Monday, December 31, 2012

Obligatory End of Year Blog...........

So This Is Christmas.....

and after a, shall we say, 'interesting' catch up with family members on both mine and Gazza's side, I am left singing John Lennon's song and reflecting on an extremely jam-packed roller coaster of a year.

And what have you done.....

In short:
  • Left my job of 16 years and took 4 months off to heal
  • Cheered for Gazza at Ironman
  • Said goodbye to a friend forever and one for now
  • Started a new job
  • Gave up 'V' drinks
  • Ate too much trifle
  • Laughed til I cried
  • Lost a shit load of weight
  • Stuck to the Program
  • Took time out in Fiji
  • Made a heap of new friends
  • Saw my kid go off to war and return safely
Sparky, My Kid and Me at the airport.
That's relief on my face!

Another year over.....

I didn't get as much competing done as I would have liked and fell short of my goal of entering an event each month of the year. But upon reflection, it would have deterred from the goal of Ironman training AND it would have hit the hip pocket hard. It's so costly putting two people into events. It has been a year since Coach and I have been officially working together and in that short time I have made some significant gains. Swimming is so much stronger, comfortable and I exit the water feeling strong. Bike, Well, that has been huge. Hitting the hills of the National Park with the Crew has added a whole new gear for me on the bike and with the weight loss also I can really feel some positive gains. Run.... well we are still working on that one. I would call it my weakest sport of the three for sure but I don't ever really get enough time to build up my run fitness before the itb flares up. However, we (Coach and I) continue to work on, strengthen, change and strategize ways of getting me around the itb issue. Latest effort is a trip to the Podiatrist (awesome guy) who has given me some new orthotics. So I am breaking them in and taking the opportunity to ease back into the running. With 4 months left to go it's going to be close. But if the experts continue to remain optimistic than who am I to doubt them. I just gotta keep chipping away at it and stay positive.

And a new one just begun.....

So I am another year older, 47 puts me smack bang in the middle of my age group. But looking forward to hopefully being competitive in my class. I am looking forward to lots of fun and hard work with the Crew and Coach and focusing on the run now that we have a run squad organised. Already feeling some good gains there too. Coach has given me a couple of pointers already on my form. Perhaps he is being polite at this stage with just a couple of adjustments but at least he didn't have to pull me up and do a complete re-build on the form. I'm looking forward to the long miles ahead on the bike with the girls of the Crew. What a great bunch. I feel really comfortable and it certainly takes the sting out of the legs when you can have a laugh during the ride.

The ? here though is whether to sign up for Ironman Melbourne in March 2014. Talking with Coach the other day while getting treatment on that pesky itb he asked me what the future was going to look like. Never one for looking too far ahead; I could only see myself doing much of the same as now as training is now a lifestyle for us. Sure I have goals and dreams outside of Ironman, but who knows how long I have to play, so I will keep going while the body, heart and mind are still keen. Coach seemed to think I should keep doing Ironman. Wow, was that a boost to hear him say that. The thought of having his guidance and continuing the gains I have made so far was morale boosting to say the least. And hell, what else am I going to spend my money on?
With the base miles behind us, the program proper starts soon. Hold on team, the roller coaster just gained speed.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Finally Got One Away

It was HOT last night. Big Gazza and I couldn't stand it anymore sitting in a stuffy house. As it the 1st of December and 1st day of summer we pulled on the cozzies and headed for the beach. 8pm, still 35 degress and storm clouds were threatening action overhead, but nothing eventuated. Just a distant rumble of thunder but eh all talk, no action. I love nights like these. Takes me back to when I was a kid. We lived close to where I am today. Having never really moved far from my childhood stomping ground I feel like I have a memory down every street. My Dood (family name for Dad) and I used to sit on our front veranda watching the clouds gathering hoping like crazy that it would turn into an electrical storm. I wonder now if it was his way of making sure I was never scared of storms. But anyway, us 3 kids would climb all over him laughing and enjoying the show. He in his undies that he claimed were the same as swimmers, us still with our cozzies on after a full day of summer sun at the beach (not a dollop of sunscreen to be seen all day). A crack of thunder would have us applauding and cheering and then counting, hoping for a craized streak of lightening to follow close behind and tell us how close the storm was.
Bundeena in the National Park 1974
- pre Sunscreen being invented I'm sure. 
Usually electrical storms are on the tail of a hot sticky, humid day and yesterday was one of those days. I had been looking forward to the Saturday Crew Ride all week and when I woke up at 4.30am and the air was still and thick and the covers had been kicked off the bed during the night, I knew the weather man had it right and it was going to be Scorch-io.

I rolled up just before 6am got the usual kit together and with time in hand managed to get a few warm up stretches done. The word from Coach on the program was "let's see if we can get you gals round the loop today." I remember back in about July talking to Coach and he said that by November 100-110km rides should be the 'Norm' each weekend and I knew we were a fair bit behind that goal due in part to the itb (grrrr) and due to a few other issues as being sick, recovery after Port, taking new girls out on the ride or life in general getting in the way. Megzy had said at running earlier in the week that she really wanted to get the loop done at least once before Christmas. I was keen too. I was also keen to have every box ticked on my program this week. The last few weeks had been easier and rest weeks. This week felt like getting back into it and it was feeling good.

I decided at the beginning of the week on a strategy for taking notice of my fatigue levels (See previous blog). I need to take more responsibility/notice of my fatigue and communicate to Coach how I am travelling. The strategy I decided on was to change a few columns in my diary. Calories Burnt became Sleep, HR Zone became Fatigue, Times exercising became Attitude/Head and I added a column for Body. So upon waking I have been measuring (rating scale of 0-10) how well I slept, how fatigued I feel, where my head/attitude towards doing the planned set is and how the body is coping with the load. I have been repeating the process after work just prior to the pm sessions. It's an interesting experiment and worthwhile I think so far. So with easing back into full work load and my rating scale all reading positives and a tick in each box of my program I was heading into our long ride with a pumped attitude and a quiet determination to 'get it done!'

