Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Early Morning Goal Setting.............

Well, its the last day of the year. And it's the last early morning too. Can't sleep due to a tight back from Saturdays long ride, I think. I'm such a Rookie. So, its as good a time as any to write up my goals for 2014. And here they are:

2014 Goals - Going in Hard This Year

01. Clean up the diet.

  • To get off the sugar, once and for all
  • Stay on a healthy, clean and realistic (athlete's diet)
  • Write it up - it helps me stay on track, focus, plan and prep better
02. Stay true to the Program.
  • Find some consistency
  • Get up in the mornings and just Fucking DO IT!
  • Finish work and just Fucking DO IT!
  • Keep writing up the program each Sunday and set my mind right
  • Keep recording in my diary, it keeps me focused
03. Talk more to Coach~Push in.
  • I am one of 12 athletes in his stable, stand out from the crowd
  • Be honest, truthful, clear, thoughtful, consistent
  • Try my hardest at each session
04. Strength Work.
  • Set a program for strength training (overall)
  • Go to the gym regularly 3-4 times per week
  • Do more core work
  • Stretch religiously
  • Always do the 1/4 squats and Clams before a set
 05. Racing.
  • Olympic World Championship qualifiers for 2015
  • Ironman 2015 ~ either, Melbourne 2016 or Busselton 2015
  • Elite Energy series - Olympic 2014
  • Push harder, no excuses of it's just for fun, you know what you have to do!
06. Iliotibial Band.
  • That bastard goes again and we are hacking the bone!
  • All goals fall aside til after the op
  • Keep doing strength work, clams and squats
  • Plan an op in the winter if it continues to niggle throughout the summer
07. Mind and Attitude.
  • Stay focused by staying true to the goals
  • Remember to have fun
  • Rest and recover when needed
  • Make it a lifestyle choice, an obsession rather than a chore~you chose it, remember!
  • Enjoy racing - be serious about racing and be competitive 
  • No more i-pad in the mornings
08. Weight.
  • Get to race weight and Fucking stay there!
  • No more self sabotage
  • See myself beyond a figure on a scale
  • Don't make excuses for my actions and choices
  • Be consistent, organised and prepared
09. Swim
  • Keep the nippers off your heels and become a hunter
  • Do the swim exercises religiously - fit it in!
  • Find a way to keep swimming through winter - Kiama is open again
10. Bike
  • Ride the hills, hills, hills
  • Push harder during races
  • Catch up to where you left off
  • Ride with the boys more
11. Run
  • Work hard, if it blows we will cut it
  • Do more flat work, drills and intervals
  • Do more trail work for strength
  • Get back to Wednesday morning runs
And now I'm off to bed.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013, hello huge training weekend........

So as the year draws to a close blah blah blah........

It has been an interesting year. Ironman number 2, tick. Seems so long ago now. A cold winter with hard sessions and too many roll overs. Too much weight packed back on and a wonderful holiday with friends and Gazza in Canada/Hawaii. A loss of focus lead to a runaway triathlete. Vertigo meant a bench seat for 10 weeks and the itb continued to be its cranky ol self, though the grumblings seemed less frequent. Time marches on and distance seems to have made a difference, there is a coldness now that has settled and I am content. Many new friends and faces to challenge me going forward. Some nipping at my heels, some I need to chase down, exciting and all keeping me honest and focused. 

With the last weekend of the year came a huge opportunity for a massive training weekend. Coach talked me into joining the girls for a ride. I was worried as I had only been doing the 2 hour spin sessions he had set me for 10 weeks due to the Vertigo. He said do 90kms and turn back on my own, while the rest of the girls did 'The Loop' 110kms. We headed out and the legs were good. I made it up Bald hill (1km @ 14%). The pace was comfortable and when I reached the turn around point for me, I decided to continue on. I was worried Coach would be cranky, but I felt strong and more importantly, my head, for the first time in months, was in the right place. I knew it would be good for me, my attitude, my confidence and the list goes on, to enjoy the girls company and do The Loop. And I did. We came home comfortably and safely, the fat lady started singing about 5kms out and I was very happy. Ready to go again. Look out 2014.

The next day was an open water swim. A huge crowd had gathered when Gazza and I rolled in. Some huge names in the mix too. I opted for an in-harbour warm up, while Skip, Bangers and Lil Dog went out side the harbour into huge surf. My left shoulder felt tired after some big sets in the pool during the week and I wanted to have a happy session. So we warmed up and then set into the swim. It's a very inspiring feeling being in this group. It makes you want to achieve more and lift your game.

Me, on the left and the rest of the AP.10 Crew - good times!
After the swim we headed North to Audley. Having ridden through here only the day before, it was nice to stop and set up a picnic under the trees. But first it was a run. Well, for me, it was a forced march. I set off but I could feel the itb was cranky, and I had pushed it doing the extra kms on the bike. So I erred on the side of caution (something I am going to have to stop doing in 2014) and walked with the Doctor. 9.5kms later and a hearty conversation it was time to relax, enjoy a moment with the Crew and reflect. It's been a good year. Not all that I had hoped for, but a Good Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

And Racing.............

Canberra was always going to be a team event. When Roberto and The Onion Man announced they were heading down and invited me along, I was there of course with my buds. Big Gazza in tow for the run, I signed up. I was anticipating a swim/bike for me and run for hubby. In the end my mate Skip rose to the occasion for us as the vertigo took hold and I couldn't ride. And step up she did. After a 150km ride just the day before, she did another 90 for us. What a champion! The Onion Man finally managed to finish a race after a series of unfortunate DNFs due to stomach issues (including I.M in May this year) it has been heart wrenching watching him pull out after vomiting continuously and at I.M ending up in an Ambo. So when I watched him cross the line at the end, there were whoops of joy from me and tears from his girl, Ness.

My swim was ok. A head full of negative had been pushed aside the moment my toe hit the murky, brownish green algae filled, fresh water slime that is Lake Burley Griffin. Treading water for 10minutes warming up and waiting for my start eased the stress and I finally donned my 'work' hat, or so I thought. Hooter sounded and we were off. Being part of a team means two different types of scenarios. Teams of average guys and gals who can't for some reason do the whole race, e.g like us, or they aren't up to training and can only manage sections of the race. While others are crack guns and the team has been put together with competitors who are fast in their respective section. So I wasn't surprised when the two guys next to me had left me in their wake within metres of the start. I hit out hard for a while and then settled in to the grind of a 1.9km swim whilst sighting off the Carillion for the first turning buoy.

