Sunday, July 20, 2014

And so it begins again.

Its amazing how quickly life flies by without you even being truly aware of the momentum it has gained whilst your head has been immersed in all of lifes antics.

I realised a day or so ago that one of my greatest pleasures had been put on the back burner for far too long and it was high time I brought this passion back out into the world......writing. And so it is here that I find myself in front of my friend - my laptop - some 11mths since its last post, pondering its contents and how best to begin expressing in great detail what has transpired.

Considering this blog is all about me and my life in the Triathlon world, I guess its only right that I should mention up front that Barbie completed her very first Ironman Triathlon on May 4th 2014.Yes, you read correctly so no need to refresh your screen....During Barbie's temporary hiatus from blogging, she found it within herself to become an Ironman. Cant believe it??? I'm still pinching myself, believe me.

May 2013 I signed up yet again for another attempt at the dream of accomplishing my dream which had eluded me due to illness. When I signed up for it, I did not realise in the coming months how much the training and getting to that start line was going to help me through quite possibly the toughest times in my life, and how much it was going to mean to me. I was completely going to give it my all from the very beginning irrespective of the unforeseen changes about to arise in my life. However, on those particular mornings, afternoons, evenings where life was getting slightly too 'real', having my training outlet really helped me not only work through particular issues but it also gave me focus and an opportunity to zone out as well. Training and exercise are good that way.



The day itself was everything I could have wanted and more and I literally think I smiled the whole way except for when I had a mini meltdown just prior to the swim start. Thank goodness for Paul being in there with me and giving me a big hug or I think I could have lost it. His big bear hug was everything I needed to settle my nerves. 

So now I could go on and on about the actual day itself and all of my experiences and feelings, but we could still be here next year, as I am still recalling new things everyday about that day. But the one thing I do know and would like you all to know - is that I cannot thank everyone enough who played a part in making my dream become reality. And the one thing that I totally shocked myself with is that I beat my own estimated time by 1.5hrs. In my head I had thought roughly 14 - 14.5hrs. But I came in at 

12hrs 27mins

I was completely stoked. I later found out that my coach and close friend Jen had this time programmed in her head for me from the very beginning. Love you heaps Jen. You helped me through some very difficult times and helped keep me focused when I felt like I couldn't go on. And so now our next adventure begins. Are you ready???

So, now I find myself on this end of another training program...prepping myself for the Western Sydney 70.3 on the 30th of November. Am I excited ???? You bet ya. Will I be challenged moreso than any other time in terms of time constraints? Yes. Do I care? No. Ask me again if Im excited...... you bet ya. Im going to be doing something that I truly love.

The great thing is that I will still be having Jen from Sparta PT training me and I wouldn't have it any other way. She totally gets me. Week one has been started and Ive already had a slight hiccup as I still don't think I am 100% recovered.... yes still from IM. Right glute or hamstring is still not 100% happy but can't afford to have it looked at or massaged so stretching and foam rolling are my new found friends.



So now the exciting thing is that I am now proudly sponsored by Yerba Mate Australia. What is Yerba Mate I hear you ask? Well, for all those who know me and my ethnicity I am Australian born but have Uruguayan blood flowing through my veins. Part of our heritage and cultural upbringing revolves around sharing stories and quiet moments drinking Mate. Mate is South Americas green tea. You have a variety of ways to drink Mate however the traditional way is through a Gourd and drinking straw. 


Mate helps fight fatigue and boosts energy. It also is high in antioxidants and has less caffeine than coffee and even green tea itself. The best thing about Mate for me is the flavour itself and the fact that you can literally consume a whole thermos of hot water without even realising it - so a great way of hydrating. My mum, eldest son and I will sit around drinking Mate regularly sharing in good family stories, much the same way as one would over dinner. In South America its common practice to see people getting on public transport with their thermos and Mate the same way that you would see people here walking around with their Gloria Jeans coffee. My mother best describes her experiences with Mate as like having a special moment with a "close friend". She finds peace, relaxation and companionship and her routine is to have her Mate every afternoon, either on her own or shared with friends. I am so proud to be sponsored by Yerba Mate Australia and look forward to sharing my journey with them and with South Americans alike.

So I will leave you with a few images from my day at Port Macquarie Ironman. SO excited to be back.









See you all on the flip side.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fighting my way back.


