Some runs count triple

Its last Wednesday, just after lunch. I am having one of those days where I have tonnes to do but am getting nothing done. Sometimes it just goes like that. It’s been raining non-stop in England for what feels like forever. I genuinely can’t remember the last time that I saw the sun shining. Its grey, damp and depressing.

As I look out of my home office window onto the street the rain is coming down sideways. The wind is howling and it looks very much like there might be a bit of thunder. Another joyous winter day in England.

My motivation to do anything is virtually zero. I am moping about the house, trying to get my work done whilst figuring out if I need yet another coffee, something to eat, to do 1000 press ups or just to slack it all off and go to bed.

I am grumpy, and I am getting increasingly grumpy just about being grumpy. Fed up and I’ve just had enough. It is starting to get dark outside, but then again, it is pretty much totally dark even during the daytimes when the weather is like this.

Thinking back on my running career, I realise it is time to take action. To sort my life out. I wearily troop upstairs and dig out some running gear. Waterproof running top on, I stash a headtorch in the pocket and head out into the rain. ‘My god this weather is awful’ I think to myself as I head out the door.

Off I go on my usual 7ish km route that I regularly run. Out along the main road I plod, but quickly after I get going I start to feel better. Running can have this effect on you. Luckily, I am running with the wind, so as the rain lashes against my back I get a little boost. It is always easier running with the wind. That being said, the rain is so hard that it is stinging my calves as I make my way down the Havant road towards Langstone Harbour.

Right on queue, the thunder starts. A huge flash of light, followed very quickly by an enormous boom that sounds like the heavens are splitting in two. The storm must be right on top of me. I can only imagine what the car drivers are thinking as they see some lunatic runing down the road in a thunderstorm, their wheels sending up huge waves of water, soaking me through as they drive through the enormous puddles on the roadside. The thunder and lightening continues, flashes lighting up the dark clouds as the sky rumbles above me. Whenever I am out running and there is a thunderstorm, I always think back to the ancient people of earth. How scary it must have been for them, not knowing what is causing this apocalyptical noise. The Gods were definitely angry.

Soon I make my way through to an offroad section which leads to the harbour. I am sliding around all over the place in the mud. My road shoes have zero grip and I am forced to stop and turn on my headtorch. It is dark as hell.

The mud gives way to more tarmac, and as I turn along the harbourside, suddenly I am straight into the wind. The rain lashes at my face, stinging my eyes. My waterproof jacket is useless in this weather, having been soaked through by the car splashes, and I can feel water leaking through my shoulders and chest.

This really is the most horrendous running conditions, and I am absolutely LOVING it.

I am grinning like an idiot as I turn and make my way back across the M27 bridge and turn back for home. This is not some sort of massochistic joy, though you would not be mistaken in thinking that it was. My smile is because I know that runs like this are worth so much more than just the exercise itself.

Whilst I am always hopeful for good weather at the races that I run, good weather is far from guaranteed. Thinking back on it, I have run Beachy Head Marathon in the strongest wind I have ever been outside in. I ran the Mouth to Mouth Marathon during a horrendous hail storm, and the marathon at the end of my ironman triathlon was rain very similar to today (you can see this for yourself in this video of me and my mate Bushy crossing the finishing line). I even completed the Owler half ironman when literally half of the field had to stop on the bike leg because the rain was so hard you couldn’t see where you were going. I didn’t stop of course. Why would I? I finished last in that race, but at least I finished.

So I am no stranger to completing races in shocking conditions, and there is absolutely no guarantee that when I run London Marathon in 14 weeks time the weather will be good.

This is why these runs count triple. Firstly, you are out there running in the first place. Secondly, nobody else is mad enough to go out in these conditions and I could have easily just stayed in the house and done something else. Finally (and most importantly) Iare building up my mental reserves. These mental reserves are vital, cause if it is shocking weather on the day of your race at least I am conditioned for it. Preparation is vital, after all.

Getting home from the run, I felt great. After a quick shower I was able to focus, get on with my work and turn what would have been an unproductive day into a very productive one. This is the power that running can have, especially running in conditions that no sane person would even go outside in!

