30 October 2013

Side trip

Since last post I've had a quick trip to Brisbane, my first since being in hospital there earlier this year.

My "Robyn the Rainmaker" reputation remains intact - I had barely hit the ground  when the BoM started broadcasting storm warnings of the batten down the hatches variety, complete with emergency numbers to ring if any damage was sustained.

It certainly upset my plans as I condensed the "essentials" into a shorter time period so as to avoid being on the road at the storm's ETA.

Whilst we did get some rain, the worst of it slipped by under us and later when another front went through, above us. 

Back home in Darwin and the heat hit like a wall immediately on disembarking.  I waited until later this evening before going for my run.

Happy to report that the enjoyment factor was pretty high and all efforts were completed.  

The afternoon was nicely rounded off with some stretching on the foreshore listening to this. An oldie but a goodie!

26 October 2013

An early finish

Having knocked over all my programmed sessions for the week I get a well deserved rest day tomorrow.
My last programmed session, a ride - done this morning, was a delight.  

A huge thunderstorm with heavy rain rolled through Darwin at around 3am this morning making the BoM radar look very colourful indeed.  

Luckily it had moved on by the time I surfaced a few hours later and I had no excuse for not hitting the road.

Darwin was again sparkling after the storm (albeit minus a few tree branches which had come down in the deluge) and I love the way the trees respond to a couple of good drenchings.

I headed off along the Foreshore and then decided to explore some of the suburban side streets of Coconut Grove.  

For one reason or another, it had been a long time since I ventured off the Dick Ward Drive (the main road) and it showed.  There have been some seriously big & some interesting houses built particularly in the Orchard Road area.

In keeping with my vow to smell the frangipani more, I was delighted to watch a flock of white cockatoos feeding.  There were some very young birds among them, still being feed by, I assume, their mothers.

So that's Week 2 done.

I'm happy with progress across all three disciplines and the "one step at a time" approach is certainly working.

Over the coming weeks I'm going to continue my research into my nutrition options.  This has particular significance now as far as race day & training nutrition is concerned (all things digestive have changed some what for me post op).

A viewing of Catalyst this week further clouded the issue with the program claiming among other things, that we have been hoodwinked into believing saturated fats are all bad.

While that may well be true, I'm leaning towards learning, at long last, to like the taste of olives and perhaps heading in the Mediterranean diet direction.

I've noticed I have somehow naturally reduced my intake of red meat in favour of a lot more fish.  

Who knows, I may end up vegetarian. I'm also shopping more often at the local organic produce supplier.

Perhaps it's time to visit a nutritionist who knows athletes and/or those who may be digestively challenged.  Any recommendations? 

So what will I do with my day tomorrow given that I've finished my training week early?  

Think I'll pop down to Lake Alex and watch the little juniors in action.  Their tri enthusiasm is infectious!

25 October 2013

Paying attention

As well as trying to make more time to smell the roses ... or is that "smell the frangipani", I've also vowed to make more time to notice the things around me.

In the past while I've been wizzing by on my bike or running past and something caught my eye, I've been reluctant to interrupt a training session to take a few minutes to pay closer attention.

Not so during this comeback phase.  During this gradual reintroduction to swim, bike, run and while I'm relearning "how" to train - I've been happy to stop and look.

And I've been rewarded each time I've stopped including:

Henbury School wall

Casuarina laneway

Water Gardens, Jingili

I am however, all squared away with my "training" to date and can see progress ... it's slow, but it is progress!

Those minute long jogs are getting easier, my back is holding up much better on the bike and insomnia is a thing of the past. 

24 October 2013

Pat on the back

Since my last post I've  knocked over a couple of good rides that were short but enjoyable and the tush is adapting quicker than I thought it may.   

I've been taking the opportunity to do a little exploring while out on the bike and I managed to find the location of the owl family on the Nightcliff foreshore.  There are three "fluffy" owlets. 

Little owlet

An overnight downpour meant our part of the world was sparkling today and all the dry season dust well and truly washed off buildings & vegetation alike.

Darwin is fantastic immediately after rain with the frangipani trees emitting their heady scents - I think Jingili could easily qualify for the most fragrant suburb after riding in and around there this afternoon. 

Swimming at Nightcliff Pool is also a real pleasure.  We are so lucky to have this gem right on our doorstep - we are a short two minute walk around the corner. 

Nightcliff Swimming Pool

It may not sound like much but this morning I managed to swim 200m non stop without fins or pool buoy.  Must have been the latte lane determination coming out!

Far cry from the heady days of knocking over a full swim squad and remaining behind to do what we affectionately call "detention" ie extra laps. 

