Double Ironman

Double Iron weekend

This time last year I entered the triple continuous Enduroman (triple ironman) and went into it with a colossal amount of training under my belt. I hadn't long finished my 30 half ironman distance triathlons in 30 days so I was fit as fiddle and my body was well and truly conditioned to the task ahead. It was a tough but enjoyable 54 hours of non-stop movement and I was very happy to take 3rd place.

I enjoyed the event that much I decided to enter the double this year as they weren't putting a triple event on but even if they did I think it still would have done the double just to do something different. I’ve done a double distance iron before up in Snowden for the Double Brutal but that really is on another level when it comes to toughness well, the clue is in the title…….Brutal, and that’s exactly what it was.

The double continuous Enduroman is also tough & brutal, these thing aren’t meant to be easy; it is based at Avon Tyrell in the new forest which is a perfect setting for the event. Like last year the weather was absolutely perfect but running up to the event it was touch and go whether it would be raining with 20mph winds but thankfully the conditions were just right. The thought of doing a double ironman in howling winds, rain and cold doesn't sound appealing in the slightest but then I guess it makes you even more of an ironman for sticking it out.

 

Friday morning I woke at 5am and my head was going 100mph knowing that I had to remember lots of things to pack for the weekend. For those who know me that’s a big task as I forget everything. One thing at a time now Pritchard boy, food and nutrition first, then swim stuff, bike stuff blah blah and strangely enough it all started to come together nicely. I have big plastic boxes, which separate each discipline so I know what’s in what box as I label each one that way it keeps it more organised. I have smaller plastic boxes for my nutrition, medical and electrical stuff. I know it all may sound a bit anal but from experience of going to these events if you’re not organised your hire van on the way home will have stuff thrown all over the place with half eaten food, wet wetsuits and towels, lost phone chargers etc and when arriving home holding on for dear life because of the state of your body the last thing you want to do is clean up a van. To be honest you don't even want to clean out the back of the van even when it’s organised because you’re in that much of a mess but it has to be done, tri kit and bikes ain’t cheap so everything must be looked after. 

 

I was ready, my kit was ready and all I had to do was pick up the hire van and pick up my brother who very kindly agreed to support me for the weekend and drive me to and from the event. Driving home from an Endurance event is NOT a good idea especially when you've been up for hours on the go, its quite simply a recipe for disaster so always get someone to drive you home or stay at a hotel for the night.

We left Cardiff just in time to get to Avon Tyrell for registry at 7pm and to check into the manor house so I could get my head down and get some sleep as I wasn't going to be getting any for a while.

 

Saturday morning my alarm was set for 6.30am (I never set alarms because I don't sleep very much and usually awake at 4/5am but just incase) and we went down to the van, which was parked in the perfect spot for the bike & run loops and we started to get things ready for the 9am swim start. My head at this point is all over the shop loosing things, remembering things, panic, nerves and butterflies of the many hours of fun & games that was awaiting me. The most important thing for me before any of these events is food & nutrition. I had a massive helping of Huel, bananas and 45 mins before the off a load of pre-kadged and I was ready to go.

We made our way down to the lake, bumping into familiar faces from last year’s event and various other endurance events saying our hello’s and starting to get ready. At this point I was excited and nervous in a good way and always a little emotional too. There was a long road ahead and it began here, I got a hug off my brother to wish me luck and dive bombed into the 13 deg water. I normally just slowly dip in to get used to it but why prolong the pain………get on with it. The countdown started and off we went for 4.8 miles of swimming. It’s not like your average ironman start swim where there are thousands of people trying to swim over you, getting booted in the nose and near enough experiencing what it’s like to drown (laughter). There were 19 of us so the start was rather pleasant and there was no fighting for position because lets face it your in there for 4.8 miles so there’s plenty of time to find your pace and position. I felt pretty good in the water, swallowed a bit mind but I felt comfortable and only really started to feel a little tired for the last 5 laps. I stopped twice to re-fuel with some Huel and a banana and before I knew it I was out.

We walked up to the van to go and get ready for the bike. I had a wetsuit on over a hooded vested wetsuit and I was still cold and shivering but at the same time trying to dry myself properly to slip all my bike lycra on to get going. You know that feeling when your skins damp and tight bike kit just doesn't slip on properly anymore and its just a fight to get dressed??? Well, it was a bit like that except in a car park and in a rush to get going.

Eventually I was kitted up and ready to spend quite a few hours in the saddle for the 224 mile journey which consisted of 11 mile laps. You leave base (where the timing matt, office, crew are) by riding over the timing matt (we have timing chips on our ankles) and head out into the new forest for an 11 mile loop then cycle back in and over the matt again and back off for another lap until you've completed the 224 miles.

I love cycling and I’d say it’s most probably my strongest discipline at the moment and what with a new bike and wheels I was really looking forward to my time in the saddle. After riding the course last year I really like it and this year the only slow part of the course was the first downhill section into Burley because of a head wind but the rest of the course was fine. After swimming for two and a half hours it does take a while to get your bike legs back to normal and I’d say it took me a good 2 laps before I started to feel comfortable and ready to put some power into those pedals. I’d also arranged to meet Trigg (my brother) after two laps at base to fuel up. We had the perfect set up, I’d come cycling through and shout my brothers name as he had the van window open and by the time I’d gone over the timing matt and making my way out onto the course he’d be there with my food that I’d asked for then I’d hit the road. Every 11 miles at base I’d eat something, which is VERY important. These endurance competitions are also eating competitions because if you don't eat then you wont be going very far, it’s like driving a car on no petrol or oil. Feed regularly and good food too helps a great deal. My choice of food for my bike ride was a mixture of bananas, Huel, Primal pantry bars, dates, avocados and my liquids were In-Kadged and Hydro-charge from Kadged muscle supps and I found the above choices perfect for me. In the past I always had the “I’ll be ok” attitude to having food on the go and every time paid the price and ‘bonked’. This was the first event where I ate a decent amount of food at every lap of my cycle so much so I almost went through a whole bag of Huel.

I’m charged and I’m in the zone, my mind is full of positive thoughts, at one point there was tears, I was loving every moment, the weather was great my endorphins were kicking right off and I was constantly telling myself to “go easy, go easy there’s a long way to go yet” but sometimes it’s hard to discipline yourself when you have a clear downhill road ahead and your stuck in the aero position on your TT bike so once or twice I put 80% into my pedals for that rush of speed and it felt so frigging good.

In the back of my head I knew coach would be telling me to slow down. Just as I got back to base Trigg said Mark Whittle’s (coach) words to me “tell him to slow down” (laughter) he was watching the live feed on the internet so he could see my split times……..caught out!!

A great afternoon was had on the bike and it was slowly edging towards night-time. High viz vests on, lights on and jackets on because at this time of year it does get really cold in the new forest at night. There are no street lights on the roads apart from when you go through Burley the rest of the roads are pitch black so good strong bike lights are a must to see as far into the distance as possible because horses, cattle, deer and all kinds of animals walk freely on the roads and you don't want to be hitting one of them. The deeper it got into the night the colder it got and because I was so tired and run down I was feeling that cold even more so I grabbed another jacket and gloves off Trigg at one of my food stops and headed off for my last 4 laps. It’s a very lonely place in the new forest at night and I was about to find that out. I changed gears and my chain decided to get tangled up in my derailleur so much so it was unfixable. I picked up my phone to phone my brother as I had a spare bike and due to the cold my battery in my iPhone went flat so had to wait until another entrant came past to see if they could help and it just so happened to be Anthony Gerundy aka TC (Ledgendry ultra endurance athlete) and thanks to him he phoned someone back at base to tell my brother what had happened and to drive to where I was to swap bikes, thanks for that TC. If I'm honest it was a massive punch in the teeth for me as I was really going for it and I was feeling really good and was holding 2nd place throughout the bike race and then this happened and I was gutted but hey, that’s life and these things happens but I did spit my dummy out though (laughter).

My brother turned up and I jumped onto my Giant propel road bike and got back on the road. It felt strange underneath me most probably due to sitting on another bike for hours on end but I soon got the feeling back and got on with the job ahead. On the bike route there are two cattle grids that we have to ride over and if your a cyclist you'll understand that they are horrible things that every time you ride over them it feels like your life flashes before your eyes (bit exaggerated but you get my drift) especially if you’re going fast and it’s raining (laughter). I had one in the distance and as I went over it my front light flew off! Luckily the light was still working but the clip that clipped it to my handle-bars was broken so I had to cycle whilst holding my light in my hand, as the saying goes ‘adapt, overcome’. To top it off my chain kept coming off when I changed gear to climb hills, it was all starting to get on my tits. I kept my cool, loosing my temper wouldn't help matters it would only use up energy I needed and as it was I spat my dummy out earlier so I just kept chugging on and crossed the timing matt for the last time at about 3am and then it was time to get ready for my 52 mile run.

