70.3 Tri week 7 – quack, back oops!

Having been in Malta last week, my training went a little off the rails. However, I did manage a couple of 5-6km runs and some swimming (ocean and pool) so it wasn’t a complete wash out.

On my return to the UK in the very early hours of Friday, I decided that family time would be the main goal for Friday and Saturday and that I’d try to get out on my bike on Sunday so I’d have a reasonable ride under my belt.

In fact, in Saturday, we went up to Airkix in Basingstoke where Daniel and I had 2 x 2 minute flights. I definitely felt more stable and think that if I go again in the next 3 weeks that I’ll maybe be able to progress to turns.

On Sunday, with Denise and the boys out for the afternoon, I was able to plan a ride of about 28km. First of all, I was Run Directing at Southampton Junior parkrun. Another excellent event.

After a trip to Sprinkles for coffee with Chris Stocks, I headed home, got some chores done and then got ready for my ride.

The weather was good as I left and I decided to try a new route, heading out to Botley and then Titchfield. I ended up to my surprise in Whiteley. I’d only ever been there via the motorway so finding another route was quite interesting… to me at least!

Having cycled home (I don’t recall the route I used!), I got some more chores done and then took the boys to their swimming lessons where Daniel demonstrated some great bilateral breathing. Jealous!

On Monday, I was planning to do a treadmill run (1 hour) but as the weather was good, I chose to go out instead and enjoy the sunshine and heat. It was lovely and definitely a good choice.

It was the STC swim session in the evening and as I watched the previous session, it looked like a challenging one. The session consisted of:

200m warmup (f/c)
200m pull
15 x 100m f/c off of 2:10

I was doing pretty well for the first 8 or 9 of the 100m sets until the cramp set in. It started in my toes and then worked its way up my legs until I was unable to bend them or keep my feet from acting like anchors. I opted to use a pull buoy for the last few sets and know I dropped about 150m from the set. It wouldn’t have been fair on the others in the lane to have kept them waiting.

It would appear that I wasn’t the only one suffering from cramp as Pete in my lane and Steve from the previous session were suffering too.

In the cool down, I used the pull buoy while doing breaststroke in the hope that’d help. In fact, it meant my posture wasn’t right and my back started to get achy.

Having cooled down, at the end of the session, I walked scarecrow-like to the changing room. As I started to get ready to leave the muscles in the left side of my back spasmed/twinged and I sat down in agony. Getting up was them a challenge as was bending down to pick things up. Having praised myself recent on how injury-free I’d been, a bad back looked like it was going to screw up my training plans…

… And so it has. I’ve spent the last 2 days struggling to walk, lay down, sit down, get up, stand up straight. You get the idea. I’ve missed 2 rides and the Wednesday morning STX swim and it looks like it’ll be a fee more days until I can consider running, cycling or swimming. The good news is that I’ve got a sports massage with Tiff tomorrow evening where I hope to get some relief from the pain.

In other news, after over a year of weekly Run Camp sessions I’ve decided that in order to fit my triathlon training in that I’ll have to, very reluctantly, miss the next 3 months of Run Camp sessions. I simply can’t find enough mornings and lunchtimes to fit long rides and runs in especially as the my increase in duration. I’ll really miss the banter of the fellow Run Campers and am looking forward to rejoining the sessions in mid September. Until then, and once my training gets back on schedule, my focus is on nailing my half distance triathlon plan.

Hope to have some more positive news in my next post.

Meet a triathlete friend – Gary Painting

I’ve not really had time to post much in the last 10 days so am going to post my next ‘meet a triathlete friend’.

Many of you will know Gary Painting as the Event Director of Southampton parkrun. However, Gary is also a triathlete! I’ve known Gary for several year’s now since meeting at parkrun.

