Tight wetsuits and 40 mile walks

So another week and some more news.


Well following last week’s swim I have now managed to get in the wet stuff twice more, once in Brighouse pool and again in Sparth reservoir again.

The pool dip was for the weekly lane swimming sessions and took me right back to being at school and getting changed in a cubicle and showering before getting in as I think that was the last time I went swimming on a regular basis in a pool. With the very much appreciated help of a friend who used to swim at club level and beyond I did a few lengths while she watched my technique and picked up anything I was doing wrong. Overall it seems I have a fairly decent front crawl stroke which just needed a bit of tweaking and a reasonably decent line in the water, but where I fall down is breathing. Unfortunately that seems to be a fairly important part of swimming and most other things you may want to do in life. As I did a few more lengths I found myself absolutely gasping for breath and unable to keep the stroke going, my friend tells me this is all down to rhythm, blowing out while under the water and breathing in as you turn your head, sounds simple right? Yeah and all you have to do to win a race is run fast, simple huh?


So from now on my aim is both to build my swimming fitness but not only that but to slow my stroke down (I have a tendency to use crawl exclusively as a sprint stroke) and work on my breathing rhythm. Hopefully by slowing it down and getting that bit right I can then build up again to a quicker pace over time.

As for the second dip in open water, well this time I was wearing the almost indecently figure hugging wetsuit I had just bought along with all the other bits and splashed about for around an hour. I managed three circuits in that time so about 1000 meters or roughly half of the distance I’ll need to do. Mostly doing it as a breast stroke as I seem to have my breathing sorted for that the experience was good. I didn’t get too cold or too badly tired and I think my plan for the open water is to try and build up to 6 laps over time with a steady pace and then try to increase it, with the end goal to take the pool lessons into the open water and do the six laps as a front crawl, but that’s going to take a while!


So what else? Well I have now picked Augusts’ mini challenge which will be a triathlon race, a bit shorter than the wasdale one but sounding like it will be just as hilly it’s in Hawes and I thought it would be a good experience and work as a dry run for the main event.

Other than all of that I am going to try and implement a new training time table so that I should get about 2 hours of each discipline done a week as well as 2 hours of circuits, for which our ever full of beans instructor seems to have decided I need to work harder at as last session I did most of it with a weighted pack on!

Last of all is this month’s challenge: the Calderdale way and zombie run. I’m going to try and get lots of photos of both and track my progress with a GPS app so hopefully there will be lots to see and comment on after them. But first of all I need all of you lot out there to DONATE! Please even if it’s only a quid follow the link and pop some cash in. It will all go to a really really good cause and if there is enough you will even get to see me hobble and limp away from zombies while in medieval armour!!!


As ever links to everything below

Donation page


The Welcome Centre


Facebook page

Search “Jack’s iron challenge





March Mini Challenge and some wild swimming

So there has been a bit of a break on the blog as I was away for a week in Kent and took the time to let my finger heal a bit, along with some of the other scrapes. 

But now I’m back and the training starts again with something new to report, I have made it into the water at last!  Just over 6 months to go and I found a local group of swimmers who meet to do open water wild swimming.  So a few messages back and forth and I found myself by Sparth reservoir for an early morning start yesterday at 7 am to meet one of the guys involved with it all. 

Luckily this time I was a bit better prepared and the water temperature was a little better than it was at the end of last year in Gaddings, still in single figures but the ones nearer 10 rather than zero this time.  So dressed in borrowed wetsuit boots, swimming shorts, a swimming top, wet suit gloves and goggles I headed in for a dip. 


Although the water was pretty cold it wasn’t that bad at all and with the boots my feet were fine which was a relief after last times total numbness.  We did a circuit around the edge with me doing breast stroke and getting used to the feeling of the cold water while my companion kindly stayed only a few strokes ahead of me and snapped a few pics with his go-pro camera.


By the time we were back round to where we started  was ready to get out but still feeling pretty good, I didn’t even suffer any shakes after drying off which is a reasonable indication that my core temperature didn’t drop too much.


So all good news on the swimming?  Well not quite!  The circumference of Sparth is about 350 meters or so, which means for the 1.2 miles I have to do it equates to about 5 and a half laps.  By the iron man rules there is a 1 hour 30 min cut off for the swim section.  My one, albeit fairly leisurely lap took me about 30 mins so that would put my time for the full distance at 2 hours 45 mins!  Well at least I have an idea of my starting point now and an aim to at least double my speed at a bare minimum! 


So knowing I have a long way to go in the water I am planning to try and get along for a swim as often as I can and because the rules stipulate you have to wear a full wet suit I have just bought one so that I can train in that, hopefully the extra buoyancy and much more training will help with things.


Besides all of that I have now bought myself some new bike brakes to replace the bent ones that were damaged in the crash and as soon as they are on the bike I’ll be up and about on that as well so looking forward to getting some hilly miles done when the clocks change and I can take it to work and back more often.


