Monday, February 28, 2011

Warning - another long post on the way.

I don't even know where to start. The last 2 days have been well, what can I say - EPIC. Some of it has been totally amazing and fulfilling whilst other bits were anything but that. They were sad and heartbreaking and at other times down right scary. But I guess going through these things are supposed to make you a stronger person, and I guess that's right, just sometimes it feels like you wish it wasn't happening at all. I shall try to explain.

Saturday was by far one of the most exciting yet totally exhausting days ever in the training front. I joined forces with the boys and although scared and not sure how I would cope, I think I did as well as I could. Kind of fun keeping up with the boys - it was good to see just how far I could push myself. I managed to stay nice and strong the whole way through the ride even when we hit the notorious Greendale rolling hills.

Yes there were times when I got tired and dropped off slightly but I managed to reel myself in tightly to the pack and even got a go at hitting it hard at the front for a little bit. Now that was fun. Kind of an indescribable feeling. I felt strong. It kind of gave me the same feelings of when I used to do swim training in the old days and I used to train in the same lane as my brothers and the faster lot. I may not have always been able to keep up but boy it was fun trying.

So after finishing 71kms in in 2hrs 27mins it was time to now run 6 x 1km efforts off the bike. This was painful, my legs felt like they had been dipped in lead and I was having trouble coming in on the required 5:30. I was just scrapping in at 5:40. Needless to say when it was done, I made my way straight to the boat ramp, took my sneakers off and sat in the water. I was getting the strangest looks, but I didn't care. I was just enjoying the coolness of the water and trying not to get in the way of those people trying get their boats in and out of the water. I was also contemplating the fact that I now had to back all of this up with a swim.

Swim, although refreshing was probably the hardest session I have had to date. I was tired, my legs were cramping - so much so I had to do half of the main set using a pullbouy, and I was hungry. The main set was 6 x 400's trying to come in on the same time everytime - I did them all on 6:30. Alot slower than my usual pace but usually I haven't done everything else and I come to the pools refreshed. So 3500m later and I was done - 81km for the day and I was happy with my performance. Then that afternoon I went to visit my Uncle in hospital who is going through quite a rough trot with his health. He looked ok, just terribly bored and wanting to go home but he has to stay in till he has a few tests which will be performed this week. Keeping fingers, toes and legs crossed for a favourable outcome.

Then this morning it was game on again. Only this time with the girls.

I was lucky yesterday morning I got to have a sleep in and catch up with the girls at 0620hrs. But when the phone rang at a couple minutes past our meeting time and I was told we had the first flat for the morning I don't think any of us had any idea of what the remainder of our ride was going to be like.

So DRAMA No 1 was followed in quick succession by DRAMA No 2 and as the tyre was being re-inflated it decided to explode and go off like a gunshot in the night. We all squealed, jumped and then laughed as girls do and crossed our fingers ever so tightly when the second tyre was being re-inflated. Job done.

DRAMA No 3 was my turn. It's quite an odd sensation riding on a flat - it's like your sitting on a bag of Jelly - not that I would know what that feels like but I could only imagine that it would be the same. Only to add insult to injury it now started raining.
So with that done we set off again and Sarah and I started singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" as you do. It was a total crack up - haven't laughed that hard in ages and we would get to a certain point in the song forget the words then do the usual "nana na na na" when you don't know it and then pick up further down the lyrics. Classic.

DRAMA No 4 was by far the worst. And if you ask Sarah and I what we slipped on I don't think we could tell you. I was at the front with Kylie and Sarah who was directly behind me was next to Cloe. I looked over my shoulder to give the all clear to cross over and before I knew it I had the death wobbles - I managed to stay upright and intact but poor Sarah who noticed that I was about to fall started to slow down and in the process of doing so hit the same "whatever patch of stuff" and came down on her right side almost taking out Cloe too. This was not good - very scary. Injury tally - grazes to right hand, elbow, upper arm, whopping bruise to hip. The bike was okay - a few scratches to the gear levers but all in all it held up well.

So after a much needed re-grouping we all took off again only to be told by Kylie that we had our 4th flat for the day - literally within 30 secs of taking off. DRAMA No 5. by this stage we were all deliriously tired and just burst out laughing. I mean really what else are you going to do. In the process of changing the tyre we managed to misplace the end screw off of the skewer so we were then rummaging around in the grass on the side of the M4. Totally hilarious.
So anyway with that sorted we all decided to end up going home as we had had ENOUGH and we didn't want to play anymore. I decided to take a short cut home and as I did it bucketed down on me and I got another shard of glass stuck in my back wheel which caused a massive tear. That was it - I called Stephen and asked for him to come get his dear wife. I was spent - MENTALLY.

I thought that was it for my horribly eventful day but boy was I wrong. Mum called me about 3:30 in the afternoon and told me that a very dear friend of the family whom Mum has stayed in close contact with over the years, well pretty much since they all came to Australia over 40yrs ago, and whom I have only ever called Uncle was about to pass away. I had not seen him for many years but knew through Mum that he had been struggling with Cancer for quite a while. His hard fought battle sadly came to an end last night at 7:15pm and I felt privileged to have been able to spend his last hours with him and his family.

