Saturday, December 5, 2015

Wooohooo Race Report.....

You know when months slide into weeks and suddenly become days and then its just a matter of sleeps.... I had treatment with Coach the Wednesday before the race and he asked me if I was nervous. I said nope. He laughed like I was covering the truth and that on the inside I was shaking in my boots. But I wasn't, I was calm. Not even needing to helicopter above myself, I just hadn't allowed nerves into my head space.
Baby with her dancing shoes on, ready to roll.

Race check-in 
 A pre race pic with Slippery, stirring The Onion Man, MIA on the day
So the night before race day I was sitting in the lounge room of Kez and Jess' place watching a movie, laughing and having a great time with the girls and suddenly thought, I'd better go to bed as it was getting late.... I had forgotten in a few short hours I would be racing. I felt for sure I would have been beyond crazy with nerves, especially after Slippery's bike took a backward somersault off the top of the car at 100kms travelling along the infamous Picton Road.

No sleep. Aint it always the way. But I was calm. I just rested my body knowing that I had had a solid night sleep the night before.

The alarm went off finally and I was up and pulling on my race kit and Gazza was driving through the dark to race start. Even road closures and traffic jams didn't upset me. Walking up to Slippery and Whippet and having them whisk me off to transition to pump tyres up was an easy task. With only minutes to spare and Reedy calling to competitors to hurry up or else....
Feeling calm and ready to play, me, Slippery, Whippet and the AP10 Crew
I eased on down to the start line, kissed Gazza and slipped into the urky, green slimy waters of Penrith lakes. Reeds stuck to my face as I rolled the arms over and made my way towards the inward starting buoy. I floated on my belly and tickled forward slowly, hooter blasted and we were off. I jumped on a girls feet pretty quickly and headed for the pink buoy way down the end. I didn't navigate much. I could see the little round buoys for the rowing competition on my right and I just concentrated on the bubbles in front of me. I lost her eventually and then found another set to jump on. Always a long back end, I kept the pressure on the arms throughout and finally made my way up the carpeted bank towards transition. I ran to transition and ok, where are my socks? No socks! ok, no prob while I am out on the bike, but a huge problem with my runners and orthotics.

I walked my bike out to the mount line. No sense upsetting the ITBs with trying to run in cleated shoes. Funny. Two guys running their bikes collided in front of me, almost dropped their bikes, recovered and I just walked past them and mounted at the same time. Sometimes it doesn't pay off and sometimes it does.

The road was smooth and flat. Even in my world, it was flat. I set the legs to churn and chased a few legs. I overtook a good number of bikes so I was pleased about that. The far end of the ride was technical with lots of turn arounds. Heading back I again dialled in big gear. Stopped for a quick toilet break and to clean my glasses and away again. I pulled up when I saw Gazza and quickly explained that I had no socks. He said he would give me mine and I said I would catch him somewhere on the run leg to get them off him. He cleverly had them ready for me and passed them to me as I made my final trip over the bridge and into transition. For all the world it looked like a high 5 on the bike, but I had my socks now secured.

I looked a treat in the AP10 black and red socks. Not my preferred colour choice with green shoes, but what the hey. I again walked out of transition and onto the run course. The ITBs were making grumbly noises about not being happy. I couldn't get my legs to run more than a few metres before I had to stop and walk again. Oh boy.... I knew this was going to be tough, but from the start? I hoped to make it at least 10kms before I would be forced to walk home on screaming ITBs.

I stopped and stretched, waved and said Hi to Gazza and the girls had now joined him. It was getting hot. I walk/ran for a good 5kms before anything seemed to start to feel less like jelly legs. Heating up I started to run from water jets to water jets, drink station to drink station. The kms ticked over slowly. Finally I got into a rhythm and started to tap away. Once pass the 10km sign the head kicked in and I managed to do more running than walking. I tucked ice in my groin and crop top and tried to keep cool. I chatted with Todd, a guy wearing a Soldier On kit and this made another 5kms melt away.

