28 November 2013

185 days to go

Goal Event:      Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
Date:              31 May 2014 (185 days away)
Distance:         1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run

So far I've managed:

Longest swim:  300m
Longest ride:    21km
Longest run:    1km

300m Memories

Wiser people than me advise that those just beginning swimming should try to forget all about speed at first.  

Hell, that Total Immersion guy even says "Swimming slowly is the best way to develop habits of efficiency and economy".

That's all good news for me because at this stage I feel like a complete beginner and I'm definitely swimming slowly (as my position at the rear of the latte lane shows). 

This morning at Nightcliff Pool I experienced a pleasing breakthrough when swimming slowly (jury still out on whether my style is efficient or economic).  No biggie but pretty chuffed I can now swim 300m non stop.  I'd like to think irongirl determination is returning.  

Perhaps it never left!

Greatly elated by this latest small achievement, I stopped for a breather (I'm allowed, just ask my coach) and looking down the lane recalled that this time last year I was struggling to make it through 50m and starting to seriously question that post Kona fatigue ever felt like this. 

I'm a huge believer in listening to your body and also believe that triathletes are fairly in tune with their inner workings, in particular, those that roll in Ironman circles.  

That certainly was the case when I took myself off to the local medical centre early in 2011 when, post IM 70.3 Phuket, I knew something wasn't quite right.   At that time I did have to be pretty persistent in trying to get my vague "I think there is something wrong with me" symptoms across. 

Fast forward and that feeling turned out to be my first encounter with colectoral cancer and resulted in surgery in the form of a right hemicolectomy .  

With irongirl determination (and lots of encouragement and careful management from coach Daz) I was able to don my first Comeback Queen crown and make it back to Phuket in December 2011 and from there Kona (2012).  

So obviously when I was struggling to get through a piddling 50m towards the end of last year and having competed at Hawaii only ten or so weeks prior, I headed off to my GP again post haste.

No surprise that gazing down the swim lane this morning experiencing 300m euphoria the memories of why I'm on my second Comeback Queen stint came flooding back. 

Nightcliff Pool - where I swim slowly

26 November 2013

Triathletes shouldn't garden

With Cyclone Alessia now off our weather maps, it's all systems normal again here in the Top End.

The alarm went off loudly this morning and a quick lung full of air at the window showed we were continuing with welcome cool conditions.  

First up it was over to the pool for swim squad.  

After seven weeks of easing back into the latte lane, my program now calls for me to take note of how far I am actually swimming.

It was no surprise that having a target swim total to complete turned out to require a little more effort than I had putting in up until now.  

It also required a lot more concentration on my part ... a real kick starter towards actually starting to swim for real. 

I was able to give coach Daz the "thumbs up completed" signal with about ten minutes of squad time left, so feel I put in a solid effort.

Obviously still haven't reached that magic full session yet but it certainly feels as though that goal is not to too far away.

Invigorated by the mild weather I decided to undertake a yard clean up.  We don't have a very large courtyard but the palm fronds quickly build up, the weeds have had a growth spurt with all the rain and a number of pot plants needed a good trim.  

My get it done attitude was sorely tested when I managed to go face first through a rather large sticky cobweb.  I shudder just thinking about it.

Then this afternoon I had another mini brick to get through so I slapped on the sunscreen and hit the road around 4.30 pm to find that as well as warming up considerably, the wind had also picked up.  

This made for an awesome ride out past the hospital and up into and around Lyons.

Not so the return journey which saw me struggle a little riding into the head wind.  The last time I rode in wind like that was out on the Queen K at Kona last year.

Had to have a conversation with myself - "the wind is your friend", "if you want to ride up to Hawi next May, get on with it princess", - you know the sort of thing. 

A good talking to always works, and before long I was home and the ride part was done.  

Another "fast" transition was followed by a "brisk" walk!!  

My walk gets me over to the foreshore which I love.  There were about a dozen guys out wind surfing this evening which looked pretty spectacular. As did the flock of kites gliding around on a thermal.

Gliding around and around

But here we are a few hours later and my back is starting to ache. I've also got a couple of itchy spots on my face and a rough spot on my hand from wielding the secateurs.  

Comeback Queens really shouldn't garden!

24 November 2013

Week seven completed.

Though we don't get another cyclone update from the BoM for another hour and it is raining VERY heavily at the moment, I suspect the worst of the weather is going to slip by under us. 

Darwin also now appears to be on the fringe of the cyclone tracking map. 

Tracking Cyclone Alessia

Regardless of the weather, I'm very happy to report that Week 7 of my come back program is now ticked off, all done, dusted and completely finished. Woo hoo!