If any of you have read my Endurance blogs before you'll know that I always get to a point where I start to loose my marbles and start tripping and generally have a bit of a “moment” which is due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion I suppose and it normally happens from about 2am to 5am and it still hadn't happened to me yet... This was until I took one look at one of the organisers/founders of Enduroman events Edgar Ette, I was speaking to him and he had that concerned look on his face as though what the hell was I talking about.

Next up was the run which is mad up of 48 1.1 mile loops around the grounds of the manor house at Avon Tyrell and I'm very familiar with the course from last year. It’s an off road run and goes around the swimming lake and passes the camp site where there are families parked up supporting one of their own, and everyone else of course, it then goes up around the back of the manor house and back to base where you walk over the timing matt again and it’s here where there are also a lot of supporters cheering you on which lifts you up no end especially when you’re struggling.

As I got my running stuff on (I forgot my head torch so had to use my bike light) I headed off not feeling very good at all and looking back at Edgar Ette’s concerned face. I normally walk the first 2 laps to get my running legs going after being on the bike for hours then get a good pace on. As I walked further it was then I started tripping and I could feel my eyes rolling at the back of my head. The next thing I knew I was in a forest surrounded by trees and someone getting out of a car, of course there was no such thing it was just my mind playing tricks on me. I told myself on my next loop as I passed my support van I’d put my head down for a bit and start again but I eventually snapped out of it and managed about 5 miles. However, I just wasn't feeling right at all, I couldn't get a good pace on and my bro told me to get 30 mins sleep so I did. I set my alarm clock but for some reason I woke a few mins before it went off and jumped out of the van to start again. I ran passed the van every lap and my running nutrition was bananas, the last of my bag of Huel, NUUN’s (electrolyte tablets you put in water), cold pasta with cold baked beans. Running after a little rest when your body had a little time to stiffen up was pretty hard but as my 8th lap came along I started to feel so much better. I still couldn't find that pace and feeling that I enjoy with running and then with 10 miles to go……..BOOM we had lift off. I felt great and I think all the electrolytes and pasta in my system finally kicked in and I was off. I’ll be honest, there were many times throughout the run where I almost chucked the towel in. The things going through my mind telling me just get in the van and go home, tell the organisers I'm done etc etc but there was something keeping me from listening to my mind. A classic case of angel on one shoulder whispering “go home, listen to your body” and the devil on the other saying “shut up you pussy keep rocking” and I’m glad to say the devil won……….he always does (laughter)

 

In classic Enduroman style your run goes clockwise but your last lap goes anti-clockwise so everyone knows you’re about to finish your journey and everyone gives you high fives on your way to the finish, everyone in the camp site claps you for your last lap of honour. I think that’s a nice touch for an event where each athlete pushed their mental and physical abilities to the maximum. I witnessed a 65 year old man run/walk 80miles this weekend and that kinda stuff stokes me out. He isn't at home with his pipe and slippers he’s out living life. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals all in one place all with a goal is always a good feeling, the positivity at the event this weekend was amazing. Bring on next year.

Thanks to the Ette family and staff for a great weekend. Thanks to Huel, Primal pantry, Kadged Muscle, CEP compression, Mark Whittle, bigmoose.

 

Thanks to my brother Trigg for supporting me.

 

Thanks to everyone who donated to my chosen charities it’s much appreciated. You can still donate on the site by clicking the donate button. Thank you

 

Whats next??????? I start training again Wednesday ready for October. I will reveal soon.

 

Pritch

Mallorca training - Week 1

I arrived at Palma De Mallorca airport and made my way to the baggage area to collect my 2 bags. One full of bike, run and swim stuff and the other full of nutrition and other bits and bobs. I always over pack and i somehow don't think its going to be different this time but its always good to have too much rather than too little. My problem is remembering important things like trainers, helmet or bike shoes but i double checked this time and we are fully loaded ready to go.

My taxi arrived at an apartment in Palmanova where Leigh Hutchings and his wife Mandy are staying. Leigh is going to be my training partner for the next few weeks, Mandy’s was there for one night but left the following day leaving myself and Leigh ready to explore this fantastic island. I was meant to be sharing a room with the both of them for the night but little did we know there wasn’t even enough room to swing a cat (not that i would ever swing a cat mind. where that saying comes from i’ll never know!) so i booked the room next door for the night. 

We went for a coffee in the warm sunshine which by the looks of the weather forcast we needed to make the most of as for the next week it was looking a little sketchy. Leigh went for a bike ride and myself and Mandy went for a 4 mile run along the coast. 

I rocked my ‘Hoka One’ trainers due to recent injury and found they helped a great deal, not that i can feel anything using my normal running shoes mind but its just for peace of mind as thats the last thing i want to flare up so I'm just being extra careful. The thought of not running and being out of action again isn’t something i’d like to entertain at the moment to be honest. 

 

We went for food and then i came back to my room and started sorting a few things out before passing out ready to wake up for our first peddle of 2017. 

I woke up and looked at my new Garmin watch which not only tells me my cycling, running and swimming stats but it also tells me how much deep, light and no sleep I've had which is proper freaky as i looked at my sleeping pattern and realised i don't get much proper deep sleep at all which I'm not surprised by really but its something i must address………Train hard rest hard and all that. I find it hard to switch off and have been toying with the idea of learning meditation for a while but still haven't got round to learning it and using it to my advantage. My mind is 100mph and i need to slow the bugger down mun and realise i cant do everything all at once haha.

Anyway, on the subject of 100mph i couldn't wait to get on my bike and hit the road for the day. We hit up a route which i’ve done a number of times taking in the cycle path running from santa Ponca following the coast through Palma and all the way to Son Veri which is a good 34 miles for us from Palmanova. Going out to Son Veri we were motoring at some speed and i was fully aware that we had a huge 40mph tail wind which was fun of course but like any cyclist knows, the route back will be a punishing mental head wind all the way home. There are two ways of looking at this situation and thats ‘don’t ride the headwind out’ and ‘it's great training’, the latter appealed to me at this present moment. Coming home was pretty full on and it really was windy, so much so it was whipping the sand from the beaches and slapping us in the face. It was far harder for Leigh as his wheels are deeper rimmed than mine and he was fighting his front wheel all the way so much so that it was too much at one point and all i could hear was CRASH. Leigh had hit the deck and punctured his front tyre but thankfully he was ok and we were up and running in no time. First day fresh legs soon turned into legs that felt like they’d done 2 days of riding hills but we arrived home with smiles on our faces knowing we had a good first days cycling in the bag.

 

We went for food but me being a vegan and Leigh a vegetarian wasn't that easy out.. but its not as bad as what you think it is, there is always something you can eat so we both enjoyed a vegetable stir fry which was nice followed by the good ole faithful……..chips. I also washed down a load of Huel which i had straight after my ride so i was content enough.

Day 3 and we woke early as we have a shuttle bus taking us to the North of the island to Alcudia. I’ve done most of the routes south west of the island and i did the south east of the island last summer so i was looking forward to going up north and getting plenty of climbing miles as we ascend up the mountains. I’ve only been to Alcudia once and that was to enter the 2013 70.3 Ironman which i enjoyed immensely and that was summer time with temperatures over 30deg. This time as we jumped into our shuttle bus to head up north there were black skies and rain forecast so it was looking a bit bleak but what can you do apart from just get on with it. Our driver said “where are you staying?” to which we replied “dont know, we're going to book something when we get there” and we got a funny look off him as he replied with “but everywhere’s closed in Alcudia”.

We thought we’d be ok but as we arrived it was like a ghost town here and there literally was NOTHING open, not even restaurants. We had worried looks on our faces until we decided to ask a taxi driver who gave us an address of a hotel in town. As we were looking for this hotel we saw team Sky’s hotel and half contemplated staying there until we realised they most probably book the whole hotel out.. not only that but we didn't want to look like fanboys staying in their hotel, and we didn't want to show them up by overtaking them every morning (Laughter)!

 We arrived at our hotel which is a stone’s throw from team Sky’s place and were greeted with champagne by the receptionist………..hey???? have we just arrived in Buckingham palace??? The place was very clean and looked really nice and the first thing that came to mind was - Expensive. It was far from it and for an apartment for 5 days it was only 240 Euro between us so we decided we’d actually stay here for the whole duration of our trip and booked up straight away. Not only that, but the place had a gym, jacuzzi and sauna complete with a freezing outdoor pool which i later realised i could use as my ice bath for my legs after a days riding…….perfect. Anyone interested in coming here for winter miles the hotels called ‘Ferrer Maristany’ and i highly recommend it.

