Sunday, February 28, 2010

Running BUG.

I have the running bug. As far as I have heard it is very contagious. Anybody who comes into contact with a pair of runners, a singlet, shorts and a stretch of road becomes deliriously infected. Those infected are seen running with a glazed look in their eyes and a digital device plugged into their ears - known as an IPod. Do I want to be cured of this disease? NO WAY.

I have been doing the bridge to bridge with my best friend for a while now and initially could only do it as a walk. It is about 7km in length and incorporates straight stretches of road mixed with uneven bush paths and hills. However, this week I am pleased to say that I have walked/run it in 44mins.

I have gone from walking 3mins mixed with 1min running, to now running 10mins and walking anywhere between 3-5mins minutes, depending on how I feel. This is good for me as I had not run for a while due to my shin splints. I feel great. When I am walking now, my legs and mind become fidgety and want to keep running. I have to pull back on the reigns and remind myself that all good things come with time and patience.

Self analysis of this last run has made me realise that having my shoulders down in a relaxed-neutral position promotes better running form. Also, keeping my arms relaxed as well as my hands makes me relaxed. I was running like "Rocky Balboa", arms all pumped up like I was ready to go to battle with Apollo Creed. This totally expends more energy than I had, hence the reason I was getting tired at a faster rate. Having my torso and shoulders relaxed allows my legs to do the bulk of the work. I am also able to breathe alot better as my diaphragm is able to expand appropriately. Thankyou Susan, this is Stage 1 in my transformation as an effective runner.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I just recieved an email from the organisers of the Triathlon that it could possibly be turned into a Duathlon. ARGH. They recieved advanced warning from the Royal Algal Coordinating Committee that they have had their first blue/green algae alert in the lakes due to all the rain and runoff and then intense days of heat. I know I should be happy, swimming in blue/green algae can make you really sick, however I really want to do the swim leg, thats my strong leg.
Running for two legs is going to feel very hard. Physically my legs will fatigue extremely rapidly. I thought by doing a Tri that my legs can atleast rest a little in the swim, but now the whole race will be based on the strength of my legs. Oh boy, am I in trouble. I told my best friend who is also doing this with me and she is a runner, although she was disappointed because she too wanted to swim but I could see the look of "Oh yeah", glistening in her eyes.
The decision wont be finalised till the 5th March, two days before the event. I still need to get my TriSuit but now question whether I need one at all. I just have to get it and then hope that all turns out for the best. It will be okay, not my desired dream but an offshoot.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What was your turning point?

During my journey to date, I often remember back to that time in March when I saw my photo and determined then and there that I needed to lose weight and take control of my life.
I now ask, what was your turning point? What made you decide that that day was the day? Please share, writing down your journey really helps solidify the reason you chose to change. And besides, I love sharing in peoples journey's as well.

2.5km straight.

Seeing as my Triathlon is fast approaching and I had not even run 2.5km for quite awhile since injuring my shins - I thought it best to see how I would feel. It came as quite a surprise as to how painfree and strong I felt.

I had gone with Susan to see one of my friends do a run through of the Enticer with her friend at the Regatta Centre. I wanted so badly to do it but I had only just recently sold my new TriSuit to a friend for two reasons - 1. I felt a little self conscious in a bright red Santa suit and 2. the torso would pull with movement and consequently leave me with an unsightly look in the nether region.

So whilst at the Regatta, Susan and I thought best to make use of our time. Susan shadowed my friend Mel to push her in the run leg which she did really well. I tagged some 20 seconds behind and set myself a pace which I knew I could keep for the entire distance. It wasnt a fast pace but a nice steady rhythm that felt comfortable. I focused on trying to keep my torso upright which I had noticed starts to slump when I become fatigued. I also focused on keeping my stride the whole way, focusing on foot placement. When I get tired I start to shuffle and shorten my stride, falling into the step rather than making each stride purposeful.

As I approached the finish I felt like I had some energy left as a result I picked up the tempo. I wanted to give it that last little bit of "umff" to get me home. When I finished Susan told me my time, 12min 48secs, I was so happy. Anybody would have thought I just completed the Enticer. Reaching my goal, no matter how big or small is like a triumphant achievement to me. It is what keeps me focused on reaching another goal.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I can run.