I cannot even begin to imagine the sadness and despair that my Aunt and cousins are feeling but only hope that time eases their pain. I know my Uncle is in a better place looking down on them and keeping them safe. His family was his life and now in his passing he will be forever their guardian angel. Love you Tio.

So needless to say I am glad that yesterday is over. I woke this morning to an image of myself in the mirror that was unrecognisable - eyes swollen like one of those googly eyed goldfish. I feel very flat emotionally and don't have any ZING. Not sure how windtrainer session will go this afternoon. I am not expecting anything great.

This weekend has also quite a harrowing experience for a few of our club members who have suffered falls and accidents. The recent rain I think has attributed to oily slippery roads. I am keeping you all in my thoughts and hoping that all your injuries heal up without too much delay so that you may resume training. Big hugs to you all.

So it is here I bid you all farewell. My fingers are tired from typing and I shall try to be more diligent with keeping up with everyone. My brain is fried.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flat chat.

This last week has been so busy - only in a good way but busy nonetheless. There have been so many opportunities thrown my way that I have truly felt blessed. My parents have always said to me "things come into your life for a reason, whether they be good or bad - each and every thing presents you with a chance to learn and grow".

So when I had seen that "TriShave Australia" had liked one of my blog posts a few weeks ago I thought it only fitting and the right thing to do was to leave a message on their FB page thanking them. I never thought in my wildest dreams that the owner of the company would respond back. I mean for them to even find my blog in the first place and take the time to read it was such a surreal moment for me. I was truly honoured and felt privileged to have Larisa reading my blog.

Then a few weeks later we met up at Homebush Aquatic Centre early in the morning. It was to be a meeting I will never forget. Larisa is an absolutely remarkable and inspiring woman. From the moment we met I really feel like we connected - we were never short of a word or exchange of a story or two or three. Before we sat down to have a proper chat we both decided to squeeze in a workout - Larisa went for a run and I went for a swim. Couldn't pass up the opportunity of swimming in a pool where all the legends do their training. And the hope was that they would turn up.

So as I swam I couldn't help but peep my head up every now and then to see if I was sharing the pool with an Olympian. But after a nice easy 3km swim I thought it time to get out and catch up with Larisa for our coffee. It was so easy talking with Larisa - we spoke about everything - children, family, life, sport, Triathlon's, her company, goals, anything was up for discussion. It is so nice to meet someone with such passion for what she does and to share in their outlook on life. Her company is the sponsors the TriShave women's festival Triathlon's - my very first ever Triathlon. So it's quite ironic that I should be meeting her almost a year to the date of my first event and what will be my 3rd TriShave event in 2 weeks from now.

As we were chatting a gentleman passed us by and Larisa said "that's their coach, they must be here". I literally went all googly eyed like a high school girl. The last time I ever saw an Olympic swimmer in action was at the AIS many moons ago and I saw Alexander Popov. Now it's one thing to see them on television, but to actually see them in real life - is just something I find hard to put into words. But I will try.

As I gazed down I became totally breathless - Ian Thorpe and Geoff Huegill were poolside stretching. To be a swimmer and to see these guys in action was mesmerizing. I got choked up and felt privileged to be able to share, even if it was up in the grandstand in some of their training. Talk about flawless swimming - there was absolutely nothing I could even remotely critique them on. Not that I would because for me it was like being in the presence of royalty. For me as a mediocre swimmer, who they are and what they represent is everything you dreamed to be as a child growing up - mind you I am older than they are so was looking up to the "Mean Machine", but it's what they stand for. And now as an adult, seeing their come back is something so totally inspirational. I couldn't be prouder of the two of them for having the guts and drive to do what they are doing.

I had had the best morning - one that is etched in my brain with permanent marker FOREVER. Then yesterday I did another running PB. I am now well on my way to reaching my 21.1km distance. I ran 15.7km in 1hr 30mins and felt absolutely fantastic. I did a Forrest Gump and just kept running. Lucky Mum had said that it was okay to just keep running and see where the hour and a half took me and that she would pick me up. I felt so free, so alive not having to turnaround at a certain point. So I just kept running:
and finished with the best ever time on my Garmin:

The only way I knew to celebrate this wonderful occasion was to make the yummiest ever Pumpkin Scones thanks to a good friend Paul from PTC. His gorgeous little girls came to the pools last Saturday having prepared some yummy scones just for me. I am so lucky. Check them out, and they are easy peesy to make too.
Then in the mail I received the biggest surprise ever from Aimee at I Tri To Be Me. I got a Tri Cling and it is absolutely gorgeous. I have stuck it to my car window and just love it - thankyou.
Things have been really good on the Daily Mile front too. I am part of the Daily Mile team Blog group and my job along with others is to maintain and promote the Daily Mile blog as well as write articles, publish content to the site with the editor, continue the Daily Miler of the Week feature, find interesting ways to promote the blog and find guest bloggers. How cool. Everything I love to do. Can't wait to get started.

