Archive | December, 2016

Twenty sixteen

31 Dec

Tomorrow at work I will be trying my hardest to write 01/01/17, and I’m wondering how many times I’ll accidentally write 2016…

I find it hard to believe that another year has gone. But here I am, reflecting on the last 12 months…

I started 2016 on the couch, recovering from an anterior bowel resection. It wasn’t the way I planned it to go, but I’ve been so much better since so I’m thankful that this happened. I had a bit of a rotten winter with back to back viruses that sidelined me quite a bit. However, thankfully all in all I’ve had a pretty good year health wise, and viruses only remind me how fortunate I am to have my health generally.

img_20161101_075503Around these illnesses I’ve still been able to spend a fair bit of time exercising and participating in events. The exercise for me is a real stress relief and I enjoy getting out in the fresh air. After participating in triathlon for a couple of years, and not making any real improvement in my fitness I joined TZero Multisport and found a wonderful coach in Emma Quinn. She tailors a training program around my shifts and I’ve seen improvements in all three legs of my triathlon. My training has taken place in Queensland, South Australia, even Singapore (no holiday is complete without a few training runs, swims and rides…).  It has been my biggest year yet running the equivalent of Brisbane to Sydney (985km), Cycling the equivalent of Brisbane to Darwin (3,404km) and Swimming the equivalent of Brisbane to Toowoomba (132.5km). I’ve done a total of 379 sessions totalling 350 hours … (which works out to almost an hour a day every day of the year – although the reality is that I have rest days and bigger days). I loved doing the Gold Coast Half Marathon with Dave – he kept me going when I didn’t think I’d make it, and has often been my running buddy. I’m thankful to all those who have spent some time training with me over the last year – it makes the swim/ride/run even more enjoyable! This year I’ve completed a couple of half marathons, some cycling events, sprint triathlons and of course the Noosa Triathlon. I’m currently thinking about what 2017 will hold as far as events go, with the Noosa Triathlon of course on the list, as is my biggest challenge yet… On February 25th I’ll be participating in a half ironman (that’s a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run) – I’m currently feeling quite daunted by this prospect, but I’m also in some kind of crazy way looking forward to it… You’ll hear about it when I’ve finished!!

20161215_162455In my spare time I also finished my Graduate Certificate in Nursing (Intensive Care). Mostly the feeling I have about this at the moment is relief as 6 years of deadlines, assignments, and study has drawn to a close.  This study has helped cement my base knowledge in ICU nursing and I look forward to continuing to learn as I work in this area in years to come. I am so blessed to work with a wonderful team – I appreciate them and the way they care for each other and our patients makes me incredibly proud to work alongside them.  I learn so much from my co-workers and they are always willing to guide and shape me into a better nurse, and I appreciate it greatly. I’m honoured to play a small part in caring for those who find themselves critically ill in our hospital, and trust I never take this privilege for granted.

In other life at home I’ve seen Dave occasionally 😉  Between my shift work and his trips overseas sometimes we seem a little like we pass each other at the front door. He’s currently spending time with some friends in Indonesia but we look forward to a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast when he returns. It’s hard to believe that this year saw us married for 15 years – again, I’m not quite sure where that time went…  He keeps himself very busy with work, and is looking forward to some new challenges in 2017 but I’m confident he’ll rise to the challenge as he always does. While he refuses to participate in triathlon (he tells me he swims like a rock… but I can’t tell you the last time I saw him try 😉 ), he is often my running buddy in training and running events.  He is also never far from a finish line, supporting and encouraging me with whatever crazy scheme I’ve undertaken (albeit with coffee in hand as I’ve ensured he got up before the sun).

In the extended family I’m still shouting out Dad’s achievement deciding to cycle to visit us here in Brisbane instead of drive or fly.  I’m proud that not only did he cycle the 2,224km from Adelaide to Brisbane – many days as a solo rider (taking him 17 days and 83.5hrs at an average speed of 26.6km/hr) but in the process he was able to raise $33,700 for Cure for MND Foundation.  I’m thankful to all those who donated (whether $2 or $2,000) and I continue to pray that these dollars will see more research that leads to both a treatment and a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.  I’m even more in awe of the 15,000km Dad has cycled this year, and the 10,000 Peter has cycled… those kinds of numbers blow my mind!!

Overall, 2016 has been a busy but enjoyable year. We been able to fly back to Adelaide for various catch ups and events which have been great opportunities to see family and friends.  We are loving our move to an apartment that is closer to both Dave’s and my work and involves far less maintenance (freeing us up to spend more time together and enjoy walking around our city).  All in all I’m thankful for the year that was 2016 and the growth I experienced in that time.