I managed to slip my last "ride/brisk walk" session in during a gap in the storms today, all fired up with enthusiasm after watching 3/4 of an hour of Ironman 70.3 Mandurah highlights.

It was the best time to head out as not only did it not rain, there were hardly any cars on the road.

This may have been due to cancellations because of the cyclone warning, but I suspect it had more to do with the fact that Australia looks like beating England at the first cricket Test currently underway in Brisbane and everyone being at home on the couch glued to the tele.

Given it is the end of the week, I opened and printed out my next week's program and noticed another slight increase in training time.

A little bit of reflection here.

Week 1 had me completing the grand total of 4 hrs 40 mins training.

This week, (7) I ticked over a whooping great 6 hours worth of swim, bike, and run.

The remarkable thing is, though that small amount pales into insignificance compared to just over 12 months ago, I was absolutely stoked to get it all done.  Nothing like an increase in fitness to up your mood. 

There was another little hiccup though. 

Earlier this week I became acutely aware of my big toe.  There is ordinarily nothing remarkable about my big toe but of late it's been calling an increasing amount of attention to itself via an area of pain.

By midweek it also looked & felt rather swollen. Given that I had a doctor's appointment on Monday and didn't think to get it checked out, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I'm developing one of those joints that ache when it is going to rain!  It's aching a little now so my guess is we are in for some more rain yet.

So now it's back to waiting for the cyclonic conditions to pass by - although I must confess to be enjoying the cooler weather that the low has produced these past few days. 

Watching for Cyclone Alessia

23 November 2013

Cyclone heading this way

That first little brick I mentioned last post was successfully achieved - albeit in a rather damp state after being caught in passing storm that rolled through just at the end of my ride.

Our wet has arrived early (compared to last year, VERY early) and we are now officially on a Cyclone Watch with Tropical Cyclone Alessia (currently a cat 1) tracking our way.
All training is now being completed with the help of the BoM radar.  

Living in the Top End and triathlon training at this time of year means accepting that you will get wet but also that you can get very adept at dodging storms; accepting that your house can take on a decidedly cluttered look as shoes, helmets, gloves & clothes all vie for drying positions under the fan and that noses are now on high alert for mould - another reality of living through the wet season!

With cyclone supplies in (baked beans & water at top of the list) and car filled with fuel, it was get out on the bike time again this morning.  

Perfectly timed before the rain rolled in, my super training partner and I got our ride done without getting wet.

It was also the first ride we have done together in a very long time, so a celebratory comeback coffee was had at the Waterfront.

Celebrating first ride together in months

Although delighted to be out riding, it did highlight that I have a long way to go on the road back to fitness - discovered that the Museum hill takes on mountainous proportions when legs are not Kona ready as they were the last time I went up there on a bike!

With a cyclone heading this way and torrential rain coming through more frequently there will be a lot of BoM watching tomorrow to get the last of this week's sessions done.

At the moment Darwin looks pretty grey and wet and it appears that it will be for the next few days.

Wet, wet, wet with our first cyclone heading this way

20 November 2013

Pesky plovers & more progress

It's hump day and I've shaken off whatever was causing some health concerns.  I'd put up with general unwellness for a few days, took to the horizontal (a lot) and faked it for awhile before finally getting a doctor's appointment. My recent experiences with the big C mean I'm much more vigilant about being checked out.  Appears whatever was ailing me, has now passed as I've bounced back to feeling pretty damn good today. 

Which is just as well as my training program has jumped a little (in both time and intensity).

Swim squad is now to be attempted in full - with allowable little rests as needed.  "Little rests" were required on Tuesday, but not nearly as many as last week, so more progress there.

Training wise nothing was achieved yesterday afternoon, due mainly to a medical appointment and also the heavy storms that came through. So, well rested, it was with a lot more energy that I prepared for a 40 minute walk/run early this morning.

Note the change from "jog" to "run" - yes ... more progress.

The overcast conditions made for near perfect weather to head out, but first I had to run the gauntlet of Family Plover living on the corner.

A ball of fluff on match sticks

They have hatched a chick and aren't happy when someone passes close by. 

I'm convinced that they are unimpressed by me mostly or perhaps by anyone wearing a visor and sunglasses.  Mum Plover (or was it dad) flapped madly in my direction but later allowed another bareheaded walker to go unmolested.  I will try and not take it personally.

My program calls for 6.30 pace for my "run" efforts.  Don't tell coach Daz, but to figure out how fast I was running these days, I actually had to run a kilometre.

Beginning to think I may have to get with the technology and ask Santa to deliver a Garmin.  Something simple, for running - with time and distance.  

