Archive | October, 2016

The main event… Noosa Triathlon 2016

30 Oct

After setting an alarm for 0415 Saturday night I headed to bed, ready to have a solid sleep before the Noosa Triathlon… who was I kidding! After waking every hour, I finally gave up trying to sleep or rest and got out of bed at 0345hrs.  I donned my Smiling for Smiddy apparel, grabbed my previously packed transition bag and set off on my 2.4km walk to transition.

In transition I was disappointed to find that our bikes had been shuffled around a little, and the amount of room I had for my transition set up was very minimal and less than “normal”.  However, I made do, pumped up my tyres, checked and checked again that I had everything ready and headed to the start line. I’d found my mate (and training buddy) Kim in transition so I hung with her and her family while I waited for my family to rise and shine.  At main beach we decided to set a new trend and headed out to swim around one of the buoys as a bit of a warm up and to calm the nerves. We thought it was beautiful out, the water temperature was lovely and though there was a swell it wasn’t too bad (especially when compared to the open water swim I’d participated in on Friday!). We came back into shore, participated in the mandatory Smiling for Smiddy group photo and prepared for our wave start.

Kim set off at 0636hrs and I was in the second wave that started four minutes later at 0640hrs. My coaches instructions were to go hard in the swim and I did my best to try. I found myself in the middle of our wave, with people constantly around me – I’d never been in this position before! I kept stroking away and was really happy with the way my swim was progressing. I was sighting well and as I approached and rounded the first buoy I felt I was right on track.  It was here that the first of the age groupers in the following wave caught up with me.  I was tight around the buoy and was swum over the top of three times… literally… it is a unique experience (and not one I recommend) – you literally get pushed further down under the water while they glide/kick over the top!  At this point I briefly resorted to breaststroke to get my breath back.  After a couple of strokes, I was able to gather myself, and commence freestyle once again. For the remainder of the swim I continued to sight well, and managed what felt like pretty direct lines between marker buoys.  I took my fair share of elbows, feet, hands etc but it didn’t alter my stroke and I kept on going.  I managed to catch up to a few from the first Smiddy wave as I got near the finish, and was feeling pretty good. On getting out of the swim I noted 38 minutes on my watch and was astounded (last year I did 32min and I’m a much stronger swimmer this year)… although my GPS says I did 1700m, the 1500m was done – Official time 39:11!

Leg two was the bike – another leg I wanted to go hard on. I don’t have too much to report about the ride. It felt like a solid ride.  It was, unfortunately, my slowest time up Garmin Hill, however made up for by my fastest time down it (and reaching a top speed of 72km/hr).  I was pushing as hard as I could, and even doing greater than 30km/hr was well and truly left for dead by various age groupers who were just incredible on the bike – made me feel like I was standing still!! The mandatory waves to Mum and Dad, Dave, those in the Smiddy Tent, and my coach Em on the sidelines.  Overall I was happy with my bike leg, and even happier to discover I managed a Personal Best time this year – 1:32:39, 40km.

Transition two wasn’t a good one for me.  Unfortunately when I went back in to rack my bike there was no longer any room (it was tight initially). There were bikes haphazardly racked around mine, and I literally had to shuffle bikes down to make room for mine. Once that was done I was then actually able to undertake my bike/run transition.

Time to head off for the final leg – a run… This unfortunately hasn’t been my best leg of late – although I generally have been better running when it is a run off the bike.  This is definitely an area that needs a bit more work, and I found I lost the mental battle and couldn’t encourage my legs to keep moving. The first km was solid but after that it was an interval session.  At about the 5km mark I found another tri-buddy Jane (she caught up to me) and we ran together for a while, before I caved and encouraged her to keep on going! On and off the run continued for 10km – more off than on if I’m honest.  It was so hot out there by now and I was starting to think about all those who still had to come out on the run (and were still heading out on the bike).  The run out was mostly on road and very little shade, the second half there was a little more shade which was a bit nicer. A suboptimal run unfortunately – though all encouragement on route was greatly appreciated.  I ended up doing a 1:20:24 (8min/km), 10km.