If it weren't for the icky water and the worry of swallowing some it and the pain in my lower back from my Huub wetsuit being so buoyant making my lower back over extend, I think I really would have enjoyed the swim. Checking out the sights of hot air balloons over head and Parliament House in front of me, once again I allowed myself to disappear into my thoughts instead of staying focused. grrrr. I think enough is enough, using the excuse that 'it is just a fun event'. With the Crew all doing extremely well in their respective races at the moment, it is definitely time I pull my head in, step up to the mark and have a decent crack at a race!
A romantic picture (not mine) of the Carillion - reality is Murky brown sludge to swim in
I was pleased with my run through transition though. My back was screaming by the time I pulled out of the water and when I hit the 600-700 metre run to where Skip was waiting patiently, I was very determined to run the entire length. And I did, over taking a lot of team swimmers as I ran. Woohoo. I ran to Skip who was shouting my name. We did the timing chip exchange and she belted off into the distance. Done, I slowly walked back to where Gazza had been waiting to cheer me on. I was pleasantly surprised that there were still team swimmers coming out of the water. yeah!
Big Gazza, Me, Roberto and The Onion Man
In the end, our team finished 10th in the mixed teams. The Onion Man finished. Roberto too, but lame due to a hip flexor problem which he refuses to get treatment on, he is so tight with his money! And even though AP.10 had an athlete finish 2nd place overall, I think the winner on the day to me was Lil Dog! What an amazing champion she is. She pushed herself to the limit, beat my time in the swim, had a great bike ride and then in the run, found another gear and smashed one of our other team mates. Skip and I were whooping and shouting and cheering her on, but honestly I don't think she heard us at all. She was so focused on the job. Skip and I sent Coach updates on her progress and then at the end she ended up in the recovery tent, totally spent. Yep, I think I can learn a lesson or two from L.Dog. She is amazing!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Of Podiums and P.Bs............

And it's only the beginning of the tri season and already the AP.10 crew are pulling on their team shirts and climbing up the podium stairs. Some crew members are runners while others do triathlons, so 'we' are seen at lots of different sporting arenas. Including my own husband representing the team in Canada earlier in October.

It's hard to put words around how I am feeling about this. Don't get me wrong. I am so proud and ecstatic about my family (cause that's what we are!) achieving and reaching their goals. Just yesterday one of our own was belting out his first Ironman and we were all cheering him on from across the other side of the continent. I feel honoured to be part of the Crew and as the 2nd longest standing athlete in the family I feel a special glow, as I have been able to welcome and see them from the start til now and have witnessed first hand their progress and development.

But, and there is a but, possibly more a butt! But yep, there is a but. I feel.......not intimidated, as we are each competing against ourselves and I am a lot older than most of the Crew so there is no way I would be competing against them. But I guess I feel the pressure to perform. The pressure to perform.....hmm. What does that mean?

Everyone is doing so well, that the moment I finally step out and decide to actually race, there will be an added pressure. I have no doubt that everyone in the Crew would embrace me where ever and what ever my result gave me. It is the pressure that I give myself that is the problem. (hence the BUTT- head) Not wanting to disappoint, wanting to be good enough, be respected, wanting to make Coach proud, wanting to make myself proud, wanting to do well, wanting to beat the shit out of my competitors. Hey, I never said I wasn't competitive!

These are all normal thoughts, I'm sure. I have talked to others who feel the same as me, not wanting to let Coach down and to represent the AP.10 Crew well. I just have to channel these thoughts and energy into my training. I can't dwell on the fact that I may never get a P.B or climb a podium. But I can be true! True to the program, true to myself and Coach. Honest in my delivery, and stick to my goal.

Get fit and strong. Not race again until I know I can do the job and feel my itb will hold me. Having said that though, I am racing this weekend as part of a team. I think Coach is going to ride for us and Gazza will run. No pressure to walk on water at all Sammi. arghhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Please remain seated...........

until the ride comes to a complete stop before disembarking.
We thank you for your cooperation.

I went out for a brief ride yesterday on the road in my street and a run this morning for 8kms. The world has finally stopped spinning from the Vertigo. Still a bit spinny at times when I'm lying in bed, but at least I can look over my shoulder, look down and up again and not have to hold on to something solid to stop me from careening off kilter. What a horrible few weeks it has been. Still, I have not had any nausea with it so that is at least one good thing. In the meantime, the treadmill has been getting a good work out and so has the wind trainer. Pool swims and ocean swims continue to be ok. However, I got held up at work last Thursday night and missed the harbour swim. Nuts! I hate how work gets in the way of my Pro Triathlete career......

Hopefully, life can return to normal again now and I can get moving forward. Other good news is the knee/ITB continues to stay steady and is not giving me any burning or crankiness. I have clammed my little heart out, but I know this is something I just need to keep on going with. Such is life.

Time to book in for treatment session this week and maybe catch up with Coach about reviewing my strength program. Time for a change up and hopefully more positive improvements.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Swims, gyms, spins and granola wins!

While the world continues to spin under my feet, I have been trying to keep going and stay focused. Bloody hard I have to say. BUT! Today's harbour swim proved to be good for the mind, body and soul. A little laughter and fun amongst friends always helps and while I was worried I would swim in circles, I actually managed a half way decent swim and was able to hang on to Roberto's feet a couple of times. The spinning sensations were hardly noticeable in the water and I had a chunk of blu-tak in my affected ear so may be that helped too.

After we got home I had a crack at making my own granola mix. Wow what a mix! Oh to hell with it, I'm going to be a typical blogger 'if I'm not already' and write down my recipe.

I x bag of summer fruits dry muesli - Uncle Tobys
Raw nut mix of slivered almonds, cashews and macadamias
Chia seeds
pumpkin seeds
dried pear pieces
shredded coconut

to the dry mix I added a melted mix of 3 parts agave nectar and 1 part Manuka honey and approx. 30mls of melted coconut oil. This was enough to coat the dry ingredients. I had turned on the oven and set it to 180 degrees and the setting was for toaster.

Well, I got kicked out of the kitchen at this point and Big Gazza took over. He was obviously scared I would go horribly wrong, set fire to the kitchen or cut my hand off or something. But he then went about putting down thin layers of the mix of baking paper and toasting them for about 10mins before stirring. I think it took him 30mins or 3 turns per batch and I was happy to let him take the lead.

