Failure is not fatal

Two weeks on from our 7 Ironmans in 7 Days challenge and The FCG EPIC Week and the dust is starting to settle.

In the weeks leading up to the challenge Warren and I outlined in blog posts and talks to schools and businesses that this challenge had a high risk of failure due to the number of unknowns that we were unable to test during training, like the intense lack of sleep we would experience during the week. With the dust settling on the challenge I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences during each day of the challenge, and also share about the community impact of The FCG EPIC Week.

Day 1

Warren and I had set ourselves a minimum finish time on day 1, why would we do this? To avoid the excitement and adrenaline causing us to go out too fast on the bike or the run, this minimum finish time on day 1 was set at 15 hours. For me the swim went really well on day 1, I pulled out a personal best Ironman swim time of 1hr 8mins, I felt good and it felt a comfortable pace. The support we had on the swim was great. After the swim came our first nutrition test, making sure we would eat enough prior to the bike and stock up on food for during the bike. We were pretty unlucky with the weather on day 1 for the bike. Our route, laps of the west coast in Guernsey, meant we had 10 miles of a headwind and 10 miles of a tailwind. We had to make sure we weren’t pushing too hard into the wind and also keeping calm with the tailwind and not burning our legs out. The marathon on day 1 was a good one, Warren and I had slightly different strategies as we find that on multi-day endurance events you need to run at a pace that is comfortable for your running form and how you are feeling. We finished day 1 in 14hrs 45mins, just under our MINIMUM finish time of 15hrs. My stats from day 1 are below:

Day 1 thought of the day – “Body feels good, it’s the lack of sleep that we need to be careful of”

Day 2

5.00am alarm for breakfast…how was the body feeling? It was feeling ok, no niggles from day 1 and I felt ready to take on day 2. The swim again was really well supported with the Tri-Fitness team and others coming along for a paddle with us. The conditions on the swim again were good, the body was in a good place and I completed the swim in 1hr 15 mins. We were aiming for our transitions to be relatively swift but to balance that with ensuring we weren’t feeling rushed and we were taking on enough food before jumping on the bike. We were aware that the weather forecast on Tuesday was for rain later in the day and we thought we’d get away with it and complete the bike before the rain came. Again, the headwinds one way down the west coast felt brutal, and we had to manage the pace to not work too hard into the wind. With about 25 miles to go on the bike the weather changed, force 4-5 wind and driving rain, this gave us a choice. Continue at the steady pace and just accept that you’ll get cold or speed up and get the bike over with. Our decision was to accept that we would get cold and keep at the steady pace to avoid burning the legs. In hindsight this might have been the wrong choice.

The last 25 miles on the bike on Tuesday were cold and wet. We got back to our base and sat in our cars for 30 minutes with the heating on to just warm up and stop shivering. This was essential as it was still raining and we had the marathon to go and needed to go out as warm and as fresh as possible. Louise had done a great job on social media of getting support runners on such a grim evening, we must have had over 20 people run with us across the evening, a wet and windy 26.2 miles. Day 2 was finished in 16hrs 10mins, the impact of the weather on the bike and the slow transition from bike to run added a good hour to the day.

Day 2 thought of the day “There are some wonderful human beings in Guernsey, to come out in this weather and support us, incredible” 

Day 3

The number of hours sleep was gradually decreasing and days were getting a little longer. Yet again we had a wind that would be a challenge on the bike, however the direction meant that the swim in Havelet bay was calm. More support turned out again for the swim, day 3 for me was a 1hr 16mins swim, I was pleased to only be 1 minute slower than day 2, the body was going well. Warren had a really tough swim, he was pulled out with about 1000mtrs to go due to experiencing extreme cold and may have been on the verge of hypothermia. I put his down to the lack of sleep and the body / immune system starting to struggle to regulate the core body temperature in the sea. Warren’s condition meant we were about 30 mins late on to the bike, and with the headwind we would struggle to make up any significant time…it was looking like it would be a long day. I need to make a point here about Warrens’ mental strength, how he recovered so well from such a bad condition post-swim was very impressive. I was worried for the first hour on the bike but he bounced back to produce a strong ride. We sometimes talk about game changers during training, these can often be mindset changes or simple tweaks to the training schedule. On day 3 we had what felt like a game changer on the bike. After 36 miles we stopped for a coffee…caffeine was part of our nutrition for the week but sitting down for 5 mins in a cafe and drinking a coffee gave us both a mental and physical break. Day 3 weather on the bike was yet again headwinds one way on the west coast loop, and it was our longest day on the bike with a ride of 8hrs 20mins.  This meant we made it back to Havelet, our transition base, at around 5:30pm, we knew this could lead to a post 11pm finish that day.