After finishing I headed back to the Smiddy team tent and gratefully accepted a massage from the team at Allsports Physio. I also appreciated the nice cold drink offered, and the food that magically appeared.  It was, as always, an honour to represent the Smiling for Smiddy organisation.  I believe we are close to raising $300,000 from this event alone – and I’m so grateful to those who supported me in my fundraising this year.

So the final time was 3:41 – As usual I have fairly well deconstructed my triathlon mentally since the race.  I was really hoping to do a sub 3:30 however this didn’t eventuate today.  Many others I know had a lot slower swim times than they thought so that was some consolation. I was able to knock 10 minutes off last years’ time (although last year I wasn’t in the best health by the end of it!). My run fitness definitely needs work, and some consistent training on the bike will continue to see improvements in this leg also.  It was a fairly inconsistent winter of training for me not feeling completely well, but back to training again now I’m feeling a better and I WILL continue to get fitter and stronger.

So, next up is Raby Bay in December (900/25/6) all good race experience as I start to prepare for my next big event – my first half ironman at the end of February.

But first? This week is recovery week. Time to take it a bit easier and give the body a small rest after today…

Thanks again to all who have supported and continue to support me in these crazy endeavours!

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To tri – Noosa Triathlon Festival Event #2

29 Oct

One of the highlights of the Noosa weekend is being able to buddy up with someone with special needs.  These guys want to participate in a triathlon but cannot undertake it alone, so as part of the Smiling for Smiddy triathlon team, we are able to partner with them, and help them along with their swim, ride and run.  This event is a 100m swim, a 3km cycle and a 500m run and nowhere else do you see so much joy, determination and enthusiasm!

This year I was partnered with Sam. She had come down from Rockhampton just to participate – an 8hr bus ride each way – how’s that for commitment!!  Sam told me this was her first triathlon and she was most looking forward to the swim – this meant I already liked her (swim is my favourite too!!).

Together we racked our bikes, I explained how it all worked and then we waited… and waited… and waited… what seemed like an eternity before our wave start.  In groups of 6-8 we were released, and I was thrilled to find my mate Kim and her daughter Keri, as well as Keri’s friend Jade and her mum (sorry, I’ve forgotten your name). We were able to convince the marshals to let us start the wave together… only we didn’t stay together for very long as I found out just how enthusiastic and energetic Sam was in the swim – she took off!!  She aced the swim (even passing people) and we headed up toward the transition.  Those cheering us on encouraged me to keep up… (thanks team Bertwistle)

We found our bikes, put on our shoes and headed out for the cycle leg.  Sam was pretty strong on this leg too – she would go in bursts but when she did find speed she was a gun!  Sam was safe on the bike, and did really well, she took the turns carefully (even indicating nicely) and before we knew it, it was time to run!

Sam’s enthusiasm and joy was still evident by this point.  As the crowds cheered for us, we ran out to do our lap around the park.  It was here that Sam found her cousin – who, had decided she just didn’t want to go any further, and her buddy was struggling to encourage her. Sam stopped, took her hand, and insisted they go together – these kids are great! So we ran a bit further, walked a bit, ran a bit, encouraged a cousin again (and then had to run hard when said cousin decided to overtake us!!).  As we approached the final turn Sam saw the finish line, and just like last year I found I had to find another gear completely.  I was risking being left in Sam’s wake as she took off on the last 50m or so to the end…. Thankfully I managed to stay with her and we were able to cross the line together! It’s always my concern that my buddy will leave me behind…!

So, with smiles all around, and a medal to prove it Sam was able to cross the finish line and had a blast doing it. You just had to look around on the day to see the smiles on everyone’s faces, their joy as they cross the line, and their enthusiasm for participating – and it is contagious. They all claim they are not nervous, and they just go out to have fun – we have so much to learn from them!! I know I, and the other Smiling for Smiddy buddies, enjoy the opportunity to support and encourage these guys to participate. It’s truly an absolute pleasure.