I have also been featured on on FB as the Blog of the day. Thankyou Patrick - that means alot. Patrick and I have been friends on this great blogger world since I pretty much started blogging last year in January. Thanks for making me blog of the day - jump on over to his blog - The Road [A Multi-Sport Blog] and see what he is up to.

But with all great things comes a few sad things too. Christchurch, New Zealand has been hit with another massive earthquake. Lives will never be the same in this community. Lives have been lost and many are missing. I am lucky that my brother Luis is safe and that my friend Lisa from Daily Mile whom I met only recently is safe too. My other brother and family live on the North Island and are far from the earthquake zone. You are all in my prayers and continually in my thoughts.

Please keep my Uncle in your thoughts as he is going through a rough crisis with his health. I will be going to see him tomorrow and know he would feel blessed to know that you are all sending him get well vibes.

And if you have any left - just a smidge, send some my way as my sinuses are driving me nuts.

Phew, now that was a post and a half.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's rampin' up.

Training that is. Back onto Week 1 of my 5th month of training and it is starting to get more intense. When I opened up Jodie's email yesterday I had a combination of fear, trepidation and excitement about what was in store for me. It's not that I don't think at this point in the game whether or not I will be able to do it but rather will I be able to give this month's worth of training the desired effort to do it justice. Obviously the more tired you get the less capable you feel however that being said, 4 months ago I didn't think I would be able to run 5km and now look where I have gotten to. So here's to smooshing self doubt into the ground.

Swim session on Saturday was fantastic. And it's funny because even though I have always felt competent as a swimmer I am now feeling like I can really hold my own in the water. The reason I say this is because we did a long set in the pool and after each set was done I was recovered to go give it my all again within 10-15 secs. Yes my breathing sounds loud like Darth Vader whilst I am swimming but it settles really quickly and I am able to breathe normally again without too much haste.

This is what I did:

300m warm up
600m drills
400m finger tip drag
Main set: 2 x 1100m

This main set consisted of 600m (15 secs rest)
400m (15 secs rest)
100m (1min rest)

I pulled up really well and still fighting fit for Sunday's long ride. This was challenging not because of the time spent in the saddle which happened to be 3hrs but rather the humidity was up in the 90's. From the moment I stepped foot outside my front door ducking and weaving from the little bat that seems to think my head has X marks the spot on it - I was covered in the sweat. I just couldn't seem to get the fluids in quick enough. The fun thing in the morning was that us girls got into a good pacing line - each in our aero bars and hammered it for a good stretch along our usual route. That would have made for an awesome photo. The bad thing was that a car full of Yobo's scared the crap out of me and for the first time in a while I was shaken. I usually try to stay tuned into what is going on around me but this time I wasn't and that's what happened. Lesson learnt. So with 81kms under the belt almost 2L of fluid and 2 gels plus the pre-bike ride breakfast I would say it was a good morning all round yesterday. I think I only lost 500gms for the morning.

So it is with extreme excitement I venture into this new month of training and see how much I can give, push, tolerate and maintain. What's not to love about that.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An eventfully long day.

This is the AWESOME tag I was greeted with opening up my DailyMile account. I have officially been branded and I love it. I shall wear this badge with honour and try to do the position justice.

Training yesterday was great - even though it's a recovery week I still managed to get alot done in my day. The bike ride felt good - I really tried to focus on good form and kept repeating my head what Eliza told me on Monday "use your hammies and quads, don't just push but pull up as well". So with that in mind for an hour and forty minutes that is what I did.

It definitely feels different and you know when you are doing it properly as I can all of a sudden feel my hammies and glutes start to work. It doesn't hurt it just makes it feel more powerful. You get propelled forward at a much faster rate with less exertion.

Then after riding 46km in that time frame I ran off the bike for 20mins. Felt good too, my legs felt fresh and were just rolling over nicely. Normally I get off and run like I have done a doody in my pants for a km or so but not yesterday. It finally just felt natural.

Then yesterday afternoon after picking up the kids from school we made our way to the Regatta Centre for the Club Race. I did not compete but I did volunteer - as a Paddler. Where else would I be but in the water. Totally unique being on the other side of the fence so to speak. I love feeding off everyone's pre race vibes but more so love seeing their faces when they have finished. Everyone looks tired but stoked that they have competed.

So too all of you who competed in the "Production Automotive Tune up Triathlon" - well done. The race was capped off with a yummy pizza dinner for all. I have never seen so much pizza get cleaned up the way it - we had some hungry triathletes.

Then this morning I headed off to the courts with Stephen and the kids for their lessons. I am so proud of them and glad the kids took after their father in their tennis genes. Check out these shots:

Wimbledon - here we come.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I swear I can't.

Just when I think things can't get any better - they do. I feel like I am living someone else's life, like all this good fortune belongs to someone else. The feeling is just so overwhelming.

Let me explain. Last night at track would have to have been one of my biggest highlights since starting training for my 70.3. Four months ago I was only running 2kms at any given time and running probably at a 6min/km pace if not slower and needing walk breaks. Fast forward those 4 mths and I am now running at my longest run - 14km and averaging on those long runs a 5:30min/km pace. But with all of this forward progress that 25min - 5km was still an elusive dream.