As I was getting changed for the run I felt I had two options, the first was to run a comfortable marathon and finish the day at about 11pm or push the marathon a little and aim to finish around 10:20pm / 10:30pm in order to start the recovery process earlier. The legs were going to feel tired whether I ran a 5hr or 4hr 30min marathon so I decided to push on and pick up the pace on day 3. I never thought I’d say this but to have some mates run with me in y-fronts pushed me and inspired me to complete the day 3 marathon in 4hrs 20mins. Yet again it was humbling and inspiring that people were giving up their time to come and swim, bike or run with Warren and I. Whether it was 30 mins or 4hrs, this made a huge difference. Day 3 for me finished just before 10:30pm meaning I could begin the recovery process and get to bed before midnight!

Day 3 thought of the day “It’s ok to treat yourself and remember to enjoy it – that coffee stop was bliss” 

Day 4

After just under 5 hours sleep I’d woken up worrying about Warren…not something I thought would happen at 5am! Warren messaged me at about 4:30am to day that he was not going to swim on day 4 as this was the only way that he would get close to completing the week. This was a tough read, but for his own safety I knew he had made the right decision on day 4. After washing each mouthful of breakfast down with water (as the body was not enjoying eating breakfast at 5am for the 4th day in a row) I made my way down to Havelet. I was greeted with about 25 swimmers who had all come down to join us on the swim, the was incredible and a much needed boost. It felt like another good swim, in near perfect conditions, a little slower than previous days at 1hr 19mins but the body felt good. By the time the swim had finished Warren was as Havelet and was looking fresh, it was good to see him despite him telling me to get a move on and to get on the bike. We had also had a shift in the weather (only lasted 24hrs) and day 4 saw a drop in the winds to a force 2/3. It was a good day on the bike, we hit our target pace time of 7hrs 30 mins (averaging 14.9 mph) but looking back at the data we realised that the pacing was a little erratic. Rather than consistently hitting 14.9mph we found ourselves jumping up to 17mph for a period, then easing off to 13.5mph for another period – a lesson learnt in pacing. Yet again we had great support on the bike with cyclists joining us all throughout the day. Timings on day 4 were working well for us, we were on the run at 5:30pm, which meant if we ran well the finish time wouldn’t be too late.

I had a real mental battle during the first 4-5 miles of the run, I had to convince myself that I could complete the day 4 marathon. For the first 50 minutes it was literally one step at a time and to avoid focusing on 26.2 miles and to focus on small goals. I need to make a public apology here to Jim Mallet and an other runner that joined me 3 miles in, they were great and really chatty but I just needed to be quiet, to listen to conversations and focus on the next short goal. At mile 5 I poured a bottle of cold water over my head, realised that I had it in me to finish the day, had amazing support around me and I was back in the room. At the end of the first lap I apologised to the support runners and confirmed that the “lights were back on” and I could now think about enjoying the run a mile at a time and having some great people run with me. I completed the day 4 marathon in 4hrs 48mins, and thankfully finished the day before 11pm which meant I could get to bed just after midnight!

Day 4 thought of the day “Remember to break the challenge down to small goals, mile to mile, lamppost to lamppost”

Day 5

Ah, day 5…the day I call the hard butter day. My day 5 literally started with a meltdown. Up for breakfast at 5am, planning a mixture of toast, avocado, smoothie and fruit. As I go to butter my toast there is no butter in the kitchen, only a new pack of Guernsey Butter in the fridge…and it was harder than a brick. Now any human operating on normal sleep levels would have found an easy way to soften the butter…but I was not in that place. I began to breakdown and cry over the lack of soft butter for my toast. After recovering from the butter incident I made my way to Havelet, a song came on in the car and I began to cry again…what was happening. As I turned up at Havelet a good friend, Emily Bookless, asked me how I was doing as I got out of the car…I started crying again! Mike Ward, who was a star (and Mother Superior) during the week came over to me and explained that getting all emotional happens when you do multi-day ironman events. He explained that anything can set-you off and that was the exact position I found myself in. Warren was back for the swim on day 5 and it was great to have him back in the game on the swim. The day 5 swim felt ok but I had to adjust my route slightly as the further we got out of Havelet Bay the waters were more choppy and getting the arms above the chop was more of a challenge.

The other challenge I faced during the swim was my mind starting to focus on the bike. Why the hell did I allow myself to do this? This is one of the major lessons we have learnt over the past few years, deal with what is immediately  in front of you and don’t think about the long game. With almost every stroke I was battling with my mind as to whether I could complete 112 miles on the bike. I finished the swim in 1hr 15mins, and as I made my way to the car to eat and get changed for the bike I said to Warren “I don’t know if I can do the 112 miles on the bike today”…his reply was just what I needed to hear. A simple “let’s just get on the bike, move forward and see what happens”. So that is what we did, we got own the bike, albeit about 30 minutes later than we wanted to be but we just started to move forward. I probably spent the first 60 minutes moaning about everything but then realised that I needed to snap out of it and get myself back to a positive perspective and enjoy the day. We enforced a full on meal stop on day 5, which meant 20 minutes of sitting down at Vistas Cafe and eating two sausage rolls and chips, crisps, chocolate and a coffee.