I can't begin to tell you how exhilarating that single kilometre felt! Now I only have to string together 20 more of those and I'll be looking good for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii next May!

My walk/run was uneventful once I passed the pesky plovers, but I was a little disappointed to see "a tree of significance" in my neighbourhood had lost one of its branches. 

Branch down

We have had so much rain already (records for November) the ground is soggy and trees wet and heavy.  I'm sure this won't be the only tree down this wet season.

I have some more progress happening shortly when I attempt my first Comeback Queen brick session.

My program says I'm to do a 40 min ride (with some short efforts) followed by a quick transition to a 10 minute walk.

I'm looking forward to this immensely as it's even more  progress! 

18 November 2013

Staying focused

The amount of personal admin we manage to generate is phenomenal and I find if I don't stay focused it can can rapidly pile up.

A quick glance around my desk area shows about a dozen different projects underway at once.  

Given my desire (intermittent I'll admit) to be clutter free, this state of affairs is causing more than a little stress.  Tomorrow I'm going to try and get this under control (famous last words perhaps).

But how did I get there?  It's squarely on triathlon's head.  I've been constantly off on tangents reading about the TeamTBB/Sutto parting of ways, watching & taking photos at Splash n Dash and junior aquathlons, athlete tracking at Shepparton and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook for news of friends who are racing all over the place to name but a few distractions.  

Thank goodness relief from the guilt of not getting things done comes in the form of a bike ride, a swim or another of my walk/jog sessions.  Nothing like getting out in the fresh air to make one feel better about the world. 

At least I'm staying focused on getting my training sessions done regardless of the state of the nation!

Great to report that I hit a new post op bike PB - 21km in an hour- over the weekend!  That was an enjoyable jaunt from home to East Point, a ride I hadn't done in such a long time. 

As I've a burning desire to get out on the road on Ms Trek, that 50km mark can't come quick enough.  As long as I stay focused on what is important, I'll make it ... maybe not by Christmas, but it will happen. 

Looking back at Darwin from East Point

14 November 2013

Cycling hazards in Darwin

Pedalling along yesterday morning, enjoying the serenity, I happened across a scene that made me blink twice.

There just off the bike path ahead were a couple of rangers (female) "man" handling a croc into the back of a ute.

Blink, blink - yes that's definitely a croc and me with no camera (what on earth could you see on a 40 minute ride that would require a photo?  Lots it turns out).

The female saltwater crocodile had been caught in the croc trap located on our suburban Rapid Creek. 

Croc in a trap

That got me thinking again about the hazards of riding in and around Darwin while tri training.

There are many including:

Broken glass
Nest protecting plovers
Dogs on the loose
Broken glass
Non functioning water bubblers
Monitor lizards
Broken glass
Long grassers asleep on the bike path
Aggressive Darwin Bus drivers
Broken glass
Road trains
Broken glass
Blokes in utes
Broken glass
Low flying bush turkeys
Flocks of cockatoos
Broken glass
Dry season burn off smoke
Broken glass
Motorised bikes on bike paths
Intoxicated long grassers and backpackers
Broken glass 
and more and more -
Speeding trucks

My favourite stretch of bike path

As I venture out on my comeback rides, I tend to stick as much to the bike paths as I can, avoiding roads and peak hour traffic where and whenever possible. 

My notice my bike skills are picking up and I am definitely getting stronger.

So long as I can avoid the hazards of cycling in Darwin I'm now certain my cycling fitness will return.  

Hasten slowly. 

11 November 2013

Watching is almost as hard as doing

I'm exhausted, totally spent, out of juice, completed knackered ....

and what caused this state?  

Spectating and supporting at Murray Man Triathlon held at Barmera in the Riverland of South Australia yesterday., that's what!

We flew down on Friday morning, arriving around lunch time and then drove straight up to Barmera.  Negotiating the Adelaide traffic seemed to take forever and it was a relief when we finally hit the open roads.

The weather was pretty brisk on our late afternoon arrival into town.  We checked in to the hotel and then Daryl and crew quickly put bikes together and headed out for a ride to make sure that most vital piece of equipment was in top condition.  While they were out I took off for a quick explore of town.

Barmera's pretty small so that didn't take long. 

Next morning it was an early start with Daz getting his crew down for a reccy swim at the Lake Bonney start line.  I was on gear guard duty with the odd spot of photo taking thrown in while they gingerly entered the water. 