The girls rolled out with Megzy and I on the front. Seems to be the standard now as we snake along the coast road in flying formation. Close behind is Macca (a great gal who I will call Macca as she reminds me so much of another friend of mine who has a big laugh and great Aussie girl humour), next to her is Lil Dog (no need for an anonymous nickname to hide the innocent required there), Kel who came out for a short ride as she is doing I.M Busselton in Western Australia next weekend and another girl who has just joined the Crew and so hasn't got a nickname yet!!! but soon I'm sure.

The trip up to Bald Hill was an easy one; uneventful but for a flat tyre which Kel dutifully changed for Lil Dog and I helped by adding pit crew sound effects as Kel worked. Within a couple of minutes (impressive) we were on our way again. At the top of the steep climb, which is actually starting to get easier (hmm could I be getting stronger?) we lost 3 of the team as they turned and headed for home leaving Macca, Megzy and Sammi to carry on North. The ride heads down into the National Park and as the steamy rainforest wrapped its stickiness around us I relaxed into the curves being careful to stay away from the slippery white lines and mossy edges of the road. At the bottom it's a long 7km grind up to Garie. Our usual turn around BUT NOT TODAY! Still feeling keen we punched on and in time-trial formation we rode the undulating course to Audley. I haven't been there since I was about 9 I reckon. A great day with my Grandma who was visiting from Scotland. Not having grandparents in Aus meant I never knew how special it is to have an extended family. I am so jealous of Kez who gets to have Grandood cuddles and time with Grandmoom doing art & craft together.

Audley is just beautiful, a forest laddened valley with an easy lazy river at the base with a road that cuts across at water level to create the weir and if you're really keen you can hire a boat and punt for hours. But not today. The girls had warned me about a steep climb out of Audley and in typical Sammi style I built it up in my head til it was Everest I was about to ascend. We set our gears to easy and our legs to churn and hit the climb. I soon felt I had to overtake Megzy and Macca. I'm not keen on sitting behind people on a hill, I need wobble room. So I rounded them when it was safe and set my own pace. Too easy! It was long and yeah the grade was dialled up but not undoable and as we hit the top and headed along the busy highway heading for home I was quietly doing the leaping high-5s in my head.

Dood, Bro, Sis and Me (Standing) Audley 1973
The highway was awesome. Long clean straights with room for two abreast. Megzy and I held the front while Macca ducked in behind us and we set a cracking pace of 30-35km with the wind at our backs. We stopped at a garage station and took quick respite in the airconditioning. A Coke now in the biddon for extra fuel (so glad I don't drink Coke usually cause I could feel the pick-me-up straight away) and we were now descending back into the forest leaving the bustle and noise of the highway behind us and replacing it with bell birds song and our laughter.

All ride I had been worrying about this particular section. One more long climb out of the National Park to go. I had it in my head that this section of the ride was going to be hard and I would struggle physically here. I knew it would be about the 85km mark and the legs would be growing weary. True to form I started to over worry the issue and suddenly the legs died again. The conversation had been lively and had distracted me from any tiredness in the legs. But now I had fallen silent and being still at first wheel I started to listen to the legs telling me they were suffering. I started to sing again. Wasn't really working. When I finally said "geez I think my legs are dead." The other girls declared their hands and said they were suffering too. Wow that made me feel better. I thought it was just me, but nope they were with me. ok I'm normal, this is normal and This Too Shall Pass! I started singing and chatting again and sure enough it passed. Also helped that I downed a full caffeine Dextro Gel.

Home straight and still in front wheel I guided the girls over the seven hills to home. The girls thought it was funny that I knew how many hills there were but I have this ride mentally broken down into bite size chewable chunks. We stopped where we had begun six hours earlier tired but content in our achievement. I looked down to discover that my Garmin had let me down and had only recorded 6.4kms! WTF! Ha that was the toughest 6.4kms I have ever ridden.

The Loop! Conquered finally. With one away, the cherry has been popped. And I am left wanting more!

Coach's comment on the program this week "Why stop at the loop once?!"


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stress, Fatigue and Hormones

Last night was my scheduled treatment time for physio and 1:1 time with Coach. It's always an amazing opportunity. An hour of uninterrupted time with Coach as he checks the ol' bod' is still in one piece, aligned and the itbs are playing the game (which they are phew!) It is also time where Coach checks in on me in other ways. "How are you Sammi?" is not just about are you sore, are the itbs ok, what hurts. His question more relates to how are you handling the work load, how's work, are you stressed, are you sleeping, what's the diet going like, are you tired etc. It's the mental check-in as well as the body. His approach is wonderfully holistic.

Previously, I had brushed over his inquiries with a wave of the hand and a 'Yep I'm cool." as a standard response. I have learnt however, that this doesn't help him learn about me and how much work load he can give me before me and/or the body can't take any more. Countless hours laying on the physio table with him gently prodding and probing for answers to his questions has finally melted the ice maiden and now when I walk in the room and he asks "How are you Sammi?" with a concerned and genuine look on his face, finds me sometimes jabbering on about crap that I would never normally discuss with anyone, except maybe Gazza.

One of the main things I am discovering is that I find it hard to recognise fatigue. Weird I suppose. I figure if you're tired then sleep. However, I am learning that if you are fatigued then it is like a snowball rolling down a hill effect I reckon. It's like doing a hard session and then hitting the showers and bed. You wake up in the morning after a solid nights sleep and expect that during the night your body has recovered and is ready to go again fresh, recovered, stronger and keen for more of the same. WRONG!!!!! It's more like the body has not fully recovered and a little layer of fatigue has stuck itself to the outside of the snowball. Each session adds another layer of fatigue and there is never enough sleep in 8 hours to shake off the layers. Eventually my snowball hits the bottom of the hill and smashes into smithereens. Usually after a race I find or after about 6 weeks of the program. The problem is the smash in reality is me laying in bed for a week unable to find the motivation to get up and do the program/work/sessions.