By about 70 miles into the ride Warren was really suffering from the lack of sleep. Some of our support riders could see that he was becoming a little unsteady on the bike. As we reached Pembroke on one of our laps Warren took 10 minutes out to have a power nap, he demanded that I carried on to complete lap 4 of the route. I was pleased to see Warren heading in the opposite direction after his power nap. With about an hour to go on the bike I could feel my mind going so I stopped off at a cafe for a double espresso to give me a much needed boost. Warren and I joined each other at about mile 85 and this is when Warren made one of the toughest decisions he has had to make, his challenge was over. Warren was looking shattered and was basically falling asleep on the bike, not a safe place to be in. Warren rode back to base and after composing myself I went on to complete the last 20 miles of the bike – this was tough 20 miles. Moving time on the bike on day 5 was just over 8hrs but with the food stop and the stops with Warren I didn’t make it back to base until about 6pm. I was greeted with a decent number of support runners and found myself apologising as I knew I needed some time before heading off for the run. I was further delayed when I had no running socks in my bag, so my wife drove home to get me some as I didn’t want to risk running in cycling socks! I eventually started running just after 7pm. What was the approach and target on the run? Chatting away to Jon Press (who was completing his own challenge of 7 marathons in 7 days) the aim was to complete the marathon that day, so a pre-midnight finish.

The support on the Friday night was amazing, at one point here must have been 35 to 40 runners in the group, a privilege to run with so many people. I needed two emergency toilet stops on laps 1 and 2, these were taken in the Red Lion pub, the Friday night revellers were amazing, cheering me in and out of the pub and handing me donations to the charities. One of my younger sisters flew into Guernsey to support the challenge and joined me for 10km on the run, the first time she had ever run 10km in her life, this type of support kept me going! Laps 3 and 4 began to pick a little in the legs, the pace slowed but we kept running and kept moving forward. One of the highlights was to have Warren turn up on the final two miles and play the Rocky soundtrack out of his car next to us…absolute comedy gold!  I finished the marathon on day 5 in 4hrs 34 mins, and got back to base at 12:10am. I made it up to see Paul Gosling and Guthrie Steer at about 12:20am, I wasn’t in bad shape at all physically and asked them to just get me to the start line for day 6. I got to bed at 2:00am and was already wondering what impact 3 hrs would have on day 6.

Day 5 thought of the day “People really don’t know how much the support helps us get through the tough times”

Day 6

This was probably the toughest mornings I have experienced since taking on endurance challenges. After 3 hours sleep I woke up feeling physically good but the accumulation of the lack of sleep was impacting me. I was slow eating breakfast, confused answering questions that Louise was asking as she was helping me get my kit ready and beginning to feel a little overawed by the day ahead. I had to shift my thinking back to just getting through each discipline, one step at a time. I arrived at Havelet for the swim just before 6.30am, again the support was immense, about 20 swimmers to join me for the planned 3.8km. The route was similar to previous days, 2 big loops around Havelet Bay or 3 shorter loops depending on the swell / chop as we went further out to sea. The first 500mtrs felt ok, I was just concentrating on my stroke technique and breathing. We stopped at a buoy and the support team and my wife checked on me, I was doing ok. As we set-off to the next marker something shifted, my body felt absolutely drained and concentrating on technique and just moving forward became a huge mental battle.

I stopped again after 200mtrs, set-off again, made it another 500mtrs and then stopped. I took my goggles off and looked at my wife, she gave me a look that said “it’s over, you’re done” I told her to look away as I gathered my thoughts. I headed back towards the beach thinking that if I make it there then I can maybe approach the rest of the swim 100mtrs at a time. As I got to shallow waters, with half the swim completed I had nothing left to give. The accumulation of the lack of sleep had defeated me. A total of 20hrs sleep across 5 nights had pushed me to my limit. I turned round to my wife and just said “I have nothing left to give”. They were the words I feared during the last 6 months. Being open and honest, I felt devastated. To work towards something and sacrifice so much for 18 months of training it felt horrible to realise that the challenge was over after 5 Ironmans in 5 days. As I got to my car I decided to phone Warren as I wondered if he would have any words of wisdom that may help me get back into the challenge and finish the swim. As I explained the swim to him in tears he simply said “You’re done mate”…my reply was a firm “is that the best bloody pep talk you have mate?”. I knew, he knew, my wife knew it. Game over. Safety comes first.

As I sat in the car, on my own, reflecting on what the body was telling me I went through lots of lots of scenarios, including going back out in the water to finish the swim and to get own the bike and pedal. But I was told that I would have been a danger to myself and others had I made it onto the bike.

Day 6 thought of the day “Failure is not fatal”

Warren and I knew that this challenge had a high chance of failure, despite many thinking we would cruise through it due to our history with endurance challenges, this one pushed us to our limits, we found them and we were beaten by the lack of sleep. But thankfully failure does not define us and success for us was not defined by completing one, three, five or seven Ironmans, success for us was driven by what we wanted to achieve from our challenge and the community event – The FCG EPIC Week. We wanted to:

  1. Raise money for our chosen charities This Is EPIC and Guernsey Mind
  2. Inspire the local community to push themselves with their own 7 day epic challenge
  3. Get as many school children participating and active during The FCG EPIC Week

As we begin to take in what happened during the week both from a personal and community level it is helping focus on what we did achieve rather than what we didn’t.