During this run I had a couple of phone calls. My wife rang me to see what I was up to, and wasn’t even slightly surprised that I was out running in the torrential rain. She is used to these sorts of antics now, and after a short conversation she just said “I’ll leave you to it, see you at home later.” No “take care, the weather is awful” or “what the hell are you doing out running in this”. This really amused me. I know that she is always worried about me when I am doing this crazy stuff, but I always make it home in the end and she knows the value of runs like this and how much I need running in my life.

I also briefly spoke to Vicky from Daisy’s Dream, the charity that I am running London Marathon for. She was substantially more shocked than my wife that I was out running in the awful weather, but when I caught up with her the next day she too understood the value of going out in all conditions.

I suppose the moral of the story is that when you are in a funk, sometimes a bit of exercise is all that you need. Not all of us are lucky enough to be fit enough to run. Every day I count my lucky stars that I am in good enough condition at the moment to do some exercise. I have spent long periods of time injured and unable to exercise as I would like. But right now I am feeling good. Fitness is improving and I am proud that I went out in the awful conditions and am even more proud to be running for Daisy’s Dream.

My next post will be all about them and my fundraising endeavours this year. London Marathon is just the start of things for me. The first in a series of events this year to raise money for some very deserving charities. Times are hard in the UK right now. Most of us are cold at home cause the heating bills are so high. We are struggling to make ends meet. I know that. But at these times charity becomes even more important. This is why I will fundraise hard this year, because charities are hit the hardest during tough times. The work that they do is so very vital and so many people rely on them, and by proxy, they rely on people like me to hopefully motivate people like you to donate some of your hard earned money to keep them running and enable them to maintain the vital services they provide to those less fortunate than us.

Anyway, its a nice sunny day today (the first one that I can remember). Blue skies are shining outside my window and the world seems like a better place for it.

Even better, I am going out for dinner tonight with the lads from my NCT crew. We met during NCT classes when our first kids were all due to be born and have remained friends since, so I am excited to see them and catch up.

Hope all is well with you guys who are reading this. For all your runners out there, next time it is awful weather and you don’t want to run, think of me grinning my way round a 7km run in a thunderstorm and perhaps put your shoes on and head out yourself. You never know, you might just enjoy yourself.



PS – here is the link to my fundraising page.

I promise you the money goes straight to Daisy’s Dream. I will be using my own money for dinner tonight ūüėČ

Injuries, Jellyfish and bloody bumpy roads

As I sit and write this it is 75 days until Challenge Weymouth. ¬†75 days until I don my wetsuit with 2000 other¬†masochists and stride into the surf of Weymouth bay. ¬†This brings me onto one of the things I would like to talk about…….jellyfish.

All along the south coast of England we have record numbers of Barrel jellyfish appearing just off of our shoreline. ¬†Juvenile Barrel jellyfish are normally predated on by fish, keeping the numbers of adults in check. ¬†Over-fishing has caused less juveniles to be predated, meaning that there are literally 1000’s of these jellyfish growing into adulthood.

A barrel jellyfish photographed off the Dorset coast

Adult Barrel jellyfish can get big. ¬†I mean really big. ¬†Up to 6ft wide and weighing in at up to 35kg (77lbs, or 5 stone 7 lbs). ¬†Articles from marine experts are saying that there may be 10’s of 1000’s of these aquatic fellas off of the Dorset coast.

Now not all of them are going to be as big as the one on the left, but there are jellyfish the size of bin bags washing up on the coast all over the place.  Portsmouth has had a few and over the weekend there were large numbers washed up in Swanage.

I don’t want to come across as a big girls blouse, but I am less than happy at the thought of sharing my swim at Weymouth with these underwater whoppers. ¬†Their sting is only as strong as a stinging nettle and poses no threat to humans; however I imagine that swimming into a 35kg jellyfish will be more of a shock than anything. ¬†My toddler only weighs 15kg and I wouldn’t want to swim into her. ¬†Plus she doesn’t sting.

Spotted off coast of Boscombe at weekend.

