Ok so more than a week since my last post and plenty has been happening on the training front, the mini challenges and the whole concept of supporting the food bank and the reasons why. So this is going to be a bit of a longer post than normal?
So last blog entry I said I was having trouble with my swimming in the pool and that I was gasping like a fish out of water instead of gliding like one in its natural habitat. So last Thursday I had my second lane swimming session, this time without my friend along as she was ill. So ready to spend another hour trying to get my breathing rhythm sorted I had the plan to try and do 8 lengths at a time with a 60 second rest between each set of 8 and repeat that 8 times over to get to 64. That should equate to 1600 meters or one mile. Before getting into the water I wondered if I would be able to manage this or if I’d have to drop the number of lengths or possibly swap the front crawl to a breast stroke as I became more tired. But after the first set of 8, something clicked. Either I learned to relax my way into the stroke or my timing came back or possibly my muscle memory kicked in from when I used to swim a lot back in school, but whatever it was it let me not only do the 64 lengths but to push that out to 78 lengths or the 1.2 miles needed for the triathlon and it was all done in just under an hour. So it seems like there is hope in the water for me yet.
So what else has been going on then? Well of course there was March’s mini challenge, 40 miles of the Calderdale Way and the 5k of the zombie run, so how did they go? Well pretty good actually, better at least than Februarys challenge (x-rays have now been taken and results on the break should be coming soon!) The 40 mile walk, well I won’t say it was easy but it wasn’t nearly as hard as I first imagined. We started at 5am on the Saturday and set out well, clocking up the miles on the rougher ground that took us out of West Vale and as the sun came up we were all in good spirits. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow, mile by mile account of things but I think the biggest thing to report is that the Calderdale Way, for a national trial, is actually really hard to follow! With access to 3 sat navs and two OS maps we still managed to lose the path again and again and all this meant lost time as we tried to find it or backtracked on ourselves. So in the end we took the decision to abandon the route and just get on an easier path to navigate so we could get the miles done in time. So leaving the path somewhere behind us on we went down the canals of Yorkshire for another 20 miles till we ended up tired but happy back at my house with just over 40 miles under our belts and amazingly not too many aches or blisters (at least on my part)
So the big walk done, what about the other half of the challenge, the zombie run? The astute among you will remember that I said I would do the run in armour if I managed to raise two pounds for every mile of my mini challenges so far (£196). So as I sat at home on the Saturday night with slightly sore feet and the worry of how much my legs may stiffen up and ache in the morning I had the moral dilemma of asking people to help me reach my total or keeping quiet and seeing if I could get away with doing it just in shorts and t-shirt. Well good or bad my morals got the better of me and I posted up on facebook asking for just a few more pounds and thanks to some well meaning friends (at least I like to think they were well meaning and supporting the welcome centre and not just paying to see me suffer) my total was reached. So as the zombie dawn rose on Sunday I was over in the park in plenty of heavy metal. A brigandine, bevour, helmet, armored legs and gauntlets along with a sword and bill to finish the look was what I had on as I walked towards the start line. Plenty of people gave me a lot of funny looks and plenty more thought I was mad for trying it. I even had a reporter from our local paper the Huddersfield Examiner interview me about what I was doing. So after a few more photos and funny looks I was off round the 5k course and trying to keep pace with the other runners as they jogged along. I was actually pretty happy with my performance as I managed a light jog for the first kilometer or so, but then my first problem struck as my left leg strap broke away from the buckle holding it up. Left with a flapping bit of metal against my thigh I had to drop down to a walk, only to have another strap pop at something like 2 kilometers. So pausing for a moment to take it off I now had one piece of leg armour in one hand while my other was on my sword hilt at the ready. Of course the rules were such that there was no physical interaction with the zombies so the sword was just for show and because of that and the weight and exhaustion I was feeling by this point I’m sorry to say that the first set of zombies I met managed to strip me of my three lives and so I was ‘dead’ for the purposes of the run. Demoralised but not defeated I went on to run, jog and mostly walk the rest of the route to come to the finish line exhausted but chuffed at the cheers I was getting for having done it!
So that’s my training and my challenges covered but there was something else I wanted to add on a more personal note. Of course this whole thing as much as it is fun for me (at times) is about something more serious, raising some money for a charity that I feel very strongly about. A charity that picks up where the welfare state seems to fall down, helping people who in many cases are working a job and are just falling short of making ends meet because of our increasingly unbalanced society where the rich/poor gap seems to be wider than any time in living memory and where there seems to be less and less provision made for those who need this extra assistance. Well after this month’s challenges I had a message posted on my facebook wall from my Dad.
To quote him he said “As you know three days before you do your Ironman I will be 65. To celebrate this and the fact that you will complete the course, I intend to donate my first week’s State Old Age Pension to your charity. At the moment I don’t know how much it will be but it’s supposed to keep a silly old fool like me alive for a week so hopefully it will help those who have not been as lucky in life as me”
I should explain that although I am clearly biased, I admire my Dad greatly, he was born Enfield in London where his mother (my nan) worked as a cleaner and his dad was a brick layer so about as working class as you can get. From there he apprenticed at 16 as a joiner and then worked his way up in the council for the next 30-40 years until he retired as a chief buildings inspector. I have seen all my life how hard he has worked and so I found it really touching and very fitting in a way that he would choose to donate some of what he has earned over his working life to those who don’t seem to be getting that help from the state themselves.
As if that wasn’t enough in reply to by Dad’s posting my Father-in-law, who just last week also began collecting his state pension, said he would like to match that gesture and do the same, donating a week of his state pension as well. I found it really amazing that they would each support the charity with such a large donation and I find it very fitting that they have chosen to do it in such a symbolic way.
Well before I sign off on this post I’ll just end with a few pics of me at the start of the walk and facing off ready to run the zombie gauntlet. As ever links are below for all the important stuff and hopefully another update will appear soon covering more stuff like talking with the mayor and running a marathon.
Donation page: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jackironchallenge
Facebook page: search “jack’s iron challenge”
The Welcome centre: http://thewelcomecentre.org/