Posted in blogging, exercise, fitness, Life, Physical fitness, Sport, Writing

THE PHYSICAL BATTLE OF TRAINING- THROUGH MY EYES

THE PHYSICAL BATTLE OF TRAINING- THROUGH MY EYES

Featured Image- Tom Gersekowski

Late this afternoon, I went for a run as part of my training for the 70.3 in June. You know, I probably wouldn’t have done it, if I didn’t have to. It was humid, and hot, and I was tired for the simple reason that I am always tired. I am becoming quite bored with this excuse, but a valid one it is.

As I was pounding the pavement, I found myself watching the people on the esplanade. Little kids kicking balls with their folks, people walking their dogs, and others simply lying on the grass taking in the serenity. A little mirror in my head brought attention to the fact that for a second or two, I was wishing I was one of them. One of those people who appeared to be completely happy to sit still, and smile as the world happened around them.

I could feel the sweat dripping from my arms and legs and running down my face. My breathing was controlled, and my pace was steady, but my mind was wandering. It was jumping into the lagoon pool with all the tourists, it was walking along the sand with my puppy-who was sitting at home so desperate to go with me- it was reading a book on the grass under a sleepy palm tree and it was parked with my mouth permanently perched over the bubbler, hydrating me with the best tasting water in the world. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be far away from the heat and the thirst and the sore feet and the tweaking knee and the Garmin.

Oh the Garmin.

Having a Garmin watch is like having a spy attached to your wrist. Those little numbers on its screen have a habit of telling you when you are too slow. I can hear them shouting at me like a school teacher.

“You are not trying hard enough today. You may as well go and lie on the grass and watch the pelicans in the mudflats”

But my feet keep moving…like they always have. I often wonder why I don’t just give up and turn the dial down a few notches.

Perhaps it’s because last weekend I ran 9km in 41 minutes, and I smiled when my Garmin delivered the good news. Perhaps its because when I swim, I no longer have back ache like I used to. Perhaps it is because after a training session I can stack the Cadbury drinking chocolate into a cup and fill it with cold milk and devour its contents without worrying about the consequences…

Or perhaps it’s actually because I like it.

Despite the moans and groans, I must actually like it. I like conquering the discomfort in order to be a little better than I was yesterday, even if I’ll never be as good as some. Even if I can’t compete with those around me. Even if sometimes I want to throw in the towel because no matter what I do, I am slower than those I admire.

The thought of giving up on finding the ‘best of me’, makes me feel as if I am on a downhill slope, as if the best of me has been and gone. So I must pound the pavement. Because the truth is, I never want to let go of growth.

The best of who I am lies in tomorrow’s challenges, because that is how it is for me. And as long as my heart desires new experiences, there will forever be a reason to put one foot in front of the other.

I might be 43, but life ‘aint over yet baby.

Posted in blogging, exercise, fitness, My training Diary, Sport, Writing

Training for a Half Ironman-Give Up or Get Real

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Ironman Cairns-June 2016

Give up or Get Real

Training for a Half Ironman

CHAPTER 2

Both of these options come with benefits, and BOTH are considered regularly. If I was to withdraw from the Ironman event in June, it would by no means be a train smash. I mean so what? Nobody would care, it’d give me more rest, it’d enable me to have more time and I probably wouldn’t feel so smashed. Sounds like a viable, realistic plan to me.

On the flip side, persevering with training-although challenging, is catapulting me into new territory- and I like that. In fact, I don’t just like that, I need that. I’m 44 this year, and I’m fitter than I have ever been, and that is like blue skies and sunshine to me. It’s like medicine to my otherwise doubting self. Like sweets with strawberries and cream and sugar and all of those horrid things to my sometimes troubled mind which obsesses with  aging and disease and loss.

To give up would be to continue with the routine. Not so bad I guess, but predictable. Getting up close and personal with the me I have known for 40 years is getting a little stale. I want to know the me that hasn’t been tested to this level. I want to see what else is inside of me. I want to grow and learn and endure and build resilience and make memories and tell a story untold and undiscovered. I want to go somewhere I have not been before. I want to veer off the track and get lost in the bush and navigate my way out.

I want to overcome the urge to fall back into my yesterday, and repaint the same old picture on the same old canvas. I want to fill the empty spaces in my future with fresh colours and new appreciations for what I am capable of as a 44 year old woman, who is no longer able to lean on the crutch of youth to get through life.

So getting real, is the plan for the next few months. Giving up, will have to wait.

