It’s December 2017 and I give Steve the nod that I’m ready to get into my plan that will take me to Ironman Bolton 2018. 6 months of prep to get myself in the best possible shape for the biggest race of my life. I always knew this was going to be a steep learning curve as Bolton would be my 5th ever triathlon but mentally I was prepared to do whatever it takes. What I didn’t prepare myself for was the impact the training would have on the rest of my life. Early morning sessions in the dead of winter test the toughest of mental strength, long distance training at a weekend whatever the weather including a 19 mile solo park run in the snow; it seemed horrible at the time but looking back these are possibly some of the best sessions to not only build physical strength but metal strength too. As the weeks flew by it was evident there was less and less time spent with family and friends but they were all nothing but supportive, fortunately my wife Gemma was also doing Bolton so even though we are training all hours we can get some of our sessions in together or at least the same time whilst offering each other support. 3 weeks before Bolton I took on Hatfield half and had a strong race, this was the first opportunity I had to see how the training had gone and I felt ready; all I had to do now was look after myself and stick to Steve’s taper plan then it would be plan sailing to race day, or so I thought. We had prepared ourselves as best we possibly could taking to two trips to Bolton to recce the bike course so there was no surprise on race day. Two weeks out I saw on the news that there were fires on the hills around Bolton, ok I thought no problem a fire can’t possibly burn for two weeks. Due to the unusual weather we had the fires were still burning 1 week from race day, so now I’m panicking and thinking oh god it’s going to be cancelled. On the Tuesday before the race we got the email explaining that the bike course had been altered due to the fires and the route will now be 95 miles and to make matters worse the swim is in doubt due to high levels of blue/green Algae present at Pennington flash. My heart sank and then came all the negative comments from various social media saying that even if the swim goes ahead you still won’t become an Ironman because of the bike distance. I was now feeling totally heartbroken; this is not how I imagine the build up to feel. After some messages of support from some amazing people and words of encouragement from Steve I felt a lot more positive and all I could do is race what’s in front of me. I took myself away from the social Medea negativity and got myself focused. It’s Friday night and we made our way to the hotel just outside Pennington flash to get a good meal and an early night. Saturday morning up and on to race registration where we collected our race numbers attended the briefing where it was confirmed the swim would go ahead and had an explanation of why the bike course had to be altered.