Here’s some info on his life as a triathlete so far…

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?
Well unfortunately I have to work (which really interrupts my training!) but far more interesting is that I’m lucky enough to be the Event Director of Southampton parkrun, it keeps me pretty busy but I take great pride in being a part of such a great event that brings so many people together. I can also be found playing darts, playing guitar or singing along to Meat Loaf.
How long have you been a triathlete?
I guess since I got into the pool of my first Tri at last years May Day Tri (not really having a clue what I was doing at that point). Thoroughly enjoyed it and opened my eyes as to how different a challenge it was to just running.
What got you hooked on triathlons?
That has to be watching the 2012 Olympic men’s race, was the first time I’d actually watched a triathlon. Just looked like so much fun and felt like something I had to try, then after that first event I was totally hooked.
Who are your triathlon inspirations?
Liz Carter, I’ve only met her a few times but she always seems to be having the most amazing time!
What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?
I feel I’m only just getting started in triathlon so nothing too major yet but was really chuffed with completing my first Olympic distance with the run split not being far off my 10K PB.
What does your typical training week consist of?
I’m really bad at making a plan and sticking to it, I just try to do a lot and work on my weaknesses. I cycle to work and back every day, do a turbo session and a long ride every week, swim a couple of lunchtimes and run when my hip co-operates. (I have bursitis in my hip at the moment so my running has pretty much ground to a halt, which is really annoying as I mainly run to stay sane).
What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?
That has be the run. I’ve been running for 5 years or so it’s by far my strongest discipline, (so I’m glad it comes at the end!) I’m not a great runner but do ok, so it’s nice to chase some people down who have overtaken me on the bike!
What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?
I guess that would have it be the swim, I really enjoy swimming but it’s that threat of drowning, being set upon by sea creatures or taking a kick to the face that gets me nervous more than the bike and run. These are all the stupid things that are going through my head whilst on the outside trying to keep a smooth and relaxed stroke!
What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?
I’m doing Challenge Weymouth half iron distance in September, that will do for now. I will have to do a full ironman in the next few years though… half anything just isn’t job done!
What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?
Having only done a few sprints and one Olympic distance I’d have to say Olympic. I’m hoping come September I’ll be able to say half!
What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?
Has to be the mass race in Hyde Park last year as part of the ITU grand final. It was my first Olympic distance so was a big deal at the time, running on the famous blue carpet was pretty cool and the fact I won my place there through parkrun made it even better!
If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?
Do loads of brick sessions! Running off the bike was the biggest thing for me to get used to, and of course make sure you find a way to enjoy it.
What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?
I haven’t gone crazy on gadgets just yet, not as much as I’d like too anyway. At the moment it has it be my aero bars, makes me feel like a pro.
What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?
Next up is Worthing Olympic distance next Sunday (6th July). Target is to survive my first sea swim, get through the run without annoying my hip too much, and beat last years time from Hyde Park.

Meet a triathlete friend – Paul Thomas

It’s a rest day today and that means that other than the blog post I wrote at silly o’clock this morning, I’m taking it easy. However, it gives me an opportunity to post another ‘meet a triathlete friend‘ post. This one’s about a fellow Southampton Tri Club member, Paul Thomas.

I see Paul weekly at the Monday evening STC swim (he’s a much faster swimmer than me!) and more recently also at the Wednesday morning pre-dawn swim session. Paul is also competing in the Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon in September.

I’ve struggled to find a picture of Paul without him holding a beer… ;-) Let’s get straight on with the Q&A!

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

When I’m not competing I am either working, sleeping or playing with my two children. Life is busy!!

How long have you been a triathlete?

I have only been doing triathlon for 18 months and got hooked from the 1st event.

What got you hooked on triathlons?

I did a sprint distance with new work colleagues at Eton Dorney. I swore I would never do it again all the way round but as soon as I crossed the line I knew I would do another just to see how much time I could take off.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

Inspirational figures have to include Rick and Dick Hoyt who, despite massive obstacles to overcome, they competed in the world champs in Hawaii several times with a smile on their face the whole way.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

My proudest moment came in my first event this year where I smashed my sprint pb by a huge margin at Eton Dorney. 1:11:52 I think. Despite an average swim and a stitch on the run I felt like I had a good bike leg and avoided jelly legs.

