Ex pro cyclist (An Post-Sean kelly) Daniel Stewart retired from competitive cycling a few years ago and used his education skills gained to work in the media as the next step in his live..a skill that landed him prestigious jobs like working for CH4 the controversial TV station in Britain( a bit like Bovril as you like that channel or not) and blogs in the Irish Times to pick a few examples. His writing is refreshly honest and witty, and due to his knowledge of the sports he participate in a compelling read. As an ex graduate of the Belgian Project we will now and then put his blogs on the website as courtesy ..it’s maybe not about cycling anymore but about the mind of a performer..Here the blog in full taken from the Irish Times and well worth a read…good luck with your project Daniel
Sweat and suffering: welcome to training for a marathon..The Eden Project Marathon CornwallMy phone plucks strings from the bedside table. A harp melody weaves into my ears. Not the strongest alarm for 6am. But Classical is Clockwork Orange, American Psycho, Hannibal Lector. I need a bit of sociopath: to be brazen, intellectual, ruthless. I’m getting up way before work because I’m training for The Eden Project Marathon.
Ten minutes later, I’m stirring coffee with a fork, buttering toast with a spoon. Not a great start. The morning harp hypothesis lies dormant in bed. Clutching a handful of last night’s organisation, I slip into running gear I’ve set out for a tempo commute to work.
Only out the door, and the inferno hits me.
With even our Emerald Isle melting into a Thai green curry, London is no exception. Muggy high 20s on the clock is not where I’d opt to have the thermostat, with sea air in absentia, unavailable to ferment my haematocrit.
Jogging down the street, my legs feel grotesque: I am Forrest Gump with wooden leg braces installed, but when chased by bullies in a pick-up (in this re-enactment, kindly played by demons in my head), the callipers stay where they are, and legs remain bolt upright.
In the park now, 10 minutes in – a session that doesn’t want to start.
Crossing the lights, I press the lap button. I don’t feel like it but I have to get to the office. Clenching teeth, I press my foot down on speed. Minute miles go down, as morning sun hikes the heat up. 7.30; 7: 6.45; 6.30.
Leg braces start bending as form gets hotter and hotter. Trundling into a rhythm, I am soon in full flight.
Nothing matters now, apart from putting one foot in front of the other.
Dense streams of perspiration trail behind, as I pounce towards the end of the workout.
Suddenly, a stagnant, stubborn red man appears. A main road: I can’t skip this one. The stopwatch stops. I patiently wait for him to go through a routine sulk, and later transform to his greener, more progressive self.
Ferocious, sticky heat
Not long after, my body goes through one of its own. The sweat tap is yanked from half to full. Ferocious, sticky heat scintillates up to microwave my brain, turning a morning mind into even mushier mincemeat. A traffic light for support, drums and guitars rattle my ears like fat, sizzling strips of bacon on each side of my perspiring, pink face.
The Arctic Monkeys whisper:
‘Last night, what we talked about,
it made so much sense.
But now the haze has ascended,
and it don’t make no sense anymore . . . ’
Too bloody right.
Who will care about this workout when I reach the office? Only I can feel my heartbeat batter the collarbone I broke nine years ago.
What am I proving to myself? This posits a routine question of Why? – an enquiry I am more than happy to add a €1 trillion price-tag to.
This moment is no different.
I peer at the perplexed lady standing alongside, content with a podcast and a ponder. Why do I need a such visceral descent to a literal hell?!
Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not shuffles to its next track. Fake Tales of San Francisco builds up. The red man of Brixton Road stands off.
‘Get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook.’
Too bloody right.
I will not conform to idle threats of defeat, not listen to feeble cries of suffering. In three months, I aim to do a marathon in three hours. Pushing myself beyond depths never passed, sessions will crash and burn; muscles will cramp, blisters will burst.
I need to pick myself up after.
The green man appears. Start is pressed again and I run quickly towards another day at the office.
Welcome to training for a marathon.
Part 1: Three months for a three-hour marathon. Every two weeks I will be writing of my progress in The Irish Times, whether it’s going good, bad, or ugly. No matter what, it will be a learning curve; from picking up excruciating skills such as refusing post-work pints, to crying through pain barriers, the next three months will be a rollercoaster to Cornwall and The Eden Project Marathon. This time a few years ago, as an ex-pro cyclist, I’ve been behind a fanfare of a red, white and blue parade preceding a race rollout into the Breton countryside. And even here, the Power of Three is present, creating the timeless tripartite, Liberté, égalité, fraternité. If the French have faith in three, I must trust three too, right? Three months for a Three Hour Marathon. Can I do it? End.