I don’t have too many plans for 2017 at this stage… I should think about setting a few more goals and planning some leave to ensure I’m adequately rested to nurse those whose care is entrusted to me. I probably will not make any New Year’s Resolutions per say (who ever sticks to them anyway) but my primary goal is to ensure that I make 2017 count in all areas. I have two new tops this year – I like what both of them have to say.  I continue to believe that there is something wonderful just around the corner, I will continue to be the best version of myself I can be, and I’ll try and be courageous as I face some big goals physically.

 

We never know what the upcoming year will bring, and 2017 will be no different.  Some challenges I already know I’m going to be facing because I am choosing them, but there will no doubt be challenges that I don’t get to choose. I’m also sure that 2017 will see various reasons to celebrate. Each year has its fair share of ups and downs.  I’m thankful that in life, with all its highs and lows, I can praise, seek, worship, trust and thank God for the life I have. Every morning I wake up I’ve been blessed with another day, and I look forward to seeing what each of those days holds.

 

 

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Christmas

30 Dec

For the first time in about a week I’m sitting still on the couch… I have about a one and a half hour window, and I’m thinking about Christmas.

I don’t know what your Christmas was like. Mine was busy. I knew it would be busy, and I have to admit at times I actually wasn’t looking forward to it. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of rostered days off work over this period and we went to Adelaide to catch up with family. There were moments where I thought that it might be easier to not go home this year… the days off were in the middle of a busy roster period, its expensive (for what was two full days), the days are long – getting up early for flights and getting home late, it would be a busy trip of catching up with family in Adelaide and in country South Australia. So many reasons to NOT go home… but then there were also so many reasons TO go home. The most important one is family. To not go home means an incomplete Christmas for my family (hopefully they feel the same way). This Christmas I considered that a lot.

More than ever this year, I couldn’t help thinking about all those whose Christmases looked different this year. I could picture so many faces… those patients we couldn’t help this year who succumbed to their critical illnesses – and the faces of their family who we got to know during their admission, who set one less place around their dinner table this year. Those who would be reminded of their loss as they gathered together, but with a much loved face missing from their festivities. Or those who have lost family members in previous years, but that loss becomes more acute again at times like Christmas. I know others who cancelled Christmas, as they did not feel like celebrating having just received an extremely poor prognoses, and were staring into the face of less time on this earth than they had planned. My co-workers too were making sacrifices working Christmas Day, caring for those who unfortunately found themselves in hospital instead of at home.

For all these reasons, I was acutely aware of the privilege of being able to spend time together as a family, and suddenly the cost of the trip home and the short time I was to be there seemed less important. The numerous places to go and people to see became important, as I didn’t want to take this time for granted.

Christmas of course is about more than family. To me it is also celebrating the birth of Jesus – Saviour of the world, my Saviour. We were able to make it to the Christmas morning church service while we were home. It was here that Katie reminded us of the HOPE that we have.  While she was quick to point out that hope doesn’t always look the way we want it to look, it is central to our faith.  Hope is a confident expectation based on trust in God, a sure anchor to stand fast through the storms of life.  As I sat in church on Christmas morning, I knew that during this year my hope has faltered. At times I’ve pulled up my anchor and as a result come adrift through some of the storms of life, and I’ve let feelings of hopelessness pound my boat. So, as I sat in church this Christmas, I put my anchor down again. I took the time to remind myself of the attributes of God, His character, that enable me to put my trust in him – he’s loving, merciful, true, good, gracious, eternal, all powerful, just, holy, unchanging, all knowing, sovereign, faithful…

So today, and every day (not just at Christmas) I don’t want to take anything for granted. I want to enjoy any opportunity to spend time with friends and family, making memories.  While I don’t know what the future looks like, I am reminded afresh this year that it is held in the hand of a loving God, creator of the universe, who is with me each step of the way. At all times I want my anchor to be so firmly secured that I need never feel hopeless, knowing that the plans God has for my life are good. At times when I feel weary, when the storms of life are at their roughest I want to remember my hope is found in my Saviour, and therefore I can rejoice. May you know the same hope, may you too be able to confidently trust and expect that a loving and good God is right there, walking with you day by day.  May we have faith in His character, trust in His plans and may we be so wrapped up in His love that we never feel hopeless.

 

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Support

16 Dec

The last two days I’ve also been feeling really off. I don’t know if it is just end of year exhaustion, heat, or a combination of the above, but the last two days have seen me feeling flat, nauseous, tired and honestly ready to step off the world for just a minute… I actually didn’t make it through a complete shift at work the other day (and subsequently came home and slept for 12 hours).