Wow, cant get over how long it's been since I last put fingers to keyboard and entered a post. The last one was in June this year and boy, has alot transpired since then. It has been an absolute whirlwind of events which has left my head completely spinning and have had pretty much no time to think beyond what it is I have had to do for the exact day that I am living. Its hard to know that your days are blending into one, and as much as you try to separate  each day or each event so that you are living in the moment - you find at times that you are losing the battle. But on the flip side - whilst there have been many negative events which have made me question almost everything, there have also been many positives of which have made me proud and kept me going.

Firstly, my gorgeous twins have graduated from High School. Where has time gone? Seems like only yesterday I held them in my arms or walked them through the gates on their first day of school. And now they are stepping into life as adults and seeing all that which life has to offer.

Am I proud of them? Oh my goodness YES. I really couldn't be any prouder. As a Mum they have made me proud every step of the way. They have worked hard and never lost sight of what it was they wanted. That's not to say they haven't made me want to pull my hair out from the roots and run out screaming from time to time, but for every time that has happened they have made me proud tenfold. My wish for them is that they have a life of which they are proud. That they can one day look back and say "I lived my life taking full advantage of every opportunity that came my way". To my beautiful twins - Mum loves you and is confident that your life will be AMAZING, EXTRAORDINARY, and ABUNDANT in all things good.

Secondly, I have started my own company. Who would have thunk it???? Me, a business owner.....WOW. I have been at it since the 15th July and have loved every minute. What is my business about? Well initially it started out as just making a head warmer for myself because I was strapped for cash and couldn't spend alot of money. Then, after a few hilariously grossed out rudimentary attempts, I made one just how I wanted it thanks to the help from a very good friend.

The word just started to spread and then before I knew it I was in full swing and making head warmers left, right and centre. The thing I believe that makes me different is that I make it to measure your head. And you get to choose your colours as well. What could be better really. If you are interested in seeing what Barbs Bands are all about - click HERE. I'm sure you will like what you see. Barbs Bands website is currently under construction so will add the website details here when it is up and running. But my FB page will show you all that is current.

I have been lucky enough to break into the cycling, triathlon, running and Crossfit arenas. With 2 big bulk orders coming from Kangazilla and Witsup.com. I still have to pinch myself that this has happened because just over 3 months ago I couldn't sew to save myself. But somehow, I found it within myself and have found an absolute passion in making my Barbs Bands. Each are individually done by hand by me and I'm really proud of their quality. Where else can you say that you are wearing something that doesn't have that mass production feel about it.

I have since started making sweat bands for the warmer months. Many of my sweat bands are now in another country making there mark in the World Champs of Triathlon known as Ironman. Yep, my sweat bands are in Kailua Kona, HAWAII. I cannot believe it. This little girl may never make it as a competitor to Kailua Kona, but my bands will. And they will be on the heads of competitors and spectators alike. Can't wait to see footage and photos. I'm going to feel super proud. Actually I already do. I love Triathlons and the people involved within the sport. Not only have I been made to feel welcomed but also I have felt truly supported all the time. Thanks everyone so much.

The other amazing thing that has happened is that I was nominated for a "Soaring Solo" award from the Women With Altitude forum. So very exciting. This award is given to women who are running their business on their own with plans for future growth. That's me. I'm so excited. Can't believe I was nominated. So here's to soaring solo.

So whilst that's not all that is happening in my world that sure is the best of whats happening in my world. And I have started the slow and grinding road back to some normality. It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that at some point in the future it will be everything I have dreamed of and more.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Because we can.

Sometimes you just have to step outside yourself and the daily grind you find yourself in, and do things for others to realise what it is you really truly have in your hands. I find when I'm doing something for someone, I am at my most happiest. I feel I'm serving a purpose in my life that conjurs up feelings of self worth, gratitude, happiness and most of all kindness - something which I truly believe this world is really lacking in. It makes me look deep within myself and really analyse my life and not take what I have for granted nor get to bogged down with those things which I dont have. That's not to say I don't slip up and fall back into old ways but I feel that by doing a good deed, it makes me feel like a better person because I know I'm helping someone who is struggling.


So last weekend - myself and a few friends took part in the MS 24hr Megaswim. The feelings I got by accomplishing this goal were on par with what I had accomplished with the Cycling Cerebellums ride to Melbourne. I felt so proud and honoured to know that by doing what I was doing it was helping friends and others who are living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Did you know that "Diagnosis of MS is typically between 20 and 40 years of age, although onset of symptoms may be earlier. Three times more women are affected by MS than men and it is more common in cooler climates. 

In Australia, over 21,000 people currently have MS however this figure is increasing as diagnosis methods become more advanced. 