  1. We are still counting but we have now raised over £25,000 for the charities
  2. We had over 160 people sign up to the FCG EPIC Week, and loads more join Warren and I each day own the swim, bike or the run sections
  3. We had three primary schools get fully behind the week, which meant around 1000 children were active for the week.

One thing that Warren and I talk about from our endurance challenges is to enjoy the process of taking on a huge goal and enjoy the journey of being the best you can be. During the FCG EPIC Week we simply gave people the opportunity to set themselves a new challenge for the 7 days. To have over 160 people commit to this challenge was fantastic. To have 1000 primary school children be active during the week with all sorts of challenges was amazing. Warren and I spent hours after our challenge catching up on social media posts, pictures and messages from peoples challenges. We are so humbled by what everyone has achieved. Well done Guernsey.

A huge thank you to everyone that made not only our challenge but the FCG EPIC Week possible, the team is too big to mention (and we’ll probably miss a name or two by accident!). A huge thank you goes to First Central Group for being an amazing headline sponsor and getting behind the event with such passion.

 

Roll on My EPIC Week 2018! 

 

Standing shoulder to shoulder

When I stood in front of group after group of This Is EPIC, village savings and loans members in January with Philip in the depths of rural Uganda I promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to do what I/we can provide the tools/education so they are empowered to improve their lives. At least it’s what I think I said – you could never be too sure with Joseph our director in Uganda who was translating not sure he ever actually said what we said!

 

Those words have kept me honest and been my rocket fuel when training got tough (which has been a lot) or listening to those people who thought this fundraising attempt was too hard and ambitious. I am accountable for those simple words which means I have to do everything in my power using the few skills I possess to raise money to keep the groups going and start up new ones.

 

This isn’t a challenge or holiday for me, which “happens” to raise money and awareness for charity. It all starts with the charity as that is the primary purpose for doing this. This has been such a hard journey to just get to the start line, but surely it can’t be harder than the daily struggle the people I met in Uganda face just to get through each day and survive.

 

I will remember the joy in their hearts and their songs of hope for improving their children’s lives. The children’s faces as they looked at us as someone with the power to change their lives.

 

How could I give up when so much hangs in the balance?

 

I need to remember these moments and the purpose because there will be times when I feel like it’s not worth it and I have taken on too much. But if Philip and I and everyone else taking on their own challenges in The FCG EPIC Week are successful it will be so worth it for the positive impact it will have.

 

Hopefully this will be our butterfly moment, which will cause a hurricane of positivity.

 

Watch this clip to see the joy from the people we met when they saved for the first time after joining a This Is EPIC savings and loans group

 

 

 

Topowa (#NeverGiveUp)

A high chance of failure…

Orchard PR - 2472 - Epic Challenge

One thing we have noticed in recent conversations is often people talk to us about our 7 Ironmans in 7 Days challenge as if we have already completed it or that it’s a guarantee that we will complete it. On one side we’re humbled that we (appear to) inspire confidence in people about our ability to take on endurance challenges, but on the other side we want people to understand that this challenge carries with it a huge chance of failure.

With previous challenges, which have been all based on running, we knew things could go wrong, and they did, like broken treadmills, sore knees, sore ankles and kicking door frames. But we learnt to suck it, breath it in and keep moving forward. With this challenge we are bringing in two completely new disciplines and the mechanical element with the bike.

To recap the distances, an Ironman distance triathlon is:

  1. 2.4 mile swim (152 lengths of Beau Sejour Pool) 
  2. 112 miles on the bike (a long way 🙂 )
  3. 26.2 mile run (a marathon)

Each discipline has some big risks associated to it, and as the week goes on we have the accumulation of fatigue and likely to be operating on approx. 4 to 6 hrs sleep each night as the week goes on. Whilst we have completed thousands of hours of training over the past 17 months, this challenge has only been completed once by someone in the UK. What we have been unable to test in training is the level of fatigue combined with the lack of sleep. We have been extremely detailed in our training and that has contributed to us going through the past 17 months completely injury free, and whilst we have been training for circa 20hrs per week for the past 6 months, each ironman has the possibility of taking us 15 to 18 hours each day!

We believe this challenge is going to push us to our limits…and possibly beyond them. Each day we will be completed 140.6 miles. To put that into perspective, our first challenge of 7 Marathons in 7 Days was a total of 183.4 miles FOR THE WHOLE WEEK.

Are we confident? I’m not sure its confidence, but we have sacrificed so much over the past 17 months and believe in the causes we are supporting that this will drive us on and will push us over the finish line each day. The support from the community and the donations will also drive us on. So when you see us during our EPIC week we really would appreciate a cheer, a toot, a high-five and to have some money thrown at us towards our causes.

You can read about how the money raised will change lives and donate online via DONATE HERE

#NeverGiveUp

Y-front Fun Run back for a second year

Liquid - First Names -Epic Y-Front 10k Fun Run

Y-FRONTS will be the must-have item of clothing for a charity fun run in aid of two Guernsey charities this summer.

