionally attached to the Pale Rider over these last few months – she has done very well in training – but I will have very few qualms about dropping her for the new girl if it’s likely to save me even a few kilojoules of energy in getting around the 40km course on Sunday.

Despite my confessions of digressions, preparing for this event has become somewhat all-consuming. It is the default position of my mind at the moment to seize any idle moment and return to absently worrying about how it will all pan out. I find myself (sometimes at the oddest moments, but usually between beers) obsessing about what I’ll do if my goggles come off in the swim and I lose a contact lens, or how I’ll go about changing a bike tyre if I get a puncture. Even when I’m not training (so most of the time), I’m thinking about it.

As such, while it no doubt sent my mother up the wall, it was a welcome relief for me yesterday when I heard that my sister had gone into labour. Finally I had something else to worry and think about. Then she went and spoilt all that by giving birth to Emma at 11:51 last night. Mother and baby are both doing well, so I’m back to worrying about exploding inner tubes (mostly on bikes) and swallowing too much of the Thames.


SwissToni said...

you'll do fine, and I can't wait to see you striding manfully across the finishing line.

If I thought you could manage one, I'd offer you a big fat cigar after the race, but I suspect you may be more interested in a sit down and a weak lemon drink.


SwissToni said...

(and I'll be taking my camera, so there will be shots of SOMEONE in lycra next week anyway)

Statue John said...

Lance Armstrong is a big rum drinker so i hear, albeit after the races generally, but still..

And Barry Lane smokes cigarettes..

Best wishes and good luck in the race. Look forward to hearing stories along the lines of 'Well, that wasn't so bad....'

John said...

Last night I met Kev Game from Sobell House. He's doing the triathlon this weekend too, in the same wave as me in fact. We made the schoolboy error of meeting in the pub to discuss my challenge in general and the triathlon in particular. Four hours and a concomitant quantity of Guinness later I found myself once again staggering to the bus stop thinking "ooops!"

Jennifer said...

I wish you luck! Just reading about how much training you have done has made me feel tired! Congrats on becoming an uncle, btw!

Lord Bargain said...

well done - Uncle John...

Fabien Barthez smoked like a chimney when he was playing for us.



at least we'll have some Lycra pictures to keep us satisfied, eh?

SwissToni said...

I have an uncle john, actually. And now you've mentioned it, it makes me think of a small, bearded history teacher from Southampton. Lovely fella. Never play him at Trivial Pursuit.


Statue John said...

One last *virtual wave and cheer* for team Mac this weekend. Good luck mate...