What does your typical training week consist of?

Training is now ramping up significantly as a result of working towards half iron distance in September. I am starting to swim 2.5 hrs a week, 2hrs running, 2.5hrs cycling. Some would argue not enough but I still need to enjoy life!!!

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I change my mind every time about my favourite discipline. I like all of the them. However, because I have been plagued with calf injuries all year, when I can run, I really enjoy and appreciate it.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I’m becoming less happy about the swim part after getting a full on kick to the face in my last event which almost ended my race.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

Triathlon target for me this year is to complete Challenge Weymouth Half Distance. My only other challenge this year was to finish in the top half of every event I do. So far I have achieved top third so I am ahead of target.

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

My favourite event is probably Olympic purely because you feel more in a rhythm and less rushed than you do in a sprint.

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

My favourite event so far was Eton Dorney Evening Sprint. Probably because of my finishing time and the awesome conditions

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

I think I am still too new to this sport to give any tips. One thing I did pick up from someone was to wear two swim hats when the water is cold. It did make a difference.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site? 

Favourite gadget is just my simple little bike computer. I think I bought it for £20 but it is invaluable to me on the bike leg as I know what pace to hold comfortable. It keeps me pushing without killing myself.

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

Next triathlon is the local Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon event. My goal is to go sub 1:10 as the swim is shorter (unless they measure it wrong again!!). Hopefully that would be enough to give me a top 30 place ish

Another great triathlon story from Paul. I have a few more in the wings and will post them soon. If you’re a triathlete friend and I’ve not asked you to participate yet, don’t worry! Your time will come!!

Tri 70.3 week 5 – long ride and a lazy evening

After Wednesday morning’s early start, the last thing I needed was another 4:40am alarm call. However, my dedication (obsession) meant that’s exactly what I had in mind.

Of course, I awoke before the alarm… at 3:15am and then couldn’t get back to sleep.

With a 2 hour 45 minute long ride to do, I had little choice (yes, yes, I know had the choice to stay in bed but that would have made for a slightly duller blog post) but to get out of bed at 4:40 and head down for breakfast. I’d wisely prepared everything I needed the evening before so had a quick breakfast and got dressed in my cycling shorts, shoes and short-sleeved high-viz cycling top and arm warmers.

I have recently purchased a Headlux light to put on my helmet and along with my waist lights was flashing like Christmas lights as I left the house at 5:10am. My plan was to do 4 laps of my normal 45 minute route through West End, Hedge End, Botley, Fair Oak then home.

The weather was good although I did wish I’d had an extra layer at first.

On my first lap, there was little traffic on the road which was handy given the number of roadworks between home and Botley.

I completed the first lap in just over 42 minutes which meant if I could maintain the same pace, I’d take 168 minutes to complete all 4 laps. That would mean I’d get home at, or close to 8am which is roughly the time I get home from Run Camp. Perfect.

I repeated the same route for my next lap but on the 3rd and 4th, the traffic was getting heavier and the traffic lights were against me so I amended the route slightly but cutting out the far corner in Botley High Street so that I could still arrive home on time.

On the last lap, it was light enough for me to turn off all reachable lights to save battery power.

I completed my last lap at 8am and span up Arun Road to reach home at 8:03am. Not bad going.

I enjoyed the ride even though it was laps. The route has a few undulations in it and it’s good to know that none of the inclines are too serious. There are also a few ways to add or take off distance.

All-in-all, I cycled 42 miles. Certainly didn’t break any land-speed records but, then, that wasn’t the purpose of the session.

I was planning to compete in the Eastleigh Aquathlon in the evening but a combination of feeling shattered, tired and achy legs and a downpour shortly before led to me choosing to miss it and have a relaxing evening instead. I shall make sure I attend the next one!