Finally the last sign '18kms' was in front of me. The ITBs had been quiet throughout with only the occasional murmur. I aimed to run it home and the tap tap tap started and the head went down and finally the finish line was there. Oh happy days. I felt nauseous, but ok. I downed the relief of an ice-cream. What is it about the ice-cream at the end of a hard race?

I found Gazza and the girls, Whippet and Slippery and the rest of the AP10 Crew and Coach who was larger than life as always and we hugged and took photos and I sat and stared at my medal.....Finally a 70.3 under my belt. I am a long course athlete again. It feels good.
Whippet, me and Slippery...oh yeah and the hardware!
Home and showered I later threw up the 2 Tramadol tablets I had taken. Perhaps next time I can get away with nothing or just a Nurofen.
50-54  (1)
50-54  (2)
50-54  (3)
50-54  (4)
50-54  (5)
50-54  (6)
50-54  (7)
50-54  (8)
50-54  (9)
50-54  (10)
50-54  (11)
Charles WHEATLEY (934) 5:07:29 0:37:50 0:02:53 2:31:32 0:01:59 1:53:13
Robert COULTHARD (1023)
5:37:12 0:44:59 0:02:35 2:41:17 0:02:48 2:05:31
Clarinda CAMPBELL (428) 5:52:49 0:39:49 0:02:33 2:55:19 0:04:23 2:10:44
Alexandra VILES (467)
5:53:57 0:44:27 0:04:49 2:58:07 0:02:23 2:04:09
Samantha BOWDEN (1249) 6:20:00 0:42:52 0:02:51 2:58:05 0:03:38 2:32:32

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Not Long Now......

I am actually surprisingly, reasonably calm about race day. Even though it is only a week away now. I will say that I am underprepared. But I would probably say that about every race I have ever done also. You can never get it 100% right, even with all the best intentions.

A quick whip around. Swim: feeling pretty confident, the swimming seems to have stepped up a little. Endurance is good and strength seems good. Unfortunately no extra speed it seems, but I can still out sprint Slippery, but hey we are doing long course so a pretty useless skill there. My shoulders have been tightening up with the 3 hard swim sessions a week, including 1 open water sesh at the harbour. I had a good massage and now they are good to go again.
I'm in the blue cap, in front middle, hands crossed - looking very chubby next to the elites
Bike: eh, I would have liked some more strength under my belt. Damn those hills. I still seem to err towards avoidance and saving myself for whatever excuse I can come up with rather than just get on with it and deal with the stiff legs and muscle fatigue next ride. My bike handling skills are going great. Today out on the ride we had 3 near misses, all on round-a-bouts and cars coming at us from the right. 1st time I was 2nd wheel and would have hit the round-a-bout at the same time as the oncoming car, I saw his indicator turning right and so I took a quick evasive manoeuvre and swung off left down the road and away from my buddies. I waited to hear if Slippery got collected, but he was on the brake and the car went through before him. Scary, but path for the course when you ride on open roads. When I caught up with the boys they checked in with me expecting perhaps a tear or find me a bit shaken up. But I was ok.

Run: well always the unknown, but! I am having a few wins of late. I decided to start taping my knee. I know Coach is against taping if there is a core or strength issue. I have been working on the strength and core, again erring towards less muscle fatigue than riding with the boys on a Saturday and riding on dead legs, so again I am under cooked there. But with taping so that the ITB insertion point is off the bony bit where it rubs (highly technical description there for the lateral fibular condyle) I am finding I can run. I think Coach has given up and is frustrated by not being able to get me running so he agreed to the taping with a"what ever gets you to the start line Sammi." So the latest runs are looking like 20min walk then 30 x 1:30min run/30sec walk then 40min walk. So 2hrs of exposure and 15kms in the bag when done and running well inbetween with no knee pain is feeling pretty confidence inspiring. I haven't given much though to the 'what if' scenario if the knee was to start playing up. I will just call it on the day.

Wish me luck :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And Race Day Looms....