I am finally allowed to run. I have been itching like a race horse stuck in its holding pen to get out and just run. Not because running is like my most favourite sport in the world, but simply because it is the one leg of this Triathlon that I need to work on the most. And I havent been because of the shin splints. Granted - I am glad I rested them because now they feel totally fantastic. Gone is the stabbimg pain right in the front of the shin, gone is the burning pain everytime I placed my foot down. There is nothing. ALRIGHT.
At the beginning of last week I had been allowed to do really fast walking. Some think that my pace is quite fast, and I guess it is. My parents blessed me with long legs. Even I noticed that if I got any faster I would have to up it to a very slow jog. And so because my shins felt good after the fast walk, I was then allowed to do a bit of running at bootcamp class. Nothing to complain of as an after ill effect there either. Could it be that things were just feeling good, finally ? Of course!!
So this week was the tester. And what a week to start running. Bootcamp was back to its good old form. Gruelling. Yay. I know, sounds mental but I love it. My best friend had always said to me before I started getting fit - if she feels the burn then she knows its working. I always said back then "if it hurts then something is wrong". This was only true for some part of it. If my back hurt then I just had to find something else to do, on the other hand if it was muscular then I just had to grin and bare it. Nowadays, I looooove the burn. The burn is my friend.
Anyway, back to the running. This week was definately going to test whether or not things would hold up. In total we did about 2.1km. I started off feeling hesistant and then I felt great, but with that greatness I held myself back and did about 500m of those at a fast tempo walk inbetween some runnning. I am happy to report that I woke up in the morning feeling great. Nothing was sore at all. I feel great.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My leechy Saturday bushwalk

The day began like any other day. Well, not really - it was cloudy, rainy and miserable. But this was to be the day for our Prep Walk 1 nonetheless. Preparation for the 6 Foot Track is crucial as I have heard it will be a gruelling 45km trek, completed in about 12 hours. I cant wait really, I am up for another challenge.
So anyway, as we were driving up to the starting point the rain got heavier and heavier and the fog became as thick as pea soup. Just what I needed. The first bushwalk I went on had seen me twist my left ankle which to this day I have still not recovered fully from. It still swells in the heat and aches if I have done alot of walking on it. Funny enough though, when we finally arrived at our destination the fog had cleared and the rain slowed to what now was just a sprinkle.
There were 7 of us women and Barry. All I can say is I don't think Barry quite knew what he was getting himself into. We all started this walk with such excitement and a bit of a nervous twinge in our bellies. The sound of our voices I am sure resonated through the silent air of the mountains. We had all come somewhat prepared with our backpacks full of food, fluid and change of clothing. What we had not prepared for was what lay ahead in the dark wet gully some many metres below us.
So we began the descent down some many hundreds of stairs - some metal and manmade, others just chipped out of stone and some stairs carved into the soil held in place by timber retaining walls. The air already quite humid up high, became thick and clearly visible the lower we went. The canopy got higher and higher and showered us with rain every so often. It truly was a spectacular sight.
That was until the leeches started. Where in god's name were they all coming from. Some were little and barely visible others were long and skinny just waiting to fatten up on some poor innocent bystanders blood - Barry's Bootcamp girls looked like they were going to be on the menu for this trek. I have never in my life been so grossed out. If you stood still and stared at the ground they were like little zombie soldiers honing in on your scent from every direction. I was lucky. I only had about 8 try to get into my shoes an socks, others further down the back of the line were being swarmed left ,right and centre. The squeels from us all echoed through the valley. We tried warning other hikers but they looked at us as if thinking "novices". Oh well, we tried but it was too much.
Our trek got cut short as a result and now we had to climb back up and out. Oh boy, talk about lactic acid build up in my quads and calves. They were on fire. But the sheer thought of those blood thirsty creatures at the bottom spurred us on up that mountain in no time at all. When we finally reached open air and the top we began the search for more little friends right inside our shoes. I had none but others had them hidden in their socks and one lady Meg, had a critter feasting on her lower ankle. It was peeled off with a knife and feel off in a glutonous heap on the floor. GROSS.
Anyway the remainder of the walk although uphill was on flattened terrain. Perfect. I loved it. But my calves and quads are still paying the price and this is day 3. I have been stretching to alleviate the tightness and it seems to be working. Bring on Prep Walk 2. Can't wait.

The goal that almost was.

