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!  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wake up! Rise and Shine Sammi......

So, this week is decision time. Whether to go on to do Western Sydney 70.3 or pull the pin on the idea and refocus on something else.

Over the shoulder, looking back I can see. A winter of hit and miss training. Not the best prep for the race. No running since mid June has me way way back on my run training, AGAIN. Back now though to 10 x 3min run, 30 sec walk. So I'll be back to 10kms fairly quickly. The smart lab rat has to ask whether that is enough and pushing on to get the 21 might just be asking too much right now. Swim, I'm good to go and would hit up the 2kms at the race comfortably I'd reckon. Bike? Well not so much but I could be there. Averaging about 70kms each long ride at the moment with some speed, I think I could give the 90kms come race day a go, but it wouldn't be my fastest race to date.

Other factors, work just ramped up to an all time high. I just got given another promotion, and what that means is more travel. I'm going to need to be creative around my program and work even harder to get the training in. With additional 'visibility' being requested out at Western between now and Christmas it means a challenging road ahead to November 29.

An additional factor that I hadn't anticipated was the Sammi clock ticking on at a rapid rate. The dreaded night sweats have started and all things '50 old lady' have arrived. Always the insomniac, but now it's a regular night of tossing and turning, covers on, covers off affair and many slow starts to the day. I need to address this pretty quickly and get on with my life.

And exciting, but another possible impact may be the house extension. We had a draftsman come round this weekend and together we worked on some ideas. He will be back next weekend with some drawings for us to pour over. Life may get busy for a while. I'm excited by the prospect of creating something for Gazza and I to share for the next 20 years of our life together.

It's a lot to pack in. But most importantly is the running. To push on right now may have some interesting outcomes. But an outcome I am all too familiar with. Push and give 100% to the training and not make it to race day because I am undercooked or the legs let me down. Then the frustration, anger, hopelessness, that comes with standing on the sidelines holding the bags while the boys all run pass me. Baby hates being benched.

So, I could pull the pin now, get half my race entry back, and aim for a few Olympic races through the season, or not race at all this year. Husky long course? The accommodation is booked, I just need an athlete to turn up on the day.

I have treatment with Coach this afternoon, so I will get back to you shortly.

Grateful moment:

Once again I am grateful for my family. My brother is in Saudi Arabia and he and his wife are due to have their first baby in November. It's a special time for all of us and he is so far away from home. Kristin sent out the word that he was badly homesick and could we do something special for Fathers Day for him. The gifts from around the world came flooding in and Wishy was so surprised. I am sure there would have been tears. I would not want to live in any other family. I love the one I am in and am grateful for every single cherished person in it.

I adore this man, my brother. He is the voice of sense and reason, he is the humour that I wish I had. He is the seer of all things beautiful and he appreciates every single moment he has on this earth. He loves genuinely and deeply. He is never ashamed of his actions or intentions. He wears his love like a badge, swings it like a sword and shields us all under it with the strength and conviction of a knight.

I am grateful for sunshine, both real and man made. As I've said, its an effort to get to sleep, but when I do get to sleep I get in deeper than an Alabama tick. And waking up is so hard. I love my bed and I love my sleep and I know the health benefits that sleep brings. It's a time for healing, rejuvenation and growth (also a time for Sammi to fix the world's problems, but that's another post). But, when asleep, it then is very hard for me to wake up. So, I am grateful for my new purchase. A sunrise lamp.
30mins before my alarm time, this little beauty gets to work and starts waking me up. A soft glow at 30mins out, and in 10minute increments, gets brighter and brighter. Yep, it works a treat. I wake up gently and almost naturally. I could just sleep with the curtains open, I hear you all say. lol. But this is the closest I can find to resetting my internal clock and waking up refreshed. BUT, just in case I sleep through, this little guy gives off a little gentle beep alarm, not like Gazza's shrill beast of all thinks rude awakenings. 

I am also very grateful for coffee. I love being in the rare 29% of the population of coffee drinkers. It certainly helps on race day too.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday Musings.........

Ah, yes....the best laid plans of mice and Sammi's hey. Day 1 of the extreme 'whip Sammi into race form' went well. Ticked the box by starting on a huge strength set, followed by a cardio set. Next up, Swim with the AP squad. I was surprised after a week of almost dying from the flu that I had energy and the 1:10hr or so went by very quickly. 2900m under the belt. Got home, and set up the little red bike on the spin trainer.

All ready to smash out day 2. Got up dragged on the gear, jumped on the bike and started the warm up. hmmmm and then the wheels fell off the bike (well almost). A hard clicking, jumping noise was coming from the rear derailleur. WTF! Oh yeah, now I remember. On Saturday arvo I returned my bike to the spin trainer and instead of setting it up, I balanced it on the trainer and as I turned, baby fell against the trainer and it all tipped and landed with a sickening crunch on the floor. I sat it up and thought "I'll deal with you later" well later was now and my heart sank. I had just got Little Red back from the bike shop in Nowra and had turned inside out and pulled favours with Dood to get the bike picked up and it was running like a dream. Now....not so much. I went back to bed with a coffee, defeated.

Home this afternoon, I applied my basic bike mechanic knowledge to the situation and well, lets just say I wont be giving up my day job for a career with Quickstep any time soon. Bugger! I rang Spearmans and have booked it in for another service. this is getting expensive!

So what am I grateful for today......

I'm grateful that I didn't let the crash and burn get to me too much and I headed to the gym for a strength session, basically to work off some stress from work today, but to also try and stay on track with training.

Grateful that I have people I can rely on in my life. Dood, to the rescue as always.

Sailing with Dood, some of my most favourite and treasured memories
I'm grateful for Spring. I have survived another winter. That's 49 so far. I'm on a roll. You think it would be getting easier by now and kind of predictable. But mmm, not so much. I love Spring. It will soon be time to wake up from my sleep, my hibernation, my cold winters dream. I can't wait.