I had a moment the other day where I thought to myself....."Hey, I'm feeling pretty strong and fit right now." What the???? When do I ever say that. Especially pre-race. My recovery seems to be the biggest indicator. I still have to have a little snooze post Saturday ride. But I get through my days at work with out dozing off. Swimming is strong and so I am hoping the 2km swim should not be too bad. 90kms on the bike will always hurt. But I am hoping a flat course will pay off and I have a strong bike ride. I need to swap up the wheels and get the Tokens on this weekend.

Running is always the unknown, but I managed a 15km walk/run done in 2hrs on Tuesday. That was a bit of a surprise to say the least. But the knees were a bit stirred up by the end. I am not sure whether to miss the run tomorrow. I might give it another day and see how we go.

So race day loometh and I feel confident that I will make it to the start line. Its been a while since I toed the black line. Will definitely be stepping into the unknown with the run. But that isn't new. I've been there a lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Yep, it Finally Happened......

I remember when I was about 12 doing the math. Not a very good mathematician, I was relieved that I was born with a 5 on the end of the year. Easier would have been a 0. But 5 was also good. So the math came easy when, by my reckoning 1965 + 50 = 2015. And well, back then it was so far away and well beyond even my parents age at the time. 50 was going to be old. Not just old, but oldest ever, spider webs, dust and graveyards old. Wrinkled, smelling of lavender covered in mould old. And here I am, 50! While I may be wrinkled, I'm not covered in mould (much to my relief) but maybe those freckles I had as a kid are revisiting me with a light dusting of small brown age spots. eh, I could get them lasered, maybe some time, or not.

1965 - a very good year

So some more math calcs and 1965 + 60 = 2025!
2025, wow, now that seems so far away. 60. I wonder if I will own a hoverboard by then. Certainly didn't get one in 2015. And so we play on.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Did ya Ever Get the Feeling...........

That something was wrong?
That maybe you shouldn't have done that?
That maybe you would have been better off?
That maybe next time you would do it differently?

That maybe, just maybe this time?
That if I would just get up off my ass and start?
That I don't like being outside of my comfort zone?
That I don't like change, I am a systematic, routine kinda girl?
That I am stuck in a rut, but the rut feels safe?

That I am sooo FUCKING O.C.D!
Big Gazza is away at the moment. He has travelled 4 hours North of here to meet up with Kezwaldo and Sparky to build a fence for their new investment home. My gorgeous girl and her beautiful partner have bought their second investment property and they are putting up some fences and adding a few other additions to it before they rent it out.
I'm so proud of Kezwaldo she is a strong independent woman who is kind, loved by all, is social and adventurous. Some say she is like me and if that is the case, I sure am ok with that. I see some similarities, but in other ways she is vastly different to me. One example is when she left home she moved into her unit by herself. She was keen to spread her wings and experience life. Yes, she went and got her little Scoutie to keep her company. But she had no problem living by herself. And see this is where the similarity ends. I hate being alone. Life stops for me and I go into a holding pattern. I guess its because I have never been alone. I left home and moved straight in with the X. I then had Kezwaldo and from there even when I left the X, I was never alone. I always had Kez with me. Then Big Gazza came along and 22 years later I have rarely been apart from him and, until only recently, never missed making it back to our bed to adopt 'the position' of me being big spoon and snuggling into the warmth of his back and drifting off to sleep to the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest under my arm.