What should happen is that I recognise that there are layers gathering on my snowball, the hill is getting steeper and the snowball is gathering speed. I then need to act and find ways to scrape off the layers, slow the speed and adjust the incline of the hill. I got to say I really haven't found the answer to how yet. I am trying though and with regular check-ins with Coach and communicating honestly about how I (or rather the snowball) is travelling is crucial.

But now imagine that my snowball which is travelling along at a, let's say cracking pace, as I get to the end of a big 4 week training cycle and has to travel through a blizzard and then gets hit by an avalanche. Yep, let's add a good load of outside factors and internal factors to the mix. Good old stress and hormones. Stress for me is having my kid away serving in Afghanistan, having my girlfriend living with us (moved out now though) and work. Previously a cruizy individual without a care in the world and could forget totally that work even existed when the weekends came round, now I find myself getting stressed quicker. Remnants of my previous job and the bullying etc that went on. (But that's a previous blog) The point is that I still haven't healed completely. After all it has only been 6 months. I should give myself a break, and I do. It's just hard for me to recognise when the stress is coming on and because I internalise it no-one sees what's happening on the inside. To all, I am in control, calm under fire and happy go lucky. On the inside the blizzard is raging and the snowball is reaching break neck speed.

Now let's add a great big dollop of hormones. Yeah I'm female and that sux when it comes to the swinging moods and hormones that flush through the system each month or so. At 47 you would think they would quit their fussing and go pick on some other poor soul. But nope, I still find that there are times across the month where, I just wanna kick the poor dog across the yard and then crawl up in a tiny ball and hide from the world and then eat the fridge out. Sometimes there are just never enough Tim Tams to make it go away. And after discussions with Coach I am learning that there are other hormones that are associated with fatigue, neural overload, muscular stress etc that are also in the mix.

The snowball is now reaching Warp 6......(insert Scotty quote "She canny take anymore Captain!")........As I plummet headlong into oblivion I realise that this week I have a healthy (or rather unhealthy) dose of all 3 factors. Yep, I got the hormones, stress and fatigue all mixing up in one big cauldron of steaming crappola. Way to go Sammi!


Give myself a break. Yep, easier said than done. Sleep-ins, program on hold, do what I have to as far as sessions are concerned. Try and eat healthy avoiding comfort food. (Epic fail on the avoidance strategy). TALK TO COACH!!!! - Working on that one.

Tonight is an open water swim with Coach and the Crew. I will roll up for that. Saturday is 100kms on the bike, yep I will roll up for that. Sunday is a club team race, yep I wont let the team down and I'll show.... Monday is rest and then the week will start again. I will pick up my shit covered proverbial snow sled and trudge the long walk back up the hill to jump on the luge ride again. Hoping that I can find strategies to lessen the incline, recognise the snow that I am gathering along the way and put the brake on when I see I am gathering too much speed.

Wish me luck.... oh and if you are an experienced snowball rider and have found an answer...feel free to share with the Rookie. Enjoy the Ride!!!!

This blog is dedicated to Megzy - whose snowball just hit the wall.. It happens to the best of us.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Checking the Rear View Mirror

Every now and then I find it beneficial and very satisfying to take a look in the rear view mirror of my life. It's a good way of taking stock, seeing just how far I have come and appreciating what I have achieved. It is also a way of staying grounded. Remembering that once it was all I could do to muster a run to the corner of my street. That riding a bike was something that I did in my childhood with a basket on the front of my bike and spoki-doks making my wheels make a happy tune. Swimming was with a bubble on my back, totally humiliated in Primary school.

My parents aren't sporty. They don't even go for evening walks. The thought of sweating is insane and only happens while you are at work. Not that mum worked. She stayed at home and took care of us kids while dad brought home the earnings and handed over her housekeeping money on a Thursday night when he got home from the pub. We loved when he came home from the pub. We would be sitting on the floor eating our fish and chips and he would come in with a packet of beer nuts for us to share. It was a typical Aussie household, 3 bedroom house, white picket fence, 3 kids and a dog scenario. Hobbies were horses for the girls and football for my brother. Mum and Dad did the dutiful drive us everywhere job. But never participated. 

So sporting endeavours would have been supported if I had have chosen to do running or netball or something other than ride my pony. But it was never role modelled. I have never seen my dad run.

Where the joy of triathlon came from I am not sure. Finding the pleasure of training and being active and being a part of competition is foreign to my family but it is something that I really love. For me it's all about seizing life by the throat and running like hell! And Triathlon is just one of the ways I can validate myself and provide to the judge (whomever that may be?) the evidence that yep, I grabbed every opportunity in life to be the best of my ability and gave it a bloody good crack!

So here is my rear view mirror shot of the moment.

3 x running photos taken over the course of the 7 or so years I have been doing triathlon with a goal of improving my overall health, adopting a healthy active lifestyle, eating healthy and moving ever increasingly towards a plant based diet. (But that's another blog at another time :)

Left - 70+kgs. I had stopped weighing myself. Pinkies triathlon 6 years ago. Trying to finish 3kms and struggling big time in the heat. I realised at this point that just running, swimming and biking occasionally was not the end of it. Other things had to change too. Diet, attitude, training.

Middle - 65kgs. Port Mac 70.3. 2 years ago. I was training but not consistently. Sugar, V drinks, chocolate and the whole "I train therefore I can eat what ever I like" mentality still strong. I did my run in 2hrs and 40mins. I walked some due to the ITB issue. But mostly I walked because I wasn't fit enough to run the entire distance.

Right - 59.3kgs. Last weeks Port Mac 70.3. Done in 2hrs 15mins. Ran the whole way except to walk the aid stations. Could have been faster if not for the blister on the arch of my foot. But most importantly is recognising that so much has changed for the better. My diet, my attitude, consistency in my approach and training.  

There has been a constant need for adjustment, attention to detail, commitment and reaching a realisation that being fit and healthy is so important and integral to me leading a happy and fulfilling life and I believe that those people who I love and have in my life are better for it as well.
I am soooooo less grumpy lol.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Gathering

Finally snotty is packed and feeling like crapolla crawled into the passenger seat and promptly went back to sleep. Woke up, yawned, read a little, then slept some more. Got woken up by Gazza saying we had arrived at what feels now like our second home. Port Macquarie.

