31 January 2014

And then there is wind

The weather gods are making mischief again today (see previous post) and this brought on a period (quite a long period really) of procrastination earlier today.

I watched, waited, got ready, watched some more, waited, got ready ... you get the drift ... before finally taking a dose of cement and heading out on my run.  

There were even more puddles to jump over and didn't dare stray from the paths for fear of disappearing up to the knees in mud and sludge but the run was enjoyable just the same.

As it is so much cooler during a monsoon everyone including me, is reluctant to moan too much about the weather.

I was also hoping to get a ride in today but no longer owning a mountain bike, and with the doppler wind map showing lots of dark blue there is no way I'll venture out on my road bike after almost being blown off yesterday.

We are apparently in for yet another huge tide this evening and this combined with the wind and rain has authorities predicting flooding along Rapid Creek quite near our home. 

Never a dull moment in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. 

2014 Darwin Weather 31 Jan

30 January 2014

Singing in the rain

A few days have passed since I last posted and they have been very wet days.  

Darwin has been in the grip of monsoonal conditions again, and while there are no cyclone warnings current for us, the amount of rain recorded means we are waterlogged and there are flood warnings out all over the Top End.

As the storms roll through and swimming, riding and running in the rain becomes the norm, we are again in danger of being swamped by wet clothes, wet towels and very wet shoes of all varieties.

Noses are on high alert for mould but heaven forbid our car should ever be taken over like this. Our temperature probably needs to go up a few degrees before our shoes, belts and leather sofa are at risk again.

The cloud cover also makes picking up a satellite for GPS devices a little difficult but while ever it stays cool not many complain except to wish for a couple of hours of sunshine to get a few things dry!

Bright spots do occur.  Mine was receiving my new run gear order from the wonderful crew at SOAS Racing and being able to get out and jump puddles yesterday looking pretty cool (at least that's what I'm led to believe).

While enjoying a soggy post run beer on the balcony later, a rainbow appeared and I took that as a sign that our little corner of the world isn't going to be destroyed by floodwater just yet. Phew!

We could however disappear down one of the many potholes now starting to appear on our roads. 

No point in grizzling though, when to the south of us Melbourne is gearing up for a heatwave which will see friends competing in 40+ degrees C  at Challenge Melbourne at the weekend and over on the Queensland coast other friends are battening down awaiting the arrival of Cyclone Dylan.  

So think I'll just toughen up and get out there and enjoy dodging potholes, splashing through puddles and perhaps do a little singing in the rain while I ride. 

26 January 2014

Australia Day

Long weekends are always great and I love how people come out to play and this Australia Day morning we  headed for Casuarina Beach which was largely deserted at 6am.

I won't lie, I found the beach running sections tough going but did gallop along nicely on the tracks through the reserve.

With not a nudist in sight (a section of the beach is designated Nude Beach), the serenity was good for the soul.

Although they soon dropped me (and in some cases lapped me) I had lots of company to kick start the day including the girls (missing Amy and Tara) below. 

They are great running buddies and so very, very encouraging.  I'm lucky to have them  and others watching out for me.

Following our run we chatted all things Australia Day - snags on the bbq, the ute run, lamingtons, Vegemite and our 2014 Australian of the Year

25 January 2014

A different tired on Australia Day

I'm a little tired this evening.

It's a good tired, the kind that comes from any early start to the day, fresh air and physical activity. 

A tiredness linked to this morning completing the longest ride done since starting this comeback campaign. 

A tiredness linked to also completing my longest run (well OK, run/walk) yesterday as well.

All those smaller sessions I've been doing are now starting to link together and my program for next week is pretty close to what I would have previously considered "normal".

So here's where things currently sit with 126 days to go until Ironman 70.3 Hawaii:

Longest swim:      1.3km  (must put myself to the test again outside of squad as I'm hoping this will also be much improved)

Longest ride:        40.3km

Longest run/walk:  9.5km

Since my "new beginning" in October, I do sometimes have doubts about being able to complete this race and it is the bike that worries me most.  That climb up to Hawi and then the slow drag back from Kawaihae to the Queen K are very vivid memories so it was good to get a ride in that was almost half the distance. 

There is definitely much work still to be done but I've come a long way when I remember that this time last year I was in Brisbane with my fingers crossed awaiting results of a top to toe PET scan.