Now with him away and at other times when I am travelling for work, I find I am struggling to do things. Eat properly, do my training. I just hang out on the lounge in a kind of holding pattern, marking time til he returns or I can drive home. So last night I had planned to catch up with Roberto for a swim. I was pushing hard to get there. My brain was saying stop, just hunker down and wait for Gazza to come home. My brain was screaming in conflict. Roberto cancelled at the last minute and of course there was no way then that I could get my ass off the couch. I was in for the night and I found a movie to watch and waited for the phone to ring.
Other contributing factors to yesterdays tail spin was a frustrating return of a period. Yeah for me. I am obviously NOT menopausal as the inconvenience of a period stomped on me. I was so frustrated I made an appointment with the doctor and got a script for a Merena. (yes, this is over sharing) but you know what, I didn't know these things existed until a friend over shared. So maybe if someone stumbles across my post and reads this, they just might find the relief like I did of not having to deal with periods when you are a sporty type. The benefit of having the Merena 'fitted' will be that I will be 56 when I need to have it removed again. Menopause will be well and truly behind me. I'm done with this crap. A modern woman, who wont be having any more kids, who lives an active and sporty life (when her husband is home) and who has no history of anything scary in her family tree, should have choices.
I had a sense that I was going to have a period again so soon, because I was miserable, bloated, HUNGRY and couldn't focus on anything. And then wham, yep. There you go!
Yesterday, after the doctors visit, and as it was a Thursday night, and because Gazza was away and I was miserable, I went down to the Sushi train and got a takeaway. I also bought an ice-cream AND a Turkish delight. So, while I perched on the lounge, too disconnected to push myself out the door to train, I sat and consumed possibly 1500 cals of a sugary, carb loaded, chocolate topped pile of empty calories and NO it didn't make me feel good. In fact when I went to bed feeling overfull, I found I had cranky legs, couldn't sleep, and I had a headache that still is here this morning as I write this. Boy, sometimes the lessons have to be repeated for them to sink in! I am sure it wont be the last repeat of this lesson. But each time I sink into the sugar loaded world of overindulgence I will try and remember this feeling and perhaps, just perhaps, it will be a little longer between binges, or perhaps not.
I have also become cognisant of the fact that I am becoming systematic and routine like to the point of a mild O.C.D. I say mild, as I know that true O.C.D can be debilitating for some. And I know I can still function in my routine world. If Roberto hadn't cancelled I would have stepped out of my comfort tail spin and gone swimming. But there are some signs that I need to change things up a bit as I recognise responses of fear in myself. For example, the idea of catching a train by myself to Sydney for an outing where I would spend the day doing say a show or shopping, or meet a friend for lunch is beyond comprehension. The idea of jumping on a bus travelling 100kms and then boarding a whale watching tour and meeting new people and spending the day travelling alone, like I did years and years ago scares the begeebers out of me now. Travelling to Hawaii to meet up with friends to watch Kona Ironman is beyond doing, masked in a 'we cant afford it' excuse.
Yet, sitting in bed drinking a morning coffee and scrolling through Faceboook, is comforting. Showering, ironing my work clothes, packing the dishwasher, straightening the house, driving to work, making my second coffee for the day are routines that come naturally and provide some sense of stillness in my world. Its predictable and not scary. Its a systematic routine that I have tumbled into and this is the stuff that I have always hated in principle.
Are you a slave to the machine Sammi?
Have you become a faceless number in a mindless world?
Have you forgotten why you are here?
Have you stopped challenging yourself?
Have you succumbed to the darkness, the fear, the sinking swamp of sadness?
Have you become numb?
Have you grown old before your time?

Have you lost your war cry?
Where has she gone,
the Adventurer that you once were?
She was brave and resilient and
she laughed out loud with her head thrown back.
She was crazy, impetuous and she loved to dance.
She would take risks and see positiveness in everything.
She touched voids, and stepped into the fray,
she took delight in the wonder of things
and she gazed at the stars and the heavens
and wondered at the implausibility of things.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sorry, I don't bake Cupcakes.........

It's been such a long, long week. I'm tired.