Well, let me tell you - last night I reached that 25min mark. Granted it was 25:18 which made it a 5:03 min/km but it was still in the 25min mark. I have only ever run a 5min/km pace once way back when - before I got injured and it was only for 3km and on a road. So to do this at track, on grass, whilst raining and to tackle mentally the thought of running 12.5 laps of a round oval was just so exciting. But I can't say I did this all on my own.

We all started out together - good for me as I paced myself of off some of the faster runners. But bad for me as well as they were doing a 3km TT. Those first 3km's were done at a 4:50min/km pace. It was about that time that Chris's words started to resonate in my head "start at a reasonable pace and progressively speed up". Well, did I do that "NO". I went at it like a bat out of hell and then had to try and stick it out.

It was at that point that each and everyone of my team mates one by one decided to run a lap with me. Some even ran two. I cannot begin to put into words how grateful I was for all their words of encouragement during those last 5 laps. I have never been a part of such support - when your swimming you really never hear anything. You have to gun it alone. But last night was a momentous moment for me - one I will never forget.

Then this morning I woke up to another surprise. I have been selected to represent Daily Mile as a 2011 Ambassador.
"Congratulations, you've been voted by the dailymile community to be a member of the 2011 dailymile team! We're so excited to welcome you, and even more excited to kick off a great year for dailymile! "

I have never been elected for anything let alone Ambassador. This is such an honour and one I hope I can give justice too. I will be made aware of my role in the next couple of days and look forward to the challenge. If I can inspire atleast one person to strive for something in which they thought was impossible then I will be one happy little Vegemite.

Life is a series of surprises.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Physio Update.

Well, today was a good day at physio apart from the usual - me writhing around in pain on the bed whilst Steve massages and gets my ITB nice and soft again. He said he can definitely see improvement and to continue doing what I am doing at home in terms of stretching and rolling the ITB.

I spoke to him about this tight fluid like feeling under the Patella and he said I have a little bit of inflammation happening there but not to worry. He is just going to keep me under close observation and manage it as we go. The beauty of my physiotherapist is that he is going through his Ironman training as I am going through my 70.3 training so we are constantly exchanging thoughts and pain stories. He has done Ironman many times over so it is nice to have someone with that kind of experience to throw my thoughts off of. He has such a calm and placid demeanour so nothing seems to phase him when I am babbling on the way I always do.

After all the painful stuff I got to relax with a heat pack on my leg and I found myself drifting off into a nana nap. I had the worst night's sleep last night - just couldn't get settled and then woke up about 11pm feeling nauseous. I was in and out of sleep till about 3 with that feeling and then it passed - not sure what that was but this morning my stomach feels okay, just a bit distended. I mean I can't be feeling too bad because I am cooking a delicious Vegetable and Osso Bucco soup for dinner. I added some Barley in there too for safe measures - after all it does contain eight essential amino acids - and eating whole grain Barley can regulate blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption compared to white or even whole-grain wheat. But I will have to wait to come home from track tonight before I can eat it.

As a result of last night's mystery illness I gave swim a miss this morning and thought best just to hydrate and rest and make the most of track tonight.

I want to give a shout out to a Blogger buddy Jen from Miles, Muscles and Mommyhood. She is truly a remarkable woman who has gone through such a transformation - what an awesome journey she has had. She is doing a Valentine's Day giveaway, and the winner comes away with this:
I have entered and so should you.
Whilst your at it - become a follower of her blog.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recovery week.

It's always nice to step back in your training program. And the one thing I notice is how refreshed I feel when I get out for a swim, bike, run. I have to be on the constant alert to slow down and make it just that - an easy aerobic, recovery session.

So yesterday at windtrainer session with TopNotch Performance and Health, my recovery week session entailed no run off the bike at the end. The session however, was no walk in the park but I do believe it is all starting to feel easier. I am no longer cringing and contorting my face in the efforts - I am now totally focused on maintaining a really steady cadence of between 94-96 during the efforts.

Session last night was:
  • 4 x 10min efforts at just above race pace.
  • 5 min recovery in between
  • And then whilst everyone ran off the bike I sat and spun.
I really focused on trying to use both quads and hammies whilst riding and making it an even revolution. And "By George, I think I got it". Mind you this morning my legs did tell me that I had found a new unworked muscle. Legs were slightly tight but otherwise no pain in my ITB or knee upon waking.

Then as I headed out for my run this morning on a cool, drizzly, overcast morning my left knee started to make me aware of it's presence. Not in a painful sort of way just a weird clickey kind of way. So I just continued on my way and thought if it starts to hurt I will stop - but it didn't. So with a pleasant morning for running I knocked out 10.16kms in 57 mins. I felt so good on this run and once again had to tell myself to slow down because it was meant to be an aerobic run.

