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 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 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 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.