Last year’s inaugural Y-Front Run, organised by EPIC Challenges, saw more than 150 people run the 10km route from Pembroke to Town – all wearing the same particular style of men’s underwear.

‘We organised it as a bit of fun to raise money for Male Uprising Guernsey (MUG) and This Is EPIC, not really knowing how many people would want to get involved. We were totally surprised at how keen people were and how much demand there was for it to become an annual event,’ said co-organiser Philip Smith.

‘This year, we have a sponsor in First Names Group and that allows us to grow the event and introduce a shorter route so that more people of all ages can get involved.’

This year’s First Names Group Y-Front Run will take place on Sunday 6th August starting at 10am from Pembroke and following a 10km route to Vale Castle and then along the seafront to Town, with a 3.5km route starting along Bulwer Avenue.

All the money raised will be shared between This Is EPIC, which aims to transform the lives of those living in Africa through savings and loans projects, and Les Bourgs Hospice.

Co-organiser Warren Mauger said they had originally approached MUG to be one of the beneficiaries again.

‘The amazing response from islanders means that MUG has achieved more than it hoped to do in such a short space of time and so they suggested Les Bourgs Hospice instead as they are closely linked and it was a charity that has touched the lives of so many people,’ said Mr Mauger.

First Names Group have come on board as sponsor to ensure as much money as possible goes to the charities and they will also be providing commemorative running t-shirts to the first 100 people to sign up for the event. The event t-shirts will also be available to buy.

‘Philip and Warren are well-known for their fundraising events and often extreme and exhausting challenges which see them, and so many other islanders, push themselves to help others less fortunate. Their energy and enthusiasm never falter and we are delighted that we can support and partner with them to raise money for two fantastic charities which both make a real difference to people’s lives,’ said Sharon McMillan, operations director of First Names Group Guernsey.

‘We want the event to be the biggest fun run of the year. We are encouraging all 70 of our “First Names” in Guernsey to be involved in some way and hope hundreds of others will join us.’

Boutique lingerie shop Cockadoodle in Mill Street will be producing creative hand-designed pants, which will be on sale on the day or runners can design their own ahead of the event. Cockadoodle is also running a “fancy pants” competition. Anyone, whether they are running or not, can get a pair of pants from the shop and enter them into the competition to be judged on the morning of the run. All the pants will be made available for runners to purchase with all proceeds going to the two beneficiaries.

Trish De Carteret, fundraising administrator for Les Bourgs Hospice, said the support would be invaluable.

‘Each year, we need to raise £1.4million in order that we can provide care and support to islanders with life limiting illnesses. We are incredibly grateful to Philip and Warren, MUG and First Names Group for choosing Les Bourgs Hospice and we look forward to some of our team joining them at the start line,’ she said.

Sign-up for this year’s First Names Group Y-Front Run by clicking the button below

REGISTER

2 Weeks to Go

Two weeks today Warren and I will be taking on our toughest endurance challenge to date; 7 ironman distance triathlons in 7 days. After 18 months of training we are now tapering, which means we are significantly reducing our weekly training from around 20 hrs per week to less than 10 hours per week. Lots of people have been asking us our daily schedule, so hear is a summary of our daily plan as people are welcome to swim, bike and run with us each day.

6:30am

2.4 mile swim at Havelet Bay

8:00am to 8:30am

112 mile bike ride, out from Havelet, laps of Pembroke to Pleinmont and then back to Havelet

4:00pm to 5:00pm

26.2 mile run, 4 laps from Havelet to The Bridge (just past Guernsey Electricity) and back. 

 

If the weather isn’t kind to us with the sea conditions we have back up options of Pembroke, Les Amarreurs and Cobo. If we have to change our routes we will post out updates on social media.

We will have live tracking each day and we’ll be sharing details of the prior to our EPIC week.

If you believe in the purpose behind our challenge, to help people overcome poverty in Africa and help support people in Guernsey with Mental Health issues, you can donate via https://race-nation.com/sponsor/t/3142 

 

#NeverGiveUp 

 

Active for 105 hours out of 168 hours

Stupidly Warren and I worked out some stats for our EPIC7 challenge of taking on 7 Ironmans in 7 Days. With just one month to go until we start our challenge it is becoming very real, and we now have a mix of excitement and fear. Excitement that after 17 months of training we are nearly at the foot of our mountain and we get to take on our challenge, and fear that there is a huge risk that this one may beat us.

Many people have asked us in recent days how long each Ironman may take us, many are shocked when we explain that we expect each Ironman to take us around 15 to 16 hours. What we don’t know at this stage is the impact on our times the build up of fatigue will have. When we took 7 marathons in 7 days in 2014 we full expected to get slower as the week went on, but our times were really interesting. We were faster on days five, six and seven than days three and four.  You would think that multi-day endurance events will naturally cause you to slow down as time goes on, but what we found with the Marathons is the body adapted as the week went on. Will this happen with the 7 Ironmans? We really don’t know, but what we do know is that we are attempting to meticulously plan the timings and pace across the week.