I even made time to get a photo of the Clydesdale's just up the road - wished they were closer to the fence.
How did everyone fair during Valentines? I got spoilt. I am absolutely in love with the store DUSK. I want to own my own store just to always have an endless supply of these candles. Look at what I got for Valentines Day. Thankyou and love you Stephen.
The box didn't say Christmas on it though. If you could smell these candles you would know what I mean. Dusk describes this one as :


"Create all the romance of an evening in Vienna with the delicate scent of vanilla infused with cranberry. This wonderful combination will take you away to the historic streets of this wonderful city"

Check out their website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cobbitty Greendale - SAWEET.

Well not really, but it is definitely feeling easier. There was nothing in my head today that said - GO ON - GIVE UP. It was just all about doing this loop and nailing it from start to end. The two hills that normally challenge me the most were met with a fervent desire to get to the top and before I knew it I had done just that. Mind you, they still challenged me physically - I was up and out of the saddle and then sitting back down more times than I would like to count but IT STILL GOT DONE.

The last hill coming out of Werrombi is this long slow seemingly innocuous climb. It has almost had me at tears trying to get to the top the first couple of times I attempted it. The final part of the climb just kicks up for about 100m's and I could swear you go cross eyed trying to make it to the top after grinding away for what seems like forever. But this time I dug deep and squashed those mind game demons to bits. And before I knew it Cobbitty was done.

There had been a couple of flats along the way which got changed quite promptly and poor Renee took a fall. Her chain dropped out and before she new it she fell. Tally of war wounds - Bruises and Scratches. The one thing that came out unscathed - her Cannondale Slice - much to her delight. My gears were playing silly buggers and Lance and adjusted them just before the ride so I could atleast enjoy it.

Ruth another fellow cyclist tackled Cobbitty for the first time today and totally smashed it to bits. Her smile never left her face - GREAT JOB Ruth.

On the way back home I had to rush back - didn't realise the time and I had Mum at home. She was okay with me going for the ride this morning but I felt bad that I wasn't there when she woke up. Anyway, when I got home I had explained to Mum that my gears were playing up as I had had the cables changed a few days before and the tension had loosened. And being the ever supportive Mum that she is said "take it to the bike shop now, I will stay with the kids while you go". So I flew in and back without to much delay - got lunch on the way round and came back home.

I was unable to ride with the FlashPoints as the extension tubing seal was out and I had a slow leak - so because I didn't have the proper inner tubes to replace it should I flat I chose to not risk it. So off to my local hangout. I am so thankful for Panther Cycles - nothing is ever too much. Everytime I go in there I am greeted with a smile and prompt service - thanks guys.

Yesterday was just the best day - I got to meet up with the Sydney Daily Milers Jaydub, Andrew, Kirsten, Adrian, Kris, Rod, Jo, Kevin (popped in for quick Hello) Kunaal and Lisa from New Zealand who was on holidays here. We ran around Blackwattle Bay and over the Anzac Bridge and did a total of almost 5.5km. I have never run in the city and it is such a unique experience. Kirsten who was unable to run supplied us with a post run feed that was fit for a king - oh and queens as well. Check out the spread: I absolutely loved the water bottles and have kept two and put them in my cabinet - on display.
~Thankyou Kirsten~
Meeting up with everyone was so cool. So nice to finally put voices to images. It was such a surreal experience all round.

I also want to give a shout out to my husband. Stephen has decided to get back into Tennis after quite some time. He is a really good player and am so glad he has finally realised that his gift was going to waste. Proud of you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brace yourselves.

These are my new set of Flash Point 60's. I didn't think I could love my bike anymore - that was until I added these new babies to the mix. I was SO LUCKY to pick these up off my friend Elissa who has only just upgraded to a pair of ZIPP after a holiday to the States.

So things that I love (language used will be girly and really unprofessional):
  • The colour - they match perfectly with my Cannondale - Red, Black, Grey and White - these were made for my bike.
  • The spokes - totally bad ass - flat and silver and just look like they mean business.
  • The actual tyres are black and red.
  • My back tyre makes a cool clickey sound when you stop pedalling. I sound all pro like.
Fingers crossed the weather behaves tomorrow for my first ride with these gems. I am hoping it's not too windy as I think it may make it a tough ride and I will then have to put my other wheels back on.

I love my bike.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What a climb

As part of my application for DailyMile Ambassador I had to make a video showing why I loved DM so much and what I had gotten from it. My first video is one of me talking so I thought I won't post that one here but this second video show's just how far I have come since starting my weightloss and wellness journey back in mid 2009. So 18mths on and as I look back on this I can't help but feel a little proud of me.

I always used to think when I was a child that I was always going to be fit and healthy and that nothing was ever going to change that. Fast forward some years and a few rocky roads and you realise that life is made up of challenges and poignant moments in one's lives that make you sometimes question your ability to rise above them.

‎~Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.~

~Bernice Johnson Reagon~

When your in the thick of it it sometimes seem so overwhelming, like the forest closes in from every angle. But I have realised that in order to get through the forest you need to hack away one tree at a time, and eventually that small little clearing around you turns into an open field, with opportunities in abundance.

I now take every opportunity that is thrown my way with both hands and hang of for dear life. Life is great.

And before I forget I want to say that my running is coming along nicely. Between Tuesday's long run and my track session on Wednesday I ran a total of 23km. This seemed like such a distant dream when I first started running many months ago - but look where I am now. Too cool.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cole Classic finishers photo.