He lay the mix out and when it cooled I tipped it into a bowl and to the toasted mix I added dried blue berries, Goji berries, cranberries, and Inca berries......I love Inca berries.

Oh yeah baby, for dinner I had a bowl of the mix with almond milk. It wasn't too sweet, but crunchy and full of flavour.


I also made some egg mix muffins for breakfasts. Man I have this sorted.
I even cleaned up after myself. I can do no wrong.

Then we headed out to the gym for a legs work out. Hit the squats, presses, curls, hammies, extensions. Feeling good after adding a little more weight this week. My thinking is if I hit the legs on a Sunday night hard, hopefully by Saturday long ride I can walk again and turn the legs over. It's a theory. I'll get back to you shortly on how I go.

Also, back to the doctors on Tuesday for a check up on the ear and a third opinion on the BPPV.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Let the world stop spinning........

I can't believe it has been 2 months since I last hit the keyboard. Lots has happened. We stepped out of routine fuelled life for 4 weeks and celebrated our 20 year anniversary in Hawaii and Canada. So many spectacular places in the world. With satisfaction I can say that we sucked every memory, every possible experience out of this trip and relished in the flavours. From go to woe it was fast paced, punctuated by moments of pause. Every day presented something new to try, see or do. From renewing our vows to swimming with manta rays, cheering on the worlds best athletes to cheering on my own husband as he completed the 50mile ultra run to climbing a mountain in the snow. Incredible. I am so incredibly lucky. I have my health and the space within my life to do this.

Kona Manta Rays

I relaxed. Prior to the trip, I had a couple of weeks of ARGHHHHH! Possibly because I could taste the holiday the closer it got to me so that the pressure of emptying the in-tray was getting to me. But I had a 'uh oh' moment when riding with Megz and the AP Crew one morning. I just wasn't having fun. I could not find my happy thought. I tried to sing (literally) but no words would come. That's a worry team! I turned for home after 12kms of riding waving to Megz that I needed to go or there would be tears.

A trip to see Coach and a treatment and a chat always good for the body, mind and soul. "I think you need a break Sammi." yeah Coach, I think you may just be right. Gave myself permission to stop, gave myself a day off, ok 4 weeks. Sweet.

Rainbow Lake - 16km hike

Returning home its back to the bump. ok, I can deal with work etc and off we go again. Big Gazza is fired up after being bitten hard by the ultra running bug. Me, I'm struggling a little to get going after gaining some weight (5 KILOS!!!) Don't anyone panic just yet.....too LATE. And I have a case of Vertigo. Yep, I need the world to stop spinning so darn fast please, literally. It's making it very hard to remain in the upright position, in fact laying down in bed and rolling is waking me up from my sleep with the vertigo.
Big Gazza on the 2nd lap

So that's me. caught up. Next challenge on the horizon, get fit (yeah I know you have heard it all before), get back to race weight, Yeah yeah yeah and have fun at Canberra 70.3 with the Onion Man, Slippery and Big Gazza. Not sure who else from the Crew is going.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inaugural Loop Ride

5:30am and I am rolling, as quietly as my little WRX will allow me, into Roberto's driveway. We strap his bike to the roof and head to the rendezvous to meet The Onion Man. He flashes his lights as he rolls in behind us and then we are heading North to meet the Crew.

By 6:15am we are ready to go. Group 1, the big kids, set the pace and before long their tail lights disappear around a corner and that is the last we see of them for the day. In group 2 there's Me, Lil Dog, The Onion Man and Slippery aka Roberto and Col. We set a comfortable pace out, letting our legs have a chance to warm up. Speaking of warming up, the weatherman suggested we would touch 24degrees. Who could ask for more. But the morning is still fresh and I had battled with what to wear. The forest and deep in the valley can be bloody chilly first thing in the morning. I decided on 3/4 pants and summer gloves. Good call in the end.

Behind us was Group 3. We never saw them all day either, once we were underway. The usual run up Bald Hill and I was a little apprehensive about how I would feel on the climb. I hadn't done it for 2 weeks and that can be a long time between drinks sometimes, and that can bite you bad. But the chest and legs were in good form and I didn't hurt as much as I thought I would. It always hurts mind, just the scale of pain slides dramatically up and down depending on the load during the week and my attitude.
Once at the top we stopped for a photo. After all, this was the first ride for Slippery and The Onion Man that would take in the entire Loop course. It had to be documented!

Some good fun there teasing Al before we headed into the Park. With Col turning home early, the two boys sat behind L.D and I chatting like a pair of old chooks. We hit the bottom of the valley and it wasn't too bad, but we continued the pace and started the ascent to Gerrie. A comfortable climb with L.D and I still on the front. 

Once at the top we hit the rolling flats to Audley and further than any Onion Man or Slippery had been before. 4 x for L.D who had to do the last 2 times on her own. Good mental prep but a tough ride on your own. I had guilt, I should of been there with her. The boys were going to be in for a treat, we descended steeply down into the Audley Weir, crossed the river at eye level, which is always a surreal feeling, and then started the next heavy climb. I had warned the boys that there was another climb but they set the pace and soon I was left chugging away at my snails pace. I noted to some delight though, that they never really got too far ahead of me. I flagged badly here for a while, the hills taking their toll on my legs. Along the flat highway and now heading home I struggled. We made it to the garage and the Coke went down a treat, along with 2 GUs and a handful of lollies. I need to remember to pack a banana next week. Need more real food.

Once again the legs were dialled to churn over and we descended back down into the valley once more. The course now completing a 'P' shape and we were heading home. One more climb out of the Park, back to Bald Hill and homeward bound. We came down Bald Hill with the 'Slow Down' sign blinking at me angrily saying I was over 60kms an hour, actually 64.5kms ooowargh speeding!

The next hill we went down was a little scary as I changed gears my chain jammed and locked and there was no coming back. I eased on the brakes and managed to pull up, but the chain was jammed hard. Nothing to do but lift the little Cervi over the road barrier onto the footpath. I was pretty exposed on the side of the road trying to play mechanic. Finally under control I hunted down the other three. They were in a panic by now, waiting for me and knowing that I should have caught them on the descent, they assumed me splattered across the road I think.

Once over the Sea Cliff Bridge the mind and body said "HOME" and with renewed energy I sat directly behind the boys and pushed some massive gears to stay on them. L.D said later she was hard pushed to keep up with us.

