Monday, January 12, 2015

If it doesn't rain, it pours............

Next race on the agenda, Nowra.
As Nowra came into focus, I was feeling pretty good. In fact I was doing the jumping high 5s when I read my Coach's comment in the race plan as....
"As always get there in plenty of time and warm up well, you're pretty fit at the moment, so will be a good chance to dig in and have a crack."
For the first time I had moved away from, "Go out there and have some fun." to something a little more a kin to racing. I was happy. And as we got closer to the day I had some really solid sessions.
However, as usual my head got in the way. I started to go into self preservation mode. Well at least that is what I am calling it. My head starts to conserve energy for the day. I want to rest and sleep and not do much. I find I have no energy, or if I am doing a training session, a wee small voice in the back of my mind is saying, 'don't go to hard, you don't want to be tired for the weekend.' It's interesting to observe. Even the day before the race, we went out for a 30kms easy on the bike. It ended up as 40kms hard as I pushed two flat tyres around the route. Dopey couldn't tell she had a flat tyre, just wondered why the steering was stiff and the legs were working hard and not getting anywhere. For the rest of that day I felt under par. I felt like I was getting sick. We had 2 naps and generally just sat around on the couch. I did get my bike ready and pack my bag etc, managed to change batteries in my power metre and get my race wheels on, but it was all very much an effort. I skulked off to bed with the rain coming down in stubborn continual sheets of grey.
And that was the sound I woke up to race morning, grey, meeting brown roof tiles, heavy and mournful. I could have quite easily rolled over. And this is why having a Coach and friends and a husband who kicked me out of bed is so invaluable. The phone call from Coach the afternoon before, reminding me that I had ridden in rain before and I was ready to go. Friends who you train with and commit to racing with and push and cajole each other along the way in order to reach our goals and a husband who is there to literally kick you out of bed and do all the talking on the trip down the coast to race start.
We stood about in our race gear, bikes standing motionless in transition with rivers of water dripping from them. Huddled together under umbrellas, Big Gazza with an arm around me to keep out the cold. Even in summer the rain was starting to make me shiver.

With the bike leg eventually eliminated due to the safety on the roads, we headed river side. It was gross! The water was warm which was a relief, but sickly warm. 25.4 degrees and black silty soup. We set up for the start and I was there ready, head in front, girls all about me. At the hooter blasted I got a good start, but very quickly two girls came towards each side of me and I was squeezed out and back. Nuts! Again the dilemma, should I punch through them and smash or let them go and duck in behind. I chose the later. I had a pretty good line and only had to paddle through the weeds for a little while. Round the buoys in clear water and homeward bound. With about 250m to go though, I started to suffer. I had spotted who I thought was my main competitor in my age group. I saw her Kiama outfit and thought it was her. She was swimming really well and I worked hard to stay up with her. I later found out it wasn't her but another Kiama girl I don't know. It was good to work hard out of my comfort zone, but there is more work to do at the back end of the race in the swimming.
Out of the water and into transition. A quick minute while I tugged on shoes and a visor and off onto the run. Legs felt good. As I passed the swim exit again I spotted Roberto just exiting the water. WTF! I had made up 3+ minutes on him in the swim.

Running felt comfortable and this was the second or third time during a race that I didn't feel I had to stop and re-group the body before heading out. So I was very happy. the legs ticked along. Could I have gone harder? I'm not sure, if I went with the ebbs and flows of my body and brain, maybe. At times I lost focus and drifted off, only to bring myself back to the task at hand and keep the legs ticking over. I walked a couple of times, stopped for a quick stretch as the knees and ITBs got tighter. And at other times I felt I had some energy and pushed a little harder. I had a moment coming along the bridge for the last time where I recognised the negative thoughts. I had recently read an article that said that your mind sends you signals that things are hurting so that you slow down and stop. Its your bodies way of seeking self preservation.

I realised this was exactly what my mind was doing..."booohooo it hurts, stop it." I knew I had run 10kms before and chose to ignore the false signals. With that, the energy and drive came back and I ran all the way home and crossed the finish line with a smile, and energy, feeling comfortable and the ITB saying "I'm not happy Sammi." But the race announcer saying Samantha Bowden second place!