I tried to upload my photo with the time attached but it wouldn't do it so here the abridged version a la Barbie.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Busy, busy, busy.

Life has been so busy lately, not that I would have it any other way really - however, I have just been so flat chat. With the kids being back at school I thought time would be in abundance but those school hours just seem to fly by ever so quickly. I wish I could do a "Samantha" from Bewitched and wriggle my nose and hey presto the housework is complete.
But that is not to be.
So as I traipse through the house and do what needs to be done, I have also been contending with another huge surprise that came in the form of an email a few days ago. I am sure you are all aware that I log my training in a forum known as DailyMile for over a year now. Being on DM has given me the much needed motivation to continue with my training. When I am feeling down or have had a crappy session there is always someone on the other side giving me much needed works of encouragement.

So the huge surprise is that I got asked to apply as an Ambassador for DM for 2011. When I first received the email I was really quite shocked. There is nothing special about Barb, I just get up everyday and do what I love - LIVE LIFE. I believe in taking every opportunity that is given to me and running with it. Which is why I decided to apply for the position. Things come into your life for a reason - whether they be good or bad - there is a lesson to be learnt from each and every one.

So for the last couple of days I had been putting a video together trying to show what it is I had gone through over the last 2 years with my back illness and how far I had come. I didn't want it to come across as a sob story but rather a triumph. I look at how far I have come and what I have achieved and can't help but feel proud of myself - not in a love myself kind of way but rather I didn't let it beat me kind of way.

So with the video submitted it is now in the hands of everyone else on Daily Mile. Whatever the outcome, I will be happy. I will still continue to train, still continue to log my km's in and still continue to live life. I will still continue to be the best Mum I can be and show my kids that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself.

I have also made it into the 220Triathlon Australian Magazine as an age grouper story. When I submitted that piece a while ago after discussion with our Club President I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be even looked at - but hey - it did and how amazingly cool is that. I also have another article *fingers crossed* going in about our club, PTC and the lead-up to Port Macquarie IM and 70.3.

Life has been great and I really can't stop smiling.

"I will! I am! I can! I will actualize my dream. I will press ahead. I will settle down and see it through. I will solve the problems. I will pay the price. I will never walk away from my dream until I see my dream walk away: Alert! Alive! Achieved!"
Robert Schuller

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cole Classic - Race Report.

I did it, and what a totally awesome experience. One that I shall keep in the memory bank till the day I die. And to tell you the truth I don't even know what I was stressing about.
The day started out much like every other race morning - me trying to stomach breakfast. Bit hard to try and eat 3 Weetbix when your stomach feels like a bag of wriggly worms. After a few failed attempts I gave up and ate some toast with butter and Vegemite. That seemed to hit the spot and not make me feel queezy.

Sarah and I decided to make our way in together early and allow our husbands and kids to come in a bit later. Thank goodness for Sarah, I totally suck at city driving so she was my NavMan - and what a great job she did. Trying to find parking once we were in there was a totally different ball game altogether. Lucky we spotted one gentleman loaded up with grocery bags and we honed in on him and "voila", his spot became ours.

As we made our way to The Gatorade stand to meet Tim I could feel my nerves becoming more and more and I think I starting walking faster and faster too, cause I could feel myself inching ahead of Sarah and had to tell myself to slow down. As we found Tim, he kindly allowed us to leave our bags with him whilst we did our race as he manned the Gatorade station at the finishing line.

The walk to Shelley Beach from Manly Beach was nerve wracking. Sarah and I had joined the entourage to the starting line and it was interesting to see the many different faces and emotions plaguing each and everyone in such a different way. Looking out upon the ocean near the start line I started to get an overwhelming feeling of exactly what it was I was about to embark on.

We caught up with some familiar faces - Ruth and Louise at Shelley Beach had some chit chat and then it was game on. The starter gave us some instructions about the course but I couldn't hear a thing - not sure if was the loud chit chat from everyone around me or the fact that all I could hear was blah, blah, blah because I was so nervous. But before I knew it I was in the line near the front ready to go. As I looked to my right I saw another familiar face - one of the girls who I competed against in my first ever Sprint Tri. I wished Sarah all the best and said "should we lose sight of eachother, will meet you at the Gatorade stand" and with that we both gave eachother a knowing smile of GOODLUCK and the gun went off.

As I ran to the water and dove in the first thing I noticed was how clear the water was, I was now officially swimming with real life ocean fishies. Everytime I put my arm down and stroked under water there was a multitude of fish staring back at me wondering what it was I was doing. The ocean wasn't that choppy coming into the first bouy so it was easy to spot the mass of swimmers to my right as I made my way to it and made the sharp right. By that stage the lead pack of 4-5 girls I could just make out in the distance and I and 2 other girls seemed to keep good pace with eachother.

Making my way into the second bouy we had to swim out past the breakers which were being caused by rocks at the tip of Shelley Beach. It felt odd to be swimming and riding the swell up and down - a totally unique experience and quite a challenging one too. From the sharp left turn on the second bouy I realised the girl in front of me had obviously done open water swimming before - here navigational skills were awesome and I would have been silly not to take advantage of it - so I hung onto her feet and followed the mass of bubbles. There was one other lady doing the same thing behind me as I could feel her tapping my toes every so often.