Made slightly worse is the fact that the swim at Weymouth is in September, when the sea is at its warmest.  If we have any sort of onshore breeze or current there is going to be a fair few jellies sharing the water with me.  

Just the thought of this makes me very nervous. ¬†I am not exactly sure why. ¬†They pose no threat to me; however there is something primordial and spooky about jellyfish. ¬†There are beautiful sea creatures and I would never harm one, but also I am happy never to get that close to one. ¬†I feel the same way about tarantulas (and I wouldn’t want to swim with any of those either).

My wife is convinced that if there are loads of jellyfish about at race weekend then the organisers of the race will do something about it.  I am not so sure, but we will have to wait and see.

I also seem to have picked up a little niggling injury.  Well I say little, we will have to see how much worse it gets, but I am definitely officially injured.  Self-diagnosis has led me to believe that I am suffering with a form of Plantar Fasciitis 

As you can see from the picture on the left, this is a strain in the fascia just after the heel bone.  A very common running injury, which manifests itself in pain in the arch of your foot.  I only have it in my right foot and bizarrely it goes away whilst exercising and comes on at periods of rest.    Recommendations on how to fix this vary hugely.  Some say to rest, ice etc; however there is a large movement away from icing injuries like this, as it may slow healing.

Others say to keep exercising but at a lesser level.  It is a bit of a mine field and hard to work out what I should do.  Luckily I have a bio-mechanical coach who I trust 100% who is going to take a look at me and hopefully give me some exercises to help this go away.  He is a former professional Ironman and will understand that I cannot just stop training with only 75 days to go.  Fingers crossed Trevor can get me sorted out and I will be on the way to recovery soon.  In the meantime I am going to back down on my running, but keep the bike work up and increase my swimming.  I have hardly been swimming at all if I am honest, so this little injury is probably a blessing in disguise.

Lastly I want to have a moan up. ¬†A good old fashioned complaining session. ¬†What us in Pompey would refer to as a “squinny”. ¬†The more I spend time on my bike, the more I love it. ¬†You start to feel at one with your machine, instinctively knowing when to change gear, when to stand on the pedals to finish that final hill, when to push on the flat etc. ¬†The only thing that affects my enjoyment of my cycling time is the road quality (or should I say total lack of quality).

Broken tarmac Рeasy in a car.  Horrible on a bike

When you cycle you keep to the left of the road so cars and other faster road users can overtake.  This is just good etiquette.  The problem with doing this is that the shoddy road surface is even more shoddy the closer you get to the verge.  There are potholes that are actually small caves and endless miles of broken tarmac (an example of the sort of thing I mean is on the right).

When you are in a car this broken tarmac is nothing.  You just smooth straight over it.  On a super stiff road bike with very narrow tyres this is not a comfortable surface to ride on.  You can hack it for a while, but after a few hours of constantly bumping over this sort of stuff it starts to wear very thin.

Occasionally you can find some stretches of road that are blissfully smooth.  Mostly it is this bumpy crap.  So my moan up is this.  Hampshire is one of the most affluent counties in the UK.  We all pay a tonne of council tax to live in such a beautiful county.  Take some of that council tax and fix the roads up a bit.  I am fed up of jolting along on tarmac that should be in much much better condition.  That is not to mention the cycle paths, which seem to have a special sort of tarmac that breaks up even more than the roads do.  Just bloody well sort it out.

The roads in Surrey are much nicer. ¬†That’s probably why everybody who lives in Surrey thinks they are better than everybody else. ¬†ūüôā

Anyway that’s it from me. ¬†Big week of training this week, injuries, jellyfish and crap road surfaces not withstanding.



Shameless request for sponsorship

Hello all,

As it is now getting close to the Brighton Marathon, I thought I would take this opportunity to remind you all why I am doing this Ironman in the first place.

Many of you will have read this all before; however I will make no apologies for repeating myself.  Chestnut Tree House is so close to my heart I hope you will take the time to read the below and donate if you can.