Lil Pumpkin dancing in the Canola fields
My week started with a visit to check out the new borders for my HRM role. I found myself behind the wheel of my lil sweet ride burning up the straight roads towards Cowra and Forbes. This little city mouse was on her way to the country. 5hrs of driving. Its a haul when you're on your own, but only made bearable by the purr of engine, the doof doof of the tunes running through the pipes and the brilliant colours of the countryside. Startling emerald green contrasted against the yellow gold of the blossoming Canola fields. Now throw in a lil Pumpkin and we have a mighty pretty picture and a couple of minutes distraction to break up the drive.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to this drive becoming a regular part of my life. It was an unexpected change in life and career, one I didn't apply for, but was given. I am desperately trying to work ways to drag out the time between visits. Over servicing on Skype, one option. Never knock a gift horse they say and yes, I will go where the wind takes me.......But still a visit every 6-8 weeks means I need to build in some strategies for training. So far I have located a 5+km run course and a 50m outdoor pool (not sure if its heated yet though). And of course the bike and add the spin trainer. All good to go. I also found the pub for a meal and everything within walking distance of work and very modest accommodation. Looks like I am set. Big Gazza doesn't seem to be perturbed about the time I am away from home. Hmmm, not sure if I should be concerned. Perhaps he likes a little 'him' time.

On other fronts, I have been researching and refining my diet even further. A lot of time thinking about Wheat of late. I considered for a while the hype around Gluten free diets. You have to wade through the marketing, propaganda and fads and copious amounts of Pinterest....'How to lose 9lbs in one hour' type crap. You have to steer clear of celebrity diets and the big ones, Paleo, Aitkins, Military etc and get back to the science. It's a mine field. Always keen for an experiment using myself and sometimes Big Gazza as the human Petri Dish, I set about eliminating wheat from my diet for 2 weeks to see what, if any, changes occurred. And well, 800gms down on the scales, a flatter stomach, clearer skin (even after the major changes from eliminating sugar) and most importantly I noticed every night has been blissfully.....unbroken sleep. Nothing has changed as far as less stress, less training, less coffee and other standard reasons why you might find yourself waking up at night. So, I am interested to see how another 2 weeks goes with no wheat products in the diet and sticking with as much whole foods with as little processing as possible. Once 4 weeks are up, I will try some wheat products to see what effect it has on me, if any, and then draw my conclusions from there. I hope for radical improvements as I experienced when I dropped the sugar from my diet. But, we will wait and see.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Choices, Building Walls and Running Bricks.........

Its been a massive week. I caught up with Coach on Monday arvo just before swimming (swim test night arghhhh) and after we goofed about joking for a while, we got down to cheese and crackers. So, are we going to shoot for Western Sydney 70.3 or not? I put forward my argument for why nots. Work, house extensions, ITB issues and lack of run fitness and menopause. He knew it was decision time and whether to get my half entry fee back or not. I offered 100% commitment he agreed to 80% and we got on with business, quoting The Big Lebowski.
Meanwhile, I dialled my brain in to all systems go and put the pedal to the metal.
16 hours of training later I am sitting here writing this blog while feeling shattered but content. 4 x swims, 4 x runs, 3 x rides and 3 x strength sets later. Its gotta pay off. My ITBs are a little sore and flared up. I need to make sure I don't go backwards and this means making smart choices.
Since every choice matters......

Do you listen to your body or push through pain?
Well, I used to push through the pain and I still will come race day. But I have learnt and learnt the tough way, that pushing through the pain does not work. I have learnt to listen to my body and respond appropriately.

Do you fuel/hydrate before/during/after workouts or are you just getting by?
I have made major changes to my diet to ensure I am fuelling my body as an athlete. I have been sugar free now for 9 months and am working on dropping wheat as well. I hydrate well, but not well enough sometimes and end up with a headache if I don't drink enough water post session. I am conscious of pre training, during and after and I would say 9/10 times I get it right. But there is always room for improvement.

Do you give yourself time to warm-up before you start your workout or do you hope that you will loosen out when you get going?
Hmm, hell no. And I am aware I need to get better at this aspect. Most runs now have a 10min or so spin to warm up the legs. Swims I just jump in and go and see how I feel. Rides are a quick set of 1/4 squats and leg swings. This is definitely an area I can improve in.

Do you recognize that you gain fitness through consistency or do you just focus on getting-by?
Consistency - that word has been drummed in to me from the very moment I met Coach. I know consistency is key to strong gains and race day performance. Consistency in training builds the onion layers and without it I get injured.

