Well that was a funny old year. Obviously, outside of my own direct experience it was in many ways a horrible nasty little year – best forgotten. Unfortunately having left us with ongoing unspeakable horrors and many political and social landmines; forgetting 2016 won’t be easy – and maybe we shouldn’t. For all its bleakness and tragedy it finished for me on a bright note with the birth of my latest nephew and a new heart for a former coach.
But getting back to my funny (peculiar) 2016; twelve months ago I was posting training videos on Facebook. Luke was coaching me towards another crack at an Ironman World Championship. I had put it “out there” that I wanted to commemorate my 50th birthday by lying on a Hawaiian beach amongst the green turtles with a freshly carved Ironman World Championship winners trophy by my side. Instead, for my birthday, I had a very nice couple of nights away in Kildare with the family but had to come home to watch Pauline McLynn boot me out of (on primetime TV) the RHA for daring to produce probably two of the worst portraits to ever darken their walls. I am still scratching my head and wondering what happened.
I can’t complain I have had a good run; sixteen Ironman races finished over eleven years. I had been working towards my seventeenth but a stress fracture quickly followed by a hernia operation (that didn’t go quite as smoothly as hoped) put paid to that. I was about to settle into a summer of no training or racing and probably being a little more cranky than usual when I found myself travelling up and down the country trying to paint pictures against the clock for RTE television and enjoying all the full Irish breakfasts I could cram in. “Painting the Nation” was scary, frustrating and ultimately a little embarrassing, but great fun. I met some brilliant people and learnt lots. I count myself very lucky to have been given the opportunity and am very grateful for it. I hope to do a lot more painting in the future. https://www.facebook.com/AlanRyanArt/
Once the series had finished recording at the end of August, I made a few tentative steps to get back running. A few easy jogs that’s all it was and a plantar fascia injury put paid to that. I can’t deny I have been a little disheartened. Without the discipline of regular training my diet has sweetened considerably and my motivation has nosedived. I haven’t really been able to run train properly for three years.
Even now I am still a little sore from the hernia operation and the foot/heel is not anywhere near 100%. I have had a couple of very short slow jogs over the holidays. They have been encouraging in an active recovery way. My body seems to remember what to do and although it can’t execute it anything like it used to it is enjoying trying. I have been cycling a little over the Winter on the Kicker courtesy of Wheelworx. It’s a great machine and a little easier on my ailments than running has been. That said there were months when even stationary cycling was just not possible. The Kicker is very quick to point out that the power numbers aren’t anything like they used to be. I am swimming well though and on little swim training. Being considerably heavier than recent years and consequently floating higher in the water actually helps!
Feeling a little guilty about my Kicker, I had promised Rob in lieu of no racing or publicity last season I would get the Wheelworx kit and logo on the telly. Unfortunately a strict no branding policy by the “Painting the Nation” makers put paid to that. I suppose I will just have to get back racing again soon and try and repay the faith Wheelworx have shown me. If I do get an Ironman race in this year I would be very pleased, a little surprised to be honest, but I will definitely try and make a starting line somewhere. Without a good winters running in my legs any qualification for a World Championships will probably have to wait a few more injury free years. So will the turtles. I will continue to dream.