Could you, or would you even be willing to run a marathon?  26.2 miles is a long way to run.  On the 12th April this year I will be lacing up my trainers and running the Brighton Marathon.  How about running a marathon immediately after a 112 mile bike ride?  Why not swim 2.4 miles before that bike ride?  In September this year I am intending to do exactly that, an Iron Distance Triathlon.  I am raising money for Chestnut Tree House, a simply outstanding organisation that rely almost entirely on charitable donations to keep them running.  

Chestnut Tree House cared for my friends Louise and Steve’s daughter during her fight against Neuroblastoma. ¬†Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer, rarely effecting children over the age of 10 years old. ¬†Amber sadly lost her fight against Neurobastoma and passed away in 2013 aged just 2 years old. ¬† I was hugely saddened to hear of Lou and Steve losing their beautiful and fun filled daughter. When you first hold your newborn child in your arms, no parent expects that their life will end so soon. ¬†Louise and Steve told me of the fantastic support that Chestnut Tree House provided for them and provides for other families. I knew deep in my soul that I had to do something to help this great organisation.

I decided to compete at Challenge Weymouth 2015, an Iron Distance Triathlon. 2.4 mile swim Р112 mile bike ride Р26.2 mile marathon run.  Iron Distance Triathlons are the ultimate endurance event with a time limit of 16.5 hours to complete.  I have never done anything like this before.  Not even close!  Perfect preparation for the Iron Distance Triathlon race is to compete in a marathon and I am extremely proud to be representing the Chestnut Tree House team in 2015.  I will also continue to raise money for Chestnut Tree House throughout the rest of 2015, culminating at Challenge Weymouth on the 13th September.

Chestnut Tree House is the only children’s hospice in Sussex and cares for over 300 children and young adults from 0-19 years of age with progressive life-shortening conditions. They cover East and West Sussex and South East Hampshire. ¬†Chestnut Tree House care services extend to the whole family – not just the child, but mums, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers. ¬†Their aim is to make every day count. The good days, the bad days and the last days.

Chestnut Tree House rely on £3,000,000 of charitable donations per year to provide their care services. It is my aim to raise £6850, enough for a single days care.

If you would like to help me reach my fundraising target, please donate here

Your support is hugely appreciated and will keep me going through the 100’s of hours of training that I have ahead of me.

Today has been a good day – It all starts here

Today I ran for 90 minutes non stop.  For some this is not a major achievement, but for me this is really something to be celebrated.  

I have run this far before; however this time I ran for 90 minutes without stopping or slowing down and most importantly of all, with almost zero pain. ¬†I am sitting on my sofa writing this having finished running less than 9 hours ago and am still pain free. ¬†My legs aren’t stiff, my shins, ankles and knees are pain free and I am one happy chappy.

My run route today.

This run is part of my plan to try and get up to decent running distance ahead of the Brighton Marathon. ¬†The marathon training has not been going to plan, so today was a real test of whether I might be able to actually run for any length of time. ¬†Looks like I might just make it. ¬†I’ll add 15 minutes to my Sunday long run every week up until the marathon. ¬†This will mean I’ll be able to add 2 hours onto the 90 minutes I ran today, so 3 hours 30 minutes is a realistic time to be running in training. ¬†This is more than enough and should mean I can finish the Brighton Marathon in around 4 hours 30 minutes.

You may have noticed that I am referring to my training as amount of time rather than distance.  This is because today is the first day of my Ironman training.  Having read an excellent book by Don Fink called Be Iron Fit , I am starting his 30 week plan this week.  Those of you who are good at maths will already have realised that there are more than 30 weeks until Challenge Weymouth (13th September); however my wife and I have a baby due very shortly so training will take a back seat for a few weeks when the bambino is brand new.  Because of this, I thought I would get started sooner rather than later.

My training plan (or should I say Don’s training plan) encourages you to think of training segments in time rather than distance. ¬†This allows you to plan time for training into your schedule and is particularly useful when you have to balance work, home life, family life and training. ¬†For me, this is absolutely vital as I am determined to not miss out on too much quality time with my wife and kids as my training load increases.