One in 20 Australians will be touched by MS through a family member, colleague or friend who is living with the disease". ~
http://www.megaswim.com/Default.aspx~

So it's with this in mind - knowing full well that I have close friends with this condition that I am spurred on to want to do whatever it is I can to help.

We called ourselves "Team Stay Afloat" - a quirky yet original name - which the team really loved. And we stood by that name for the whole 24hrs. When we first got there we were given a few sheets to check off. These had 100m increment boxes up to every kilometre that you had to check off. The first page went to 53km and when I saw this I remember giggling and thinking "yeah sure, 53km is alot". But then the second page went to 110km or so and I thought "who can get to 110km swimming". Obviously the organisers knew something I didn't, and that's why they are the organisers.
And with that - Clair saw us off into our 24hr Megaswim. I was terribly excited about what lay ahead and as we each took our turn in the water those tiny little 100m boxes got ticked off as did the 1km boxes, time and time and time again. It was then easy to see how that 53km goal box could be ticked off.
The motivation and camaraderie within our team was amazing. We would cheer eachother on through the laps and high five eachother on the cross over from one swimmer to the next and within each of us I think we had such a sense of pride with what we were achieving - not just in a swimming sense but also in a fundraising and compassionate sense. We knew that by every lap we were swimming we were putting another dollar into the fight against MS.
It's hard not to feel driven and compelled to get in that water even when it felt like it was 20 degrees celsius at 3:30 in the morning. Because Janet, Todd, Ante and everyone with MS were our driving force. This sign looked over us whilst we did what we did.
As the hours clicked down and the final minutes were being counted we turned out 30min swim slots turned into a 200m relay to wake us all up - and that it did perfectly. The team voted me in to swim us across the finish line and the magic 24hr mark - what an honour it was. I will post up a video shortly of it -so stay tuned to this space.
It was so much fun doing this and cant wait to do it all again. Team Stay Afloat swam a whopping 78.4km and raised and awesome $2862.70 for people with Multiple Sclerosis. We simply couldn't be prouder if we tried. And whats even better still is that we are going to be back next year with not only 1 Team Stay Afloat but 2 Team Stay Afloats. That means more laps and more fundraising to be had. Yeahhhhh baby.

Team Stay Afloat Rules

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The tide is turning

Sometimes it is so hard to see beyond the fog. Life can become so thick with activity and in my case - injuries - its been hard to see the end goal through the misty haze. You seem to get over one thing, and then you get hit with something else. Not sure why this happens, it's not like I've been asking for it, but somehow and with some gentle coaxing from friends I've come to realise that things are happening for a reason - and that reason is to get every reason out of the way so when I do get into the thick of training, there is nothing reason left to get in my way. 

I've been really focusing on keeping a healthy diet with a few relaxed eating days. And whilst there have been days where I've been missing training, I'm still getting out and doing what I can when I can. I'm still only at 2 x 25min walks but my cycling is definitely getting better. Still nowhere near where I was but I've started to notice that my legs are feeling stronger. I've noticed it more so in my windtrainer sets with Sparta. My cadence is getting better at staying up around 90 during race pace sets, and I've been feeling less fatigued when having to hold the hard slower cadence of 60. It's not to say it doesn't hurt, but it is definitely starting to feel slightly more manageable, much to my delight.

The one thing that my body has been struggling with alot is muscular tightness. Quite badly. I'm stretching and foam rolling but its not feeling any better. Maybe over time, the tightness will subside with regular stretching. I've especially noticed it in my back and had to go and pay yet another visit to my physio for them to work on it as the spasm was so bad I was in an awful lot of pain. So now the foam roller is my best friend with regular backward stretching on it to help alleviate the tightness. You should hear the cracking going on in there - its like listening to a bowl of Rice Bubbles.

But on the up side - my stupid little tough is behaving, and it only hurts when I knock it. I'm still regularly taking my Calcium and Vit D tablets so I'm hoping its all helping to heal it up, not that I'm expecting miracles. But, if there is any improvement, which there is - I'm happy. They still haven't found a reason for my Osteopenia but are in the process of trying to find an answer. And being the ever impatient me, I want the answers now so I know what I'm dealing with. But it doesn't seem I will get answers anytime soon, not going back to see the specialist now for another 5 weeks - ughhhhh. Just have to stay focused on doing my  exercises and time will go past quickly.

I have a fun activity which I am doing with 7 other friends in 10 days. We are doing a 24hr Megaswim in aid of people with Multiple Sclerosis. Can't wait actually - I've never swum in the wee small hours of the morning, and I haven't done it with a bunch of friends either. So to share this experience with them for such a great cause will be absolutely amazing indeed. We are almost at our goal of $1000 - and would love it if you could help our cause and team "Stay Afloat". If you would like to donate click HERE. Every dollar is helpful and I know you will be helping those with MS live an easier life. 