So with that “warm up” done… there is only one event left… the big one – the Noosa Triathlon tomorrow…. A mere 1500m swim, 40km cycle and a 10km run… and I can’t wait!

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To swim… Noosa Tri Festival Event #1

29 Oct

A few weeks ago it seemed like a great idea to sign Mum and I up for the Noosa 1000m Open Water Swim.  In my head it was a good warm up, a good practice in the ocean ready for Sunday’s triathlon leg, and a good chance for Mum to do something new (she’s a swimmer – but normally only in the pool).  I told Mum it would all be good, and she reminded me that she’d leave me in her wake… after seeing her in the pool I couldn’t help but agree!

We arrived in Noosa, checked into our apartment and walked down to the Race Village to check-in.  A simple check in, and we had our attractive raspberry caps and ankle timing devices. Still protected in the Noosa woods we had no idea what conditions were awaiting us on Noosa Main Beach. Once all the formalities were in place, we meandered down to the beach, only to find the nice serene, calm beach had been replaced by choppy waves… fantastic!! (insert sarcasm here…)

I suggested to Mum that we go out into the water to do a quick warm up. The water temperature was beautiful but we both quickly decided it might not be too pleasant!! We found once out through the breaking waves that swimming horizontal to the beach was a bit better, but getting out to that buoy was going to take a bit of effort.  We both decided to head back in and conserve our energy for the main event.  What was even more upsetting was that the swim was in the shape of a giant M – at the halfway point we were to swim back into the beach and then go back out through the breakers again… delightful!! (insert sarcasm here…)

After watching the first couple of waves set off, our 4.39pm start approached. We were corralled into the starting area, a 10 second count down and a hooter and it was time to head in!  I’d entered us in the family wave so we could start together, and there were all ages competing in this wave. As an infrequent ocean swimmer, the first part out through the breaking waves was tough going, after an eternity, and constantly checking where Mum was, we made it out to the first buoy.  From there swimming across to the second buoy wasn’t too bad (although one of the friendly guys on the paddle board told me I was swimming too wide – I had gone wider to allow the following wave room to pass without swimming over the top of me).  I think this is where I managed to add a bit of distance to my swim (I turned a 1000m swim into a 1200m swim!!).

Coming into shore for the first time was ok (though I hoped the waves coming in would have given me a bit more of an advantage to make up for the disadvantage going out!!).  I could still hear Mum talking behind me every now and then so knew she was still plugging away. I have to admit, as I got up onto the sand I very much didn’t like the idea of heading back out again!!  However, too stubborn not to, I took a pounding back out through the surf for a second time.  At this point however I decided I just had to suck it up, and if I put my head down and just swum then it would be over quicker.  So I did. My back half was a lot more consistent than my front half, and I solidly swum freestyle the whole way, being rocked by the endless waves (which seemed to time themselves quite nicely with every time I wanted to take a full breath…).  As I turned around the final buoy I knew it was close to the finish. I just wanted to put my head down, kick hard and get it done.

I spent the back half, consistently stroking, but wondering what my family would think of me for signing Mum up to this event and then telling her she was doing it, only to have her drown out there… Had I signed a death sentence for Mum? However the other part of my brain knew she wouldn’t drown, but I also knew she wasn’t enjoying it too much (and neither was I!).

As I crawled up to the beach (well it felt like that), I was amazed to see I’d still managed a sub 30 time – the conditions felt awful and I felt like I had been out there forever (still a far cry from the 22ish minutes I would have liked to do it in)!  I waited a couple of minutes to ensure Mum did in fact join me on the beach and there you have it – event number one finished!

I finished in 29:44 (although did swim about an extra 200m than I should have!) and finished 42nd in my wave. It was by far the roughest open water swim I’ve ever done, and while a little disappointing, was also a bit of a confidence booster as I felt if I can survive a swim like that decently, then I’ll be okay anywhere… time will tell on that front, but I’m hoping for much nicer conditions on Sunday!!