I am intending on training early in the morning as much as possible. ¬†This is going to be a massive struggle for me as I simply hate getting out of bed in the morning. ¬†I am not and never will be a morning person. ¬†Apparently once you have gotten up early for 21 consecutive days then you get used to it and it doesn’t become a problem any more. ¬†Luckily for me I have a newborn baby arriving very soon so there will be no need for an alarm!

Will keep you all posted on how I get on. ¬†With only 216 days to go till Weymouth it’s time to get training.


Can I take the pace……… far so good

All of a sudden I am starting to feel a lot fitter.  I am not entirely sure why but there is no doubt that I just generally feel fitter.

I mentioned this to my Tri coach tonight and he claims it is all down to him. ¬†Perhaps he is right (though I would never admit that with him around). Trevor’s coaching that I attend on Mondays and Wednesdays is excellent and I love the sessions. ¬†Bushy and I have started to do a bit extra too, going to the gym before and swimming after the Monday mobility sessions. ¬†The Wednesday sessions are bike then mobility then swim and are 2.5 hours long so in total we are hitting about 5 hours training on Mondays and Wednesdays alone.

The view from my turbo trainer

What is most alarming is how much I am starting to enjoy my training.  When I am not attending the organised Monday and Wednesday sessions I find myself working out what I can fit on on that day. Be it a run, a swim or a turbo trainer session on my bike I am finding my drive to get on with training is very high.  

I managed just under 7 hours training last week (not including 2 hours of mobility work) which is getting towards my target of 10 hours per week.  If you are interested in more details about my training, I log everything on Strava and you can follow me here.

You could put it down to the fact that I have increased my training workload to my sudden feeling of increased fitness, but sadly I have only really done 1 week of increased workload and was incredibly lazy over the Christmas period so it can’t be down to this. ¬†

Fortunately there is an acid test for all of this increased feeling of fitness.  On Sunday 18th Jan I am running the Stubbington Green 10K.  This is a local 10K race which I am competing in with a couple of mates and is my first event of 2015.  

As regular blog readers will know, running is by far my weakest triathlon discipline.  Over Christmas and through New Year I made a conscious effort to increase my running workload as I have now got only 12 weeks to the Brighton Marathon.  The unfortunate effect of this increased running is that I have picked up a niggling injury.  Is only a minor tendon strain and will go away with rest but it is slowing down my run training (in fact this week I have done no running at all).

So back to Stubbington on Sunday. ¬†If my niggling injury holds itself at bay then it is the real test of whether I really have really got fitter or I just “feel” fitter. ¬†My fastest ever 10K is 1hr 3mins, which was recorded at the end of a triathlon. ¬†A stand alone 10K should be quicker than this as I have not had to swim and cycle first. IT is also worth considering that I have never run a stand alone 10K in a race before.

My fastest ever 5K is 26 minutes dead.  Logically a 10K should be double this plus add a bit on as it is obviously further so maintaining 5K pace for 10K would be challenging.  Using the Runners World Race Time Predictor, it tells me my 10K time should be 54 mins and 12 seconds.  I would be absolutely over the moon with any time under 55 minutes.  We will have to wait and see.

This is a bit of a rambling blog post with no real point so as I have jumped around all over the place it is worth mentioning one more thing.  I have launched my fundraising this week and now have a Just Giving page set up.  Please take a moment to have a look at the fantastic charity that I have chosen to compete for and the reasons why.  It would mean the world to me to hit my fundraising target and help a lot of unwell children and their families.

I think that about sums it up for this update.  My next update will be on Sunday after the race.  Fingers crossed that I am reporting a superb race and a quick time.

Take care all.


The fear of getting hurt

So the 2015 training is well under way.  With almost 4 hours of training already logged this week and a further swim and bike and long run to go onto the list I am going to be somewhere near my target of 10 hours of training.  The big question is, can I sustain this level?

The simple answer is, I have no idea.  It would appear logical that the more you train the more likely you are to get injured; however this is not necessarily the case.  Injuries are most likely to occur when you either increase your intensity too fast, or increase your distances too quickly.

Also it is logical that if I am going to get injured it will be whilst running.  When you consider run training, swim training and bike training the running definitely places the largest strain on my body.  Because of this it is clear that the run training is the one thing that I have to be the most careful with when it comes to doing more of it.