 

We went for a spin to the lighthouse at Cap de Formentor which was a great ride and a decent amount of climbing. On our way there team Sky came speeding down the mountain passing us as we started climbing. The wind again was pushing us down the hill as we were trying to climb, my heart rate was at 180bpm i later found out via my Garmin and it bloody felt like it too but i was loving it, body full of adrenaline and sweating my tits off, good times. There and back in less than 3 hours with 3,117ft of climbing we worked up a decent appetite and got stuck into our 12 euro buffet followed by a sauna, jacuzzi and a chill and rest ready for another day of spinning in the saddle. 

As i write this on my day off training I'm looking out of the window at hail and mental winds. Since we’ve been here the weathers been very mixed and we’ve ridden in hail, sleet, rain, wind and it really is cold but it's still much better than being at home. The roads, the routes, the easy going drivers, the climbs and the scenery is all worth it. My body’s in good shape so all’s looking good so far. 

 

My coach Mark Whittle just tagged me in a video on Facebook and i look at it and realise it's the mountain where we climbed yesterday and the roads covered in snow and closed off so that'll give you a good insight to whats up with the weather at the moment. Anyway, I'm off and i’ll update our trip next thursday.

Pritch

2017

Its been a while since i last wrote a blog and considering i’ve turned up a day early for my flight to Mallorca what better way to kill some time in my travel tavern than to give you an update of what's been going on recently.  

My last event was the Dublin Marathon on the 31st of October last year. I decided to do it as i had a years full of running under my belt which consisted of: 32 half iron distance triathlons and one triple iron so i knew i had a good base there plus my fiancé Ciara lives in Dublin so it made good sense to kill two birds with one stone. I’d done the Dublin marathon 3 years ago and i remember it being a good rolling course with plenty of support throughout the race! I'll never forget my previous Dublin marathon experience, as about 5 miles from the finish it tipped it down with rain and to top it off it was freezing cold and i wasn’t appropriately dressed for the occasion and then got lost and couldn't find Ciara so ended up a shivering shaking mess close to tears and on the verge of hyperthermia. 

This time i made sure i checked the weather and it was looking like a good day so i was more than looking forward to running. I entered the race with no game plan really apart from just going for a nice jog and taking it all in. I wasn’t planning on any PB’s, i just wanted to go for a run and enjoy the day and then go out for a few beers with Ciara and head home with a smile on my face. 

We woke up early and headed into town to look for the starting point. I cant remember what colour group i was in but in the Dublin marathon there are many starting areas all with different colour starts depending on pace until you all meet up on the same path and head out for your run. Being a very punctual human being i’m always far to early but i find its alway best to be too early rather than to late for obvious reasons. After all i’m about to run a marathon so why stress yourself out panicking before you've even started as its all a waste of valuable energy. 

The gun went and the usual pushing and shoving assumed until the hoards of people started fizzling out and opening up to allow a decent pace of running. Like i said earlier i only wanted to take it easy and after about 3 miles i was feeling pretty good and continued to go at the same pace in the lovely Irish sunshine. I can remember running and thinking that Ciara was going to be by herself for the whole time i was running and there’s only a certain number of coffee’s you can have until you get piss bored so i upped my pace a bit. I entered phoenix park and i remembered the last time i was here was a few months before for Ironman Dublin 70.3, its where the half marathon and the finish was held. I kept running and i looked up only to see a pacer with the 3 hour 40 min pace marker. My marathon PB was in Amsterdam with a time of 3.50, so to see the 3.40 pacer and i was feeling good at mile 6 i thought i might as well stick with him and see how i go so i did. Mile 7, 8 and then 9 i thought “sod it” I'm gonna pick up the pace and if i blow out later down the line then so be it. 

I kept running and i knew at around the 21 mile mark i normally start to feel it and today wasn’t any different, i started to really feel it in my legs but i didn't want to see that pacer run past me and i never looked back once and just kept rocking with my chest out, head up and not to loose form due to tiredness. 

2 miles to go and still no sign of the pacer and i knew i was heading for a good PB but didn't have a watch to tell me what it actually was so tuned on the burners and picked up the pace for the last push. As i came to the final straight the street to my left and right was packed with spectators shouting and screaming and i literally had goosebumps all over my body and i was buzzing. You don't feel any pain when your that high and i was loving it, then i saw my time and new PB of 3.36.46 which i was really happy about. I picked up my medal and went to find Ciara, still dressed with a running top that resembled a boob tube (i’d forgotten my running top so borrowed one of her brothers tops which i think he last used in school haha) and go for a well earnt beer.

Last event of a very busy year done and i was then looking at what to do next year and had a few ideas one of which will be a first so we started to get the ball rolling and started having some meetings to see if it was all possible. 

As i was thinking into the new year i started training again after my rest from the Dublin marathon to get back on track. But i was struggling with my running as my foot was in a bit of pain. I tried to ignore it at first but i knew i was only kidding myself so i mentioned it to Whittle and he told me to lay off it for the time being and i then went to see Dai at Agile Therapy to see what he had to say about it. I take Whittle & Dai’s word as gospel, they really do know what their talking about and after checking my foot out he more or less said i had to rest it and ice bath it so there was no running for a while plus it also affected my cycling for a bit. To cut a long story short i concentrated on swimming, wattbike and strength work and then xmas came so training went by the wayside a bit. I went to Mallorca for 4 days over the xmas period and got a bit of cycling done and an open water swim session in the sea but i still wasn’t running and i knew that i needed to be putting far more training in for what i had planned for 2017 so started stressing a little.

January 1st came and i knew it was time to get my head down and start putting some hours in if i was going to be in a decent shape for my oncoming challenges. I had a 2 and a half mile run after having 2 months off and all was good which i was happy about. I went for a Wattbike session at Whittle’s house followed by a meeting of what I'm going to be doing this year and seeing if we can fit it all in and more importantly is my body up to it.

I decided to book my annual winter training in Mallorca for January 11th so i could put in some serious millage swimming, cycling and running for 3 weeks and if my body held up then i’ll have the confidence to announce my challenges. I’m meeting my mate Leigh Hutchings out there and we’re going to spend some time training up in Alcudia for 2 weeks then he’s off home and i’ll then spend some time in Santa Ponca before heading home hopefully fitter and charged up ready to rock 2017. 

January 11th and i wake at 3.30am after an hours sleep mainly due to the fact i was exited about my trip. Due to past experiences regarding my forgetful mind and leaving trainers at home, running tops, along with many other things i spent the previous day checking off all my packing not just once but twice and making sure everything was packed as tidy as possible. I was pretty stoked with my packing and this time i knew i’d nailed it. 

My longtime suffering mate/tour manager/shop manager Adrian Rooke picked me up and we headed for Bristol airport loaded with baggage as i had a bag full of nutrition along with a bag full of swim, bike and run stuff and my cabin bag. I walked to Easyjet check in and the lady asked “where are you going?” i said “Mallorca” and gave her my boarding pass for her to tell me “Your a day early, the flights tomorrow morning sir”. Everyone at check in just looked at me with a giggle and laughed even more when i had to call Adrian to come and pick me up again (laughter), fair play it was pretty funny and better to be early than late so i told them all I’ll see you tomorrow and got Adrian to drop me off at the Holiday inn. I checked if they had any rooms and the lady behind reception was very helpful and rather charge me for a day room and night room just charged me for the night and gave me a free breakfast token. I think she felt sorry for me but nevertheless it was very kind of her. Not all lost i suppose as i got to sit down and write this and pretend to be Alan Partridge for the day.

I started my £100,000 challenge last year starting off with my 30 half ironman distance triathlons in 30 days and carried on with various other events and spin bike days over the year and I'm proud to say with the help and generosity of all that donated we’ve reached £30,000. We still have a long way to go to reach the target of £100,000 but I'm confident with what we have planned for 2017 we can reach the goal. 

Thanks to everyone so far for their help and generosity.

Kind regards,

Pritch

 

Anyone interested in sponsoring any of my challenges please contact us via this site. thank you

Swimming the Irish Sea

A few years ago I decided to run/walk to Dublin from Cardiff. Why?? Why not really, I thought it’d be a good adventure of which it was. I shopped for a decent sized rucksack and tent, filled it up and tried to keep it light for obvious reasons but as I put it on my back I realised it was actually really heavy! However, I decided I was going to give it a go anyway.