We are setting ourselves a minimum finish time for day one. We fully expect the adrenaline to be pumping on day one and there is a good chance that we will go out of the blocks too fast, especially on the bike, which could ruin us for the run and impact the rest of the week. With each Ironman expecting to take us around 15 hours, we will be active for a minimum of 105 hours across the 168 hours in the week. That leaves just under 1/3 of the week to eat, recover and sleep.

We regularly get asked “What if one day takes you longer than planned and you only get a couple of hours sleep?” – the simple answer is that we will just have to crack on, whether we have had 4 hours or 2 hours sleep, the approach remains the same.

At a very high level we are planning the following timings:

  1. SWIM – expect to start each day between 6:15am and 6:45am each day
  2. BIKE – expect to be on the bike at 8:00am and finish around 4:00pm to 4:30pm each day
  3. RUN – expect to be starting the run between 4:30pm and 5:00pm each day

Now, we have to caveat the above that it all could go out of the window on day one, but that is our high-level plan. We are going to be active well over 60% of the week, with the Marathons we knew that event on a bad day we would still finish by 2:00pm, on a bad day with EPIC7 we could be finishing at midnight, with the need to be awake and ready to go again at 5am for breakfast!

When you look at the stats of how many hours we will be active during the week it is easy to allow it to feel like an impossible challenge. It is easy to begin to over think and worry about the lack of sleep across the week and the additional fatigue this could/will cause. We know it is going to be tough, we are fully expecting to be getting nowhere near the sleep we require, so we can just avoid focusing on that element and focus on the purpose for taking on the challenge and calling on the 17 months of training we have under our belts.

4 weeks to go. Two more weeks of full training (20hrs a week) and two weeks of tapering. It’s close.

You can support the charities we are raising money for by donating at https://race-nation.com/sponsor/t/3142

#NeverGiveUp

Our EPIC challenge of 7 Ironmans in 7 days

This summer we are taking on our biggest endurance challenge to date. We will be attempting 7 Ironman Distance Triathlons in 7 days as part of The FCG EPIC Week. We are using the word ‘attempting’ as this challenge is filling us with fear. Our previous challenges have been tough, there is no doubt about that, but with running we have found that with purpose fuelling us we have found a way of breaking through the dark times and pushing on to complete our challenges. This challenge brings in two completely new disciplines, one of which we could hardly do in 2015, which was swimming. This all came from a Smith / Mauger holiday in 2015 when we were banned from taking our running kit on holiday…so we started swimming and by the end of the holiday we had decided on our next endurance challenge.

There is much that can go wrong with this challenge, the main one being the body simply giving up due to exhaustion from the amount of time we will take to complete each Ironman distance triathlon. Each day the Ironman could take anything from 15 to 20 hours to complete. Each evening we will need to spend time getting massages, ice baths, re-fuelling with approx 7,000 calories and then trying to get some sleep before going again the next day.

An Ironman Triathlon consists of 2.4 mile swim, which (weather permitting) will be in Havelet Bay, a 112 mile bike ride, which will see us cycle up and down the the west coast, and to finish, a 26.2 mile marathon run which will cover four laps from Havelet to Vale Castle. We will repeat this route every day for 7 days, totalling a massive 984.2 miles for the whole week.

We will take on this challenge on Monday 10 to Sunday 16 July 2017 during which the local community will be taking part in their own challenges for The FCG EPIC Week. We are hoping to raise £7,777 towards the final fundraising figure of the The FCG EPIC Week. All money raised will be going directly to Guernsey Mind and This Is EPIC Projects.

Over the past 15 months we have clocked up over 2,000 hours of training. Swimming over 600km, cycled more than 14,000km and run over 6,000km combined. We have got to be honest, there have been many times were we have felt broken and that we have bitten off more than we can chew. Fitting in around 15-20hrs a week or training alongside family and running our own businesses has pushed us to the brink mentally and physically. But, we are so focused on completing this challenge, some would say obsessed. We are now 9 weeks out from the event and our training is at its peak in terms of effort and time. Most days start at around 5:30am and we regularly incorporate two training sessions into each day. On Liberation Day if you head to Market Square you will see us on our Turbo Trainers and you can find out more about our challenge and also sign-up to The FCG EPIC Week and take on your own challenge.

We continue to use these events as a vehicle to raise money for local charities and causes, this challenge is no different, We are raising money as part of The FCG EPIC Week for Guernsey Mind and to change people’s lives through This Is EPIC which works with projects in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We’ve also learnt that by taking part in big challenges, it hopefully inspires and gives confidence to the Guernsey community to take on their own challenges and push themselves no matter the distance or challenge.

Yet again we have an amazing team around us, led by our wives. This would not happen without their support and encouragement. The team at Tri-Fitness have been invaluable with their coaching and training advice, Ian Browns Cycle Shop have supported us with advice on the bikes to buy and are providing mechanical support during the week and Huub Design, the UK’s leading Triathlon kit manufacturer is supporting us with wetsuits, cycling kit and running kit for the week.