QE Parkrun on New Years Day

As part of my marathon training (Brighton Marathon is on April 12th) I am slowly increasing the distance of my”long runs”. ¬†My last one was 10 miles, so this Sunday I have to do 11 miles etc etc. ¬†As long as I keep the pace slow I should be able to complete the mileage without picking up any major injuries. ¬†That’s the plan anyway ūüôā

It is unlikely I will pick up any serious injuries cycling.  Cycling is low impact and as long as I listen to my body and keep a very close eye on any potential niggles I should be OK with increasing the weekly bike mileage.

Swimming is a bit of an unknown quantity to me. ¬†It tires me out like nothing else and I do tend to feel it in my upper back and triceps when I have done a hard training session. ¬†Whether I am likely to pick up an injury I just don’t know. ¬†Guess I will just have to be careful.

The long and short of this post is that I live in almost permanent fear that I will get injured and be unable to train enough.  I spent most of last year with one sort of injury or another (especially the ongoing shin splints issues which have finally gone away) and am desperate for 2015 to not be plagued by injury so I can get in some quality training and a few good competitions, culminating in the Ironman in September.

That’s really it for this post, other than this very cool video from Strava showing my stats for 2014. ¬†Is very quick and worth a look. ¬†



Everything is in place………I might just pull this off

For the first time since I undertook the challenge to complete an Ironman I am starting to feel that it might just be possible.

When I first told my loved ones of my intention to compete in an Ironman Triathlon I received the following comments:

My Mum ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† – “Are you sure James. ¬†It sounds like a lot to take on”
My Friends     РA mixture of utter astonishment and general sniggering
My Nan ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†– “Well my dentist does Triathlons dear and he is much fitter than you”
Cat (my wife) – “You’re going to die”

Now of course all of these comments were completely fair. ¬†I was out of shape. ¬†Very out of shape. ¬†I weighed over 16 stone, couldn’t run to the end of the road without stopping, hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about 10 and the last time I swam anywhere was when I swam from the side of the pool to the pool bar on honeymoon.

Over a year later and things are rather different. ¬†For the first time in forever (to quote from Frozen) I am starting to feel fit. ¬†Weight is slowly dropping off, despite my tendencies to eat entire bags of Doritos and quite a bit of chocolate. ¬†Also I have recently had a great success………..

I CAN RUN !!!!!!!!

All be it not very far (haven’t done more than 6k for a while) but I have no shin pain, the post run calf pain is starting to disappear and I am really starting to feel very positive about this whole endeavour.

Good thing too, as I have a charity place for the Brighton Marathon. ¬†Bushy and I are running for Chestnut Tree House, which is the hospice that cared for Amber and her family, towards the end of her fight with Neuroblastoma. ¬†The marathon is in April and is a great target to aim for. ¬†I can’t wait to strap on my Luna Sandals on the start line, raising some money for this incredible charity and ticking off an important milestone on my way to the Ironman in September.

Some of my regular readers may wonder how I have suddenly managed to start running injury free and why I am starting to feel a lot more fit all of a sudden. ¬†I can put this down to a few factors. ¬†The first one is my discovery of barefoot/minimalist running. ¬†To do this topic justice would require an entirely separate blog post and it is my intention to post this soon. ¬†The second reason is down to one man, Mr Trevor “Tufty” Payne.

Trevor runs two Triathlon training sessions at a gym here in Portsmouth.  The first one is a mobility class, perfect for improving my flexibility and mobility (which is something I sorely need).  The second session is a Bike/Mobility/Swim or a Bike/Run/Swim session.  Lasting 2.5 hours, this is an intense workout and is absolutely superb.

Bushy and I have been attending these sessions for over a month, with Curry joining us recently.  Trevor is an ex professional Triathlete, specialising in Iron distance races during his career.  He is a superb coach (even if he does take the piss out of Bushy and I rather a lot) and I find his sessions hugely inspirational.  He has given me exercises to do at home which I do every day, agreed to write me a training plan specific to Challenge Weymouth and is generally a huge asset to my training.  