Last week was my first full training week. 7 sessions. Three swim, two cycle and two run. This will have to do. There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to improve upon this, and THAT my friends, is that. With a pretty demanding working week, two teenage boys, a household that grows dishes and washing like the grass grows in far north queensland, and a few hobbies I throw myself into, I am ecstatic that I am able to achieve this at all…but it is hard.

I have found that finding the time isn’t the issue.

I have a workable training schedule that doesn’t interfere too much with my daily routine (except on weekends when the long cycles cut into the clock)-

– the issue is the flipping f word-fatigue.

As it is, I am practically falling asleep writing this, and I hate to admit it, but my manager had to wake me up at work last week when to my complete surprise and embarrassment, I was asleep bolt upright in front of the computer mid-morning. She touched me on the shoulder and I jumped, adding a  Slur of words and a confused disposition. After this, the thought of giving up smashed its way into my mind like a bull in a china shop. Surely, I can’t continue this way.

But getting real involves pushing personal boundaries in order to realise ones limitations. What I learned that day, was that I needed to re-evaluate my training schedule, my sleep, my diet and my weekly routine in order to make my training requirements sustainable.  Perhaps I needed a rest. Perhaps my body, clearly not used to this intensity of training, was simply in an adjustment phase. Perhaps I didn’t need to change anything at all, and it would come right with patience.

So far this week, training hasn’t really gone to plan. Through necessity, I’ve pulled back on the intensity in order to curb the fatigue. My swim this morning was more of a float and a leisurely stroll up the verticle black line than a decent training session. But I turned up, and I did the distance. I missed a run session this afternoon in favour of sleep, and this weekends cycling is in doubt as the family head south for a weekend swim meet in support of our eldest sons quest to prepare for Age Nationals in April.

My excuse, is that it’s so wet outside I wouldn’t be cycling anyway!

Am I giving up?

Nope, I’m pacing myself-or at least that’s the story in my head.

One thing is for sure, the journey so far has been unpredictable, inconsistent and rocky. I have questioned my motives and my ability many, many times. But it’s new, and it’s interesting, and difficult and frustrating and exhausting and exhilarating…and it’s my choice. It’s my choice to live outside the line for a few months, to learn about discipline and dedication and hard work.

I do not know how this story will end, but I’m living it with my eyes wide open baby, and that’s what it’s all about.

Posted in blogging, exercise, fitness, Life, Physical fitness, Sport, Writing

Training for a 70.3 Ironman event-It’s not how I thought it would be.

 

 

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Featured Image-My brother in-law David Martin enduring his cycle from Cairo to Capetown.

There are four months to go until race day-Cairns 70.3 Ironman, 2017

Triathlon is something I just fell into accidentally about 16 years ago. Several staff within the intensive care unit in the Royal Melbourne Hospital all pledged to enter a ‘Just Tri-it Series’ over the Victorian summer.

Back then at 27, I was riding a mountain bike and racing  300m/10km/2.5km distances. This was challenging for me, as I’d never done anything like it before. I’d spent my formative years playing Basketball and Netball and competing predominantly in school sports such as athletics and cross country events-a direct result of living on a farm in central Victoria and being unable to physically get to anything else.

Over the years, I have entered various triathlon events, mainly sprints, a standard, many, many, fun runs, the 2010 and 2013 Great Pyramid Race, and I began competition swimming  for a couple of seasons in the Australian Masters Swimming Comp when we moved up to Cairns to live.

In 2016, I did the swim and the cycle in a 70.3 team, and I have completed the 1.9 km swim in a team for 6 consecutive years in Cairns. However this year I bit the bullet and entered the whole 70.3 event, together with my husband.

It’s interesting because a triathlon of this distance has never really been a goal of mine. In fact, I haven’t really ever had any sporting goals, despite my active involvement and consistent training in one form or another. I usually just go for a run, or a swim, or climb a big hill at pace to alleviate the nervous energy I have always had. My preference is by far training over racing. Why? Good question. Racing gives me a degree of anxiety, when training is simply a lifestyle that suits me.

Training for an event however, seems to add a bit of the old “I have to train” rather than “ok, I feel like I want to train” element that I don’t like. So I have made a decision.

I do not have a Tri coach.

A coach is a massive advantage and is the answer to getting you across the line if you require an external voice to drive you to success. I would definitely benefit from one, however at this stage, I can’t justify the cost. So I am doing it by myself. I have opted for higher intensity and less training hours. This is because there are days, mostly during the working week, I simply don’t feel like going. I have two boys who have there own activities which demand my attention, I have a few hobbies that I love so much they literally keep me breathing, and I work in the hospital as a nurse 4 days a week.