Funny how it works, L.D can climb like a mountain goat where I am a strong time trialler. If only we could take a little of each others strengths and blend into one, we would make an awesome team. L.D was saying she was having trouble holding the weight on her due to the large work load, She is off to the Nutrionist to get some help. As for me, I sniff food and it clings to my bones. We definitely could use a little of each others body types lol.

A great day out, and guess what? We get to do it all again next week!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

1 step backwards, 2 steps forward.........

Well, the one step backwards has got to be the weight. Ya hit an all time low on the scale with a mighty 59.9kgs and then you just fall in a heap and pack it all back on in a fit of winter blues and casseroles. 63.7kgs this morning. Gotta get back on the wagon.

On an upbeat, the training is back to consistent and the running is PAIN free. Say it again PAIN FREE!!!! Yeah, let's hold on to that moment of sheer happiness. It's also a great motivator for keeping at it and refocusing on the race season which fast approacheth.

Sunday is the planned Duathlon championship at our club and then the plan is to head up to mum and dads for a game of golf with Dood for Father's Day. Next race after that is Pinkies. Triple challenge.

Time to get serious......once again!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Backsliding with nowhere to go.........

And that's how I feel at the moment. I usually have a goal or two up my sleeve that keeps me motivated and heading in a direction, usually forward, but that depends on the day of course and injury status.

However, this year (post Ironman that is) I have no real goal. I chewed over attempting to get to world championships in the Olympic distance. Even identified which qualifying races I would need to do to get there. But it all seems a little distant and I am left wondering if it's really what I want to do. hmmmm. I know I don't do well without something to obsess about. A-type personality that I am. So currently I am obsessing about houses, jobs, travel, life, ooooh the new Suburu BRZ mmmmm very nice. Come to mumma I want you bad. But slap on the wrist. You know you don't want another loan Sammi. Sooo, boring as it sounds, the obsession needs to be PAY THE MORTGAGAE OFF.

Not a bad goal really. The implications would be that I could retire....nice. Not fair that Big Gazza has to keep working while I sit at home knitting. Part-time would be good though I have to say. I have found lately that I am feeling tired/old. I don't mean to say I am getting old, pht I'm only 47 for crying out loud. But it has been go go go for a few years now and maybe I just need some down time. Fear there of course is that once you snooze you lose. I also don't want to lose my AP Crew family. Its been a blast being a part of something so tangible and elastic. As a group we are growing and evolving constantly. We rejoice in the triumphs of others, celebrate the wins, hug the crew member who is injured or benched and rally round to encourage each other. The cold of winter has kept me insulated and a little lost.

But, I do feel a sense of waking up. After all, Spring is just a short week away. The winds have started and I know the temperatures will drop again. But soon this little grub wrapped in her winter cocoon will wake up and see the sun again. Come on Spring....you can do it. Get here fast. Sammi needs some light, warmth and a refreshing slap up the side of the head to get going again.
Climbing out of the National Park to enjoy the sun and view

Monday, August 5, 2013

On Bended Knee................

Wow, ok, ummmmm well that was unexpected!

So, it's a typical Saturday morning roll out with the Crew. Only Megzy in the third group so we combined 2 & 3 group and headed out into a glorious clear dark morning. We did the usual catchup chats with each other. How's your week been? etc. I was next to Winks and she was telling me she hadn't been on the bike all week. Great! She is a strong rider and with fresh legs she is going to want to go out hard. Me on the other hand, had been going hard at it all week. 2 x wind trainer sessions with nothing left in the tank each time and a TRX session with approx. 100 squats meant the legs were trashed and a couple of run sets would make sure the pins were getting stronger but they definitely weren't up to race speed and climbing hills at break neck speed.

In front was Big Gazza, and for only the second ride out with the Crew and under Coach's tutoring now, and The Onion Man. Behind me chatting happily were Megzy and Lil Dog. What a great bunch. Problem was after about 8kms it was apparent with Gazza on point, he also had fresh legs, having not been on his bike for a few weeks. Now Coach had told him in his program to sit on a really easy pace, but Gaz was fresh and the legs were spinning as fast as his mouth and when that happens he just rides off the front. I told Megzy and Lil Dog to hold our usual speed and before long there was a good gap starting. Finally, Gazza looked to see where we were and realised he was going too hard. I gave him the 'you're a dead man look!' and he gave me the 'Whaaaaat?' look back. I rolled to the back and gave him the 'What did Coach tell you? You are going to hard for us girls to keep up. Get behind and stay there!' Obediently and a little disgruntled he got in behind and the bunch slowed to a cruise pace that would see us last the 90kms through the hills.

Meantime, I had to make amends with Gazza who has the ability to keep his pouty face right through the ride. I started chatting and when he started to come round, I did my usual singing as the sun came up and threw a few, 'I love yous' into the mix to mend the hurt. At one point he said 'You better love me.' He had a curious look on his face that left me with a 'what do you mean? of course I do. response.

We continued on and hit the base of Bald Hill. This just never gets any easier! I climbed slowly. It wasn't pretty folks. Gazza went on ahead. No dramas this time as you have to climb at your own pace and I secretly hoped the hill would take the gusto out of his legs. When we reached the top the first group with Skip, Bangers, Coach and the rest of the gang were there having a quick break. The AP.10 Crew have been dominating the winter roads in the park. There are so very few other people braving the 3-4 degrees in the valley. We gathered to recover and have a laugh.

Just before the first group headed out Gazza (who is off his bike and wondering around, a bit strange but...) anyway, he calls out to everyone. 'Before you leave, I have an announcement to make...' I'm thinking shut up this is not your group we don't do this....shit!' He is getting teary and his voice is a little tight. I'm thinking what the hell is he upset for, oh no he is going to tell everyone he is pulling out of the Ultrarun. Gaz no, you didn't say anything to me earlier about wanting to pull out.

And then, he is saying that we are going to be renewing our vows in October in Hawaii on our 20 year anniversary. I'm thinking, Gaz everyone knows we are heading to Hawaii, I told them already, there's no need to make a big deal about it..........oh my, he is on one knee. WTF! He is looking up at me and he reaches into his pocket and brings out a ring. 'Sammi, will you marry me again?' I am totally surprised. I had absolutely no idea what he was up to and I laughed and went scarlet.

On the top of Bald Hill, in front of our AP family, he asked me finally and officially to marry him. See the first time, he never actually asked me, we just sort of arranged a quick, cheap wedding. This time he was on bended knee with the Crew to validate him, on top of a hill that has been a huge challenge for me and with a view of my home of 47 years. I could not have been more excited and in love with him more than at that moment.