Because Australia Day then fell on the weekend (as it does again this year) Monday was deemed the Public Holiday so it would be the Tuesday before we could see the colorectal surgeon and the urologist and hear the verdict as to whether they would recommend surgery or just send me home for palliative chemotherapy.  

I was tired then, very tired.

Tonight's is a different tired and I know without hesitation which I prefer. 

23 January 2014

Small world

Some good friends recently travelled to Bali to spend their Christmas and New Year break.

As many frequent visitors and expats do while staying there, they browse the local English language newspaper the Bali Advertiser, to discover what is happening and making news on the Island of the Gods.

What my friends came across in the 25 Dec-8 Jan 2014 edition, prompted them to bring a copy home for me.

Appears the author of "This Sporting Life" column liked my earlier
blog post regarding Yanti becoming the first Indonesian female to complete an Ironman so much that they thought a little plagiarism was in order. 

Given I get a closing mention as "one of the world's most outstanding triathletes" and we got such a good laugh, all is forgiven.

Small world.

By the way, if ever you are looking for a holiday destination race, the 
Bali International Triathlon is well worth considering. 

21 January 2014

Travel plans

With training progressing well and nothing sinister showing on my latest CT scans, we decided it was all systems go for furthering travel plans for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in May.

Until now the only financial commitment we had made was to get our entry in before the event sold out.

To gain some motivation for the task of sourcing flights and accommodation and to recap on the first time we did this race (back in 2008) I had a read of a race report written following that event.  As well as picking up the odd punctuation error here and there,  it also reminded me of just how beautiful but tough the course was and how exciting it was to be on the Big Island for the first time.  

Then I delved into the task of finding flights.  It's not easy to get from Darwin to Kona.  The main aim of my travel research was trying to avoid the necessity of having to book a hotel in Sydney (or Brisbane) on the way over and also on the return flights.

I looked at all possible routes - via Singapore, via KL, via Tokyo, via Manila and even checked out going through Melbourne in case something popped up there.

Then before booking anything, as we will be travelling with bike boxes, researching baggage allowances was priority.  That narrowed the search somewhat with Hawaiian Airlines charging an arm and a leg to transport bike boxes. 

A Qantas/Jetstar combo was looking good until a call to Qantas confirmed that the Jetstar portion was a starter fare ie no checked baggage and this would have to be purchased at the airport.  At $25 a kilo (international) that was ruled out immediately. 

So after more research, a couple of phone calls and then long discussions about whether we could change return dates we finally made our decision. 

It has been a long time since we have flown international with them, but in the end it was Qantas who got our bookings for Darwin to Honolulu via Sydney.  We aren't required to stay overnight in Sydney on the way over nor on the way back and bikes can be checked in as part of our baggage allowance ie no extra charges. 

I'll work on getting to and from the Big Island next.

Finding accommodation (in Honolulu and on the Island) has also stalled a little.  Our exchange rate has dropped considerably over the last few weeks making it necessary to delve deeper into hotel/resort charges.  My mind is whirling with GET (general excise tax), Transient Accommodation Tax and daily resort fees!  Who knows how much the rooms actually cost these days, it's extremely hard to come up with a final figure.

That all then reminded me of the whole tipping routine that happens when you travel to the USA.  

Tipping is not a common practice in Australia and we find it somewhat confusing.  Although understanding why it happens it's not something we instinctively do, which can lead to an awkward silence or cold stare if inadvertently overlooked. 

Who said making travel plans were easy?

The view from our last stay on the Big Island is going to be hard to beat

19 January 2014

Week ends on a Leilani high

The event at Lake Alexander last night was wet, as in really wet, it absolutely bucketed down at times.  But it was an aquathlon, there was no lightning and everything was in place so it went ahead as planned and competitors had a ball.  

I did manage to take some photos, enough to satisfy the demands of Facebook, but the rain and fading light made the task a little difficult.

Running through the rain with the light fading 

As Daz was race director, we had cones, buoys, signs etc to pick up after the race and it was quite late when we arrived home, both dripping wet and believe it or not, quite cold.

We were up early again this morning to run and you guessed it - still raining.

Running in the rain in Darwin is one of life's simple pleasures and it is so nice to be cool and rain wet rather than hot, sweaty wet!

A quick Sunday evening review of my week's training program was a little disappointing.  I have been progressing nicely for weeks and managing to get all my program done but not so this time.

