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Do, or do not, there is no tri!

By ActionGeek. Posted in Ironman | No Comments »

Ah, the wise words of master Yoda!  Now of course he wasn’t referring to the Ironman triathlon when he said this to luke, but the sentiment is the same – either you do it, or you don’t.

Well recently, the question of whether I do or don’t has been milling about in my head.  There are a number of reasons that keep nagging me about why I shouldn’t do it – like the time commitment, the huge amount of training, the difficulty of the actual race, the fact that I can’t swim… and together they add up to a pretty compelling argument against entering the race.  But as I wrote in yesterday’s post, I AM entering the race!

Now I finally made that decision by looking at each of these objections individually, and asking myself if that alone was a good reason not to do it.  Now up until now I’ve only done this in my head, but I figured that by getting it all down in writing it would cement in my mind that I’ve made the right decision, so here we go (I’ll start with the big one!)

I can’t swim

Well, as I’ve said before that’s a slight exaggeration.  I can float, and I can make it from one end of the pool to the other, but it’s not fast and it’s not pretty, and I doubt I could do more than a few hundred meters, let alone 2.4 miles!

But is that a good reason not to do an Ironman?  No, not really.  The Ironman UK is over 14 months away, and that’s plenty of time to learn to swim well, and get the training in.  In fact I’ve already got myself a copy of Terry Laughlin’s book, Total Immersion, and starting next week I’ll be using that to teach myself a decent front crawl.  If that alone isn’t enough to get my stroke reasonable then there’s plenty of time to get some private tuition from a swimming coach, then once I’m competant I can buy a wetsuit and get some open water swims in, and then maybe enter a sprint distance triathlon to get some experience in a group swim.  So all in all, while the swim is definitely what scares me most about the race, it’s certainly no reason not to do it.

It’s hard

Well duh!  Yes, it will be hard.  Both the race itself, and the training will be tough, but that’s the point!  If it was easy, and everyone could do it there would be no challenge.  Now I’m sure that there will be tough times when I wished I’d never decided to do the Ironman, and there will be times that I want to quit, and there will be blisters, and sore muscles, and probably the odd injury… but the fact that it’s going to be hard is not a reason not to do it!

It’s expensive

OK so this is a legitimate objection, there is a certain amount of financial commitment to this race.  I’ve not attempted to work out how much it will cost, but off the top of my head there’s the race fee (£300), a wetsuit (£100+), a bike (???), running shoes (£80 – my current ones won’t last many more months!), travel and accommodation for the race (£200+), books/training aids (???), other expenses (???) – at a rough guess I can see the entire race and training costing best part of a grand all-in, even if I manage to get a decent deal on a second hand bike.  Now that’s a reasonable chunk of change, but it will be spread out over the next 14 months, and if I want to I’ll have the option of selling the bike and wetsuit on ebay afterwards to recoup a lot of the costs, so potentially that would reduce it significantly.  So, yes the money is a consideration, but again, this is not a reason not to do the race, I’ll just have to work harder to pay for it!

It’s a huge time/effort commitment

OK now this really is a big consideration.  I’ll need to invest many, many hours of training in order to get race fit.  Especially in the 10 – 12 weeks leading up to the event, I’ll be needing to put in some serious hours each week.  But the fact is that those hours are not invested only in the race, but in my general fitness which is something which will benefit me long after the race has finished.  So while that amount of commitment needs consideration, it’s certainly no reason to avoid doing a big event like an Ironman.

I’m sure there are many, many more objections I could come up with, but the fact is that none of them will give me a different answer, I will do the Ironman, I just need to plan, prep and train well.  As I’ve already mentioned, I’ll be readying Total Immersion over the next few days and starting my swim training next week.  I’ve also ordered a couple of Ironman books – Becoming An Ironman which is a collection of stories of people’s first Ironman experience, and Be Iron Fit by Don Fink which should give me a better idea of the training involved.





Becoming an Ironman

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Ironman | 1 Comment »

140.6 miles under your own steam…

A 2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile cycle and then a full marathon, back to back, with no breaks, has to be completed within a maximum of 17 hours… sounds like a challenge!

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about the Ironman but it’s been on my list for quite a few years. It’s often called the “ultimate endurance race” and for good reason – it’s a bloody long way!

