2008 in Review

Latest statistics for Ironman Switzerland

It’s some kind of media tradition to churn out annual reviews around this sort of time. Having visitor numbers consistently in the double figures hasn’t gone to my head leading me to lump myself in with the general media. For the last couple of years I honestly have reviewed my year as it comes to an end. Not in the sense of giving it a C+ with a note that I ‘could try harder’, but mainly trying to figure out what I did well and what I didn’t. The theory being by identifying these things I can do more of the former and less of the latter. Yes, I did go through a phase of reading vast number of personal psychology and self-help books!

For the blog though I’m not going to be so hideously personal and revealing. Instead I’ll focus on the good points and bad points of the previous year and what I think comes from them. Then in the few days before we hit 2009 I’ll do another post with a few general plans and goals for the year ahead.

The Good

  • Giving up work! Let’s start with the big one. Being able to leave my job and focus on something I love is obviously top of the list for the year. I’m fortunate to be in the situation where I can do it, but the process has given me a greater appreciation for focussing on what you want from life and going for it.
  • 9:20 for an Ironman – because at that point I really needed it. I’d hoped for it in Switzerland, but the day hadn’t gone as I’d planned. To score it in Western Australia was a great relief and validation that maybe I’m not entirely insane in my current pursuit!
  • Epic Camp Italy – as it opened my mind to just how much you can actually put your body through, even when you have a stinking cold! Training with equally, if not more, committed athletes was also incredibly rewarding. I’d made the decision to go full-time long before this, but this was an environment that bolstered the urge.
  • Climbing mountains – as it’s active, hard work yet entirely different to all the training I do. I would love to have the time and money to do more of it right now, but ultimately a choice had to be made as to how serious I was going to be about Ironman. However my mountaineering experience showed me real endurance. Putting yourself in difficult places where you have no choice, but to keep going.
  • Relocating to Oz – because I’ve got a much better tan now! Well also because it’s warmer here, even when it’s very wet and it’s easier to do the training I want. It’s not perfect, but for what I want to achieve it’s delivering on many levels. Sometimes you need to remove yourself from your comfort zone to make progress.
  • Tapering in Busselton – it was a relaxing if highly caffeinated time. I was focussed on getting myself recovered for the race and it worked. I also managed to have a lot of fun, train with a great bunch of people and do a few things I never expected.
  • Joining Jaggad’s Technical Development Team – apart from the fact sponsorship is a big help it’s been fun. Inspired by the phrase if you don’t ask you don’t get I decided to apply and am glad I did. I didn’t imagine I’d end up modelling or selling kit, but I’ll give most things a try these days.
  • Getting my swim filmed – it’s rejuvenated my swim training. I’m more motivated and after a week of practising the drills it’s all starting to feel natural. Not only that I’m moving through the water much better, highly unscientific testing suggests my easy pace is well over 30 seconds faster with the stroke correction.

The Bad

  • Ironman Switzerland… So many plans and hopes that just didn’t come to fruition. A combination of a little bit too much ambition and poor final preparation. I did some amazing training in the last month before this race. Then I failed to properly recover and on the day just wasn’t delivering the results I hoped for. A complete contrast to my experience with Western Australia later in the year. Still I learnt and vowed never to put myself under such stress in the build up to another race.
  • Full-time training can be a solitary lifestyle! At times at least and at first when it’s all new you just don’t care. Unfortunately most people do have to work in the day so finding enough training partners is a bit of a challenge. I’m still working on it, but things are definitely better than they were.
  • Letting personal problems derail training plans. It’s something everyone does at some point, but when training is your ‘work’ it should be avoided. As it was the glitch didn’t do any harm, but one to be avoided where possible next year. I’ll survive the odd missed session, but in the long term I can’t afford to be wasting my time.
  • Recession – let this put my bad list into perspective. For me the recession is a bad simply because it’s slightly raised the cost of living. I am still living a life without work and where I can afford luxuries like a weekly massage. I shouldn’t complain, but it impacts on the plans for sure so it is a negative for me.

The balance works out in favour of this being a good year then! Should you have been involved in something good (or bad) that didn’t make the list and feel left out I apologise. Put it down to early senility or a limit to just how much I can list in a single post anyway. There are certainly more of both many quite small and some that are quite big. My choices here are mostly relevant to my current goals.

As I started this I flicked through my note book which held my 2007 and 2008 goals. I’m not going to go into whether I hit the targets or not, though for 2008 it’s mostly yes. However I did note a shift in plans between the two years. In 2007 I was thinking of using my funds to buy a house. Sometime during that year things changed and by the time it’s 2008 I’m focussing on training. I never actually wrote ‘quit my job’ as an aim, but it was one!

I’ll try and get some kind of 2009 goals up before the New Year. It may be trickier than I thought given a lot of this has been covered in the training plans. So maybe I’ll meander onto thoughts of where this all ultimately leads. My year out to train that is, not life in general. I won’t be getting that profound.

(If you hadn’t guessed, two posts in two days is a sign I didn’t like the first one)

Latest statistics for Ironman Switzerland