So to wrap up this post I would like to say a thank you to Trevor for his help so far and for his excellent training sessions that I love attending. ¬†I was never really a believer in having a “coach”; however I am very glad I met Trevor and can’t wait to see just how fit he can get me ahead of Challenge Weymouth. ¬†I must also mention a special thanks to Josh Smith, who is one of the readers of my blog and was the person who put me onto Trevor in the first place. ¬†Look forward to doing some training with you when you are back in the UK Josh.

Finally to all of the readers of this blog and to those of you who have sent me nice comments about it, a huge thank you to you all. ¬†I’m really starting to love all this training and am pleased that as the winter progresses I will be able to share with you my increasing fitness and join as many of you as I can for a run/swim/bike, or perhaps just a pint!



PS –¬†If any of you are looking for a Triathlon or Fitness coach please check out Trevor’s website. ¬†You won’t regret getting in touch with him.¬†

A reminder of why I am doing all this

Let’s be honest. ¬†Training for anything is hard. ¬†You have to get up early to train most of the time (so it doesn’t take over your day). ¬†Your muscles hurt. ¬†You are tired. ¬†You get injured. ¬†Sometimes you just want to give up, especially when your spare time is so limited that you are making the difficult decision between spending time with your family, and going out for a run/ride/swim.

I am on a fairly low ebb at the moment.  Work is tough, I am travelling a lot which means spending far too much time away from Cat and Niamh (which I hate having to do), money is a bit tight and I just feel like going into hiding.  Shutting out the world and doing nothing. 

Of course this achieves very little, so I decided to remind myself of why I am even doing all ¬†this training in the first place. ¬†My thoughts drifted to Steve, Louise and Amber. ¬†If you are not familiar with their story, please read the “Motivation” section of my blog – just click on the link above this post. ¬†Amber is the reason I started this blog. ¬†She is the reason that I started training in the first place. ¬†Searching through my email so I could send Steve a message, I found the poem that Louise wrote and read out at Amber’s funeral. ¬†It has really touched me, so I thought I would share it with you.

Louise’s Poem for Amber

The day I realised I was pregnant,
my depression lifted
As you grew inside you kicked your Daddy in the head
with the strong legs you had been gifted

Your Daddy and I brought you into this world,
you were perfect in every way
We learnt what sheer adoration felt like
On Thursday 19th May

We brought you home and the adventure started,
you were a textbook baby
I paraded you around in your bright green pram
and folk marveled at my beautiful lady

We had some activities like swimming and play dates
but mostly we took it easy
You loved your food especially if
it was biscuits, yoghurt, marmite or cheesy

I would walk into your room every morning,
you would greet me with a huge smile
Your favourite toy was your jumperoo
You would bounce for quite a while

We were all so proud to celebrate your first birthday,
cake smeared across your face
We took you out in your new trike
Wonderful memories that can never be replaced

You looked really unwell so we took you to the hospital,
a few days later you went blind
We started fighting Neuroblastoma
Our old lives left behind

Once you’re on the cancer bus you cannot get off,
a new sort of normal beckoned
Good fortune gave us our first year with you
The Royal Marsden gave us our second

We were looked after by such wonderful people
Whom we otherwise wouldn’t have met
Without them we couldn’t have got so far
We can never repay the debt

You felt so much pain and sickness
But even through the woe and sorrow
you showed us how to be strong and kind
And face another tomorrow

The treatment had taken its toll,
your poor little body could not keep up the fight
Neuroblastoma was taking your life,
extinguishing your light

You fought on longer than you needed to,
we were ready to see your pain end
You passed away on Monday 24th June,
our broken hearts will never mend

Time will march on whether I like it or not,
whether my mood is foul or sunny
You are not here with me but you will always be my Amber
… and I will always be your Mummy

An amazing and beautiful poem written by an equally amazing woman who is 100 times stronger than I can ever be. 

For Louise and Steve I will train harder, I will dig deeper, and in just over 1 years time I will become an Ironman, raising as much money as I can to support their charities, and honouring the  memory of their beautiful and brave daughter Amber.