It all comes back to purpose. We’re putting out bodies and minds in some very dangerous places to help others. We have seen so many lives change from previous challenges and we want to see that happen again with this challenge. Your donations and support are so appreciated and will keep us going through the dark times of our challenge, of which we are sure there will be many. Thank you and #NeverGiveUp 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO EPIC7

Going balls out to change lives

One thing that we want to do with our running is keep it fun. It’s easy to get bogged down with personal bests and checking the pace on expensive GPS watches. But at the heart of it running should be enjoyable, make us feel alive and leave us feeling better than before we started.

Earlier this year we came up with an idea to do a run wearing Y-fronts! To put it all out there to help others – we thought it sounded perfect! But as always we wanted to partner with another charity as well as This Is EPIC. There was no better choice than MUG, who are always up for eye-catching, ballsy, different ways of raising awareness of male cancers and raising money. The MUG team loved the idea so here we are about to make it a reality.

Please don’t let it be just Warren and Philip and Trevor Kelham running in Y-fronts. On June 26th we want every male who is capable of running, walking or just moving to meet at Pembroke and flood the island in a sea of pants.

Wear them how you like: pure (just Y-fronts, a bit risqué), superhero, or get creative. Everyone signing up will be supplied with a special pair of Ys so there’s no excuses.

This is meant to be fun so don’t be shy. Starting at Pembroke, the route will snake its way round the coast around Bordeaux and into town, finishing in the High Street where those taking part can relax and let it all hang out!

The event will have a positive impact on lives and this is why you should enter.

For all of us involved in EPIC Challenges there is no point in doing something that doesn’t have a purpose, this event may save a life or change someone’s life forever. Here are a few other reasons:

  • Everyone taking part will be more informed about male cancers, which could save lives;

  • Exercise is good for us and keeps us healthy;

  • You will smile and laugh which is good for our brain and wellbeing;

  • You will help get people out of extreme poverty. 

If ever there was a time to wear your pants with pride (whilst sober) the time is now.

Signing up will take just a couple of minutes…

Y-FRONT RACE NATION SOCIAL LOGO 350X200-2

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal.

Failure, it’s an interesting word, and often one that holds us all back if we are honest. I’m writing this post as I sit on the train from Manchester back to Euston about 4 and a half hours after I finished the Greater Manchester Marathon.

In December 2015 I set myself a very tough personal challenge of aiming to run a marathon in under 3 hours, which is averaging at around 6:50min/mile pace. Warren and I continue to state that we are not athletes but we do enjoy setting challenges to see how far the body and mind can go.

One of the key lessons that Warren and I have learnt over the past couple of years of taking on challenges is to enjoy the process of being the best you, and not to beat yourself up when things don’t go to plan, like today.

Training over the past 16 weeks went to plan, I followed it religiously and found myself getting faster and the body adjusting in terms of the increase in pace and recovery time/approach. Did I feel confident of achieving? If I’m being honest I was, but I’m also not naive enough to ignore the fact that events like today are also about how you feel on the day and the conditions etc. Thankfully I felt great when I woke up this morning and the weather could not have been better, a crisp clear blue sky and hardly any wind.

The race went really well in the early stages, sitting in with the 3 hour pace runner with a group of around 50 other runners, the pace was very consistent, between 6:41 and 6:51 min/mile pace, I even managed to chat to a few other runners about the joy of running on a flat course compared to Guernsey (I’m not sure they were happy to talk).

I found myself still chuckling at a certain MarathonManUK who said he was going to jog and go for a 3:30 time and use it as a training run. As the elite runners came back up the road to was mile 1 and were just going through the turn, there was Robert Young, leading the race, bloody brilliant that guy.

I went through the halfway point bang on 1:30hr, Louise was waiting there to cheer me on, I managed to see her and pointed to my head and smiled. This was meant to indicate that I felt I had it in my mind and it was about the body coming along with me.

The next few miles flew by and the support was brilliant, I made sure to high-five the young kids that had come out to support us runners, it was great fun and it also helped ignore the pain that the body was quietly trying to tell me about.

Mile 20 – right, just a 10km race to go I thought, the wheels were still on and the body was aligning to the mind telling it that sub 3 hour was on. Up to around mile 20 we had been in a big pack of 50 or so runners, suddenly it thinned out and I found myself with only a few runners around me, it was interesting how the pack thinned out.

Mile 22 it started to get interesting, I ran past a few runners that were now walking due to cramp and the body starting to get the better of the mind and question the ability to stick to the 6:50 min/mile pace.

The body couldn’t stick at that pace, I needed to back off slightly. This was an interesting process. I had to dig deep and pull on all the experience and dark times of the 7 marathons in 7 days and the EPIC48 challenge.

I need to thank a few strangers in the crowds, the shouts of “this is where the hard miles count” and “you haven’t run 23 miles to give up now” really helped. They may sound like cliches but when you have someone you don’t know give up their Sunday morning to cheer you in it really does help.

Encouragement is vital, we all need more of it and we all need to give more of it.