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Another year…

24 Oct

Facebook memory reminders… they pop up daily and most of the time, remind me of something cool that happened, something I saw, a photo I enjoyed taking, an event I was able to take part in… but also, every now and then it reminds me of some of the less enjoyable events in life.  Late October is one of those times – when our family was rocked by a terminal diagnosis for my youngest brother.

3 years… for some a lifetime (Josiah), for some a 12th of a life (me), for some a 20th of a life (Mum)… I often feel the years go quicker as I get older… but I never want to take a single year, month, day or hour for granted.

3 years ago, after a call from Peter which started as “hey sis, they think I’ve got MND”,  I distinctly remember finishing my day on nursing prac, heading straight to the university library and to the section on neurological disorders. I remember getting the first textbook down I could see and turning to the section titled “Motor Neurone Disease/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis”. In my mind I can still see exactly where I was sitting when I read this disease has a life expectancy of 2-5 years, no treatment and no cure.  I can also tell you I shut that book, put it back on the shelf and tried another, which unfortunately said the exact same thing. After two books, and reading no further than that, I got up, left the library and cried. From that point, for a good couple of days my eyes kept watering, all I could picture was attending my younger brother’s funeral in a couple of short years. It took me a few days to move past that concept and refocus, but those few days between hearing the diagnosis and being able to fly home and see all my family were really quite horrible. Once I saw family I was reminded of a couple of things – but importantly for me I could see that Peter was still Peter, he hadn’t deteriorated overnight… he’d just been told by well-meaning medical professionals that his symptoms had a title…

It was a condition I had heard about, but not one I had ever known anyone to have.

Since Peter’s diagnosis there has been so much more awareness for MND, with the likes of the Ice Bucket Challenge, The Big Freeze and the massive amount of fundraising and awareness that Cure for MND have undertaken (through Neale Daniher, Ian Davis and Angie Cunningham – who sadly lost her fight with this disease only a couple of weeks ago).

I also hear of so many more people having the condition – and I wonder if it is just I am more aware of it now, or whether it is becoming more prevalent.

It has also prompted our family to participate in various fundraising and awareness campaigns – Goa 7 Pillars Ride, Muscle up for MND, Walk to d’feet MND and of course the latest and largest endeavour of Dad cycling a small 2224km from Adelaide to Brisbane to raise money for the Cure for MND foundation. My Dad is pretty incredible (he says he’s just stubborn), I enjoy cycling but can’t imagine day in day out doing the distances he did to cover the 2224km in 17 days…. Let alone doing a majority of it as a solo cyclist…  If you ask him about it he shrugs, shakes his head and says “the only amazing thing about it is the money we were able to raise”. The total for Dad’s ride now stands at just over $32,000 – but you can still donate here if you want to support this cause – donations will still be able to be made up to the end of November 2016.

It is still my prayer that the money raised will find a breakthrough into this disease, so that when someone else hears the words “hey sis, they think I’ve got MND” they don’t hear a terminal diagnosis.

My brother continues to live like he hasn’t been given a terminal diagnosis, and this is evident in the way he continues to carry out his work and life.

  • He has been blessed this year with the arrival of his gorgeous daughter Emaline, Josiah is now 3 (as he proudly tells you) and one of the most loving kids around.
  • He continues to cycle (2015 – 10,600km, 2016 – 7,997km as at this morning)
  • He continues to work
  • He’s had his annual check-up with his Neurologist who sees no reason to see him for another 12 months

Yes, there has been deterioration in the muscles of his arms but Praise the Lord, it has been 3 years and this incredible guy I’m blessed to call “brother” is still with us, still encouraging everyone else, and still ensuring that his story is told wrapped up in faith – because after all, each breath we have has been given to us by a God who created the universe, who holds the seas in the hollow of his hand, who put the stars into place, and yet who individually cares for us.