The storms (and wind) meant I'm down two ride sessions this week.  Looking on the positive side I ran well (less fatigued) and my three swims also went well ... and I'm still in one piece which may not have been the case if I had risked riding in the current conditions. That wind has been so strong, I heard grown men have dismounted and walked over some of the more exposed footbridges. 

We may get a reprieve tomorrow as the weather forecast is for "storms" rather than "squally storms".  Those with solar systems are out of hot water, most of us have piles and piles of wet clothes hanging around and the smell of wet shoes is now all pervading.

The week has ended on a high though with the birth of a cute little tri baby with a beautiful name (Leilani) born to friends Ali and Stu (early this morning by c section).

She is a petite little sweetie and I was mightily chuffed to be able to visit early and have a cuddle. Leilani and I have bonded, she is going to be another special little person in my life. 

17 January 2014

Wet, cool and fighting the mould

With much of Australia currently battling heatwave conditions and bushfires it seems rather petty to moan about mould growing, musty smells and wet laundry hanging all around the house. 
With our weather forecast for the next few days reading:

Forecast for Friday Evening
Squally showers. Moderate to fresh and gusty west to northwest winds. 

Precis:       Squally showers.               

Forecast for Saturday
Squally showers, with one or two storms in the morning. Moderate to fresh and
gusty west to northwest winds. 

Precis:       Squally showers, storm.                      
Darwin:       Min 24    Max 31
Rural:        Min 23    Max 32
UV Alert     8:50 am to 4:50 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 15 [Extreme]

Sunday        Showers.                               Min 24    Max 31
Monday        Showers.                               Min 24    Max 31
Tuesday       Showers.                               Min 24    Max 31

it looks as though we are going to struggle to get anything dry for a few more days yet.
Shoes are also difficult to manage.  Most people I know have at least three pairs of running shoes on the go at once and usually one or two pairs are designated "wet season" runners.  
We do like to run in the rain - it's a change to be wet and cool rather than wet, hot and sweaty but with two triathletes in the house it does generate a huge amount of washing.  
As we are also dodging showers when we ride and with umbrellas next to useless in the strong winds we usually manage to get wet doing any outside activity at all.  Even an ill timed trip to the post box can result in a drenching!
Not being able to get anything dry means we have two full clothes airers competing for space under our downstairs fan.
Yes we do have a clothes drier but our largely lycra wardrobe doesn't take to kindly to that method of drying.
This monsoon has lasted so long all our bedding is also starting to feel damp, and don't get me started on the perils of bath towels in this weather.
There are positives though, the water temperature at the pool has dropped from 30+ degrees C to a rather nippy 26 degrees which is very invigorating for those of us used to swimming in normal warm soup like conditions. 
The surf is also up and those that believe the crocs and stingers disappear when there are choppy conditions, are out in force catching a wave. Not me, but I do like to watch. 

Kite surfer braving the crocs & stingers at Casuarina Beach while the surf is up. 

I'm hoping for a few gaps in the weather tomorrow as I did zip, zero, zilch today of my training and will have to double up if I can.
Darwin Triathlon Club (of which I am a life member and current secretary) kicks off events for 2014 tomorrow evening with an aquathlon of 400m swim, 4km run.  We ditch the bike leg during the wet season for obvious reasons.
I'm looking forward to seeing who is in shape (you can spot those who trained right through the festive season) and those that have slipped (read had a fantastic Christmas and over indulged a little) and also to playing paparazzi and taking lots of happy snaps of those competing. 
In the mean time, I'll go and shuffle the laundry and turn the fan up a notch and hope to have something dryish to wear tomorrow. 

14 January 2014

I think I can

As we were still under a cyclone watch this morning, I wondered as I headed for Nightcliff Pool in the rain and in the dark, if anyone would turn up for swim squad. 

Of course they did!  I think most, like me, correctly assumed there wouldn't be much of an opportunity to get out and do any training later today so we were all happy to get a swim under our belt early in case a cyclone did develop.

That wasn't to be and our watch was cancelled mid afternoon.  So now, thankfully, we just get to enjoy the cooler conditions that the monsoon brings. 

A wet, grey but beautiful cool day in Darwin 

Checking my training program again a short while ago, it didn't surprise me to see that I've now inched up to nine hours of swim, bike, run this week.

Seeing that also prompted me to check where I'm at today:

With 137 days to go until Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, my comeback progress update reads like this:

Longest swim:      1.3km
Longest ride:        33.3km

Longest run:         2km 
Longest run/walk:  8.6km
Looks like I'm about a third of the way there and becoming more and more comfortable every day. 

