New year at the start of 2013, ticked by, and my compulsive nature ensured that I took on a new years resolution. In true Neil fashion, I only decided on impulse at 11:59pm that it would be to stop smoking again…. I stopped, and started on and off for 6 months, unable to stick with it entirely. As June 2013 ticked by, I re-entered the pirate forum. It was good to be back, and within a fortnight I managed to sign up for the next Pirate championships, the Ironman in Nice, France in June 2014. This seemed to be it. I stayed stopped.
This time, I trained for it, and just under 12 months later, after 8 or 9 months of focused IM specific training, I got on a plane to France. During the summer, I’d done 2 other triathlons, a sprint and an Olympic distance, so this was to be my fourth ever tri. I was shitting myself. I won’t dig into the details of the event, my prep, and the days beforehand, as I suspect that will make a good blog for another time, but suffice to say, I was nervous.
Sometime later in that week, I crossed the IM finish line, in pieces both physically and emotionally, after 14hrs and 12 mins of effort.
And then back to work, and the grind of daily life. And in my case a few months of further dalliance with the evil gods of nicotine. Yep, after all this, after the emotional highs of an IM finish line, I still fell off the wagon.  Yep, you don’t need to say it. I already know.
I dropped into and out of smoking on a weekly basis for several months, but this time it felt different. I don’t know what the trigger was, but this time I wanted to stop, not felt like I had to stop. A good friend, himself an ex-smoker, once said to me, that you’ll never stop until you really really want to. At the time I thought I did really want to, but I know now, with the benefit of hindsight, that it wasn’t really commitment. I steeled myself. In a manner totally out of character, I prepared, and in March 21st 2015, I stopped smoking. The last cigarette I had, and will ever have, was at 9:05pm on that day.
In 2016, I managed a few triathlons, and running events…  just minor things like Paris Marathon, Ironman Lanzarote, and Outlaw Iron distance…as well as a few Olympic distances, a half marathon or two, and an off road duathlon.
There were many highlights… finishing IM Lanza, one of the hardest long distance triathlons on the planet, and celebrating afterwards with the pirates, who I love very dearly, watching my daughter, Charlotte, inspired, amongst other things by my efforts, cross the finish line of Paris Marathon, seeng my wife Debbie take her first running steps with a Couch to 5k programme and ending the year finishing an off-road 10k, smashing out 12hrs 10mins for Outlaw – my 3rd Iron distance event, a PB by over 2hrs!
So, why am I writing this now?
Well, firstly, I browse a lot, and while i can find a ton of blogs on ‘completing my first Ironman’, ‘The pain of a marathon’, and ‘why I run’, there is very little that is of interest to middle aged folk like me, for whom the game can be a little different. I hope to blog about life in general, events I am entered for, the food I eat, my friends, the kit I use, how I ache and hurt, and anything else that seems interesting at the time.
Secondly, I like to talk. A lot. Ask anyone who knows me. If you can get a word in edgeways. So why not talk via a blog too.
And last, but not least, my journey has only just started. As I say on my Twitter bio, I plan on doing an Ironman for my 100th birthday. Hope you’ll join me.