So that's it for this small blog post. Thanks for joining me on my journey to Ironman Port Macquarie 2014. It's going to be a crazy roller coaster of a ride.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Harden up princess.

Literally. Seems there has been a reason this whole time for my inability to get my legs and body in running mode. Ive never know anyone - well atleast since starting in this Triathlon world who has had as many tormenting down days as me. Seems I take a few promising forward steps and then my body for whatever reason chose to make me stop dead in my tracks more times than I would like to count.

So when I decided to stupidly fracture and dislocate my toe ten days after coming out of my boot I decided it was high time that things get checked out properly, once and for all. Cant tell you how sick and tired of having bone pain Ive been. Ive had more scans than I would like to count and if I could glow radioactively, I would. So when I finally insisted on having a Bone Density Scan I think the GP was slightly put out by a 39yr requesting a scan that is normally reserved for the older population.

Well, fast forward a few days and the results came in. "Significantly low Bone Mineral Density". So much so that my spine resembles that of a wee little old lady. Good thing though that my neck of the femur was preserved due to my running - well there's a positive. It seems that all of this is whats making everything go awry. I knew there had to be a reason for all of this garbage happening, couldnt just be bad luck. Ive listened to my trainer, done everything by the book and NOW here was the answer I'd been looking for. Whilst you never want something to be wrong with your body, it was good that I finally had an answer, and now I could move forward in getting things right again.

I'm not expecting that it's going to be an easy fix. From speaking to the Sports Doc, he did say that it could take a few years to right the wrong in my spine - and it may never be equivalent to my prospective age. But if I can atleast get it to a 10yr proximity versus a 20-30yr distance which is where I'm at now - Id be stoked. So here's to Calcium rich foods (non-dairy related) and my Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to get me back on track. Im going to conquer this, just another thing in the life of Barb. And with the help of another specialist to see if it's all hormonally related - I should be right as rain - or atleast on track to getting me to my big goal.

And so here it is.

May 4th next year Im coming back to do it. I have to get this off my back and I will. When I signed up I got that flutter in my belly again of excitement and trepidation. I don't want to sign up and not compete again. And whilst I love spectating and supporting, I want next year to be my year. I really think I deserve it. I'm going to give it my best crack and be super cautious in my training using everything I have available to be to get me there in one piece. Even if it means wrapping myself in bubble wrap.

Well enough of me. Yesterday a few friends of mine competed in The Northface 100 and 50. OMG, talk about hard. I don't even think the word hard comes even remotely close to what my inspirational friends accomplished yesterday. 
photo - Lyndon Marceau

For those of you who don't know about this race - check out the website here - The North Face 100. It is without a doubt one of the hardest UltraMarathon's ever. And I have friends who are brave and strong enough to do it. You all inspire me without a doubt and make me realise that anything is possible, you just have to want it bad enough. Your mental strength is something that I admire and strive to have. And if I can have an itsy bitsy little bit of what you all have - I'd be stoked. Congratulations on accomplishing the hardest race ever and now time to rest those legs. You have earnt every bit of pampering that is coming your way.

YOU GUYS ROCK.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anyone got a roll?

Of bubble wrap that is. Seems I need it in surplus of late. I can't seem to keep from hurting myself and it's becoming a bit of a joke. Last Wednesday I decided to add insult to injury by fracturing and dislocating my left little toe at the vets. A stupid accident but nonetheless it has put me out for another few weeks of healing time. So those first few tentative walking steps I took a week or so ago have now come to a grinding holt - yet again. Oh well, there's nothing I can do about it, and as a close friend said to me "maybe it's life's way of making 100% sure that the leg that just came out of the boot gets a bit more rest time", thanks Mel. I think your right too.

So I'm not going to sit here and sulk - I think I have done enough of that. I'm going to just get on with it and work again on my strength - SWIMMING. If I thought I was getting stronger before - I now have renewed motivation to want to get even stronger. Maybe this is the universes way of telling me to keep my eye's on my goal "Aussi Masters Games in October". Maybe I got slightly sidetracked as soon as I was told I could walk and ride again and I needed a slight reminder of how important this was to me. So it's time to get cracking with 5 months to go.