On the otherside of that hill the fear has stilled.

We headed for our accommodation. Smack bang in the middle of the action. Great at the time, walking to transition, restaurants etc not so good at 4am when the volunteers were setting up road barriers and the race director was warming up the P.A. I woke up, opened one eye and guaged how I was feeling. No excuses, I'm well enough to play.

Bike check done I headed for the rendezvous point and there is Coach with the Crew. All chatting excitedly, doing last minute checks and admiring the latest matching earrings and nail decorations in team racing stripes. Yep, we are a deadly serious team! not. I love the relaxed air and camaraderie of the Crew. There are no over inflated egos here. And if there were I think their balloon would be popped pretty quickly. A few last wise words from the big guy (not racing this time due to illness) and we headed for the start. A short walk and then we found ourselves standing on the edge of the water ready to enter. Very little time for a warm up swim today. We are funnelled in and I lose sight of the girls.

Gun time and it's time to rock 'n roll. Hit out hard, found a set of feet to jump on to and rode the wave. Tried to jump across to the next set of feet when I could. Came out of the water feeling good. Could I have gone harder. Yep, but the run is always the unknown and so somewhere I always hold back. 4th in my age group. Let's hit the bike.

Out on the road ready to mount. And here he is larger than life screaming my name. No megaphone required. Roaring for the crowd to hear my name. I mounted and Coach's energy propelled me into the 1st lap with gusto.

Not far down the road and Kel passed me. I started to go with her and caught myself. 'Ride your own race' I thought and put my head down so that I could let her go. Over the hills and out on to the straights, I dug in hard. Our T.T sessions over the last weeks really paid off as it felt familiar and the legs remembered what to do and got to work.

And there it was! Matthew Flinders Drive hill. My nemesis. My dread, my pain, my fear, looming ahead of me as I rounded the corner. So many times I have dismounted and pushed my bike up this hill. I kept reminding myself that this was a chance to give it a go so that by Ironman I would not have the fear in my head. Visualising before the race for me came down to, 'will I make it up the hill or not?' Will I fall off in front of the crowds that always line the hill encouraging those who take on the hill and roaring approval as they crest it and for others, like me who opt for the safer and less humiliating push version, the crowd matches equally with words of encouragement and enthusiasm.

But for me, fear comes from several dark places.... Fear of failure, fear of being singled out in a crowd, fear of letting my team and Coach down, fear of embarrassing myself. Combine all those fears to one spill on a hill and you have the sum of all my fears. It must be put to rest! I hit the bottom of the hill and didn't focus on a run up, but rather, moving smoothly into the 'granny gear' and finding the 'dig deep' button. I started to work, a pinch, a moment of doubt, a reassuring 'you can do it' from the crowd. 'Ease your grip on the bars' from a single knowing deep voice from the crowd and obeying the voice I focused on legs rather than my hands.

I spun up the hill. Twice! Yep the second lap was a ground hog moment.

Out on the run and ok, here we go! This time I spotted Roberto just ahead of me. Part of me wanted to keep him in my sights and I wanted to run with my training buddy (the easier option). But again the little voice in my head said whoa! I knew I couldn't match Kel's speed and the same applied here. I had to run my own race and besides, my itb was giving off warning shots. Damn it! there it was again. ok, now I'm worried. 2kms in and it is telling me it's not happy through a painful nagging. Pop a panadol and focus on the form.

And round the next corner is Coach on his bike. GO SAMMI! watch the form, run tall, don't get caught up in the mental games, dig deep! GO SAMMI!!!!!!! Yep Coach, I got it. BUT, in a moment of lost focus I made a fatal rookie mistake. Yep, I poured water over myself and wet shoes plus orthodics = blister. A blister as big as a 50c piece on the arch of my left foot. Nice! Now it's 12kms to run. I stop and grab some Vaseline and try to run without limping. It's smarting bad. I pass Coach and I think he saw the look. 'Keep tall Sammi' he yells and I focus on form and watching the dolphins in the cool river we are running alongside to distract me from the pain at each step.

ok, ouch! Time to pick a box. I start visualising. ok, the box is small enough to hold a blister in. Tight, red, small, now put the pain in it and put a lid on it. Clamp it down tight. Pick something to clamp it down with. ok, found it. That big guy up in front of me running smoothly. He looks like he could be heavy enough to keep the lid down until the end. I watch his legs striding and I fall into a hypnotic rhythm behind him and we run to the finish line.

I lose sight of the big guy and the lid flies off. But it's ok, the race is done and ice cream heals everything including blisters......for now anyway.

High 5s from Coach. Catch up with the Crew and all are home safe and sound and still smiling. What an amazing day. Sadly though Gazza and Baby Bear had to pull out. But The Onion Man and Roberto are home and happy.

Shower, lunch and climb aboard, it's a 5 hour ride home. Gazza at the wheel, medal swinging from the rear view mirror and I am one very happy Sammi.

Top 10~! P.R in all 3 disciplines. Goal achieved.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Snotty isn't even packed yet............

Got the call last night. Ocean swim.

My first thought was 'you beauty, I need to get some salt water flowing through the pipes.' Gross but true. Nothing like a dose of salt water to clear our the Eustachian tubes. Rolled up beach side and the Crew were there minus Coach and Megzy. Both sick as Mangy Dogs... It's been a huge year for Coach. Looks like they will pull out of the fun at Port Mac this weekend. Maybe a good thing to bench them both and hopefully they have some quiet, relaxing time together.

In the meantime we hit the water and there were some big rollers heading out. 3 circuits round the boats and we were done and feeling pretty relaxed and confident about the weekend ahead. Bring it on!

This week also held some reassurances as far as diet is concerned. I headed to Sydney and navigated my way through the throng and found a highly recommended dietitian, Rebecca Hay. She was tucked in a little concrete room with no windows and a splash of colour with framed jerseys signed by sporting identities and tucked way in the back was a picture of Rebecca with her Forster Ironman medal swinging from her neck.