As if having an evening off isn’t enough to show a temporary lack of commitment, I also bailed on an early morning long run with Neil from STC on Friday morning. However, I’ve done about 7 hours of training this week so far and do still plan to do the 90 minute run over the next few days which is exactly on plan.

I am wondering how I’m going to be able to fit 4 – 4 hour cycle rides into the coming weeks without impacting weekends and have a couple of options I’m exploring mentally. As mentioned before, the cycle rides are my biggest training challenge time wise. But, it’s the discipline where I should be able to make the most improvement so I need to find the time. I did google whether splitting long rides into 2 shorter rides would be an option and the response was that the effect wouldn’t provide optimal training but I may consider it. I know I can fairly easily do a morning ride of 3 – 3 1/4 hours so with an hour at lunchtime, that would almost give me the duration I need during the peak of my plan. Alternatively, if I have the availability, I may have to forego parkrun on a Saturday and do a long ride on a Saturday.

To avoid family impact, I may need to think about missing the next 12 week block of Run Camp which would be a shame as I really enjoy these sessions. But I need to weigh up the time it takes, the benefit it gives to my half Iron distance training (it’s not a session that’s called for on my plan), the social aspect of the session, the additional morning session it’d give for more-specific training and the cost.
If I do decide to not participate in the next 12 week set, I’d plan to rejoin in late September. That’s another decision to make.

Have got a really hectic few days ahead with a family day out on Saturday, Race Directing the Lordshill 10K on Sunday, a 90 minute run and preparing for next week’s trip. I’m really not sure how I’m going to fit it all in to be honest.

Tri 70.3 week 5 – a quick mid-week update

Having posted two ‘meet a triathlon friend’ posts (with Neil and Ian), I could have probably got away without another post today but have a spare 15 minutes while waiting for Daniel to finish his diving lesson so thought I’d work on a mid-week update.

In reality, I’m struggling to remember what day of the week it is so have had to re-check my blog posts to find out.

So… yesterday I had the usual Tuesday session of a 45 minute cycle + 15 minute run. I used my usual route and have little more to say really. I thought I’d cycled faster than my Garmin shoes (wishful thinking) but did manage to hit a red light at every set of traffic lights between home and Botley so I’ll blame that.

The good news is whatever Tobie at Bike Guy did to my bike last week has worked. No more tapping noise. Hooray!!

As usual the brick session run wasn’t quite as soon after the cycle ride as it should have been or I’d have liked but I did it so I’ll get over it.

Today I had the usual early start with the STC swim session. I shared the lane with Sonia, Jon and Paul and felt as if I did pretty well keeping on Sonia’s toes (or as close as is socially swim-acceptable). The session didn’t feel quite as tough as some of the recent ones which was welcome. As usual, with a session with so many sets, I can’t really recall what we did and my Garmin stats give little more away. I know that we did 300m of kick drills that my Garmin didn’t record though.

That was it for the day. 5 sessions completed so far this week.

I’ve got 3 more early morning sessions. Normally I’d be going to the track for Run Camp but Coach Ant is away so I’ve amended my plan and scheduled in a 2:45 cycle ride. The plan is to get out early and home by 8am. Wish me luck with that!! I’d normally have a lie in until 7am on a Friday but have plans for a 90 minute run to Shirley and back with the aim of getting home by 7:30am. I don’t mind the early starts. In fact, without them, I’d not be able to do anywhere near as much training but I always wake up at least an hour before my alarm so when it’s set for 4:40am, I’m awake shortly after 3am. ARGHHHH!!!

Meet a triathlete friend – Neil Clelland

One day and two ‘Meet a triathlete friend’ posts.

Neil is another triathlon friend who I met at the Wednesday morning STC swim sessions several months ago.

Neil has recently completed in Ironman 70.3 Mallorca earlier in the year and you’ll read more about his amazing experience below.

As with the other posts in this series, I’ve asked Neil to answer questions related to his triathlon history, experience as well as asking him for advice.