Do you focus more on your body composition that you neglect proper fuel and nourishment or do you focus on performance and keeping your body in good health?
I'd like to say that I focus on keeping my body in good health. But I have to admit that there is still a part of me that dreams and wishes for the ultimate athlete's body and rocking abs. So, I sometimes cut the calories and keep the size portions low. Its a fine line between energy and chubby thighs peeps. I want to be an athlete, but I'm still a girl who is subject to the marketing propaganda. But my head knows better!

Do you make time for recovery or do you tell yourself that you will recover better tomorrow?
This has been a hard lesson to learn. But recovery is priority. I stick to the program as much as possible, barring work etc. What I can do is communicate with Coach more so I keep on top of the fatigue and manage it better.

Do you prioritize restful sleep or do you feel like you can just get by with little sleep so long as you don't miss a workout?
SLEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPP, is my number one issue. Its crazy to think that you can train for 4 hours at a time and then that night not fall into a restful sleep. Nope, not me, I am awake a 2am and restless and pacing the house. I have a theory that coffee after 1pm makes me wake up. Its worth tracking to see. But on the whole I try not to drink coffee after morning tea time. But sleep.....that mystical illusion that escapes me.

Are you flexible with your workout or do you struggle to modify when needed?
No struggle here. I have a Coach who writes me a day by day, session by session (if needed) program in response to what ever is happening with the body and life in general. It sometimes is a struggle to meet the hours of training around work and life, but I have learned that if a session is dropped, then you have to let it go. 

Do you get stuck in the moment rather than thinking about the big picture? 
I can't think about tomorrow let alone the big picture. My preference is to live in the moment. But I get it. See the big picture, remember the 'A' race and stick to the knitting. Hard to do at times. But a practice worth practicing.

Grateful moments: -
I am so grateful for these guys....

Front left, Tail end, front right, Slippery, back left, The Onion Man, back right, Big Gazza

My brothers (ok, so one of them is my husband. But when we train we are connected by a common goal, not by a ring AND Gazza isn't allowed to kiss me, or treat me any differently when I am in 'boy' mode). Tail end, The Onion Man, Slippery and Gazza and add to that The Plasma (Plasma doesn't do triathlon so rarely features, but he has been my saviour out on the ride so many times). We hit out for a round the lake ride followed by Jamberoo for the boys. I rode home under the protection of The Plasma. An hour later the boys rolled in, tired but still joking. A slow transition to run and I jumped on the MTB to show them my run course and off we went. They worked hard and followed me along the track. Later we stood in the road outside our house with 5kms in the bag. Happy and laughing I watched them gathered around and smiled, contented and grateful. My brothers and best mates. Guys I just couldn't do without.
Gazza and I have made a decision to stay in the house that we have been in for 20years. We are now planning another 20 years and I am grateful for having a house that has raised a child, harboured a family and kept us safe, has known laughter and love and just enough tears and sadness to appreciate and be grateful for the good times. I love my little house and I am grateful for the people that come and share this space and I hope that they feel they are welcome and loved. 
This weekend was spent adding more stacked stone to the front entry way. I am so pleased with the way it is looking. Of course we had to find our roles. It ended up with Gazza cutting and cleaning and Sammi on the trowel.
And finally, my last grateful moment is to this guy. My Coach and friend, AP.

                                        Coach qualifying for World Champs 70.3 in 2016. Boom!

I remember the first time I met him. It was raining and I dragged my bike out of my car and dripping stood in the physio rooms waiting to have a bike fit. He took one look at me and got to work. We forgot about the bike for the time being and he focused on me, my flexibility, strength, weakness and body alignment. That was 5 years ago. Wow, we have had some good times, some honest and frank discussions, many, many laughs and just a few races in between. He has my respect and when you scroll through my blog you will see a healthy dose of Coach love. But, hey, you gotta have respect and be prepared to march to one drum. And I know when all this craziness is over and the carousel rolls to a stop, we will still be mates for life!