We set about dissecting my diet hour by hour. On the while she was happy with the balance of carbs, fat and protein. Could use some extra carbs in the arvo on days that I train heavy. But otherwise all good. Race nutrition however, she felt I was a bit light on when it came to carbs in. An extra Dextro bar an hour. Wholly green Batman! That's a lot to add to my day. Getting it down (and for that matter keeping it down) might prove tricky. We agreed as it was race week that I wouldn't change anything at this late hour. But to give it some thought. We also talked about hydration and fluid intake...hmmmm always a tricky one as I think I live my life slightly de-hydrated. So I have a fluid chart to complete over the next couple of weeks. Will be interesting to see the results.

So now I'm off to pack. It's 9pm Friday night. We leave at 6am tomorrow morning and I have a snotty nose.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Crew Talk with Coach

Tuesday afternoon found me racing out the door from work and heading to the harbour for the first open water swim of the season. We are usually in the water on the first weekend in October but it has been freezing in the water. So with the weather warming up slowly, when I got the call from Coach to meet the gang and don the wetsuits I was keen to get it done.

I pulled on the wettie and dived in. It was, shall we say, refreshing! I immediately felt comfortable and found that all the swim training over the winter had paid off. M biggest indicator was being able to match another girl in the water that had previously been able to beat me. Also, later that night I got a text message from Coach saying that my swim had improved HEAPS! woohooo

For the next two days I was in Sydney for work sitting in an air conditioned room with a bunch of strangers. Combined with an ear that filled with water and wouldn't drain... it was inevitable but yep I woke on Thursday morning with a dry sore throat and a snotty nose. By the end of the day I had the body shakes and by the time I got home I was given my dinner and put to bed by Gazza.

Saturday morning saw me up at 4.30am!!!! and eating down codrals in a hope that I would make it through the days training session. Coach had called a team meeting to start at 5.45am and I arrived a little late and a lot of fluster. I knocked on the door and entered the house. The crew were all gathered already perched on arms of chairs and floor. I settled in between two of the girls and waited for the Oracle to speak. As Coach had been in New Zealand the past couple of weeks I (and the crew) were keen for him to share some of the insights he had gained while working as the physio for the elite ultra triathletes. He had rubbed shoulders with the best Coaches in the sport. Bob Mcgee to name just one.

Coach spoke about digging deep. How even the best athletes have to dig deep and have dark moments in their race. But he also said that even the athletes who aren't as gifted perhaps genetically can still work hard and dig deeper in order to win (or in my case finish ;) It's about hearing the negative thoughts, recognising that things can and do go wrong out there, but not owning the negativity, just acknowledge it and let it pass.

I felt I could relate to what he was saying. There have certainly been times in my life where I have felt so terribly trampled and beaten and just wanted to lay down and let the blackness engulf me. But from somewhere, somewhere from within comes the belief in myself that I can 'bloody well walk out of here!' and I do!

So we mounted up and headed out. It was going to be a shorter session than the last few weeks. Just one TT. So with the wind behind us we headed North and upwards. I did a PR on Bald Hill. Even feeling like crap I managed a PR. Very happy. We reached the beginning of the TT session and regrouped. When we started the session one of the girls jumped to the front and maintained a lead with me in second, Elyse third and Megzy in 4th. The elastic between Katrina and I stretched and closed, but never really snapped. As we reached the turn around point I realised that the boys had not been anywhere along the road. But anyway, I turned and opened up. Downhill and wind assisted it was going to be a fast return. And it was! As I went over the bridge with the flattened cat (Peeweww!) I spotted Coach. The boys must have ridden further and come up behind us. I was head down and cranking 47kms per hour. Sweet!

By the time I finished I had left 3 and 4 way behind and had pulled up behind 1. I was very happy with the legs. But, the snotty nose and sore throat were giving me such a hard time. I was feeling a bit wobbly. For the rest of the ride I sat in the group quietly wishing I was home. Digging deep just to make it home.

8 sleeps to Port...... 8 sleeps to get better and get ready.

Later Coach sent this.......

You are better than you believe you are.
You can achieve more than you think you can.
Believe --> Achieve

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2 Weeks to go..........

And with that thought you would think I was hot to trot. Training on fire ready for Port Macquarie 70.3. But no! It seems staying curled up in bed, in the dark, warm and dry has taken priority over dedication, consistency and focus on goals. Having said that though. When I did crawl out from under my rock this week I managed to perform quite well.

Getting a wind trainer session, a swim in during the week was good. But the weekend and the warm sun came out and so did Sammi. Friday was an absolute right off weather wise. Squalling winds and torrential rain made the weekend look less than promising. However, by 6pm we saw the back of the front that moved off shore and the roads start to dry.

Coach is away this week in New Zealand. He is mixing it up with the best of the best at a training camp for triathlete legends. He is physio to the stars and also gets to train with them and then pick the coach's brains at night. What a life! And yet he still has time for me. A text comes in just as I am about to crawl back under my rock. "All ready for the weekend Sammi?" I feel like texting back "Hells No!" But instead it is "OK Coach!" Let's get it done Sammi. Suck it up Princess and get up at 4.30am, pick up Roberto and Big Gazza and join the Crew for a big day out on the bike. Oh yeah and pack your race nutrition and your runners.

A cold start and at 20kms we are grappling with the steepest part of the day. A long hard climb up out of the Illawarra and the beginning of the plateau that forms the escarpment around the place I call home. At the very top of the climb we head left and onto the old highway. Once the main route between Sydney and Wollongong it has long since been superseded by the bypass and now only the locals and a bunch of brightly coloured lycra wearing maniacs claim it as their own.

