Ironman Switzerland 05 - Suffolk Punch’s Diary

My Tri Profile
Age.... Over 21
I have been running for... On and off (mainly off) for nearly 25 years
Strengths... Eating (except cauliflower and chocolate)
Weaknesses... Eating (except cauliflower and chocolate)
Ironman experience... How do you spell that?
10 - 1sub-80 mins
10K - 48mins
5K - 22 mins
See my RW profile

About me
I was pretty useless at sports at school. I was brought up in South-west London where everything was Rugby and I was (and still am) the most physically-challenged rugby player who ever graced a rugby field and usually the last one to be chosen - but I could run (to the tuck shop, at least).

However, it was watching an old B&W documentary on TV during the late 70’s about the Tour de France that really sparked my interest in sport. Eddy Merckx was just coming to the end of his illustrious career and I thought, ‘I can do that’. And so I started on the long road to becoming a bike rider.

Except nobody told me I’d spend the first two years being spat out the back of the pack. Not the sort of person to give up and advertise my bike as a hardly used or unwanted Christmas present.

I stuck at it and soon I was the one dishing out the punishment and making a few legs hurt. It was the sort of feeling like that of when the Taxman sends you a bill and after you work it all out, you find you’ve actually got a rebate due. Yeeesssssss.

Then I spent several years time-trialling and road racing around the country.

Unfortunately University got in the way after a few years of some serious racing and time-trialling and when I should have really been capitalising on available time, I wasted much of this in the SU drinking cheap beer and smoking not-so-cheap fags. In fact, I think these are only things I learnt to do properly in the 3 years! Shame.

I did stay reasonably active though and found new cooler things to do, like rock-climbing (before it got popular), skiing and, as I only needed a pair of trainers, I started running again. I also started training with the bike club again and became reasonably fit once more.

Then I had an extended period of illness after a catching a nasty virus but resolved to get fit once again. I started my running again but then had a really bad accident while out with some club mates when a pavement collapsed under my foot. It came up like a football.

It took nearly 3 months before I could properly walk, let alone run and that’s when I hit the low point and didn’t really do anything for about 8 or 9 years afterwards.

At the beginning of 2003, my weight had shot up to 12 stone and that’s when I started running properly. And so to Ironman Zurich. How did I get involved in this? God alone knows! I think my wife (since August last year), Tired Legs, was involved somewhere along the line although ask her and she’ll say different.

Candy did a pretty good job at a London Social when I was on my way to being as drunk as he and Dangerous Dave were. I was, in theory at least, good at two of the disciplines, as it was pointed out. However, I have not yet mentioned swimming.

That is because I can't, or least couldn’t (I’ve since been taking lessons) and it was at the November social last year talking to Fat Buddha and Petal convincing me of the buoyancy properties of a wetsuit that finally convinced me that resistance was futile. One way or another, Candy Ollier would have me on his team, if even just to laugh at me and Cougie destroying ourselves vying to be top of the bikies!

Ironman target: To make it to the start line.

The training so far

I had to start taking swimming lessons back in January since I couldn’t swim at all. The ensuing six months have turned me from being terrified of the water to a hardened open-water swimmer. Well, nearly.

Last weekend, I took part in the Bewl Aquathlon and won my event, this was mainly due to other’s miss-fortunes [several competitors went off-course on the swim] rather than my physical prowess. However, the history books will still show me as #1. I have had some help from some of the others here and really have to thank Lindihopper, Oxymoron and Smithy for getting me out into ‘open-water’. Due to time constraints with work and house renovations and learning to swim, I really haven’t been able to train as much as I’d have liked to on the bike.

My cycling has seriously been lacking in terms of the number of hours put in, but having been a racing cyclist in the past I’m certain will help me through, even if only psychologically. I’ve bought a shiny new bike to ride on: she has lots of carbonfibre and she’s called “Stealth”. The longer rides I have been on have been encouraging and would suggest a sub six-hour finish for the bike leg – I’d settle for seven. Actually, I’d settle for finishing the swim leg within the cut-off and getting to T1.

The running hasn’t been so bad even taking my winter injuries into account. I’ve taken part in two marthons, London (for which I only had eight weeks of training) and four weeks later, Halstead. I thoroughly enjoyed both events. I’ve broken a string of PBs this year: half marathon (1: 45); marathon (4:12) and 5k (22:11). I’m not sure how useful any of this will be as I doubt I’ll be any shape to run the entire length of the marathon in Switzerland, but I'd hope to finish this leg within five hours.

My anticipated finishing time will be around 14:30. In reality, with the level of training, I should hope to get round within the cut-off 16 hours - anything less than this will be a bonus. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, and the tanker-full of beer, at our party afterwards.

Typical training week:
Monday: club run, 5-6 miles
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: run or swim or Turbo Trainer (1 hr)
Thursday: club run, usually efforts
Friday: swimming (1 hr)
Saturday: bike, 2 hrs +
Sunday: Swimming 1 hour (lesson) then a group or solo run: 12 miles and Turbo Trainer session


Started well, with a few 5-mile runs in warm sunshine in the South of France. Weather back home was pretty awful so been doing plenty of hours on the turbo trainer as calf muscle injury flared up again. Swimming coming along, but slowly. Off skiing for the last week.


Having been talked into putting my money down, I decided that perhaps I should do some additional training. I managed a hilly 10 mile race and then jumped on the bike for the first time in over a year and managed an easy 25 miles. Started cycling at least once a week and stepped up running to about 30 miles a week. Was bought a turbo trainer for Christmaswhich I made good use of straight away. Met with some fellow IM’ers for a cold 50 miles through the Essex countryside.


Started running again 3 times a week and completed a Cross Country race. Bike still in cobwebs.


A period of calf-muscle injury and a hacking cough put me out of running action for several weeks and, as I was still uncertain whether I was going to take part or not, the bike remained cocooned in cobwebs and the swimming trunks remained in a draw.


Too busy with wedding arrangements to think about training, but did manage to venture into the deep end of a swimming pool for the first time in my life.

What I learnt this month?: If you feel a muscle niggle, get it sorted.