Not sure why it meant so much, but it certainly had me on a high before dissolving into the now familiar post swim sneezathon.

Gave myself a pat on the back!

22 October 2013

Pool nose

I'm finding that coming back to regular swimming has triggered a reappearance of bouts of sneezing and sniffing.

This happens about half to three quarters of an hour after I leave the pool and lasts about an hour with many tissues used.  I managed to string together a sequence of eight sneezes non stop this morning. 

To reassure those I come in contact with during a post swim sneezathon, I've always said I have an allergy to chlorine but a bit of research - ok, a quick google search - reveals that may not be the case. 

Apparently the molecule is too small to stimulate the parts of your immune system that cause allergies.  Similar to perfume, it is a chemical irritant and some people are more sensitive than others and this results in sneezes with every exposure.

Nose clips appear to be the recommended remedy but I'm not a gadget lover. However, if it doesn't settle down, I may have to at least give a nose clip a try.

21 October 2013

Not quite a rest day

The overwhelming tiredness that gave me the early tip last November that "something wasn't right" (if nothing else, we triathletes know our bodies) had also contributed to a deterioration of standards around our house. 

I'm a "don't let it get to health hazard sort" of a girl but even I had to admit to needing help.

Enter the marvelous Bec who declared getting us ship shape again would be a work in progress.  It proved to be so but it wasn't that long before she had us back in clean surrounds. 

Luckily we had her expertise & elbow grease to keep us ticking over on the home front while I recovered from surgery and then during chemotherapy.

But all good things come to an end and morning sickness, the onset of the build up and an increased study load, eventually led to Bec handing in the keys.

We can't thank her enough for helping to get us through a pretty rough patch.

And what has all that got to do with my role as Comeback Queen?

Today I resumed what I'd call full on domestic goddess status. 

Lost count of the number of times I went up and down the stairs often lugging the vacuum cleaner or bucket or wash basket. 

Add in a few trips to the clothes line, garbage bin and a bit of furniture moving and I was pooped, not to mention a dripping sweaty thirsty mess!

I kid you not.  

So although I didn't formally tick anything off my week's worth of swim, bike, run sessions - it was not quite a rest day. 

20 October 2013

You have to start somewhere

This time last week I pondered my program and wondered just how I would manage the seemingly endless list of sessions.

Though they were teeny in comparison to previous Ironman training programs they appeared to be now out of reach.

As they say ....

Small steps

... and I feel very much as if I have taken that single step.

What have I noticed as I reintroduced swim, bike, run into my life again?

Firstly, I have definitely slept better than I have for months.  Physically tired meant less nocturnal Twitter and Facebook sessions - a very bad habit developed when sleep didn't come so easily.

Secondly, I swear I have more energy.  

Perhaps exercise really does help to keep the black dog at bay.  I certainly feel enthusiastic about "having something to do" each day which involves getting out and about.  This is a direct contrast to the mainly homebased chemically induced haze I often lived whilst on chemo.  

And thirdly, contrary to what I assumed would happen, I haven't been in search of food as I thought perhaps I would.  If anything I've upped my hydration more and now seem able to get to the tap without first opening the fridge door.  

We had a club race down at the Lake this morning.  As usual I was on the sidelines.  That's ok.  At this stage I still have no inclination to participate - but that's not new!

Even before Hawaii last year I found I gained far more enjoyment from taking photos of those racing than I did from actually taking part. 

Underway at Lake Alex

Cycle average this week:  20km per hour / as you can see there is a very long way to go but you have to start somewhere!

And I have.  

19 October 2013

Ticking another box

With all good intentions of getting an earlier start, it was still 7am before I hit the road for the second of my scheduled three rides this week.

Having been off my bike now for more weeks than I can remember, these first couple of rides have come back to bite.

First of all my tush isn't happy to be back on a hard bike seat after all this time.  

Then my back has forgotten what aero means, my tum has mysteriously developed a bulge that crinkles up in the short period of aero I have to do, my thumbs are protesting about holding on to the drops and lastly, even the soles of my feet are making their presence felt!

But that aside, how absolutely wonderful it was to be out there reasonably early in the morning and feel the breeze past my ears and sun on my face.

Went slightly overtime but totally happy to be spinning away again. 

I'm still riding on my faithful old Giant bike.  Ms Trek is dangling from the roof - only to be taken down when I manage to get a 50km ride up on the clock.

Added motivation ...

Small steps!

Marvelous Ms Trek can hit the road again when I reach 50km

18 October 2013

Walk, jog, walk

My lovely friend Kylie is a super motivator and this morning was no exception.