We muster at the start of the road and the rules of engagement are explained. 3 x 10km out and backs. Hard and uphill out, fast and furious back. Re-muster at the end before a short break and do it again. And we are off. It is hard. The road is really coarse gravel glued together with a bit of concrete. The verge is even coarser but occasionally the base improves and there is a small smooth reprieve. I hit out at a moderate pace on the first out. Not sure what I am in for I err on the side of caution and hold a steady pace without pushing for fear of a blow up come round 3 or worse still heading home. There are still 7 hills to climb to get home. an amazing downhill run in the aero bars with the wind at your back. Average pace 47kms per hour. Max speed 65.7 yoikes! 2nd and 3rd loops are given in to slowing the pace and allowing Coach's finance a free pull along as she was suffering a bit. But back again was a free for all and before long I found each time I dropped her easily and pretty soon she couldn't see me for dust. Very HAPPY!

An easy paced ride home, I took my turn at the front and beat into the ever present Southerly wind. Cruised over the 7 hills and finished the ride downing my last GU ready for a 20min run off. The jelly legs were there but I managed to run through it, and almost get taken out my a cyclist on the shared bike track. More my fault than his as I had my head down and had strayed onto his side of the track. His eyes (and mine) were as big as saucers as we each swerved to avoid a collision. Luckily Rob was there to grab me and haul me to one side. We coasted back tired, relieved and extremely happy with getting it done and finishing strong.

BUT WHY DO I NEED A SHOVE OUT FROM UNDER MY ROCK EACH TIME!!!!!! I would have thought by now it would be just ingrained, instinct, easy and effortless. Yeah I'm no fool. I know we all have days like that.

Sunday I met up with Roberto and his Missus. And with Gazza in tow we headed out for an easy 80min run. A nice seaside path with lots to look at and distract us from the pain. The legs BTW have been holding strong with no ITB issues at all. Awesome to hope that 2 weeks out from a race the legs have sorted themselves out. The run was easy with Gazza needing to be reminded that it is an 'easy' pace. I know when the Ethiopian runners go out for their easy runs they are almost walking and they chat and laugh the whole way. Easy means easy. Hard means hard! and there should be a demonstrable difference between the two. But Gazza gets in the groove, finds his pace and takes off. And just like Mister Squiggle I need to take him by the hand and ease him back down to Earth. Or scream EASE at him lol.

At one point during the run I found myself at the front of our foursome. We hit the one and only hill on the course and before I knew it I was powering up with little effort. Gaz is now telling me to ease the pace. I didn't think I would ever hear that. He said after he got puffed and checked the pace, here I was striking up the hill harder than ever. Could it be that I am finding my Groove.


Perhaps reading a few books lately that have been so inspirational has had a positive effect on me as I felt for the first time like I was loving this crazy thing called running.

I would totally recommend anyone read:
  1. Chrissie Wellington's - A Life Without Limits
  2. Scot Jurek's - Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
  3. Chris McDougall's - Born to Run

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary or is that Birthday

Years ago, 19 years to be exact. I turned 28 and I got married. Big Gazza took the leap, whisked me off to Jamberoo for a rendezvous that would last 19 years and counting. We have had some amazing adventures during that time........and the adventures haven't stopped and we certainly aren't slowing down any time soon. While we have each other, our health and the sun shining above us we are packing it in.

Happy 19th Anniversary

Our Anniversary was spent with a sleep-in which is a novelty for us. Coffee in bed and then we headed out together for a ride North. We stopped and enjoyed the view for a while took a photo. Stopping is another novelty before heading home again. To top it off I decided to throw in a hill climb. Hill 60. It's been on my 'to do' list for a while.

Hill 60, Port Kembla from half way up the hill

It was a hard climb, but not undo-able. I just went steady and consistently without blowing up. I noted on Strava when I uploaded that I had come in 2nd with an average speed of 9.3 and a HR average of 153. The girl who owns the QOM got 10.7 but her heart rate was 197bpm. Yoikes she must have been close to blowing up!

So a good week overall on the program with a tick in every box, finishing the week strong and with the Pinkies Triathlon to bring it home with flying colours (check out my race debrief in the Races Page).

47 and living life a hundred miles an hour

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back in the Game

Well, I had a lot to make for this weekend. After a shocker out on the road last Saturday that saw me making the decision to head home after only 15kms of what was supposed to be a 100km ride. I was more than ever, determined to get it right this weekend.

At the 15km mark, last week, I turned to Big Gazza and announced I was pulling over. I had said that my legs were not working as we rode along. There was no power in them. It felt heavy and while not painful I was having trouble with each and every turn of the pedal. Before we headed out on the road that morning I was feeling positive and looking forward to notching up my first tonne of the season. So as I sat on the side of the road feeling like I had lead sinkers in my tri-shoes I tried to take an honest account of my situation. Yep, honestly, I can't do this ride today. So, with my tail between my legs and a sinking heart we headed for home. I was comforted by the fact that even on the way home I couldn't get going.

I rested for the remainder of the weekend and then started a new week with renewed determination to get it right. I ticked the boxes daily. Making sure to put the effort in when Coach told me to, rest and stretch religiously and get a decent night sleep.

So, when Saturday morning arrived and I was awake before the alarm and feeling fresh and raring to go, I knew I was mentally up for the challenge. I just hoped like crazy that the legs were feeling the vibe too.

I headed out with The Onion Man and Big Gazza and we headed North in the direction of the Sea Cliff Bridge and the illusive 100. By the time we passed the point where I had turned the week before (only 15kms) I knew already I had this thing sorted.

Even better was when I finished the 100 and had claimed victory over the ride and my legs, I left Big Gazza laying on the floor stretching and proclaiming he was done, I donned the runners, grabbed a hat and headed out down the road again for an 'easy' 20min run. The legs felt like jelly. You know that weird wobbly 'will me legs collapse under me' feeling. Yup that was me. After a few walk/run intervals I managed to gain control and finish the run with an unbroken 5minutes.