 

I left my house and started to run and it wasn’t long before I realised that my backpack was so heavy there was no way I could constantly run so I decided to run a little then walk a little and it worked out a treat. My route was the A48 heading west and I got to Port Talbot on my first day. The plan was to camp in my tent but my legs were in bits and I really needed a hotel where I could get an ice bath just so my legs were in good enough nic the next day to keep moving forward. I booked into a room and phoned down to reception for some ice to which the receptionist said “no problem sir”. I told her that I didn't want just a enough to cover a bottle of wine I actually needed a black bag full for the bath which meant I had to tell her the reason for my strange order of ice before she thought I was going to attempt to build an igloo in my room!!!

 

The ice arrived and I stayed in that ice bath for a good 20 mins and it worked a treat. I ordered some food and went to sleep ready for day 2. After some sleep, I put my backpack on my back and carried on heading west towards Fishguard where I’d be catching my ferry to Rosslare to start the Irish leg of my run/walk up to Dublin. I spent the next few days camping in fields by the road or if I was in a little town I’d B&B it. My feet were in complete agony due to the weight of my backpack so much so I had to visit a Go Outdoors shop to get rid of the trainers I was wearing and invest in some proper walking/trek shoes. They helped a bit but I honestly think the damage was already done especially on my left foot but they were better than my trainers so they had to do. 

 

After 3 days I finally arrived Into Fishguard and jumped onto my overnight ferry to Rosslare where I’d arrive at 6.30am. I arrived and I remember it being a really nice sunny morning and spent the day running/walking up the east coast of Ireland, which was ace. On my way north to Dublin I had friend Nial Deef Mc Carthy help me out on a place to stay and feed me which was nice of him. 

 

After 6 days I had arrived into Dublin smelling a bit and in a bit of agony and I got down on one knee and asked my girlfriend Ciara to marry me of which she said yes. That night we had a big party and then I spent the next few days relaxing and resting up at her house.

 

After a few months I’d realised I’d damaged my left foot by my toes and its still not the same today but hey ho these things happens I suppose. After looking back at that trip I’d really enjoyed it and my mind started ticking again as I started to think about cycling the same route. I chose my date, filled my backpack again and jumped onto my bike and made my way west down the A48, destination Fishguard for the 2am ferry. I thought I’d left with plenty of time for me to get to the ferry port on time but as I got to Swansea I realised I was really pushing it for time and started to panic a bit and the further west I was going the hillier and slower it became. It then started to get dark and the weather was unusually cold for the time of the year. I’d had all the right clothing on but I was still cold! I also had all the right high viz clothing on so the cars and lorries could see me clearly in the distance. Even with all the right clothing on it didn't make much difference in my mind as the road narrowed all I could feel were these lorries screaming past me (they were all obviously off to catch the same ferry as me) and I’ll be honest I was pretty scared.

 

I eventually arrived at the ferry port with 30 mins to spare before the boat was about to sail so I’d made it just in time. I got on board and managed 2 hours sleep. Once again I arrived at Rosslare at 6.30am and then on much nicer roads and big cycle paths I made my journey up to Dublin. I cant remember how long it took me but I’d covered the distance of 210 miles with 2 hours sleep and once again Ciara was there to greet a very sweaty, tired but a happy me.

 

I’ve run and cycled from Cardiff to Dublin and of course you can imaging what my mind was thinking next………..SWIMMING. I spoke to my brother Trigg and he said the same “you’ve run it, cycled it now to complete the full triathlon you're gonna have to swim it” and I totally agreed with him. Swimming the distance of 45 miles is a massive ask, but thanks to people like Sean Conway (swam from Lands end to John O’Groats) they prove to you these things are possible.

 

Swimming the Irish channel has played on my mind ever since and now after reading Conways book it seemed very possible. When I get something in my head I wont be happy until I put it into practice so it was just a matter of when really.

 

Well, a few months ago I’d signed up to the Dublin marathon and initially the idea was to catch a plane then it entered my mind that I’m still raising money for my £100,000 challenge which I started in March this year so I thought what a great opportunity to go for the swim now and get there in time for the marathon.

 

If I complete it not only will I become the first person to do the Cardiff to Ireland triathlon but I will also become the first person to travel to the marathon via swimming the Irish Sea, and whilst doing so raising much needed money for my £100,000 challenge.

 

I mentioned to my mate Navarra that I wanted to do it and he said that he knew of a guy with a boat who could see me over. I had a meeting with him and he said that he’d see me over for free which I thought was a very kind gesture. All he said was that I’d have to find 2 experienced sea kayakers, a defibrillator and we were good to go as long as the sea and weather conditions were perfect. Lets be honest, I was taking a big gamble here with the weather as its notoriously bad at this time of year so it was a big ask but I’ve always been a gambler and decided to take the risk. If anything it was a good excuse to put some long swimming hours in ready for it. My next mission was to find the kayakers so what better place to go and ask than Ben at Cardiff white water rafting centre in Cardiff. He’d given me some good contacts and not only that he gave me permission to do some open water swimming at the centre to get used to the cold water training which was very kind of him. 

 

I started doing my research and calling and e mailing various people and I’d luckily got in touch with Leanne who's a very experienced sea Kayaker and was bang up for the mission and to help out so I was happy to have my first kayaker. A few days later thanks to Ben at Cardiff white water rafting I’d got hold of Pete Bray who was the first man to Kayak from west to east of the Atlantic Ocean and he said he was really up for it which was ace. I’d got my team together and we arranged to meet at No6 Swansea and have a Skype meeting with the skipper of the boat Matt. During the chat we set a start date of October 24th which will give me enough time to cross the channel and make my way up to Dublin in time for the marathon. I was buzzing, not only had I got a great team together the dream was getting closer and all that was in my way was of course the weather and sea conditions but there is nothing we can do about that and I knew that so I was prepared for the worst but hoping for the best! 

 

I’d spent days training in that freezing CIWW rafting centre at 8.30am most mornings and just counting down the days really. I went for a training swim with Leanne in her kayak at Coney beach Porthcawl and the sea was so much warmer than CIWW so it was good to know I was training in colder water than the sea. Don't get me wrong, I know way out in the middle of the Irish Sea its going to be bloody cold but thanks to the kind people of Patagonia they donated one of their top of the range winter suits for me to wear and believe me after training with it on it made a massive difference. No disrespect to triathlon wetsuits but they aren't made for the middle of the Irish Sea so I had to up the thickness of my suit. City Surf shop Cardiff helped me out a great deal too by giving me good wetsuit boots to keep me feet warm and some bits to keep my hands warm to so I'm more or less covered from head to foot and ready to go.

 

I got given a website address so I could check the weather and sea conditions out in the Irish Sea and became a bit of a geek with it constantly looking at it and praying that it’ll be perfect for the 24th Oct. Wednesday I looked on the website and couldn't believe what I was seeing, the weather and sea conditions were getting more perfect by the hour from Monday the 24th onwards with a 0.5 meter swell which is more or less a mill pond in the Irish Sea. Wooooooooo hoooooooo I then knew that this challenge was on and that my gamble was about to pay off. I’ve always been a jammy git when it comes to gambling but this is one I really wanted to win and by the looks of things the weather and sea gods were on my side.

 

HOWEVER, i phoned Matt the skipper and he said the guy who owned the boat that was going to take me across was now unavailable. My heart sank and all that excitement just got wiped off my face. He said he’d done some phone calls and there was a better boat actually moored in Fishguard and is available to take me so I thought “great” not all lost… I phoned the skipper and after a fairy long conversation for him to take me across it was going to cost me £9,000 and that was a deal he was giving me, as it was a charity challenge.

 

Once again the smile got wiped off my face because I haven't got £9,000 to pay a skipper to see me across the Irish sea. I got on the phone to a few influential people who may be able to help or have some idea of how to get 9K in a matter of a few days but to no avail.

 

SO, basically this essay and story that I’ve given above is basically a call to anyone out there who knows of someone, a corporate business, a lottery winner etc etc to see if any is prepared to help me get 9K before Monday October 24th. 

I know its a massive ask but as the saying goes “if you don't ask you don't get”.

 

It’s also a big challenge for me but like all my previous challenges it’ll be one I’ll put 100% into. I don't like things beating me so I’ll fight all the way. I have the right experienced people with me so I couldn't ask for more. Sean Conway’s inspired this one and I’d like to be able to phone him from Rosslare “IF” this mission gets off the ground.

 

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH for reading the above, sharing and maybe helping me get to the start line. If this doesn't happen then I’ll be going to the Dublin marathon via airplane which is far less adventurous then swimming to it!!

 

Chow for now

 

Pritch

Triple ironman

Monday 13th - 8am.

This time last week i was in bits, I put both legs on the floor from my bed and attempted stand up. Attempt is a good word for it as it wasn't a fully successful mission from bed to toilet due to all over body soreness along with shattered legs and ruined feet. I made it to the toilet then I had to attempt the big one……….my stairs (laughter). Walking down them was a complete no no so I walked down them backwards ready to make breakfast and spend my day fuelling and resting after spending my weekend competing in the continuous triple ironman.