A big plus is noticing that I'm starting to develop a feel for the water again and having fun trying to stay on toes. 

I feel a little like that little red engine - I think I can, I think I can!

13 January 2014

Here we go again

The BoM has a few moments ago declared a cyclone watch for areas including Darwin.

This is the second cyclone to effect Darwin this wet so our cyclone kit is pretty much up to scratch.  I shopped early this morning and added to our tinned tuna stash, grabbed some new batteries for the radio and filled the car so I'm way ahead of the rush.

Think it might be a wise move to get out and get a ride done before the rain starts getting serious and settles in.

If the BoM is right we could be in for a very wet Tuesday.

12 January 2014

Sunrise v sunset

My home town, Darwin (located in the Northern Territory of Australia) is somewhat famous for its sunsets, particularly those viewed from Mindil Beach Markets which are a big magnet for dry season tourists.

But those of us living here know that our sunrises are pretty cool too and they have been awesome lately.

Daz had a run session happening first thing this morning and this was the view as we arrived at the meeting spot.

Dudley Point, Darwin

Actually I didn't have to run, so it was more a social gathering for me - a jaw workout!

I've knocked over this week's programmed runs (with that pb I mentioned in an earlier post) and have also ticked all my ride boxes (again with an improved result).  

That only leaves me with a swim later this afternoon to complete at Nightcliff Pool and my program is done and dusted for the week. 

Nightcliff Pool
Image: Jess Abrahams

Everything is finally coming together and I'm almost ready to call myself a triathlete again. Disregarding my previous triathlon history and going on current fitness and distance, I'd be classified as being at novice level right now!

So this novice is planning to leave her swim until a little later and perhaps pick a winner from sunrise versus sunset.

10 January 2014

Fancy that!

It was a milestone day today for me and for my nearest and dearest.

I had another appointment scheduled with my oncologist at the Alan Walker Cancer Centre  to receive the results of my latest CT scans and blood tests.  

Although there was nothing to indicate anything other than good results, the fear factor, as always, kicked in from the moment I felt the CT scan dye pulsing through my veins on Tuesday.

Blood tests were taken on Wednesday and from then on I could feel myself getting progressively more tense as appointment time approached.  

The collective sigh of relief when the doctor said "all clear" was extremely audible as was the spontaneous high 5! 

We then spent some time discussing all things medical with the Doc including the precautions I may need to take as I ramp up my training for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. 

I'm yet to trial race day nutrition options but given I'm now minus one kidney he stressed how important it is for me to be well hydrated.  With our Darwin weather, that's already quite difficult! 

It comes in handy when your better half is also your coach as he was (as always) there with me to hear it all first hand. 

Daz has been there for me through thick and thin and I could never in a million years, thank him enough.

He is my number one supporter and his sigh of relief today was just as loud as mine. 

All that good news was cause for much celebration and I did that with a 5km post op PB together with my fastest one kilometre for over a year .... fancy that!

08 January 2014

A top day

The thing about new beginnings is that all that has gone before is forgotten and so it is for me.
After so much time out, my fitness had reached zero level so it is rather interesting to have started training from scratch for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii.

The lovely pink Garmin tells me that today I set a new record for 5km runs. OK, so it is still actually a run/walk but to read that my time improved on such a hot day (and after a ride this morning) really made my day!  

During the times I am running, I try to imagine that I'm getting closer and closer to the finish chute and it helps to motivate me to run just a little further. A little weird perhaps, but it does seem to help!  

Along with starting with a clean slate for this comeback attempt, I also made a vow that I would make more time to "smell the frangipani" and today included a number of sightings of birds normally so camouflaged that even Sir David Attenborough would find them hard to spot.

First as I headed off to meet Kylie for our morning ride, I spotted this guy in a ray of sunlight ...

then this afternoon while running I was delighted to finally have a camera handy and spot a tawny frogmouth family.

So I head for zzzzzland with a smile - an enjoyable ride done, a new run pb, dinner with friends and glimpses of hard to spot feathered beauty.  I call that a top day!

07 January 2014

Pinch me I'm dreaming

Pinch me I'm dreaming!

It has taken the best part of three days to get my head around being informed that I have been chosen to be a SOAS Racing brand ambassador for 2014.

What a wonderful opportunity to join such a great bunch of women and to be racing in gear designed with fashion, fit and function firmly in mind.