On the non physical side of things I have also now written to a number of local businesses in the area in the hopes that some of them may look kindly on the event and possibly help or sponsor me for it.  It would be great to raise local awareness of what the welcome centre does and to see if I can get some local ground swell and support for it all.


So what’s next?


Well this month’s mini challenge is now getting very close, walking 40 miles of the Calderdale way in a day.  That’s up hill and down dale for what I expect will be about 10-12 hours.  I’m going to be doing it with an experienced long distance walker (he is using it as a training run for a 100 mile walk he is doing later in the year!) and an equally daft friend who I did the 3 Yorkshire peaks with.  However even with a decent level of fitness, a good guide and plenty of food and drink along the way I am still fully expecting my legs to be shot by the end of it and possibly have to deal with blisters as well.  But I think the Iron Man event is as much about the will to just keep going as it is about the fitness required to do it so the walk will put both to the test to see how I fare.  


Added to the walk there is still the Zombie dash (or hobble as it may end up for me!) that I signed up for the day after.  I had originally thought of this as just a bit of fun but with 40 miles done the day before it may be a lot harder than I expected. 



So down to the nitty gritty of cold hard cash!


I said that I’d like to get to a £98 running total for my sponsorship by the end of this month which would be £1 for each mile of the mini challenges, that still stands and I’d really like to get there if folk would be happy donating.  However as an added incentive if folk can double that before the Zombie run then no matter the condition of my legs I’ll do the run in some form of armour (I need to check with the organisers that they are ok with this)  I realise that makes the running total £196 which is quite high but I am setting it there on purpose as I think doing the Zombie run in armour is going to be really really hard after the walk!  So if you want me to do it you’re going to have to really earn it!


So there it is my update for this month and my physical challenge set against your financial one J


As ever the details of everything can be found on these links.

Donation page


The Welcome Centre


Facebook page

Search “Jack’s iron challenge


Thanks for reading and hopefully donating!




First run after the day of the tumble

Me again! and I wanted to do another update on things as I am away next week so I’m not sure if I will get a chance to post.


I decided it was probably good advice that everyone was telling me to take a rest for a bit and give my injuries time to heal after I came off my bike last week.  So for the last week or so I have been changing dressings and wandering around with my finger splinted and getting bored with not being able to do circuits or any training.


But now I’m back at it!  my leg is doing better and there is new pink skin coming through (tight and sensitive as it is it seems a good thing) and my finger although broken and in need of 6-8 weeks to repair has at least returned to nearly normal proportions from the swelling so I thought I’d risk a run and except for a bit of tightness from the new skin I enjoyed it.


So now that I am just under 7 months from the big day what’s my plan?  Well through illness and injury I haven’t yet managed to get into the water since my abortive frozen dip before Christmas so that has got to feature pretty high on my list of training aims!  So I’m now going to get my arse in gear and get into the pool on my return from holiday and after the clocks change I am planning to give Gaddings dam another go, maybe on April the 4th if anyone wanted to come along and watch or even join in!?


Other than that I am now planning on starting to send out some letters to local businesses to see if any of them want to support me or help with things.  I wanted to wait a bit so that I wasn’t asking for money while the event was just a dot on the horizon but I have a bit of a plan to try and keep things interested along the way so with that in mind I thought I’d contact them sooner rather than later.


So what is my little plan then?  Well I thought on the back of my mini challenges I have already got in place I would try and do something each month on the run up to the event to hopefully keep folk interested and to keep a steady stream of sponsorship coming in (hopefully)


So as it stands right now this is “The Plan” of mini challenges:

28th February: Cycle to work and run home: done! Complete with broken bone, phone, bike and road rash

29th March: Walk 40 miles of the Calderdale way in a day and do a 5K zombie run on the 30th

27th April: Run the Huddersfield marathon

18th May: Meet Brian Blessed and hopefully get a copy of his autobiography signed to auction off

14th & 15th June: Walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall unaided, that’s 84 miles of rough country!

July: ????

August: ????

28th September: My Birthday and the main event!


As you can see I have July and August free of mini challenges right now so I’m looking for something to have a go at.  Ideally one would be swimming related and the other something on a bike but that’s not set in stone.


So what I thought was that some of you lovely people might have some ideas of what I could do?  Something that is achievable in a day and doesn’t cost the earth.  I’ll happily consider most ideas but of course there has to be a proviso and that is if I choose your idea you have to donate some cash!

I’d love to get a bit of chatter going around the event and the build up to it so please do post up on the blog or the facebook page and let me know your thoughts and ideas.  Want more pictures of the places I train or updates on the work the welcome centre is doing?  Like to know a bit about the area where the triathlon is happening or the times of past entrants?  Any thoughts would be great.