I said YES! As the Crew clapped and congratulated us.

Signing up for another 20 years

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Morning Campers............

A huge weekend!

Off to Berry with the Crew for a Tri Camp Weekend. Big Gazza and I arrived last and yet we live closest to Berry. But we had to finish watching the Tour DF climb the Col De Ventoux. Well worth it. It was bucketing rain when we arrived and as always Gazza set me up inside and then did the return trips to the car bringing all of our gear. I love that man!

We chatted, opened a bottle of wine, had dinner and settled in. Over 20 athletes and friends and even a couple out of towners.  Coach called a Crew talk and Gazza and I disappeared quickly into the bedroom before returning wearing our onseys. We got some odd looks, and a few laughs. It can't all be serious. Coach told us the plan for the weekend and then we headed off to bed. What a fantastic venue. We had a queen size bed with ensuite; luxury.

Saturday morning was freezing. We dressed ready for a big day on the bikes. We headed off and a huge group gathered in the middle of Berry. It was an amazing feeling being part of such a huge bunch of riders. We stopped for the obligatory photo and then headed off in our respective groups towards Robertson. The aim was to go up Berry mountain into Kangaroo Valley, climb up the other side of the valley before following the escarpment to Fitzroy falls to Robertson, before hitting Kanagloon loop and returning the way we had come. This would be a 100-110km ride.

Most of the Crew had never ridden this route before. Neither had I, but I know the road extremely well having driven it with a horse float on the back several times in a previous life when I rode eventers. I know the grade of the mountain climbs and I knew I was going to struggle as the week before I had finally taken the 27 'granny gear' off the cassette and gone down to a 25, what was I thinking? Anyway, we headed up the mountain. I was in the second group with Skip, Lil Dog, Gazza, Bangers, and a few others. I was feeling ok, but a little apprehensive. We hit the climb and dialled the legs into churn. However, before long I realised that the 25 was a bad choice and I immediately regretted not taking 5 mins to swap it back to the 27. I had to dig in deep and actually thought at one point the brakes had got stuck on the back wheel. I dropped out of the second group thinking I might be better in the third group. Before long though I was working bloody hard, wheezing up the hills and sweating profusely through the layers I had put on and was falling out of the back of the third group. I rounded a sharp bend following Gazza's line out wide and stood up on the peddles and dug in deep. I couldn't breathe. I heard Simmo say 'why aren't you singing Sammi?' Singing? I was having trouble breathing let alone sing as well.

Pain shot through my chest and my lungs were screaming. My head kicked in, 'this isn't right!' I called to Megs 'I'm coming over.' She made room and I rolled into the gap and onto the verge. I came to a stop halfway up the climb. Pain in my chest. I took a minute to recompose myself and get my breathing back in check. Hill start, great. I got going again, but not far. I found a driveway and once again rolled to a stop. Gazza, Roche and Doc Vince were there with me. Doc started diagnosing me....how old are you? 47. Any history of heart issues?  and so on. Well, he said, if I were you I would go back, or are you going to be one of those stoic people who carry on and then drop dead on the ride? I wouldn't let you go back to training without a stress test. GREAT! Gazza took lead and demanded we turn back. I tried to tell them it was just because I had a very tight crop top on. I took it off and felt a lot better. But no good. We rolled back down the hill defeated. We reached town and I insisted that I was fine, so much so we rode on and did a further 25kms on a flat course.

By the time the Crew rolled in from, what I later found out was an incredibly hard, freezing cold, wind driven rainy ride, Gazza and I had made lunch and lifted our status to short term heroes. After lunch we rolled out in convoy to the local pool. The wind had picked up and I was very pleased and relieved when the call went up that there were 3 lanes booked for us in the indoor pool. Whew! We did the set, but while we swam I kept one goggled eye on Bazza. He is one of the best open water swimmers in Aus. The guy doesn't kick! What the! His action is effortless and he slips through the water. I immediately wanted to stop kicking too. ok, maybe there is some more work to do as I sank to the bottom of the pool. But the image is in my mind and the drills Coach is setting are helping.

A night at the pub was a chance to talk to Jono. He is an amazingly inspiring athlete who is also legally blind. Not only did he ride with the boys (he has no periphery vision) but he swam with us too. He is heading for the Olympics in Rio. I have added his facebook page www.facebook.com/JonathansRoadToRio. After a lively chat, he left me with some parting words. He said Sammi....'Swim to stay in it, bike to be in it, run to win it!' Thanks Jono and all the best for Rio. Before bed, we once again gathered to have a team chat. So chuffed when Coach rolled into the room in his Onsey! woohooo.

An early morning start again on Sunday was a run set. Again I was apprehensive as the itb hadn't been tried off road since Ironman. I am happy to say that they (and I) made the session through without issue. Though the fitness has gone badly south as far as running is concerned. No real instruction from Coach on the day, so I figure there wasn't much with the form to correct. It was more about seeing how far the itb could get me.

A final question and answer session and it was time for home. Good times peeps, good times!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Throw Sammi From the Car.................

A huge weekend planned on the Sammi calendar. After a false start; had a bloody awful night sleep on the Friday night. I was drained and shattered when I got up on Saturday. I was literally watching the minutes tick over through the night and all the while working myself up into a frenzy. I knew it was going to be a tough ride ahead and I would need all I had to get it done. I got up with the alarm, pulled on my socks and started crying. Back to bed; defeated. Woke up at 10am. Finally, enough sleep to function on. Got my walk done and massage. Then it was time to pack our gear and head up to Sydney for an overnight stay.

I slept in the car and woke when we got to IKEA. Spent some money on picture frames and then on to the hotel. We met up with friends for dinner at an Irish pub and then walked down to the Guylian chocolate shop for dessert. Yes, overindulged.

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I woke just before the alarm and finally felt refreshed and ready to go. All I had to do was get dressed and wander down to the race start. It was Gary's turn to run. The Sydney 10km run. He did it last year and loved it. A flat, beautifully iconic, sanctioned race so you know you're running a fair dinkum 10km. Gaz, Margaret and Deb headed out for the run while us supporters waved a cheery farewell and then went in search of coffee.

Gaz finished relaxed, and as he still had to run in the afternoon for 2hrs, he took it easy. Still improved on his time from last year and finished in a comfortable 48.50.