For me, less is more and more is less. Confused?

For me to sustain the training to get me across the line in the 70.3 in four months time, I have to have the freedom of not training when I can’t, for whatever reason that may be. If I need a sleep in, I’ll have it, and I’ll train later that day instead. If I have to miss a session, I won’t panic, I’ll simply train at a higher intensity next time. I realise that to many super triathletes and those in training for Ironman this is rather an unorthodox approach. Surely, to finish one of these gruelling events, it requires unwavering discipline? Indeed, however there is room for a little creativity.

What do I mean?

I mean that everyone is different. Some train their butts off for 12-18 months prior and smash it, and some, train to cross the line. To say they’ve done it. To convince themselves they are still capable of physical greatness. Thousands of athletes push themselves to compete in these endurance events, but you won’t find two people that have had the exact same training experience.

I know, that if I burn out, I won’t even get to the starting line, and I won’t get to hang with all the awesome people in wetsuits, in the dark, wide eyed with excitement and anticipation. Race day is a great, great day. One feels a real sense of achievement even before the gun goes off and a huge sense of camaraderie, when racing next to fellow athletes battling the elements and withstanding the painful demands on their bodies. It’s when the reward for the 50 million flat tyres, the wake up calls before the birds chirp stun you into disbelief, and the terrible sessions that make you curse and question what the hell you are doing is forthcoming.

So for me, my training mantra is very much like this:

Train as efficiently as you can, when you can-because that’s how it works for you.

Be happy with whatever happens-there will always be, many things out of your control.

Enjoy the process- you are so, so lucky to be in a position to grow and to unravel ones strengths and ones weaknesses.

If it happens you are lucky enough at the end of the process to cross the line, smile, and enjoy the connection you now have with those who have trained with you, who have supported you and who are racing alongside you.

I pushed hard this weekend, and I felt the pain of having to meet a target distance as a result of an upcoming working week, but it’s done, and I’ve gained, and at the end of the day, I know, I’ve done the best I can, and that has to be good enough.

We’ll see what happens next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in blogging, fitness, Writing

Triathlon

 

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The Triathlon I did on the weekend…

Every step of the run felt like sandpaper slowly scraping the skin off my toes. I thought seriously about stopping, taking my shoes off and wiping away the grains that were responsible, but wasn’t keen on losing time, and then there was the risk of losing all motivation to continue…

I competed in an Olympic distance triathlon today (1.5km/40km/10km) ‘Twas a bit of a rash decision to say the least, no training for 7 weeks post the Cairns 70.3 Swim and Cycle legs (1.9km/90km), but I was interested to see just how much fitness I had lost in this time, and of course I was adding in a run.

The shower was hot. Nice, but the sting inside my blistered, nicely sandpapered toes was something comparable to childbirth-That may be a slight over exaggeration, but I think you get the point. My sun tinged shoulders and face screamed the moment the drops of water cascaded across their surface-and then I exhaled.

It was a spectacular Far North Winters day. Sun, blue skies despite some patchy rain, and warmth that was conducive to casual dress-but it was the water temperature that was worrying me. I despise swimming in cold water. Makes me feel like I’m in Antarctica imitating a seal or something-I am NOT a seal. Or a penguin for that matter, but the water was ok…in fact it was the least of my problems.

“Mum. Let’s go for a cycle” Xavier piped

Now let me just say, he never says that.

It’s like ripping out his appendix with no anaesthetic to get him to ride, but today, he chooses to ask when I am a shattered woman.

“Are you serious Xav?”

“Hmm. No not really, but can you take me to the Esplanade because I need to catch some pokemon’s.

It is very windy on the Nade today. Windy August I call it, so I’m hiding in a nice little sheltered spot, writing this, whilst the ‘lighty’-translation for non Zimbabweans-young child-runs around with a small square object in his hands, dodging all the other Pokemon hunters, trying to avoid collisions with trees and dangerous moving objects, pressing random buttons and apparently catching little teddy bear things that give him points and the uttermost satisfaction with life-I’ll never understand how this game has become globally viral with millions of people across cultures, nationalities, and races, transfixed. It makes international political warfare a total joke-just give them Pokemon.

…whoever knew the secret to happiness was that simple-well kids of course, that’s who…and dogs, who do similar things with tennis balls-run after them and don a smile so big you’d swear their tongue was going to fall out.

The swim was lovely, a few waves, a bit of nausea, but I hadn’t lost that much, and I was grateful. The cycle was another story.