So lets go backwards: Wednesday 1st June, I started my prep and gathering everything I needed for the long weekend at the Enduroman festival of endurance. Prepping for these events is mental, so many things to remember it drives my mind round the bend and I constantly get the “what have I forgot” feeling. I start a notes page on my phone about 2 weeks before the event and every time I remembered something I would write it down so when I started my prep I could tick it off. In order of organisation it's swim stuff, bike, run and nutrition all in 4 huge tupperware boxes so it's all in order and I know where everything is. This year nutrition wise I made a beetroot and potato casserole, beets to oxygenate my blood and potatoes for carbs and because a casserole is wet it's easier to get down my neck. I also took enough bananas to make a monkey jealous but I’d say my best choice for my nutrition this year was Huel and Kadged muscle supplements. I struggled last year when doing the double brutal to get any food down my neck, not because I didn't want it it's because I couldn't get it passed my throat without gagging. Anyone out there who competes in these events know how extremely important it is to eat at all times to fuel the body. Without food you ain't going anywhere and it's pretty much like a car without oil or petrol, you are rendered hopeless. Endurance events are eating competitions too so food is a very important player at these events and not just food the RIGHT food too.

 

Huel has everything the body needs in liquid form (https://huel.com/) and I added Kadged muscle BCAA’s, Glutamin to it and just chucked it down my neck and carried on trucking. There was no waiting around for food to cook it was literally into my shaker, shake it and drink it and keep moving although during the night time bike I ate my casserole hot as it was pretty cold from 1am till 4am so it warmed me up a treat.

Thursday morning and I go and pick up my hire van courtesy of Dawsons van rental in Caerphilly who were very kind and gave us the van FOC. I drove it home and started packing ready for the trip to Enduroman at Avon Tyrell, excited at what was to come. We parked up and for the first night we stayed in the manor house so we could get a decent sleep before the 9am kick off the following day. We arrived pretty early so we went into the closest village for some food before it was time to sit down for the race brief which was at 7pm. My coach, Mark Whittle had arrived as we got back from the pub so we all went to the race brief to listen to all the rules which are of course very important. There’s so much to take in at these brief’s my head cant take it all in but its there loosely in my mind so I have a little idea of what's going on and if not then it doesn't hurt to ask others which I normally find myself doing.

We got our heads down and woke up and started getting ready for a very long 3 days. As I woke the nerves hit me and my belly was doing summersaults. I tried calming myself but it just wasn't happening and I think it's one of those feelings that you just have to deal with, it's a big deal and years of training have helped get me to this position in the first place and in a few hours I'm about to go on a journey i’ve never done before and if anything it's pure excitement of going into the unknown. 

I get my wetsuit on and headed down to the lake ready for the swim. We had 20 mins till the off and believe me they were a long 20 mins!! I saw a few people and said hello and I also saw Claire (brutal events owner) who also competed, we greeted each other, but, at this point I just like to keep myself to myself and keep focused on my first job which is complete this 29 lap 7.5 mile swim. 5 mins before the race all 18 competitors jumped into the water ready for the off. The lake looked great and the temperature not to bad although a little cold at first but I knew as soon as I got going it'd be warm enough to be comfortable. 

 

The countdown begun and off we went. My usual swim start negativity kicked in with breathing problems, claustrophobia, people swimming over me etc but I'm experienced enough now that after a few laps this eased and I got into a nice rhythm. After every lap you had to pass through a jetty and shout your number so that they could write your lap down. My swim was going really well but started to get really bad lower back pain which really did my head in but there was no way I was going to put my hand up and quit. The plan was to stop every hour to feed but I enjoyed myself that much to begin with I stopped at an hour and a half and downed a shake of Huel and a banana and off I went for a few more laps. All in all I had 3 feed stops and got out of the water in second place with a time of 3.41 hours which i was really happy with. 

 

With a muddy face I went straight into the showers which were right next to the lake and then up to my van to get changed ready for the 336 mile bike leg of the race. The weather was pretty warm but still I was a little chilly after spending so much time in the water so I dressed for the bike with plenty of layers so that I could warm up. Off I went to attack the first of many 11 mile loops and what a decent course it was. Plenty of flat and decent climbs to make it a decent enough course for 336 miles of riding, this is easy to say at this point but when your 200 miles in your mind knows every bit of that course and you look at things so differently especially when your exhausted. 

 

The first 100 miles I felt great and was getting on fine and to make things better there’s enough wildlife to check out whilst you're on your ride so much so there are horses that park themselves on the road and don't give two hoots at whats coming towards them along with cows, pretty mental sights. To be honest I didn't want to go charging into a horse or a cow as we all know who’d come off worse. At one point I almost came off my bike because there was a pheasant in the bush next to the road and the thing let off this almighty screech (never knew that's what noises they make!!!) and I almost flew off my bike (laughter). Lap after lap after lap and it can become a bit monotonous after a while so your mind picks up some mental things. A bird had got run over by a car and on every lap it slowly but surely kept getting eaten by something and before you knew it it was just bones.

Jeff from bigmoose had turned up so I had him and Whittle on support after every lap finished. Day was going into night and it felt really peaceful and quiet and I had a smile on my face, it felt like just me, my bike and the countryside and it felt good and I was in a good place. However, I knew from when doing the double brutal last year when the darkness hits it becomes very cold and lonely apart from the odd competitor dotted here and there. It’s at this time many people fail and I knew this was where the first fight was gonna come and it did at about 4am. Once again I was hallucinating but this year I saw the Coliseum which looked great, I kew it wasn't and it was just my tired body and mind playing tricks on me but I enjoyed what I saw until I got closer and realised it was what I expected it to be, which was a tree!!

The road was moving, the trees too and there were humans in fields and dotted along the road but it wasn't real, and in seconds I woke up heading towards a bush at the side of the road. I’d fallen asleep on my bike and woke up just in time so decided it was my last lap and i was going to get 30 mins sleep. My knee was really hurting so much so it was hard to put pressure on it to turn my pedals and this began to worry me but I had to keep trucking. When I woke up I was cold, exhausted and in pain but after one loop of the bike I was back in the zone. Someone told me I was in the lead on the bike for a few hours; although being in first place lifted my spirits and it's always nice to know you're leading the pack, I knew there was a long way to go and I wasn't in it to win it I was in it to finish and position is nothing but a bonus.

I can't remember how many miles in I was but it was about 8am that I started sleeping on my bike again and drifting off all the time but there was no way I was having another sleep. I didn't realise how bad I was until another competitor pulled up besides me and told me i needed to go for a sleep as i was all over the shop. It was a case of keep trucking, keep shaking my head and I’ll soon come round and luckily enough I did and carried on with my race. 

I now had 2 laps left, I was super stoked and I was buzzing knowing I’d almost finished the furthest cycle I'd ever attempted. It was a really good feeling and gave me a huge boost so I went for it big time, my average lap was 52 mins but, adrenaline pumping, my last lap was 40 mins which is not bad after covering so much ground! It was at this moment when it dawned on me how incredible the human body is and how resilient it is. After about 24 hours of riding a bike and 336 miles later and in 3rd place I jumped off the saddle with a big smile. My gooch was also over the moon to be off that saddle and the poor bugger wasn't in good shape either.

 

I brought my bike to my support team and began to get into my running gear ready for 79 miles of running. It was a good feeling to be off the bike and to start getting my trot on so I fuelled up and began the first of my 72, 1.1 mile loops. I was tired from the bike but mentally I had to get a few miles in the bag before I went to sleep and I managed 9 miles which was my aim leaving me with 70 left to go. The good thing about the run was that our support vehicle was en route so we had to pass it on every lap which worked a treat. I jumped into my sleeping bag and went off for another 30 mins sleep. I woke and felt like I was on another planet. My right knee in tatters again so I had an ibuprofen and limped the first lap back until i got warmed up and got a good race on. I knew that the next time I went for a sleep it was going to be for an hour so I focused my mind on 5 laps at a time and knew it was a game of mind over matter as my legs and body were really starting to get tired.

It started getting dark so we had to put our head torches on as we were running through the woods and there were tree roots everywhere. The amount of times I tripped and almost went head first was unreal and how I stopped myself from doing so I don't know!! Lap after lap after lap I knew every tree, I started talking to myself then I started seeing things again and I knew it wasn't long before I had to go for that sleep but I wanted to get to 40 laps before I hit the hay because I knew the weather for the next day was going to be very hot. When I stopped to feed I couldn't stop for over a minute as I’d get so cold that I’d shake uncontrollably; so my feed stops were quick and sharp. I got to 39 laps and couldn't reach the 40 I wanted so got back into my sleeping bag at 5am and set my alarm for 6am so I'd have a good hours sleep.