There was a great moment at 24 miles, a poor guy in front of me stopped with cramp, a supporter tried to encourage him by shouting “don’t stop now mate, run through the pain” far easier said than done, but it helped me, it gave me a boost to just keep going.

I knew the sub 3 hour was out of reach but wanted to get a sub 3:05 now, the last mile or so were great, making sure to get eye contact with the amazing supporters on the roads, giving them a thumbs up and thanking them for coming out to support the runners.

The finishing straight was something else, packed with a few thousand people cheering, a real moment to savour and enjoy, I must be honest I was milking it for at least 400mtrs, thumbs up, arms raised, fist pumps, anyone would have thought that I’d won the race. Another lesson that Warren and I had learnt is to run happy, we got this from Rob Young.

Whatever the experience, a good run, a bad run, a brutal run, enjoy it and enjoy the moment.

I crossed the line in 3:03:37. 3 mins 37 secs off my target time but 27 minutes taken off my marathon personal best.

Failure. I’d like to challenge that on behalf of anyone that has ever set a goal and fallen a little short. It’s a big step setting a challenge beyond where you have been before, it’s another huge step going for it, and coming up short is neither here nor there. It is about enjoying the process of being the best you.

We often say that what you learn through the process of being the best you often has more impact than hitting the end goal.

Failure, or rather the fear of failure, holds us all back from time to time. I’m starting to learn that it is not about success or failure, it really is down to pushing yourself further than you have been before and overcoming the dark moments.

We all have it in us to go further than we have gone before.

We all have it in us to be the best version of us.

We all have it in us to overcome the moments of doubt and pain.

Never give up.

What if I fall…Oh but what if I fly?

With just 7 days to go until the Manchester Marathon I wanted to share some of the experiences and lessons learnt from setting myself the challenge of running a sub-3 Hour marathon for the first time. Despite the 7 Marathons in 7 Days in 2014, the 48 hour treadmill world record attempt and running over 3500 miles in the last 2 years, I do not consider myself to be an athlete.
The challenges that Warren Mauger and I have taken on over the past 2 years have been all about endurance, stamina, mental strength and distance. This personal challenge of a sub-3 Hour marathon has added the element of pace and speed into the mix and pushing the body to places it has not been before, well not since playing semi-pro football in my early twenties anyway!
I have been asked whether I am confident of achieving the time, and this for me is the main point behind setting a goal or challenge that is beyond the comfort zone. My fastest ever half marathon was 6 years ago, a 1hr 32min, our 7 Marathons in 2014 were run at an average of 5 hour pace, the per mile pace for our training for EPIC48 was around the 9 to 10 minute mile pace and I ran the Jersey Marathon in 2015 in 3hrs 30mins, so speed has not been something I have focused on in the last few years. However, setting the very challenging target of sub 3 hours can help in creating a mindset from the start of training that knew there would be some dark times during training.
When you commit to a challenge you need to realise that the path to achieving the challenge isn’t always going to be an easy one. 
As the date has got closer I have been asked if I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get the sub 3 hour time I have been training for, here’s the thing, I won’t be disappointed. Why not I hear you ask? Well, it is quiet simple, one of the key things that Warren and I learnt over the last two years is the about being the best you can be and learning from the process of being the best you.
We often say that what we learnt about ourselves, the strengths, the weaknesses, as we trained for our challenges and during our challenges actually had a greater long term impact on us that crossing the finish line. 
Irrelevant of the time I achieve on Sunday 10th April in Manchester, without setting the goal I would have never experienced of achieved the following over the past 16 weeks of training:
  • Taking 39 secs off my 5km personal best time
  • Taking 40-odd secs off my 10km personal best time
  • Finishing a 10 mile race in sub 65 mins
  • Running a sub 1hr 30min half marathon
  • Completing a 70 mile training week at an average of 7 min/mile
  • Experienced multiple days where I felt like a sub 3 hour marathon was way beyond me, but learnt to ignore these negative thoughts
  • Experienced the body telling me to stop during long distance fast training runs, and learning to respond by trying to run faster and harder (the body didn’t always respond but it felt good to react in this way)
  • Learnt that by following the plan to the letter my ability to run faster improved significantly – as the plan told me I would
  • Confirmation, again, that the body will go where the mind tells it too
  • Always run happy, even when you don’t enjoy a run or have a difficult training run (don’t beat yourself up). The sun will still rise in the morning.
If I hadn’t set myself a personal goal or challenge beyond where I think I can go then I may not have achieved or experienced the things I have during the past 16 weeks of training. Whether I get a 2hr 56min, 2hr 59min 59 secs or 3 hour+ time in Manchester, the lessons learnt over the past 16 weeks have been invaluable.
For anyone else taking on challenges in the next few weeks, remember how far you have come during training, focus on being the best you, look back at what you have learnt and make sure to run happy and never give up.
If you are thinking about taking on a personal challenge or setting yourself a goal, why not think about pushing yourself that little bit further outside of your comfort zone.
What you become during the process of being the best you will have a greater impact on you than crossing the finish line. 

 

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