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One week to go…

23 Oct

This time next week I hope to be sitting on a couch, with my feet up, having completed my third Noosa Triathlon… So what does this mean? It means a few things…

  • It’s taper week… the week where the training is dialled back a little to leave me feeling a little bit fresh come race day
  • It’s time to google the extended Noosa forecast… at least twice a day… to see what conditions I might be racing in… not that there is a single thing I can control about this…
  • It’s testing the bike out after its race service and clean – it’s all sparkly and smooth (thanks Swim Ride Run Faster!)
  • It’s packing and repacking… competing in an event that contains three disciplines seems to require a fair amount of “stuff”
  • It’s focusing on nutrition and getting good rest
  • It’s trying to stay healthy – away from bugs that have plagued me most of the winter (FYI I reckon I’m feeling about 95% now – soooo much better than I’ve been so I pray it stays the same for the next week!!)
  • It’s listening to my coach, trusting her experience in the sport and her confidence in me
  • It’s focusing on my goal – which is to beat my best time (set two years ago after a disappointing year last year)…. So watch out 3:36 – I’m coming for you!
  • It’s thinking about those who have been touched by the big “C” – family members, friends, patients, friends of friends… I’m stoked that my Noosa triathlon is about more than just finishing a race, but it’s also been a fundraiser for cancer through Smiling for Smiddy

So this time next week… and if the other weeks are anything to go by, this week will most likely fly past… so keep your eyes peeled for the race recap in about a week’s time, after I make my way through a 1500m swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run….

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Adelaide to Brisbane…by bike!

9 Oct

If you and I know each other on Facebook, it would have been hard to miss the fact that on the 23rd of September Dad embarked on a cycling odyssey from Adelaide to Brisbane.  Well, today he arrived and is currently sitting on my couch… looking well… like he could do it all again!

I wish I could comment on the full ride in great detail but reality is, I wasn’t there. But I’ll give you my highlight reel, and then perhaps talk about today, the finish because I only showed up at the end…

Day one, Dad was blown away to have the extra support from my brother Peter and his friends with extra cyclists starting the ride with Dad (Scott, Dave and Kingsley), and three going the full way to Waikerie (Paul, Brad and Luke) for a 160km first day on the bike. There was also a wonderful group of people roadside to give Dad a send-off. With the constant head wind, I’m sure that Dad appreciated drafting off these strong guys and making day one just that little bit easier.

On the second day, my brother in law Ian was able to cycle with Dad for 100km and, importantly was able to point out what they maintain was the best bakery on the journey…

A couple of solo days on the bike followed, however the support crew was extended with Clarrie and Lyn, and I’m sure both Mum and Dad appreciated the extra company in the morning and at night.

Day 5 to day 9 Dad was joined by his brother Greg… again I know Dad greatly appreciated the company (and no doubt the chance to do a bit of drafting when the winds picked up). Kerry joined Mum as support crew on those days.  Day 9, Greg was sacked when the boys took the wrong road out of Cobar…. see… who said this pair can’t still get up to mischief!!  While this little 73km indiscretion made a short cycling day it was really a blessing in disguise… you see, unfortunately Mum had decided that she would try running the diesel ute on unleaded petrol… so, instead of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, they were able to take the ute to the local mechanic for it to be drained, and cleaned and a filter replaced…. This sidelined them a little, but a dedicated mechanic had them back on the road the next day! I thought it was a really good excuse for a rest day… but when they got the car back, Dad still managed to do 88km that day!

Day 10 to day 16 were a little lonelier than the first few… it was during this time that Mum and Dad were journeying solo. So Mum would bunny-hop around Dad, ensuring he was fed and watered appropriately. Solid distances put him in Queensland quickly, to the point where he really had to slow down so he wasn’t sitting around for days waiting for me to be on a day off!! Day 15 was a big one with 1500m of vertical climbing and 178km over the Great Dividing Range. Day 16 may have been harder though, because he had to ride only 44km… it would have been a challenge to stop then, especially when my place was just 50km away… even if the two days were combined it would have been one of his shortest days on the bike!