Last year's event was held in 40+ degree temperatures with the organisers trucking in ice to help cool competitors.  Not needed this year, we Darwinites were shivering in all the clothes we owned (which is not many when you travel Jetstar and bike box takes up most of your luggage allowance) and the temperature was struggling to make it to 6 degrees (a far cry from the 36 degrees we left back in Darwin).

Watching Daz develop the shivers fifteen minutes after getting out of the water, I was more than happy to have had reason to be on dry land. 

Next was a drive over the bike course - which confirmed the road was pretty rough and it could be a battle against the wind. 

Registration and bike racking were scheduled on Saturday afternoon so we headed down to transition again - this time not so cold as the sun had finally managed to warm things a little.  That done, we all headed back to the hotel. 

While those racing put their feet up for awhile, I ducked out for a walk/run of the course.  My session went a little overtime but at least I had a good appreciation of what they would be facing on race day. 

Then it was time to head over to Berri (about 15km away) for race brief and pasta night.  

By this time I was starting to feel a little left out of things.  It's very obvious you are a fraudster (non starter) once everyone is wearing their wristband!

Still I was a little cheered by winning a Haigh's chocolate Murray Cod in the lucky "envelope under the chair" prize.

Next morning was race morning and this is when my big day started.  The alarm went off at some ungodly hour and it was cold.  As in very cold. 

Still it wasn't me who was going to have to swim, bike and run in it, so I just put on a cheery face, helped apply the TriTats and donned everything I owned and before long it was time to head down to transition and watch everything unfold.

I did some holding, folding and putting away of unwanted warm gear.  Got a few pics, went upstairs for a better view.  Came down again to watch the swim start, got excited and took pics of Tim being first out of the water, then raced up to encourage him as he got on the bike.

Following that great start it was up, down, back, up, down, back, changing positions often and trying to keep up with everyone. 

I wish I had a Garmin and been able to track my movements - I'm sure I'd have clocked about 15km.

Moving was also essential just to try and keep warm.  At one stage I was shivering so much I got a cup of hot chocolate, huddled down beside a bin near the bike turnaround to shelter a little from the cold breeze and prayed to thaw out!  I can only imagine what it felt like for the thin blooded Territorians out there on the bike.

Trying to get some video or photos of finishes and then dashing around to the athlete area fence to say congratulations was another endurance exercise for this Comeback Queen.  More of the up the stairs to the balcony for a good view, then back down and a quick dash off somewhere again.

I did manage to lose track of people at times but during the course of the race, managed to take at least one good photo of everyone.

It was interesting for me that I was quite envious of those competing.  I didn't really fancy the swim in the cool (apparently the water temp was reasonable) but I did find myself wishing I was able to be out there taking part. 

It was awesome watching Tim cross in under four hours and earn some prize money in the elite category.  

As I watched for those I knew approaching the finish, I could see the adrenalin rush they got in the finish chute and the thrill of making the line and I found myself wishing it was me. 

An hour and a half later I was starting to run out of steam.

Finally they were all done and had spent enough time in recovery and it was pack up and go back for a shower time. The hotel did seem as though it had moved further away by this stage.

To round off a big day, it was back to the Yacht Club for presentations and then to the hotel for dinner.

By this time the athletes all seemed to gain a second wind and were on a high from their achievements.

Me - I was spent and needing to go horizontal - I really do think watching is almost as hard as doing!

Barmera embracing triathlon

But it was also inspirational, and I loved being there on the sidelines knowing that if I just keep at it, one day it will be me again experiencing that fantastic feeling of crossing the finish line. 

07 November 2013

Developing staying power

The latte lane was rocking at swim squad this morning and I'm happy to say I once again felt good in the water.

My endurance still needs some work, but it is so pleasing to get through the majority of the warm up and more and more of each set.

When I reflect on my starting point of four weeks ago, the comparison to today is amazing. 

So I will continue with these small steps, listen to the wise words of coach Daz and continue to ease back into swim, bike, run all the while working towards developing enough staying power to line up at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii next May. 

Developing stay power will take time

05 November 2013

Wet, wet, wet

Overnight storms rewrote the record books here in Darwin.  

Rain records tumbled, with the most rain in 73 years falling at Darwin Airport (which is nearby) in a 24hr period, according to this article from the ABC. 

It absolutely bucketed down and we got the first flood alerts of the wet season. 

When the alarm went off at 5.20am for swim squad this morning, the BoM radar was still looking very colourful:

The radar looking very colourful

A mention on Facebook that it may be hard for some to head over to the pool, resulted in this text arriving soon after:

No way I could go back to sleep

then a phone call from Ms Motivator herself who is currently interstate just making sure I hadn't rolled over and gone back to sleep. 