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

I enjoy wasting time with my wife, which usually means chatting in coffee shops or getting absorbed in Game of Thrones. I also play guitar in a local punk band.

How long have you been a triathlete?

I did my first triathlon in 2009, but due to circumstances I then didn’t do any for a couple of years. I started to get back into it in 2012.

What got you hooked on triathlons?

I was hooked as soon as I crossed the finish line of that first race in 2009. I had some friends who were signing up for a triathlon and asked me if I wanted to join them, so we could train together and have a bit of fun. Whilst I knew I could run 10km, I could not imagine swimming 1500m or riding 40km – let alone doing them one after the other. As it happened I signed up and then the race sold out before my friends had entered, so I ended up doing the training and everything on my own. It took a lot perseverance, but I have never forgotten the feeling of pure joy and satisfaction I got from finishing. Entering that race was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?
I get inspiration from the achievements of those around me. Within Southampton Triathlon Club and around Southampton there are many people who are competing on the world stage and people, like yourself James, who are making a massively positive impact on those around them with their help and support through various clubs and parkrun etc. These are all down-to-earth, humble and “normal” people who are achieving extra-ordinary things – it is a privilege to be around them.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

In 2012 I did a number of events for charity raising over £2500 in the process. The idea was to do a total of 500 km across 4 running events (Exbury 10km, Wiltshire 10 mile, Reading half marathon, Gloucester marathon) and 4 triathlons (Crystal Palace sprint, Steelman Olympic, Marlow Half distance, Midnight Man Full distance). I was definitely proud of myself for completing this, especially as I’d never run a marathon or done a triathlon that was longer than Olympic distance.

What does your typical training week consist of?

Swim: STC swim sessions on Mon, Wed and Sat; Bike: turbo trainer on Tues, long ride on Sunday; Run: try to get a couple of lunchtime runs in during the week, mixing recovery; tempo and hill sessions. This year, I’ve also been adding in 2-3 specific core and strength sessions per week.

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I am enjoying my bike at the moment. This is the area I’ve improved the most since starting triathlon, so it is satisfying to see that.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

This would have to be the swim. If I didn’t do triathlon, I would only splash about in hot countries on holiday.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

In 2012, when I did the Midnight Man, I hated the training and I hated the race. I think this came down to the fact that I did not have a good enough fitness base to build upon. I feel I did not give the distance the respect it requires. Having said that, I would love to have another go at it, when I feel I am more ready. In fact, I have it provisionally planned for 2021 – so it’s definitely a long-term target!

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

Half. You can’t fake a half, you have to put the training in – but it is not quite so life-consuming as a Full.

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

I’d have to say the IM 70.3 Mallorca that I did this year. The bike course was just stunning and with it being Julian’s stag do, there were a lot of friendly faces on the course.

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

It would probably be to find a training program or approach which has a rationale that resonates with you. There is a lot of contradictory information and advice flying about, but I think if you find something that you believe will work, then the chances are it will work for you.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

It would have to be my Garmin. I have the old 310XT and it is a bit like having a an old desktop computer on my wrist, but it comes with me everywhere – I love the data and the analysis.

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

I am doing the Swashbuckler at the start of July. It is the first time my inlaws are coming to cheer me on, so my goal is to be sprinting up the final hill through Bucklers Hard as a vision of power and strength. Seriously though, as naff as it sounds, my primary goal for every event is to try and enjoy it and feel that I have given the best of myself. If I can beat last years time of 5:33 as well, that would be great too!

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Meet a triathlete friend – Ian Fearon

It’s time for another ‘meet a triathlon friend’ post and today’s is from Ian Fearon.

Ian is another friend that I met through parkrun and a very keen triathlete (although I only found out about this fairly recently!)

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What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

Dream about competing and training! It’s a constant thing, as are all passions. Aside from that I work damn hard at work and also love spending time with the kids and family. Oh, and I play Candy Crush. Way too much!!!

How long have you been a triathlete?