I shouldn't be disappointed in myself, afterall up till last Thursday I have pretty much reached every goal I had set myself to date. Maybe thats why it hurts so bad when you don't get there. Kinda like a little kid who always gets their own way until a parent puts an end to their ways and the child screams endlessly. Ok, so I didn't cry but I felt very flat emotionally.
My 4.4km goal in the pool came to an ubrupt end at 3km. Who told my calves that it was acceptable to start cramping - NOT ME. Initially it started in my left foot, but that ended after 1 lap. Boy, talk about painful. It starts in the arch of my foot and then all of a sudden my toes decide to separate in different directions without consulting the body they are attched to first. If I was onland all would be good, but being in water, makes the potential for going under all that more probable. I guess thats why someone invented lane, to hang onto while your cramping.
The next lap sent my left leg and calf into the most excruciating cramp (apart from labour) I think I have ever felt. My calf, foot and hamstring felt like it had been compressed from all angles and it didn't matter if I grabbed at my foot and tried to flex my foot back, this cramp was hanging on for dear life. All the people in my next lane stopped to see if I was okay, I guess because this was the first time I had actually stopped swimming. Normally I am pushing on to get it all done.
As I scrambled to get back to the side of the pool to get out, it gripped me like a vice again, and again as I exited the water and again as I tried to sit down. This continued on for atleast 10 minutes and then as quickly as it came it left. My calf felt battered and bruised. My hamstring felt like I had atleast half of my bodies blood stored in it. That was it for me - I was done for the evening. I was soooooooooooooo annoyed.
What had I learnt? In my search for understanding what makes my body tick so I can get the best out of it, I realised that swimming should be the only thing I should do on that day. Why, well I had walked 7km that morning - it was hot and humid and I had sweated heaps. I tried to replace the fluids but I had fatigued my legs in the process. I have also learnt that during swimming your feet are always pointed, something that we as adults are not used to doing. We always have our feet flexed for walking. As a child I did 6yrs of ballet and never once experienced cramps in my feet or calves, something which my brothers always did. Therefore I am now incorporating my ballet stretches into my regime. Hopefully this will help.
Also apart from taking my supplements which should help for my cramps I am now going to drink an electrolyte drink a couple hours before getting in the water to see if this helps. I will also try to have a massage atleast once a month from now on. I need to treat my body like a temple and nurture it like I used to. I will keep you posted with my progress. Fingers crossed

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a blast !

I attended my first bike riding development group. I learnt so much. We started off by just learning how to manouvre corners - basically the leg on the outside of the corner should be down while the inner leg is held up, this helps your stability around the corner. I also need to relax my arms and try not to lock my elbows. A little easier said than done. My elbows automatically hyper-extend so it takes a little more concentration than those that just have normal locking elbows.
I also learnt to focus ahead versus just meters from my front tyre. Makes sense really - The possibility for collisions is far higher when you are looking at the ground just ahead of you. This came in handy when we did our next exercise in sitting just behind someone. I do believe they call this "drafting" in a race. The instructor wanted me to get quite close but I am not confident with this yet, so I held myself about 2 ruler lengths away and tried to follow right behind but just as I thought I had it mastered I would get the wobbles and my straight line looked like it had been drawn by someone in kindy. I tried.
Next we had a guest speaker on what saddles are appropriate for bike riding. Come to find out my seat is too soft and not appropriate, so the next day I went to my local bike shop and put a seat on layby. This one has the slit down the middle so hopefully my nether regions will be much more content when I get the saddle paid off and fitted. Everyone was having problems with their bum, oh not me - I just have to be different :)
The last component was bunch riding. Lucky there was only 4 of us in our beginners group. I dont mind riding close by someones side. Felt comfortable. What I was not comfortable with was letting go of one hand and placing it behind my back. Whilst my right hand was holding on all was good, I could ride in a straight line. Left handed riding is something I definately need to work on. I got the death wobbles straight away. It was like watching a little child learn to ride. Nevermind. Practise makes perfect, or so I keep trying to tell myself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible".

Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, February 8, 2010


Ok, so I have the comfy pants, great, so why does everything down south still hurt? Is it the seat or the newness of my body to the riding? Whatever it is I wish it would hurry up and stop hurting. My friend Susan and I get off the bikes wishing our lower half belonged to someone else.

