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Joe and Laura in Paris
Yes that is how he headed his latest report on 9th October. Just to recap, Joe is partly sponsored in his Ironman training and competing by MailBigFile. Periodically he reports back and had been doing very well indeed….

However

The however is that he feels he’s ‘had the worst luck ever. It’s like I’ve got a demon on my shoulder.’

For starters, at the Castle Series Olympic Distance race he got sent the wrong way on the bike, to the middle distance course instead of the Olympic so he ended up doing 1*45k loop instead of 2*20k loops, which was very frustrating.

This set-back affected his motivation for the next challenge the Geradmer XL in a fortnight. On the personal side, Laura (yes, he’s started seeing Laura) came along for the weekend and may have been less than impressed. But he finished 5th, somehow, and they still enjoyed the trip.

At Gerardmer Joe ‘did a 25 mile time trial the weekend before this event at the end of a big training block where I had been doing some big days and I managed to get a power pb and almost break the course record so expectations were high for the following week.’

Even getting there was something of a battle – his sister’s Ka left at 5am with Joe and his dad, and arrived at 8pm the next day. Joe then describes the actual race: ‘it started bad getting out of the water 3 minutes down, got worse on the bike losing even more time and then out on to the run I felt absolutely hideous, I started the run in 9/10th place and thought if I could do a decent run I could run myself up to a reasonable position but I just felt empty, like I had nothing in me at all. I tried for the first 3 miles or so but just had nothing.’

It was at that point he seriously thought of quitting. Fortunately, the ‘easy option’ is not one Joe takes, so he carried on. He summed it up honestly, ‘it was my worst ever performance, I was expecting much more from myself and know that I should have been top 5, I had been going really well in training and this was not the performance I felt I deserved!’

The knock-on effect was a period of down, severe fatigue, no point in going to the USA as he wouldn’t be able to train there at all. He said he also felt embarrassed that MBF sponsor him on these trips, and he had let them down.

Encouragement Works Wonders

Messages of support flooded in, all saying it was just a one-off. He had to carry on. Get over it. He used an 11.3 mile run leg of the round Norfolk relay for City of Norwich Athletics Club, as a test of his true feelings.

He went out a few days before the event and did a 6k loop from home. It worked and his speed reassured him he was on the right track after all. He exceeded expectation in the actual event and thought he’d face Hever Castle race.

Joe trained hard and gradually worked back up to Ironman levels. All was looking good, when as he said, ‘Disaster Strikes again! After the Time trial my tooth started hurting really quite bad. I had a terrible nights sleep and in the morning decided to book into the dentist at the first available opportunity.’

He had a gum infection and antibiotics were started. He said the pain and numbed mouth ‘made me look as if I had a stroke. I had never had my mouth numbed before and while eating a bit of toast managed to bite my lip, I didn’t even know until my Mum noticed blood streaming down.’

Back to the training and the thing about triathletes is that they have to be in top form in three completely different disciplines, so it is dedicated skill training plus long hours in the gym. He has slowly but surely been raising his performance levels. You can follow all the stats at Strava and also.

Drama En Route

So he is off, recharged and lessons learned. He wrote the blog in terminal 5 at Heathrow waiting his flight to the USA.

His Facebook post says it all: ‘I booked the 12.05 flight from Heathrow and had confirmation from Holiday Genie who I booked the flight with stating that this was the correct flight. However when I went to check in online last night BA had me down for a 4.15pm flight, I was like oh S**t what’s going on here.’

‘It was 8.30pm and so too late to speak to someone from BA so I still planned on getting to the airport in time to make the 12.05 as that was the flight I wanted to get and I wasn’t sure what was going on.’

‘When I arrived at the Airport BA had me down on the 4.15pm flight and it turns out that I was never booked on the 12.05 flight as previously stated. Holiday Genie tried to deny this at first and state that it was first BA’s fault and then my fault for booking the wrong times, even though I have proof and confirmation of being on the 12.05 flight.’

‘However they quickly back-tracked and apologized for everything and have accepted responsibility but I now have to travel on the 4.15 flight by myself and have to sort out my own transport to San Diego!’

‘Oh as well as this they also informed me on the phone this time that I’m not on the 5pm return flight as previously stated I’m on the 8pm flight. Absolute nightmare!’

Joe is going to keep us us up to date on his blogs while he’s in California. He clearly is up for another big adventure and we can only wish him well….

Check out Joe’s full blog

Check out Joe’s latest performance stats

Check out interviews with Joe:

The Joe Skipper Interview: 3. Money is the Need, 30 May 2013

The Joe Skipper Interview: 2. Know your own body, 29 May 2013

The Joe Skipper Interview: 1. Blame It On His Dad, 28 May 2013

Joe and Laura in Paris