Me and my $500 buck second hand Aluminium bicycle had arguments with the headwind, although having said this, I thought I was fairing quite well, considering. I did notice that there were less and less cyclists on the course and I began to feel suspicious that I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was.

I approached the last turnaround and the marshall lady person, was standing in the middle of the road…

“Are you in the race?”

I was flabbergasted.

“Yes?” I yelled

“Oh. Well then are you in a team love?”

“No?” I yelled again.

What is with this lady? I mean it wasn’t as if I was the only competitor left on the course. There was one man, he didn’t quite fit on his seat properly, but he was there, and there was a bloke having a little rest while he replied his tyre, then there was the lady. Plenty of people left, I thought. I have no idea who she was, as I couldn’t see her face. It was covered. With her hair. Her visibility must have been appalling.

It’s a massive reality check when all one wants to do is go home, lick ones wounds, feel sorry for oneself for a while, beg for sympathy, shower and curl up in bed, but instead, the ball of life keeps rolling and one ends up enduring gale force winds, in the sun, buying cinnamon donuts and milkshakes for the love of a little Pokemon hunter and his happiness.

I only have one word for the run leg;

Sandpaper.

No, I can think of a few more- I am not a one word person, except when I’m extremely tired (sometimes not even then) or extremely grumpy;

Snail pace, hot (Cairns residents are lying when they tell you it’s winter. We never have winter, just less of a summer), strangely satisfying-in a kind of painful sadistic kind of way, and complete.

Yes. I completed it, which is what I was aiming to do.

The time is largely irrelevant to me, but humans generally don’t understand words…what they want is numbers.

Final time?

2:43 Hours.

Thank goodness it wasn’t over 3, and thank goodness I trusted myself enough to enter, regardless of my fitness status quo; for the experience, the camaraderie, the fresh ocean air, and the sympathy I am hoping to receive for the blisters…they really are quite big…huge, no they’re huge.

Thanks to all my friends who supported me.

XN

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There will always be colour

 There will always be colour

Sometimes it eludes us…but there will always be colour.

Nicole Martin

If someone had’ve mentioned the National Kite Flying Championships were on this weekend, I previously, would’ve dismissed it with a simple nod.

Here we are in Adelaide, on the Eve of the Australian Age swimming Championships, and I’m mesmerised by the sky-a picture perfect blue, splashed with a flood of colour.

My balcony, which wraps around my home for the next while, makes for the perfect viewing point. I have never seen so many Kites, soaring above sun kissed dunes and champagne seas.

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Directly below us is an ice creamery. My youngest son is currently in heaven as he attempts to find the quickest way to drill a hole through the ceiling of our apartment, shove down a pipe and connect it directly to the waffle making machine. That way, he can simply-“Suck it up, continuously”

The drive to the venue this afternoon was pleasant-endless coastline, spectacular pine trees aligning the long, wide, straight roads and blue stone cottages with little round tables and imaginary people drinking tea from a pot, very much the vogue in Adelaide. Churches adorn every corner. Some active, some transformed into residences for the local library/ Doctor/Dentist.

Athletes congregate around Aquatic Centre doors waiting to pounce on the opportunity for last chance training.

The buzz is in the air. The goosebumps have landed.

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For us, this is all new.

Tomorrow, at 11:50 am, our 13 year old will line up on the blocks to race against the strongest age-group swimmers in the country-Our hearts are with him, if not escaping from our chests.

…and then, we will watch the Kites, flying free in the breeze, as life returns to normal-for a wee while.

Happy Easter everyone, keep safe.

XN

Posted in blogging, fitness, Physical fitness, Sport, Writing

The Awe Inspiring Michael Phelps

‘It’s what you do in the dark… that puts you in the light’

~Aqua Seven

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Author

Nicole Martin

This video is by far one of the most awe inspiring clips I have seen for a long while.

Why?

Just look at the pain in his face-I can almost feel it.

Look at the dedication, the determination, the grace, the talent, the persistence, the extraordinary athletic ability, the grit.

Michael Phelps-the previously retired World Champion from the USA is currently fighting for a success filled come-back.

Arguably the best all-round swimmer in history, he has inspired and impressed millions around the world with his achievements and his rare talent.

Will he leave behind a legacy?

Absolutely.

His journey is far from over, however his legacy is solidified in the hearts and minds of many young athletes who dare to dream big.

He will continue to inspire for many years, irrespective of the outcome of his current desire to return to greatness.

‘It’s what you do in the dark… that puts you in the light’

~Aqua Seven

Inspired by Word Press Daily Prompt

Legacy