I am yet to figure out how people ride for more than 25km without getting off their bikes feeling red raw. I try riding for little more to the right then for a little bit more to the left, some of it positioned more forward, the rest sitting more on my tail. Whichever way it all still hurts. What am I doing wrong? Maybe downstairs just needs to toughen up.
Every bump in the road after the 15km mark makes me see stars. I have even resorted to lifting my bum out of the saddle over the smallest of bumps to give my derriere a reprieve. There has to be something missing. Maybe my next purchase will be one of those seats with the middle bit missing. Maybe thats the missing link (no pun intended).

I have also started training in trying to get off the bike and start running without looking like I have done a doody in my pants. Not sure if I will ever look like a graceful swan in this transition, I find it very difficult. My brain sends the necessary signals down the right pathways to my legs but somehow it gets scrambled and my legs move in the necessary fashion to propel me forward but they feel so disjointed. Truly an odd sensation. I just need to keep on practising the transition and doings small runs/fast walks straight after getting off the bike.

Hit the road Barb......

I did it, I did it, I did it. Remember the little goal some 4 posts back about riding on the open road - well I owned it today. This goal is home and hosed, all mine. Ok, now I'll settle down a bit, it was only 5km but I wasnt even scared. There were hardly any cars out - I think 4 may have passed me but I went up and back and felt good doing so.

Generally if I am on my own training I like the therapeutic value of music to get me pumped but today when I went out on the road I thought it wise to lower the volume and only have one ear piece in so I could atleast hear what was coming from behind. You know - should I need to bail and throw myself off the bike into some mushy patch of dirt on the side of the road. How funny would that look.

I also practised turning my head to the right and looking over my shoulder without veering all over the place. I didn't do too bad but still need more practise. "Rome wasnt built in a day" and you can tell neither will my cycling

My speed is ok but not great. I am cycling at about 25km/hr and feeling every ounce of that speed on my quads. I just need to get stronger in my legs but it is a bit hard when I am limited as to my running still. It will happen, just have to keep cycling.

Getting off my bike is an entirely different issue and needs a whole post of it's own. I shall focus on this on my next post. Stay tuned!!!

The Wall

I used to do indoor rock climbing some 8 years ago, my youngest Kyle was only 3 yrs old. I had forgotten how much fun it was and how much of a great workout it was. I think I was sweating buckets within 15 minutes of doing the first wall. Our bootcamp group accomplished so much on this Saturday climbing walls we thought we couldnt.
For the first time in ages, I said outloud as I was climbing one wall "I can't" and I wanted to be let down. Thank God I had Barry holding the ropes, he refused to let me down and kept telling me to think about what it was I was asking for and if it truly was what I wanted. Of course it wasn't, but the pain in my arms were so bad and I didnt have grip in my hands. In my head there was a battle going on and was I going to let the negative thoughts win - NO WAY.
I made it to the top inch by inch, grunt after grunt. I even think I let out some choice words. And when I finally got there I was so elated. My friends said to me "You made it, you can do this Triathlon". I guess I can but I still have to work hard on keeping my mind focused and never give up. Things may hurt, so bad sometimes you feel like your dying but your not. Its a reminder for me that I am alive and going places. I can do this.

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Alright, I did it - 4200m. I can't believe it, well - actually I can but it seemed like I almost wouldn't on the night.

4900m was what was written for the session. An unrealsitic goal for now but I know I will get there. The week before I had completed 4000m and my goal is everytime I hit the water 200m more is what I expect and nothing less. After all it is only 4 laps more. I can use this as my cool down. So that is what I did.

I think it was about 2/5 of the way into the session I was faced with 6x300m, probably the toughest sets yet. Not only because I just don't like them, so in my head I kind of already switch off but also because the day before I had attended bootcamp and my arms were extremely fatigued. So I did 3 without flippers and 3 with flippers. Should these be part of my session this week I shall try 4 without flippers and forge forward towards my goal.

With 700m to go and 16 minutes left in the session - would I get there. YEP - 4x100m F/S kick with flippers in 10 minutes and 300m in 6 minutes. Boy, talk about determined and stubborn.
I even have my coach now pushing me to go that extra 200m.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Not on

So I didn't get to go to the bike riding lessons as the weather just didnt want to behave. I was a little disappointed as I really want to understand my bike and become best friends with it rather than acquaintances. So I instead went to my usual bootcamp which I was planning on just moving forward a day so I could fit the bike session in. This bootcamp has become my usual routine since before October 2009. It's not something I am willing to compromise on. Sure there are days where things just crop up or where all the appointments in the world just happen to coincide on the same week, but when that happens I make sure that I make up for it one way or another. That may mean having to change my routine slightly for the week. But I make sure I stick to it.
I still havent conquered the goal of getting out onto the road to ride. This will happen, I am more than 100% sure. This is something else I am not willing to compromise on. Once I say I want to do something, I become a bit like a "dog with a bone",- driven. The one thing I have realised along this journey is that I can do anything. Sure they may not resemble some olympic athletes achievements but they are achievements nonetheless. They are my achievements.
I love being me, life is good. What more can I ask for?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One more lap.