Thanks, Jack

As ever you can donate here https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jackironchallenge

Or read all about the welcome centre here http://thewelcomecentre.org/

A ride, a run and a bit of a tumble

Well I thought I should report in on how the end of February mini-challenge went.  I said that if I raised enough money before the end of January that it would not only enter in for the Huddersfield Marathon (which I have now done) but also cycle to work and run home on the last day of February.  Well what an interesting day yesterday was!  I got up nice and early for the 16 mile ride and left the house at about 7am.  After a winter of near constant rain it was a nice change to get out to find a frost on the ground and a chill in the air as I started up the hill from my house.  Passing up and down a few of the smaller hills on the way in, I was glad I remembered my gloves and chose a long-sleeve top to wear as the wind on the faster down hill stretches was biting and had my legs turning a nice pinky/red but I was making good time and enjoying the ride.  Getting to the top of Blackstone edge and passing the reservoir I was ready for the last 3 miles of the route, almost all of it a steep down hill and recently resurfaced to accommodate the tour-de-France that is going to be coming this way in the summer.  I had previously clocked an impressive speed down the hill (53.7mph) so i knew the road was fast but with no cars about I was looking forward to the rush of air as I raced down.  Coming round the last but one of the corners of the hill there was the road works and associated traffic lights that I expected as I normally drive past them each day, still on green I think I was going about 25mph as I passed them.  However this is where things come a little unstuck.  I can only guess that as I passed the lights they must have just changed and the stretch being long enough I guess the other end turned green before I was all the way through as just at the end of the lights I was faced with an oncoming coach.  So left with three choices of hitting the coach, hitting the wire mesh of the roadworks barrier and aiming for the footpath I chose the last and tried to break to take off as much speed as possible before the inevitable crunch of hitting the kerb.  Well hit I did and over the handle bars I went, a decent enough tumble that 7 years of break-falling at Jujitsu didn’t seem to mitigate.  On the deck and taking stock everything seemed on, my hand hurt, my arm and leg hurt but nothing that seemed too bad until I saw my poor poor phone 😦 strapped on my arm with a holder I had just bought the previous weekend the screen looked like a dememted spider’s web of cracks but on checking it, it did seem to at least still be working.  It was at this point that a chap came over and checked if I was OK.  He had been in his digger working on the road and had seen it all including my inelegant dismount onto the pavement.  He said he had tried to run over right away but all the safety features in his digger meant he couldn’t as he had to unclip, turn off and other stuff before he could leave it.

Literally dusting myself down and taking another look it seemed my right side had taken the brunt of it with a good bit of skin gone off my calf as well as my upper thigh and a big hole in my long sleeve top when my elbow had skidded on the ground, plus on second look I was fairly sure my left little finger was broken and it seemed the brakes on my front wheel were bent as well.  My good Samaritan on seeing all this offered to drive me that last mile or so into work in his van with my bike in the back, which I very gratefully took him up on.

So after a short trip to work, a very painful shower digging grit out of cuts and a decent application of masking tape and bandage pads it was into the office for the rest of the day at work.  

However it then occurred to me I was meant to be running home!

Sticking a good bit of this on facebook (as you do) I think the consensus was I should postpone and do it another day but I did feel guilty in that I said I was going to do it and although painful i didn’t think there was any serious damage just a few good scratches.  But being sensible and listening to the general opinion I thought the best route might be to go for a run at lunch time and clock up about 4.5 miles to see how I’d hold up that before doing the whole lot home.  So come 12 noon it was on with the running kit and off down the canal.  40 mins and 4.5 miles later and I was actually feeling pretty good, no muscle twinges and no light headedness so I seemed, in my eyes, good for the run home.  But again taking the advice of others I thought it would be ok to knock off the miles from the lunch time run and instead of 16 miles home just do 11.5.  So as 3 O’clock rolled round it was back in the running gear and thanks to a lift from someone at work part of the way I was off for the run home.  Starting a few miles in meant I missed the big Blackstone hill which was a nice start but there was still the very steep rises out of Ripponden and up Ellend which I happy to admit were chuffing hard!

Still 10.7 miles later (not the 11.5 unfortunately as stopping places were limited to drop me off) I was home and showered (another painful experience) and felt although I hadn’t done exactly as promised that i had at least fulfilled the spirit of the challenge.

So that was February!  Now its on to March and the next mini challenge.  I decided I would try and do a little something each month that pushes me and gets me ready for the big day and in doing so hopefully gives you all a chance to feel that your donations as well as mainly being for the big Triathlon are getting some “payback” along the way.

So March then, the challenge is to walk 40 miles of the Calderdale way.  Why 40 instead of the full 50?  Well the Hadrain’s wall route is 84 miles so the plan is to trial 40 and see how that is and more importantly how my legs are the following day!


So the mini funding goal for the end of the month is now £98, a pound for each mile of my mini challenges.

26 for the marathon, 16 for the cycling and 16 for the run and a final 40 for the walk.

So if people feel like donating and helping me raise money for the Welcome center while egging me on with my mini challenges please follow the link to my donation page and stick a few quid in.


Thanks, Jack