And to top off a great weekend, I headed out this morning with Big Gazza for a 70min run. We headed for a part of town we hadn't run along for ages and the new view took the mind off the worry that the legs (ITBs) wouldn't hold. I shouldn't have worried. The legs held. A strategy Coach and I are trying is a 20min spin on the wind.trainer before heading out along with the usual warm up drills. This seemed to work a treat as my lower back and hips seemed to move freer than when I just up and run cold. I was continually bolstered throughout the run. And with 20mins still left to run Gaz pulled out with a niggling lower back issue. And while he walked home I continued on. While usually I would have crumpled having to carry on alone, instead I found myself in the zone and running comfortably. I rounded the final corner and came in strong and and punching the air with flaming high 5s. woop woop!

The weekend was rounded out by a second run in the afternoon. I met up with a friend and ran again in a place that I haven't run through for a long time. The friend was a distraction too and we chatted happily as we jogged a long at a snail's pace. My friend has lost a lot of fitness over the last couple of weeks and piled on a heap of weight. Already a big girl the extra kilos has not helped. I found myself jogging on ahead and then doubling back when she stopped to walk and find her breath. Once again the body, legs, heart and head held together and now as I sit here I feel like an Ironman again. The first time in a very long time. I feel bolstered by a great weekend of training.

Of course tomorrow may be a different matter, but today is all that matters!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sunrise Over Sea

I have had a great week so far. Got to keep that rolling on through to the weekend. But we are up to Wednesday night and so far so good. Energy is good. I have ticked all of the program boxes and sleeping well at night and the diet has been pretty darn good except for a small chocolate stop occasionally.

This mornings program said RUN - 50min - keep this nice and relaxed throughout short stops

I was awake before the alarm which is great and then dozed til the alarm went off. A bit hard to get up after that but I was so admit this week was going to be good that I shoved myself out of bed and dragged on my running gear. Stepping outside the day was warming up. A light dew on the ground and on windshields, and the grey on night was lifting to expose a cloudless blue sky.

I decided to head for the beach and run along the shore line. It was a beautiful day and it made the run all the more easier (along with the doof doof music booming in my ears from the ipod). I ran past the sea pool and along the beach, watching the surf break on the shore and the early morning surfers sitting in the morning salute to the sun position balanced on their boards.

Happily the body held it together again and I managed to get home without the ITB ruining my day, my mood and my bank balance. Avoiding a physio session this week has its advantages and disadvantages.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Re-set, Re-focus, Reap the Re-wards!

This week I will:

  • Stick to a clean diet (keep it clean, cals correct and timed across the day);
  • Drink the right amount of water to stay hydrated;
  • Have only one coffee in the morning each day;
  • Sleep deeply and wake rested;
  • Stick to the program Coach sets me and not miss one session;
  • Put my program first over other happenings in my week;
  • Use my Garmin to be accountable and give Coach the stats;
  • Stretch and roll and massage daily; and
  • Get up in the mornings and JFDI.......

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This week in review.......... Well, it's been a week of highs, lows, changes and frustrations. But at the end of the day I need to remember that I am always moving forward.

I'm looking forward to a new week with new highs, lows, changes and hopefully less frustrations. I'll get back to you shortly.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Husky Half Marathon - team event race review

You know the old one step forward, two steps backward.........well, I feel like I am living just that right now.

So rolling into this weekends race I had had some real gains with my swimming and bike. And even my run was starting to get some forward movement with me running about 6 runs with no ITB pain and starting to ramp up both in distance, time and intervals. I usually have to run a ratio of 4min run and 1 min walk so that I can reset the form and get going again in order to prevent the ITB flaring up.

I had also purchased a good pair of Nike runners and was feeling pretty darned good just quietly.

The gang rolled in to Huskisson ........ I took the pic

The Fitness Frenz

I thought I did all of the right things. Did my stretches, clams, warm up run. Set my pace light and easy and ran lightly. The first 2-3 kms felt great. The legs, heart, mental attitude was great. There was absolutely no pressure on this race as I was teaming up with a friend who would run a 1.20ish minute 10ks. So I cruised along enjoying the sun, sea and mild southerly breeze.

At about the 5km mark I started to feel it. That all too common tightening across the knee/leg. Here it comes. great! I stopped and walked. Ran and walked for another couple of kms. And then it was time to give in and walk/run til I got home. The knee was sore though the usual burning hadn't started yet.

Still, focusing on the positive here... Even with all of the walking I came in under the hour for 10kms. Very happy, but no I could have done so much better, frustrating.

Straight after the race and after I watched Big Gazza cross the finish line I headed back North and on to the workshop Coach had planned for the Crew. I had an 1:45min drive on my own to the workshop. So by the time I got there I was pretty low after the run. Coach met me at the door, saw the look and when I told him he swooped me up and onto the slab (as the workshop was at the physio rooms) before I knew it I had about 15 needles along my ITB.
The workshop was great, informative and interactive. I loved the discussion and being able to hear other athlete's ideas and training information. Later we hit the pool for a quick session with the focus on sighting, single arm drills and pool buoy, paddles and bands. Yeah.....
It was a great day really except for one lousy backward step.
This morning I was back on the slab with a leg and butt looking like a porcupine. Coach and I talked about the injury and my 'thing'. We all have our thing..... be it ITB, tight hammies, locked swimmers shoulder. It seems that mine is a propensity to tight ITBs. I knew this already. The plan is to make fortnightly visits to see Coach and get the ITB worked on. (My hip pocket just winced!)
Sooooo back to the drawing board....Coach says its a matter on trial and push, push, push the body to work out what it can handle and then back it off when we reach the threshold between work and recovery. I need to listen and be in tune with my body, coping, sleeping, stresses and start noting more accurately what is happening to the ol bod so that I can start to predict when we are pushing it to far.
Unfortunately, I think this weekend's run is out! buh. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Good Dollop of Bad Medicine

I have long since given up on Motivation. (even though I just used the word in a previous blog doh!)In the past people have said to me..."How do you find the motivation to do Ironman and the training?" I don't think it is motivation that gets me up every morning, there isn't a little pink pill I take called Motivation and it certainly doesn't run in my veins freely.