I am pleased to announce that my cycling is getting better. I can now cycle 25km in one hit, 20km more than my last blog. It was true about the 3 days a week thing, it does work. Obviously not working as fast as I would like it to (impatient me), but I am making progress.
I have invested in a pair of cycling pants, you know the padded bum ones! They feel great on when your cycling, as for walking - well I feel kinda like a 2yr old when they need a nappy change. Its hard to walk and take yourself seriously. When I first put them on and looked in the mirror I was wondering who the "Oompa Loompa" was looking back at me. But, they are not worn for fashion, comfort is the number one goal. And they work to a degree. I still think my nether regions need to toughen up a bit, or I need to stop whinging.
My best friend Susan has recently purchased herself a road bike and is now riding with me. I love the company and it makes the time go by so quickly. She gives me the push that I need to keep going when my legs feel like giving up. Thank God for best friends, that all I can say. I must admit though, she makes it look so much easier. When I watch her she makes it look effortless and my hope is that one day I too will look that way, or atleast learn to stop contorting my face in such a fashion that you can tell from a mile away that I am in pain.
Another lesson I have learnt is to keep your mouth somewhat closed when cycling. I do believe I have now swallowed a 1/4 cup of gnats and numerous flies. Great way to get protein on the run....BLAH. I will stick to protein bars thanks.
So as I ponder my next ride this coming Friday, I shall set myself a goal of going out onto the open road. Not far, just the length of the Regatta Centre and back and then continue with the rest of the ride. I want to try something a bit different and vary the course up a bit. Keep the excitement level up high.
Oh by the way, I am also attending a bike riding skills class tonight for women. I really need to understand my gears better. Will keep you all posted as to how it went.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Does my butt look big in this?

Its a love hate relationship.

Since commencing my training, my love for swimming has returned, and I now strive to swim a little more everytime I get in the pool. As part of having joined the Tri Club I now participate in their swim squad once a week on a thursday night. Week 1 - 4 weeks ago, I completed 2500m and felt so tired on getting out that I don't think I could string two sentences together. My body ached all over from the last cell of keratin in my hair to the ends of my not so delicate toes. Susan and I walked out of the pool wondering what in god's name had we gotten ourselves into. On our way home Susan gave me a call on the mobile just so I could keep her awake for the drive home. I was so proud of what she had accomplished and I am sure she was equally proud of me.
As week 2 drew closer I started to get nervous, simply because I knew what lay ahead and I know me - I am not happy with staying the same. 3500m and 90 minutes later I surfaced from the pool with a grin and the need for some much needed rest and Ibuprofen. I was so proud of myself, I had come so far when at times I thought it would never be possible again. I really missed the squad life even though as a child I immensely detested being told when to wake up, how much I had to swim, what comps to go in...yadda yadda yadda. Now I'm the boss of me and I am definately tougher on me than they ever were. I won't allow myself to give up.
3800m in week 3 and I was feeling great. The variety of the training sessions made it almost feel effortless....NOT, it was still hard but atleast it beats swimming up and down over and over again aimlessly. I think the coach can tell how excited I am about getting better every week as I am constantly asking how much I have done halfway through the session so I can beat my score before time is up. "Are we there yet, are we there yet". I so badly want every week to be an improvement on the last and so far so good.
Last week I felt it. Although I made it to 4km, every lap was so painfully slow and torturous. I had the runs all day and my stomach was cramping what felt like every 5 minutes. I really shouldn't have gone, I should have stayed at home and rested but there goes that stubborness and persistant streak again. I was getting motion sick in the water and I felt quite spewy. If I could get through this lesson without letting things come up, I think I could just about tackle anything the triathlon had to offer. As it was, I survived but when I got home all I could do was have a shower, say goodnight to the children and Stephen and curl up in the foetal position in bed and go to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I felt no side effects of the previous nights efforts. I felt great.
I was trying harder and harder every week and my fast recovery was the proof of my efforts.

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