We hung around for the Sprint Aquathon and the presentation. I picked up my silver medal, ecstatic that I had done so well. But when I later checked the multisport site, discovered that I had come 3rd. My only thought was that maybe Francoise had been mistakenly put in the male gender race... Or I had got it wrong. Either way I have the wrong colour medal. Nuts! But that has not dampened the experience on the day. It was a grey, but satisfying day.
    Name (#)
My Age Group
Training Buddies
AP10 Crew Girls

Maddi and I post race

Friday, January 2, 2015

If there were no tomorrow, If there were one last chance........

I would not wish for anything, or have any regrets. I have had such a wonderfully special life to date. Sure, like everyone I have had my tough times. I have not gone unscarred. But the scars I wear on the outside and the ones on the inside, have made me who I am today. Paths crisscross and serpentine about each other and the people I have met along the path have all left a small imprint on me. And for that I am grateful.
So, if there were no tomorrow, I would be ok. Content in the knowledge I had lead a full and contented life. Not that I am planning on going anywhere mind. Just being reflective on a year and a life that has been truly special.
This blog often moves between triathlon focus and life and sometimes I stray off topic and add some strangely random stuff. This one is a mixed bag I guess.
My goal this year was 'To Run!' Pretty darned simple. Its been the same goal for a few years now and finally at the eleventh hour, we made it.
as the year drew to a close I sent Coach a text....
" Hey Coach. Before it gets too late and I send an inappropriate drunk text lol. Just wanted to send you  huge thank you for a great year. I was just doing the obligatory reflection on the year and realized we have achieved my goal "To run." pretty simple but hard earnt. Your patience, guidance and support have made all the difference. thank you. Wishing you and Megs and Ava an amazing 2015. Bowden."
"Bowden - My motivation to coach is not the $, it is for developing people that really want to be coached. I couldn't ask for a better athlete than you and only you are probably happier than me that you're up and 'running'! Bring on another great year together mate!"
2 races under my belt this race season so far. Both positive and one seeing me on the podium. Being chicked by my best mate and number one competition 3 x times on the bike during the last race has slapped me on the nose. But it has also given me more drive. My training, consistency and efforts at the gym and on the program have been paying off. Let's keep that rolling.
Blackbutt, a special place, of childhood memories and ponies

I am enjoying running again and I have been mixing it up a lot between running with Coach, lone forest runs and group runs with Roberto and Co. Finally the run fitness is coming back.
The bike has been steadily improving too. A few bloody hard rides with the big guys has lifted me back and probably higher than ever before. Three big rides spring to mind.
1 - The Plasma, The Onion Man, Roberto, Big Gazza and I out to Sandon Point with Chris powering me along but holding a nice solid pace.
2 - Riding with the KTC group ride again to Thirroul. Hanging off the back and smashing hills.
KTC group ride

3 - Riding with The Plasma, Gazza, Roberto, Charlie, Ben and The Onion Man all the way to the Seacliff Bridge ending with 100km in the bag and an avg speed of 28.2 whoaaaaa!
The stats don't lie

I am proud to say that I swam through winter. The run from pool to change room wasn't that bad and I am sure I will face this winter with a little less trepidation thanks to the work I put in this year. Slowly but surely my swim is improving. Placing 2nd in my last swim in my age group and 13 overall in gender gave me a pretty warm feeling inside.
Best of all was having The Kid come out for a swim at the river and join my tri family. Sparky manned the kayak and Big Gazza matched the pace and we swam down the river with occasional stops to check direction and distance. She did so well, I was proud and excited to be showing her what I do and have her be a part of my triathlon world for a short while. A magic day!
Special Kids and special moments

Plenty of family times this year. My wonderful trip to America with Gazza and the girls. Having Wishy and Wishtin home for a trip to Jervis Bay sailing, time with Lil and Sal in between trips to China, and thanks to work and having an office in Nowra, plenty of visits with Moom and Dood.

Christmas saw Bern and Woond come home and we spent a wet, but fun day doing what we Boland's do so well. Having crazy, frantic moments. And, what has now become our traditional outpouring of love as we sent our thoughts and love to missing family members and wished they were with us, but thanks to Skype, we managed to close the gap just a little.
Christmas 2014

New Years Eve rolled around and the back deck was transformed into a party zone, with everything within arms reach, drinks, tv, music, dogs. Lots of lovely time spent with the girls made it even more special. I managed to stay up til 12, though I needed a nap between 10 and 11 to get me there.  
Spa time

One of the last rides of the year with Big Gazza on a stunning morning, rolling around the place that I love so much and that holds so many memories. And I say goodbye to 2014.

Always rolling forward