Nah there is no plastic motivation here! It's just a pure "Just Fucking Do It" approach (it's my blog and I can swear if I want to, swear if I want tooooo....) and a strong desire to achieve something great in my life. To pack as much in as I can, to have a life that was/is truly inspirational, to look back and say wow I had a great ride and to be validated by my family and loved ones as an Awesome Chick who 'sucked the marrow out of life' - R.Williams, Dead Poet Society.

But of late I have been wondering where it? (this intangible thing) has gone. Did my desire dry up like an old sponge that once dripped with that much drive and energy that I could bottle it. Maybe I was motivated after all and now the motivation has gone. Hand me the needle! Or maybe I am tired and now that I have ticked the Ironman box, the desire, dream, hunger has faded to just a soft growl.

For the last couple of weeks I have laid in bed each morning and negotiated with myself regarding whether I should get up and train or roll over and snuggle into the covers of a nice warm bed for just a couple of extra ZZZZZs. Once the alarm goes off I dutifully get up and go to work and feel guilty and cranky at myself if I miss the session.

Truth moment....

I am the only one that can solve this problem and I know it. There is no secret Motivational Pill I can take to fix what ails me. There is no tap to turn on in order to JFDI. There is no program, no Coach, no training buddy or alarm screaming me to action. It is up to me to get up and get going again. Frustratingly heavy mind games ensue.

Negative talk...........

I'm too old; all the other girls (my age) stay home in bed (or in the words of Baby Sylvester..."all the other Pussycaths get to stay in bed!"); why do another Ironman just stick to the sprints that way you can have a life as well; there will always be tomorrow so do it then; if I sleep in today and skip the ride I can make up that lost run by doing two tomorrow; WTF! It's going to hurt, it's cold, I'm lonely, it's wet, wah wah waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh......... Ugly ain't it?

ok then, well why do I want to do another Ironman? Wasn't I content with ticking that box? I guess not. Once bitten by the Ironman Bug it takes a hold of you and is like a systemic disease. It enters your body, mind and life, shapes and changes you till you know nothing else but train, eat, recover, sleep, work, physio/massage then train some more. If you want to talk to me...grab your runners and run with me. If you want quality time? foreplay rub this glute.

Yep, the drive is still there it's just hidden under a fucking poor excuse somewhere.

I just need to focus on what matters, my inspiration.....................


Oh there you are!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Being, Becoming and Belonging to the Crew

The Crew? What? Who are they? They are 'A' type personalities that come in many shapes and sizes. Oh yeah and ages. Mostly sub 35. With one exception. Yep you guessed it.....Me!

I met Coach when I was being coached by another guy. He was/is an amazing athlete, person, all round nice guy. Struck down by a car while out on a training/recovery ride with his Dad. He has been left with a brain injury and that was last June. I like to think of Coach often and send him my thoughts and hopes that he will one day wake up again and be able to at least hold his baby boy. He got me to Ironman. He never gave up on me, never judged, always believed in me, and my memory of him that I look back on with a smile and a tear over.. was on my final lap of the run at Ironman. He was running beside me, beer in one hand, punching the air with the other, totally drunk and high on life shouting....'You're gonna be an Ironman Sammi, keep smiling, keep running'. As his curls bounced about his head. He was right!

Throughout my training leading up to Ironman I worked with the team physio and together they communicated about my progress (like I was a real athlete or something). This tall skinny dude with a deep voice, huge grin and contagious laugh worked on me tirelessly and again never judged, never questioned my motivations and was always positive and shared his experiences and volumes of knowledge with me as I lay there for hours on the slab with needles poking out of both ITBs.

When we all realised that Coach was fighting the battle of his life we also realised with sadness that we were alone. We? As in the athletes that he coached. We all still wear his colours when we ride. But the team has scattered to the wind and most go at it alone now. I guess that Coach gave them enough information that they could go on alone. But for me I was still so totally reliant on him I needed the accountability, the wisdom, the direction and everything else that comes with having a coach in your corner.

So, I asked the team physio if he would coach me. A Ballzy move I have to say. He had a stable of fine athletes that he was looking after. The Crew! These guys and girls are winners. And then there's me. When I asked I said it in a cheeky moment, laughing so that if he rejected me I could fob it off as a joke and he would never know that I was serious and would be left alone. BUT!!!!! When I asked he responded with 'Yup, I'll Coach you.' Are you serious? My head and heart did a jumping high 5!.

Yeah I'll coach you he said. Are you sure? I mean I am hardly a winner. I am an average age grouper and well past my prime with not much room for massive improvement as far as I am a late starter, no athletic background to speak of other than horse riding, rock climbing and sailing. But we had worked together for over a year and had a great relationship that was comfortable and easy. He responded with 'You have the right attitude. I can work with you.'            Sweet............

So Coach and I have been in this nutsy relationship now since December 2011. He is such a huge part of my life now. Sunday nights is program night. He emails me my program for the week and I dutifully read over it and ask any questions before setting off into my week. Texts, emails constantly across the week as needed and just a Howdy occasionally to check in with me. Physio sessions continue every so often as my ITBs have a tendency to tighten up over a few weeks and no amount of rolling and self massage can get deep enough. And then there are training days where we catch up either for a swim or of late, a ride. It is so amazing to have this guy around. Yeah I have some Coach love flying here...but it is out of respect for the time and attention he gives me. Yeah I pay the $$$$ to have him do the job. But he ain't the type of dude to take the money, shell out a copy of a generic program and then ignore me or leave me hanging.

Coach disappeared overseas for a while to work with the Aussie Olympic Triathlon team in prep for London, but every Sunday night my program rolled in. While he was gone I worked hard on a number of aspects of my training, diet and life in general. So that when he returned and I went to see him he noticed. He saw the weight loss (6.5kgs who wouldn't) but he saw the training and he saw the attitude was even more focused and positive.

Saturday long rides with the girls in the Crew have earned me some respect and a feeling that he knows I am deadly serious about the training and about Ironman 2013. While May next year is miles away, I have a feeling it will be here before we know it. There is work to do. And the motivation (even though its cold windy and yucky most days still) is up and ready to go. It is an amazing feeling being a part of a stable of athletes and holding my own. I belong in the Crew!