At about the 1km mark I swallowed a mouthful of salt water - I was coughing and spluttering and feeling slightly spewy and had to do some breastroke to regain my composure - I think I kicked someone at that point - SORRY. It was probably at the next bouy I started to pass some swimmers from the previous wave - and I knew that I was more than half way there. As I lifted my head to spot a bouy I heard "Hi Barb". I was like "What the" who could possibly know me in the middle of the ocean. It was Ruth - she later told me that the TriSuit was hard to miss in the ocean....too funny. I said Hi Ruth we smiled and then continued to swim.

As I kept swimming I noticed that keeping track of my navigation girl was getting harder and harder as we became more entrenched in the previous wave - I was now beginning to run into swimmers and their legs - so I was starting to have to lift my head more often to keep track of her purple cap in amongst the sea of orange caps. It was at that point I noticed a tell tale sting on my right upper arm. I quickly wiped my arm and new I had been stung by a blue bottle and I then got really scared. I didn't really want to swim through a mass of these buggers so I just crossed my fingers and wished for the best.

The way back in was fun - I could start to feel the waves pulling me into shore. The most fun was looking behind and trying to catch a wave back in. Kind of felt like I was a little kid again. I made sure I continued to swim until I could feel the sand with my fingertips and I then got straight up and ran for the finish line.
I really wanted to find the lady with the purple cap to thank her but I lost her in the sea of faces at the end. Unfortunately my family were unable to see me finish, the poor things couldn't find a parking and they all looked so visibly distressed when they all turned up later. I think though they were happy to see I had finished and was okay.

At the Gatorade stand I caught back up with Sarah, Kristy, Joey, Tim, Lance, Ruth, Louise and Andrew. Everyone was happy with all their efforts. I couldn't stop smiling.

Then this morning my smile has been replaced by the hugest grin. Check this out:

I came 5th in my age group. Not bad for my first Ocean Swim.

Can't wait to do it again. I am so happy - actually I think the word I am looking for is ECSTATIC.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm melting.

Oh lord, this heat is just too much. Six consecutive days of 38+ degrees celsius days with nights only relenting to the mid 20's has made training extremely difficult. Not just because it's hard to keep up with the fluids whilst your training but also because it makes for extreme fatigue as you don't sleep well at night - even with the A/C on at night you still wake up feeling physically spent.

Training although tough has still continued - just at earlier hours to try and beat the impending heat. Yesterday morning I took off for a ride with Sarah and before too long we had those nice beads of sweat on the top lip. She was testing out her new Cannondale Slice - that bike is awesome. It looks so aerodynamic and light - and NO I wasn't getting any ideas about a new purchase although it did fleetingly cross my mind for a brief second or two. How could I betray my gorgeous CAAD9 5 - never!

We ended up riding 59.95km in 2hrs and 20mins - not bad for a morning's work and I then followed it up with a nice easy 1km swim. Just felt like I needed to ease up the ITB - which I have still be religiously stretching and rolling it out. I have also been incorporating a bit of rubber ball therapy on my glutes - sitting and rolling on a ball till the tension releases is what can I say
"excruciating" but I must admit afterwards it feels great.

This morning was another bike ride due to the fact that my Sunday ride was not going to happen because I have the Cole Classic 2km Ocean Swim. I ended up riding about 87km in just over 3hrs (actual ride time), but actually spent longer out on the road because the group I was riding with got 4 flats. There is alot of debris from truck tyres on the road so I guess its unavoidable really. During this ride I drank so much and still managed to lose 1kg in sweat - by the time I got back to my car at 1050am it was already 35 degrees celsius - almost felt like you were standing in front of an oven with it's door open.

I had such a great ride this morning - as usual alot of chatting happens but I definitely was riding at a faster pace - it's always challenging when guys ride up the front - they are just naturally faster and stronger. So really good to see that I could atleast keep up. There were 3 of us girls and we all did good. All the guys were absolute gentlemen as always - we have the best guys in our club.

Then this afternoon it was back in the pool for a TopNotch Swim Session. That pool was so hot - I think Chris said it was 32 degrees celsius - blah. But a great session was had nonetheless, although it would have been better if I didn't cramp. Everytime I pushed off the wall both calves would tighten up and my toes would go all whacked out - so I spent the last 2 100's using the pullbouy to rest them.

So tomorrow is my first Open Water swim. I am nervous, excited, scared - a whole mixture of emotions but know that this is what I want to do, so I will tackle it the way I have most things - head on. My wave goes off at 11:15am and am hoping that the Ocean is not too choppy. So fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enough Mother Nature.