Day 17 – now that’s a day I can tell you about.  At about 9am, four eager female cyclists piled into our car to be chauffeured to Ipswich to ride the last day in with Dad.  Jane, Ki and Kim didn’t think that a 50km ride was enough to do in one day, so all three had been up early, completed a very rough 1.7km ocean swim, run 2km and then made it to my place – all by 9am.  I would loved to have joined them but have been battling with a persistent virus that has sidelined me for quite some time now… any way, I digress…  As we drove to Ipswich, there may have been a couple of times where I asked if we could just stop here and ask Dad to come and meet us there… and yet I knew what we were doing was only a fraction of what Dad had been doing day in day out… At 10.30 we set off from Ipswich, with cue card navigation for the first 20km as I’ve never been in that area (thanks Christian, for giving us a route).  It seemed that every corner we went around we found a hill… this pattern continued for quite some time… actually pretty much the whole way – I don’t remember finding too much flat ground… There was one hill where Dad absolutely took off (I’d told him the directions at this point) – one second I could see him, the next second it seemed he was gone… later he chuckled as I asked him what happened there… and then informed me he was just showing us how it was done and then proceeded to tell me that he was only using his large cog as his small one wasn’t working very well (and hadn’t been since Adelaide!!) – so, not only did he smash us up the hill but he did it all with no low gear!!! I was too scared to ask how he managed over the Great Dividing Range…

At about halfway through our journey we inadvertently took a road to the left. It was an awesome ride actually – nice clear bike lane, gentle undulations with some good patches of downhill. However, we found a “No Through Road” sign… and the road to the left suggested that there was a 15% gradient downhill… stopping before the downhill, we all got out our GPS phones deciding to check we were still going the right way because, we decided, if we went down the 15% gradient there was no way we were coming back up!! Well, it is a good thing we checked… we had to retrace 4km of our journey (adding 8km to our ride) to head back to where we should have been in the first place….where those nice downhills suddenly became not so nice uphills… Ooops… just showing Dad some of the scenery…

The remainder of the trip was fairly uneventful. I flagged substantially, stopped briefly to consume a gel and what was left of my water.  As I was flagging so much, and our detour was making our anticipated arrival time later we decided to head home. I had previously wanted to go by Southbank and the big BRISBANE letters for a photo with Dad, but instead we settled for a bikeway photo at the river with the city in the background (still ok!).  At this point I told the girls we had 5km to go and we set off to finishing this thing off!

As we rounded the last corner to our home we were confronted with our 12% gradient street (got to love living on a hill!!). I told Dad to ride on ahead, but he insisted we finish it together, so together we all cycled up, Dad and I led the pack up the hill (first time I lead up a hill all day!).  It was wonderful to be greeted by Jeff, Debbie, Jane, Lorraine, Colin, Dave and Mum, a small but vocal and very welcoming cheer squad!!  I was well and truly done! Shattered! Dad was grinning, smiling and ready to go again… simply stating – “Well, that’s done, what do I do next?”

I guess when you decide to ride 2224.7km (approximately 😉 ) then doing it for a good cause makes the hard kilometres a little more bearable.  When Matt Wilson suggested turning the ride into a fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease, Dad and Mum thought that was a great idea. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of friends and strangers, with $28,780 donated as I type this post – all donated to the Cure for MND foundation.  Our family has of course been touched by this disease, as have many other families (2 families every day!). Only about 10% of MND is genetic/familial with the other 90% random – which is what it has been in our case.  At this point MND has no treatment and no cure, however we continue to pray that a breakthrough is just around the corner, and you never know, this $28,000 may be the money that is used by a clever scientist to find it!  PS you can still donate by clicking HERE until the end of November.

So, as I sign off for the day (to go and eat lunch/dinner) I want to send a massive thank you to all those who have supported Dad, and us as a family – in person, with comments on facebook, phone, sms, wordpress…. wherever… and all those who have generously donated.

I’m so incredibly proud of my Dad for riding all this way. Words can’t even express how much. I only cycled 57km today…. I can’t picture doing three times that amount each day, day in day out for 17 days….  He tells me “I’m not amazing, I’m just stubborn” and “you’re only limited by your mental strength”. Already there have been suggestions for people to double their donations if he rides home (via Melbourne and Sydney) and I can’t believe that he is crazy enough to have already said “I’d do it!”… or perhaps I can…