Now I'm very much looking forward to learning more about the rest of the team over the coming weeks, although it's pretty obvious they are all just as excited about the year ahead.

Thank you SOAS!

06 January 2014

Frisky frilly

A minor training breakthrough - survived riding two days in a row!

Being out on a bike riding in Darwin at this time of year is just short of wonderful.  Our roads are relatively clear of traffic and generally remain that way until just before school goes back. 

So instead of near misses, texting drivers and the like today's ride included sights of one standing to attention camouflaged curlew, one frisky frill-necked lizard and one very dead cane toad.

Frilly in suburban Darwin

05 January 2014

Words of wisdom

Receiving a new training program is always exciting and mine for next week is no exception.  It looks set to challenge my time management skills as well as stretch me to the limits physically.

Somehow I have to fit in three swim sessions, three bike sessions and a couple of runs.

Also in there are core & stretch sessions both of which I seriously need to pay more attention to.  

Ironman 70.3 Hawaii is inching ever closer and my training will continue to step up the closer it gets. 

This week there will also be some tension in the form of scans, blood tests and an oncologist appointment for results so those sessions are going to help the time pass.  It is always an anxious time undergoing the various tests and then waiting for results.  

But back to my program - following my surgery my core strength has all but disappeared.  As a result I'm finding as my runs get longer and I fatigue a little, I have that "bum in a bucket" look and feel happening and no core strength with which to prevent it. 

As well, flexibility is not a word you would ever associate with me, but I so admire those people who have seriously embraced yoga.  You know the ones I mean - they can easily put their forehead on their knees and always appear so calm as well as being supple.

So from someone who can barely reach her toes at the moment, here's my words of wisdom - stretch, stretch, stretch and as well as moisturizing your face, don't forget your neck (front and back).  Just threw that in there!

03 January 2014

Running Darwin style

Not blessed with sponsors to deliver all those lovely new triathlon products to my door, I've largely been behind in the technology stakes.

I also admit to not yet graduating to a smartphone (soon to be rectified - NY resolution) and owning an iPad for less than a year. 

Granted I made my way through the Walkman, Discman years and finally graduated to an iPod - loading my music from our CD collection before eventually setting up an Apple ID and with one click giving them access to my credit card.  My "purchased" file is not yet overcrowded. 

At one stage I did feel the need to have cycle computer which recorded cadence, and there was also a period where I religiously wore a heart rate monitor. 

But once the novelty wore off and I pretty much knew what my HR or cadence would be without looking, those devices were left to gather dust or not replaced.

I've always preferred the "keep it simple" policy, so over my triathlon life I've been a Ironman watch wearer - just the basic watch with the grand total of 50 laps max - to record overall and lap times, has always been sufficient.  

My runs were, in the past, measured by riding them either before or afterwards.  From home I can pretty much give you kilometre markings for up to seven kms in various directions! 

Once I settled into my Ironman pace during training, it became a matter of "how long did I run for" and that would equal so many kilometres with unerring accuracy. 

So imagine my surprise to find myself excited by the data that can be extracted from my new Garmin (a gift from my beautiful daughter at Christmas).

Today I've invested the time to set up an account and downloaded my Singapore runs.

And now I'm hooked.  It was the pretty maps covered with the squiggly lines of my routes that did it ...

... not to mention averages, elevation, records and the like.  Supercoach Daz is going to know my every move from here on, no hiding now!

So my Garmin is now all powered up and I can't wait to get out there tomorrow, find myself a satellite and go run Darwin style - from tap to bubbler.

01 January 2014

Happy New Year

Welcome 2014.

Looking back, this day in 2013 was filled with a great deal of fear and uncertain future.

Although I'm facing some follow up scans and blood tests next week, today is one on which I'm celebrating the skill and care I received from surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, GP,  and nursing staff during 2013 which together with the love and care of my family and support of wonderful friends all combined to make sure I was here to see in this very special New Year.

So on this the very first day of 2014, with my goal of being on the start line of Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in May now even closer, having started at a negative figure on the fitness scale back in October ...

Where I'm at today:

150 days out from Ironman 70.3 Hawaii my comeback progress update reads like this:

Longest swim:  1km
Longest ride:    29km
Longest run:     2km

There is much more swimming, riding and running happening of course, but those distances are a good marker for me to judge my gradual progress.  From zero to ?

Helps to celebrate the small things!