Since 2010. I did a marathon in Eindhoven and suffered massively with ilitotibial band syndrome. So I told myself no more marathons, but I needed something to do so I took up cycling and then convinced myself to give tri a go. I couldn’t swim for toffee and remember the first day in the pool, 4 lengths almost killed me!

What got you hooked on triathlons?

Lycra. Love the stuff :-) And you can run around in public in it and no-one bats an eyelid! Aside from that I have no idea. It’s just something that grew on me and constantly made me want more, to go further, and the irony is that I started tri to do something else other than marathons and ended up doing iron distance! Perhaps one thing for me, as the worlds biggest introvert, is the solitude of long-distance training and the time it gives me to be with myself. And maybe it’s the feeling of achievement that you get from setting yourself a big challenge and then doing something amazing.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

Dave Scott and Mark Allen; possibly the two greatest Ironman athletes the world has ever seen. The book that tells their story, Iron War, is a compelling read and puts you right into their heads. They are amazing athletes, totally committed, hugely competitive but in two totally different ways. And they achieve what they have for little reward compared to some of the overpaid athletes and sports stars who achieve far less.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

Iron distance at Outlaw. Finishing an iron distance race was such an amazing feeling , and the pride came from setting myself a target, putting the hours in, and achieving something I will never forget. I finished it in 12:16, a time to this day I still wonder how the hell I did it!

What does your typical training week consist of?

I have a very rigid structure and routine so I always know what I am doing on a given day and my family always know where I am! I find that way I can fit in everything else that I need to do. That said, I’m not running at the moment due to a bad knee injury, which also stops me cycling too far. Typically I swim open water at 6am every Tuesday and Saturday at Eastleigh Lakeside and do a long pool swim on a Thursday night. I bike to work most days (commuting in a car is such a waste of training time!) and do a slightly longer ride on a Saturday. But battling broken bones in my back and a bad right knee has made me cut back on training time. I will be back in full swing soon I hope.

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Running. Love it. Which is why I’m so frustrated currently as I can’t run due to injury.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Everyone’s least favourite is the swim and I’m no different! But I’m improving though and better technique learned in SwimExpert lessons has taken me a long way.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

I don’t have any currently as I want to focus on healing. If I were to dream and be injury free, I would say I want to do a sub-12 Ironman. If fully fit I know I have it in me. One day……

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

I have to say full. The training is a challenge in itself, and the day itself is a complete roller coaster of emotion which ends in a feeling of elation that is totally amazing. And you get to do lots of everything you love!

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

I don’t like the big events, the mega ones that are way too commercial and designed to cram as many triathletes in as they possibly can to make more money. I fell foul of that in a tri last year – the organisers cut so many corners when it came to safety which I feel was a major factor in a bad accident I had in transition.

I know I keep saying the same thing but to answer the question I would have to say Outlaw, an iron-distance event held in Nottingham. It’s so well organised, numbers are sensibly capped, and spectators are catered for brilliantly in all of the three disciplines so the family really felt like a big part of my day. I even stopped for a chat with them half way through the run :-)

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

Leave no stone unturned and plan everything. Have a plan and stick to it, unless you get an injury and then you need to adjust sensibly. And pay attention to every last detail – for Outlaw I even found out what hydration they were giving out on race day and used that exclusively in training. Little things like that can affect your body on race day with big effects.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

I have to say my trusty Garmin 910XT. It does everything with me, tells me how many lengths I have done in the pool (counting is so hard!) and tells me how fast I on on foot or wheels. And as a compete statto it gives me lots of numbers I can use to plot pretty graphs :-).

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

As I say, injury means I don’t have one. But in my dreams…. I am going to cross an Ironman finish line….as the clock says 11:59:59……

Many thanks Ian. Great answers and advice. I have to say that Outlaw is definitely on my to-do list after Ian’s recommendation and I have to agree that Garmin 910XT is a major bit of triathlon tech which I couldn’t live without.