What's with this weather. Australia, namely Queensland and Victoria has been battered with the worst weather ever recorded. After all the flooding Queensland has now been hit with Cyclone Yasi. A Category 5 cyclone ripped through Northern Queensland with wind speeds of close to 300km/hr causing widespread damage to many towns (Mission Beach, Tully, Innisfail, Cardwell) through the night. Many people moved to safe evacuation centres or moved away when news arose of the impending arrival of Cyclone Yasi - whilst others bunkered down in their homes riding out the ferocious winds and rain. The nerves, stress, emotional trauma these poor people have gone through overnight will take I am sure months to try and overcome. My heart goes out to them all. Poor Banana plantation and Sugar Cane owners have had their crops decimated overnight. It will be years before they can get it up and running again and their projected 2011 income has gone.

Planning around this impending disaster was absolutely amazing. Anna Bligh with all other authorities have been on the ball since all of these problems started in Queensland and I take my hat off to them.

To date there has been no report of lives lost - thank goodness but there has been a report of birth in a Cairns evacuation centre and guess what she will not be called YASI. I always think it's amazing how in such times of devastation there is always a rainbow to brighten up the situation.

Cyclone Yasi has now been downgraded to a Category 2 with winds of 125km+/hr and is now about 400km inland - still a dangerous storm so everyone still has all of Queensland in their prayers especially with more flooding on the way due to all the rains.

Move south here in NSW and we have had nothing but complete heatwave for the last 3 days with temps being above 38 degrees celsius with horrendous humidity. At night it is hard to sleep as the temps have sat in the mid 20's inside the house. I have packed in the kids lunches a barrage of frozen drink bottles, poppers, freezer packs so their lunches stay cool, however they still come home very tired, hot and bothered from a day of school in this heatwave.

Training has been interesting in this heat - both windtrainer and track were cancelled due to the intense heat thank goodness. So I have missed out on a couple of sessions but I have managed to get back into my routine with the pool now that the kids are back at school. Feeling good in the water - especially in this heat. My local pool is now closed from 9am-3pm for the whole month of Feb due to school swim carnivals so I now have to travel to another pool and swim indoors - blah as their outdoor pool is booked for carnivals as well - annoying, don't they know there are a bunch of us who are training for something huge.

Anyway, today is my day off and my aim is to do absolutely nothing, nada, zilch apart from a massage. I have been given strict orders from friends that I am not to run, swim, bike, or do housework for all of today and I promise I won't. I will however do my stretches and roll out my ITB - I don't have a foam roller but I do have a rolling pin and it is working a treat.

I shall enjoy today because tomorrow it's back on.

"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure
is the most perfect refreshment"

Jane Austen 1775-1817

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Manageable issues

Pain seems to be a regular thing I have noticed since starting to train for this 70.3. I must admit I am kind of used to it and slightly look forward to some form of pain whilst out training, however that being said I am also much more in tune with my body to know when things feel out of the norm. And since last Mondays Windtrainer strength set I have felt some form of well not pain per say, but a knowing of my left knee cap.

Needless to say I was looking forward to my physio appointment and went in with my fingers and toes crossed. I told him what I was feeling and he said "ok, jump on the table, is it tender here?". No sooner did he barely press on the outer part of my left knee I jumped off the table. Holy bejessus, I have never felt anything so painful in my life apart from childbirth. And as he continued to press and massage up my leg the pain only intensified. I was giggling and grimacing in pain and grabbing hold of his forearm asking/no begging for just 5 secs relief. He then asked me to lie on my right side and he proceeded to dig around my left hip and glute. I was grabbing hold of the wall in front of me and just praying for the time to go by swiftly. When it was all said and done the best part followed - a nice heat pack on my leg - ahhhhh heaven.

So basically my left ITB is tight, tight, tight. Not uncommon but still an issue which needs to be dealt with. So I need to stretch lots and need to roll this baby out. Which I will do religiously as this will not be something that will sideline me from my goal/dream. I also need to not to do any strength sets on my bike and stay away from hills for the next week. I was actually looking forward to getting busy on the bike but not if it's going to make things worse. Good thing is though I can still train and for that I am SO greatful.

So this morning I headed out for my run - 1hr 20mins was on the cards and there was nothing which was going to stop me from doing this. I really look forward to running now, these longer time frames no longer intimidate - if anything I can see myself getting closer and closer to my goal.

I headed out at 5:30am this morning to be what was going to be the hottest day ever. Out west was getting set to reach a high of 42 degrees celsius and there was no way I was going to even be caught in it at 9am. At 5:30 it was still dark and there was a coolness to the air that was just beckoning to get out into it but by 6:20 you could see a glimpse of sun behind the low foggy clouds and it was hot. I was sweating profusely so just kept sipping on my Gatorade which I had in my bottles on the FuelBelt.

My left leg and knee were hurting a little bit but I think it was just as a result of having had everything manipulated the day before at physio - so when I got home I stretched and rolled that ITB, then iced the knee and took an anti-inflammatory. I am happy to say that I ran my furthest ever - 14km in 1hr20mins. I am officially 2/3rds my way there - I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
They have also released the course for the 70.3 in May and now I am scared. Scared because now instead of deviating up onto Davis Cres from Matthew Flinders I now have to ride to the very top - that hill is huge. Here is the swim course, the bike course, and run course. This ITB had better settle I have some hill training to get cracking on.

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