I have a few goals I would like to meet at these games. One is to crack the sub 30 secs barrier for my 50m Freestyle. Secondly I want to hit sub 34 secs for my 50m Backstroke. I would also like to try and get a sub 1:10 for my 100m Freestyle and try for a 10:30-11 min for my 800m Freestyle. Not sure if achievable but I sure am going to give it my everything. Of that I can assure you.

Anyways, on the weekend was Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie. It was the one I was meant to be participating in before all went wrong. And whilst I was slightly hesitant to say the least about going (not sure how I feel about not being in that water for the start), I'm really quite glad I went. It just added fuel to the fire that was brewing. Second time lucky for next year. It was such a buzz watching all of my team mates compete. I not only swam with them, I rode with them and ran with them in spirit on Sunday. I yelled till I couldn't yell anymore and walked till my little toe couldn't walk anymore. But one things for sure - I didn't feel at all devastated, it was just what I needed. My club, Panthers Tri Club, has awesome competitors and fantastic family members supporting them. To those who completed yet another Ironman, completed their first or smashed it up and got PB's - you are all my INSPIRATION. I want to be like you all when I grow up. And I look forward to crossing that finish line and experiencing that HIGH next year with you all....

At the start line something completely amazing/magical happened. Out of 1602 competitors that took to the water there at Port Macquarie - I made eye contact with one sole competitor and smiled and wished her luck. I don't know why out of everyone there that I chose her to smile to but it just happened. She proceeded to stand up - lift her goggles off her eyes and say "Barbie? I've been reading your blog. Im going to do this for you today!". Needless to say I burst into tears, and my husband Stephen had tears in his eyes too. If I could have jumped into the water and given her a cuddle I would have but before I could show her just how much that meant to me - off went the siren and she was gone. All day I searched to see her face out on the course so not sure how she went but if you are reading this - please let me know how you went and know that you really did make my day. I hope you got that medal and are wearing it super proudly. You deserve it.

This weekend was also super special because IM day was also my husbands 50th. The night before we went out with a whole bunch of our close friends to celebrate and we had an AWESOME time. Thankyou to everyone for sharing in it - I know how much it meant to Stephen. And thankyou to everyone on Sunday who wished him Happy Birthday - he felt really special. I will never forget this weekend as long as I live.


I'll be back Port. Don't you forget my face.  Because when I reach that start line -
 I wont be stopping till I'm done.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I think

Yeah, I know, hard to believe - Barb thinks. But contrary to popular belief - Barb thinks alot. Mind is continually active in search of new things, new goals, new ideas, new dreams. But the one thing that has never required alot of thinking as it has just remained a part of who I am since falling upon this wonderful sport, is that I LOVE TRIATHLONS. Everything about it - literally makes me smile. And whilst it's not been the most injury free of sports I could have chosen, it is the sport which challenges me in every conceivable way.

I've never really thought about why it is I love it so much. But I'm sure if I had to write a list - it would be humongous. But the one thing that sticks out the most is the friendships I have made. Never have they failed to support and encourage me in my quest to want to do better. And for that I am truly thankful. So it's with that in mind, over the last few weeks I have started to mingle with the idea again of trying to reach the goal i had set last year.

Port Macquarie IM.

Yeah, I know I know. I know I said I wouldn't try again to reach it as I am sick of trying to get this running thing happening. But much like an ember which has stayed alight after the blaze of a bush fire has settled, so too has my dream of becoming an Ironman. I can't let it go. It has literally been burning a whole in my psyche since being told I couldn't participate in it this year. And so in true Barbara fashion - I shall go back and conquer my dream. 

Only this time, the difference is that my running will take the major focus. Not that it hasn't before - but it is going to be slow and completely focused on keeping my lower limbs happy. Even if that means the majority of my training is walking, then so be it. I'm going to make this happen if it's the last thing I do. I'm not one to give up on my dreams and this has been one of mine since I did my first 70.3 in 2011. So I will get there - just watch me.

So yesterday I did my first ride on the road. Now don't get all excited - leave that to me :) It was only 24km but it was the best 24km of my life. Check out the ridiculous grin.
I'm surprised I dont have any bugs in my teeth from grinning. I just couldn't stop. I felt so free on that bike. Mind you my undercarriage was saying something completely different. But the good thing was that my foot has pulled up fine. Just tight this morning but that is nothing new, just have to keep stretching and seeing my physio. Can't wait to see what my next 12 months have in store for me. The possibilities are endless. But for now, Im just excited as hell to be able to do fun things and to write again on my blog.

Your hard work will be rewarded.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way, and may go in more than one direction, it is travelled by belief and courage and conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances" Barbara Cage