The last two days have also seen the culmination of two decent achievements, and have reminded me that I don’t do life without incredible support.

Achievement 1:  I’ve now finished my Graduate Certificate in Nursing (Intensive Care).  graduation

This post graduate qualification has helped solidify my base knowledge in Intensive Care Nursing. I’ve had to undertake practical assessments, write assignments and complete those dreaded exams. Over the last year I’m thankful for Dave (for putting up with me when the stress of deadlines looms in particular!), to the awesome girls who undertook this qualification with me – and with whom I could share struggles and ideas (Cass, Ciara, Donna, Jess and Shanya – you guys are awesome!), all those at work who encouraged and guided me including my Educator Chris who had to do all our practical assessments, and my family and friends who cheered on from the sidelines and encouraged me to keep going. This Graduate Certificate is the culmination of now 5 years of graduate/post graduate training and I’m honestly mostly currently feeling relieved to be done!! I know all the knowledge I’ve gained will help make me a better practitioner, and I’m very thankful to work in a great hospital with a great bunch of people – it’s so nice to enjoy my job!

Achievement 2: I made it up Mount Cootha on my bike – without stopping!

Okay so this is quite a different achievement when compared to the previous one!  However, it has been a challenge of mine for a couple of years now to make it up Mt Cootha on my bike without stopping.  I’ve come agonisingly close and was starting to feel that it was just too elusive.  Well, with a little help from some friends today I made it!  Today, Ki and Kim took time out of their days to help me get there (especially impressive given it was Kim’s birthday and this meant no nice cosy sleep in, rather an alarm that started with a 4!!!)!  A 10km ride from home took Kim and I to the base of Cootha where we found Ki for the ascent to the summit (I’ve got to try and make it sound impressive…) 4.5km, 235m climbing from the motorway to the top (average gradient of 5%)…. Anyway – Ki encouraged me to try and go a little slower than last time (which saw me run out of legs before the top).  So, I set off – slightly slower than last time, and hoping for the best! Ki and Kim chatted constantly and I so appreciated the distraction… from cycling kits, to snickerdoodles the conversation was quite varied! When Ki started singing I was amazed (think 100 bottles of beer on the wall…. And it went something like 850m to go, 850m… the countdown continued…). While they were chatting (or singing) I was gasping for breath, answering with one word (although they did accept one grunt for yes, two for no)… These guys are fit chicks!! As we got closer to the top my legs slowed, Kim started zig zagging up the hill and I followed… as we turned the corner I realised that I’d just passed “The Pinch” (10% gradient) that gets me every time! I saw Channel 10 and realised I really was close to the summit!! I literally started saying out aloud “I’ve got this!” Boy was I so stoked to reach the top for high 5’s all around!  I’m really blessed by my training buddies – in particular Kim, Ki and Jane who have always been nothing short of encouraging and supportive.  I know that the consistent training I do (thanks to my amazing coach Emma) is meaning I’m getting fitter and stronger.  There are so many people I’ve met as part of my participation in triathlon who I just can’t thank enough – particularly those from Smiling for Smiddy, Swim Ride Run Faster, and TZero Multisport. I’m thankful for the cheers from the sidelines, training buddies at various times and all the encouragement! I’ve never once heard someone suggest that I shouldn’t be doing the sport, on the contrary as I’m out on course others that pass me are known to comment “keep going” “you’re doing awesome” or other similar phrases.  It really is a wonderful sport to participate in and I encourage anyone who is thinking about it to just have a go!

So, two very different achievements to be ticked off my list in the last couple of days. Neither happened in a day, but were the result of consistent hard work. BUT neither could have been done if it were not for the incredible amount of support I have around me.  So, whether you are family, or a friend (church, work, triathlon – wherever I know you from), I so greatly appreciate your friendship.  I appreciate the fact that you’re there to celebrate the wins, but also there in the midst of the sometimes mundane and sometimes really tough day to day activities. Thank you for doing life with me!

Mandatory race recap – Raby Bay Triathlon Long Course (900/25/6)

11 Dec

I rocked up this morning feeling okay… I hadn’t given the race itself much thought, I had to remember to pack my bags and make sure I had everything, but I was far from prepared ahead of time – I hadn’t even thought about what kind of time I’d be aiming for… nothing. I also knew I was busy leading into it so was just going to go out and give it my best. Yesterday I was at a Christmas party for 12 hrs – mostly on my feet… an early night was impossible as I crawled into bed at a much later than normal 10pm!!! I had an alarm set for 4.30 but I didn’t need it. Dave has a cold, and he coughed all night long. I ended up just getting out of bed before any of the alarms went off!! However, despite the average couple of days prior to the race, I know my training has been solid, I’ve not missed a training session since I did Noosa Triathlon at the end of October, and my health has actually been really good!