Alarm went off and Whittle came in and told me to get up and off I went for another 34 laps which would take me to the finish. After about 3 laps I really started to warm up and I felt really good and I really put the rockets on. I was buzzing, I was loving it and I was going for it so much so I kept telling myself to slow down as it'll catch up with me but I didn't listen to my brain. I then went and got my headphones and stuck Motorhead on and ran around that lap like a headless chicken. I quickly felt my legs getting heavier so it was time to wake up and start taking my time. I took my earphones off after only one lap (laughter). I started craving pineapple so Jeff and whittle started prepping me chunks of it and it tasted like heaven and gave me another good boost.

I knew I didn't have long to go until I finished the triple and I began feeling the excitement in my bones, I was really tired by now and my legs were full of lactic acid and my gooch was in a terrible state as it was still rubbing from the bike ride and it was very painful. I was at walking pace and then one of the organisers walked up the hill with me and we got talking and he said I was doing really well so i thanked him. I asked how many laps have I got left and he told me 10 and that I was in 3rd place, I laughed because I thought he was winding me up but he assured me it wasn’t a joke. I’ll be honest I was so stoked it picked me up a treat and I got a good pace going. Like I said earlier, I was happy to just finish but position is a bonus so I just kept up my pace to keep me in the 3rd place position. Ahead of me were Graham Smedley and endurance legend Josef Rokob (I was reading Wayne Kurtz book about Josef before the triple as he was the guy who won the triple deca. 30 ironman distance races in 30 days). These two athletes stayed together until the last lap where they both agreed to race to the finish and may the best man win of which was Graham Smedley and Josef came 2nd (just 0.1 of a second behind him, well done to them both.

I had one more lap to go and in Enduroman tradition you do your last lap in reverse so you can pass your fellow athletes and give them all high fives on your way to the finish. I saw my brother on the way round and he gave me a big hug which made me rather emotional. I walked into the distance with tears in my eyes, I’d traveled many miles and I was really tired but buzzing and felt on top of the world that I was about to finish a triple ironman. I got to the top of the road ready to run down to the finish. I crossed the line after 54 hours and 6 mins delighted with myself. 

 

When it comes to endurance events like these it's people who support you that play a huge part in your success, the unsung heroes so to speak which are your support crew who are there with food, drinks and moody demands from a tired athletes to help you get to the finish. A big thank you to Mark Whittle, Jeff Smith, Chloe Smith, Tania Smith for supporting and my sister in law Annie and Mia for buying me a fruit pastils lollypop when i was craving something cold in the blistering heat. And last but by no means least is my fiancé Ciara Dunne who has to listen to my barmy ideas and for supporting me whilst leading up to these events and when I'm in suffering mode. She may be in Dublin but the joys of FaceTimeing her whilst on the bike and run picked up my spirits along with the emotional phone calls. 

Thanks to everyone at Enduroman events, great event, great location and great support. Gutted its your last event but congrats on everything you've achieved. 

Whats next??? This year I have 70.3 ironman in Dublin Aug 14th, Dublin marathon 30th October.

More to follow, watch this space...!

Chow for now

Pritchard

Velothon 2016 & Triple Brutal

VEL0THON 2016

For me, and I think I speak for many who entered last years Velothon, it was a great event and we all finished up looking forward to this years. Yes, there was bit of negativity by some mindless fools chucking tacks on the course last year and most of us had to stop and pick up our bikes some not so lucky and coming off really bad and ending up in hospital. This year however there weren't any major problems and the organisation was spot on. Something I did notice were marshals everywhere you rode keeping an eye out for everyone and some amazing support from start to finish from the locals in all the villages dotted around the course which was nice to see.

I joined my two mates Dylan and Leigh and we arranged to meet at gate C (third wave off). I woke up pretty early to get my porridge and macca powder down my neck and make sure I had everything I needed including my nutrition for my ride which were 4 bananas and a bag of dates. Everyones different when it comes to nutrition but i've only just realised the power of dates. I used to hate them as a kid but now their like natural toffee's to me and full of carbs and natural sugars which give you a right boost when you need it most. For all cyclists out there we all know when you start to "bonk" its too late but you know as soon as you eat you can feel that food kicking a treat. I used to be hopless with my nutrition as i used to think i could make it home without having to stop for food (I hate stopping) but then all of a sudden I can feel my head and body going wonky and you have no choice but to stop, hydrate and eat to pick you up again and get home. 

I met Dylan and Leigh and we chilled in pen C until kick off at 7.08am and off we went at a steady pace out of St Mary's Street then as soon as we hit the open road on went the rocket packs and we were off and going at some speed. All I kept thinking was "Jesus, there is no way I can keep this pace up for 87 miles" but I was loving it. Closed roads, weaving in and out of other riders, joining up with other pelatons and generally feeling like I was in the tour de france (laughter) but far from it. I think thats the fastest i've ever gone from Cardiff to Usk and just before I got to Usk my legs knew about it (laughter), i slowed up a little and took on some food and kept it at a decent pace because I knew the Tumble wasn't that far away and I needed to be fuelled up and hydrated properly before I started climbing. I wore 2 layers along with a GoreTex jacket as I saw the weather before I left and it looked like we'd hit some rain at some point and luckily for us it came just as we started climbing the Tumble which was lovely and refreshing. This would be the 4th time I'd climbed the Tumble and I wanted to get my PB but I knew it was a big ask after such a fast start but, I made it up in one piece nevertheless despite stopping at the top to catch my breath as I was close to being sick. It’s a beauty of a climb, really steep at the start with a hairpin corner which carries on going on and on and on then over the top and it’s a good few miles of bombing down the hills. Due to the amount of rain (GoreTex jacket to the rescue) this year we were much slower going down for obvious reasons but there was something quite satisfying about getting completely soaked, head down and just gunning it on the straight downhill roads. It eventually stopped raining and I started taking on more food as I knew there were a few littler climbs coming up plus we had the 16% caerphilly hill to conquer which beat me last year. Of all people to be behind me as I got off my bike half way up Caerphilly Hill last year was my coach Mark Whittle, all I heard was "get back on that bike" (laughter). This year however I was determined to beat it and I'm glad to say I did. My legs were screaming but it was a strangely enjoyable pain and I think it was that enjoyment with got me to the top along with the great support with all the spectators shouting at you to not give up. On my way up I could see the big pink Cr@p Tri signs on the lamposts which also made me chuckle along with the usual river of pink Cr@p supporters at the top of Caerphilly Hill and as you go into Lisvane. As soon as your over the hill its downhill to the finish. I was having a bit of a race with Rich one of the Cardiff Tri boys and we were going hammer and tongs all the way to the finish which was amazing, crossing that finish it felt like my lungs were going to blow up and my thighs go pop but I made the 87 miles in 4.37 hours of which I was over the moon with. I cycled home had a shower and spent the day replacing the 4,000 calories I burnt up. Great event, great day and I can't wait for next year already. Well done to all that entered, the organisers and the locals who came and supported us. 

That was my last big training day before the continuous triple, from here on its time to taper down.

TRIPLE IRONMAN

It started with the Cardiff half marathon, then it went to a full marathon. The next thing I know I'm swimming and cycling so I guess the next step was to enter the ulltimate triathlon challenge which is an ironman. After getting a few Ironman triathlons under my belt I was looking for a bigger challenge and I found the Double Brutal (double ironman) up in Snowdonia in September last year. That to me at the time tested me to my absolute limits however, I was still looking for something more testing and I then came up with the 30 half iron distance triathlons in 30 days which I’ve now ticked off my bucket list. 

Whats next???? On June 3rd I’m going to attempt the continuous triple ironman which consists of a 7.5 mile swim, 336 mile bike ride and a 79 mile run all to be finished within a 65 hour time cut off. My brother Adam Pritchard is also doing it so it’ll be great to have the both of us pushing one another over the 3 days. My brother has also completed the double brutal and numerous ironman races so he’s no stranger to endurance sports either which helps a great deal.

After doing the Brutal last year I said never again but then when you get time to sit back and reflect on what you've achieved it’s a pretty good feeling and to cross that line after such a physical and emotional fight it’s all worth it. I have no doubt in my mind that this really is going to push me to tipping point but I think deep down this is where I want it to take me. Some might think thats weird but it’s that fight and the will to keep going no matter what the pain is is where you get the buzz. If I can deal with that then I can deal with anything and it’s that energy which I can transfer into other things in my life like business. 