After the race we all went back for breakfast and again, I over indulged. Way too much food compared to what I am used to. This entire fortnight has been about over eating. I need to fix that!

So we headed home. The plan was to make up for my lost bike ride. We stopped at the last petrol station before the National Park. It's the petti we stop at when we do the loop, so I know the road very well. But still I was nervous as hell and was fighting my head to ensure I didn't change my mind and pull out. Gaz and I had talked on the way up to Sydney about how I am finding that I am becoming more and more risk adverse. I seem to be reluctant to do new things, easily talking myself out of it. Not sure why, when usually I love new challenges. Anyway, he new my secret and so there was no way he was going to let me get out of it. So I sat on the side of the road, just me and my little bike as he drove off. Ok, legs (and Cervi) take me home.

I feel like I rode really well. The wind was at my back the whole way, which made life easier of course. But it was so busy in the park; day trippers out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was a little scary on the road. With dead leaves and branches littering the side of the road and 5-10 cars and motorbikes at a time driving past me, I felt very exposed. But I made it. Climbing up out of the park was enjoyable for a change as usually this is the way home and my legs are tired. But I was still pretty fresh and so the legs were good and I made good time.

I stopped at the top of Bald hill for a quick photo. I was homeward bound and I could see home way off in the distance. Yep, the furthest mountain line on the horizon, that's home. Approx 60kms to go. It was so busy on Bald Hill lookout. Motorbikes, car clubs, sight seers and me (the only pushbike). I climbed aboard Cervi once again and prepared to do the huge drop down into Stanwell Park. Always fun to descend as fast as the cars, with an 'L' plate driver nervously following behind me.

On the way home I made a quick diversion pass Coach's place. He was home and we had a quick chat. In part, it was to let him know I was doing the ride, on my own, and that I was committed to getting it done. He said if it had been anyone else in the Crew that had not made the ride due to lack of sleep he would have got up them. But he knows that sleep is my only issue and it is usually related to stress. I really don't think I was stressed though at the time. Life is pretty good at the moment. Though this trip in October and finances for it are playing on my mind. Anyway, I headed off again. The legs took a little while to get going again and the day had grown grey.

I turned the legs over and at one part of the road I had to hit the bike track rather than the road due to safety reasons. If I was in a bunch I would have held the road. But the road swept by and I sat on a comfortable 31kms with the wind pushing me along. The road grew flatter and flatter the closer I got to home, with only Port Kembla hill in my way. I climbed it easily, too easily. Wow! I had changed the 27 granny gear off the cluster on the Friday night and when I took my wheel off I realised that I must have put the spring on the skewer in wrong AND it had been jammed inbetween the bracket and the wheel. This would have caused the wheel to not spin properly. No wonder I felt like I had the brakes on the whole time. Geez. Now with a 25-11 cassette and no impingements, I was spinning along and the hill was simply a bump in the road.

I made it home, challenge met! Happy with the ride and for getting it done!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Everyone, Take One Step Forward Please.........

It's just a step to the right.......and then a step to the left. Put your hands on your hips.............

So I strapped up the leg again today and hit the pavement. I managed the 5.5kms, stopping to walk occasionally so that I can re-set the form and to keep the load down. After about 2kms the knee started a dull ache, but didn't turn into anything so I kept it to an easy jog. I have to say the run fitness has just disappeared folks. We have a long way to go, but forward, forever forward.

Tonight I decided to mix it up a little. Coach had me doing a strength set, so I headed down to the TRX studio and met Brendan and had an hour of body weight work with lots of core and strength work. I am amazed at how much the TRX exposes weaknesses (or areas to be developed) trying to keep it positive here.

At one point we had to do atomic push ups and I managed 10 and 12 reps. We later did a handstand  push up and to begin with we started with one leg in the air and one on the ground. Brendan increased the difficulty by having me move my grounded foot further out. As I could do a push up still, he had me kick my grounded foot up into the air as well where he steadied me before I knocked out 6 handstand push ups. So happy. But surprised when we came to do a lunge with one foot in the TRX stirrup and while I got 20 on each side, my left side was totally unable to hold my balance and the right was only just a fraction better. Later a hamstring curl with feet in the stirrups saw me groaning and flagging after 8. Oh my. However, it was great to get a session in. Every muscle has been worked and core and strength session done.

AND I had company. Been a bit lonely of late. Having to work out on  my own is kinda draining the motivation.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mud Pies and Strapping.....

Last weekend saw my daughter, her partner (Jess) and The Gazman head north to where the mud run lives. It was bloody cold, and had been all week. Rain and wind had dominated the weather channel and I was sooooo bloody happy that I had opted not to play. Couple of reasons, concrete tunnels and pipes for one, but the main reason was I was worried about twisting an ankle or knee or something. I am progressing slowly with the rehab and a mud run right now would probably see Coach do the look I hate 'hmmmmm and rub the chin' at me. Not keen for that so the sensible me said no and oh was I pleased. As they wandered off to registration, I sat in the warmth of the car, as they stripped off, I stood under my brolly wearing thick gloves, scarf, beanie and jacket. And as they ran and hit the cold water, I tucked back into the warm car, rolled a bandana over my eyes and went back to sleep. Yeah, ok I missed out on a great fun bonding moment with the kid. But I think Kez and her dad had a ball and that was more fun for me to watch. I timed it roughly so I would be there at the end as they crossed over. Wow, they looked great, covered in mud and big smiles, puffing from all the hard work they had done. The last obstacle was a long rope which  was strung up horizontal and they had to hang by hands and knees and shimmy across.

The Gazman jumped up first. Now having watched a lot of folk take on the hurdle, I wasn't sure how he would go. It looked hard. Some guys fell, some stopped halfway for a breather, others slowly inch by inch got across in some pretty interesting styles. I noted that mostly the younger teens guys and girls both, seemed the best at getting across. Perhaps power to weight ratio. Not sure. Well, Gazza through himself into it. I was snapping like crazy with the camera trying to keep up with him. Being X-army, I guess he had done this type of thing before. But he flew across. I was punching the air and felt like pointing and shouting 'that's my man!' Lol. Next was Jess, a little slower but she still moved across the rope easily and stopped hallway for a big cheesy grin before finishing. Last was Kez, I was so hoping she could do the obstacle. Well, she swung her legs up and muscled her way across the rope. Again, just like her dad she flew. I was so proud of them all. And as they stood there at the end proudly showing off their medals and covered from top to toe in mud, I couldn't have been more proud of them all. They were hilarious drinking their beer, even though I think it would have been freezing cold.