Anyway, you want to know about the actual race…

Our start was slightly delayed as they had to move the course marker buoys back into location (they moved them for some charter boats that were leaving midway through the wave starts). It’s a jump into the water and a deep water start so we just chilled out in the water for a little bit longer. I took the opportunity to do a few warm up strokes. Then it was time to race. The swim felt good! I felt that my stroke rate was sustainable. I had an uninterrupted swim – unfazed by the knocks to the body by others, & without any requirement for breaststroke (which in the past I’ve resorted to if I felt I was struggling with breathing for whatever reason). I stayed in sight of the main group and was only passed by someone from the next wave in the last 50m! All around I was really happy with my swim leg. 900m in 17:26 (which means I did the 900m swim only a minute slower than the 750m swim on the same course a couple of months ago…)

Transition from swim to bike was okay. It is a steep exit out of the swim, but I solidly ran the 300m or so from the swim exit to my bike.

The bike…. 5 laps, each 5km (or maybe just short of it!). Overall again I was pretty pleased with this leg. I wanted to give it my all. There’s a tiny little hill that I chugged up each time, often overtaken, however once back on the flat I was able to re-overtake those that had passed me… I’m getting better on my tribars but I still need a lot of work to feel comfortable – not from a position point of view as much as bike handling. I found today that I really wanted to use them as there seemed to be a bit of wind on course (well I hope I didn’t imagine the wind!!!). Jane and Ki were in the wave ahead of me and I saw them on the first few laps – both are far better cyclists than I, so my main aim was to not let them extend their lead by too much each lap! Not much else to say about the bike – I got some nutrition on board without incident, managed to pass people at different points, and mainly tried to focus on keeping left to let the fast competitors around! I was thrilled with my time of 54 minutes (26.8km/hr average – this is great for me!!!).

T2 – Bike to run transition not as good as T1. I struggled to run in my cleats, I was struggling to turn my legs over, and then once back in my transition location I couldn’t get one running shoe on. But I got there in the end and headed back out on course.

As I was finishing the bike leg I was feeling like perhaps I’d pushed too hard and wondered how long it would take before I had to walk when out on the final, run leg. I then had a stern talking to myself and had an attitude readjustment. I reminded myself of all the transition practice I’ve done and how I can normally run after 2.5hrs on the bike. I’d only been out for a bit over an hour so I had no excuse! The run, amazingly, felt pretty good. I told myself as I was feeling ok to just keep going at that pace. I felt like I was plodding away. When I looked at my watch it said current pace 6.01… This is fast for me! So I again had a chat to myself and told myself to maintain it for as long as I could. It was 3x 2km laps. I avoided the water station to begin with as I’d had a good drink on the bike, but by the second lap I was starting to feel quite warm (it was about 28 degrees). I told myself I could walk at the aid station for water but must then run again. So from then on I made 4 water stops at aid stations – drink some water, put the cup in the bin, once in the bin I had to run again (the distance from the water to the bin was three mouthfuls!). So the breaks weren’t very long. I think these breaks though gave me a quick breather and the confidence to go again. I was encouraged by calls of “Go Jen” from friends associated with my local triathlon shop or my coach (Cathy, Damian, Jo, Kim – appreciated it greatly!) on all three laps of the run leg. Ki found me with only a few hundred metres to go, cheered me on to the finish, and her support and encouragement was also greatly appreciated. In the end I finished the run in a 6.29min/km pace in a time of 36:19. This is unheard of!!

Official results have me 13th in my age group, with an overall time of 1:55:52. High fives from Jane, Ki and Ian were the icing on my cake!

So, as I stood waiting for my wave this morning thinking about the race I hadn’t specifically given much consideration to, I hoped for a 20min swim, 1hr bike and 40 min run. I did 17:26, 54min and 36:19 (plus transitions). I beat my prediction on every leg! I’m thankful to my coach Em for writing a program for me that helps me get fitter and stronger – and out in the great outdoors (a fantastic de-stress activity for me!)

Ki and I were able to enjoy a well earned meal… let’s call it brunch…when we arrived back in town about 11am.  It was, as always great to head out, enjoy the swim, ride and run, and catch up with some great friends!

Now though, I’m well and truly ready for a nap… until next time!

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