When I train I think quite a bit and I'm trying to work out why I do these things and without the violins etc I really do believe that when growing up and getting bullied and getting told that I’d never make anything of myself it really does hammer home mentally and affects one in later life. If I was served a silver spoon and had everything I wanted then I would naturally have no fight but I grew up with what I was saying above and I have a lot to prove and I really think thats where I get my energy and drive and I see the same thing in many other people. To top it off if you really have love and passion in what your doing then that also helps a great deal. 

I’ve been training a lot recently for obvious reasons last week was my last full week and I finished it up with the Velothon. There’s only so much training you can do for the distances I’m about to attempt as it’s a lot of mental strength as well as physical. I’ve been reading a book recently about endurance sport and I’d say the average athlete says its 70% mental and 30% physical. 

I’ll be doing the triple as part of my £100,000 challenge so I’ll be very grateful if you could donate by clicking the following link www.pritchards100kchallenge.com and click on the donate button, it only takes a few mins. I will be keeping you updated on my progress via my social networking channels twitter, instagram and Facebook if you wish to see how I'm getting on. 

 

I think thats all for now. Wish me luck and hopefully if I finish I can share the love when i’ve rested.

Kind regards,

Pritch

Post Challenge Blog

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written a blog so I thought I’d write one to let you know what I’ve been up to since I finished my challenge just over a month ago. To start, here is a 30 day compilation video of the Challenge, created by the legend Dave from Beaum Media! (https://www.facebook.com/beaummedia/) 

 

Firstly time doesn't half fly past as can’t believe it’s been over a month since I finished my challenge. My first concern when finishing was slipping into depression which is pretty common when doing an endurance event over so many days. You spend so much time and energy training for it and before you know it you’ve started and every single day your whole body & mind are focused on the challenge and receiving a dumping of endorphins on a daily basis then all of a sudden………nothing. Every day is filled with the excitement of swim, bike, run and being surrounded with people supporting you on a daily basis then its time to rest up which is the right thing to do obviously but at the same time you’re not receiving that daily natural chemical dump ripping through your body and mind. It’s hard to explain but I think it comes down to going from one extreme to the other and starving your body of what it has been getting every day for 30 days. The last time I felt anything like that was when I ran John O’Groats to Lands End which again was over a period of 30 days and coming home and stopping running I was a bit lost and got really depressed and I couldn't work it out, but then someone told me the reason and it all made sense. Now i understand why athletes etc have to “train down” after a big event.

I told Jeff & Chloe (bigmoose) that I was worried about the depression side of things post challenge so I wanted to keep my body and mind occupied as much as possible. I’ll be completely honest I slipped into a little bit of a downer but I had no time to as my next challenge is on June 3rd so before I knew it I was back training and slowly getting back on track thanks to Mark Whittle’s training programs. To top it off Jeff & Chloe had organised a public speaking event about the challenge with all the Marks & Spencer managers and 2 school visits so between training, speaking visits and running my businesses I had plenty to keep mind occupied before I ended up calling the quacks (laughter). 

 

It’s safe to say, since being a kid in school and being forced to stand up in front of loads of people in an assembly to speak whilst crying my eyes out, that the thought of standing up in front of loads of people and doing it again scared the living daylights out of me. Put me on stage in front of a few thousand people doing Dirty Sanchez gigs or on the mic at clubs and I'm all good but put me in a quiet room with 30 M&S managers faces looking at me then its a different situation altogether. I knew that unless I stood there and faced my fear that I would never get over my experience as a kid and to be honest it was a privilege to even be asked to do it in the first place so I did not want to miss the opportunity. I had an hour to basically tell everyone my story from skateboarding, Dirty Sanchez and how I got into Endurance sports. The day had come and Chloe had put a cracking slideshow and video compilation together and Jeff would ask me questions to stimulate stories and we’d go from there then having a Q&A to finish. We walked upstairs and as soon as I saw the room full of people through the glass window I could feel my stomach turn. I wasn't talking for another 50 mins so I was sat in the office next door waiting and the closer it got the more anxious I was feeling, palms sweating etc, then we walked into the room to start. I was visibly nervous but after about 5 mins I really started to relax more and before I knew it I was actually enjoying it. I came out of that room buzzing and more importantly with more confidence than I did when I walked in. Don't get me wrong I'm far from the best public speaker on the planet but I was better than I was before I walked in. It’ll take quite a few before I fully build my confidence and produce a polished act but with the people that surround me at the moment I feel that its very much achievable. 

 

Next stop was Maesglas Primary school; this was the school I visited whilst I was on my challenge. I got invited to run a mile around the school field with all the pupils by the deputy head James Mahoney who is also a fellow ironman. This time however I got asked to come and do a Q&A with the pupils which I enjoyed immensely. Being able to share my story with the younger generation and hopefully inspire them to take up various sporting activities felt really good. Educating them on what it takes to complete 30 half iron distance triathlons in 30 days was pretty special. I was also invited to an assembly where the school gave me a certificate to congratulate me on my challenge which was very nice of them. To top it off they’d also managed to raise over £160 towards my chosen charities so all in all it was a great day and thank you all for inviting me.

 

Training is starting to pick up and I'm really enjoying it, I'm back in the groove and pretty much on top of it all apart from one or two days missed due to dare i say it……….hangovers. I beat myself up a little missing training days to hangovers (oh how times have changed) but I shouldn't be so harsh on myself as I think I deserved a few nights out after the challenge. The 30 half irons is a great base for my next challenge (announce it this week) but I still need plenty more hours under my belt in the pool, on my bike and running so Whittle’s training plans have become longer. The next 2 weeks training plans are beauties and I'm looking forward to them before my tapering down begins running up to the event. 

 

I was invited onto the Gumball this year but I had a huge war with that devil & angel on my shoulders one telling me to get on it and the other telling me to not be so stupid as over 7 days away from training could jeopardise my next challenge. For once the angel won and not only did she win but I also knew that the Carten 100 (100 miles cycle from Cardiff to Tenby. more on that later) was on at the same time and I’ve always wanted to do it so it all made sense to stay away from Gumball this year so I just went to visit them all at the start grid and say my hello’s. It was good to see them all, have a few drinks and wave them off. 

 

I had a second school visit but this time at Winsley Primary school in Bath. I was invited by the head Becky Wilson who I’ve known for many years. I used to do 70’s disco nights at Cardiff students union in my early 20’s and that’s how I got to know Becky and we had some great laughs back in the day. As i was on my challenge Chloe told me that Becky had got in touch from a school in Bath and said that they had been keeping up with my progress at assembly every morning and when I’d finished my challenge if I’d come and see them all. Becky came to see me at the finish line and it was the first time I’d seen her for almost 20 years we chatted and I agreed to come and see them when everything had calmed down. Winsley Primary school have started a project where the children, teachers and parents (if they wish) can come to school early every day to run a mile before lessons. I personally think its a great idea and its proven that children learn more by doing so too. 

I joined in on one of the classes who were doing a project on my challenge and each team had to come up with words that would best describe what I did and if they got it right I got a point which I could add to my score on the new posh blackboard (thats what they were when i was in school) that hung from the wall. If i reached 20 points i’d get my certificate. All the teams came up with some really good adjectives and one even mentioning my coach Mark Whittle (laughter) so i got my 20 points and in turn they gave me my certificate which was nice of them. I then went and did a Q&A at another class and then went to kick off the mile run which had a great turn out even being joined by some of the parents. It was great to see them all running, one of the children ran the mile in under 6 minutes, fair play!! Future Olympian right there maybe????? One of the children, Alfie is in an electric wheelchair so he also had the opportunity to join everyone zooming around on his chair so i joined him for his mile lap too, he can definitely drive that thing thats for sure! The speed is turned down for him when he’s in the school for safety reasons but they speeded it up for him to do his mile. He said to me with a huge smile on his face “This is the fastest I’ve ever been!” which in turn put a smile on my face too. The support that he had off his fellow class mates all shouting his name was good to see. Thanks for the invite, what a great day!

Saturday 7th May was Carten day and we had a good group of people with us for the 100 mile journey to Tenby. The weather for the Carten is historically dreadful but today you couldn't have asked for better to be honest. 15mph tail wind, 18c and more or less sunny all the way. Phillip Lay (phil supported me on a few days of the 30 day challenge and is an all round good egg) was kind enough to offer his support and was there for us for the whole 100 miles if we ever needed him for food, water, puncture etc. It’s always good to have support like that when your going so far plus Phil even stayed down, came out for a few drinks with us and drove us home the next day. We had Richy, Dyl, Evo, Leigh and Rod rocking with us for the day. The ride all the way down the A48 was pretty good, the tail wind helped and we were all in good spirits. My brother has ridden to Tenby on many occasions and has always told me about the hills as you get about 15 miles away. He wasn't far wrong as we were greeted with many a hill but there’s nothing like finishing a 100 miler with a hard finish! We all finished and for Evo & Leigh it was the furthest they have ever ridden so it was great to see the smiles on their faces at the end. We all stayed at Tenby house and went out on the town to celebrate. Until next year.

