Three years ago I had back surgery and spent almost two months in bed. I was horizontal for 23 hours a day. This came at a time when I had been in the best shape I was ever in. I’d just finished my second Kona and was looking towards a third and with the accumulated fitness built over three consistent years of hard training I was starting to think the next step was to aim for a top ten finish in my age group at the Ironman World Champs. All of these plans came to a screeching halt as I faced the reality of a long and frustrating rehab and the resulting total loss of fitness. Two months of complete lack of any activity never mind training meant I wasn’t just coming back from injury. I was starting at a place that I hadn’t been for probably ten years.
I quickly realised that with no training, no work and even leisure activities like going to the cinema being beyond what I could do I needed an outlet before I went crazy looking at the ceiling. I also wasn’t willing to lose two months of my life to the TV. I wanted something constructive to come from the experience.
I’d always loved reading since I was a young child and had discovered a love of writing as an adult mostly through blogging and a couple of years spent writing for the Outsider magazine. Probably like a lot of people I’d had the vague sort of idea that some day I’d write a book but never really did anything about it. It was always something off out there in the far distant future for when I wasn’t too busy running a business and swimming, biking and running for hours every day.
Ais had talked about me writing a book a lot. She thought the going from smoker to Kona story would make a good book. Ais is always the one who’s telling me to just go and do it. Whether it’s chasing Kona, opening the big bike shop or writing for a magazine. Before I started any of these projects and I was terrified of the prospect of failure it was always Ais there telling me we could do it and that we should. It is always we, that’s a big part of why I have the confidence to try something new and scary. I know I always have Ais standing beside me.
Lying there in bed faced with the prospect of a lot of empty hours every day and Ais encouraging me to write, I started. I also reached out to a good friend and the only published author I knew at the time, Gerry Duffy. Gerry was incredibly generous with his time. Over a couple of weeks he spent hours on the phone offering advice and help with how to go about it. He’d let me know when he was going to be in the car for an hour or two and would spend the whole journey chatting and helping. It never ceases to amaze me how generous people can be with their time for no reason other than to help someone else.
So I set myself a daily word count target and wrote every morning and afternoon and sometimes for half the night. One of the unexpected and very unwelcome side effects of complete inactivity for me was insomnia. I’d often wake after two hours sleep and after tossing and turning for what felt like hours would eventually get up and go to the spare bedroom and write in the middle of the night.
When I eventually started having a semi normal existence of getting up and outside I embraced it fully and the book project was sidelined. Every so often I’d be chatting to Gerry and he’d ask how it was going and I’d tell him it was almost done. Making an excuse as to why it was taking so long but the reality was that I was stalling because I was afraid of going out there into the big bad world with a book and it being a failure. Ais was also pushing me to finish it so at the end of 2015, over eighteen months after I started I sat down and finished it. Then I put it away. I was again afraid of taking the next step.
In 2016 I finally summoned the courage to get it to an editor and that’s where it is now. Almost finished and ready for publication. I’m writing this so that I don’t just take it and file it somewhere on the computer when it’s done. I wanted to be accountable and finally put it out there. So I thought the best way to do that is how I do anything related to my Ironman racing. I put it out there publicly as a target to chase and keep me honest.
The publishing deadline we’ve set is February 2017. I’ve no idea whether it will sell any copies at all but I’ve really enjoyed the process and look forward to finally holding a copy of it in my hand. I’ll post here again when I’ve updates like the cover design. I might be asking you guys to help me chose the best one when we have them back. And of course I’ll post when it’s ready and available for sale. If you are interested in being notified when it’s available you can contact me using this form and I’ll send you a mail when we are good to go.
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