The Gazman, Kez and Jess - their medals, mud and beer!

Couple of days later I had my own punching the air moment as I ran about 4kms with Gaz round the ponds. Nothing to shout about really. I had the knee strapped for Tib/fib, itb and patella....in other words the whole leg wasn't going anywhere! Pretty happy to be moving again, and probably didn't need the strapping except for the mental reassurance it gave me. Maybe I will keep it strapped for a while just for that reason. The strength exercises should be doing their thing too. The run fitness has completely gone though. But small steps in the right direction all the same. Wohhoooo.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Damp and Dark: Welcome to Winter Solstice

Did I tell you that, in my world, the year doesn't run from 1 Jan to 31 December? And that seasons in my world consist of only two? Winter and Summer. I was born in October. October 7, 1965. So it seems to be, that October 7 is day 1 of my life and therefore, day 1 of my first year. So in Sammi's world and calendar I have lived 47.8years.

I married my man whose year started on April 7, 1965. He is exactly 6 months older than me. In Australia we see four seasons, the first day of Spring is September. But in Aus September is still bloody cold, dark and windy. Well, where I live anyway. No, Spring starts on my birthday, new life, new beginning, warmth and sunshine and me. April in Aus is cold. You need a jacket at night and the clocks have gone back an hour and the sun takes longer to clear the horizon and creep across the sea and it definitely goes to bed a whole heap earlier. Winter in Aus is 1st June. But in Sammi time, Winter starts on Gary's birthday, April 7 and that is when I go into hibernation.

Now, I always thought this was just me. But I have since learnt that my Dad thinks the same way about his birthday being his first day of the year. Perhaps once, as a little girl he might have told me this and I stored it away or maybe it just made good sense, or maybe it is just the way we both see the world. But either case, I am not alone in my thinking. I love Spring and coming alive. I hate Winter. I want to hunker down and hibernate, spin a cocoon about myself for warmth against the bitter winds and be a grub. In spring the cocoon is cast aside and like a butterfly I want to open my wings and soak up the sun. I could easily be a lizard on a rock, bathing in the sunshine for hours storing the heat. Segway - we should totally be able to do that by now. Why haven't we evolved to be able to store heat like a battery for use later during the dark, damp winter. pht. Damn evolution needs to catch up.

Anyway, right now I am sitting here in my cocoon, wrapped in a blanket, dressing gown, slippers and heater (and its not even snowing or anything. I really am a woos)

Winter Solstice according to the gurus was 2 days ago. But on my calendar, it may as well be 6 months of Winter Solstice, short, dark damp days and with that it seems, my mood has grown dark and glum. A bit woe's me, I am struggling to get up in the morning. JFDI I hear you say and yeah, I am. I just can't find some enthusiasm for it all.

I feel old today. But according to the Sammi calendar, I am halfway. Halfway through my life. My Grandmas funeral was yesterday. She was twice my age and as I was named after her and so much like her, I am told. I use her as my yard stick. Halfway. So not old. I have a lot of time to pack a heap in yet. Hmmm, dark and damp.

I need to find a way of surviving the Winter. There doesn't seem to be enough stored light in my battery to get me through. Some warm thoughts.......I got offered, and accepted the position where I have been working. Relief. Warm thought..........the house is really coming together now. I feel balanced and in order. Warm thought..........I have enjoyed painting, or rather prepping to paint, a picture to go above the lounge. It's been a long while since I have been motivated to paint something, other than walls that is.

Cold thought.........I still worry about my ITB and knee, I just don't know if it is going to sort it self out. Cold thought.............I am halfway! Cold thought................I seem to be isolating my self a little. Perhaps left over from no time to be social due to I.M training. Need to do something about that. Cold thought.................I have put the weight all back on again. Still in range but self sabotage once again takes its toll. Cold thought...............it's still 3+ months till next year and Spring time.

Warm thought................the challenge is to create my own fire that will get me through my winter. It's up to me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Goodbye to the girls.....

12.6.13 - SUCCESS! 59.9kgs. That's 900gms til I reach goal/race weight. Starting to notice signs of weight loss more now as we creep ever so slowly toward race weight. Number one of note....the girls have disappeared. Nuts! Always going to be a casualty of weight loss and I accept that but just an audible buh! In response to the shrinkage. Other areas worthy of note are my wrists. I can wrap my fingers round my wrist and touch my thumb and pinky together. News! And looking more ribby across the chest more than ever. I need to keep the chest strength work up so that I don't get old lady owl chest. Perhaps too late already, but swimming and running should hopefully keep some muscle tone on there. Still on the juice diet with adding extra food at night for dinner has seen the steady decrease in weight with out losing the energy so onward and upward...I mean downward. 59 even, here I come!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Update from the blackline.....

Well, the black line, the finish one that is, has moved itself wayyyyyyyyyyyy way away. With new goals to get faster, fitter and stronger in the game plan prior to next seasons races, compounded with yet another 'injury' though Coach doesn't think it is major and I agree, the black line and the goal of reaching said black line has a lot of sweat and hard work in front of it.

So, first order of the day is to rest post Ironman. And yep 4 weeks is plenty. I have been ticking along the program swimming, walking, and bike on both wind trainer and one outing for an easy 40kms with the girls. More about catching up, as I hadn't seen anyone since Ironman, than focusing on a particular aspect of the session.

I have also been doing a lot of strength, stretch, yoga/stretch therapy regularly to start working on that strength aspect. Last night I headed down to meet a girlfriend (no show) at a local TRX gym who was offering free night classes to members of the triathlon club I go to. I rolled in with a little apprehension. Not sure what I was in for as far as doing a class on TRX. I have a set at home and Coach has given me exercises to do on them that are run/swim specific, but that's about it. oh and I have done some you-tubing to watch video clips on it. I have to say it was great. The guy who ran the class was pretty amazing and has done loads of study and training on TRX. Sitting here now I can feel the shoulders and abs are tired from the load. It's all body weight so I enjoy that aspect of the training too. It felt very much like the old rock climbing days when we used a lot of balance, body weight etc in our training. I'd like to do more.