Whilst training for my challenge Gav (funeral for a friend) went for a training ride with me around his home town Bridgend. The band have been around for a long time and have been very successful worldwide but he told me that they were all calling it a day and doing one last farewell tour and would like to do something for my challenge. They offered to do one last intimate gig at Club Ifor Bach and donate all the proceeds to my chosen charities which ended up being £3,000 which was amazing and very generous of them. Rob from Fuel bar & nightclub also offered to put on the after party and in the process raised much needed funds too so we had a good night ahead of us. The tickets sold out within 20 mins so as I walked into the club it was packed so I went to sit with the boys back stage and have a few drinks before they hit the stage. You could hear everyone shouting for them to come on stage then on went the boys and rocked the roof off. We packed up then went opposite to Fuel to finish the night off. Big thanks to Funeral for a Friend and good luck with your futures, Rob at Fuel and Club Ifor Bach. 

I have started writing a blog about my challenge month which I’ll have finished soon. 

Thanks to all that have donated up to now its very much appreciated. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’ll get there

Kind Regards,

Pritch

Challenge Blog 3

CHALLENGE BLOG 3

 

 

I’m sat on the 9.25am London Paddington train from Cardiff as I'm off to a premier of a short film i narrated a while back so whilst I'm sat here for the 2 hours it takes i thought id use my time wisely by writing my blog and keeping you all up to date with whats been going on since i last updated you 2 weeks ago.

I’ve just checked my countdown app and its reading 5 days, 20 hours, 05 mins and 03 seconds until i jump into Cardiff international pool to start my 30 day mission of 30 half iron distance triathlons in 30 days. 

I cant believe how quick it s all come around, it only felt like yesterday i was thinking of it as i was running, now its all about to happen. Trainings all done too and I'm now tapering down so all i have left to do is to jump into the deep end and go for it. By any means do i think this challenge is going to be easy, i know that I'm about to witness the longest 30 days of my life. Its going to be physically, mentally and emotionally draining but thats the joys of endurance events, the high up’s and those low downs are where you get your adrenalin from. There will be days where i wont wanna get up but i know that as soon as i jump into the pool and warm up i’ll be game for yet another day. The thought of having people join me makes a huge difference to as i’ll have someone to talk to and that passes the time pretty well and at times numbs the pain. 

 

Last week i started visiting the charities I'm supporting through my challenge and first up was the Guide dogs for the blind. Met up with a great bloke Frank who was very helpful and organised a day where i could actually go and meet some of the dogs and get to see them being trained and in turn get to walk with a trained dog completely blindfolded. I met up with Emily who has the job of training these great dogs 5 days a week………what a great job that must be working with dogs all day, ace. There were 3 dogs in the back of the car and i was gonna get to walk with Broderick who happens to be the slowest of the 3. Emily took me for a walk around the block with one of the other dogs (sorry forgot the name) and the first thing i noticed was before i could say jack robinson he was off like a dart. I cant believe how well trained these dogs are, as we reached the curb the dog literally wouldn't move or allow its owner to cross the road until he was given the all clear. I love dogs, always have and to see them work like this and to see their intelligence was amazing. The owner must listen out for cars and when he/she thinks its safe then he/she gives the go ahead to cross the road. The dogs are trained to look out for cyclists too but can you imagine how tough it is with the rise of electric cars???? 

As we carried on walking I'm looking at hazards in front and the dog at everyone of them slowed down and alerted its owner of them wether it be a tree, lamppost, bush etc. Anyway, we arrive back at the car and it was my turn to go for a blindfolded walk and out jumped Broderick who is a lovely black labrador with a great temperament. I put on the blindfold which was a proper one where i couldn't see jack sh*t or even a hint of daylight popping in from the sides. Its amazing how volatile you feel as soon as you loose your sight its pretty much a scary feeling. I started walking with Broderick and he was going slow but to me felt really fast so i was kinda leaning back and to my left for some reason (broderick was walking to the left of me) which Emily said is what everyone does first time. I carried on walking but all i could think of was walking into a lamppost or a car or anything really but i was quite simply in good hands as broderick was the ultimate professional as was Emily. One thing i noticed out of all my senses is that my hearing all of a sudden became VERY important and i could suddenly hear things at quite a distance away. I crossed the roads with no problems at all and then all of a sudden Broderick stopped. Apparently Emily likes to go for a coffee at Costa coffee so he automatically stopped to tell me we had arrived (laughter). We carried on and finished up back at the car in one piece. After just spending just that little amount of time with the dogs and their trainer it showed me how important these dogs are to blind people. Not only can they guide their owners safely around the streets but they can do many other things too. more importantly it gives them a companion they can call a friend if they happen to be lonely. www.guidedogs.org.uk

 

I also went to visit Ty-Hafan, i’ve visited on many occasions and its always very humbling and this time wasn't any different. I got to meet 4 month old little Lottie who was with her mother Danielle and sister Ellie. Lottie was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body and also born with one lung and to top it off her mother got told thats she’ll only have 2 hours to live. Lottie’s proved them wrong and is still alive 4 months later which is amazing. I honestly couldn't believe what they must have gone through and i’ll be brutally honest i was fighting back the tears. I was holding Lottie in my arms looking at her thinking of all she’s been through at such a young age. I know its a saying we hear regular “we don't know how lucky we are” but when your in these situations it shouts out loud in your mind and really does hit home. Danielle told me how grateful she was to have found Ty-Hafan and the great work and support her and her family have had from the hospice. It’s one of the many reasons i support Ty-Hafan and hopefully we can help by raising much needed funds for the hospice. www.tyhafan.org

 

I had a call off Jeff (bigmoose) one morning and he’d told me that Adam from Anna-Loka (100% vegan restaurant in Albany rd Cardiff) had agreed to sponsor me and feed me for the duration of the event which was amazing news. I’ve only met Adam a few times and you can tell he’s a good egg without even speaking to him and when i got to meet him i was right. Since turning vegan 4 months ago i really do believe its helped me health wise and has contributed a lot towards my training and more importantly saved a few animals. Everyday after i finish my run i get to go and eat the amazing food at Anna-Loka so thats got to be a good thing. If you haven't been please give it a go as its a great restaurant even if your not vegan. 

After filling up at Loka and giving back my body what its lost in nutrients from excersice i get to pop into Agile therapy to get a massage and a lactic acid flush out and to top it of is just around the corner so it all works out very well indeed. There’s a good team at Agile and they always do a good job in keeping this old man rocking (laughter) www.agiletherapy.com

 

Jeff had organised a meeting with Kate Strong ( strongkate.com ) and Mark Colburne ( markcolbourne.com ) at Anna-Loka both of who are massively inspirational people in their own ways and what they’ve achieved in life is pretty amazing so i felt honoured to get to meet them and have them support my challenge. Sitting there listening to them talk about sport science was really interesting and what my body’s about to go through over the next 4 weeks was an eye opener. I’ve done my previous challenges pretty much punk rock i.e totally unorganised and just rock up and start and its as simple as that. With that attitude although fun and brings an element of surprise it can lead to big problems and trust me i’ve witnessed a few of them along with my brother Trigg (laughter) we almost died up Snowdon once but thats another story. There’s too much on my plate with this challenge and a lot of people have given up their time to help me so all these little bits of help are fully appreciated and hopefully will make my job easier. Mark’s going to join me on some of the bike rides and Kate’s going to join me on most of the swims, a few bike rides and i think she wants to join onto all the runs as she has a world record planned so I'm looking forward to spending some time with both. As i write this I've just got back from a 50 mile ride with Mark which was great. Its also the first time i got to ride my brand spanking new Starley Bike which they have kindly donated to me for my challenge which is very nice of them www.starleybikes.com and what a smooth ride it was too. First time on a stainless steel bike in a long time and i like it. 

 

I think thats it for now. There are so many people i’d like to thank for helping me up to now it really is much appreciated. I’m not going to list you all as i’d hate it if i’d forgotten anyone but you all know who you are and your all champions in my eye’s. It started with an idea whilst running and in 2 days time its about to become reality. Over the last 6 months i’ve learnt a lot, built my confidence, trained a lot and met some very influential people and for that I'm very grateful.

 

30 days, 30 1.2 mile swims, 30 56 mile bike rides, 30 13.1 mile runs. Its time to ROCK’N’ROLL and raise some much needed ££££££££

 

See you at the start line and hopefully at the finish on March 30th for the mother of all parties

 

kind regards

 

pritch