At least I was able to truthfully say I was already in my swim gear and on my way!

It was worth not missing.  The water was perfect and my confidence took a huge leap forward as I swam well today.  Seemed to have more feel for the water and was happy to grab some faster toes for some of the 50s.

Small steps.

Then this afternoon, it was time to hit the road on the bike (but not before checking that the BoM radar was clear) and again found that there is definitely some progress there.

I grinned hugely when I saw my speedo clock showing 34km per hour while doing my time on the aerobars.  

That's not fast I hear you think!  For me it's a measure of a great deal of progress.  Week 1 on the comeback trail and I was lamenting that it could be a long time before I'd be able to reach 20km per hour again.

Small steps.

So even though the day had a soggy wet, wet, wet start to it - for this Comeback Queen the news was all good. 

04 November 2013

Plugged in

I have been plugged in with the iPod on recent walk/runs and enjoying making my way through my various playlists. 

My trusty iPod is so old now it gets weird looks when I drag it out of my pocket.

Bopping along with a smile on my face yesterday, I marveled at just what gets me off the computer stool and into action mode these days.

My 2012 ironman training was fueled mainly by Kings of Leon but now it's a seriously mixed bag and I thought I'd share my top three at the moment.

If I need a little motivation ....

Firstly there is this - I know it doesn't make sense, it's not supposed to, but it does get a spring in my step.

Then when there's nowhere else to run I enjoy this.

And if all else fails I "fire it up".  Joe might be getting a little craggy but his voice still has it for me. 

... who knows what will get me moving next week!

Plugged in to an ancient music machine 

02 November 2013

Running habit

I'm busy trying to redevelop a running habit.

This is definitely not an easy task when starting again from scratch but one I have to develop to have any hope of making that goal of Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in 2014.

So as I near the end of Week 3 I've been reflecting on whether it has become any easier.

Getting out the door - YES to that.  Feeling now that 30 mins isn't all that difficult to knock over. 

Walk /jog - YES to that.  Although still watching the clock tick over when I have to do my "run" efforts, I'm not checking quite so much and have this week, shock/horror, run a little overtime on a couple of occasions.

Concentration - My attention span still isn't really up to scratch.  Among the distractions are the ocean views and there are owls to search for in the trees along the foreshore.  However, I am walking a lot faster and covering more distance in the time allocation so that's a plus.

I'm also enjoying listening to some music - not sure if that is a good thing as it confirms I'm not yet up to hearing the sound of my laboured breathing or heavy footsteps!  

Looking forward to the day when I can head out again minus the iPod and just run.

The habit will return, this I know to be true. 

Nightcliff Foreshore - great place to be redeveloping a running habit

01 November 2013

Riding in Darwin not for the faint of heart

Ticked off another cycle last evening.  

As I didn't venture out until quite late it was a pleasant, albeit action packed, hour of spin, spin.

First up my favourite bike path is now inaccessible due to the commencement of road widening works along Lee Point Road.

Given that this stretch was closed for months not that long ago while pipes were laid, it was disappointing to be locked out again from my normally most convenient cycle route.  

The road in that section is now very, very narrow  with temporary fencing up and rather than brave the evening (read drivers coming home from drinks after work) traffic, I opted to skirt around the back of Leanyer and head across Vanderlin Drive at the Hibiscus lights and brave the traffic coming out of the shopping centre (done with fingers crossed).

Darwin motorists are pretty notorious.  They tend drive like there is no tomorrow and they like park as close as possible to where ever they wish to go (even mounting nature strips, driving on bike paths and crossing over in front of oncoming traffic to park if that is what it takes to get a centimetre closer to where they want to be). 

They even hold on to fridges while they drive as this NT Police photo published this week shows:

And they are so clever they can talk & text as they drive and even park in shopping centre car parks one handed and not miss a beat in the conversation. 

Not sure how but there is one less taxi on the streets after a two car collision on McMillans Road that I happened across not long after it occurred.

It had the typical Darwin "how the hell did they manage that" look to it and unfortunately a number of people were injured. 

Had to negotiate around the crash on the bike, all the while thinking I was lucky not to have been ten minutes earlier.

Then as I rode up the bike path approaching Rapid Creek Bridge a moronic driver decided it was ok to drive up the path and park under a nice tree. Car parks - who needs those when you are in Darwin.

And don't get me started on those that park on the incorrect side of the road and are happy to pull out in front on oncoming traffic. 

Hearing about a number of cycling fatalities this week has made me continue to very safety conscious and while I can, I'm sticking as much as possible to the bike paths.

We cyclists are not always perfect but here in Darwin riding your bike is not for the faint of heart.