Interestingly the other day at stretch/yoga class I did a bridge, raised my butt and then could alternate taking one leg at a time off the ground. When raising my butt in the air with left leg straight, no dramas. but with right leg out straight using left leg to drive my butt up was a total workout and I had to focus hard on getting my a$$ off the ground. Last night with 1 leg in the TRX band and the other working as a ghost leg was a huge eye opener. Again left leg straight, right leg in TRX band driving up through the right leg to butt up bridge, ok. But it was impossible for me to drive off the ground on my left side. Effectively my left glute. glute medias has gone fast to sleep. What this means is that my right side of my body is doing all of the hard work. that will show in pretty much all aspects of my training. Riding up hills on the bike will mean my right side is working harder than my left. Running will mean pushing and driving more through my right side and ummmm guess which side has the ITB issue...yep, the one doing all of the work. What I took away from yesterday's short session at the TRX gym, was I have a lot of work to do team.

Coincidently Coach rings me and says we are on for tomorrow night at his joint for a strength and core session. He wants to extend on what I am already doing over winter to help with the very issues that I am discovering with a lot of clarity. Yep, we have work to do team!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Time to Start Again

ok, so Ironman is over. It's time to reconnoitre, check my goals and refocus. I spent the morning evaluating last years goals (see goals page) and hmmm, while many goals were terrible failures, others I achieved and I am very pleased. Perhaps I was a tad too ambitious. So this year I have kept them very simple. One for each discipline, and a few extras to keep me focused in the right direction.

2013 Goals
  1. Follow Coach's plan with honesty and consistency
  2. Reach my Olympic race weight (59kgs)
  3. Learn to run again
  4. Work on swim technique and form
  5. Work on strength and raise avg riding pace
  6. Stretch and do my core/strength exercises religiously

I simply can't move forward until I can run again. So focus is on run and what I need to do to get there again. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sammi Vs The Gorilla

A few weeks before Ironman I was having physio on my itb and while I was there Coach asked about how the mental prep was going, did I have any questions about nutrition etc and how was life in general. I knew that the balance at home with Gazza was slightly off kilter. Long hours training and being apart, tiredness and both focusing on our impending race had left the marriage, not in trouble but rather, on hold. But we agreed that 20 years of marriage could hold us for just a little longer. Coach asked me how I was feeling about Ironman. I was ready, I said I felt 'Ironman is like fighting a Gorilla. You don't stop fighting when you get tired, you stop when the Gorilla cries Uncle!' He laughed and said 'good analogy Sammi.'

Two days before I was to step into the ring with my Gorilla, the Crew met with Coach for some last minute thoughts and motivation. Coach talked about the obstacles we might face on the day; tiredness, walls, the highs and lows. He gave us strategies for coping with each. With years of racing experience under his belt, his words were gold.

The big day unfolded and as the heavy weights stepped into the water I found myself swept along feeling comfortable and at ease. The usual punch and shove in the water, all a normal part of training and had been well rehearsed. I was happy with my swim and as I gathered my bike bag I ticked round one off in my head. Ok, two to go.

Away on the bike with my family and the crowds cheering us on and a blast from the megaphone as Coach shouted our names and words of encouragement. I found the hills easy as we travelled out of town and along the straight. I was turning the legs over comfortably when I came upon a familiar shape. Here was Gazza on the side of the road with a shredded tyre. I pulled up and saw that we was ok, smiling and waiting for the bike mechanics. He assured me he was ok. Coaches words ringing in my head. 'You need to run your own race.' There was nothing I could do to help, so I kept going.

On the second lap with 165+kms done I started to feel the legs were tiring. Hills were taking there toll and I found my head was starting to fill with negative thoughts. I'm tired, this hill is so big, it hurts. Again Coach's words came to the fore as he said this would happen. Replace the negative talk with positive and back the pace off for a short time you will come good again, check your nutrition, be your own best supporter. I got in some calories, took the pressure off my legs and focused on how far I had come so easily and how I still had loads of bikes around me. I told myself that I was proud of how far I had come already. Pretty soon the power was back in the legs and I put the final kms behind me. Round Two Done.

Round Three was always going to be tricky for me. With a pesky itb that had plagued me over the past few races, the running had been kept to a minimum. I saw Coach as I headed out. A quick high 5 and a reminder from him of our strategy to walk/run the marathon.

At 4kms into the run an all to familiar pain started to creep its way in. The itb was giving off warning shots that it wasn't happy and a nice big blister was forming on the bottom of my foot. It was at this point that I found myself with my back against the ropes and the Gorilla was landing some pretty nasty body blows.

I could feel I was falling hard and just as I was about to hit the canvas, a familiar footfall came up behind me. It was Gazza, He had caught up to me finally after pushing hard after a 45min wait for a new wheel. One look at my face told him everything and he hugged me. We walked on to an aid station. As we walked I tried hard to pull it back together. I told Gaz to keep going, that I would be ok. I was going to the toilet and I would get going again. He said ok. I entered the loo, sat down and sobbed. I have never cried during training or racing before. It was totally out of character but a sign that I had hit the wall hard. The Gorilla was winning!

Once again, Coach's words came ringing in my ears. 'When you hit the wall, find your motivation.' Images of my Grandma came to me, we don't have long with her and I wanted to honour her. I looked at my arm where my Dad's words are tattooed there, 'This Too Shall Pass', and I knew that it would, my mum with her words of 'put the pain in a box Sammi, put a lid down on it hard' and my daughter Keryn who I have always tried to instil in her strength, resilience and belief in herself. Ok, I had my motivation. And then an image came to me of Coach. He was out on the course dressed up, on his painted dragster bike with outrageous helmet and goggles with the megaphone at the ready, he was hilarious. I had found my happy thought and in that loo in only a couple of minutes I had gone from tears to laughing out loud. I was ready to go again. I opened the door and there stood Gazza, waiting patiently. He had lollies, coke and Gatorade ready to go. He had given up his race to run with me. I loved him more in that moment than I can ever describe. Ok, 'Let's kick its big hairy butt Sammi.'

We fell into step, me in front, Gazza behind and together we ran/walked the course. The pain never left, but the experience of running with Gary reunified us, of seeing my family and friends, the AP.10 Crew and hearing my name and words of encouragement from the crowd lifted me.

We entered the finishing chute and found my family and hugged them. I turned and there was Coach  larger than life. I hugged and thanked him for all he had done for me. I turned to Gary and together we ran the final few steps hand in hand to the cheers of the crowd.

As I crossed the black line I smiled to myself - and behind me from way off in the distance I heard the cry.......UNCLE!

My hero and me