The first Ironman was a combination of the Waikiki roughwater swim, the around Oaha bike race, and the Honolulu marathon. It was to settle an argument at the time about whether cyclists, runners or swimmers were fittest. Twelve men started that first Ironman race in 1978, 12 finished with Gordon Haller coming in first in 11 hours and 46 minutes. The following year there were 50 entrants, and the event has grown ever since.  Here’s a peek at what’s involved in the modern event:

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the Ironman, but for some reason I’m drawn to it, I want to test myself and see if I can do it.  That video gives me chills every time I watch it, but I feel compelled to try.  As their slogan goes, I want to see if I can “Swim 2.4 miles, Cycle 112 miles, Run 26.2 miles, Brag for the rest of my life!”

There are of course obstacles to completing, or even entering a race like this, some more obvious than others. The biggest is obviously a need to train – it would be almost impossible to complete an Ironman without considerable training, and stupid to try. So that would be a major hurdle, finding the time (many, many hours per week) to train which would increase in duration as the event approached. Then there is a financial cost. Entry to the race itself in the UK is £300 (about $450 USD) but there are also equipment costs (bike, wetsuit etc.) and travel and accommodation for the race itself. Then there’s the big one – I can’t swim!

OK so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, I can kinda swim a bit! But my normal swimming involved a bit of snorkling, or a quick dip in the pool on holiday, shortly followed by grabbing a beer from the bar and sitting around the pool with a Terry Pratchet novel! So the very thought of attempting a 2.4 mile swim, in deep freezing cold water, quite frankly terrifies me!

Hmmmm… so there are certainly obstacles to this, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be a challenge so I’m committing to the challenge right now:

I, Billy “Action Geek” Deakin, being of sound(ish) mind and slightly less sound body, do solomnly declare that I have decided to commit to training for, and entering the 2011 Ironman UK.

There, I said it, no turning back now…

Looks like I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, from planning to training, but in just over a year I’ll be able to cross “Complete an Ironman” off my list ;) Even better, there are a number of other items on my list which I’ll be able to cross off along the way such as learning to swim properly, and maybe running a sub 3:30 marathon! So, let the training begin…





The List

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | No Comments »

The List, sometimes called a “Bucket List” or “List Of Things To Do Before You Die” was an idea I got from a book I read a few years ago called Over The Edge by Michael Bane.  The book covers Bane’s attempt to try every activity on his list, including things like Climbing Denali (Mount McKinley), Skydiving, and entering the Iditarod bike race.

Before even finishing the book I had began compiling my own list, and I’ve kept it going ever since.  Whenever I read about, hear about, or think about something I want to do, places I want to visit, or things I want to learn I add it to the list.  When I complete one I strike it off, and occassionally for whatever reason I change my mind about something and remove it from the list.

The problem is that many of the items on my list are expensive, either in money or time, to accomplish.  For example, I’d like to climb Kilimajaro but I would need several grand to do a trip like that, plus my wife would want to come with me so that cost just doubled!  Other items on the list might not be expensive in terms of money, but take huge amounts of time.  A good example is learning to play the piano – while there is a monetary cost (i.e. buying a piano, and paying for lessons) the real expense with that item is the countless hours of practice required to reach a reasonable level of proficiency.

So, the main point of this blog is to document my progress working towards, and completing items of the list.  I learned a long time ago that the more people you tell about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.  So by posting them on a public blog, I’m hoping that will give me the focus I need to move closer to my goals, help keep me on track, and with a bit of luck it might just inspire a few other people too…


My list is quite organic, constantly changing, and although it’s always growing, I have already managed to cross off a number of items successfully from parachuting and bungee jumping, to getting my motorcycle licence… but I expect that the list will always grow as there are just so many amazing places to see and things to do.  I’m not planning on posting my full list here, but here is a snippet to give you an idea of what it includes:

BASE jump
Cycle Great Divide
Canoe Amazon
Visit North Pole
Get PPL (Pilot’s licence)
Complet an Ironman
Write a book
Learn to play the piano
AFF (Advanced freefall course)
Complete at ultramarathon
Run a sub 3.5 hour marathon
Visit the Himilayas
Parabolic flight (zero gravity!)
Visit Ularu
Get branded
Do a SCUBA course
Dive Great Barrier Reef
Sail around world
Cycle around world
Bungy from helicopter
Learn paragliding
Skydive from hot air balloon
Burning man festival
Rio carnival
Take peyote
Advanced motorcycle licence
Learn French
Build a guitar
Eat fugu (blowfish)
Walk on hot coals
Swim with sharks
Climb Kilimanjaro
Climb Aconcagua
Climb Mont Blanc
Climb Denali
Canoe across Scotland
See the Aurora Borealis (northern lights)
Visit Niagra falls
Viist the grand canyon
Bungee Verzasca dam (007 bungee)
Do the Mongol rally
Enter a WSOP or WPT major event (poker tournement)

OK – hopefully you get the idea.  Now some of these items are just too expensive to consider doing in the near future, and others are highly reliant on doing other things first (for example, you really need a minimum of 100 skydives before learning to BASE – I only have 3 static line jumps, so doing an AFF course, and then getting another 90 odd jumps experience is the minimum prep for attempting the first item on the list!)

There are however some items on the list which are achievable, and one in particular which I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.  It also crosses over well with a couple of others, and would be good training for many other activities so that’s the one I want to focus on over the coming months.  It will take a lot of training and preperation, but I think it will be worth it.  Can you guess what it is?  Well tomorrow I’ll post about it, and what I’ll need to do in order to achieve it…





Hello world!

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action/Geek | No Comments »

My name is Billy, and I am a geek.

Well OK, so there’s more to it than that, I’m not JUST a geek and that’s the point, that’s part of my reasoning for starting this blog.

The stereotypical geek is either very skinny, or rather plump, sits in front of their computer 16 hours a day, codes in C and Perl, plays roleplaying games and is obsessed with retro video games, eats pizza, drinks coffee and reads huge amounts of sci-fi…

…well, while some of those descriptions fit me pretty good, others are WAY off the mark.  I do spend an unhealthy amount of time sat in front of my computer(s), partly due to being a self employed web and games developer but also playing poker, I do code (but Actionscript, PHP and HTML/CSS not Perl!) and I do drink more than my fair share of coffee, and as for video games I have a dog called Atari, a gecko called Zelda and a tattoo of a space invader on my back!

That’s where the similarities end though – my other interests/past-times include running, cycling, travel, squash, motorcycles, extreme sports… not very geeky topics!

So at first glance this site will appear to be about expressing my 2 major interests – techie geekiness, computers, Internet, communications, science etc. and my love of action and adventure.

That’s not the reason for this blog though.  The reason for this blog is to help me focus, help me develop, and make me somewhat accountable to my goals and commitments.  You see, I used to strike a good action/geek balance in my life.  I would get up early in the morning and go for a long run, then head to the office to work on games or web development, then knock off early for a couple of hours kite boarding or mountain biking before staying up half the night playing video games with my mates… but times change, I got older, and life got in the way.

These days I spend far too much of my time in the office, working on building my business – too much geek and not enough action!

Well, I want that to change.  I’ve kept a list (The List) for many years of things I want to do and places I want to visit.  Whenever I hear or read about an interesting activity or place which grabs my attention I add it to the list, and when I’ve done/visited/accomplished that goal I scrub it off the list.  Problem is, these last few years I’ve been adding items to the list much faster than I’ve been ticking them off.

So my primary reason for starting this blog is to help me focus, help me train, push me forward and enable me to do more things on my list.  My hope is that some of my posts will give other people ideas and inspiration to try more activities, or visit more places themselves, but I’m afraid that the primary motivation for this blog is essentially selfish – I want more out of life, and I know that by making my goals, dreams and aspirations public there is more chance of me achieving them!

So stick around.  If you’re a geek who likes a little action, or an adventure seeker with a geeky side maybe you’ll find something here of interest.  I’m planning on posting as and when I feel the urge, on a range of topics related to my split action/geek personality.

As for The List – I’ve already picked one item to go for, and it’s a biggie!  In fact, it will take over 12 months of training and there’s no guarantee of success, but if I can pull it off I will truly be able to call myself an ACTION geek!  All I need to do now is pluck up the courage to publicly announce my plans here on the blog, and then there will be no turning back…