There is life in the old dog yet (My Microsoft UK Challenge Story) – Part 2 of 4

Injury Problems

Having returned from the first weekend training session with UPH and a bunch of of the other Challenger potentials I fully intended to knuckle down and start piling on the training. Only trouble was, I found that I’d picked up a back injury and my dreaded left knee was starting to play up.  Over the next few days I found myself unable even to my own socks on, being unable to bend even a little without serious pain.

So rather than try any running I decided to maintain my cycling to work as that didn’t cause too much hassle and to go swimming as that is totally non-weight bearing and good for overall body toning.  This regime worked a treat.  In between times I got treatment for my back from my Osteopath Nigel Kavanaugh who is absolutely excellent with any types of sports injury.  So come March my back whilst still not right was sufficiently OK for me to opt to go on the second week training but I had already decided I was not going to do any running, just cycling and maybe a bit of water work.

Second Weekend Training

Come the second weekend training we had been allocated into our teams and we were off to Centre Parcs again this time in Thetford.  I had been put into the Microsoft Tutti Frutti Team which consisted of David Hobbs-Mallyon the Microsoft UK SQL Server Product Manager, Steve Loader Microsoft UK User Experience Team, Tim Leung from VBUG, Ray Booyson and Gavin Osborn from the Vista Squad.   The last three guys I knew from my UK Community work, particularly Tim who I’ve known for several years.  By the way, if you ever take Tim out for a meal, make sure it’s a ‘eat all you can’ as I’ve never seen anybody put away so much tucker for one so small.  He may not be the fastest eater but he sure makes up for it in quantity!!  Nice one Tim!

Unfortunately Ray couldn’t make the training weekend due to his wife giving birth and whilst Gavin came along, he was out of action due to overdoing it a bit in training earlier in the week!  So David, Steve, Tim and myself did most of the training, though Gavin did join in for the Kayaking bit which was fun.   So the weekend was of similar format as before starting with a ‘beep’ test which is a fitness test.  I had scored 9.8 on the previous weekend which is a good score for a chap of my fair age of 47, and now this time I scored 11.5 which I was very pleased with.  Most other people also had raised their level which was great to see.

David was nominated as our team captain and was a veteran of 2 previous Challenger events and Steve had done the previous years event in Stirling in Scotland, so it was really great to get some feel for what the actual competition would be like.  Over the weekend we did a few test ‘stages’ run along similar lines to what the actual competition is like and again we had a great time though tiring.

One particularly great event was a night time navigation event which saw us dashing around the forests of Thetford on our bikes trying to answer puzzles and picking up bonuses etc along the way.  I did a chunk of the navigation which I enjoy (when it goes right!) and gained a good deal of confidence from keeping the team going in the right direction whilst pedalling furiously.  We did pretty well in that event and we started to see the core of a good team coming together.

The following day was a combined running, cycling event called ‘Reverse Casino’ in which we were given a fictitious million pounds which we had to loose as quickly as possible.  We had to go to gaming points, do a puzzle and depending on whether we got it right or not we were given debit or credit notes to take to the bank.  Here’s the rub though.  There were 2 banking points which we had to visit or we would pick up huge penalties.  Those banking points were only open between certain times and as the day wore on the exchange rate went down.  Not only did we cock-up on our appreciation of the ground, we set ourselves too high a target to get again and ran out of time AND missed the banking points, so all in all it was a bit of a disaster …. but … it was only training and so no big loss and a good lesson learnt!

After this training weekend we only had a Mini-Competition weekend left prior to the real event, and luckily I picked up no injuries from this  second weekend.  My back hadn’t got worse so it was on with the individual training which I had got into a good rhythm of, cycling each day and swimming 3 times a week, and also eating a good balanced diet, things were going great and the Mini-Comp was looming ….  you’ll find out how the Tutti Fruttis  did on that weekend  in the next post!


Dave Mc

About davemcmahon81
Software Developer & Architect, User Group Leader, Speaker, Writer, Blogger, Occasional Guitarist, Man-made Global Warming Sceptic, Climate Change Believer, General Optimist but most of all proud Husband and Dad ...

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