Kylie was by my side often over the past year & kept me going when the going got tough.  

We were together at Kona last year (2012) having both qualified at Phuket in December 2011 so share a deep bond from that experience,

Her support as a friend, as a training partner for Hawaii and as a motivator in general has been unfailing and the announcement last Christmas that she was expecting a baby proved a huge benefit for me.

As her pregnancy progressed, she slowed down and we shared many many walks together during the later months.

I can't thank her enough for her ability to motivate me to get out there (she won't take no for an answer) and for her patience to plod happily alongside me as we got slower and slower as my chemo treatment & her pregnancy progressed.

Kylie eventually gave birth to a beautiful little girl in August and by coincidence, she too is making her comeback to swim, bike, run as of this week.  We seem to be in sync!

I know it won't be long before she has way to much pace for me but when the opportunity arose to do a session together this morning, I gratefully accepted.

We walked, talked & pram pushed and took it in turns to do our "efforts".  In no time at all, we were done.

Thank you Kylie!

 Walk/jog/walk along Darwin's Rapid Creek

17 October 2013

Day Four

Swimming - you don't know what you've got until it's gone!

Totally true.  I even suffered slight doms after that first session. 

I've now done two swim squads, well two half swim squads to be truthful and can state quite honestly that "it's" gone.

There's zilch feel for the water happening.  It's strugglesville all the way.  But IM brain knows it will get better - consistency, over time - as a certain super coach would say.

To be truthful the hardest part is actually getting out of bed early enough to be at the pool for start time.  That alarm goes off way too early for someone who has developed a liking for rising whenever. 

Wallowing around the back of the latte lane is fun though and friends appear to be just as chuffed as me that I have finally returned to the best lane of the squad - we think so anyway. 

My walk/jog/talk yesterday evening was most enjoyable but my bike didn't eventuate so I'm already a session down so far this week.

Oh I tried.  I got the cycle gear on, lathered up with the sunscreen, had the water bottle, phone sorted and helmet and bike shoes on.  Had even reset the cycle computer with a great deal of care.

It wasn't until I went to push Ms Giant out of the shed that I realised that alas, the front tyre was as flat as a pancake.

Having absolutely no strength in my hands these days means I'm reliant on Dazzle for tyre changes and he wasn't around. So back indoors I went and there went the ride I had intended to do.

All is not lost. I have three cycle sessions to do this week and three and a half days in which to do them.  This comeback queen might just get there still

14 October 2013

Small steps

It may not sound much, but remember I'm starting from scratch - well below scratch.

So taking small steps as instructed, I've now got a half hour of walk/run under my belt (which is somewhat tighter than it was this time last year).

Today's mission was accomplished early this morning along the beautiful Nightcliff foreshore in steamy build up conditions.

A chance encounter with Pocket Rocket Nikki and hearing about her IM 70.3 Sunshine Coast experience further fueled my enthusiasm. 

View along Nightcliff foreshore 

That's Comeback Day 1 completed.

New beginning

It's fitting that my triathlon comeback starts today.

Yesterday was spent following the live coverage of 2013 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Yesterday also heralded twelve months since I crossed that magic finish line on Ali'i Drive myself.  

I'm a seven time Ironman finisher and four of these have been achieved on the Big Island - magic for someone who made doing an Ironman a bucket list wish, supposedly one off, for their 50th year. 

From the high of a 6th place at Kona in 2012, and a week after entering Ironman Cairns, my life took a dramatic turn when, just a few weeks later, I was diagnosed with a return of colectoral cancer.

"Inoperable", they said initially, but my wonderful oncologist to whom I had been referred, said "You are so fit I want to explore surgical options further".

So here I am a year after my last Kona, having undergone a number of procedures and finally surgery in early February which removed various bits and pieces (including a kidney).  That was followed by chemotherapy for six months.  A far cry from the Ironman Cairns I expected to be doing!

All that experience is best forgotten - except for the fantastic support I received from Daryl, Jess & Jude, Pete & Vicki, family and friends and also from my wonderful tri friends who now encourage me to believe that "Anything is Possible".

It's fitting that my triathlon comeback starts today having received good follow up scan & blood test results last week and a tick to "resume normal life".

"Normal life" for me includes triathlon.  Swim, bike, run has been a huge part of my life for the best part of twenty years and I see no reason to change that now.  

Wish me luck in my bid to become a Comeback Queen!

Goal:  Ironman 70.3 Hawaii - May 2014.

This time last year - view from our balcony in Hawaii