After a long (and frankly, very unpleasant) illness, my father in law Malc finally passed away 3 weeks ago.
A lot of my readers from the tritalk forum will be aware that he'd been fighting cancer for very nearly five years. His diagnosis in 2006 was the catalyst for oxygenaddict.com to be launched; back then, before I was formally coaching, we had a team of athletes who raised money for The Pelican Cancer Foundation by racing at various triathlon and Ironman events around the world, especially a fantastic crew that all completed Ironman UK together in 2009, raising nearly £7000.
When I launched my coaching company last year, there was really only one name I could choose; it summed up everything that triathlon meant to me. A play on words, an 'oxygenaddict' could be seen as a crazy endurance freak who loved the aerobic hit of training, and that's certainly how most of our team members related to it. To me though, it had the second meaning - the realisation, sitting in the hospital next to his bed, of how much we all want to be alive; especially those unfortunate enough to be cursed with such a hideous illness.
Malc was both a small business advisor and an entrepreneur; he got a real kick out of making money. He had, for a few years, spent his weekends running one of those promenade shops in Blackpool that sell 'fancy goods' (an oxymoron if his old boxes of sunlglasses and sticks of rock left over in his garage are anything to go by...) He loved to talk business with me when I was setting up the coaching company, and was a wise council.
His passing has led to a period of re-evaluation for me (and, probably, for all his family.) I've realised that, as much as I love racing at the sharp end of the field, I just can't justify the time and commitment to training that I have done over past years. It's more important for me to just be spending time with my wife and our family. I certainly can't contemplate spending 6 hours on my bike for the forseeable future. With that in mind I've made the decision to take the year off racing.
Fitness will always be an important part of my life, and I certainly intend to stay in shape. I salute all of you out there in the final stages of your Ironman preparation; enjoy every minute of the training and the racing. It'll be a life changing experience. Special wishes for my buddies out there about to take on IM Lanzarote; we know how hard you've worked over the winter and I sincerely hope you get the results you deserve.