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?!"